Reiki—An Introduction

Updated on November 12, 2017
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I am a registered nurse currently studying Reiki. I am interested in energy healing, health, and nutrition.

The Reiki Principles

  • Just for today
  • Do not anger
  • Do not worry and be filled with gratitude
  • Devote yourself to your work
  • Be kind to people
  • Every morning and evening join your hands in prayer

The History of Reiki

Dr Mikao Usui rediscovered Reiki in the late 1800s. It is said he went to Mount Kurama, a sacred mountain, for spiritual enlightenment that lasted 21 days. During this time he fasted, meditated, and prayed. On the last day, he saw a bright light that got larger as it approached him. Dr Usui was frightened but realized it must be a sign, something he had sought for so many years. The light hit him in the forehead and millions of rainbow-colored bubbles appeared. They became white glowing balls containing the Reiki sacred symbols, also known as Sanskrit.

Dr Usui was so excited to share this experience that he hastily ran down the mountain. In the process, he tripped and stubbed his toe. He instinctively grabbed his foot and was amazed at how quickly the pain dissipated and his toe healed!

Usui spent time in the slums of Tokyo where he healed many unhealthy and crippled people. To his disappointment, many of those he physically healed would find themselves back in the slums enduring the same physical and emotional maladies. He remembered a monk that told him mental and spiritual healing must accompany the physical healing. Dr Usui then implemented the aspect of Reiki's spiritual healing along with treatment of the physical symptoms in order to treat the whole person.

Dr Chujiro Hayashi, who was a student of Dr Usui, became the grandmaster of Reiki and opened a Tokyo clinic. He trained other practitioners in Reiki healing. Among his students was a Hawaiian woman named Hawayo Takata. Mrs Takata had serious ailments that were healed at Hayashi's clinic in 1935, helping her to avoid surgery. She studied with Hayashi for the next year after which time Hawayo Takata returned to Hawaii, bringing Reiki to the United States. In 1937 Mrs Takata became a Reiki Master. When Hayashi died in 1940, Mrs Takata became the grand master. In 1970 she began to train other Reiki masters and there were 22 Reiki masters in the US and Canada by the time of her death in 1980.

What Is Reiki?

In Japanese, "Rei" means universal and "Ki" means life force healing. Reiki is translated as "universal life force healing."

Reiki is a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that promotes the healing of body, mind, and spirit. All life forms contain a vibrational energy. Reiki directs the flow of energy within the body and clears blocks that could lead to physical symptoms or emotional imbalance. It goes beyond the physical symptoms in order to treat the root cause of dis-ease. As the energy flow increases the body is able to experience faster and more complete healing. Reiki energy work helps to keep this life force energy circulating to promote well being on a spiritual and emotional as well as physical level.

Reiki energy healing practitioners also work with the non-physical causes of pain such as spiritual disharmony or mental or emotional distress caused by trauma or negative thought patterns developed in the present or a past life. Reiki practitioners can facilitate the release of such traumas or distress through the awakening and opening of the body's healing channels, clearing blocks and increasing the energy flow. Balancing the energy centers assists the recipient to attain relaxation, peace, healing, and overall well being.

Reiki can improve the effectiveness of conventional medicine and works well with other all alternative therapies. The use of Reiki is increasing in conventional Western medicine settings such as labor and delivery, cancer, AIDs, surgery, rehab, and hospice. Reiki has been shown to reduce anxiety and the use of pain medication.

As the use of Reiki has increased in the medical setting, more scientific studies have been done that validate the use of Reiki and other alternative therapies to promote physical, emotional, and spiritual healing through activating, opening, and balancing of the energy centers.

Dr James Oschman has written many articles on energy medicine. These articles were published in a book called "Energy Medicine" that convey a scientific basis for hands-on healing.

The Chakras—The Seven Major Healing Centers

The healing centers or energy channels are known as chakras. Chakra, is a Sanskrit word meaning wheel of light. A chakra is a vortex of energy that rotates in a clockwise direction and stimulates various endocrine organs to secrete hormones into the bloodstream affecting both body and mind. The lower three chakras draw energy from mother earth and they help us with perseverance, well being, abundance, a sense of family, creativity, pleasure, and self-confidence. The four upper chakras draw energy from "source," the universe, and nourish our ability to love, communicate, experience spiritual growth, and understand and attain our higher self.

Each chakra resonates with a different color and sound, has its own function, and is related to specific organs in the body. It is believed that a blockage in the chakras can result in physical or emotional problems related to the function of that chakra. The opening, balance, and healing of the energy centers is vital to physical, emotional, and spiritual health.

How Does Reiki Work?

During Reiki healing, the practitioner places his/her hands over the major energy centers or chakras. Healing typically begins at the 7th or crown chakra and ends with the 1st or root chakra which may include hand placement on the legs and feet. The practitioner talks with the client prior to hands-on healing to ascertain what the client is feeling, including physical symptoms that are present and emotional issues that may need to be addressed. If the practitioner feels that a certain chakra is blocked or if an area of the client's body is drawing the practitioner's attention, healing will begin there.

During Reiki treatment, the life force energy flows through the practitioner to the client. The energy centers that we all have within us are activated and opened to restore energy flow and balance physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

The practice of Reiki is learned over time. Once it is passed from the teacher to the student through the attunement ceremony it is always there. Although it never goes away, it is important to use it in order to become more comfortable with self-healing as well as the ability to channel that energy to the client

How to Become a Reiki Practitioner

I was recently awarded my First Degree Reiki Practitioner certification in the USUI System of Natural Healing. My teacher who has been practicing Reiki since 1990 made the class not only enjoyable but very inspirational. She did use the class manual to a degree but mostly shared her experiences over her many years of practice as well as her vast knowledge of Reiki's roots and teachings. We had class discussions about our thoughts and feelings experienced through the meditation and visualization exercises conducted during class and shared our personal experiences with Reiki healing, how we were impacted and what made us want to become Reiki practitioners.

The healing center that I received my certification from teaches four levels of Reiki. Levels 1-3 teach self-healing, healing of others at close proximity, as well as distance healing. As one progresses through the levels, Japanese symbols and mantras that invoke and increase energy levels are taught. The 4th level is the master or teacher level that prepares the student to teach others. The master level is successfully completed while working under the guidance of the Master Teacher during an internship of 1-2 years. Each successive level of education culminates in an attunement ceremony that increases the vibratory level of the student.

Our Level 1 certification class did culminate in an attunement ceremony. It is a very spiritual event where the healing centers of the body are activated and universal life force energy is channeled through the Master Teacher to the student thereby allowing the student to use this energy to do self-healing as well as balance and heal others. During the ceremony, certain sacred symbols are instilled into the crown, third eye, throat and heart chakras by the Master Teacher. The student's hands are held in the gassho position at the level of each chakra being instilled. Gassho means "two hands coming together," as in prayer.

The attunement connects the student to the life force energy, aligns the energy centers, and increases the body's vibratory rate. It takes approximately three days for the life force energy to filter through each of the seven major chakras and twenty-one days for the body to cleanse itself of negative energy.

The 21 Day Cleanse

The 21 day cleanse is a process activated by the attunement. According to Paula Horan, as described in her book, Empowerment Through Reiki:

Due to the raised vibratory rate of the physical and etheric bodies, old dense negative energy is forced to the surface and is released. When we receive a series of Reiki attunements, the sudden amplification of vibratory rate acts as a trigger to set off an accelerated loosening of negative, dense energy within our systems, which cannot resonate with the finer vibrations created by the attunement. Since your vibration is adjusted so quickly, a reaction takes place which allows old, stored up emotions and memories to be released, as is appropriate for further growth"

The physical body may go through changes due to the cleansing process. These changes may include

  • diarrhea
  • colds
  • aches and pains
  • fatigue
  • menstrual changes
  • change in appetite

Emotional, mental, and spiritual changes may take place as well. These changes may include:

  • negative feelings that may be connected to past events
  • more vivid dreams
  • emotional clearing and releasing, laughing and crying
  • increased perception
  • a greater sensitivity to color and sounds

The student is strongly encouraged to do daily self-healing sessions to assist the process, get plenty of rest, and stay hydrated.

It has been almost three weeks since my attunement. My fatigue has abated but my appetite remains decreased. I continue to experience emotional highs and lows, though less frequently. I have acknowledged and released some negative feelings and my perception remains heightened but to a lesser degree. My self-healing is done at bedtime, but I can barely make it through a few chakras before I am out like a light. Perhaps I should try self-healing in the morning! I meditate on a daily basis and find my visualization to come easier and more vividly.

My Next Step

My Level 2 Reiki certification class is scheduled for next week and I'm really looking forward to it! I have been a registered nurse for many years and feel that an integrated, holistic approach is the most effective way to treat illness. My journey toward spiritual growth and enlightenment has allowed me to open my mind to the universe. It has increased my awareness of the power of thoughts, emotions, negative patterns from past and present life, the effect this has on one's physical, emotional, and spiritual health and the healing that must take place in order for one to live their best life.

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