What is Reiki?
Reiki, also known as Usui Reiki, is a Japanese healing technique that involves the use of hands on the body to transfer universal energy from a practitioner to a patient. Reiki is a form of energy therapy; this type of therapy is based around the belief that there is an unseen “life force energy” that every living being possesses. This vital energy is considered to determine the body’s ability to heal itself; when the “life force energy” is low the body is more susceptible to illness and disease. The goal of reiki is to channel this energy to support the self-healing process, reduce stress, and provide relaxation. It also aims to ensure that the energy fields around the body are functioning at a high level which ultimately results in happiness and overall good health.
Despite it’s current and growing popularity, there is no scientific evidence and very few studies that support the existence of the vital energy. Over the years, reiki has been incorporated in many health care settings, however, the use of it for health-related purposes has produced no conclusive evidence. Regardless of this, millions of people use Reiki as a form of complementary therapy for traditional medicine and emphasize that practicing reiki poses no risk for harm – the worst it can do is nothing at all.
Reiki is not centered around any religious beliefs or organizations so there are no limitations to who can practice it.
The Reiki History
The history of reiki can be told differently depending on who you ask. The most popular form of reiki practiced today is ‘Usui Reiki’, named after Dr. Mikao Usui. Numerous people believe that Dr.Usui created and discovered reiki, however, some research states that other styles of reiki were being practiced in Japan before him. Many believe that reiki energy has been around since the beginning of time, therefore technically any system that is based on the use of reiki energy can be called Reiki and the practice is not exclusively linked to Dr. Usui. For the sake of keeping it simple, we’ll look at the history of Usui Reiki specifically because it is the most common and most popular style of reiki that exists today.
Dr. Usui developed his style of Reiki in Japan during the mid-1800s. Stories written about Dr. Usui’s life are riddled with inconsistencies. Because of this, it’s hard to say exactly how he went about discovering and developing reiki and what it was that inspired him to do so. One thing that seems to be the most consistent is the story of his spiritual awakening. It is said that during his years of training in a monastery as a Buddhist priest/monk, he ventured to a cave on Mount Kurama where he fasted, meditated, and prayed for 21 days.
On the morning on the 21st day he experienced a spiritual phenomenon and felt great reiki energy over his head, some stories also state that he saw ancient Sanskrit symbols. This spiritual awakening is what is believed to have led to his acquirement of the reiki cure which he then practiced on himself and his family. He eventually established an institution where he began to treat the public. Dr. Usui’s healing practice became very well known and continued to develop. Over time, more and more people practiced and mastered Usui Reiki and eventually the practice was introduced in the United States which birthed the popularity of Reiki in western culture.
How Does Energy Healing Work?
Our bodies are capable of doing amazing things, including healing themselves. However, sometimes there are instances where your body may need a bit of assistance. Stress is known as being detrimental to the body and its overall wellness. When you experience high levels of stress, it inhibits the body’s ability to effectively self-regulate and do its job, typically resulting in a decline in its overall health as well as the health of the mind and soul. Many people turn to reiki healing to help them cope with symptoms resulting from high stress including outbursts, headaches, muscle tensions and pain, restlessness, and much more.
Upon meeting with a reiki practitioner, there will a brief discussion about expectations, the process, and identifying the problems that are looking to be resolved. The patient is then instructed to lay down on a massage table or sit in a chair, fully clothed, and covered with a sheet or blanket. Depending on the client’s preference there can be relaxing music that plays in the background.
During the treatment, the practitioner will place their hands on or above the patient’s body. The hands can be placed over 20 areas of the body, starting at the crown of the head and moving to other specific areas of the head, torso, and extremities. The practitioner will place or hover their hands in one spot for between two and five minutes or until they sense that the energy has stopped flowing. While no one knows exactly how reiki works, it is alleged that the energy flows through the practitioner out of their hands to the patient and the energy is taken in wherever the body requires it the most.
Advocates of reiki say that the powerful flow of positive energy provides an immediate sensation of warmth, relief and that they can feel the negative energy being replaced with positive energy. Some patients may also fall into what’s called the “reiki sleep” which is a state of deep sleep where they experience intense lucid dreams.
Benefits of Reiki
The healing energy of reiki is believed to impact all four levels of a person’s being, meaning it can impact them on an emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual level. Because of this, Reiki is described as being limitless in its possibilities of benefits and can help anyone in any way they need.
As mentioned previously, there is very little scientific evidence to back the benefits of reiki and more extensive studies are required. However, reiki is thought to provide the following benefits within each of the four levels:
- Improves mood
- Helps to better understand and get in touch with emotions
- Cultivates positive emotions like love, compassion, and intimacy
- Cleanses damaging or negative feelings
- Improves emotional responses to life events and conflicts
- Increases awareness of thoughts and negative patterns
- Improves focus and concentration
- Reduces anxiety
- Provides some relief from depression symptoms
- Supports the body’s natural ability to heal itself
- Releases toxins and energy blockages
- Supports better nutritional choices
- Increases awareness of your body
- Increases immune system strength
- Can potentially lower blood pressure, and heart rate
- Helps to release stress and tension
- Improves sleep quality
- Pain relief
- Helps spiritual growth and emotional cleansing
- Improves self-love and acceptance
- Creates the feeling of being a part of something larger than life
- Teaches self-compassion and compassion for others
- Dissolves energy blocks
Becoming a Reiki Master: Getting a Certification
For those who wish to become a reiki practitioner or for those who are looking for one to work with, the process of obtaining a reiki certification, or ‘mastery’ is unlike many other practices. The process of becoming a reiki practitioner, also known as a ‘reiki master’ is unique from other holistic health professions because it involves a ceremony called ‘attunement’. The only way to obtain reiki mastery is for it to be given to you by another reiki master through the attunement process. During this process, a unique connection is created between the student and teacher by opening the crown, heart, and palm chakras. There are three levels of training (sometimes four, depending on who is teaching), the attunement process is the focal point of each level and must be completed to become a master.
Level 1: The First Degree
The first level of training is the student’s initiation to reiki and is centered around opening the energy channels on a physical level. This allows the student to connect to the universal life force energy that flows from the cosmos through the crown of the head and into the heart and hands. Self-reiki and the history of reiki are also covered in the first level. After the first attunement, many students experience sensations like tingling, coolness, or heat in their palms – this is said to be the physical symptoms of energy in the hands. Reiki masters warn students that the first attunement can be draining or exhausting due to the intensity of the process. Many emotions are experienced as a result of the spiritual detox process causing many suppressed insecurities and pains to resurface.
Level 2: The Second Degree
During the second level of training, students can practice reiki on others. They receive their five symbols of reiki of which correspond to specific energy – power, harmony, distance, mastery, and completion. The five symbols are used to help practitioners focus their energy on the areas that are most relevant to the person they are practicing on and to utilize the reiki energy more practically in their everyday lives. They can also be used to heal people from a distance which is called time transcendence, this is also taught during the second level.
Level 3: The Third Degree & Master
Most courses combine Third Degree and Master, however, some teachers separate them. After the final attunement, practitioners have become masters and are “certified” to attune and teach Reiki to others.
Moving Forward With Reiki
If you are interested in the benefits of reiki or becoming a reiki master, it’s important to do your research. Reiki courses are all taught in a wide variety of methods, and obtaining certification by an overarching organization is not needed to practice it on others. It is always a good idea to ask your practitioner about their experience, training, and look for reviews when possible.