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What Is Reiki? Here’s Your Guide to Reiki, the Japanese Energy Healing Technique

The word reiki is a Japanese word for “universal life force energy.” But what is reiki, exactly?

Reiki is a subtle energy therapy, commonly practiced by light touch or “layering on of hands,” either gently on the body (if patient allows) or slightly above it, bringing the hands within the auric field and other koshas (which are the 5 sheaths of the aura that are like layers of an onion of the subtle body).

Want to learn more about auras? Learn All About Aura Meaning, Colors, Cleansing and How to Read Them

In essence, reiki is the practice of administering an unseen “life force” energy (also known as prana) that flows from the universal life force, through the crown chakra and out from the hands (which act as portals) for the reiki (life force energy) to stream through to the person receiving the treatment.

Reiki is a subtle energy therapy, commonly practiced by light touch either gently on the body, or slightly above it.

You may at first consider this concept a bit ‘woo woo’ and that’s ok. It’s good to be skeptical until you do research and reach your own conclusions.

What Is Reiki and How Does It Work?

Theoretical physicists and metaphysicians have been studying energy fields and frequencies for years.

We also know that everything is energy and everything transmits and pulsates with energy. In Eastern philosophy this energy is prana, in Chinese Medicine it is called chi, in Africa it’s known as ashe, in Hawaii as ha or mana and Native Americans call it Ni or Nilchi’i.

Curious about prana? Read: Prana – An In-Depth Look at Life Force Energy

The word reiki is a Japanese word for “universal life force energy.”

The Japanese Kanji alphabet defines Reiki as:

Rei: Universal, transcendental, spirit, essence or spiritual consciousness.

Ki: Vital life force energy which flows through all beings. Non-physical energy that animates all living things and is the primary energy of our emotions, thoughts and spiritual life.

Ki is also used in martial arts during physical training and for healers offering non-physical energy to clients.

In regards to subtle body energy healing, science is only just catching up to what ancient philosophies have known and practiced.

Energy healing is allowing prana, or reiki, to flow through and around our bodies to encourage a sense of wellbeing and connection to the cosmos.

In this healing technique, the practitioner uses their hands to guide them to where the life force energy needs to go to encourage healing. In yoga we flow with the breath in order to breathe in the prana, or life force energy.

In Kirtan we sing the sacred language of Sanskrit and mantra, the soundwaves from that vibrate through and around us, which is also another form of energy healing for the chakras, koshas, and ultimately the mind and body too.

Interested in learning more about these techniques? Mantra and Kirtan: Here’s Why These Meditation Tools Belong In Your Practice

Reiki and Its Place In Modern Society and Western Medicine

Reiki has increased in worldwide popularity to the point that a reiki practitioner can now be registered as a holistic health professional in the USA and the UK.

Reiki is now enjoying an equal status and respect to yoga and massage therapy within the wellness industry. Even psychotherapists are recommending it to their clients as evidence suggests that it calms the mind and encourages relaxation.

Medical studies show the benefits of reiki for individuals with chronic illnesses, dis-ease such as cancer, and for the elderly. While trials have shown that reiki cannot cure a dis-ease, it has been validated as being more than a placebo effect by professionals and is used to compliment Western Medicine.

The word Reiki is a Japanese word for “universal life force energy.”

Reiki is also considered to be an effective stress reduction technique that easily integrates into conventional medicine and psychotherapy.

This is because Reiki has a calming effect on the patient, especially in a hospital environment. When an individual is about to have an operation or undergo chemotherapy, simply having someone offer loving energy to bring you into a meditative state can reduce stress and fearful feelings.

Reiki practitioners can usually be found at your local health and wellness spa or clinic (some acupuncture clinics offer reiki, for example), yoga studio or festival that promotes alternative medicines and holistic practices.

The History and Background of this Healing Technique

It is believed that the origins of reiki healing come from ancient Tibetan and Sanskrit scriptures about universal and cosmic energy, shamanism and vibrational healing.

In the mid 1800’s, a Japanese professor named Dr. Mikao Usui found some writings in Sanskrit while residing in an old Buddhist temple. Within these writings were formulas and symbols that peaked his curiosity.

During a 21-day mountain meditation pilgrimage on Mt. Kurama which included chanting, solitude, fasting and prayer, he stood under a waterfall and had a deeply mystical experience.

Everything is energy and everything transmits and pulsates with energy.

It is believed as the water flowed over him, he received his attunement directly from source and saw the reiki symbols still used today during attunements and healing sessions.

This system became known as the “Usui Reiki System.”

Usui went on to carry out healing treatment for the poor free of charge and in 1922 he started a healing society and clinic in Tokyo to give treatments and trainings.

Usui believed that reiki did not belong to him – he was simply the vessel for the reiki to flow through him. He believed reiki was for everyone and that we are all part of this universal energy.

Here’s What to Expect During a Traditional Reiki Treatment

A traditional session usually lasts an hour and begins with the practitioner in gassho position (hands in prayer/namaste) before and after treatment. Here, an intention is said quietly or aloud.

The client can be sitting or lying down on a massage table or yoga mat with their eyes closed. The practitioner takes a moment to draw down the reiki – with their right hand held up toward the heavens and the left hand placed on the client’s shoulder – connecting both individuals to the source.

Next, the practitioner simply sweeps and guides their hands over their client, stopping where intuitively they feel needs extra reiki. Reiki symbols can be drawn into the aura and snapping or clicking of the fingers can also be used to expel negative energy.

You may be curious about these mysterious reiki symbols. These symbols are similar in appearance to Japanese Kanji or hieroglyphs. Unless you are being initiated as a reiki practitioner, these symbols are not commonly or openly shared.

Some practitioners work “shamanically” and enjoy using singing bowls, mantra, crystal healing and essential oils as part of the treatment.

Curious about essential oils? This Expert Shares Everything You Need to Know About Essential Oils In This Fact-Based Guide

After a session, most people report feeling incredibly calm and relaxed afterwards, saying they no longer feel worried or stressed, that they slept well that night or felt more at ease for the rest of their work week.

How Do You Become a Reiki Practitioner?

There are three levels of attunement. The first degree involves being attuned to four reiki symbols, opening you up to receive and give reiki.

Level one allows you to practice on yourself, friends, family, pets and animals, for example. The main emphasis with level one is on self-healing.

The second level involves being initiated to use three sacred symbols, and you’ll gain a deeper understanding of the benefits of reiki.

At this stage, you can become a practitioner who can (if you wish) charge for treatments within a clinic, wellness center or freelance. This means you get to see what the symbols look like and practice including them in healing sessions.

The third level is more like a teacher training and attunes you to become a Reiki Master. Here you are attuned to and learn one more symbol (the Master symbol) and taught how to facilitate your own attunement trainings.

The main goal of Master level is to live and breathe reiki. It is a spiritual practice much like Yoga or Buddhism. It becomes a major part of your life.

What can be blessed with reiki energy?

Reiki energy can be added to anything. Reiki can be used to bless food, it can be used to help any ailments, and it can be included in a yoga practice (which is called Reiki Yoga). Reiki can help a struggling house plant or charge crystals.

Reiki: The Takeaway

Simply put, reiki is unconditional love in energetic form and many practitioners call it reiki love because it is the cosmic breath of life, the breath of love.

To end, I invite you to reflect on the principles of reiki:

Reiki Principles
Just for today I will live the attitude of gratitude
Just for today I will not worry
Just for today I will not anger
Just for today I will do my work honestly
Just for today I will show love and respect for every living thing

May all beings be happy
May all beings be free from suffering
May all beings find their light.

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Katie Ness

Katie Ness is an Ayurvedic Yoga teacher, Reiki teacher, Women’s Circle facilitator, belly dancer and artist from the UK. As a traveling yogini, she has visited over 20 countries. She spends her free time illustrating in her nature journal, writing poetry, and reading. Katie is currently studying herbalism and botanical illustration.

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