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What is Reiki?

In complementary and alternate medicine, ‘Reiki’ belongs to a domain called energy medicine, originating from Japan. In this domain, therapies are based on the belief that disturbances in energy cause illness. Energy medicine practitioners seek to improve the flow and balance of energy in a beneficial way.

Reiki, pronounced ray-key, literally means universal life force energy. The word Reiki is derived from two Japanese words, Rei, or universal spirit (sometimes thought of as a supreme being), and ki (life force energy). It was developed by Dr. Mikao Usui, a Japanese physician and monk in the 19th century. Reiki practitioners channel this energy, believed to be a life force energy, to heal physical and mental ailments. 


History of Reiki

There are several believs about the origin of Reiki. One is that it is based on Tibetan sutras written by monks. Sources agree that in the mid-19th century, Dr. Mikao Usui developed this healing approach and spiritual path, gave it the name Reiki, imparted training to others and developed an organization.

One of Dr. Usui’s students further developed these teachings and started his own clinic in Tokyo, where, in 1936, an American named Hawayo Takata went for the treatment. Later, she learnt Reiki, became a Master, and introduced it to the Western world in the late 1930s. In the contemporary Euro-American culture, Reiki has begun to unfold since the beginning of 1970s.1

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Reiki Principles

According to Dr. Mikao Usui, the principles of Reiki are as follows:

  • Just for today, do not worry
  • Just for today, do not anger
  • Earn your living honestly
  • Honor your parents, teachers and elders
  • Love your neighbor as yourself
  • Show gratitude to every living thing

Reiki Degrees

Reiki chiefly comprises of three degrees:

  • Reiki I: This is the entry level. The student is attuned to Reiki energy for the healing of themselves, others, plants and animals.  The class can be one or two days long. 
  • Reiki II: The student is shown symbols and may be shown meditation techniques to allow them to access the higher energies and direct them in a more focused manner. Absent and distant healings are also taught at this level.
  • Reiki III: This is the Reiki Master Teacher, or advanced level, where more symbols and meditation techniques are covered to allow the student to access the highest energies, develop themselves and their use of the life force. The student is also taught the attunement processes for all three levels of Reiki and the principles of Reiki teaching.

Method of Reiki Therapy

Reiki is a therapy that the practitioner delivers through the hands, with intent to raise the amount of ki in and around the client, heal pathways for ki, and reduce negative energies.

When a practitioner performs Reiki, usually the client sits or lies down comfortably. The practitioner places his/her hands on or slightly above the client’s body, using 12–15 different hand positions with the intent to transmit ki. The hands are positioned with the palms down, fingers and thumbs extended. Each hand position is held until the practitioner feels that the flow of energy has slowed or stopped, typically about 2–5 min. Some Reiki practitioners believe that they are helped by ‘spirit guides’ for proper flow of the energy.

Practitioners perform Reiki most often in offices, hospitals, clinics and private homes. The practitioner and client determine the number of sessions together. Typically, the practitioner delivers at least four sessions of 30–90 min each.

Depending on their level of training, people can perform Reiki on themselves as well as on other people.

There are two ways of transmitting Reiki energy—one is through the actual physical touch and the other is from long distance, also known as distance healing. Distance healing is when the practitioner sends Reiki energy to the receiver with intent. It is just as powerful as treatment through actual touch. It is helpful especially in 
situations when the patient cannot come to the clinic.

Therapeutic Uses of Reiki

Reiki practitioners claim that the therapies boost the body’s immune system, enhance the body’s ability to heal itself, and are beneficial for a wide range of problems, such as stress-related conditions, allergies, heart conditions, high blood pressure and chronic pain.2 People have sought Reiki treatment for a wide variety of health-related purposes. Some examples include the following:3

  • Effects of stress
  • Recovery from surgery and anesthesia
  • Side-effects of chemotherapy and radiation therapy for cancer
  • Lowering heart rate
  • Improving immunity
  • Mental clarity
  • Sense of well-being and/or spirituality
  • Enhancing the sense of peace in people who are dying

Research Findings of reiki

Research findings of reiki

Research shows a mixed response to Reiki therapy. While, some studies show a benefit, others have demonstrated that it is ineffective and time-consuming. Below is a brief review of some of the research studies.      

Conclusion about reiki

Reiki is easy to learn and can be performed by any health care practitioner in any health care setting. It is an excellent method of expressing a caring concern for patients by encompassing presence, listening techniques, and touch. A research has shown mixed results in terms of efficacy of this modality of treatment. Hence, more objective, well-designed research is needed to prove its efficacy and to gain acceptance from the medical community.

Written by: Healthplus24 team
Date last updated: March 27, 2012