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Author: Lyanne Mitchell
Title: Other People's Therapies

REIKI - Natural Healing through the Hands

Reiki is a Buddhist offspring of Qigong with added Shintoist influence. It was rediscovered by Mikao Usui of Kyota, Japan, towards the end of the19th century. It was he who named it REIKI (pronounced in the west as RAY - KEY and in Japanese LAY - KEY as there is no equivalent sound for R' ). In Japanese, the character REI stands for holy, spirit, mystery, gift, nature spirit, - and the character KI means energy, nature scene, talent and feeling. Reiki is usually translated as "universal life energy".

Although Usui wasn't a doctor in the conventional sense of the word, he was a healer in the real sense of the word. He made it his life's work to heal people's bodies and minds. Usui's biography and the origins of Reiki healing have become surrounded by stories and myths. Most sources claim that he was a Christian. It is possible that he may have embraced Christianity for a brief period during his life-long inner search. He is said to have worked in the slums healing beggars - a Christian ideal.

There are many ways to aim the arrow of awareness towards one's own centre - Reiki is just one of them.

It puts us back in touch with the long-forgotten but all-pervading life energy and teaches us how to love ourselves again. For some, Reiki is one of the many forms of healing bodywork; for others it is an alternative New-Age healing art; and for still others, it is a meditation technique. It all depends on the practitioner's viewpoint.

Writing about Reiki and talking about it to people who have never experienced its energy - giving or receiving - is a cosmic chasing one's own shadow. Reiki is present wherever and whatever we may be - yet evades our intellectual judgement the moment we turn our heads to look at it. All over the world, healers work with life energy - every form of life energy has its own characteristics but they are all made of the same fundamental material. It is called prana in India, elan vital in Europe, orgone by W.Reich, chi in China and Ki in Japan.

Reiki is the energy that pervades everything sentient and insentient. It is ever-changing, yet always the same. In Reiki teaching, everything is alive and therefore worthy of respect - from the rocks in your garden, through the animal and plant kingdoms, to the hand of your beloved in yours..... Reiki energy is neither yours nor mine, old nor young, neither good nor bad. Initiation into Reiki does not necessarily transform you into a great healer or luminous being. It simply brings out the best in you, intensifies your capabilities, and shows you what parts of your life have not yet been integrated. I use a quote at the foot of my First Degree Reiki certificates (self healing):-
Reiki does not make you holier or better than anyone else - it simply opens a door of awareness

Anyone can become a Reiki channel in a matter of a day or two. No skill and no special preparations or academic degrees are necessary. It is our birthright. Once initiated into Reiki, a person remains a Reiki channel throughout their lifetime, even if it is not put to use. Of course, daily practice deepens understanding of the universal life-force and also helps one to become a clearer channel for it. There is no religion or philosophy attached to it - it is pure energy! Reiki treatment is safe in any situation, irrespective of disease or discomfort and can be easily combined with orthodox medicine as well as with alternative healing / relaxation methods. It's about time that orthodox and alternative healing methods work hand-in-hand, instead of competing. Slowly, it is beginning to happen - GPs now recommend yoga classes for relaxation and some enlightened hospital consultants are beginning to refer patients undergoing Chemotherapy, to Reiki practitioners to boost their sinking energy levels.

Initiation / Attunement

The Reiki system is divided into 3 or in some cases, 4 'degrees' that are like building blocks. An individual does not have to complete the whole curriculum. Many learn only the first two degrees - i.e. self healing and treating others. The next two levels take the student to the Master' or (I prefer the term Teacher' ) stage and the ability to initiate / attune others. Reiki is transferred to the student by the teacher via the initiation or attunement ritual. This is the esoteric heart of Reiki. Some teachers prefer the term attunement' to initiation' which implies religious ritual. Knowledge or understanding are not transferred during the attunement ceremony - just energy, pure and simple.

The Reiki system, including the hand positions and all the symbols, does not work, without attunement since the channel for universal energy has not yet been fully opened. This is why Reiki is so bathed in secrecy; it simply cannot be discussed fully and openly with people other than initiates. The Reiki student learns to use a series of symbols which are long-kept secrets and are passed on and explained by teacher to student. It could be said that the Reiki symbols act as a spotlight or activator to focus the energy of a certain quality on a specific part of the body, through the palms. In a way, the symbols become this energy when used by the initiate. The intensity of the activated energy also depends on the affinity the Reiki practitioner has with the particular symbol used. However, Reiki cannot be used to manipulate situations or people, or to perform magic. Reiki is not goal-orientated. The only magic' is a natural process which allows or encourages the body to heal itself.

Much has been speculated about the esoteric origin of the Reiki symbols in the West. During a Reiki treatment, the practitioner's palms, spine, or Chakras become warm or hot, tingling and sometimes, even painful. This is a physical experience - not just imagined or visualised. I had been working and meditating with the Chakra system for a number of years before my first Reiki attunement, and yet I never experienced such feelings until I was attuned. The Reiki patient is not required to believe' in Reiki - merely to remain relaxed and open' . Many patients fall asleep during the treatment, yet still experience the healing benefits.

Reiki is channelled through the practitioner's hands / palms but it is not the practitioner's energy that flows - and my own Reiki Teacher rightly predicted that I would be repeatedly saying to grateful patients It's not my energy - I'm just the channel . Reiki Distance Healing can be sent' to patients and received' by mutual agreement and fore-planning. The longer I work as a Reiki practitioner / teacher, the more humble I become!

We do not 'own' Reiki or healing power - it is the other way round. Without Reiki there would be no life in the universe It is often said in the Reiki world that "we don't find Reiki...Reiki finds us".

The Power of Touch

It is no coincidence that our first reaction when comforting a crying child is to hold and hug. Unfortunately, we have generally limited the magic of touch to 2 situations in our lives - pain and sex.

When we begin the Reiki journey, we need to dissociate ourselves from this obstructive pattern that is so deeply ingrained in our collective psyche. Reiki is the perfect tool to help break our habit of associating both physical and emotional pain with physical touch - ie touching our own bodies only when it hurts and touching (hugging) another only when they are in emotional distress or during sex. Every time we start to treat ourselves with Reiki, we touch ourselves as if touching a child or lover and through this, we learn to associate touch with love. Love for ourselves is the first and most important step (Reiki 1 - self healing) Touching and loving others is the second step (Reiki 2 - treating others) and they must be taken in that order.


Reiki is not a religious path. Most Reiki Masters / Teachers tend to have an interest in spirituality and most, including myself, have discovered our field of interest long before we came in contact with Reiki. Reiki can be a gentle introduction to the inner world of meditation...or in my case, the logical next step from my inner journey to reaching out to others. The time we spend treating ourselves or others (including Distance Healing) can easily turn into 'active meditation' if we do it with utmost attention.


Reiki has helped me find more balance between body, mind and spirit. I have fallen in love with my body again after 30 years of treating it very badly. I have become more sensitive to the energy of situations, both positive and negative. Reiki has helped in my meditation, making it much easier to probe deeper into my inner self. Reiki is never 'diagnostic' someone a treatment is akin to pouring water over the earth....the energy will find its own routes and pathways and flow where it is most needed - physically, mentally or emotionally. To list all the benefits that a person may experience from Reiki attunement would fill a whole library since each one of us is unique. Generally speaking, Reiki provides caring touch, and gives a tangible energy boost to the system which encourages natural healing.

Often, especially after Reiki 2 and 3 attunements, people experience dramatic changes in their personal lives and relationships....their palms become ultra sensitive and can 'demand' to be used as the Reiki energy builds if you are afraid of change it is best you stay away from Reiki!