WHAT IS REIKI?
Thirty-five years ago, hardly anyone outside Japan had heard of Reiki. Now this simple but profoundly powerful system of ‘hands-on’ healing has spread around the world at an astonishing rate. More and more people every year are learning how to treat themselves and how to lay their hands effectively on their family and friends.
Reiki is a Japanese word meaning universal energy or spiritually guided life force (similar to the Chinese word ‘qi’ or the Indian word ‘prana’). It is also the name given to a system of natural healing for the body, mind and spirit.
WHAT HAPPENS DURING A REIKI TREATMENT?
In the same way that a plant takes up water, Reiki energy is absorbed wherever it is needed, going straight to the source of any problem in a completely natural and nourishing way, without the need for diagnosis or interference. Reiki stimulates the body’s own natural healing process, relieving physical aches and pains, lifting depression, dissolving stress and bringing about a deep and lasting sense of peace and relaxation.
Treatment is totally safe and non-invasive and can be used with absolute security alongside other therapies, including conventional medicine. Reiki energy is transferred through the practitioner’s hands which rest gently on the recipient’s body in a sequence of positions, moving every few minutes. Treatment is received either lying or sitting down, whichever is most comfortable. No clothing has to be removed as the energy passes through fabric, blankets, belts and even plaster casts. The recipient may experience sensations of warmth or tingling coming from the practitioner’s hands - or nothing at all. Some people close their eyes while receiving treatment, and many fall into a deep slumber which can sometimes be more refreshing than a full night’s sleep. People of any age, from the very old to the very young, and with any condition (from pregnancy to Alzheimer’s) can benefit. Animals also respond well to treatment so the effect is demonstrably not ‘just in the mind’.
WHAT'S THE HISTORY OF THIS PRACTICE?
The history of Reiki over the last hundred years is fascinating. One of the most ancient healing methods known to man, Reiki was rediscovered in Japan at the end of the nineteenth century by Dr Mikao Usui. He studied, travelled and meditated extensively, and with enormous dedication evolved the system of healing that is now taught around the world as Usui Shiki Ryoho (the Usui System of Natural Healing). Reiki came out of Japan and into the west in 1937, carried by a diminutive Japanese woman called Hawayo Takata. Mrs Takata was born in Hawaii in 1900. By the mid-thirties she was already a widow with two small daughters and a host of health problems. When travelling through Tokyo on family business she fell dangerously ill and was taken to hospital for surgery, but instead she discovered Reiki. After working closely with Dr Usui’s successor, Mr Hyashi, Mrs Takata was initiated as a Reiki master, and for the next forty years taught Reiki throughout the United States and Canada. She only started to initiate masters in 1975, five years before her death, and it is from the 22 Reiki masters she created that the current worldwide explosion of Reiki has emanated. The Lineage Bearer of the Usui Shiki Ryoho today, as brought from Japan to the West, is Mrs Takata’s granddaughter, Phyllis Lei Furumoto.
Reiki is still taught by masters trained in the original traditions, people whose personal lives are committed to this work. Like Mrs Takata they teach in the oral tradition, passing on the story of Reiki and the System’s development through a specific form. Inevitably, as the years have passed, practices have evolved and new systems have emerged so that treatments given by different practitioners may vary enormously, depending on how they themselves were taught.
Anyone can learn Reiki - and all sorts of people do - from all kinds of backgrounds and walks of life. It does not require any level of intellectual or mental power, any special skill or attribute. All that is needed is a genuine desire to learn and to use Reiki. And once learnt, the gift of Reiki is yours forever. In times of pain or crisis it can feel wonderfully empowering to know that you can lay your hands on yourself or the person who is suffering and bring relief. As Mrs Takata said, “All you have to do is take your hands out, apply, and you heal. And as far as healing is concerned, you don’t worry, because you are not doing it, the energy is doing it, Reiki is doing it. If Reiki is doing it there is no mistake, you understand?”
These days Reiki is practiced in hospitals, hospices, delivery suites, in some GP surgeries and many private clinics.
There are various ways of becoming involved with Reiki. You can go to a practitioner for a treatment (which lasts between sixty and ninety minutes and costs between £25 and £50 - prices vary). Alternatively, you can take a class and learn how to treat both yourself and others. Self-treatment, especially on a regular daily basis, promotes healing on every level - mental, physical, emotional and spiritual. It generates a sense of well-being and increased energy. People describe it as giving them a sense of balance and peace, a feeling of wholeness and of ‘being at home with oneself’. It is also a powerful tool for personal development and spiritual growth.