What is Reiki?

The word `Reiki ` is made up of two Japanese words:  `Rei`` which translates as `God's Wisdom or Sacred or the Higher Power` and `Ki`` which means `life force energy`. Hence Reiki has come to be known as a ` spiritually-guided, life force energy`.

In the early 1920s Mikao Usui experienced a sudden enlightenment after meditating for 21 days after which he went on to selflessly promote this energetic method of healing for the greater good of humanity.

Today Reiki has become known as an alternative healing treatment that was brought to the West in the 1970s by the tireless teachings of Mrs Hawayo Takata. Mrs Takata had been a student of Chujiro Hayashi, a naval officer and naval physican who studied under Usui. Hayashi went on to open his own clinics in order to actively spread the practice of Reiki healing throughout Japan.

Although Reiki energy helps to heal, at the core of Mikao Usui`s teachings are what are termed his five Precepts, collectively called the `Gokai` `.  

The Five Reiki Principles
`The secret method of inviting blessings, the spiritual medicine of many illnesses`
Just for today -  do not anger , do not worry, be thankful, work hard, be kind to others                 
Usui suggested these precepts be repeated as a mantra, a meditation both morning and night whilst keeping one`s hands in the prayer, `gassho` position, a Buddhist gesture of gratitude and blessing. 

Whilst these five statements appear to be simple in nature, when studied they contain a timeless wisdom, a pre-requisite for all those wanting to walk the Spiritual Path.

`Do not anger` To be angry, to continue to `hang onto` a past grievance that makes you feel and experience anger, only serves to keep you and others trapped in a stuck, negative situation. This anger will continue to repeat and imprint itself on future situations while the original emotion remains within you. Using Reiki can help you heal your anger and in doing so will help others to move forward and heal too. Sometimes this precept is written as `just for today, let go of anger`.

`Do not worry ` Can be written as `do not fear` which can be another way to say one has to learn to trust, trust that what is right will happen. We all fear change at times and worry about what may  happen in the future, but being anxious only creates stress which in turn will most likely result in illness. Using Reiki regularly can help you change and learn to trust that `right action` will occur. 

`Be thankful` Be grateful, literally count your blessings as doing so can be a surprisingly powerful exercise. Listing, writing down five things that you are grateful for each day can have a surprisingly positive effect on your life and will help to banish negative thoughts. It is a good way of removing our `stuck` internal blockages. 

`Work hard` Honesty and integrity are often overlooked attributes in today`s society but to work towards these ideals helps to attract positive situations and people into our lives. Sincerity will always help to banish our egos as the ego only attracts illusion which in turn takes us further away from our true path.

`Be kind to others` Without compassion for our fellow man and woman - in fact for the planet itself and every living thing upon it - we will never be able to truly heal ourselves, others or the planet. 

`Just for today` Is probably the most important part of the Gokai. Learning to be present in the here and now and not allowing oneself to be distracted by past or future thoughts is the key to any meditation. Only in the Now Moment can we be At One. Only here in this moment can we access the Source completely. Only an empty mind can be filled with the bliss that every spiritual seeker seeks ... to sit in gassho regularly will help to cultivate this blissful state of being ...

Usui, as a practising Tendai Buddhist will have been well aware of the fundamental values contained in these few words, similar ones are of course quoted in varying forms in many languages, dogmas and creeds.  He taught that to discover one`s connection with the Source, to take responsibility for one self literally physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually, to accomplish this is perhaps the one most important thing each of us can do as to heal our self helps to heal the world


Our total being consists of two perceivable segments. The first is the familiar physical body, which all of us can perceive; the second is the luminous body, which is a cocoon that only seers can perceive, a cocoon that gives us the appearance of giant luminous eggs.”  Carlos Casteneda    

 There is more to the human body than meets the eye. The living body emanates energies which create a luminous egg shape called an aura, according to those who `see`.  

The AURA can be described as a `bio magnetic field` of energies although unproven by science most healers feel something emanating from a living body ... The recognised seven layers or subtle bodies are; etheric, emotional, mental, astral, celestial and ketheric.    

The Seven CHAKRAS  from the Sanskrit word meaning `wheel` or circle...mentioned in ancient Hindu and ancient Buddhist texts. Yoga practices recognise the chakras as vortices, centres of energy or life force which exists in these more subtle bodies. Each relates to various parts of the physical body. Each is aligned to the vibration of a specific colour, harmonic note, sound, shape and hand `mudra`, or gesture.

The idea being that to attain perfect health all the centres need to be healthy, open and working. i.e. not blocked or shut down. Dowsing each chakra can help to discover its condition. A blocked root chakra is considered to be the most problematic as it is our most direct link to this world. Sitting in the lotus position positively connects the root chakra energies to the earth, enabling energy to rise up the spine `kundalini energy`   to connect the body to spirit.

The HARA and the TANDEN

In Japanese `hara `means belly, in Chinese and in Chinese medicine it`s called the `tanden ` and is recognised as the most important point in the body for replenishing one`s `chi,` `ki,` energy - ones internal life force. 

The `hara` region of the body is generally located in the abdomen between the bottom of the ribs and the top of the pelvic crest, centred about three finger widths below the navel.  It is known by many names:  `tanden` or `lower dantian` in China, the `Centre of Being`, the `Energy Centre`, or the `Sea of Ki  the `Seat of internal awareness and energy`.  In essence the `hara` is considered the centre of a person`s connectedness; physically, emotionally, and spiritually. 
“..when  we place the right hand on the stomach under the navel and cover this with the left hand. This is the way to energise the hara – the seat of energy – almost at once one feels recharged... comparable to a car battery being charged...”  Jan de Vries  

In comparison Reiki healing is relatively straightforward, but to have an awareness these `invisible` energy systems helps one`s understanding, i.e. healing via a chakra vortex can feel and sometimes be more efficient.
Charging up the `hara`, is a useful tool for oneself and for using on others.

As always practice and experience expands one`s knowledge. Inevitably there is a lot of information on all these subjects on the internet, but it is important to check the authenticity of the information.

The ability to practice Reiki is said to be enabled after receiving specific REIKI ATTUNEMENTS - `Reiju`, during one’s Reiki training, and there are different attunements for each level of Reiki. 

The emphasis in REIKI  1 is on self healing in preparation for taking the energies further and deeper... there is a recognised set of hand positions for this. Allow up to five minutes if you can in each position. 

Reiki hand positions for self healing

It is recommended that after the REIKI  1 attunements practise the self healing for twenty one days if possible. This helps to boost the Reiki energy you have just received.

You can also try out healing on friends and family, pets, plants and food too, all will benefit.
There are basic hand positions for healing others.          
There are internet links and books with more detailed Reiki hand positions for specific injuries and illnesses. Nothing harmful can come from practising Reiki but one`s initial experience can sometimes create a detoxing effect, so it is recommended to drink more water and to eat more healthily during this first three weeks.

Reiki hand positions for healing a client- Front

Reiki Hand positions for healing a client  - Back

There is another less formal technique for healing more favoured by the Usui school of Reiki called `Byosen` which is to learn to `scan` the body `visually` to find the area which needs healing most and then to lay on hands. Mrs Takata called it `Reiji-ho`- her more simplified version was to allow one`s hands to intuitively `feel`  for differences over the body ... hot, cold, warm, tingly, magnetic repelling or pulling, again this ability improves with practice.

This way of healing is probably the easiest healing method to use and can be the quickest if time is short. Remember too that the location of pain is not necessarily the origin of the problem. 

Help build up your sensitivity by practising `feeling` for `energy` between your hands ...

With others try feeling for their aura by walking slowly towards them with your hands outstretched until you feel their aura, their energy field. Quite often it can be felt as a `springy` mass up to one metre or more away from their body. One can also try mentally extending and contracting one`s aura and getting the other to feel the difference in size. 

Hold your palms one up one down over someone else`s palms also held similarly, palms facing. What can you feel? What do they feel? If there are several of you` send` the energy around the room in this way, first in one direction then the other. All sit in a circle facing each others` backs and place hands on the person`s shoulders in front of you. Send energy around between all of you.

A useful exercise for ending a healing session or just cleaning yours or another`s aura, energy field is the practise of `dry bathing` called `Kenyoku `.  Brush lightly with the opposite hand starting on your shoulder, down the arm and across your torso to the other hip, or towards the knee, and repeat a few times on both sides.

You can do a similar exercise on the person you have just healed but take the brushing downwards and into the ground to `earth` their energies after their treatment.
At the end of a healing session, rub your hands together to break the connection, alternatively rinse your hands briefly in cold water.

Although Reiki and other alternative practices are considered a pseudoscience by many, there are countless cases that tell of, if not miraculous healings, cases where the Reiki energy has helped to speed up healing or just helped to increase the feeling of a person`s wellbeing...

Other alternative practices that work well with Reiki and can be incorporated with Reiki are crystal healing, colour and sound healing.

Colours and types of crystals are known to have an effect on our more subtle bodies as are the vibrations and frequencies of tones and sounds as well as colours. Having an awareness of these can only add to the experience of creating a positive healing space and force. When you are to use the Reiki energy try and be aware of sound and colour in the healing environment. For instance it`s best not to wear black or other dull colours as they do not help to enhance the healing energies. The colours associated with the chakras can be a useful guide ...

Fragrances, essential oils, also have particular properties that help with healing. There are many alternative methods to help create well being which can be confusing and overwhelming at first. Trusting one`s instinct and intuition is often the best way to find which is right for you.

 The following is an updated history of Reiki based on accurate, verifiable information. (Some of this information is taken from a lengthy inscription on a memorial stone that was erected for Mikao Usui Sensei in Saihoji temple in the Suginami district of Tokyo, in 1927.)
Mikao Usui or Usui Sensei as he is called by Reiki students in Japan, was born August 15, 1865 in the village of Taniai in the Yamagata district of Gifu prefecture, which is located near present-day Nagoya, Japan.

He had an avid interest in learning and worked hard at his studies. As he grew older, he travelled to Europe and China to further his education. His curriculum included medicine, psychology and religion as well as the art of divination, which Asians have long considered to be a worthy skill. Usui Sensei also became a member of the Rei Jyutu Ka, a metaphysical group dedicated to developing psychic abilities.

He had many jobs including civil servant, company employee and journalist, and he helped rehabilitate prisoners. Eventually he became the secretary to Shinpei Goto, head of the department of health and welfare who later became the mayor of Tokyo. The connections Usui Sensei made at this job helped him to also become a successful businessman.

The depth and breadth of his experiences inspired him to direct his attention toward discovering the purpose of life. In his search he came across the description of a special state of consciousness that once achieved would not only provide an understanding of one`s life purpose, but would also guide one to achieve it. This special state is called An-shin Ritus-mei (pronounced on sheen dit sue may). In this special state, one is always at peace regardless of what is taking place in the outer world. And it is from this place of peace that one completes one`s life purpose. One of the special features of this state is that it maintains itself without any effort on the part of the individual; the experience of peace simply wells up spontaneously from within and is a type of enlightenment.

Usui Sensei understood this concept on an intellectual level and dedicated his life to achieving it; this is considered to be an important step on his spiritual path. He discovered that one path to An-shin Ritsu-mei is through the practice of Zazen meditation. So he found a Zen teacher who accepted him as a student. After three years practice, he had not been successful and sought further guidance. His teacher suggested a more severe practice in which the student must be willing to die in order to achieve An-shin Ritsu-meiwhich.

So with this in mind he prepared for death and in February, 1922, he went to Mt. Kurama to fast and meditate until he passed to the next world. In addition, we know there is a small waterfall on Mt. Kurama where even today people go to meditate. This meditation involves standing under the waterfall and allowing the water to strike and flow over the top of the head, a practice that is said to activate the crown chakra.  Japanese Reiki Masters
think that Usui may have used this meditation as part of his practice. In any case as time passed he became weaker and weaker. It was now March, 1922 and at midnight of the twenty-first day, a powerful light suddenly entered his mind through the top of his head and he felt as if he had been struck by lightning; this caused him to fall unconscious.

As the sun rose, he awoke and realised that whereas before he had felt very weak and near death, he was now filled with an extremely enjoyable state of vitality that he had never experienced before; a miraculous type of high frequency spiritual energy had displaced his normal consciousness and replaced it with an amazingly new level of awareness. He experienced himself as being the energy and consciousness of the Universe and that the special state of enlightenment he had sought had been given to him as a gift. He was overjoyed by this realisation.

When this happened, he was filled with excitement and went running down the mountain. On his way down he stubbed his toe on a rock and fell down. And in the same way anyone would do, he placed his hands over the toe, which was in pain. As he did this, healing energy began flowing from his hands all by itself. The pain in his toe went away and the toe was healed. Usui Sensei was amazed by this. He realized that in addition to the illuminating experience he had received, he had also received the gift of healing.

Usui Sensei practiced this new ability with his family and developed his healing system through experimentation and by using skills and information based on his previous study of religious practices, philosophy and spiritual disciplines. He called his system of healing Shin-Shin Kai-Zen Usui Reiki Ryo-Ho (Usui Reiki Healing Method for Improvement of Body and Mind) or in its simplified form Usui Reiki Ryoho (Usui Reiki Healing Method).  It is important to know that Usui Sensei didn`t create Reiki as there were other methods of Reiki healing in Japan prior to Usui Sensei creating his method and in fact one was called Reiki Ryoho.

In April 1922, he moved to Tokyo and started a healing society that he named Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai (Usui Reiki Healing Method Society). He also opened a Reiki clinic in Harajuku, Aoyama,Tokyo. There he taught classes and gave treatments.

In 1923, the great Kanto earthquake devastated Tokyo. More than 140,000 people died and over half of the houses and buildings were shaken down or burned. An overwhelming number of people were left homeless, injured, sick and grieving. Usui Sensei felt great compassion for the people and began treating as many as he could with Reiki. This was a tremendous amount of work, and it was at this time that he began training other Shihan (teachers) so that they could help him more quickly train others to be Reiki practitioners and help the sick and injured. Demand for Reiki became so great that he outgrew his clinic, so in 1925 he built a bigger one in Nakano, Tokyo. Because of this, Usui Sensei`s reputation as a healer spread all over Japan. He began to travel so he could teach and treat more people. During his travels across Japan he directly taught more than 2,000 students and initiated twenty Shihan each being given the same understanding of Reiki and approved to teach and give Reiju in the same way he did.

The Japanese government issued him a Kun San To award for doing honourable work to help others. While travelling to Fukuyama to teach, he suffered a stroke and died March 9, 1926. His grave is at Saihoji Temple, in Suginami, Tokyo, although some claim that his ashes are located elsewhere.

Chujiro Hayashi Before his passing, Usui Sensei had asked Hayashi Sensei to open his own Reiki clinic and to expand and develop Reiki Ryoho based on his previous experience as a medical doctor in the Navy. Motivated by this request, Hayashi Sensei started a school and clinic called Hayashi Reiki Kenkyukai  (Institute). After Usui Sensei`s passing he left the Gakkai.

At his clinic he kept careful records of all the illnesses and conditions patients who came to see him had. He also kept records of which Reiki hand positions worked best to treat each patient. Based on these records he created the Reiki Ryoho Shinshin (Guidelines for Reiki Healing Method). This healing guide was part of a class manual he gave to his students. Many of his students received their Reiki training in return for working in his clinic.

Hayashi Sensei also changed the way Reiki sessions are given. Rather than have the client seated in a chair and treated by one practitioner as Usui Sensei had done, Hayashi Sensei had the client lie on a treatment table and receive treatment from several practitioners at a time. He also created a new more effective system for giving Reiju (attunements). In addition, he developed a new method of teaching Reiki that he used when he travelled. In this method, he taught both Shoden and Okuden (Reiki I&II) together in one five-day seminar. Each day included two to three hours of instruction and one Reiju
Because of his trip to Hawaii in 1937–38 prior to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour, he was asked by the Japanese military to provide information about the location of warehouses and other military targets in Honolulu. He refused to do so and was declared a traitor. This caused him to `lose face` which meant he and his family would be disgraced and would be ostracised from Japanese society. The only solution was seppuku (ritual suicide), which he carried out. He died honourably on May 11, 1940.

Mrs Hawayao Takata Hayashi`s successor, was born on the 24 December 1900, on an island of Kauai, Hawaii, called Hanamaulu. She worked as both an assistant teacher and shop assistant before working in the household of a wealthy sugar cane plantation owner. She became head housekeeper and had 21 staff under her. Her husband died at the age of 34, leaving her with two daughters.
In 1935 her health deteriorated and she decided to return to her family in Tokyo. She was diagnosed as having a tumour, gallstones and other physical problems. While she was lying on the operating table a voice came into her head, telling her that the operation was not necessary. She consulted with the surgeon and asked if there was another way she could be treated. Enquiries were made and she was directed to Chujiro Hayashi's clinic. She stayed at the clinic for six months and was successfully treated. During this time she enquired about enrolling as a student. Dr Hayashi did not teach foreigners, but he eventually relented and taught Hawayo Takata as an honorary member.
In 1936 she volunteered to work at the clinic and lived at the Hayashi family home. She practised and studied for a year and progressed to Okudan - the second level of Reiki training. Hawayo Takata finished her training in 1937 and returned to Hawaii. Chujiro Hayashi and his daughter followed her and stayed for six months, helping her set up a Reiki practice in Honolulu. Before leaving he announced that Hawayo Takata had become a Master of the Usui System of Natural Healing. In 1938 she took classes in anatomy and other therapies before continuing her practice.
In 1939 she set up a successful practice in Hilo. Her treatments would take as long as two hours and continue for one or two days, or up to a year. She was a renowned practitioner of great experience. Takata never called herself a Grand Master. Her fees were flexible according to clients' means.
On 1 January 1940 she had a dream about Chujiro Hayashi. She settled her affairs and went to Japan. There she discovered that Dr Hayashi had decided to end his life. He did not wish to take the lives of others in the coming war against America. On 10 May 1940 he passed away from a self-induced stroke, with his friends and family around him. Hawayo Takata had been left the Hayashi practice and home in Tokyo. She returned to America, leaving it in the hands of Hayashi's widow, Chie Hayashi. Returning to Japan 14 years later she officially handed the house and clinic back to Chie Hayashi.
For thirty years Hawayo Takata worked in Honolulu, travelling regularly around the islands teaching. In 1973 she began teaching on the mainland of America and Canada. She taught level one and two until l976, when, at the age of seventy six, she taught her first Reiki Master student.
In 1975 she suffered a heart attack and made preparations for her retirement. This was not to be, for she went on to teach twenty two Reiki Masters. Students did not have a waiting period between levels, so each level could be reached fairly quickly. She taught in what is known as the oral tradition. From knowledge gathered from her students, it seems her teachings were often at variance with one another. She taught what she felt was appropriate for each class and no two teachings were identical. Symbols and mantras passed on to students were not always the same. The Five Principles were taught to all her students and 12 hand positions known as the Foundation Treatment.
Hawayo Takata gave four attunements for Level One, two or three for Level Two and one for Level Three. She did not teach the chakra system, but worked from the Hara. She gave her own version of the history of Reiki, some people believe, to make it more acceptable to the Western mind. Hawayo Takata died of a heart attack on 11 December 1980. She did not officially name her successor. After her death a group called the Reiki Alliance was formed. Her granddaughter, Phyllis Lei Furumoto, was elected as the lineage bearer of the system of Reiki called Usui Shiki Ryoho. It was the first time this term had ever been used in Reiki.

~ Grateful thanks for the various illustrations I have used from the `net` to accompany my text ~