Reiki: A History Lesson

A Note from Hope Katz Gibbs, publisher, BeInkandescent Health & Wellness magazine — When I became certified as a Reiki Master in 2016, I was suddenly able to take everything I’d learned and experienced in my life and give it a focus. What is Reiki, and how does it work?

For insight, let’s turn to the International Association of Reiki Professionals®: Reiki is a spiritual healing art with its roots in Japanese origin. The word Reiki comes from the Japanese word (Rei), which means “Universal Life” and (Ki) which means “Energy.”

Reiki is not affiliated with any particular religion or religious practice. It is not massage nor is it based on belief or suggestion. It is a subtle and effective form of energy work using spiritually guided life force energy.

Reiki is the life energy that flows through all living things. Reiki Practitioners understand that everyone has the ability to connect with their own healing energy and use it to strengthen energy in themselves and help others. It is believed that a person’s “ki” or energy should be strong and free-flowing. When this is true a person’s body and mind is in a positive state of health. When the energy becomes weak or blocked it could lead to symptoms of physical or emotional imbalance.

A Reiki session can help ease tension and stress and can help support the body to facilitate an environment for healing on all levels – physical, mental, and emotional. A session is pleasant and relaxing and is often utilized for one’s personal wellness.

The History of Reiki

Dr. Mikao Usui: The man credited with rediscovering the root system now called Reiki is Dr. Mikao Usui. His tradition and methods were passed through several grandmasters of Reiki. Today, Reiki takes many forms. However, The Usui System of Natural Healing is still the form most widely practiced. Practitioners and Master Teachers are trained through an initiation process where Masters pass on their knowledge and expertise to their students. Born to a wealthy Buddhist family in 1865, Usui’s family was able to give their son a well-rounded education for the time. As a child, he studied in a Buddhist monastery where he was taught martial arts, swordsmanship, and the Japanese form of Chi Kung, known as Kiko. He was interested in medicine, psychology, and theology throughout his education. This interest prompted him to seek a way to heal himself and others using the laying on of hands. His desire was to find a method of healing unattached to any specific religion and religious belief so that his system would be accessible to everyone. Dr. Usui traveled a great deal during his lifetime. He studied healing systems of all types and held different professions, including reporter, secretary, missionary, public servant, and guard. Finally, he became a Buddhist priest/monk and lived in a monastery.

In the beginning — Mount Kurama: Sometime during his years of training in the monastery, Dr. Usui attended his training rediscovery course in a cave on Mount Kurama. For 21 days, Dr. Usui fasted, meditated, and prayed. On the morning of the twenty-first day, Dr. Usui experienced an event that would change his life forever. He saw ancient Sanskrit symbols that helped him develop the system of healing he had been struggling to invent. Usui Reiki was born. After his spiritual awakening on Mount Kurama, Dr. Usui established a clinic for healing and teaching in Kyoto. As the practice of Usui Reiki spread, he became known for his healing practice. Mikao Usui founded his first Reiki clinic and school in Tokyo in 1922.

Dr. Chujiro Hayashi: Before he died, Dr. Usui taught several Reiki masters to ensure his system would not be forgotten. Among them was Dr. Chujiro Hayashi, a former naval officer who set up a Reiki clinic in Tokyo. Dr. Hayashi is credited with further developing the Usui system of Reiki by adding hand positions to cover the body more thoroughly. Dr. Hayashi also changed and refined the attunement process.

Hawayo Takata: Using his improved system, Dr. Hayashi trained several more Reiki Masters, including a woman named Hawayo Takata. She was a Japanese-American woman who initially went to Dr. Hayashi for healing in 1935. Very ill and in need of surgery, she strongly felt through her instinct that she didn’t need that surgery to be healed. After asking her doctor about alternative treatments for her condition, she was told about the Reiki practitioner in town. Mrs. Takata had never heard of Reiki, but she made an appointment, even though she was slightly skeptical. Following her initial meeting with Dr. Hayashi, Mrs. Takata saw Dr. Hayashi daily. She found the sessions to be relaxing, pleasant, and healing. As time passed, Mrs. Takata learned Reiki One and Reiki Two. When she returned to the United States, Mrs. Takata continued to practice Reiki and eventually became a Reiki Master. Much of this happened near the beginning of World War II. Mrs. Takata wanted to spread her system of healing to others. She changed her Reiki practice, then used Reiki to help heal others in the United States. When she died, she had attuned 22 Reiki masters.

Reiki today: People who practice Reiki use the methods developed by Dr. Usui, the founder of Usui Reiki. The genius of Reiki is that practitioners can utilize Reiki to help heal themselves and for their wellness and enhanced well-being. Working on self-healing is a prerequisite for offering Reiki healing to others. Modern Reiki masters can offer the Reiki energy to others through gentle static light pressure touch using the specific traditional Reiki hand positions and even over long distances like prayer is offered. Reiki healing complements many medicinal therapies and traditional medicine and can be used to help assist in the potential healing of people suffering from pain, illness, disease, and more.

Click here to learn more about this healing practice at the International Association of Reiki Professionals:!

What to expect: About your Reiki session

A session is usually 60 to 90 minutes long. A discussion will usually take place during an initial session with a Reiki Practitioner. They will describe the session to the client, give the client an opportunity to discuss any particular problems or issues they are experiencing, and ask them what they are hoping to achieve from their session.

The client will then rest comfortably on a massage table on their back with their shoes removed. Reiki can be performed with the client sitting comfortably in a chair. Unlike massage therapy, no articles of clothing are removed, and a client is always fully clothed; loose, comfortable clothing is suggested. A session can either be hands-on, where a Practitioner will apply a light touch during the session, or hands-off, where they will hold their hands slightly above your body. If clients prefer not to be touched, they can indicate this to the practitioner before they begin.

The session will then proceed with the Reiki Practitioner moving through specific standard Reiki hand positions beginning at the person’s head or feet. A recipient of Reiki might feel a warming sensation or a tingling during the session or nothing but sheer relaxation. The session should be very pleasant, relaxing, and invigorating.

What is Reiki used to Treat? Reiki is a great tool for stress reduction and relaxation. Many people use Reiki for wellness. Reiki is not a cure for a disease or illness, but it may assist the body in creating an environment to facilitate healing. Reiki is a great tool to complement traditional medicine and is practiced in many hospitals and medical care settings. After experiencing Reiki treatments, a client often will wish to learn Reiki to work with this energy by taking a Reiki I course. This can be beneficial as they may then use this stress reduction and relaxation tool anytime they wish when the cost would prohibit it otherwise.

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