The name Reiki originates from Japanese REI (spirit) and KI (energy, life force). Reiki therapy utilizes spiritual, or universal, energy to assist the healing process. Healing can occur on physical, emotional or spiritual levels. Reiki as a modern healing method was initiated at the beginning of the 20th century by Dr. Mikao Usui (1865 – 1926), a Japanese Buddhist monk, but it is possible to trace the origins of Reiki back to Buddhist healing practices.
To become a Reiki practitioner one gets training from a Reiki master, or teacher. The training includes learning specific information and receiving initiations, or attunements. The purpose of attunements is to allow the future practitioner to conduct the energy of Reiki to assist the healing. Each attunement is a joint meditation by teacher and student, during which the student is receptive, and the teacher is “tuning” the student’s energy centers to the Reiki energy, or universal energy of love and compassion. After receiving the attunements, the student becomes capable of transmitting this energy through his or her energy centers in the head, chest and palms to the patient. To perform attunements, the teacher uses Reiki symbols in specific sequence, together with visualizations and breath. (It is believed that Reiki symbols were “received” by Dr. Usui in an enlightening meditation. They have Japanese names, and are derived from Japanese and Sanskrit characters). The same symbols that are used in attunements are used in Reiki treatments, but in a different sequence. Their purpose is to concentrate the attention and intention of the Reiki practitioner.
Reiki treatments can be performed in person or at a distance. During “hands-on” treatment the practitioner places his or her hands in specific positions on or above the patient’s body, and allows Reiki (universal energy) to assist in the patient’s healing. During distant treatment the practitioner focuses on the patient, using Reiki symbols and the patient’s name (and picture), and allows Reiki to assist in healing. It is believed that length of distance between the Reiki practitioner and the patient does not affect the efficacy of treatment, similarly to the presumed effect of prayer.
During “hands-on” or distant Reiki treatments the patients usually experience relaxation and peacefulness and may feel warmth and other subtle and pleasant sensations. The treatment lasts 15-60 minutes. Since the practitioner does not use his or her own energy, but transmits the universal energy of love and compassion, the energy never gets depleted and, after giving the treatment, the practitioner usually feels better and stronger as well. During the treatment the practitioner does not diagnose the patient, and does not perform any purposeful manipulations (addition or removal of energy) of the patient’s energy field. The only intention of the practitioner during the treatment is to be a pure conduit of healing energy. It is believed that during the treatment the patient’s body (energy body) “draws” the necessary healing energy and distributes it according to its needs. That is why “overdosing” of energy, or transmitting the “wrong” kind of energy is not possible during Reiki treatments.
Reiki is recognized by NIH. According to the current definition, designed by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) at NIH, “Reiki is a complementary health approach in which practitioners place their hands lightly on or just above a person, with the goal of facilitating the person’s own healing response”. Earlier and more accurate definition by NCCAM (from 2010) attributed Reiki to “Biofield Medicine, which involves systems that use subtle energy fields in and around the body for medical purposes”. Reiki research is currently not a priority for NCCAM.