Shoufuku no hihoo
The secret method of inviting happiness.
Manbyo no ley-yaku
The wonderful medicine for all diseases of the body and soul.
Kyo dake wa, okoru-na. Shinpai suna. Kansha shite. Goo hage me. Hito ni shinsetsu ni.
Just today, don’t get angry. Don’t worry. Be grateful and show appreciation. Work hard on yourself. Be kind to others.
Asa yuu gassho shite, koko-ro ni nenji, Kuchi ni tonaeyo.
Morning and evenings, sit in Gassho and repeat these words aloud and in your heart.
Shin shin kaizen.
For the improvement of body and soul.
– Usui Reiki Ryoho. Chosso, Usui Mikao.
-Usui Spiritual Energy Healing Method. The Founder, Mikao Usui.
Living the Reiki Way is all about living in the present moment with compassion in your heart, and we only have to try one day at a time.
Each of these principles seem so esoteric and foreign, yet simple. Everyone knows that anger and worry only lead to unhappiness. We know we are supposed to thank people for things. We know we should work hard. We know we should be nice. But all the time? In every moment? Regardless of traffic, and deadlines, and PTA meetings.
Regardless of heartbreak and accidents. Regardless of past or future obsession.
Now how do we manage that?
We can honour and respect everyone, everything, and every moment. It is possible. We can choose to invite people into our happiness rather than getting swept up in their storm. We can choose how to react to certain situations with nothing but compassion. But that means we will have to let go of a lot of stuff. A lot of previous conditioning. It’ll take a lot of work. But, hey, thank goodness it’s one of the principles, eh? And thank goodness we can always begin again and try harder in the next moment, the next day. Every morning is a new beginning, and wherever we are, we can be there totally. We can be present, completely and utterly present in all that we are doing. We can choose to be present and be alive, in this moment, right now, this very second. So, just for today, we can embrace pure mindfulness and pay attention to what has heart and meaning right Now because “there is no more joyful place in the world than exactly where you are, right now- because you cannot experience real joy when your mind is elsewhere, thinking of what has happened int eh past, or what might happen in the future. In this way, being more in touch with your experiences helps you to realize that you are living, rather than just existing.”
Dr. Usui Sensei asked his students to live the Reiki Way by following the Gokai: the Principles. In this way we all can grow towards enlightenment in so many areas of our life. By following these precepts we can incorporate a higher vibration to our environments, to our clients, to our families and planet.
According to the American Psychological Association, anger is an emotion characterized by “antagonism toward someone or something you feel has deliberately done you wrong.” Anger can be a good thing. It can give you a way to express negative feelings, for example, or motivate you to find solutions to problems. However, we can choose to just for today, not allow toxic-anger to control our lives.
In positive psychology, worry is described as a response to a moderate challenge for which the subject has inadequate skills. Worry can also be a good thing. It can show us that we care about others’ safety and our own and can help us to be constructive to change our situations. It is like anger, a survival mechanism. It reminds us to put on our seat belts and to use preventative measures against dis-ease. However, toxic-worry in the form of extreme anxiety can paralyze us and prevent us from achieving our highest good.
Taking things for granted or living with regret are no ways to live. So we can show appreciation the things we do have, the people in our lives now, in the present moment, rather than the ones who have left us or the ones who aren’t yet. By living with Gratitude, we raise our consciousness where toxic anger and worry have no standing.
In this way we can devote our lives to this way of life. We devote ourselves to the Reiki Way because we value it. We value ourselves, our lives, our practice. We value our connection and our ability to heal ourselves and others. With enough experience and Diligence, we can work towards personal growth and development of our entire planet. We are the sum of our experiences, in every moment we can choose to make them be nourishing rather than debilitating.
If we are diligent enough in our own practice, think how much easier it will be to be so with others. After all, we cannot love or take care of others without loving and caring for ourselves first. Loving Kindness is more than just being nice. It’s being kind to everyone we meet, under any circumstances, in any situation, in the present moment. We need not always judge people based upon what they wear or what they smell like. We can be kind and respect all peoples regardless of age, gender, creed, tribe, nationality, language, culture, religion, or orientation. Everyone we meet is ultimately trying to help us along, Higher Self to Higher Self, and we have a duty to meet all of creation where they are, in the Now.
In the words of Penelope Quest, “remember that living the Reiki Way doesn’t mean you have to be solemn and serious- life is meant to be enjoyed, so have fun, live life to the fullest, share happy times with people you love and bless Reiki for the gift it is in your life.”
Different Types of Reiki
There are many different types of modern Reiki, but all seem to stem from the Usui Reiki tradition. (See below) Basically though, all that Reiki is is simply “the secret art of inviting happiness into your life.”- Mikao Usui Sensei.
There is Karuna Reiki, Tibetan Reiki, Angelic Reiki, Rainbow Reiki, Kundalini Reiki, and Shamanic Reiki.
One World Healing does a fantastic job at describing each of these, except Shamanic Reiki.
The key component though of all of these different ways, different “languages” of Reiki, if you will, is to bring wholeness, peace, love and health to the world. Just like different ways of painting, expressionist, abstract, cubists, or surrealism; practitioners heal in their own ways, and like to teach others if they are so moved. They are all different expressions, different techniques of how to heal the world.
Created in the 1920’s, Usui Reiki came to us from the teachings of Mikao Usui (ME-COW OO-Su-EE), 1865-1926, who was a Japanese Tendai Buddhist priest, businessman, spiritualist, scholar, and Aiku jutsu Sensei. Usui taught us that Reiki is a simple and natural process of laying on of hands for therapeutic purposes. It is an alternative holistic medicine that has been practiced under many other names for centuries. Its core teaching is to bring harmony and wholeness on all levels (mind, body & spirit) via the biofield, chakras, and subtle energies of living things and objects.
He developed what would later be called “Reiki” by combining the teachings of his masters before him through Mikkyō, Shugendō, Shintoism, and Martial Arts.
Mikkyō is a collection of sacred esoteric teachings about the powers of mysticism, magic and healing that had gradually begun to reach Japan with the arrival of “itinerant monks, priests, hermits and shamanic practitioners, forced to flee from China after the fall of the Tang Dynasty.” – Kenkyusha’s New Japanese-English Dictionary
It blended easily with Shinto practices and the pre-Buddhist folk traditions of shungendo. These imported teachings, combining Chinese Tantric Buddhism, Chinese Yin-Yang magic, Taoism and, at a later date, TibetanVajrayāna Buddhism.
Shugendō is a highly syncretic Buddhist religion or sect and mystical-spiritual tradition that originated in pre-Feudal Japan, in which enlightenment is equated with attaining oneness with the Kami, or manifestation of gods/deities/ ascended masters. This perception of experiential “awakening” is obtained through the understanding of the relationship between humanity and nature, centered on an ascetic, mountain-dwelling practice. The focus or goal of Shugendō is the development of spiritual experience and power. Having backgrounds in mountain worship, Shugendō incorporated beliefs or philosophies from Old Shinto, as well as folk animism, and further developed as Taoism and esoteric Buddhism arrived in Japan. The 7th century ascetic and mystic En no Gyōja is often considered as having first organized Shugendō as a doctrine. Shugendō literally means “the path of training and testing” or “the way to spiritual power through discipline.” -Picken, Stuart D.B. (1994). Essentials of Shinto: An Analytical Guide to Principal Teachings.
Reiki practitioners utilize their skill by manipulating and strengthening universal consciousness life force energy or “Ki” energy to help a client restore harmony and balance and heal on a mind, body and spirit level. “Reiki is both a complete system of healing one’s self and others as well as an effective complement to other approaches of medical care.”- Theda Renee Floyd, PhD, RN, HHP, RMT
There are three main degrees or levels of learning to practice Reiki, although some consider there to be four. Each is received from a master teacher, and is followed by a period of attunement. Each attunement is like a deeper leveled detox, where negative traumas, hurts and deeds are released and the body, mind and spirit are elevated towards enlightenment.
Shoden, the First Degree, is all about self healing and physical healing where you receive your first cleansing release of your chakras and aura. Once completed, you can practice Reiki unprofessionally. (See my 19 March 2013 post on Being Attuned to Usui Reiki 1 and my post on the recommended 21-Day Programme following a Reiki Attunement)
Okuden, the Second Degree, is about healing on an emotional and mental level. It’s where the student learns how to release addictions, past life work, negative emotions and thought patterns. The student learns distance healing and is able once completed to practice Reiki professionally. (See my 27 September 2013 post on Being Attuned to Usui Reiki 2)
Shinpiden/Shihan, the Third/”Fourth” Degree, is health and healing on a spiritual level. The student learns how to become an expression of the Divine Source as a Soul. Once completed, the student then becomes a Master (Shinpiden) and can then teach Reiki to others as a Shihan. However, traditionally speaking you are not considered Shihan, until you have your first student. Some consider this to be “Advanced Reiki” training, and others seem to place it above as a level of its own.
Advanced Reiki, in my opinion should just be another level after the Master/Teacher level. The key from the Third Level is to understand that we are endless students in the school of life and personal experience. Usui Reiki is just the beginning. There are so many techniques and different forms of Reiki out there, that you learn to always be in a state of curiosity and growth. Being a Master does not put you above anyone else. If anything, it puts you at a level of understanding that we are all where we are when we are supposed to be.
What is it like?
Professionally, Reiki is given with the client fully clothed and should not be misunderstood as massage.
However, sometimes the “client” can be someone who we are especially close with: a wife, husband, boyfriend, girlfriend, child who may be in a state of undress. In my opinion, I see nothing wrong with gifting Reiki to a loved one with their shirt or pants off. Afterall, we want to always be as comfortable as possible. Sometimes a loved one may be getting ready for bed or a baby could just be in a diaper. My point here is that in a family setting, you never know what will happen and not every Reiki session has to be ritualised with clothing. I definitely see me doing Reiki in the tub with my toddler someday. But, please, this comes with responsibility. Remember Reiki is a healing technique– not foreplay.There is no nude Reiki in my practice. At home or otherwise.
There are various hand positions, that go from the back of the head down to the feet, and the client should, ideally, feel comfortable with the hands-on approach. However, if it seems uncomfortable, or if an area is too sensitive, the session can be conducted hands-free by the practitioner hovering their hands three to four inches away from the area or entire body. Sometimes traumas can be too deep whether physical, emotional or mental for an initial session.
When doing Reiki, it is important for both client and the healer to be very comfortable. There should be an innate sense of trust, just like you would have with a trusted therapist. *Note: Being a Reiki Practitioner does not give us license to diagnose. However, it does allow us certain insight and if they as a practitioner are trained and certified in the therapeutic field, lifestyle advice may be warranted.
For the session, the client should lie still, first on her/his back and then on the stomach, for about an hour. Pillows can be utilized under the client’s head, hips, or knees, and is helpful if they have back problems. Sessions can be done anywhere, as long as the practitioner has comfortable access around the client. This means it can be done outside on the ground or on a floor with a mat or blanket; on a bed or couch if the client is too frail. However, the easiest arrangement would be with a massage table.
Before beginning each session, remember to silence your cell and your land-line, close the door to any noisy distractions, and hands should be washed. Hygiene is good none the less, but adds a sense of purity and cleanliness to the session. Practitioners may even utilize sacred hand/foot washing as an added bonus ritual. Also, clients will be asked to fill out a Reiki Client Info & Documentation Form. Loose clothing is also key because it adds to overall comfort for both healer and client in a session. Many healers take their shoes off especially if the floor is carpeted and the space is warm. The client should also take their shoes off and any eyeglasses, if they wear them as hands will be placed around the face and eyes. And the main thing in a Reiki session: have peace, have comfort, and have fun. Relax, recharge, and relish in this moment that you are giving to yourself.
The following checklist may be done to your own discretion prior to a distanced/in-person Reiki session:
(P.S. the coolest thing about Reiki is that you simply can NOT mess it up. No matter what you do, or don’t do. Whether you meditate or not. Whether you set up an altar for focus or not. Whether you say the mantra or not. The main thing to know is that by saying yes to the session you’ve already opened up the channel to receive universal life force energy for health and healing on a physical, emotional, mental, environmental, sexual and spiritual level. The coolest part about Reiki is that you can create your own ritual, your own routine to get ready!)
- Shower, take a sacred bath, or simply wash your face and hands.
- Dress in comfortable clothing. (This means pajamas or linen for me!)
- Select your choice of peaceful music that will span for about an hour, or however long you wish.
- Create sacred space: However feels right to you but the easiest way is to clean an area from clutter and arrange simply items with intent and purpose, such as the following if you so choose:
-a bowl of water;
-a flower, other green thing in a vase or simply fresh black earth in a dish from your yard;
-incense/essential oils/smudge stick in a fire proof container, and
-a candle on or around the area for meditation. If you feel uncomfortable with candles, a space heater, fireplace fire, or simply sitting in sunshine can be substituted. (Be sure however that the candle will not be knocked over by animals nor will its drippings melt all over cherished items)
-You may even wish to pick a Tarot card or other item to focus your inner imagery during the session.
- Make yourself a light snack of wholesome whole foods, tea and fresh chilled water. Fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are best. Waters can be chilled with a slice of lemon or other fruit that has been slightly macerated and left in a pitcher in the fridge. Herbal tea is also good to have on hand. Chamomile would be perfect for just before bed and preparing a healthy breakfast in the morning will start off your New day right!
- Make sure you explain to your house guests/friends/family that you will need to be left alone for the duration of your session.
- Silence your cellphones and land-lines.
- Ensure animals are kept in an area where they won’t be able to disturb you unless they are familiar with a mediation practice, in which case they may choose to join you.
- Place a drop of water/essential oil on your third eye chakra, your heart, and your tail bone; or just in the palms of the your hands and rub them together. Light the candle, incense/essential oil/smudge stick, and smell the flower or green thing. You may rub it between your fingers if you wish to really smell these earthy grounding essences.
- Sit in lotus position or “Indian-style,” lay down, or simply find a comfortable chair to relax in. (Possibly in view of the Full Moon if you are lucky. If not, simply visualize the moon in all her glory. If it is a New Moon, simply gazing at the stars or if you cannot do either find something to focus your gaze on a few feet away.)
- Push the “play” button on your music media.
- Close your eyes
- Let your journey begin.
- Be aware of any twitches or spasms of movement in your body. This is often a sign of release in an area.
- Be aware of heat, which is the classic and typical feeling in a Reiki session.
- Be aware of colours that you may see. If there is a colour you see predominately, this could be a sign that you need more of this colour/energy in your life to balance out your chakra of the corresponding colour.
- Be aware of past memories, or dreams that may surface during the session.
- Be aware of deep emotions experienced during the session. These could be of joy and euphoria; or of pain, anger, and sadness. All of which are valuable to your healing.
- Eat and drink plenty of water for the next few days. Often Reiki manifests with similar symptoms associated with detox, and plenty of water is important to flush away those toxins.
- Sleep and or rest to the best of your ability. 8+ hours a night is recommended.
- Record and document any odd or exhilarating dreams. These are also detox-like symptoms.
- Follow-up & share your impressions of the session. My contact information is above if you would like to privately send me your answers, questions, or impressions. (However, you may wish to comment on this post).
Who or What Does Reiki Benefit?
Reiki’s fundamental purpose is to transform dis-ease and create a relaxing environment to promote healing on a physical, emotional and spiritual level. So this can benefit just about anyone, thing, place or object.
Reiki benefits pets, plants, babies, the elderly, post-op patients, cancer patients, people with PTSD, and especially the healers themselves.
Other Usui Reiki Terms
- Cogito ergo sum | “I think, therefore I am.” – Descartes
- Holism | The opposite of reductionism, assumes that some phenomena, if not all, can only be understood as integrated wholes, and so cannot be broken down into independent parts.
- Healing | The restoration of a sense of oneness and wholeness.
- Rei | Japanese for “Universal Consciousness.”
- Ki | Japanese for “Life Force Energy.”
- Ka |Egyptian for “Life Force Energy.”
- Mana | Polynesian for “Life Force Energy.”
- Qi | Ancient Chinese for “Life Force Energy.”
- Super Strings | Contemporary Physicists for “Life Force Energy.”
- Subtle energy | term first used by Albert Einstein to describe minute, ongoing interrelationships between subatomic particles.
- Biofield | technical term for the human subtle energy field
- Ken Yoku | Dry Bathing Technique for dispelling negative or residual energy
- Gassho | positioning the hands in prayer at the heart center
- Hara | Japanese for the belly, specifically in Breathwork
- Byosen Reikan Ho | Aura Scanning
- Gyoshi Ho | Looking Reiki Technique
- Koki Ho | Blowing Reiki Technique
- Nadete Chiryo Ho | Stroking Reiki Technique
- Uchite Choryo Ho | Patting Reiki Technique
- Tenohira | Touching Reiki Technique
- Psychic | From the word psyche, a concept of the soul. Someone who communicated with their own soul.
- Clairaudience | Someone who is audio oriented and can psychically hear information.
- Clairvoyance | Someone who is visually oriented and can psychically see information.
- Clairsentience | Someone who can psychically sense information without an experience of words or visions.
Skeptics and Naysayers
The following is a published journal from the UCLA.
For years Reiki, along with other methods of holistic therapies were looked upon with disdain, even contempt from medical associations, practitioners, mainstream scientists and clerics. The idea that the human body was permeated or surrounded by an
invisible, etheric body of “life force energy” was considered to be no less than nonsense. These negative conclusions were formulated on the premise that “life energy” fields such as those accepted in China as Chi or qi, in Japan as ki and in India as prana , were “unseen” and “immeasurable” by traditional research or scientific instrumentation.
But now all that is changing.
Reiki Passes Tests with Flying Colors
There have been many other controlled studies submitted to peer-journals and to The Touchstone Process for review. Ailments and disorders that tested favorably to Reiki treatment include:
1. Post operative pain after tooth extraction
2. Cognition in elderly, related to dementia/Alzheimers
3. Pre-operative relaxation and post-op pain
4. Pain in chronically ill patients
5. Depression and stress
6. Well-being in Reiki practitioners
As of 2009, The Touchstone Process has evaluated 25 test studies that appeared in peer-review journals evaluating the merits of Reiki Treatments. Taking into consideration only the most rigorously controlled studies, the team reported that 83% showed moderate to strong evidence in support of Reiki as a viable, therapeutic healing modality. Only one study proved solidly negative and that was for the treatment of fibromyalgia-associated pain levels. As is the case with conventional drug treatments, not all therapies prove to be effective.
Reiki Case Studies
The most recent data analyzed (during 2008-9) shows strong evidence that Reiki is indeed responsible for a positive biological response in both humans and animals. The strongest evidence (rated “excellent” in the Process) was reported in the most carefully controlled of all experiments; non other than laboratory rats. In both 2006 and 2008 stressed-out lab rats received Reiki treatments and they all showed significantly reduced stress, anxiety and depression responses. “Sham” or bogus Reiki treatments were given to the placebo group and they showed no reduction in stress, anxiety or depression. Testing in humans performed between 1993 and 2006 showed ratings from Satisfactory to Excellent, all suggesting that the benefit of Reiki treatments were positive in controlling pain levels in humans. There were some “confounding variables”, which is typical in hospital (as opposed to laboratory) studies; however, the placebo Reiki treatments in this experiment were by contrast ineffective in controlling pain.
New York Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Campus conducted one of the first studies ever performed to determine the effectiveness of Reiki treatments on the autonomic nervous system. This “blind, random study” included a Reiki treatment group, a “sham” treatment group and a “control” group. The testing began with all participants at “baseline” autonomic nervous systems levels. The results within the Reiki treatment group showed a lowering of these levels including heart rate, respiration and blood pressure. These positive results led the team to recommend further, larger studies to look at the biological effects of Reiki treatment.
It’s interesting to note that Columbia/Presbyterian was one of the first hospitals to offer Reiki as part of their Integrative Medicine Program (CIMP). The now famous cardiovascular surgeon, Dr. Mehmet Oz brought tremendous attention to Reiki when he invited Reiki practitioners to treat patients during open heart surgeries and heart transplant operations. Dr. Oz is often quoted as saying, “Reiki has become a sought-after healing art among patients and mainstream medical professionals.”
Other Scholarly Journals
Reiki- Review of a Biolfield Therapy History, Theory, Practice, and Research by Pamela Miles and Gala True, PhD
The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. A Systematic Review of the Therapeutic Effects of Reiki by Sondra vanderVaart, Violette M.G.J. Gijsen, Saskia N. de Wildt, and Gideon Koren. November 2009
The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. Commentary: Multifaceted Health Benefits of Medical Qigong by Kenneth M. Sancier and Devatara Holman. February 2004
Florida Atlantic University. The Feasibility of a Holistic Wellness Program for HIV/AIDS Patients Residing in a Voluntary Inpatient Treatment Program by Vanessa Morgan, RN. May 2013
“Shamanic Reiki: Expanded Ways of Working With Universal Life Force Energy” Llyn Roberts and Robert Levy