Reiki is an ancient healing practice that is approximately 2,500 years old. The name "Reiki" is derived from two Japanese words: rei meaning universal spirit and ki meaning life energy. Mention of Reiki can be found in the Tibetan sutras and in ancient records of cosmology and philosophy.
Hichau Mikao Usui, a Japanese physician and Buddhist monk, revitalized the practice of Reiki in the 19th Century. It is said that after 21 days of fasting, Reiki was presented to Usui on Mt. Kurama, a Japanese mountaintop near Kyoto during a spiritual experience. By this account, light struck him upon the forehead opening up a "third eye" possessing the highest source of power in the human body. Usui passed down his teachings, and Hawayo Tokata, a Japanese Hawaiian, introduced Usui Reiki to the West in 1930.
In modern times, multiple styles and historical accounts of Reiki are taught and practiced. In general, there are three levels of certifications/attunements associated with the practice of Reiki. A Level I degree often involves a weekend course that teaches the potential practitioner to transfer "universal life energy" to him/herself and to others. Students are trained in the concepts and hand positions of Reiki. Four ceremonies (attunements) are performed with the goal of opening students' inner healing channels to engage them in the flow of energy. The Level II degree includes an initiation ceremony that aims to enhance the practitioner's ability to interact with the flow of energy. Other training may include distant healing, teaching of symbols, and enhancement of mental/emotional/spiritual healing. In some cases, practitioners receive a Level II degree after 'intuitively' receiving Sanskrit symbols from spirit guides that are believed to increase their healing powers. The Reiki Master degree (Level III) takes years of close training with a Reiki Master and allows the practitioner to teach Reiki to others.
Reiki practitioners conduct sessions with the intention to heal specific maladies or to improve overall well-being. Treatments involve the systematic placing of hands in 12 to 15 varying positions. Hand positions are held for approximately 2-5 minutes each. Hands may be placed directly on a clothed patient or held one to two inches above the skin. The practitioner's hands are positioned palm-side down with the fingers and thumb extended. The standard positions may be modified if deemed necessary by the practitioner. The timing of the hand positions may be cut short if the practitioner believes that he or she senses energy flow. All of the body systems can be covered with the hand positions within 30 to 90 minutes. The number of sessions varies from patient to patient based on the judgment of the practitioner. Acute issues may be treated faster than chronic conditions.
Patients have reported feeling different sensations during Reiki sessions such as warmth, tingling, sleepiness, relaxation, or invigoration. Practitioners have reported tingling in their fingers, heat, cold, or pulsing while administering Reiki.
Sometimes a technique called "sweeping" is used prior to starting the formal healing session. Sweeping involves the practitioner aiming to pass hands through the patient's energy field. This technique is said to allow the practitioner to more easily detect areas of energy disruption, imbalance, or blockage and to cleanse patients of negative feelings, emotions, or physical burdens.
Principles taught in Reiki include: "just for today do not worry," "just for today do not be angry," "just for today give thanks for your many blessings," "honor your parents, teachers and elders," "earn your living honestly," "be kind to your neighbors and every living thing," and "show gratitude to everything."
Types of related therapies include distant healing, self-healing, group healing, Tera Mai ReikiTM, Karuna ReikiTM, traditional Japanese Reiki, Tara Reiki, and Western Reiki. There are numerous schools and professional Reiki organizations. The International Association of Reiki Professionals maintains a list of practitioners who have pledged to uphold a Code of Ethics developed by the group.
Reiki is also used on animals, including horses. Reiki Masters believe that all living beings are affected by the "universal life energy" flow around them, and animals may be treated in the same manner as humans.
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