What is Reiki?

what is reiki

Mikao Usui (1865 – 1926)

Mrs. Hawayo Takata, who first brought Reiki to the West after being taught by Chujuri Hayashi, a medical doctor in the Imperial Japanese Navy, and himself a student of Mikao Usui, who originated this form of healing, once wrote:

I believe there exists … a dynamic force that governs the world and the universe. It is an unseen spiritual power that vibrates. All other powers fade into insignificance beside it. So, therefore, it is absolute … and being a universal force belongs to all that seek and desire to learn the art of healing. 

Two Japanese Kanji (characters) are traditionally used to represent Reiki pronounced ray-key. The first, Rei, refers to the higher dimension of light and the soul. Ki (chi, prana, in other languages) is the non-physical energy that animates all living things. So putting these two concepts together, we come up with a definition of Reiki as being Universal Life Force Energy, which, depending on your belief system, may be simply called Love, Light or God.

So, for me, there is an incredible arrogance in some humans who advertise new and improved forms of Reiki, as if such a thing were even remotely possible, or who have even tried to trade-mark the name.

And if we have to give a name to the practice we would write, as did Tunde Nemeth, one of the many “Masters” who were teaching in the eighties, that Reiki is á powerful natural healing system that unlocks the inner flow of vital energy within both practioner and receiver; that it is a support system in perfect harmony with other healing  and wholing techniques and practices, including Western medicine; that [and this has been demonstrated time and time again and should not come as a surprise to anyone] Reiki is greatly beneficial to all life forms, humans, plants, animals and all living beings; that it helps relieve anxiety and is a connection between humans and an infinite supply of intelligent, vital, life energy.

So at the heart of the teachings is the notion that, like a garden hose, the practioners make themselves fully open for the energy to flow, where it will, through their hands and into the other. I usually begin by asking that whatever is about to happen be for both our highest goods because there is also a belief that both parties receive a healing in the process. And then I become totally present to what is, and allow myself to be guided as to what to do next with my hands.

Next, because it is so easy for humans to misunderstand things, or to make exaggerated claims about them, Tunde thoughtfully made up a list of what Reiki is not: Reiki is not a religion, cult or belief system; it is not a massage technique, a laying on of hands practice; a form of psychic healing or a psychic surgery technique; and certainly not a form of mind control or hypnosis.

Finally, like many other practices, what I might call a Code of Conduct seems to have been developed by Mikao Usui based on the precepts of an earlier Emperor.  One version of these Reiki Ideals is this:

Just for today do not anger.
Do not worry and be filled with gratitude.
Devote yourself to your work.
Be kind to people.
Every morning and evening join your hands in prayer.
Pray these words to your heart and chant these words with your mouth.

Mrs. Takata rewrote the precepts this way:

Just for today, I will let go of anger.
Just for today, I will let go of worry.
Just for today, I will give thanks for my many blessings.
Just for today, I will do my work honestly.
Just for today, I will be kind to my neighbour and every living thing.

However, given our belief that anger and worry are legitimate emotions, my teacher, Nancy Bradley, and I then rewrote them this way:

Just for today:

                        I live my truth.
                        I offer my love.
                        I know anger and worry are my fears.
                        I am grateful for my many blessings.
                        I respect the Oneness of all Life.

Subsequently, on further reflection, and my sense it would be useful to have anyone who came to me for attunement as a Reiki Master, develop their own truly personal ideals. I did just that for me:

Just for today:

                        I live my truth.
                        I offer my love.
                        I acknowledge my fears.
                        I do my best.
                        I respect the Oneness of all life.
                        I follow my intuition.
                        I trust in the power of the Universe.
                        I give thanks for the gift of life.

And then, when I started teaching, I asked those who came to me for attunements as Reiki Masters to develop their own “Ideals. This is what Leah Spilchen, a mother of two young ones, also my registered massage therapist, and one of my very few true spiritual sisters, then wrote:

This moment shapes my future.
This moment shapes my past.
Just for this moment:

                                   I choose to live my truth
                                   And accept the truth of others.

                                  I choose to live in love.
                                   And offer love to all.

                                   I choose to be divinely guided.
                                   And let this Oneness bring me peace.

                                   Just for this moment
                                  I choose to be divine.

And that is a beautiful example of the kind of gift one receives when one shares the Reiki experience with others, for we are all equally both students and teachers. I.e. Colleagues on the same journey.

The other thing each of us had to do was to design our own Reiki Certificates. And since I chose, following Nancy’s advice to teach all three levels at once, I only had to design the one below.

Reiki Certificate