What happens when you scrape your knee? The very first thing you do is immediately touch the area that is hurting. It is an instinctual response for human beings to heal with our hands, even though Westerners are taught otherwise. REIKI simply takes the healing process a step further.
Pronounced ray-key, Reiki is a Japanese form of relaxation and stress reduction which utilizes non-invasive energy known as the Universal Life Force. Essentially, it is hands-on healing. "Rei" translates as "Spiritual" or "Higher Power" and "Ki" is from the Chinese word for "Chi" or "Energy". While Reiki is a Spiritual practice, it is NOT associated with any religious organizations. Also, one does not necessarily have to be a Spiritually oriented person to give or to receive Reiki. You simply have to be open to it.
So, how does it work? Basically, Reiki practitioners go through a series of attunements and then act as a conduit transferring the flow of this Universal Life Force from themselves to their client. Therefore, it is this Universal Life Force that is doing all the work, not the practitioner per se. That being said, however, since everything in the Universe is one Divine Force, our Higher Selves along with the Higher Selves of all Beings everywhere are a part of the healing process.
This healing energy that we all contribute, flows from the Universe into the practitioner’s crown at the top of the head, down through the arms and finally through the hands and onto the client. By placing the palms of your hands on various places on the recipient's body or in their auric field (a few inches above the body), the Reiki energy will be ‘turned on’. It is this contact which allows it to flow through the practitioner to the client. As an intuitive energy, Reiki will then direct itself to the area that most needs healing; working with the mind, body and Spiritual planes of our existence. It helps to clear and release old negative patterns, from this life and previous lives, creating harmony and balance with the Universe.
It is typically practiced while the recipient is lying fully clothed on a yoga mat or on a massage table. If you don’t have a table or mat then by all means use a couch, bed or chair or even while standing up. It works anywhere!
The Reiki experience is different for everyone. Some people feel as though they are getting a massage, even though the hands are not kneading the body. Some people have an emotional response, while others feel it beneath their skin in their organs. Often clients sense the practitioner's hands as being hot and they feel the energy moving through their body, promoting deep relaxation. Actually, don’t be surprised if the recipient of this energy falls asleep. It's that relaxing! Just keep in mind that every experience will be different since the Reiki energy works to the Highest good for the individual in that particular moment. Furthermore, it is always safe and can ABSOLUTELY NEVER be used in a negative or harmful way. In fact, the Reiki energy will actually be shut off if the practitioner doesn’t have the highest intention for the recipient.
Additionally, it should be mentioned that a reiki practioner's mood cannot affect their Reiki practice. This is simply because a practitioner is only a conduit for the healing energy. It is the Universal Life Force that is the actual healer. So, no one can catch a bad mood from Reiki. In truth, since the Reiki energy is running through the practitioner he or she is receiving healing energy, as well, which in turn allows them to shift their mood as they are giving Reiki to another person...and that is definitely a good thing!
I would be remiss if I didn't share the provenance of Reiki. The story behind its beginnings is interesting, if not somewhat mythical. There are many tales and half-truths behind the history and the reality is no one knows for sure what really happened. However, there are some common themes in the various books you might peruse that I have summarized here.
It begins in Japan in the late 19th or early 20th century (reports vary depending on what book you read) where a Japanese man by the name of Mikao Usui was studying in a Buddhist monastery. It is said that he went on a journey to Mount Koriyama (or Kurama) to practice meditation and fast for a twenty-one-day period. Some sources report that while seated under a tree during one of his meditations, a bright light poured into his crown (or some say his third eye). During this process, he began to see all the Reiki symbols and it was these symbols that allowed him to become self-attuned. Afterward, he set out on a quest of utilizing this healing art that had been lost so long ago.
Diane Stein states in her book, Essential Reiki, that while “walking down the mountain he experienced what is traditionally known as the four miracles. First, he stubbed his toe walking and instinctively sat and put his hands on it. His hands became hot and the torn toe was healed. Next, he reached a house that served pilgrims at the bottom of the mountain. He asked for a full meal, not wise after twenty-one days fasting on water, but ate it without discomfort. Third, the woman serving the meal was afflicted with a toothache and placing his hands on the sides of her face, he healed her pain. When he returned to his monastery and was told that the director was in bed with an arthritis attack, he also healed the monk.” He was a healer.
He began his healing work in the slums of Kyoto and for seven years, he worked with the poor, offering his services at no charge to the patron. After a time, he realized that the people kept going back to their old ways without permanently being healed. He considered that there may need to be some sort of accountability on the client's part and that perhaps the best way to accomplish this was to have an energy exchange between the client and healer. With that, he decided it was time to leave the slums to set up a practice where he charged for his services. This energetic exchange enabled his clients to now own their healing experience and this was when he found great success. Don’t get me wrong, an energy exchange does not necessarily have to be money. It certainly can be some sort of trade. In fact, trade is a higher form of energetic exchange than money, but since money is the most common form of exchange, that is what Usui accepted.
It was during this time, Usui also began training others to act as healers. Chujiro Hayashi was Usui’s protégé and was attuned with his master level in 1925. He took over the practice after Usui’s death and was instrumental in spreading the healing art in Japan. In the context of Reiki, his story intertwines with a Japanese-American woman named Hawayo Takata.
In 1935, Takata went to Japan, the home of her parents, to receive treatment for what was thought to be cancer (some reports say ulcers). She was literally on the table to have surgery, when she received an intuitive message, “The operation is not necessary.” She asked the doctor if there was another way. This is when he told her about Hayashi’s Reiki clinic. She got up and sought out this energy form of healing.
After residing in Hayashi’s clinic, she was healed in a matter of months. After her healing was complete, she asked Hayashi to teach her the healing art, but he initially refused because she was not Japanese. However, after much pleading, he changed his mind and began training her. She was the first non-Japanese citizen to do so and in 1936 received her Reiki 1 attunements and would eventually become a Reiki Master, teaching in the United States.
In 1940 she had a dream that Hayashi would announce that she was to take over the reigns as Grand Master when he died. The following year, in 1941, Takata was summoned back to Japan from Hawaii. Hayashi was being called up to serve in the imminent war and as a Buddhist and a pacifist he would not do so. He did indeed announce that Takata would take over the reigns as Grand Master and he then in the presence of other Reiki masters including his own wife, he psychically stopped his heart and died.
Takata brought back the knowledge of Reiki to America and this is where the story gets muddled through translation. She began telling students that Usui was a Christian minister who studied in Chicago and the legend of Usui and his twenty-one day meditative journey began. It was later discovered that Usui never came to the U.S. and was a Buddhist, not a Christian. When I initially heard this, I admittedly became upset. However, it occurred to me that this story-telling was taking place during World War II when Japanese-Americans were being put in internment camps. She may have assumed that this esoteric Japanese form of healing would be shunned and she made up a few tales about it to make it easier for the Western mind to handle.
Takata also charged an exorbitant rate to her clients, charging upwards of $10,000 to her master level students. While I believe it is important to have an energetic exchange between client and practitioner, it does not speak to me to charge such astronomical rates. It is my thought that this practice should not be limited to the wealthy. That being said, even with her flaws, it was because of Takata that not only the United States, but the rest of the world outside of Japan has access to this practice. We all owe her our gratitude.
While there are many schools of thought on Reiki, generally speaking there are either three or four levels attainable in this healing modality. Traditionally in Japan, the Shinpiden level is broken up into REIKI 3a and REIKI 3b.
The Shoden Level, or Reiki 1, teaches the fundamentals of hands-on-body Reiki healing. It primarily works with healing of your personal self, clearing out issues that lie on the surface. Practicing on your own body on a daily basis is a wonderful way to expose you to Reiki and you get some healing and relaxation to boot! This is especially important for the first twenty-one days after your attunement. Even if only practiced for five minutes, it is better than nothing; but of course giving yourself a full Reiki treatment is ideal. Once you are given your final attunement for REIKI 1, you will forever more be a Reiki practitioner, whether you practice or not. Of course, the more you use it the better you will be at it…in this case, practice definitely makes perfect!
Many teachers claim a practitioner must be in a meditative state to give Reiki. It is indeed best to be ‘present’ in your own body while practicing Reiki on yourself or a client as this will enable one's innate intuition to flow. However, it is not absolutely necessary. Reiki works once contact is made with the hands of a practitioner, whether it is done in person or distantly. The simple act of touching activates the Reiki energy. It is as easy as that. You can do it while watching TV or while sitting at your desk. As the Nike ad so eloquently says, "Just do it!"
Traditionally, there is a set of Reiki 1 hand positions. However, I encourage students to use the modern approach and place your hands where you are intuitively called to. Whether working on yourself or practicing on others, you might start hearing a little voice in your head, or see a place in your mind’s eye where your hand should go, or you may simply just have an inner sense of knowing. However it works for you, your instincts are always right. Typically, you hold your hands in one place for 3-5 minutes, but again use your instinct as it knows what to do. You may feel guided to leave your hands in the same position for the entire session and on other occasions a minute is enough time.
In the Okuden Level, or Reiki 2, you learn to control the Reiki with more ease. It is thought that the ability to use Reiki is doubled. Among other things, you are given the first three symbols that help send healing across time and space. Sending healing to someone in Cairo while you are in San Francisco is not a problem--and often times the recipient will actually feel it as it is happening! Moreover, sending Reiki to the past (or the future for that matter) can now be accomplished. Old beliefs regarding past events can be shifted and Reiki can help with manifesting things in the future.
For example, I sent distant Reiki every day for three weeks to a friend in order that she manifest the perfect home. She wanted a garden, to be near the beach, to be in a particular town. She wanted lots of space and storage. In fact, her list of wants was very long. Only a few days after the twenty-one day cycle, she found the home that she had desired in the town that she wanted with all its amenities. Needless to say, I think distant Reiki rocks!
(Click here to learn more about Distant Reiki).
In the Shinpiden Level 3a or Reiki 3, there is a deepening connection with the Reiki energy and a greater desire to bring Reiki healing to the planetary level. During this class, the fourth symbol is learned and abilities increase up to ten times the level of Reiki 2.
In the final level one becomes a Shinpiden Master or Reiki Master Teacher. I think it is important to mention that just because one is a Reiki master, it does not necessarily mean they are an enlightened being. It does mean that the practitioner is dedicated to teaching others to become Reiki practitioners. So, there is no need to put a Reiki master on a pedestal, thinking that they are somehow better than everyone else. They simply have more experience with the Reiki energy and can pass it on to others.
It should be noted, however, that with each level of attunement an opening of consciousness occurs, creating more clarity, which enables more intuitive abilities to manifest. Therefore, with every attunement, no matter what the level, the practitioner takes another step towards Spiritual maturation.
What happens during this attunement process? The teacher passes the energy by way of mantras and gestures. It may seem hard to believe that this would work. In fact, in my Reiki 1 class, I was rather dubious that it would work. However, as my teacher began the process, I felt a powerful energy radiating from my crown, down the length of my arms that swirled in a circular motion around my hands. It seemed as though a large energetic snake was protruding through my body. When the process was completed I actually looked with my eyes to make sure there wasn't a snake slithering down my arm! Thankfully, there wasn't, but the amount of energy I felt was undeniable.
During my Reiki 2 class attunement, on the other hand, was quite different. My fears had been shed and I was floating in the Akashic Records (the place where all thoughts, events and memories are held). I emanated sheer joy and a deep connection with the Divine. I even tapped my toes during the procedure.
The reaction to an attunement is geared for the individual and what there healing needs are in that moment. So, every attunement is going to be different. Among other things, I have had students who have seen colors, some who have felt enormous amount of Love for all Beings everywhere and even one who experienced past life events. The possibilities are frankly endless. Whatever does happen during the process, rest assured it will be for the Highest good of the particular individual.
I myself have been attuned at all the Usui, Komyo and Lightarian levels and had additional booster attunements by seven different masters for all the Usui levels. My teacher, Anna Dorian, teaches that while we may be attuned to the Reiki energy for the rest of our lives when we are attuned by one teacher, with each attunement we receive, we are shifting our consciousness towards a Higher vibration. I have taken note of her teachings and concur, as every single attunement has brought me more clarity and enhanced my intuitive abilities and I am grateful for them all.
While Reiki may have once been practiced behind closed doors in Japan, things are beginning to shift. As the walls are coming down and Westerners are becoming more open to their intuitive sides, Reiki is becoming not only accepted, but part of our cultural norm. I highly recommend it to anyone exploring their own personal healing. Whether you are working on healing your physical, mental, emotional or Spiritual aspects, Reiki can unlock the door to scrape away the old belief systems that no longer suit you, allowing for healing at the karmic level. It is a wonderful form of healing on the all levels of our Being and it truly rocks my world…perhaps it will rock yours too!
If you are curious about Reiki, please feel free to contact me or a Reiki Master in your area. Quite often masters offer Reiki shares (or circles) at low cost to introduce Reiki to people as well as hold space for the Reiki community. Everyone receives a mini-session and it is an excellent way to try it.
Comments or questions or simply would like to learn more about my practice please visit http://LisaTunney.com/.
Thank you for reading and Namaste! (The Light in me recognizes the Light in you!)