What is Reiki?

The practice of Reiki was developed by Mikao Usui as he was taking a Buddhist training course in 1922 on Mount Kurama. It is said he had a mystical revelation where he gained the knowledge and spiritual power of what he called Reiki. He opened his first clinic that same year. It is reported that he taught his system to over 2000 students with 16 of these going on to complete the Shinpiden or Master Level.

The word Reiki is broken down into two parts: rei- spirit, miraculous, divine and ki- gas, vital energy, the breath of life. Many explain the meaning of Reiki as being universal life energy. All of life is energetic to some degree with each atom vibrating at different frequencies. Rocks are made up of denser low-frequency minerals that vibrate at a slower rate than perhaps a hummingbird with its higher frequency lighter minerals. This energy can be channeled to flow, or it can be blocked causing stagnation. The application of Reiki can help stagnate energy to flow again and thereby causing the life force to do as it was meant to do in a body.

This is not a “magical thinking” process. Physical touch is a powerful tool when applied with caring and intent. A parent soothing a child in distress or an adult grieving a loved one is often cared for by using touch in some way. Stroking a beloved pet is soothing for the animal and for the person petting. Reiki channels that intention in a deliberate manner from the practitioner to the client using their hands placed on or slightly above the clothed body. The Western version has prescribed hand placements while the Japanese version uses a more intuitive approach.

During a Reiki session, the client is in repose either on a table made for this purpose or they can be in a chair or bed when using this technique in person. There is also a technique for using Reiki on a person distantly. For most people, a session of Reiki is relaxing and refreshing. Afterward, the client may feel a bit dizzy or lightheaded due to the energy being manipulated in the body. Intake of water is essential as the body uses its stores of this vital liquid to help the stagnate energy flow once again. Water also flushes out the toxins that have been released by the body.

There have been scientific studies done on the efficacy of Reiki. In the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, we find a study in Using Reiki to Decrease Memory and Behavior Problems in Mild Cognitive Impairment and Mild Alzheimer’s Disease. In the course of the investigation, it was found that there were statistically significant increases in mental functioning, memory and behavior problems as measured by standardized tests after the application of a course of Reiki treatments*. In another case reported in this same journal a severely ill 54 yr old man with hepatitis C was treated with high doses of interferon therapy but developed profound anemia and neutropenia (compromised immune system). After the application of Reiki therapy, the immediate clinical result was an improvement in the patient’s absolute neutrophil count (ANC) which shows an increase in the immune system, and he could, therefore, resume the interferon treatment without problems**. Other studies and explorations are reported in the peer-reviewed journal.

As with any skill, there are degrees of effectiveness concerning the practitioner and their own innate ability. Some people are more in touch with their own energy awareness and their focused intent on their client. There are also degrees of receptiveness when it comes to the client and what they perceive as helpful. This is true in the regular medical profession as it is in anything to do with individuals and their needs. Whatever the case the Reiki energy does what it does regardless of these factors. Reiki allows for a relaxed state to be obtained so the body and mind can heal itself as the body was designed to do.

By Dr. Catherine Denton


*Stephen E. Crawford, V. Wayne Leaver, and Sandra D. Mahoney. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. November 2006, 12(9): 911-913. doi:10.1089/acm.2006.12.911.

**Melvin L. Morse and Lance W. Beem. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. December 2011, 17(12): 1181-1190. doi:10.1089/acm.2010.0238.