Reiki is a safe, non-intrusive hands-on healing technique for physical ailments, but it is much more than a physical therapy. It is a holistic system for balancing, healing and harmonising all aspects of the person – body, mind, emotions and spirit – and it can also be used to encourage personal and spiritual awareness and growth.

The word “Reiki” (pronounced “ray-kee”) is Japanese, but to understand the word properly we need to look at the two component parts:

1. Rei is the Higher Intelligence which guides the creation and functioning of the universe, the wisdom which comes from God (or the Source, the Creator, the Universe or All That Is) which is all knowing and understands the need for and cause of all problems and difficulties, and how to heal them.

2. Ki is the life-force energy which flows through every living thing – plants, animals and people.

When these words are put together, the meaning of “Reiki” is simplified as “Universal Life Force Energy”, or “God-directed Life Force Energy”, meaning a specific band or frequency of healing energy which comes directly from the Source and is directed by that Higher Intelligence for healing (or wholing) any living thing.

In the late 19th century a Japanese priest, Dr Mikao Usui, rediscovered an ancient way of channelling this healing energy, creating the Usui System of Natural Healing, or Usui Shiki Ryoho, which has become better known simply as “Reiki”. In this context, Reiki is a safe, non-intrusive hands-on healing technique for physical ailments, but it is much more than a physical therapy. It is a holistic system for balancing, healing and harmonising all aspects of the person – body, mind, emotions and spirit – and it can also be used to encourage personal and spiritual awareness and growth.

Life-force energy (Ki or Chi) flows within the physical body through pathways called chakras and meridians, as well as flowing around the body in a field of energy called the aura. This life-force is responsive to thoughts and feelings, and it becomes disrupted or blocked whenever we consciously or unconsciously accept negative thoughts or feelings about ourselves. Reiki helps to break through blockages, flowing through the affected parts of the energy body and the aura, charging them with positive energy and raising the vibratory level of the whole energy field. It clears and balances the chakras and straightens the energy pathways (meridians), allowing the life force to flow in a healthy and natural way around the whole body.

This accelerates the body’s own natural ability to heal physical ailments, and opens the mind, emotions and spirit to an acceptance and understanding of the causative issues which have led to “dis-ease” in both the physical and energy bodies. Because Reiki is guided by a Higher Intelligence, it always finds its way to those areas of the physical body and/or the energy body most in need of healing, without any conscious direction from either the healer or the person being healed, and it adjusts to suit the recipient, so that each person receives as much or as little healing as they need.

What Can Reiki Do?

Potentially, just about anything! Most people who decide they would like to receive a Reiki treatment want help with a specific physical problem from frequent headaches or a frozen shoulder, to more serious complaints such as chronic pain or even cancer, although some simply want to be able to relax and cope better with the stresses of modern life. The potential with Reiki is unlimited, so anything can be treated, but it is important to rid yourself of specific expectations of what it will do, and how fast it will perform.

Many physical symptoms are eased very quickly, while others may need a lot of Reiki before starting to respond, but it is important to understand that it is your own body which is actually doing the healing. Some people report amazing, even miraculous, effects from Reiki treatments, but “healing” is not always the same as “curing”, although we unfortunately tend to use the words interchangeably which creates misunderstanding. Healing doesn’t always occur on the physical level first. Because Reiki works holistically and is guided by the God-consciousness, it may be that healing needs to happen first at the emotional level, with the releasing of anger, guilt or hatred, or it may be required first at the mental level, releasing negative thoughts, concepts or attitudes, before the physical symptoms can be addressed.

Just be open minded, and if you are willing to receive the Reiki (belief in it is not a prerequisite) healing will take place, although it might not always be in quite the way you expect! Ultimately you have to take responsibility for your own healing and “wholing”, which may include changing your eating habits or how you relate to other people, or even altering your whole lifestyle – but Reiki can often help you to cope with these adjustments, too.

What Is A Reiki Treatment?

Reiki treatments take about an hour, and are usually carried out with you lying comfortably on a therapy couch. You remain fully clothed (except for shoes), and the practitioner’s hands are placed and held still in specific positions over your head and body – there is no pressure, manipulation or massage. You usually feel very relaxed and peaceful as the energy flows through you, although sometimes you might feel quite emotional as the Reiki brings to the surface old issues and patterns to be released. Some people feel super-energised immediately after a treatment, whilst others feel very tranquil and sleepy.

Can You Treat Yourself?

Yes! Once you have learned how to use Reiki, this is one of its great advantages, because it encourages you to take responsibility for yourself and your own health and well-being, and most Reiki practitioners use it on themselves every day. A full self-treatment involves twelve hand positions on your head and body, but you can also give yourself Reiki at almost any time – whilst watching television, for example – by simply placing your hands on any part of your body. It can also be successfully incorporated into many of the healing arts practised by health professionals, such as reflexology and aromatherapy.

Is It Easy To Learn How To Use Reiki?

Yes! Reiki is probably the simplest and easiest holistic healing method available to us, so anyone can learn to use Reiki, whatever their age or gender, religion or origin. No specific knowledge or experience is required – only a desire to learn, a willingness to let this healing energy flow through you, and a little time.

The ability to channel Reiki can only be acquired by being transferred to the student by a Reiki Master (Teacher) during a special attunement process (a form of spiritual empowerment) which forms part of a Reiki course. This attunement process creates a Reiki channel through which the Reiki can flow, and once you have been attuned you will have this ability for the rest of your life! From then on, whenever you intend to use Reiki, simply thinking about it, or holding your hands out in readiness to use it, will activate it – there are no complicated rituals to follow.

There are three levels of training, usually referred to as “degrees” – but this does not refer to (or confer) any academic level or qualification!

1. At First Degree level you normally receive four “attunements” over a period of up to four days, which gradually open up your inner healing channel, allowing Reiki to flow through. The emphasis at this level is on self-healing, although you should also be taught how to carry out a treatment on family, friends and animals.

2. Second Degree is generally regarded as practitioner level, and the course is usually held over two days, and it includes another attunement which is often quite a profound experience. This widens your healing channel, enabling you to access even more Reiki, and in addition you learn three sacred symbols and their mantras (sacred names) and some special ways of using them, including carrying out a hands-on treatment which is especially good for healing deep seated emotional or mental issues, and a form of distant healing which enables you to “send” a Reiki treatment to anyone, anywhere, with exactly the same effectiveness as if that person was receiving a hands-on treatment.

3. The Third Degree is the level of a Reiki Master (Teacher). Being attuned at this level is essentially making a life-long commitment to the mastery of Reiki, and is therefore intended only for those who have already worked with Reiki for several years, who feel drawn to explore the deeper spiritual aspects of Reiki by learning more advanced techniques and becoming Masters/Teachers. The traditional way to train as a Reiki Master is to work as an apprentice with an experienced Master for at least a year before receiving the Master attunement, although it is now quite common to see training offered as a course lasting anything from two days up to a week or more. Some Masters divide the training into several stages, offering a Master Practitioner course, followed by a separate Master/Teacher course, in which case two separate attunements may be offered.

(Many thanks to Penny Quest who has contributed this introduction to Reiki healing)

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