Articles written by me on Self-care and Palliative Medicine
On Self-Care & Palliative Medicine

Reiki Ruminations

Just for today I will give thanks for my many blessings.
Just for today I will not worry.
Just for today I will not be angry.
Just for today I will do my work honestly and with integrity.
Just for today I will be kind to my neighbour and every living thing.
Just for today I will not place judgment upon the actions of others.

Revised from Larry Arnold and Sandy Nevius, The Reiki Handbook, the Reiki Principals

Do you understand that we are all energetically connected to each other and everything else? Do you have a sense, in your own personal way, of an intimate link with your world? If so, then you already comprehend one of the major tenants of Reiki therapy. . .that we all share a ‘Unity of Consciousness’ and benefit from a Universal Healing Energy. Certainly, Quantum Physics research confirms that the universe is made of a complex network of energy–that everything is connected at the simplest level of molecular energy. Now, go one step further, and consider the shaping and manipulation of this energy by thoughts. The implications of such a connection help to make some diseases easier to understand; they also provide an explanation for some miraculous cures. With these thoughts in mind, let’s take a closer look at the history and character of Reiki Therapy in this week’s Insight.

Reiki (pronounced Ray Key) combines two Japanese words, Rei and Ki into a term translated as “Universal Life Energy.” The therapy is a laying-on of hands technique aimed at balancing the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual energies of our bodies.

Although Reiki is felt to be an ancient healing art, Mikao Usui is credited with its rediscovery in the mid-1800s when he began a quest (which lasted 10 years) to define the methods by which Buddah and Jesus healed. He discovered many “formulas” as he examined ancient texts, but he found no explanation of the activation of energy necessary to make the formulas work. He retreated for 21 days of fasting and prayer to Mt. Koriyama in Japan, and allegedly experienced a miraculous transformation there which included the gifting of information on the meaning of the Reiki symbols and how to activate the healing energy.

In Reiki literature, there is controversy about Usui’s personal history . Some report him as a Buddhist Monk, while others state that he was a Christian Minister and Professor. It is known that following his Mt. Koriyama experience, he practiced Reiki in the slums of Kyoto and subsequently became a pilgrim lecturer and demonstrator of Reiki as he traveled on foot throughout Japan. During this time in his life, Usui met a retired naval officer named Churjiro Hayashi, and trained him to be his successor. Later,one of the visitors to Hayashi’s Reiki clinic was Hawayo Takata. She was a Hawaiian resident and was visiting her family in Japan when she became ill in 1935. At the clinic, she was completely healed in “body, mind, and spirit” in four months, and was subsequently trained as a Reiki Master by Hayashi who deemed her his successor.

Takata is credited with the survival of Reiki as a healing art following World War II, because she brought Reiki to Hawaii and subsequently to the United States mainland, Canada, and Europe. By the time of her death at age 80 in 1980, she had trained 100s of people in the Reiki healing system. And, today, apparently, there are many branches of Reiki though they all stem in part from the teachings of Usui and subsequently Takata. Interestingly, since training from one student to the next has not been identical over time, this reality accounts for some of the variants in Reiki treatment today as well.

So what does all of this information mean to you, in terms of possible benefit from Reiki? Reiki can be used for any situations which involve energizing or balancing the physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual bodies. It can be used when there is an imbalance present, or to prevent imbalances from occurring. Certainly, a person “in balance” has more efficient healing and regenerative capabilities–at least, in part, because a nonstressed immune system works more efficiently. Most U.S. Reiki practitioners see it as an excellent complement to conventional medicine rather than a replacement for it. Along with deep relaxation, Reiki treatments gently and non-invasively work to move a person’s energetic functions back into alignment by straightening and healing the chakras (or energy pathways).

Reiki therapy is simple and non threatening. The patient lies fully clothed on a table, and the practitioner places his or her hands above or upon the patient. Treatment sessions can last from 15–60 minutes–with patients experiencing sensations of heat, cold, tingling, waves of energy, or nothing. The practitioner’s role is to facilitate the flow of healing energy into the patient and to aid the patient in balancing the innate flow of energy within their body. In this sense, Reiki ‘healings’ are not based on curing disease, but rather on a return to greater wholeness. As in other forms of Eastern-based medicine, the practice of Reiki perceives illness as a deviation from our ideal balance as human beings. The goal, therefore, is to facilitate the return to balance by utilizing healing energy.

Interestingly, the recipient of Reiki is always in control of the healing experience. The practitioner does not diagnose or prescribe; he/she simply acts as a channeler for the healing energy to be received by the recipient. The patient does not disrobe and may elect to be touched or not, depending on levels of comfort. Illnesses from heart disease and cancer to colds and fatigue can be aided with these powerfully gentle treatments. And, as above, Reiki can be used as an adjunct therapy with a variety of other treatment modalities to enhance the healing experiences by reducing negative side effects, shortening healing time, and helping to create optimism.

That everything in the universe is connected at the most fundamental level by energy is a scientifically proven fact. Channeling the healing properties of such energy is the basis for Reiki therapy. As a nonconventional bioenergetic treatment in this country, Reiki channeling has a number of skeptics and is not covered by most insurance plans. But, when people have exhausted the resources and expertise of Western medicine and remain ill, they frequently search for other healing options. . .and the popularity of alternative therapies stems from this phenomenon. And, Mikao Usui, the founder of Reiki therapy, felt that the “secret art of inviting happiness” and the “miraculous medicine of all diseases” stemmed from a life lived in peace and kindness, filled with gratitude and devotion to one’s work, and celebrated each morning and evening in prayer.

Stephen L. Hines, M.D.
June 2001

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