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Everything you need to know about reiki

Reiki is a form of alternative therapy commonly referred to as energy healing. It emerged in Japan in the late 1800's and is said to involve the transfer of universal energy from the practitioner's palms to their patient.

Energy healing has been used for centuries in various forms. Advocates say it works with the energy fields around the body.

Some controversy surrounds Reiki, because it is hard to prove its effectiveness through scientific means. However, many people who receive Reiki say it works, and its popularity is increasing. A Google search for the term currently returns no less than 68,900,000 results.

A 2007 survey shows that, in the United States (U.S.), 1.2 million adults tried Reiki or a similar therapy at least once in the previous year. Over 60 hospitals are believed to offer Reiki services to patients.

What is Reiki?

The word "Reiki" means "mysterious atmosphere, miraculous sign." It comes from the Japanese words "rei" (universal) and "ki" (life energy). Reiki is a type of energy healing.

Energy healing targets the energy fields around the body.

According to practitioners, energy can stagnate in the body where there has been physical injury or possibly emotional pain. In time, these energy blocks can cause illness.

Energy medicine aims to help the flow of energy and remove blocks in a similar way to acupuncture or acupressure. Improving the flow of energy around the body, say practitioners, can enable relaxation, reduce pain, speed healing, and reduce other symptoms of illness.

Reiki has been around for thousands of years. Its current form was first developed in 1922 by a Japanese Buddhist called Mikao Usui, who reportedly taught 2,000 people the Reiki method during his lifetime. The practice spread to the U.S. through Hawaii in the 1940s, and then to Europe in the 1980s.

It is commonly referred to as palm healing or hands-on healing.

What happens in a Reiki session?

Reiki is best held in a peaceful setting, but it can be carried out anywhere. The patient will sit in a comfortable chair or lie on a table, fully clothed. There may or may not be music, depending on the patient's preference.

The practitioner places their hands lightly on or over specific areas of the head, limbs, and torso using different hand shapes, for between 2 and 5 minutes. The hands can be placed over 20 different areas of the body.

If there is a particular injury, such as a burn, the hands may be held just above the wound.

While the practitioner holds their hands lightly on or over the body, the transfer of energy takes place. During this time, the practitioner's hands may be warm and tingling. Each hand position is held until the practitioner senses that the energy has stopped flowing.

When the practitioner feels that the heat, or energy, in their hands has abated, they will remove their hands and may place them over a different area of the body.

Becoming a Reiki practitioner

No prior training, education, or experience is needed to enter the Reiki training, or "attunement process." In this process, said to be a "powerful spiritual experience," the master is said to transfer the attunement energy and healing techniques into the student.

Reiki training varies, but most students learn about:

  • the energies around the body
  • how to work with healing energy
  • the ethics of working with clients

Preparation for attunement includes fasting for 2 to 3 days, meditation, focusing on nature, and releasing negative emotions.

There are three levels of mastery. Those who reach "Master" level can teach others and are reportedly able to heal from a distance, like a form of prayer.