What is Reiki?
In order to develop an answer to the question “What is Reiki?”, we should start by looking at the meaning of the word itself. Reiki is comprised of two separate Japanese words:
- Rei (pronounced “ray”) – roughly translates to mean “universal”; though, in the context of Reiki healing, it is generally accepted as ‘Higher Power’ or ‘Universal Wisdom’.
- Ki (pronounced “key”) – means life force energy. Other cultures refer to this same energy as prana, chi, qi, and numen.
Using these translations, we could reasonably define reiki as ‘Life force energy guided by Universal Wisdom’. While this is actually a fairly succinct description of the energy used in Reiki, it doesn’t quite answer our initial question.
The Energy or The Method
When most people use the term Reiki, they are referring to the method of energetic healing used by Reiki Practitioners and Masters; not the energy which our definition describes. Often people differentiate between the two concepts by capitalizing the name Reiki when it refers to the method and using the lower case reiki when talking about the energy. Personally I think that this actually strengthens the misconception that all energy work is Reiki; therefore, it is my preference to use Reiki when referring to both the healing method developed by Dr. Mikao Usui and the energy used in that method.
The Reiki Healing Method
The system, as I learned it through the ICRT, involves the “laying-on” of hands by the practitioner with the intention that healing take place. The reiki energy then begins to flow into the client with the practitioner acting as a conduit or channel for the energy. Because the energy is guided by a higher power, it just goes where it is needed. It is as simple as that. There are more advanced techniques that can draw upon the knowledge and skill of the practitioner, but at its core, that is all there is to it. Hands on, Reiki on.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Do all healers do Reiki?
The healing power of touch is not something exclusive to Reiki. How many times have you stubbed your toe or scraped your knee and found yourself putting your hand on it to soothe the pain? It is a natural reaction. Whether you are conscious of it or not, you are doing a form of energy healing when you do that. Are you performing Reiki? No. Reiki is a specific frequency of life force energy that is channeled by Reiki practitioners. The ability to connect to and channel this frequency of energy is passed from a Reiki Master to a student during an ‘attunement’ as part of a Reiki class.
What does Reiki feel like?
Because we are all different, the reiki energy can be experienced in a variety of ways. Some of the most common experiences are waves of relaxation, warmth, tingling, a sense of peace and well being, or rejuvenating energy. I have actually had a few clients that became so relaxed that they fell asleep and started snoring; but almost every client tells me that they feel relaxed and energized at the end of their session. Some even claim that they feel like they have been on a very relaxing vacation.
How does Reiki work? What can Reiki help?
To give a full explanation of how energy healing works is outside the scope of this article; but I will delve into it in great depth in futureposts. The basic idea is that Ki flows along channels of energy throughout our body and that in order for us to achieve and maintain optimal health, we must have an abundance of free-flowing Ki. We also have a series of subtle energy bodies that interpenetrate and surround our physical body; which is often referred to as the aura. The model that I use, which is discussed in Barbara Brennan’s Hands of Light, divides the aura up into a total of 7 bodies with each representing a different level or frequency of energy becoming more refined (higher vibration) as they move further from the physical body. It may help to think of them like a Russian nesting doll. Among these bodies is one for our thoughts, one for our emotions, and one upon which our physical bodies are based. The more abundant our flow of Ki, the more vibrant our energy bodies manifest and the less susceptible to illness we become.
Our aura is like a set of Russian nesting dollsAs we go about our day-to-day lives, we may encounter various circumstances that can impede the flow of Ki through our body and aura. Things like physical illnesses; mental and emotional stress; even spiritual distress and trauma can cause blockages or patterns that prevent us from being as vibrant and healthy as we could be. During a Reiki session the practitioner works on removing these blockages and correcting any patterns that may be impeding the flow of Ki in the body and aura so that the client can once again return to optimal health. Because our physical body and aura are so intimately connected, Reiki can be beneficial for all types of concerns whether they are physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual.
How is Reiki different from other types of energy healing?
There are two main categories of energy healing; Innate and Channeled. Innate healers run the risk of taking on the symptoms of the illness they are treating (if they are not careful) because they are depleting their own life force energy making them more vulnerable. Their life force energy will eventually replenish itself; but after a lengthy healing session, they may find themselves feeling particularly drained. The other type of healers channel energy from another source rather than using their own life force energy. There are many systems of channeled healing with Reiki being just one. What makes it different is the specific frequency of energy that is being channeled. Once benefit of channeling the healing energy is that the flow of energy is generally in one direction making it much more difficult for the practitioner to take on their clients symptoms. In the Reiki community, there is a saying, “Give a healing, get a healing” because the energy flowing through the practitioner is beneficial to them as well as their clients.