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:
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.
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 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.