new age spirituality

Reiki Energy Healing

Reiki (pronounced ray-kee) is a form of spiritual healing and spiritual practice proposed for the treatment of physical, emotional, mental and spiritual diseases.

Tendai Buddhist Mikao Usui developed Reiki in early 20th century Japan, where he claimed to receive the ability of 'healing without energy depletion' after three weeks of fasting and meditating on Mount Kurama. Practitioners use a technique similar to the laying on of hands, in which they claim to be channels for energy ("Ki") guided by a universal spirit or spiritual nature ("Rei") — flowing through their palms to heal a person wherever they may need healing. A study in Alternative Therapies (Jan/Feb 2005 issue) said that in 2002 there were over one million U.S. adults who had experienced Reiki treatments.

The name Reiki derives from the Japanese pronunciation of two Chinese characters that are said to describe the energy itself: 'rei' (meaning 'soul', 'spirit' or 'ghost') and 'ki' (Chinese qi, meaning breath or 'life force energy').

Reiki and the Chakras

Some schools teach that Reiki energy enters the practitioner through the 7th (crown) chakra, goes through the 4th (heart) chakra and then flows through her or his hands into the body of the recipient. It is also taught that Reiki energy enters through the 1st (root) chakra at the base of the spine, fills the aura, becomes centered in the 4th chakra, and flows out through the practitioner's hands.

Most schools teach that the Reiki energy is an "intelligent" energy, which "knows what to do," or "where it is needed the most." Thus, Reiki adherents say, if the recipient needs it and is ready to heal, the Reiki energy will go where it needs to for healing. If the intended recipient does not accept the energy on some level, the energy will not be absorbed. Some schools teach that Reiki "spirit guides" keep watch over Reiki energy and assist the practitioner. It is said by them that any intention to do harm will block the flow of Reiki energy.

Reiki Therapy

In a Reiki session, the practitioner asks the recipient to lie down and relax. The practitioner then is said to act as a channel for Reiki energy, allowing "Reiki energy" to be channelled through the practitioner to wherever the patient is thought to require it. Usually the practitioner moves their hands close to or on various parts of the recipient's body. Some patients report feeling various sensations: heat, tingling, cold, pressure, etc. Practitioners of Reiki attribute these sensations to Reiki energy filling energetic deficiencies in the body and aura of the recipient, repairing and opening their energy channels, pulling out "negativity," and dissolving the blockages of "stale" energy. Some claim that practitioners can also channel Reiki energy through other parts of their bodies (for example, their eyes or their breathing) if they wish.

According to practitioners, intention is the primary method for directing the flow of the energy. Reiki healers say that their energy can be used for healing either in physical proximity or from a distance. Furthermore, many Reiki healers claim that the ability to share Reiki comes only after a "Reiki Master" performs an initiation or attunement, though this is not always the case. Other schools of thought believe that many people inherently have the ability to utilize Reiki to some degree without any form of extraneous instruction or initiation. Some of these "unconscious healers" (who may have been performing Reiki for decades without knowledge of how their 'healing hands' work) require only instruction which increases knowledge of the human body as a anatomical system, helps the practitioner understand how to channel Reiki more effectively and provides proper explanation of their skills. In these cases, however, the only way to get recognised certification of their abilities is through a "qualified Master", most of whom will still insist that attunement is necessary.

Evidence for Reiki

There have been reports of positive effects of Reiki treatment in papers published in some peer-reviewed alternative medical journals. Proposed benefits include relaxation and increased immunity, reduced heart rate, improved blood pressure, reduced pain, anxiety and depression [Miles P, True G. "Reiki: Review of a Biofield Therapy--History, Theory, Practice and Research," Altern Ther Health Med March/April 2003. (9)2 pp 62-72; Reiki: A Comprehensive Guide Miles, P. Tarcher/Penguin 2006].

Heart rate and diastolic blood pressure decreased significantly in people who received 30 minutes of reiki, as compared to a placebo intervention or 30 minutes of rest. “Autonomic Nervous System Changes During Reiki Treatment: A Preliminary Study” was conducted by staff of the Institute of Neurological Sciences, South Glasgow University Hospital NHS Trust, in Glasgow, United Kingdom. “No changes were found in the control group after the baseline period, indicating that the autonomic activity stabilized during the initial rest period,” state the study’s authors. “It is therefore unlikely that the significant changes in both placebo and reiki groups are due to simply lying down and resting.” [Institute of Neurological Sciences, South Glasgow University Hospital NHS Trust, Glasgow, United Kingdom. Authors: Nicola Mackay; Stig Hansen, Ph.D.; and Oona McFarlane. Originally published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 2004, Vol. 10, No. 6, pp. 1077-1081.]

Reiki Origins and Philosophy

Some schools of Reiki are said to believe that Usui was pursuing knowledge of healing before he developed his Reiki method and that he also studied traditional Chinese medicine, Ayurveda, Qigong, and Yoga. Usui, however, claimed that the awakening of Reiki and the development of his techniques was something entirely different. Nonetheless, Reiki appears to be based loosely around ideas of qi.

Usui was also an admirer of the literary works of Emperor Meiji, and, in the process of developing his Reiki system, summarised some of the Meiji Emperor's works into a set of ethical principles, one translation of which is:

"The secret method of inviting blessings
The spiritual medicine of many illnesses
Just for today, do not anger.
Just for today, do not worry.
Do your work with appreciation.
Be kind to all.
In the morning and at night hold your hands in prayer,
meditate on and say these words.
The Usui Reiki method to change your mind and body for the better.
Mikao Usui"

Usui trained several disciples. One of his disciples, the naval doctor Chujiro Hayashi, stressed physical healing and taught a more codified and simpler set of Reiki techniques. Among Hayashi's contributions was a set of fixed hand positions to be used in the course of a treatment; Usui himself preferred a method called scanning, through which he detected imbalances, and said that the hand positions were for beginners.

Hayashi initiated and trained Mrs. Hawayo Takata, who brought Reiki to the USA. Takata claimed that, after developing the Reiki methodology, as well as receiving the spiritual ability to practice it, Usui went to the slums of Tokyo to attempt the healing of beggars. However, after several years of very little success, he claimed that it was their mindset that kept them ill, even after he had "treated" them again and again. Usui then decided that there should be an "energy exchange" in return for a Reiki treatment. This "energy exchange" may take the form of cash payment, or a trade of some sort. The idea is that the patient is expected to regard the treatment as having a value up front and is prepared to invest himself/herself in the healing process.

Reiki Attunement

There are essentially two broad groups, or schools: the traditional school and the independent school. The traditionalists claim to teach and practice Reiki strictly as it was taught from Usui's time until Takata's time, although modern research suggests that training under Usui differed greatly from the way Takata taught. Another, separate branch of traditionalists advocate adherence to the (now rediscovered) Japanese school's methods. The independent schools vary greatly in their practices and methods, ranging from those descended through Iris Ishikuro, which fundamentally adhere to traditional Reiki practice but eschew Takata's practice of charging $10,000 for attunement to Reiki "Master level," to so-called "newer" schools, which either add elements to traditional Reiki or claim to have been independently developed.

Independent schools of Reiki developed partly in response to the belief that Reiki training should be more widely available and practiced in a flexible and complementary way with other practices, and as a political reaction to the mainstream of Hawayo Takata's style. Furthermore, some practitioners believe that Reiki is humanity's birthright. New paths were developed out of the Reiki core that fused it with New Age thinking regarding Wicca, shamanism, channeling and so forth. Also, new symbols and practices are often added. Many of these symbols emerged through practitioners who said they felt guided to expand the system in various ways. A great deal of generic New Age content is now often taught either as an adjunct to Reiki or even as an integral part of the system, and numerous schools of thought now exist, some being freely offered and some proprietary. This new form of Reiki was initially developed in opposition to the stricter Reiki practices that Hawayo Takata claimed were the authentic method. Some of the independent schools of Reiki differ from mainstream Reiki by the inclusion of what they call "skhm" or "Seichim energy" and symbols into their teaching, which is said by its adherents to make the experience and practice of channelling Reiki different.

Reiki Tummo

Reiki Tummo is a recent form of Reiki based on what is claimed to be a syncretism of Japanese Reiki with the Tibetan techniques of Tummo. It has been taught by Irmansyah Effendi since 1998. The purpose of this method is said by its adherents to be the awakening of the Kundalini in a safe and controlled manner and to use the heart and what they call the "Inner Heart" as a personal guide in attaining Yoga.

Reiki Training

Mikao Usui's Reiki method spread widely. Correspondence courses over the Internet even offer distance training. To achieve a complete education in the "Usui method of Reiki Healing," three courses are necessary: the 1st degree course, the 2nd degree course, and the master course. The specific content of each of these courses varies widely from one teacher to another, depending on personal philosophies. A typical set of courses is something like the following:

First Degree Reiki courses teach the basic theories of how to work with Reiki energy. The channel through which Reiki energy passes to the practitioner is said to be widened through an initiation by the teacher, permitting the Reiki energy be strong enough to effect healing. Students learn hand placement positions on the recipient's body that are thought to be most conducive to the healing process.

In the Second Degree Reiki course, a symbol for mental healing is taught, enabling students to purportedly treat even deeply ingrained problems like fears, depression, addictions, and the like. Students are instructed on how to direct Reiki energy to a certain point in time, to a specific person or place, or a specific issue. The issue can be something like an individual's particular health problem, or it can be a more abstract or general issue such as world peace. Practitioners say that this is possible using three symbols taught at the second initiation. The claim is that this skill allows the Reiki channel to be opened even wider.

As part of the master course, usually the Third Degree, students become a Reiki "master" through the third initiation; they learn how to initiate students and have the option of teaching Reiki courses themselves. The student learns a further "master" level symbol in this course as well as the method of attuning others. In some cases the third level is broken into smaller stages of attunements from the teacher; the attunements for the first, second, and third level may also be administered in stages. A teacher has completed practical training when told that he or she has the ability to attune others to all degrees and has been given the final fourth Reiki Master symbol that is used in attunements.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Reiki".

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