REIKI - FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
The history of Reiki - where and when does it originate?
Although the origins of what we now call Reiki are probably very old, it re-emerged in the early 20th century with a Dr. Mikao Usui in Japan. The story goes that, stimulated by some students’ questions, he embarked on a long search for the origins of healing. Can anyone do it? Can it be taught? How does it work? After studying both Western and Eastern traditions, Dr. Usui went on a 21-day fast on a sacred mountain. When in deep meditation, he was given the symbolic tools and information that form the basis of Reiki practice. Reiki was originally brought to the West by Hawayo Takata, a Hawaiian Japanese woman who practiced and taught intensively in America until her death in 1980. Since then, Westerners have returned to Japan to find out more about the history, and there are now many and varied schools and styles of Reiki in the world.
Rei-ki is often translated as ‘Universal Life-energy’. Mrs Takata described it as ‘God-Power’. However, it is not attached to any religious or philosophical belief-system.
These were given by Dr. Usui to his students, perhaps to teach them that physical healing is not complete without the healing of a person’s whole life. In their most usual version in English, they are:
Just for today, do not worry,
Just for today, do not anger,
Honour your parents, teachers and elders,
Earn your living honestly,
Show gratitude for every living thing.
Seemingly simple, but not so easy to live by!
No. But probably someone with a completely closed mind wouldn’t ask for treatments!
Probably those drawn to explore Reiki would have general sense of there being ‘something more’ than physical matter.
No. In fact giving a treatment can be as energizing as receiving. We are not using our own energy, neither are we diagnosing or directing it. We are simply allowing this Universal Life Energy to flow through us into the recipient, going to wherever it is most needed. However, it is important for the person giving to make sure they are physically comfortable, as they need to remain still in each position for some time.
In a full session of about an hour to an hour and a half, you would lie fully clothed on a massage table. You would feel hands laid gently on (in some styles slightly above) your body in a series of positions on the head, abdomen and back. Legs and arms might also be treated. You might notice that the hands were hotter in certain positions. You might go to sleep, and would almost certainly feel a sense of calm and relaxation. Maybe you would notice a reduction of pain in certain places, or a clearing of some mental or emotional confusion. Occasionally people notice old symptoms surfacing in what is known as a ‘healing reaction’. This passes quite quickly, and is seen as a good sign, indicating something is moving.
Ah! There’s the mystery. There are many theories, mostly taken from other traditions. When treating, I feel myself filled with energy and simply allow it to pass through me into the person. Personally, I am happy to enjoy the mystery rather than getting into theoretical explanations, but there are plenty of these around. Clairvoyant people can see what is happening, but most of us just feel it in the hands.
No. I have worked with students from all kinds of religions and belief-systems. Reiki is a spiritual practice and not associated with any religion.
Look for a First Degree class with a master you feel comfortable with. There are many different systems and class forms, so it would be important to choose one that suits you. In my tradition (Usui Tera Mai) the student is initiated into each level. Level 1 teaches the student how to treat themselves, family & friends. After this, it is recommended that the student practices until Reiki becomes a way of life. Some then decide to explore further by enrolling in a Second Degree class after which a Practitioner Course can be completed. However, to provide the maximum flow of Healing Energy available for your clients, you should complete Mastership Level (Level 3) where the student is initiated into the full flow of the Reiki Energy.
This varies greatly between different systems. However it is better not to rush the process. There should be at least 6 weeks between level 1 & 2, and a 6 month period between completing level 2 & Mastership. But each person has their own journey, and ultimately it is the commitment to practice and do one’s best to live by the Reiki Principles that lead towards mastery – not of Reiki, but of oneself.
Most of the ‘evidence’ has been in the form of personal stories, but there has been some interesting work done in the USA using more formal methods. I would recommend Pamela Miles’ book, ‘Reiki, A Comprehensive Guide’.
Most people come to Reiki as a healing technique, and many, as they work with it, gradually discover that it is much more. It can affect both the giver and receiver on every level, physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. So whilst for some it is another string to the bow of their list of therapies, for others it becomes a way of life. This depends both on how they were taught and what they are looking for in their lives. There are many different styles of reiki – hands on or hands slightly above the body, client lying or sitting and so on. But basically the practitioner is simply allowing the Reiki energy to flow through her into the recipient, bringing the balance and relaxation that produces beneficial changes.
As I have said, Reiki affects the whole person. So that although someone might come along with a particular symptom, one never quite knows on what level they will be affected. Hawayo Takata said that ‘Reiki goes to the cause’. Generally, however, people find a general sense of strengthening and a deep sense of relaxation which can lay down the conditions for the healing of all kinds of conditions.
Anyone can learn, and no particular skills are necessary. Students have been taught from aged four to late eighties, and they all ‘get it’. Possibly those with some experience of body-work, yoga or the martial arts ‘turn on’ more quickly. What is needed after the initial training is a commitment to practice.
No. Since we are neither directing nor controlling the energy, there is no personal involvement. In fact the less investment we have in the outcome, the more effective the session seems to be.
Occasionally we feel a passing twinge in our own body, indicating where we need to place our hands. A very sensitive person might feel the emotions of the person they are treating, but this does not last.
Mrs. Takata often recommended a series of four consecutive sessions as a start to tackling any chronic condition. Otherwise, or after this, one a week would be a good program. Some benefit is usually felt right away, but of course long-term conditions are likely to need longer.
Self-treatment is a very important part of the practice, and becomes an integral part of one’s day. For many of us, we would no more forget it than forget to clean our teeth in the morning! A self-treatment might last anything from ten minutes to an hour. Half an hour is a good guideline, and this regular practice strengthens us and offers a much-needed space of quiet in our day.
Every person. Especially anyone open to change, since all healing involves change. And most of us are resistant to change, however much it hurts us to hold on to old patterns! It can happen often, that clients explore Reiki as a last option, when they have exhausted many other avenues… only to find what they were searching for all along.
Find someone with whom you feel comfortable and can trust. How long have they practiced? What system did they learn? Do you feel they are sensitive, professional, confident?
Until recently, there have been no recognized ‘ minimum standards’ of practice, but this is changing, and you can find lists of practitioners on various registers. This doesn’t necessarily mean they are the best for you – so use your intuition. The flashiest website doesn’t necessarily lead to the ‘best’ practitioner, and I suspect most people still find someone through personal recommendation
Almost certainly, you would find great benefit from reiki. Imagine just making time to lie still for an hour or so, relaxing in the caring presence of another person, with no expectations. And stress being the cause of so many other symptoms, you would surely notice other good effects.
The basis of these questions and answers were taken from an article solicited by 'Simply Beautiful Magazine' in 2011.