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Picture of a Reiki symbolReiki (pronounced Ray-Key) is a touch healing system involving the channelling of universal energy through the hands of the healer. It is an ancient system, yet still relevant for use today. It is simple to learn, yet potent. Reiki healing can be received from someone else, or you can treat yourself. There is no belief system necessary, only the desire to be healed.

A Typical Reiki Treatment

Receiving a Reiki treatment should be a very peaceful, relaxing experience. It varies in duration but will normally last between sixty and ninety minutes. You lay down and rest while the practitioner first of all tunes-in and centres him or herself. They will then simply rest their hands gently on or near your clothed body in various positions allowing energy to flow through you. Both front and back are treated in this way. This is sometimes known as a laying-on of hands. Different people experience different sensations. You may feel warmth, tingling, a sense of well-being or perhaps nothing at all. Often people feel so relaxed that they drift off to sleep. It is important to remember that you are never drawing energy from the practitioner. The energy is channelled through them so that they also benefit.

Relief may be felt after a single treatment, but often three treatments are required over a few days for lasting results. In cases where there is a chronic illness it is a good idea if a family member can learn to give Reiki so that treatment can be ongoing. Self treatment is also possible so it is also appropriate for the patient to learn to do it for themselves. In fact this is an excellent approach because, in learning Reiki, you will come to understand some of the principles of healing on an energy level and be able to take a positive, active part in the healing process which has been shown to be so important for regaining full health.

The History of Reiki

The first Reiki Master was Mikao Usui, principal of the Doshisha University in Kyoto, Japan and also a Christian Minister. In the mid-1800s he was asked by his students about the healing work of Jesus. Since he was unable to answer their questions, according to the honour and tradition of his profession, he began a quest that would take ten years.

His search took him to America where he studied comparative religions and philosophies and learnt Sanskrit, the ancient language of India and Tibet. However he could not find the information he was looking for and returned to Japan where he resided in a Zen monastery. It was during this time that he discovered ancient texts, written in Sanskrit, in which he found information on the key to the healing formula. To interpret the information and seek empowerment from the knowledge, he made a pilgrimage to Mount Koriyama where he fasted and meditated for twenty-one days. On the final day he received enlightenment and knew how to access and use the healing energy which he called 'Reiki', meaning 'universal life force energy'.

Mikao Usui then worked in the slum areas of Kyoto where he healed beggars and the poor. He was distressed to find however, that the same people would return again and again. Because they had received healing for free, they had no responsibility for their own health. Some form of energy exchange in return for the healing is today an important part of the Reiki principle and is sometimes used to justify the cost of the training. (After all, paying money for a treatment or training is just another form of energy exchange.)

Usui travelled Japan teaching Reiki. By the time he died in 1930 he had trained up to eighteen Reiki Masters (sources vary on the exact number). Information on only one of these, Chujiro Hayashi a retired naval officer, is still available today. He took over the task of practising Reiki and training more practitioners.

With the outbreak of the Second World War looming Chujiro Hayashi realised that, for Reiki to survive, it would need to be spread outside of Japan. Indeed, as a healer, he did not want to take part in the conflict and made a conscious decision to leave his body. After the war his clinic was closed.

The responsibility for continuing the Reiki tradition had been passed to Hawayo Takata who had herself been successfully treated at his clinic for gallstones, appendicitis and a tumour, whilst on a visit from Hawaii. She stayed-on after her healing and became a practitioner herself, working there for two years. By the outbreak of war she was a Reiki Master in her own right and had established her own clinic in Kappa, Hawaii. From there she went on to teach Reiki throughout America.

Hawayo Takata died in 1980, a few days short of her eightieth birthday. Her granddaughter, Phyllis Furumoto, has succeeded her as the Grand Master of Usui Traditional Reiki and today there are Masters and practitioners all over the world.

Reiki Training

Reiki is learnt from a Reiki Master who does a series of 'attunements' to open the channels through which the healing energy flows. It is then simply a matter of learning the procedure and hand positions for a treatment.

There are three levels of Reiki training. The first degree, called Reiki 1, is a complete healing system in itself. It involves the first four 'attunements' and teaches the hand positions for a full treatment. Reiki 2 is intended for those who have been using Reiki 1 for some time. It involves more 'attunements' and a technique for distant healing. The final degree is that of the Reiki Master who can carry-out 'attunements' and teach Reiki to others.

An important point about Reiki is that it is simple to learn and practice, being more intuitive than intellectual. Most Reiki 1 courses last just a weekend. There follows a twenty-one day cleansing period during which the physical body and energy levels adjust to the higher vibratory rate brought about by the attunements. You are often encouraged to keep a diary of events during this period so that you can look back at the end and see any patterns which have developed.

Once you have received the Reiki attunements the channels will always be open, even if you do not consciously practice using the healing energy. If at some time in the future you decide to call upon it once again, it will still be there. It is good however to practice on a regular basis.

(Harmony Magazine Summer 96)

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