There’s no doubt that people are looking for any way to keep healthy– including delving into what is generally known as alternative medicine. The last few years have seen a flurry of health food and exercise trends. But one of the most popular actually dates back generations– the healing art known as reiki.
Like many forms of alternate medicine such as accupuncture, reiki (prounced ray-key) has Asian origins. It comes from two words, rei and ki, which mean universal life energy. A Japanese Buddhist named Mikao Usui first developed it in 1922.
Its introduction to the West is much more recent, though. Hawayo Takata, a native Hawaiian with Japanese ancestry, began training people in reiki in 1970.
Reiki involves manipulating what its users call the life energy, or qi (better known as chi.) The chi, according to belief, is the invisible energy that keeps us alive. When that life energy is low, our health deteriorates. Using the hands, according to reiki practitioners, delivers healing energies.
The main instruments in reiki healing are the hands, and the technique is often appropriately described as “laying on of hands.” The client usually lays on a couch, bed, or a massage table. Soothing music is usually played, to create a relaxing atmosphere. Reiki practitioners guide their hands to a particular area on the client’s body where the life energy is low.
The hands don’t necessarily have to actually touch the body. Some practitioners hold their hands just above the client’s skin. Either way, the healing reiki energy is said to flow from the practitioner, through the client’s body to where it’s needed the most for healing.
Some clients even claim they feel the healing power of hands where they haven’t even been specifically directed. For example, a client may see the reiki practitioner’s hands over the stomach, but feel as though the hands are on their arms. This phenomenon is known as “phantom hands.”
Reiki services are found in clinics, spas, hospitals, and even home businesses. It’s often used to complement traditional medicine, as supplemental to an overall health plan. Reiki practitioners aren’t always in the phone book, but often advertise in health food stores, yoga classes, and local colleges.
Many people who feel they benefit from reiki even become practitioners themselves. It has multiple levels. Levels One and Two are usually taught in one or two days. Level III, the highest level, takes somewhat longer. To pass it, students must complete an initiation ritual called an attunement. Although they usually work independently, reiki practitioners sometimes use a communal healing ritual called a reiki share.
Through many testimonies and personal experiences, reiki is a technique that many people rely on, and its popularity will likely continue to grow. Its simplicity, its healing potential, and its wide availability and the accessibility of online information about it (though websites, blogs and articles) make it an alternative medicine that many will look at for their overall well-being.