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What is it? How does it heal?
by William Lee Rand
The word Reiki is composed of two Japanese words - Rei and Ki. When translating Japanese into English we must keep in mind that an exact translation is difficult. The Japanese language has many levels of meaning. Therefore the context the word is being used in must be kept in mind when attempting to communicate its essence. Because these words are used in a spiritual healing context, a Japanese/English dictionary does not provide the depth of meaning we seek, as its definitions are based on common everyday Japanese. As an example, Rei is often defined as ghost and Ki as vapor and while these words vaguely point in the direction of meaning we seek, they fall far short of the understanding that is needed.
When seeking a definition from a more spiritual context, we find that Rei can be defined as the Higher Intelligence that guides the creation and functioning of the universe. Rei is a subtle wisdom that permeates everything, both animate and inanimate. This subtle wisdom guides the evolution of all creation ranging from the unfolding of galaxies to the development of life. On a human level, it is available to help us in times of need and to act as a source of guidance in our lives. Because of its infinite nature, it is all knowing. Rei is also called God and has many other names depending on the culture that has named it.
Ki is the non-physical energy that animates all living things. Ki is flowing in everything that is alive including plants, animals and humans. When a person's Ki is high, they will feel strong, confident, and ready to enjoy life and take on it's challenges. When it is low, they will feel weak and are more likely to get sick. We receive Ki from the air we breath, from food, sunshine, and from sleep. It is also possible to increase our Ki by using breathing exercises and meditation. When a person dies, their Ki leaves the physical body. Ki is also the Chi of China, the prana of India, the Ti or Ki of the Hawaiians, and has also been called odic force, orgone, bioplasma and life force.
With the above information in mind, Reiki can be defined as a non-physical healing energy made up of life force energy that is guided by the Higher Intelligence, or spiritually guided life force energy. This is a functional definition as it closely parallels the experience of those who practice Reiki in that Reiki energy seems to have an intelligence of its own flowing where it is needed in the client and creating the healing conditions necessary for the individuals needs. It cannot be guided by the mind, therefore it is not limited by the experience or ability of the practitioner. Nether can it be misused as it always creates a healing effect. ( It must be kept in mind that Reiki is not the same as simple life force energy as life force energy by itself can be influenced by the mind and because of this, can create benefit as well as cause problems including ill health.)
The source or cause of health comes from the Ki that flows through and around the individual rather than from the functional condition of the physical organs and tissues. It is Ki that animates the physical organs and tissues as it flows through them and therefore is responsible for creating a healthy condition. If the flow of Ki is disrupted, the physical organs and tissues will be adversely affected. Therefore, it is a disruption in the flow of Ki that is the main cause of illness.
An important attribute of Ki is that it responds to ones thoughts and feelings. Ki will flow more strongly or be weakened in its action depending on the quality of ones thoughts and feelings. It is our negative thoughts and feelings that are the main cause of restriction in the flow of Ki. All negative or dis-harmonious thoughts or feelings will cause a disruption in the flow of Ki. Even Western medicine recognizes the role played by the mind in creating illness and some Western doctors state that as much as 98% of illness is caused directly or indirectly by the mind.
It must be understood that the mind exists not only in the brain, but also through-out the body. The nervous system extends to every organ and tissue in the body and so the mind exists here also. It is also known that the mind even extends outside the body in a subtle energy field 2 to 3 feet thick called the aura. Because of this, it is more appropriate to call our mind a mind/body as the mind and body are so closely linked.
Therefore, our negative thoughts are not just in the brain, but also collect in various locations through-out the body and in the aura. The places where negative thoughts and feelings collect is where Ki is restricted in its flow. The physical organs that exist at these locations are restricted in their functioning. If the negative thoughts and feelings are not eliminated quickly, illness results.
The negative thoughts and feelings that are lodged in the unconscious mind/body are the greatest problem as we are not aware of them and therefore, are we are greatly hampered in changing or eliminating them.
The great value of Reiki is that because it is guided by the Higher Intelligence, it knows exactly where to go and how to respond to restrictions in the flow of Ki. It can work directly in the unconscious parts of the mind/body which contain negative Ki-inhibiting thoughts and feelings and eliminate them. As Reiki flows through a sick or unhealthy area, it breaks up and washes away any negative thoughts or feelings lodged in the unconscious mind/body thus allowing a normal healthy flow of Ki to resume. As this happens, the unhealthy physical organs and tissues become properly nourished with Ki and begin functioning in a balanced healthy way thus replacing illness with health.
This non-invasive, completely benign healing technique is becoming more and more popular. As western medicine continues to explore alternative methods of healing, Reiki is destined to play an important role as an accepted and valued healing practice.
What Can I Expect in a Typical Reiki Session?
In some ways, there is no typical Reiki session-no set protocol or length of time. Reiki can be administered by anyone who has training, which could be a professional practitioner, a healthcare provider, a friend or family member, or even you yourself if you have been trained in Reiki. Moreover, there is no typical setting: a quiet place is preferable, but Reiki can be done anywhere, no matter what else is happening either around or directly to the recipient. Moments of touch from a Reiki-trained practitioner can bring comfort in an acute or emergency situation, such as the onset of the flu, or after an injury or surgery.
That said, this section will explain what to expect in a full session or modified full session received from another person, either a professional or a friend who has taken at least First degree training.
Whom should I see?
To make sure that you have the best possible experience, take the time to find and choose a practitioner (professional or friend) with whom you feel comfortable and who meets your standards. (While a friend may not have the same level of experience as a professional, if you are comfortable and open with each other, receiving Reiki from a friend can be a special bonding experience.)
You'll want someone who clearly describes the process and how he or she structures the session so you have an idea of what to expect. Your actual experience of the therapy is very subjective, but knowing what the practitioner will do next will help you relax into his or her care. Also see "How Can I Find a Qualified Practitioner."
What is the setting?
A quiet setting where you are not disturbed is always desirable. Professional Reiki practitioners have a dedicated space or are experienced in creating that space when making house calls. They frequently play soft music during the session as a way of masking ambient noise, but let your practitioner know if you prefer silence.
Those receiving Reiki in a hospital, hospice, nursing home, or other healthcare settings may have a shorter session (15 or 20 minutes), while some private practitioners give 90 minute sessions. Most sessions are somewhere between.
Is there an intake process?
Some practitioners have intake forms and/or conduct a health interview, especially if the practitioner has other training in healthcare or manual therapies, such as massage. However, since Reiki has developed as a folk practice rather than a healthcare intervention, many Reiki practitioners deliberately avoid the type of intake that is common in healthcare. You may be asked to sign a consent form.
The practitioner will explain the process, and ask if you have any specific needs. Be sure to let the practitioner know if you have a health condition that might impact your lying flat on your back or front or if you have any areas that are sensitive to touch. In a hospital or other healthcare environment, the practitioner may ask for permission to touch.
What does the session consist of?
A complete Reiki session is offered to a fully clothed recipient who is lying on a treatment table or sitting comfortably supported in a chair.
Most commonly, Reiki is offered through light, non-invasive touch with the practitioner's hands placed and held on a series of locations on the head and front and back of the torso. The placement of the hands should never be intrusive or inappropriate, nor should there be any pressure.
Additional placements on the limbs can be done as needed (for example, if there is an injury or surgical scar), and some practitioners routinely do so. The Reiki practitioner can hold her hands just off the body if needed (for example, in the presence of an open wound or burn), and some practitioners always offer Reiki in this way.
What might I experience?
"I feel very refreshed and seem to be thinking more clearly." "I think I fell asleep." "I can't believe how hot your hands got!" "I feel more relaxed than even after a massage." "My headache is gone." These are some of things people typically say after a Reiki session.
The experience of Reiki is subjective, changeable, and sometimes very subtle. People often experience heat in the practitioner's hands, but sometimes the practitioner's hands feel refreshingly cool. Other common experiences are subtle pulsations where the practitioner's hands are placed or cascading waves of pulsations throughout the body.
People often comment how comforting they find the experience of Reiki to be. An interesting study reported that recipients frequently feel that they are hovering in a threshold state of consciousness, simultaneously aware of their surroundings and deeply indrawn. Some people fall into a deep, sleeplike meditative state. Sometimes the experience of Reiki is dramatic, while for other people, the first session in particular may be uneventful, although they feel somehow better afterward. The most common experience is an almost immediate release of stress and a feeling of deep relaxation.
Reiki is cumulative and even people who don't notice much the first time usually have progressively deeper experiences if they continue. Besides the immediate experience of the Reiki, you may notice other changes that continue to unfold as the day goes on: perhaps stronger digestion, a sense of being more centered and poised and less reactive, and sleeping deeply that night.
What should I do during the session?
Once you have taken the time to find a credible practitioner with whom you feel a rapport, what can you do to be comfortable during your Reiki experience? Not much, but here are a few suggestions:
If you have music that you particularly enjoy and which is relaxing, bring it to your session and ask the practitioner to play it. You can also request silence if you prefer.
Use the rest room before your session so that you are able to lie down comfortably.
Especially if you have any shyness about being touched, ask your practitioner to show you the hand placements before starting so you are very clear what to expect.
Let the practitioner know your needs before you start. For example, if you have trouble breathing and lying flat is uncomfortable, say so. Or mention if you have had surgery recently and don't want to be touched where the scar is still tender (the practitioner can float her hand here). If you are pregnant or have digestive complaints, it may not be feasible to lie on your stomach. Inform your practitioner.
As the session progresses, you will feel more relaxed. If you become uncomfortable, you can adjust your position at any time. Be sure to ask for anything that will add to your comfort, such as additional support under your knees or a blanket. This is your special time and your practitioner is there to help you.
Receiving Reiki is a wonderfully passive experience. Don't try to relax, just let the Reiki relax you. Your state will shift quite naturally as the session proceeds. Meanwhile feel free to daydream, enjoy the music, or simply observe your breath or the sensations of the therapy.
What happens after the session?
Do not expect a diagnosis, as that is not part of Reiki. Some practitioners may make common sense suggestions for after-care, such as drinking water and following your body's needs.
Although people typically leave a Reiki session feeling refreshed, sometimes they notice feeling more tired in the evening than usual. This is not viewed as an adverse reaction, but rather as the body's natural healing response, something to be heeded. People commonly report a sense of calm and mental clarity and sleeping well after Reiki.
How many sessions should I receive?
Your practitioner may suggest a series of sessions. Four sessions is a traditional recommendation and gives you time to evaluate what benefits you are receiving. Discuss with your practitioner how best to space the sessions to suit your needs and your schedule.
In the presence of a serious health challenge, Reiki practitioners often recommend four sessions over four days. These need not be given by the same practitioner.
The Relativity of Reiki and Massage
Learn the Similarities and Differences Between Reiki and Massage
Both Reiki and massage are systems of natural healing that focus on body energy, and today Reiki massage is a common and effective treatment.
If you’ve ever had a great massage, you understand how you can feel both relaxed and invigorated at the same time. This seeming dichotomy of emotions allows you this feeling of well being because a massage loosens muscles, increases oxygen and blood flow throughout the body, and encourages the free flow of the body’s own energies, or “Chi.”
The Japanese healing art of Reiki has similar practical purposes—to increase and free the unbalanced energy flow in the body. But while massage is more vigorous and manipulates the muscles, Reiki uses only touch and sometimes merely the proximity of the healer’s hands to particular parts of the body, using 12 to 20 prescribed hand positions, depending on the training tradition. Today there is a hybrid treatment, known as Reiki massage.
While massage is one of the oldest forms of medical treatment, first recorded in China more than 2,000 years ago, Reiki is a recently developed practice, invented in 1922 by Dr. Mikao Usui, a Japanese Buddhist. He gave treatments and passed his training on to a generation of about 16 Reiki Masters, who continued to practice and teach it to others as Usui Reiki.
Difference Between Reiki and Massage Therapy Training
To become a licensed massage therapist, you must attend an accredited massage school and take extensive coursework, which usually includes anatomy, physiology and other courses, in addition to massage techniques. Depending on the program, these programs can take from six months to two years. In many states, you must also pass a massage certification exam in order to be a licensed practitioner.
Reiki, on the other hand, is not licensed by any state board, but a few organizations have begun to establish criterion for this new healing art. The Reiki Licensing Commission for Reiki Masters and Healers (RLCRMH) for instance, has called for stricter standards of Reiki training, and awards designations for Reiki healers, coaches, masters and instructors. The lowest levels take about one or two days of training, and the highest level can take years to achieve.
There are other types of Reiki certification as well, such as Lightarian Reiki®, Urevia®, Shamballa Multi-Dimensional Reiki healing and Karuna. Usui Reiki healing techniques requires learning from a teacher who is directly in the Reiki lineage from masters taught by Dr. Usui or his student, Hawaiian Reiki master Hawayo Takata.
Reiki and Massage Therapy as Complementary Professions
In massage therapy, the practitioner manipulates the patient, whereas in Reiki, the healer barely touches the patient, in a non-invasive and non-manipulative 45- to 90-minute session. The practices are complementary, however, and many massage therapy schools also teach Reiki healing techniques so they can be incorporated into graduates’ private practices. Some massage therapists use Reiki techniques during their massage sessions, which is referred to as a “Reiki massage”, to promote physical, emotional and mental well-being.
Although the certification standards are more rigorous and there are more licensing laws surrounding massage therapy schools, Reiki training is increasing in demand, and with the growth in the healing arts and natural health degree field, training in Reiki healing can be a complementary addition to your massage therapy practice.
What is Reiki?
Reiki is a spiritual healing art with its roots in Japanese origin. The word Reiki comes from the Japanese word (Rei) which means “Universal Life” and (Ki) which means “Energy”. Reiki is not affiliated with any particular religion or religious practice. It is not massage nor is it based on belief or suggestion. It is a subtle and effective form of energywork using spiritually guided life force energy.
Reiki is the life energy that flows through all living things. Reiki Practitioners understand that everyone has the ability to connect with their own healing energy and use it to strengthen energy in themselves and help others. It is believed that a person’s “ki” or energy should be strong and free flowing. When this is true a person’s body and mind is in a positive state of health. When the energy becomes weak or blocked it could lead to symptoms of physical or emotional imbalance.
A Reiki session can help ease tension and stress and can help support the body to facilitate an environment for healing on all levels – physical, mental, and emotional. A session is pleasant and relaxing and is often utilized for one’s personal wellness.
History of Reiki
Reiki is believed to have been associated with Mikao Usui who is credited with rediscovering the root system now called Reiki. His tradition and methods were passed through several grandmasters of Reiki. Today, Reiki takes many forms, however, The Usui System of Natural Healing is still the form most widely practiced. Practitioners and Master Teachers are trained through an initiation process where Masters pass on their knowledge and expertise to their students.
Description of a Typical Session
What is Reiki? Enjoy a Reiki Session Today ! IARP
A session is usually 60 to 90 minutes long. A discussion will usually take place during an initial session with a Reiki Practitioner. They will describe the session to the client, give the client an opportunity to discuss any particular problems or issues they are experiencing and ask them what they are hoping to achieve from their session. For the actual session, the client will rest comfortably on a massage table on their back with their shoes removed. Reiki can be performed with the client sitting comfortably in a chair as well. Unlike massage therapy, no articles of clothing are removed and a client is always fully clothed; loose, comfortable clothing is suggested. A session can either be hands-on, where a Practitioner will apply a light touch during the session, or hands-off where they will hold their hands slightly above your body. If a client prefers not to be touched they can indicate this to the practitioner before they begin.
The session will then proceed with the Reiki Practitioner moving through specific standard Reiki hand positions beginning at the person’s head or feet. A recipient of Reiki might feel a warming sensation or a tingling during the session or nothing at all but sheer relaxation. The session should be very pleasant, relaxing and invigorating.
What is Reiki used to Treat?
Reiki is a great tool for stress reduction and relaxation. Many people use Reiki for wellness. Reiki is not a cure for a disease or illness, but it may assist the body in creating an environment to facilitate healing. Reiki is a great tool to use as a complement to traditional medicine and is practiced in many hospitals and medical care settings.
Many times a client, after experiencing Reiki treatments, will wish to learn Reiki to work with this energy themselves by taking a Reiki I course. This can be beneficial as they may then use this stress reduction and relaxation tool anytime they wish when cost would prohibit it otherwise.
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Please Note: Reiki is meant to be used as a complement to traditional care or as a personal relaxation or stress reducing tool. It is not a substitute for qualified medical or traditional care.