~ What is Reiki ~
Reiki is a gentle Japanese spiritual and meditation practice that supports wellness, wellbeing and health on all levels.
This technique strengthens our body’s innate abilities to identify, assess and bring support needed for the body to move towards balance and health. This happens not only by supporting the body into a deeply relaxed state – allowing the parasympathetic responses of the body to more effectively do their jobs – but also by supporting and enhancing the energy of life, which pulses through our bodies and is needed for the functions of the body. Without the energy of life, breath and body would not be animated to create our living journey.
Many influences can create challenge to the body’s abilities to deliver its highest potential: stress, injury, malnutrition, emotions, thinking patterns, trauma, environmental factors, age, behavioral patterns, hydration, among others. These stressors on the body then create congestion, static and sluggish movement of life energy. When these factors are present, they do not allow our bodies to effectively tap into its potential for health. There are many ways Reiki can serve as a tool to nourish and enhance the body’s innate abilities. When the body is nourished and patterns adjusted, correction of these imbalances follows suit and the body moves towards homeostasis.
It might be helpful to offer a description of some distinctions around the way the word Reiki is used. There is Reiki – which is the energy of LIFE. There is the practice of Reiki – which is an individual’s personal, on-going practice that clears the clutter, congestion, and static, as well as supports shifts of behavior and thinking towards deeper compassion for self and others. This personal practice strengthens and empowers the flow of life energy through and around the body. There is also the shared offering of a Reiki session by a trained practitioner (which is often seen as a practitioner’s Reiki Practice- meaning professional practice).
When a person has an active, personal Reiki practice – as with, and very often in combination with, yoga, Thai Chi, Qigong, meditation and other spiritual practices – the life energy moving through the body is strengthened and enhanced. The person’s body’s potential/functions is then nourished. It clears the energy pathways in the body, so the flow of energy has a wide and open channel to nourish and animate the body and being. A side effect of this increased flow is that the energy can effectively and easily flow to others. Using an example that may be more familiar; all people have muscles, but if someone goes to the gym to exercise those muscles regularly, not only do the muscles get stronger with more stamina, but there would also be plenty of strength to assist others with heavy lifting. When an individual practices Reiki regularly, in the same way, it strengthens the flow of life energy for themselves and allows this to easily flow to others.
Mikao Usui Sensei (August 19,1865- March 9, 1926) developed the practice of Reiki not only to share the flow of life energy to others, but also to have a foundation and practice for others to develop and improve their own highest healing and life potential.
Receiving a reiki session is one way to take a drink of life’s energy and support your body’s abilities to heal. Learning Reiki is also a way to give yourself the tools to do the same and share it with others.
The main foundation of this practice is the Five Principles (Precepts), known in Japanese as the Gokai. The depth and intricate contemplation that is possible in all five principles can be studied and practiced for one’s whole life moving a person along a path of deep wholeness and health. Before listing the principles in both English and Japanese, it is wise to explain that much of the language used here in the West is an attempt at directly translating the Japanese Kanji (the symbols used in the Japanese written language-which originated in China) to English. This attempt very often misses the mark, and a clear, understandable, and honorable interpretation can be missed.
Kanji is defined as “Chinese characters/pictographs. It is a word that has one or several meanings, which change depending on the context.” (Frank Arjava Petter)
A well-trained Reiki teacher can offer distinction and support in interpreting the intricacies of the meanings behind much of the Kanji symbols that are used in Reiki practice. The simplicity in the English translation should not be interpreted that we don’t anger or worry, or at times lose sight of gratitude. The Practice is in learning how to recognize these, how to release the effects of these, and eventually live in harmony with these guides.
5 Reiki Precepts/Principals
- Do not Anger
- Do not Worry
- Fill with Gratitude
- Be Authentic and Diligent in all you do
- Hold Compassion to Yourself & Others
Kyo daka wa
- Shinpai Suna
- Khansha shite
- Gyo o hage me
- Hito ni shinsetsu ni
Here are some things to keep in mind when looking for a practitioner to receive a session:
- Look for someone who clearly presents as a professional. Their compassionate listening should not include recommendations for anything around your medical, psychological, or other needs (unless they are a therapist trained in those areas).
- Ask to what level they have trained, and how long they have been practicing.
- Ask who their teacher(s) are, and the lineage of their style of Reiki.
- Ask if they incorporate other modalities into their sessions – YOU the client should choose if you want additional techniques used.
- Some of the things you might see added to a Reiki session offering could be crystals, essential oils, massage, sound healing, yoga, chakra reading, tarrot reading, color therapy, among others. These are not Reiki; they are additions to the Reiki session.
- Many Reiki practitioners are happy to meet with new clients prior to a session so they can see the treatment space and discuss any questions.
- Because the 5 precepts/principals (Gokai) are so important to the foundation of Reiki, look for a practitioner who knows them and incorporates them into their practice. There is a significant aspect to a practitioner knowing them in Japanese.
- A Reiki session is often offered on a massage table for comfort and relaxation. It can be performed anywhere, in any position; in a chair, hospital bed, roadside- even at a distance.
- A client is always clothed in a Reiki session and hands can be lightly place on certain spots on the body or can be above the body, not touching.
- Reiki can support improvement in all areas of health and compliment medical treatments. Reiki does not replace trained medical attention.
Many of these same questions would arise if a person were investigating a teacher.
Depending on the lineage (the historic path through which a style of Reiki has come to reach the teacher), there are usually three levels to trainings. In English, typically Reiki I, II, and III. In Japanese, one would see this represented as Shoden, Okuden, Shinpiden. There are more advanced trainings than these listed and some styles, especially those here in the West have added their own levels. The Japanese word that was directly translated to “Master” in the term Reiki Master, in essence, is someone who has trained in Reiki through the 3 levels and has committeed to be a “forever student”. Becoming a teacher of Reiki is best when there is a pure and true commitment to the esoteric and forever study of self and Reiki’s affect on that path.
Reiki is not complicated, but it can be complex. Depending how deeply a person dives into the history and the practice. The esoteric aspect will gauge the complexity of the experience. Like Yoga, there could be the simplicity of involvement of one getting on a mat, moving into supportive positions and breathing – and there is benefit – or, one can take their practice all the way to studying with a guru in India and be on a life path of exploration and health. Similarly, Reiki has its beautiful simplicity and as well, a depth and path to nourish and expand a person as far as they want to go.
A beautiful quote from Frank Arjava (Sensei) Petter sums it up: “Reiki is much more than merely a relaxation technique or a way to treat the illnesses of body and mind: in its genius simplicity it includes everything that allows us to grow into a complete, kind, compassionate and conscious human being.”