“Healing without energy depletion.” That is how Reiki was described in 1922 by its originator, a man named Mikao Usui. It combines the practice of palm healing with other methods to move energy throughout the body to restore a person’s health. While there is scant documentation which supports its effectiveness, the methodology has attracted a large following in the West. Today, tens of thousands of people extol the health benefits of receiving treatment.
In this article, we’ll briefly explore the practice’s history. We’ll also explain the ways in which Reiki is used to heal various disorders and the structure under which the methodology is taught to students. Lastly, we’ll discuss its movement throughout the West and the factors which influence it.
Origin Of The Teachings
The origins of Reiki began in 1922 on Mount Kurama near the city of Kyoto. Mikao Usui embarked on a 21-day retreat to the mountain in order to meditate, fast, and pray. When he had completed his retreat, he described having a revelation that opened his eyes to the spiritual practice. He claimed to have discovered the secret behind harnessing a spiritual energy and using it to heal others. That same year, Usui relocated to Tokyo to build a university that would be focused entirely on teaching the principles of this new practice.
Usui died four years later, but during that time, he had taught his methodology to over 2,000 students. One of those students was named Chujiro Hayashi who emphasized a simpler approach. Hayashi became a teacher and was instrumental in training Hawayo Takata who in turn, spread the practice throughout the U.S.
Different Paths Of Treatment
The underpinnings of Reiki maintain that there is an unlimited store of healing energy within the universe. This energy can be harnessed by a Master to cure all types of conditions, from physical to spiritual. There are two main paths of treatment: whole-body and localized.
When performing whole-body treatment, the practitioner either places his or her hands on the patient’s body or an inch above it. Each position is held for several minutes and an entire session will normally include up to 20 positions. When performing localized treatment, the practitioner will focus on one or more specific areas. This might be performed to heal a physical injury, skin condition, or sporadic pain.
Degrees Of Expertise
There is a structured approach taken when teaching the methodology to new practitioners. Students achieve three “degrees” of learning. The first level focuses on body positions that are considered favorable when performing whole-body treatment. The second level teaches students to use three symbols in harnessing and directing the spiritual energy over greater distances. The third level teaches the student to use a symbol known as Dai Ko Myo. At the end of earning the third degree, the student becomes a Master.
Movement In The West
As noted, Hawayo Takata spread the Reiki methodology throughout the United States decades ago. He was the person who first popularized starting a business which offered Reiki treatment. Since then, the spiritual practice has expanded to include elements of the New Age movement. It is not uncommon to see practitioners integrating the use of Chakras, crystals, and even communicating with spirit guides.
While the use of these New Age techniques is not bad, they do tend to obfuscate the elegant simplicity of Reiki. For purists, it’s worth remembering that the foundation of Reiki is based on accessing a universal spiritual energy that can be used to heal all forms of ailments. To that end, it can be a potent strategy for developing a well-balanced, healthy life.
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