Common steps and sub-activities
The secret art of inviting happiness,
Reiki is a spiritual practice developed in 1922 by Japanese Buddhist Mikao Usui [see above]. It is now used for both healing work and spiritual practises.
The system is based on Qi or Ki energy – the energy found in Chinese medicine and Japanese systems, although of course this is the energy recognisable in all systems – energy!
The word reiki derives from the Japanese "mysterious atmosphere" or Chinese língqì, "supernatural influence". Another way of looking at the derivation is by taking the syllables rei " miraculous, divine" and ki "spirit, vital energy, breath of life".
The person using the techniques uses their hands and principally the palms of their hands to adjust energy flows in the body. Interestingly this can be both a ‘hands-on transfer’ in which the healer touches the person on the head, feet or on the chest for example, or it can be a simple remote placement of the hands over various points of the body.
The objective is the same in both cases, by balancing the energy better and getting it to flow correctly the practitioner helps the person heal themselves or gain a spiritual experience.
There are two main branches of Reiki, Traditional Japanese Reiki and Western Reiki. The so called Westernised forms use systematised hand-placements, the Japanese Reiki branches use hand positioning. Note that although classified in this way many western healers use the Japanese system.
Both branches have a three-tiered hierarchy of degrees, usually referred to as the First, Second, and Master/Teacher level, all of which are associated with different skills and techniques.
Most of the genuine practises of Reiki are contained in one very practical book – Usui Reiki Ryoho Hikkei written by Dr Mikao Usui .
A new book has just come out – The Original Reiki Handbook of Dr Mikao Usui – by Frank Arjava Petter and his Japanese wife, that describes the traditional Usui Reiki Ryoho treatment positions, as well as a number of Reiki techniques, in English.
A Brief history
Mikao Usui founded the Reiki school in 1922, after receiving a ‘vision’.
Dr Usui was a Buddhist and developed the Reiki techniques after undergoing a number of very powerful transformative experiences.
These were not obtained by using Reiki, however, but by fasting – he underwent a 21 day fasting retreat on Mount Kurama – so his experience was undoubtedly invoked by the fasting – as ‘Mount’ Kurama is only 584 meters it is unlikely to be due to the oxygen deprivation of the high altitudes!
Esoteric Tantric Buddhism came to Japan in the early 9th century through the Japanese monk Kukai and a man called Saicho [Dengyo Daishi] who had studied in China. We can trace the roots of the techniques all the way back to a number of Indian sages – the famous Indian teacher Vajrabodhi taught the Indian monk Amoghavajra who in turn taught Huikuo who in his turn taught Kukai. Kukai was the founder of Shingon Buddhism in China. Saicho studied in China and on his return founded Tendai Buddhism in Kyoto, Japan. So we can see that the practises and beliefs weave their way through India, China and Japan and each country owes much to the others.
Dr Usui taught the system to over 2000 people during his lifetime and 16 of his students then continued to carry on his training after having reached the level of ‘master’. While teaching Reiki in Fukuyama, Usui suffered a stroke and died on 9 March 1926.
J. Ushida, a student of Usui, took over as president and Ushida was followed by Iichi Taketomi, Yoshiharu Watanabe, Kimiko Koyama and the current successor to Usui, Kondo, who became president in 1998 The sixteen masters initiated by Usui include Toshihiro Eguchi, Jusaburo Guida, Ilichi Taketomi, Toyoichi Wanami, Yoshihiru Watanabe, Keizo Ogawa, J. Ushida, and Chujiro Hayashi.
Before Usui's death, Chujiro Hayashi approached Usui about developing a different form of Reiki that was much simpler. Usui agreed. After Usui's death, Hayashi simplified the Reiki teachings, emphasised healing and used a more codified and simpler set of Reiki techniques. It is this system that is now known as the ‘Western system’. In effect, the western system is not that originated by Mikao Usui, although the development of a simpler form did meet with Usui’s agreement. The original Traditional Japanese Reiki system still exists and is still taught. There are a number of branches of the Traditional Japanese Reiki system:
- Usui Reiki Ryōhō Gakkai is the name of the society of Reiki masters founded by Mikao Usui. This society remained secret for many years and at present, the shihan (master), Masaki Kondoh, is the president of the Gakkai. Though many of their teachings still remain secret, little by little, members of this association — such as Master Hiroshi Doi — have been sharing their knowledge with the rest of the world. In spite of this, it continues to be a hermetic society, nearly impossible to access.
- Reidō Reiki Gakkai (meaning "Spiritual Occurrence [and] Spiritual Energy Society") is the name given to the system that derives from the masters of the Ryōhō Gakkai, and is led by Fuminori Aoki, who added to the teaching of the Gakkai.
- Kōmyō Reiki Kai (meaning "Enlightened Spiritual Energy Meeting (Association)") was established by Hyakuten Inamoto, a Reiki teacher with Western Reiki background. It differs from other systems in that it does not originate with the Gakkai, but instead comes from the Hayashi line, through Chiyoko Yamaguchi that remained in Japan.
- Jikiden Reiki (meaning "The Direct Teaching [of] Spiritual Energy") is the name given to the original system that was taught by Dr. Hayashi, and was founded by Mrs. Yamaguchi and her son, Tadao Yamaguchi
One of the reasons why Reiki is scorned by those who wouldn’t know a spiritual experience from a crab apple is because the method is reliant on the practitioner being, to a certain extent, gifted spiritually. The teaching is based on helping those already on the path of the healer, to recognise the various feelings and energy flows they may come across and what to do with them.
Many people who are Reiki practitioners are clairvoyant or clairaudient, can already ‘see’ things that others cannot, are highly intuitional and very gifted. It is impossible to explain this to anyone without these gifts, and it actually is not worth trying.
Usui used to combine lessons on traditional Reiki with meditation to help the students get themselves into a meditative open state. Fasting was used and chanting as well as breathing exercises. Once the student was, in effect, in a trance like condition – alert but open – then they could be taught to scan the body of another person to supply an indication of what the energy flows were.
I think it goes without saying that western medicine poo poohs the whole notion of Reiki despite the fact that it is used by millions and appears to get results. Perhaps the most telling comment has come from the Catholic church,
“In March 2009, the Committee on Doctrine of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a decree (Guidelines for Evaluating Reiki as an Alternative Therapy) halting the practice of Reiki by Catholics used in some Catholic retreat centres and hospitals. The conclusion of the decree stated that "since Reiki therapy is not compatible with either Christian teaching or scientific evidence, it would be inappropriate for Catholic institutions, such as Catholic health care facilities and retreat centres, or persons representing the Church, such as Catholic chaplains, to promote or to provide support for Reiki therapy."
The real irony of the quote above from the Catholic church is that it is living proof that they haven’t got a spiritual bone in their body, otherwise they would not say what they did. Ah the Inquisition lives.
Given that any form of spiritual experience that a Reiki practitioner is able to give you will be based on their gifts not a specific definable technique, all I can describe are the practises that Usui based his Reiki system on principally - Gasshō, Reiji-hō, and Chiryō. Remember that Usui also used essentially Buddhist techniques as well – fasting, chanting, contemplation [dissociation and detachment] and so on.
Gasshō is a type of learning suppression technique. Both palms of the hands are placed together and concentration on the hands is used to still the reasoning system. It was practised each time at the beginning of Usui's Reiki workshops and meetings. One technique of Gasshō is to concentrate on the pads where the two middle fingers meet.
Joshin Kokyū-hō roughly translates as "the breathing method for cleansing the spirit," though literally translates as "Goddess Breath Method". Joshin Kokyū-hō is performed by sitting straight, with the back aligned, breathing in slowly through the nose. It is a Controlled breathing method which is based on Decreasing the breathing rate
Reiji-hō is a means of connecting with the Ki/Qi energy flows by ‘asking’ it first to flow through the practitioner. It will either enter through the crown chakra (as this is the highest ascension), the heart chakra (as indicated by the pure love of Reiki), or the hands (as the palms are attuned with specific Reiki symbols).
Then the practitioner prays for either the recovery of the person if a specific ailment is being healed, or for the objective being sought such as guidance of some sort.
Finally the practitioner places both hands, palms facing each other, round the person’s head near their third eye (the area in between the two eyebrows), and asks the Reiki power to guide the hands to where energy is needed.
Reiji-hō relies specifically on intuition and guidance of where to heal. The practitioner may also, however, use Byosen-hō where the hands are held or placed on parts of the body and each area scanned, feeling for subtle changes in the aura of the recipient.
Chiryō involves the practitioner placing his/her dominant hand on the crown chakra and wait for hibiki ("feedback") in the form of inspiration, which the hand then follows. “During Chiryō, the practitioner gives free rein to the hand, touching painful areas of the body until the area no longer hurts or until the hands move on their own to another area”. In effect this is a healing technique.
Okuden ("Inner Teachings")
Okuden involves the use of symbols to form a temporary connection between the practitioner and the recipient, regardless of location and time, and then to send the Reiki energy. In effect, Okuden is unaffected by time constraints. The practitioner can work without being physically present with the recipient — a practise known as "distant healing". It is worth adding that this is not easy to learn. Students in Japan sometimes only attained these teachings after a period of 10, sometimes 20, years of practice even under Usui's tutorship.
Shinpiden ("Mystery Teachings")
The student is a Reiki Master. In Reiki terminology, the word "master" does not imply spiritual enlightenment, though clearly considerable spiritual capabilities will exist. Having completed the master training, the new Reiki Master can attune other people to Reiki and teach. There are commonly two types of Master: Master Teacher and Master Practitioner; a Master Teacher is a Master of Reiki and also has the ability to teach Reiki (i.e., attune others), though a Master Practitioner is a Master of Reiki but does not teach Reiki.
Though there is no accreditation and central body for Reiki, nor any regulation of its practice, there exist organisations within the United Kingdom, for example, that seek to standardise Reiki and Reiki practises, such as the UK Reiki Federation and the Reiki Council (UK). Reiki courses are also available online, but this seems to me somewhat silly given the whole emphasis on hands-on practise and practical knowledge. Furthermore Usui always said that the Reiki Master/Teacher must be able to actually affect and alter the energy field of the person being trained. The UK Reiki Federation, state that, "[a]ll training must have been "in-person" or "face to face" (distant attunements are not accepted)." Some also believe that methods that teach Reiki "quickly" cannot yield as strong an effect, because there is no substitute for experience and patience when mastering Reiki.
- The Original Reiki Handbook of Dr. Mikao Usui: The Traditional Usui Reiki Ryōhō Treatment Positions and Numerous Reiki Techniques for Health and Well-being. – Dr. Mikao Usui; Frank Arjava Petter
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