By Laurel Alexander
First published in “Yoga & Health” magazine
Reiki is a Japanese word meaning ‘universal life force energy’. In practice, it is a gentle yet powerful force that encourages well being. The force is directed by a simple ‘hands on’ method by which energy flows through the Reiki practitioner’s hands and into the recipient’s body via 12 main positions. Reiki is not connected to any religion as such but is a process of connecting to the life energy which lies behind all creation.
Reiki is said to have originated in Tibet. In the 19th century, a Japanese man seeking the origins of Jesus’ and the Buddha’s method of healing found references to this healing art in the esoteric teachings of India. Dr Mikao Usui in Japan rediscovered Reiki in the latter part of the last century. He passed the Mastership down to Dr Chujiro Hayashi who, in turn, passed it to Mrs Hawayo Takata who brought the Reiki tradition to Hawai and then via the US to the rest of the world.
‘Ki’ (as in ‘Rei-Ki’) is a bio-electrical source which creates and maintains the human body. Ki is the essential life force of the Earth and all living forms. It can be seen in the bio-magnetic energy of the aura, a field of energy which surrounds every living thing.
The basic hand positions work on the chakra system. Chakras are subtle energy centres based at the subtle energy level of the body, beyond the physical but closely linked to it. These energy centres regulate the organs in each area and have an effect on our emotional, mental, physical and spiritual well being. A full Reiki session covers all of these areas. While healing sessions may help alleviate some physical symptoms, the process is really about healing the emotional, mental and spiritual imbalances which can eventually lead to dis-ease.
Having nurtured a secret yen to find out more about Reiki, I visited a Reiki master to find out more. Sema Fadil has a background in esoteric matters and Yoga. She gives Reiki 1, 2 and ‘Mastership’ and teaches Yoga and pranayama.
For someone wanting to learn Reiki, either for self-healing or to heal others, there are three degrees to go through. Intent is more important than the ritual. Reiki / (or first degree) attunement is like an open door that allows you to ‘tune into’ the universal Reiki energies.
From a client’s perspective, Reiki is about restoring energy. ‘It’s like coming back from a really good holiday’. The main benefits are relaxation and a feeling of softening, openness, acceptance and an increased sensitivity. It can enhance mood, help lift depression and is comforting. Reiki can help alleviate some physical symptoms based upon the concept that dis-ease is contraction and tension and Reiki heals from a loving place to open and release energies which cause discomfort.
During a typical treatment, the client lies down, fully clothed, on a massage couch. The practitioner starts on the head and works around the body, front and back. It is mainly a hands-on healing process lasting for around an hour. The process is meditative for the practitioner as they become an intuitive healing channel for the Reiki energy. The client does not need to have faith in the process for it to be effective. The average cost is somewhere between £20 and £40 although some practitioners don’t make any charge.
For someone wanting to learn Reiki, either for self-healing or to heal others, there are three degrees to go through. Intent is more important than the ritual. Reiki 1 (or first degree) attunement is like an open door that allows you to ‘tune into’ the universal Reiki energies. Attunement detoxes on a physical level so that self-healing can occur. It is about knowing the self and sharpening intuition. The practical outcome is that you are ready to channel Reiki energy through your hands to others as well as yourself. The second degree or Reiki 2 is a ‘leap of faith’ that requires a further attunement. This is the level in which you learn mental and emotional balancing and can channel Reiki energy into absent or distant healing.
The difference between the third degree and Mastership is that Mastership enables you to teach attunement to others and to be able to pass on Mastership.
The process of attunement or initiation makes Reiki different from other forms of touch healing. It allows the healer to be ‘attuned’ to the universal healing energies and to prepare the channels by which these energies may pass from healer to recipient. Attunements are given one-to-one without ceremony. The attunements themselves are Reiki but the universal healing energies are something else. Attunement does not give the receiver anything new but, rather, it opens and ‘aligns’ what is already present.
I watched Sema give a brief treatment to a client and it looked a non-invasive and calming process. Whether you feel Reiki is going to help heal you through subtle energies or whether it is the soothing energies of a caring practitioner which will benefit, Reiki can have a positive effect on humans, animals and places. The laying on of hands to comfort and to relieve discomfort is an ancient art.
I left with as strong sense of what Reiki is about: a way of channelling the healing energy which is all around us through our hands and minds in order to help others and ourselves to reach a more open and loving state. Sounds good to me.
Further reading: ‘Essential Reiki’ by Diane Stein, The Crossing Press.
Further information on treatments, teaching and practitioners from: Health, Healing and Relaxation UK www.rei-ki.co.uk and www.oxnumberone.net/reiki-healing.
Details of the National Federation of Spiritual Healers from Tel: 01932 779648.