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Reiki is performed through a technique similar to the laying on of hands.

Reiki (霊気 or レイキ? IPA: [ˌreɪki]) is a form of spiritual practice, often compared to faith healing,[1][2][3] proposed for the treatment of physical, emotional, mental and spiritual diseases.[4][5][6] Mikao Usui developed Reiki in early 20th century Japan, where he said he received the ability of 'healing without energy depletion' after three weeks of fasting and meditating on Mount Kurama.[7] Practitioners use a technique similar to the laying on of hands as well as gestures in the air, which they say[attribution needed] will channel healing energy (ki) . They say[attribution needed] the energy then flows through their palms to bring about healing. A 2002 study indicated that there were over one million U.S. adults who had experienced Reiki treatments.[8]

The majority of the scientific community considers Reiki to be pseudoscience.[9] Some studies have shown that the effect of Reiki is similar to that of a placebo.[10]

Derivation of name

The name Reiki derives from the Japanese pronunciation of two Chinese characters that are said[attribution needed] to describe the energy itself: '霊 rei' (meaning 'spirit', 'soul' or 'ghost') and 気 ki (Chinese qi, here meaning 'energy' or 'life force'). In English, the Japanese noun Reiki is used as a verb and adjective. Japanese speakers also use the term as a generic "ghostly power" while the Usui Method of Reiki Healing is specifically Usui reiki shiki ryoho.

Theories and practices

Some schools[attribution needed] teach that Reiki energy enters the practitioner through the 7th (crown or Sahasrara) chakra, goes through the 4th (heart or Anahata) chakra and then flows through her or his hands (secondary chakras) into the body of the recipient. Reiki energy enters through the 1st (root or Muladhara) chakra at the base of the spine, fills the aura, becomes centered in the 4th chakra, and flows out through the practitioner's hands. Reiki energy is an "intelligent" energy, which "knows what to do," or "where it is needed the most." The Reiki energy will go where it needs to for healing. If the intended recipient does not accept the energy on some level, the energy will not be absorbed. Some schools teach that Reiki spirit guides keep watch over Reiki energy and assist the practitioner. It is said by them that any intention to do harm will block the flow of Reiki energy.[How to reference and link to summary or text] However, references to spirit guides and the chakras appear to be non-traditions, incorporated into Western Reiki traditions through the students of Hawayo Takata. According to her diaries, Takata appears to have used the Japanese hara energy system in her practice as taught by Usui. [11]

In a Reiki session, the practitioner asks the recipient to lie down and relax. The practitioner then acts as a channel for Reiki energy. Usually the practitioner moves their hands close to or on various parts of the recipient's body.

Usui taught that practitioners can also channel Reiki energy through other parts of their bodies (for example, their eyes or their breathing). Intention is the primary method for directing the flow of the energy. Reiki energy can be used for healing either in physical proximity or from a distance. Reiki energy usually awakens within someone after a Reiki Master performs an "attunement."[How to reference and link to summary or text]

There have been reports of positive effects of Reiki treatment in papers published in some medical journals promoting alternative medicine. Cited benefits include relaxation and increased immunity, reduced heart rate, improved blood pressure, reduced pain, anxiety and depression.[12]


A Japanese Tendai Buddhist named Mikao Usui is said to have discovered Reiki after long meditation, fasting, and prayer. Usui wrote that by mystical revelation he had gained the knowledge and spiritual power to apply and attune others to what is called Reiki. Mikao Usui said that he had the ability to enable people to enhance their access to the energy through certain initiations called Reiji-ho. Attunements to Reiki enhanced and refined a person's pre-existing ability to connect with Reiki. Through such initiations, students are said[attribution needed] to become clearer channels for Reiki and thereby improve the quality of treatments that student (or practitioner) provides.

Some schools of Reiki are said[attribution needed] to believe that Mikao Usui was pursuing knowledge of healing before he developed his Reiki method and that he also studied traditional Chinese medicine, Ayurveda, Qigong, and Yoga. Usui said that the awakening of Reiki and the development of his techniques was something entirely different.[How to reference and link to summary or text]

Usui was also an admirer of the literary works of Emperor Meiji, and, in the process of developing his Reiki system, summarised some of the Meiji Emperor's works into a set of ethical principles, one translation of which is:

"Inviting blessings of the secret method
Many illnesses of the spiritual (heavenly) medicine
Today only anger not worry not
With appreciation do work
To people be kind
In morning at night hands held in prayer
think in your mind chant with mouth
Mind body change it for better
Usui Reiki method
Usui Mikao"

A less literal translation is:

"The secret method of inviting blessings
The spiritual medicine of many illnesses
Just for today, do not anger.
Just for today, do not worry.
Do your work with appreciation.
Be kind to all.
In the morning and at night hold your hands in prayer,
meditate on and say these words.
The Usui Reiki method to change your mind and body for the better.
Mikao Usui"

Mikao Usui trained several students. One of his students, Chujiro Hayashi a Christian and Naval doctor, stressed physical healing and taught a more codified and simpler set of Reiki techniques. Among Hayashi's contributions was a set of fixed hand positions to be used in the course of a treatment; Usui himself preferred a method called "scanning", through which he detected imbalances, and said that the hand positions were for beginners.[How to reference and link to summary or text]

Hayashi initiated and trained Hawayo Takata, who brought Reiki to the USA. Takata stated that she had been appointed Grandmaster of Reiki through the lineage of Chujiro Hayashi, and that there were no surviving teachers of Reiki to be found in Japan after World War II. Some researchers have discredited her claim of Grandmastership and her allegation that no Reiki teachers remained in Japan, after they discovered lineages through practitioners other than Hayashi. They also stated that the title of "Grandmaster" does not exist, and is not recognized in Japan.

Takata stated that, after developing the Reiki methodology, as well as receiving the spiritual ability to practice it, Usui went to the slums of Tokyo to attempt the healing of beggars. However, after several years of very little success, Takata says that Usui stated that it was their mindset that kept them ill, even after he had treated them again and again. Usui decided that there should be an "energy exchange" of some value for Reiki treatment. This exchange usually takes the form of cash payment, otherwise a trade of some sort.

There are essentially two broad groups, or schools: the traditional school and the independent school. The traditionalists say that they teach and practice Reiki strictly as it was taught from Usui's time until Takata's time, although modern research suggests that training under Usui differed greatly from the way Takata taught. Another, separate branch of traditionalists advocate adherence to the (now rediscovered) Japanese school's methods. The independent schools vary greatly in their practices and methods, ranging from those descended through Iris Ishikuro, which fundamentally adhere to traditional Reiki practice but do not follow Takata's practice of charging up to $10,000 for attunement to Reiki Master level to so-called "newer" schools, which add elements to traditional Reiki.

Reiki has been gaining some popularity worldwide within hospitals. The UK NHS (National Health Service) as part of its CAM (Complementary and alternative medicine) program uses Reiki and other CAM therapies as part of day care patient programs. [How to reference and link to summary or text]

Non-traditional Reiki

Independent schools of Reiki developed partly in response to the belief that Reiki training should be more widely available and practiced in a flexible and complementary way with other practices, and as a political reaction to the mainstream of Hawayo Takata's style. Hawayo Takata started charging students as a way to ensure that they would value the knowledge that she would give them. However, as the years went on, her students and their students decided to raise prices even further, taking Reiki out of reach for the average person. Independent schools formed because some individuals were more dedicated to helping and healing people than making money. New symbols and practices are often added. Many of these symbols emerged through practitioners who said they felt guided to expand the system in various ways. A great deal of generic New Age content is now often taught either as an adjunct to Reiki or even as an integral part of the system, and numerous schools of thought now exist, some being freely offered and some proprietary. This new form of Reiki was initially developed in contrast to the stricter Reiki practices that Hawayo Takata said were the authentic method. Some of the independent schools of Reiki differ from mainstream Reiki by the inclusion of what they call "skhm" or "Seichim energy" and symbols into their teaching, which is said by its adherents[attribution needed] to make the experience and practice of channelling Reiki different.


Mikao Usui's Reiki method spread widely. Correspondence courses over the Internet even offer distance training. To achieve a complete education in the "Usui method of Reiki Healing," three courses are necessary: the 1st degree course, the 2nd degree course, and the master course. The specific content of each of these courses varies widely from one teacher to another, depending on personal philosophies. A typical set of courses is something like the following:

First Degree Reiki courses teach the basic theories and procedures of how to work with Reiki energy. The channel through which Reiki energy passes to the practitioner is said[attribution needed] to be widened through four "attunements" given to the student by the teacher, permitting the Reiki energy to be strong enough to effect healing. Students learn hand placement positions on the recipient's body that are thought to be most conducive to the healing process.

In the Second Degree Reiki course, the student is given three symbols that are supposed to enhance the healing. The first of these symbols is for general healing and can be used in almost any kind of situation. The second symbol is for mental healing, supposedly enabling students to treat even deeply ingrained problems like fears, depression, addictions, and the like. The third symbol is used for giving a Reiki treatment to some one at a distance; this can entail sending Reiki energy to a certain point in time, to a specific person or place, or a specific issue. The issue can be something like an individual's particular health problem, or it can be a more abstract or general issue such as world peace. Practitioners say[attribution needed] this is possible using the three symbols taught at the second initiation.

As part of the master course, usually the Third Degree, students become a Reiki "master" through the third initiation; they learn how to initiate students and have the option of teaching Reiki courses themselves. The student learns a further master-level symbol in this course as well as the method of attuning others. In some cases the third level is broken into smaller stages of attunements from the teacher; the attunements for the first, second, and third level may also be administered in stages.

It is up to students how many levels they want to complete. The courses are sequential, and can be expensive, especially the third (master) level. Often a teacher will require time in between one course and another (during which the student is expected to apply new learning before taking the next degree). Before offering Reiki treatments to the public, a student is often advised to take a second-degree course. Classes and attunements may be offered freely or up to around $150 for Reiki I and $150 up to $500 for Reiki II. Reiki III (master) training may be free or cost up to an average of $500-$600. To become an official Reiki Master in The Reiki Alliance may cost up to $10,000 as this was the price first established by Takata.

The considerable variation in the speed and method of teaching has caused some concern, especially since there is no regulation of Reiki in most countries. While courses are now advertised that say they can teach Reiki in just a few short days, traditionalists point out that for much of history, Reiki was kept a closely-guarded discipline and was only taught to people who were considered safe and worthy. The traditional view of some schools is that Reiki is so powerful that it can be abused by those who have not spent time developing a feel and intuition for the craft. Students on the traditional path may be made to wait a year or more before being allowed to learn stage two, and thereafter many more years before being taught the Master level. Some traditionalists maintain that any method that teaches Reiki "quickly" cannot be teaching the real thing, because there is no substitute for experience and patient mastery of the art.[13][14]

Reiki community

While there is no single standards organization and practitioners practice as they will, some choose to form Reiki communities. Some of these communities have grown out of informal groupings of practitioners who have organized Reiki circles for working together, while others have formed around a particular school or teacher.

Many Reiki communities have emerged due, in part, to the expanding popularity of the internet. Global initiatives have been introduced to Reiki communities thereby ("healing the planet" or "global peace fostering" for example) and online Reiki training services are available.[How to reference and link to summary or text]


The majority of the scientific community considers Reiki to be pseudoscience.[15]

In a preliminary study at the Institute of Neurological Sciences, South Glasgow University Hospital NHS Trust, heart rate and diastolic blood pressure decreased significantly in people who received 30 minutes of Reiki, but also decreased significantly in people who received a placebo intervention. There was no significant change in people who received 30 minutes of rest. The authors therefore concluded that it is "unlikely that the significant changes in both placebo and reiki groups are due to simply lying down and resting."[16] Because of findings like these that show that Reiki does not facilitate healing beyond that expected from the placebo effect, many scientists, health care workers, and others dispute its effectiveness. Many in the scientific community ascribe anecdotal evidence of the effectiveness of Reiki therapy to the placebo effect and a combination of post hoc reasoning and the regressive fallacy.[17]

A four-week American study on 24 participants age 60–80 with experimental and control groups suggests that Reiki may improve symptoms relating to certain behaviour and memory problems associated with mild dementia — results showed a statistically significant increase in Annotated Mini-Mental State Examination (AMMSE) and Revised Memory and Behaviour Problems Checklist (RMBPC) scores.[18] This study does not however, take into account the placebo effect, or the effects of simply resting that the Glasgow study examined.

Some describe a scientific basis for calling Reiki an energy medicine. However, neither the efficacy of reiki nor the existence of ki have been measurably proven at this time.[19][20] [21]



Doctors, academics, and consumer advocates have expressed concern when patients with serious diseases such as cancer choose Reiki as a means of treatment over more conventionally trained doctors.[How to reference and link to summary or text] Opponents of Reiki say that it is exploiting the fear and hope of people with serious illnesses for money while offering only a placebo effect, noting that in some cases people reject conventional medicine and solely practice Reiki or other "alternative" therapies.[22] However, some safety-conscious Reiki teachers and practitioners advocate using Reiki as a complement to conventional medicine, as opposed to as a replacement. Some safety concerns are shared with other alternative medicines.

Fr Tom Ingoldsby of the Salesian Order of the Roman Catholic church denounced Reiki as "opening the door to evil and occult forces which have later side effects".[23]

Internal controversies

With the many varied ways that have been used to teach Reiki, there have emerged points of controversy between different groups, teachers and practitioners. Controversies exist on topics such as the nature of the Reiki energy itself, fees charged for courses and treatments, training methods, secrecy of symbols and attunement methods.[How to reference and link to summary or text]

Various statements are made about legitimacy or authenticity between various schools of Reiki, especially since different schools have emerged which have seven levels of Reiki training, compared to the three levels in the Reiki Alliance. Political disagreement exists between some schools; so for example a practitioner of one teacher may be unwelcome to practice Reiki with another teacher's Reiki group. Some schools do not recognise other schools as true Reiki.

The "Reiki Grandmaster"

Many conservative schools are based around claims of Hawayo Takata's many student teachers competing as the true "Grandmaster" of Reiki or teaching exactly as Takata herself taught. In recent years, however, many teachers connected in some way with Hawayo Takata do not strenuously claim to be appointed as the "Grandmaster of Reiki" as they once did in the past. Phyllis Furumoto (the granddaughter of Takata), for example of the "Reiki Alliance" seemed to cease claiming this title around the same time that it was found that historically no such title ever existed once the Japanese schools were discovered by Western Reiki schools. Barbara Weber Ray of the "Radiance association" still makes the claim. Often these "Grandmasters" attempt to trademark the term "Reiki" in their particular country or countries of interest. Such actions are very unpopular in the wider Reiki community and no trademarks have ever been granted in any country except Germany. However, Phyllis Furumoto obtained this trademark and holds it in trust for the greater Reiki Community. In the UK and many other countries the term 'Reiki ' is deemed to be generic and not able to be trademarked.

See also

  • Johrei another form of Japanese faith healing similar to Reiki.
  • Reiki of 7 Levels is considered to include the classical Usui Reiki and the modern Reiki.


  1. Reiki Magazine. "NY State Bill To Regulate Reiki Healing". ..
  2. American Cancer Society. "Reiki". ..
  3. Jonathon Hardcastle. "What is Reiki". ..
  4. There is no logical justification for the capitalization of "Reiki", except perhaps that its practitioners regard it as a proper noun. It is, however, almost universally capitalized and this article follows that form.
  5. International House of Reiki: What is (and isn't) Reiki?
  6. The International Center for Reiki Training: What is reiki?
  7. What is the History of Reiki?
  8. Alternative Therapies (January/February 2005 issue)
  9. National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine
  10. Jack Raso, "Alternative" Healthcare: A Comprehensive Guide, Prometheus Books (May 1994) ISBN 0-87975-891-0
  11. Stiene, B., Stiene, F. "The Reiki Sourcebook", Lotus Press: Twin Lakes, Wisconsin, 2003. pp 222;
  12. Miles P, True G. "Reiki: Review of a Biofield Therapy--History, Theory, Practice and Research," Altern Ther Health Med March/April 2003. (9)2 pp 62-72;
  13. The levels of Reiki
  14. Frequently Asked Questions about Reiki
  15. National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine
  16. Source: Institute of Neurological Sciences, South Glasgow University Hospital NHS Trust, Glasgow, United Kingdom. Authors: Nicola Mackay; Stig Hansen, Ph.D.; and Oona McFarlane. Originally published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 2004, vol. 10, no. 6, pp. 1077–1081.
  17. For example, see National Council Against Health Fraud article.
  18. Crawford, SE, et al (November 2006). Reiki Improves Mild Dementia. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 12 (9): 911-3.
  19. James Oschman, PhD, Energy Medicine: The Scientific Basis.
  20. An Introduction to Reiki
  21. Skeptic Magazine, Vol. 11, Nr. 3, 2005: A review of Energy Medicine: The Scientific Basis, by Harriet Hall, MD
  22. Some Thoughts about "CAM" Beliefs
  23. Reiki teachers hit back at priest's Satanic warning


  • The Reiki Sourcebook, Bronwen and Frans Stiene, O Books, Hants, 2003, ISBN 1-903816-55-6
  • Reiki Fire, Frank Arjava Petter, Lotus Press, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin, ISBN 0-914955-50-0 (1997)
  • The 'Reiki' Factor in The Radiance Technique(R), Dr. Barbara Ray, Radiance Associates (falsely claims to be the first book written on the "intact system", 1983; current Expanded Edition (c) 1992) ISBN 0-933267-06-1. A dogmatic rejection of everyone else but her own method.
  • Original Reiki Handbook of Dr. Mikao Usui, Usui and Petter, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin ISBN 0-914955-57-8
  • The Japanese Art of Reiki, Bronwen and Frans Stiene, O Books, Hants, 2005, ISBN 1-905047-02-9
  • Hayashi Reiki Manual: Traditional Japanese Healing Techniques from the Founder of the Western Reiki System, Petter, Yamaguchi and Hayashi, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin ISBN 0-914955-75-6
  • A-Z of Reiki, Bronwen and Frans Stiene, O Books, Hants, 2006, ISBN 1-905047-89-4
  • Reiki Healer: A Complete Guide to the Path and Practice of Reiki, Ellyard, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin ISBN 0-940985-64-0
  • Human Hemoglobin Levels and Reiki (Journal of Holistic Nursing, 7(1)pp.47-54 1989)
  • Biological correlates of Reiki touch healing, Wardell, D.W., Engebretson, J., J. Advanced Nursing, 33(4): 439-445 (2001)
  • Spiritual Healing: Scientific Validation of a Healing Revolution, Daniel J. Benor, M.D., Vision Publications (MI) (December 2000) ISBN 1-886785-11-2
  • Reiki For Dummies, Nina L Paul PhD, Wiley Publishing Inc, ISBN 0-7645-9907-0 (November 2005) ISBN 0-7645-9907-0
  • Reiki Systems of the World, Oliver Klatt with Petter, Luebeck, Rand, Alexander, Furumoto, Mitchell and others, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin, ISBN 0-914955-79-9
  • Big Book of Reiki Symbols, Mark Hosak and Walter Luebeck, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin ISBN 0-914955-64-0
  • Complete Reiki Handbook, Luebeck, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin, ISBN 0-941524-87-6
  • Reiki: A Comprehensive Guide by Pamela Miles, Tarcher/Penguin (April 2006) ISBN 1-58542-474-9
  • Spirit of Reiki, Luebeck, Petter & Rand, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin ISBN 0-914955-67-5
  • Reiki: Review of a Biofield Therapy-- Miles, P., True, G., Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine (March/April 2003), 9(2) pp 62-72

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