The origins of Reiki are attributed to healing techniques that date back more than 2,000 years. These techniques were rediscovered by Dr. Mikao Usui, a Japanese man and the inventor of Reiki. The story of how Dr. Usui discovered or invented Reiki has several variations. In some versions, Dr. Usui was a Christian monk during the 1800s, while other stories claim that he was a member of a Japanese spiritual organization in the 1900s. Some claim that Reiki came to him while he was serving penance on Mt. Kurama, and others claim that he discovered the technique from reading Tibetan texts. Regardless of how he actually discovered Reiki, Usui practiced the technique on himself before he began teaching it to others in Tokyo.
Reiki is based on one’s qi, or life force energy, and energy centers in the body called chakras. When qi flows freely through each of these seven main centers, a person is said to have ideal spiritual, mental and physical health. When the movement of one’s qi is hindered, his or her physical, mental or spiritual health is diminished. The practitioner helps balance the qi of the patient by laying his or her palms on or near the patient’s body in key positions. The practitioner is able to clear away any blockage so that the patient’s qi is able to flow freely again by acting as a vessel for the rei to the patient. “Rei” is a Japanese word that is translated as “universal energy” or “God’s wisdom.” The fact that palms are used by the practitioner is one of the reasons that Reiki is called “palm healing” by some. Anyone with proper training can be a practitioner of Reiki.
When people discuss Reiki they are referring to one of two traditions. The original is Traditional Japanese Reiki, or Usui Reiki. This branch of Reiki incorporates only the methods used by Dr. Usui in the 1920s; however, it may differ somewhat because some of the specific instructions were lost during World War II. Although the practice of Usui Reiki faded for a time, it experienced a resurgence in the early 1990s.
Western Reiki is the second form of Reiki in practice, and it is also the most popular. Western Reiki was introduced by a woman named Hawayo Takata. Takata was instructed by Chujiro Hayashi, a former student of Mikao Usai. Hayashi had made changes to Usui’s Reiki by adding additional hand signs and positions. Western Reiki may also be called Takata Reiki.
Reiki is used to help a number of conditions that affect one’s spiritual, emotional and physical health. It is used for relieving pain, lowering blood pressure and improving one’s sleeping habits. For people who are being treated for cancer, it may help lessen the side-effects of chemotherapy drugs. People who struggle with depression, addiction or people who have low immunity may also benefit from Reiki. When going for a Reiki treatment people should not expect it to instantaneously cure any of these conditions.
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