Reiki: What is Reiki? (pronounced 'Ray' - 'Key') Reiki is a form of energetic healing that utilizes a hands-on or hands-off approach; modernly re-introduced by Mikao Usui, a Japanese Buddhist Monk. I say "reintroduced" because Reiki. the accessing of Divine Life Force, was well known to ancient Tibetans who used it for intuitive guidance, healing and connection. The form of Reiki taught by Mikao Usui is now termed Usui Reiki to delineate it from several other lines of Reiki.
If we translate Reiki it breaks down into Rei, referring to the Universe or Divine, and Ki which we commonly translate as Life Force Energy. Thus, we translate Reiki to mean"Universal Life Force Energy" or "Divine Life Force Energy".
Ki, or Qi (Chi), refers to the life force energy of the Universe. It exists all around us, in us, in our food, in vegetation, in animals, and in the air. We can see this in the fact that without food and air we cease to exist, our own life force will leave our physical body. This implies that our world is interwoven and we are interwoven into it. Our life force is the life force of the Universe. This is oneness is an interwoven, unending reality.
Knowing that Reiki is the accessing of the Divine Flow (Ki), we can understand that it's existence has always been and will always be. The specifics of how it is accessed has developed into a variety of practices. Universal Life Force circulates, flowing through us, we breathe it in, we move through it, we access it by meditating and praying, doing Yoga, Qi Gong, Tai Chi, and Reiki. Certainly there are other ways to access it, these are what I am familiar with.
Reiki is an interesting relaxation and healing technique. It is interesting in that by becoming a Reiki Practitioner you receive an Attunement which connects you more deeply to this Divine Life Force Energy. I say 'more deeply' because everyone is connected to this force to varying degrees. Since our Universe relies on this life force, and that we are interwoven into our universe, we are already connected to it.
The process of becoming a Reiki practitioner allows more of the Ki (Life Force Energy) to move through you; from your head to your chest to your hands, allowing you to guide it to another person, animal, your food or even a glass of water.
Increasing this energy in your own body, or your client's, improves health. Universal energy can only be beneficial and since it is of the Divine it knows where to go and what to do. Applying Reiki to a plant can improve it's growth or production, can help an animal heal or relax and can do the same for people. Guiding this energy to your food or water can increase the benefit of consuming it. This is not an excuse to have a poor diet and unhealthy or harmful practices. Quite the opposite. To be a Reiki practitioner one should strive to live a healthy life and be an example to others.
Mikao Usui, the founder of Usui Reiki, taught the practice many modern students call Reiki. There are other forms that have developed along the way, some from the Tibetan source and others have branched off and evolved on their own. In addition to Usui Reiki, some common lines of Reiki include: Tibetan Reiki, Jikiden Reiki, Karuna Reiki, Rainbow Reiki, Kundalini Reiki, Angelic Reiki and more. As I understand it Usui, Tibetan and Jikiden are most traditional. Others have evolved and offer their own unique training and healing.
Mikao Usui's Reiki (mick, ow, like in 'owl' - oooh, sue, eee) Mikao Usui was well versed in philosophy and the medicines of East Asia, he was also a Buddhist Monk. In his effort to bring the use of Divine Life Force to people for healing he created what we modernly call Reiki. Usui did not refer to his teachings as Reiki, although the Kanji can be found in his documents. It is likely that he simply referred to it as "my teachings" or something similar.
Dr. Usui was teaching Reiki at a time when Western medicine was taking a foothold in Japan. At this time any ancient teachings or non-Western approaches to medicine were forced out by the Japanese government. Usui was very cautious about who he accepted as students and only advertised his teachings by word of mouth. He and his students also did not make any noise about the healing results they experienced in their practice of Reiki. In those early days, it was best not to draw attention.
The original format for teaching Reiki involved many months of training at the introductory level called Shoden, which consisted of 4 levels of training and practice. The student meditated long and often to develop their connection to Ki. Usui also assigned the recitation of Waka Poems which contained Kotodama. Kotodama is the belief that words, and how they are spoken, have power beyond their definition. The Waka Poems allowed the student to practice Kotodama easily.
Moving up to the next level, Okuden, was only by the request of the teacher and when the student was truly ready. It was not done simply because a student wished to do so and was not withheld by the teacher. The teacher assisted the student in becoming ready. Okuden was subdivided into 2 levels. Here the student could begin to use Ki at a more developed level.
The third level was called Shinpi-den and was very minimally taught. This was the training to be a teacher of Reiki and, like Okuden was at the discernment of the teacher. Mikao Usui trained less than 21 people at this level. Development to Level 3 in Usui's time was a stage of great spiritual development and required many hours of meditation and practice. It was appropriate at the time for few to reach Shinpi-den.
What is Reiki Like Today? Most modern classes in Reiki consist of day long lecture, training and practical experience. Classes range from 4-12 hours on average and depending on the teacher's style and what they deem important. Some teachers add energetic practices and teachings that were likely not part of Dr. Usui's early training. This does not negate the teacher, Reiki or the class. It points to a uniqueness of how Reiki can evolve and become a part of an individual's own spiritual practice. Don't let additions dissuade you, instead find a class that offers teachings that you would like to learn and experience. There's no inherent wrongness in a teacher finding their own style of sharing their knowledge.
Level 1 Reiki - Shoden - may offer a single Attunement or as many as four Attunements. Attunements may be done slightly differently by an instructor and this affects the intensity. I was taught to do a single, empowered Attunement at each level. I teach this at the Reiki Master Level (Shinpi-Den, Level 3).
Teachings at this level will often include History, Definition and Explanation of Reiki, brief stories of Mikao Usui, Chujiro Hyashi and Hawayo Takata. There may be mention of other names, but these 3 are attributed most often with the Reiki we know in the West. Also practiced is Meditation, Self-Healing Hand Placements, how to practice at Level 1.
Level 2 Reiki - Okuden - offers a single Attunement to all Practical Reiki Symbols. At this level Distance Healing is taught as well as the use of the Reiki Symbols. Also, if not taught in Reiki 1, Gassho Meditation is shared in Okuden training, also sensing areas of imbalance (Byosen Scanning).
Level 3 Reiki - Shinpi-den - is training to become a teacher, and is referred to as the Master-Teacher level. One is not required to teach after taking this course. Many choose to take it as a way to connect more deeply to Divine Source and deepen their spirituality. In addition to the 3 practical symbols taught in Okuden, there are 2 symbols reserved almost exclusively for Attunements. One of these can be used in Reiki sessions, but it is rarely done.
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