Reiki is a form of alternative medicine that is said to be a technique of healing physical or mental disease.
Formulated by a Tendai Buddhist Mikao Usui in Japan in the early 20th Century, Reiki spread in popularity. The name comes from the Japanese pronunciation of two characters in Chinese. These characters are said to describe energy itself. English speakers now use the word Reiki as a verb or adjective. Japanese speakers interpret it as a way to describe a ghostly power, and don’t specifically use the word in regards to this healing method.
Today, Reiki is somewhat rare in Japan, but it has gained a following worldwide and has flourished in the West. In fact, the UK National Health Service uses it as part of its Complementary Alternative Medicine program.
Practitioners claim they act as channels for Reiki energy. This energy facilitates healing, they say, and flows from their palms to specific body parts. Various schools teach different practices of Reiki, but there are some similarities across the board: Most practitioners agree that if the recipient needs it (and is ready to heal), the energy will go where it needs to. However, if the recipient is not willing or ready to accept the energy, it won’t be absorbed.
In a session, practitioners act as a channel for the energy and allow it to travel through the practitioner to where the patient requires it. Practitioners either touch the body or hover over it; some report feeling sensations of hot, cold or pressure.
Since there is a belief that Reiki training should be both flexible and complementary to other practices, an independent movement has developed. Some independent schools of Reiki differ from mainstream by including seichim energy and symbols into their teaching.
Two popular versions are Celtic Reiki and Reiki Tummo:
- Celtic Reiki has a more New Age theme. Advocates say Reiki energy mimics the frequency of various trees and plants.
- Reiki Tummo is said to be the awakening of the kundalini in a safe and controlled manner and to use the heart to obtain Yogic Enlightenment.
Studies haven’t confirmed the existence of Reiki energy. Some explanations of the technical side of Reiki rely on “subtle energies” and “auras.” Many of those involved in conventional medicine dispute its effectiveness; they claim it doesn’t facilitate healing and benefits found are merely the placebo effect.
Many practitioners of conventional medicine have expressed concern when patients with a serious disease turn to Reiki as the sole means of treatment. This is considered untrustworthy and potentially dangerous, even within the reputable alternative health community. Some healthcare workers believe that it has beneficial effects and is worth including in professional training and patient care.
Religious groups oppose Reiki; including Orthodox Christians who say its demonic and the Unification Church says that Reiki channels evil spirits.