What is Reiki?

“The Reiki method is not only for curing illness. Its true purpose is to correct the heart-mind, keep the body fit, and lead a happy life using the spiritual capabilities human beings were endowed with since birth.”

– From the memorial stone of Mikao Usui, founder of the Usui System of Reiki Healing

“Reiki” (ray – key) is a spiritual healing practice that brings balance and an enhanced sense of well-being. The word Reiki in Japanese means “universal life energy,” the energy found in all life. The Usui System of Reiki Healing—Usui Shiki Ryoho—applies this energy through gentle touch for the purpose of healing.

Reiki is easy to learn, and self-treatment is the foundation of the practice. Reiki is most often used as a home or folk art to soothe the physical and mental distresses of everyday family life. More and more, over the last fifteen years, Reiki is also used in conjunction with conventional medical care.

At the age of one year, my Sheltie Scotty was troubled by severe hip dysplasia and other joint pains. It took only the first Reiki treatment for me to see a change in him. After only three treatments, not only did his body move more easily, but his depression lifted as well. Over the course of weekly Reiki treatments, he quickly became a happy and bouncing pup again. With continued treatments he has remained a happy dog, in spite of his health challenges. Reiki did not remove his physical body’s imperfections, but it did give him the power to rise above those inconveniences.

–Judy Weir, Spruce Grove, AB, Canada

The Principles of Reiki

The hands-on practice isn’t the whole picture. Reiki also teaches five principles for calming the heart and mind.

  • Just for today do not worry.
  • Just for today, do not anger.
  • Honor your parents, teachers, and elders.
  • Earn your living honestly.
  • Show gratitude to every living thing.

They’re simple, but not easy to do. Beginning to practice these principles can guide you toward a healthier way of thinking and feeling—which ultimately gives rise to a healthier body and a healthier way of life.

Reiki in medicine

Reiki may not be a household word (yet), but it’s being used in hospitals all around the country. It’s even found a place in the research hospital of the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH). The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM, an organization in the NIH) classifies Reiki as a biofield energy therapy. Right now, NCCAM is doing clinical trials on Reiki’s effect on late stage HIV, fibromyalgia, neuropathy in diabetics, and prostate cancer.

So far, there’s not much published research, but two studies include:

Cancer Prevention & Control: Cross Cancer Research Center, Alberta, Canada: Study finds “highly significant reduction in pain following Reiki treatment.”

Journal of Advanced Nursing: Study examines select physiological and biochemical effects following thirty-minute Reiki treatment. Biochemical and physiological changes suggest increasing levels of relaxation.

Reiki is used in the Integrative Medicine programs of major U.S. hospitals including Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (NY), the Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center (NY), the NIH’s Warren G. Magnuson Clinical Center (MD), Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center (NH), and in small community hospitals like Whidbey General Hospital (WA) and the Beebe Medical Center (DE).

Where did Reiki come from?

We tell a wonderful, long story about Reiki in our classes, but for now we’ll keep it simple.

In the early 1900s, a Japanese scholar, Mikao Usui, longed to understand hands-on healing. He studied, prayed, and meditated until he uncovered the basics of a healing practice that taps into the flow of the universal life energy of Reiki. His practice became known as Usui Shiki Ryoho, translated as the Usui System of Reiki Healing.

After Usui died, his student and successor, Chujiro Hayashi, established a Reiki clinic in Tokyo where Mrs. Hawayo Takata of Hawaii became a patient and, later, his student. She brought Reiki to the U.S. in the 1930s. At the time of Hayashi’s death, he designated Mrs. Takata as his successor.

Mrs. Takata nourished the practice of Reiki for more than forty years, teaching first in the Japanese communities of Hawaii and the West Coast, then spreading to the wider population. In the 1970s, she began to train other teachers who could share the gift of Reiki, including her granddaughter, Phyllis Lei Furumoto. When Mrs. Takata died in 1980, she passed the leadership of Usui Shiki Ryoho to Phyllis.

Paul and Susan both learned First and Second Degree Reiki from Mrs. Takata, and she initiated Paul as a Reiki Master. Susan received her Reiki Master training from Phyllis Furumoto.

Today, millions of people on every continent practice Reiki with their families and friends. It would be our pleasure to share this practice with you.

Ready to look further? Here’s what we recommend:

  1. To learn more about Reiki, download our free booklet, Wonderful Reiki Stories, a collection of personal stories about how Reiki has helped people in all kinds of situations. You’ll also receive our monthly Reiki Healing e-zine. Click here and it’s all yours.
  2. If you’re wondering how Reiki works, click here.
  3. To learn more about ways that Reiki Healing Arts can help you, go to What We Offer and read about Reiki treatment, Reiki classes, Retreats and Gatherings, or theReiki Clinic.
  4. You’ll find even more about Reiki by looking through our eZine and Articles archives.