Reiki (pronounced Ray-Key) is a natural healing method which balances the vital life energy present in all living things. It is part of a spectrum of healing disciplines that fall into the category of ‘energy work.’ Energy work therapies help to clear, balance, and strengthen the energy anatomy; the pathways through which energy travels, within and around the human body, including meridians, chakras and the energy field, or aura. Movement of energy through these pathways maintains the health of the surrounding physical body. In other words, when energy moves freely, the cells, muscles, and organs benefit.
Reiki is a form of energy work which originated in Japan in the late 1800s. The word Reiki is a combination of two Japanese words: Rei, which can be loosely translated as ‘universal,’ and ki which means ‘life energy.’ Combined, these two words form a working definition of Reiki as ‘Universal Life Energy.’
Mikao Usui is widely known as the founder of Reiki. He lived and studied in Japan, exploring medicine, psychology, religion, and philosophy. In his quest to understand the purpose of life, he also trained in Zen meditation.
After devoting many years to this contemplative practice, Usui had a transformational experience which lead to his discovery and development of the Reiki healing method. He called his approach ‘Usui Reiki Ryoho’ which means Usui Reiki Healing System.
Usui began using his healing technique with family and friends, eventually developing a Reiki clinic where he offered classes and treatment. From these ancient roots, the discipline of Reiki has become widely taught and practiced in western cultures around the world.
There are traditionally three levels of Reiki training. Each level includes an ‘attunement’ which increases the practitioner’s ability to be a channel through which Reiki energy flows. In addition, Level One training includes the history of Reiki and the hand placements used within a treatment for both self and others. In Level Two, Reiki symbols are introduced, as well as methods of using the symbols to enhance healing effects. Level Three, or Reiki Master training, includes the introduction of more Reiki symbols and instruction in how to teach Reiki to others.
Reiki can be administered seated or with the recipient lying comfortably on a massage table. Within the session, the practitioner places hands lightly over specific areas of the body. The resulting benefits are multi-faceted, including relief of pain, fatigue, and anxiety, as well as an increased sense of relaxation and well-being.
Benefits - Patient Care and Self Care
This excellent first aid tool hastens the healing process in emergency situations and any circumstance in which the body has undergone an invasion. For those coping with pain, trauma, injury or energy depletion, Reiki offers a way to relieve discomfort and recuperate. Within patient care, these benefits are of obvious significance and have multiple applications.
Also of particular relevance for medical professionals are the many ways in which Reiki can benefit as a simple, portable method of self care. During periods of stress, when many demands compete for available time, Reiki restores energy, mental and emotional clarity, fostering optimism and creativity. Within short or long term patient care settings, these benefits can make the difference between thriving and merely surviving.
Overall, Reiki acts synergistically with all other types of healing. It does not conflict or interfere with other methods, but acts as a support, enhancing results and facilitating benefits. It assists the body in its own highest level of wellness; speeding the healing process, and providing a source of restorative energy. Whether used as a method of self or patient care, Reiki is a powerful and natural system which unlocks the inner flow of vital energy within the sender and the receiver. It is a tool for use at any time, anywhere, for on-the-spot energy as well as stress and pain relief.
These well known benefits of Reiki have captured the attention of the medical community and prompted research into the physiological changes in response to energy work. In his book, Energy Medicine; The Scientific Basis, James Oschman cites a study on page 86 in which the frequency emitted from the hands of an energy work practitioner was measured. The energy was found to spontaneously fluctuate through low frequency ranges (0.3 to 30 Hz) associated with nerve regeneration, bone growth, ligament healing and capillary formation.
As research confirms the benefits of energy work, hospitals are including Reiki as part of integrative medical care. Dr. Mehmet Oz, a noted surgeon at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York, introduced Reiki into his operating room. In Connecticut, both Hartford Hospital and Yale New Haven Medical Center offer Reiki volunteer programs providing this gentle, hands-on healing to patients.
If you are interested in evidence-based research on the effects of Reiki, The Center for Reiki Research is a dynamic on-line source that provides a current list and summaries of evidence-based Reiki research published in peer-reviewed journals. CRR also includes a list of hospitals, medical clinics, and hospice programs where Reiki is offered.
From ancient civilizations to modern medical practice, Reiki is a time-honored method of preventative health care. Both straightforward and profoundly effective, it offers a natural way to complement traditional approaches to health and wellness.
Hallie Sawyers is an Usui Reiki Master Teacher and has been offering classes since 2000. She is also a licensed massage therapist in Connecticut and New York. She is Board Certified in Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork, an approved continuing education provider for the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork, and has been offering continuing education classes since 2000. She is also Nationally Certified in Holistic Aromatherapy since 2002 and has been studying advanced clinical aromatherapy since 2005. Hallie is an Associate in Polarity Therapy (APP), Master Instructor of Integrated Energy Therapy and a certified labyrinth facilitator. She spent 4 years teaching the massage curriculum for Cortiva Institute (formerly Connecticut Center for Massage Therapy) and 13 years as an instructor for Finger Lakes School of Massage in both Ithaca and Mt. Kisco, NY. Her decades of experience in massage therapy teaching and program administration now support and inform her professional consultancy work with colleges, universities, and private institutions that want to add therapeutic massage to their degree programs and educational offerings.
Hallie is founder of Soul Song, offering training in a wide spectrum of complementary care alternatives. A well-known and respected educator with extensive training in energywork and body-centered therapies, her mission highlights creating transformation on personal and professional levels through quality education in alternative approaches to prevention and wellness.