Do a web-search on Reiki and you are likely to find definitions ranging from a "hands-on healing technique" to "spiritual energy work" to an "ancient Tibetan or ancient Egyptian practice." These often contradictory results can leave the querier dazed and confused. So what IS Reiki? The best place to understand the answer to this question is to look at both the origins of Reiki and the actual definition of the word.
In the early 1900s, a Japanese lay Buddhist practitioner of the Jodo-Shu or Pure Land sect named Mikao Usui set out to discover Satori or "enlightenment" and Anshin Ritsumei or "absolute inner peace." His search led him down many avenues, but each one left him unfulfilled.
Eventually, he decided to meditate and fast on the sacred mountain of Kurama near Kyoto and either achieve enlightenment or die trying! In 1922, after enduring 21 days of fasting and intense meditation, Usui experienced a state of consciousness that he characterized as "One Great Reiki."
The word "Reiki" isn't an actual word at all, but rather a combination of two kanji: "Rei" meaning something mysterious, miraculous, and sacred; and "Ki" meaning atmosphere, something subtle and unseen, or the energy of the universe. "Rei-ki" is the term that Mikao Usui used to describe the enlightenment and inner peace he discovered during his meditation on Mt. Kurama.
The spiritual experience Usui encountered on the mountain unlocked a memory of what the true nature of all things really is. This memory can be said to be an awareness of the "Ocean of Oneness" that permeates every manifestation of cosmic or God consciousness from energy to matter, from atoms to galaxies, to life itself.
Along with Usui's sudden "enlightenment" of the true nature of all things was the realization that this understanding also awakened his natural ability to heal himself and others. What followed was the creation of a system that Usui called "Usui Reiki Ryoho." This system was designed to lead individuals to attain the enlightened state of consciousness that he himself experienced, as well as reactivating the innate healing ability that everyone possesses.
This is why Reiki can be said to be a two-fold practice: both a path to self-realization and an energetic healing art. All beings wish to be happy. The way to experience genuine happiness is to be in good health. And as many scientific studies have now shown, the way to be in good health is to maintain a state of happiness, or peace of mind. The two go hand in hand. If an individual is ill or in pain, it is very difficult for them to maintain a peaceful inner state for very long, because their pain or illness takes all of their focus. There are those rare individuals who can transcend their illnesses, but they are few and far between and generally can only be found on mountaintops wearing burgundy robes. So in order to be truly healthy, one must be happy. And in order to be truly happy, one must be healthy.
Happiness and enlightenment are experiential in nature and cannot be truly understood by reading, studying, listening to recordings, or watching DVDs. They can only be experienced. And each individual will experience happiness and enlightenment in their own unique way. This holds true for Reiki as well.
The ability to practice Reiki can only be passed on from one person to the next through a method known as Reiju. Reiju is an attunement or initiation process. A Reiki Shihan (teacher) will attune the initiate to the Reiki energy through hands-on touch. During Reiju, the student becomes directly linked to the Reiki or God Consciousness, which makes adjustments in the person's chakras and energy pathways, thereby empowering the individual to become a Reiki channel. These changes are unique to the individual and no one will receive or experience Reiki in exactly the same way.
Reiki Ryoho (ryo=healing; ho=method) consists of healing, cleansing, concentrative, and meditation practices. We begin by rediscovering our natural healing ability. We start by healing ourselves first. We can then share this healing ability with others, developing in us a sense of love and compassion.
Gradually, with continued practice, Reiki can guide us to higher levels of mental clarity, physical wholeness, and a harmonious integration of our own being that leads us to experience our true disposition: unconditional joy, inner peace, wisdom, and compassion for all life. Copyright: CLaCore 2009
Reprinted with permission from the author
Article published in The Balanced Life Magazine June/July 2009 Issue
Cerise LaCore is the founder and director of The Center in Roseville, CA. She is a certified Reiki Shihan (teacher). Cerise is a Summa Cum Laude graduate of Clayton College holding a Bachelor of Science degree in Natural Health and Homeopathy. She is working toward her Doctorate in Naturopathy as well as maintaining her massage therapy practice at The Center.