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Reiki: Directing Energy Toward Holistic Health
Reiki treatments may seem mysterious, given that they rely on an invisible energy field. Learn about the theory that guides its practitioners' hands with our brief introduction.
Nearly a century ago, Buddhist monk Mikao Usui ascended the slopes of Mount Kurama to meditate. He stayed for three weeks, and when he came home, he brought with him the basic tenets of a new healing technique: reiki. The technique is defined by a practice referred to as “laying on of hands.” The fully clothed patient reclines on a couch or table as the therapist hones in on 12–15 energy pathways across the body. The therapist’s hands then act as conduits of positive energy, hovering above each pathway for several minutes at a time. Advocates of reiki report a profound feeling of relaxation that washes over the body during these sessions—some drift off to sleep, and others claim to experience out-of-body visions.
To parse the meaning of reiki, one can divide the Japanese word into its constituent parts—rei, meaning “divine spirit,” and ki, meaning “life energy.” Though not tethered to any religion, reiki is spiritual in nature and built upon the notion that ki, often chi, flows through everyone. Negative thoughts and physical conditions can disrupt this chi, and it is up to the reiki therapist to recharge the affected parts of the energy field. Usui believed the therapy was “the miraculous cure of all diseases,” but modern reiki therapists rarely recommend that it take the place of traditional medical or psychological treatment. They see it instead as a supplemental energy therapy that works in harmony with other types of medicine to combat anxieties and physical illnesses.