Reiki comes from Japan, and loosely translated it means “universal life energy”.
In the West, the early leaders of modern medicine like Galen and Paracelsus called this the “vital force.” The vital force is that special something that makes us alive. It isn’t well defined by purely scientific terms as yet. Western medicine has not studied subtle energy, life force or mind-body therapies until recently. In many places this type of natural, medication-free healing is dismissed as pseudoscience or put in the same category as religious “faith” healing.
In recent decades, however, modern medicine has once again accepted the mind-body connection. Reiki intersects with mainstream medicine through the way it quickly reduces stress. From a Western perspective, Reiki can improve health by removing stress and all the detrimental effects stress can create.
There is a long history of using life energy for health and healing in Asian cultures. The idea of energy medicine is much more common and accepted there. Accupuncture and Tai Chi from China are examples. (Ki in Japanese is the same as Chi in Chinese). Indian Ayurvedic medicine and yoga give us the chakra system, which also describes life-energy.
Reiki in particular was developed in the early 20th century by Mikao Usui. Reiki is now taught around the world, and there are many different styles that have developed over the years. I studied Traditional Usui style under Reiki Master Tom Beardshaw.
The various styles of Reiki have different ideas about how Reiki came to be and some of the details about how it should be practiced, but the essential core of Reiki is the same for everyone. Basically, a Reiki practitioner simply acts as a conduit. A Reiki session is a method of improving your connection to the natural life force that you already have simply by being alive. The practitioner does not add anything new, and does not control or change anything in your body. The Reiki session only supports and enhances your pre-existing connection to the natural life energy. That improved connection helps to re-balance and re-energize your natural, inner health and healing ability. The most advanced medicine in the world can not artificially induce life or healing. As the adage goes “all healing comes from within”. Reiki is a non-medication way to help support that natural process.
Think of it like an Internet connection. Most of us are born with a clear, broadband connection to universal life energy. Through age, illness, injury, lifestyle – all sorts of things – the connection slows down. We go from high speed broadband fiber optics to an 80s style dial-up modem. Reiki doesn’t directly heal or do miracles – just like changing your Internet provider doesn’t change your computer files. BUT Reiki does improve the connection. It puts your natural connection with universal life energy back on broadband. It helps your normal inner healing be the best it can be – on emotional and spiritual levels as well as physical ones.
The computer analogy works another way. If you get a good connection, it is easier to upgrade your software. Modern medicine is becoming more aware of the mind-body connection that Holistic Health has used for centuries. Western medicine has a growing awareness that stress can harm health. By the same token, physical vibrance can help lift mood. Through this mind-body connection, Reiki can help decreases stress and in turn help physical well being through relaxation. Reiki doesn’t offer any miracle cures, but it can give nature (and health care) a helping hand.