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What Is Reiki?

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White Light Reiki (c) 2009

If we break apart the two Japanese characters that make up the word Reiki, we have “Rei” which translates to “Light” and “Ki” which translates to “Life-force.” Reiki is pronounced (ray-key.) Reiki is the manipulation of metabolic energy through touch. It is a very simple, non-invasive technique that encourages stress reduction, relaxation and healing. The Reiki practitioner lays their hands on or near a physical point on the body that corresponds to certain nerve centers that store energy (chakras). As the Reiki practitoner holds their hands at that chakra point, the Reiki energy that is needed corrects any blockages, sluggishness or overload in that area. Reiki is very gentle, warm, pleasant, and relaxing.

Reiki is not a religion. Reiki is kind of like “The Force” from Star Wars. In Star Wars, Yoda describes the Force to Luke by saying,

“Life creates it, makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us and binds us. Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter. You must feel the Force around you; here, between you, me, the tree, the rock, everywhere, yes.”

When we talk about Reiki energy, we are essentially talking about life-force. Reiki energizes and clears away blockages and emotional baggage. By relaxing we are more receptive to healing and feeling good.

The History of Reiki

Sensi Mikao Usui - founder of Reiki RyohoReiki is an ancient practice that was rediscovered by Dr. Mikao Usui in Japan around the turn of the 20th century. Dr. Usui was a teacher, Christian Missionary, Buddhist monk, government administrator and finally became the founding father of Reiki. Usui Sensi spent many years of study in America, India, China and Japan trying to understand and replicate the healing powers of Jesus and Buddha.
Perhaps found in Upanishads, the Vedas, or some other Sanskrit scriptures, Usui found texts that described the movement of energies, and symbolic hand postures, but the texts did not disclose how to turn this energy on. Therefore, in 1914, Usui made the pilgrimage from the Zen temple in Kyoto where he lived, to Mt. Kurama. There he would fast, contemplate, and sit for 21 days in meditation, to find out. Part of the time, he spent meditating under a waterfall, which opened his crown chakra allowing him to receive the knowledge of reiki. Eventually, disciples would take the knowledge to Hawaii, where it would spread over the course of the 20th century.
Like aspects of Buddhism, Zen and Taoism, the emphasis is on mindfulness, honoring life, and our ancestors. Similar in style to the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism, and the Eight Fold Path to enlightenment, living by the Five Precepts is an approach based on fundamentals that focus the mind, and calm the spirit.

The most documented source of these concepts is found in the ancient Hindu text of the Upanishad. These sacred texts were written in Sanskrit over several centuries, and starting as early as eighth century BCE. When was that? Well, for an idea of how long ago that was, it’s about the same time as the first Olympic games, the Ting dynasty, and Sodom and Gomorrah, roughly 3700 years ago. So this stuff is old, but interestingly not outdated. The books discuss practical ways of expanding awareness through yoga, which in itself is a philosophy. Additional documentation is in early Taoist and Buddhist texts dating as early as 2000 BC. Recent discussion includes possible linkage of the early Vedas, the Norse and Greek writings as well, spreading as the Indo-European tribes dispersed throughout the continent.
The Five Principles or Precepts of Reiki
Just for today...
Don't get angry
Don't worry
Be grateful
Work hard
Be kind to others and honor your elders

In the east, the body is a considered a ‘sacred temple’, so surgery was never considered an option. Ways of healing that did not break apart the ‘sacred temple’ were found, hence energy healing. In the foundations of Western culture we find that the Greeks also described the energies of what made up the body and the universe. “Greeks (Aristotle) believed that all the matter in the universe was made up of four basic elements-earth, water, air, and fire.

The Upanishads in India, in ancient times, identified these elements respectively as "Prithvi, Aappas, Vayu, and Thejas " and added one more element "Akash" to identify space in which these elements interacted with appropriate forces to sustain the universe. These were termed " Pancha Bhuthas," and the philosophers, by sheer inspiration, tried to unify all these into a coherent picture of space, time and matter.” (From B.S.MURTHY http://www.saeindia.org/Home/MITLecture.htm)

And oddly enough, we have come full circle and find validity in these descriptions of the universe again. In our own age of scientific enlightenment, this view of the universe metaphorically describes the same things that scientists like Brian Greene, author of The Elegant Universe and The Fabric of the Cosmos; professor of mathematics and physics, Columbia University, are grappling with in string theory, or the theory of everything.