Reiki is different things to different people. But what is it really? Is it a relaxation therapy, a personal spiritual practice, a technique to heal the body, or a path to enlightenment?
Reiki is a way in.
Reiki is a method of releasing painful contractions held in our bodies, minds and spirits. In letting go of these patterns that divide us against ourselves and against the world, we find a new space of wholeness opens up within. The energy we previously invested in division, which kept us bound in a life of dis-ease, slowly becomes free to flow through us, as we always knew it should. As we come home inside, we find we are more free—more ourselves—than ever before.
Reiki is one way of healing amongst many. Unlike other healing practices, you do not need to concentrate your mind, or do anything special at all: whenever reiki is needed, just lay your hands on, and the healing will happen. It is also a genuinely simple practice. We embrace the intuitive, sidestep division and doubt, belief and disbelief. You are not required to play any games with your mind.
Reiki is a way to wellness. Dis-ease is a product of contraction, tension and pain in the different levels of our being: mental, emotional, physical, and some would say, spiritual. Reiki invites us to let go of layer after layer of chronic tension and blockage.
Usui Shiki Ryōhō
The word reiki refers to both a system of healing (Reiki, invented by a Japanese man called Dr Mikao Usui in the early twentieth century), and to the healing phenomenon that emerges during a session with a Reiki practitioner (reiki, uncapitalised). This is in the same way that a student goes to an institution to study medicine and gives medicine to a patient to help them get better.
So what is this Reiki medicine? The best way to approach this is through experience. Everyone’s history is different, and so everyone’s experience of reiki energy will be different. For some it universal light energy, for others, something more practical: our bodies’ deep self-healing mechanisms, for still others, it may be the Holy Spirit. I would be a fool to deny your experience, and can only report my own, which has changed over time, and includes all of the above. While the transformation in my life brought about by Reiki has deepened, the amount I need to understand it has decreased.
Reiki softens contractions we hold on a level that seems to be not quite physical yet not quite mental—hence the use of spiritual language. But it really doesn’t matter what language you use to talk about it. You can talk about chakras and nadis, tan tiens and meridians, a Platonic spirit, or even ‘just’ the power of the unconscious. What matters is that healing is coming to your being, and that you are moving towards a life of fullness.
Though our understanding of what Reiki is may differ, we can agree on the effects. Relaxation is the most immediate and most obvious: slowed pulse; deeper breathing; an untying of that knot of tension behind your brow. The effect is proportional to our willingness to let go of the causes of our unwellness, and goes deeper, and deeper, until we find we are no-longer resisting the tides and currents of our lives, and instead are just flowing.
To get well, we let go. This can come through tears, laughter, even convulsive coughing. We feel lighter as we drop an unnecessary element from our lives. The physical problem that led us to seek reiki is gone. Don’t underestimate the power of this: conditions that appear terminal can be reversed. The question to ask yourself is do you really want it?
Sometimes the healing we wanted didn’t happen. These incidents can be seen as a failure, though it could be that the illness was trying to show you something that is still not resolved. The path of the healer and of healing requires humility, and sometimes our own bigness can be the very thing in the way of letting go.