Jenn Hicks

More about Reiki

What is Reiki?

Reiki is a simple, natural and safe Japanese technique for stress reduction, relaxation and self improvement that also promotes healing. Reiki (pronounced ray-key) is a Japanese word representing universal life energy, the energy which is all around us. It is derived from rei, meaning “free passage” or “transcendental spirit” and ki, meaning “vital life force energy” or ” universal life energy”.

So Reiki is actually “spiritually guided life force energy.”

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What Reiki is not

While Reiki is spiritual in nature, it is not a religion. It has no dogma, and there is nothing you must believe in order to learn and use Reiki. In fact, Reiki is not dependent on belief at all and will work whether you believe in it or not. While Reiki is not a religion, it is still important to live and act in a way that promotes harmony with others. Dr. Mikao Usui, the founder of the Reiki system of natural healing, recommended that one practice certain simple ethical ideals to promote peace and harmony, which are nearly universal across all cultures.

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Where did Reiki come from?

Japanese Buddhist Mikao Usui developed Reiki in early 20th century Japan, where he said he received the ability of ‘healing without energy depletion’ after three weeks of fasting and meditating on Mount Kurama. Practitioners use a technique similar to the laying on of hands as well as gestures in the air, which they say will channel healing energy (ki) . They say the energy then flows through their palms to bring about healing.

Reiki was introduced to the Western world in the mid-1970s. Since then its use has spread dramatically worldwide.

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Are there any risks associated with Reiki?

Reiki appears to be generally safe, and serious side effects have not been reported. Some practitioners advise caution about using Reiki in people with psychiatric problems. Reiki energy is an “intelligent” energy, which “knows what to do,” or “where it is needed the most.” The Reiki energy will go where it needs to for healing. If the intended recipient does not accept the energy on some level, the energy will not be absorbed.

Sometimes a Reiki client experiences what practitioners call a “cleansing crisis.” The person may have symptoms such as a feeling of weakness or tiredness, a headache, or a stomach ache. Reiki practitioners believe that these are effects of the body releasing toxins. They advise the client on how to deal with such symptoms if they occur, such as by getting more rest, drinking plenty of water, or eating a lighter meal.

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What does the research say about Reiki?

There have been claims of positive effects of Reiki treatment in papers published in some medical journals promoting alternative medicine. Cited benefits include relaxation and increased immunity, reduced heart rate, improved blood pressure, reduced pain, anxiety and depression.

In a preliminary study at the Institute of Neurological Sciences, South Glasgow University Hospital NHS Trust, heart rate and diastolic blood pressure decreased significantly in people who received 30 minutes of Reiki, but also decreased significantly in people who received a placebo intervention. There was no significant change in people who received 30 minutes of rest. The authors therefore concluded that it is “unlikely that the significant changes in both placebo and reiki groups are due to simply lying down and resting.” Because of findings like these that show that Reiki does not facilitate healing beyond that expected from the placebo effect, many scientists, health care workers, and others dispute its effectiveness. Many in the scientific community ascribe anecdotal evidence of the effectiveness of Reiki therapy to the placebo effect and a combination of post hoc reasoning and the regressive fallacy.

A four-week American study on 24 participants age 60–80 with experimental and control groups suggests that Reiki may improve symptoms relating to certain behaviour and memory problems associated with mild dementia — results showed a statistically significant increase in Annotated Mini-Mental State Examination (AMMSE) and Revised Memory and Behaviour Problems Checklist (RMBPC) scores. This study does not however, take into account the placebo effect, or the effects of simply resting that the Glasgow study examined.

Some claim to have described a scientific basis for calling Reiki an energy medicine. However, neither the efficacy of reiki nor the existence of ki have been measurably proven at this time.

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Is Reiki used in mainstream health care?

Reiki has been gaining some popularity worldwide within hospitals. The UK NHS (National Health Service) as part of its CAM (Complementary and alternative medicine) program uses Reiki and other CAM therapies as part of day care patient programs.

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Can I use Reiki as a Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM)?

If you are considering using Reiki as CAM:

  • Do not use Reiki as a replacement for conventional care or to delay the time it takes you to see a doctor about a medical problem.
  • It is important to discuss any CAM therapies you are considering or using with your health care provider, for a complete treatment plan and your safety.
  • Ask the Reiki practitioner about his training and experience. Ask about any costs as well, for these can vary from fees to donations to no charge.
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