interaction with friends or family members. In this style of use, the practitioner places one or both hands on any part of the recipient: wherever feels appropriate and comfortable in the particular situation. Talking and all other aspects of social interaction continue as normal.
A Reiki practitioner can treat himself or herself with any of the methods described above. In this case, the practitioner is also the recipient.
A group treatment involves two or more Reiki practitioners treating the same recipient, simultaneously. This is said to have a significantly stronger effect than treatment from a single practitioner.
Groups of practitioners can come together to share Reiki. In these situations, each participant in turn acts as the recipient, with the rest of the group giving the treatment. The number of people involved is usually in the range 3 to 9. (Two practitioners can also meet to exchange Reiki treatments.) If there are more than 8 or 9 participants, then they split into two or more groups for practical reasons. The duration of treatment is such that the whole sharing takes one to two hours (between 10 and 30 minutes per recipient). Such a 'Reiki share' is often a social occasion, with the practitioners talking throughout.
Treatment of animals and plants
Animals and plants are usually treated for shorter periods than humans. The duration of treatment, and number of hand positions used, depends on factors such as the size of the recipient and the severity of the condition being addressed. In the absence of disease, some practitioners enjoy giving Reiki to animals or plants, as a loving interaction.
Many practitioners use Reiki as the basis of a spiritual practice, or to augment other spiritual practices. The cornerstone of Reiki spiritual practice is a daily one hour self-treatment, conducted in a meditative frame of mind. As well as maintaining physical, mental and emotional well-being, this practice is understood to induce spiritual growth, potentially leading to self-realization.
Many Reiki practitioners also undertake to observe the 5 Reiki Principles recommended by Mikao Usui.
A Japanese Tendai Buddhist named Mikao Usui is credited with discovering Reiki in 1922 after a twenty-one day retreat on Mount Kurama, involving meditation, fasting, and prayer. Usui claimed that by mystical revelation he had gained the knowledge and spiritual power to apply and attune others to what is called Reiki.
In April 1922, Usui moved to Tokyo and founded the Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai (Usui Reiki Healing Society).
Usui was an admirer of the literary works of Emperor Meiji, and, in the process of developing his Reiki system, summarised some of the emperor's works into a set of ethical principles, which later became known as the Reiki Principles. Many Reiki teachers and practitioners aim to abide by these five principles, one translation of which is:
"The secret method of inviting good fortune.
The marvelous medicine for all sickness
Just for today:
Do not be angry
Do not be worried
Work hard (on improving yourself)
Be kind to others.
Every morning and every night, sit in the Gassho position [hands held palm-to-palm] and speak these words out loud in your heart.
For the evolution of body and soul, Usui Reiki Ryoho" -
Mikao Usui, the founder.
Usui taught over 2000 students to use Reiki. 16 of his students continued their training to reach the Shinpiden level, equivalent to the Western third degree, or master level.
Usui died in 1926.
After Usui's death, Chujiro Hayashi a former student of Usui left the Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai and formed his own association. Hayashi simplified the Reiki teachings, stressing physical healing and using a more codified and simpler set of Reiki techniques.
Hayashi initiated and trained Hawayo Takata, who travelled widely in the USA, practising Reiki and teaching the first two levels to others.[
Takata stressed the importance of charging money for Reiki treatments and teachings. In 1976, Takata began teaching the Shinpiden stage and introduced the term Reiki master for this level. She also fixed a price of $10,000 for the master training.
Takata died in 1979 by which time she had trained 22 Reiki masters. Almost all Reiki taught outside Japan has followed from her work.
After the death of Hawayo Takata, former studet Barbara Weber Ray founded the American Reiki Association (ARA) which later became the AIRA and is now The Radiance Technique International Association Inc. (TRTIA). The organization differentiates its teachings from those of other Reiki masters and organizations, considering itself to be the one true continuation of Takata's heritage.
Soon after the founding of the ARA, Phyllis Furumoto, a granddaughter of Takata, founded The Reiki Alliance. Since 1988, the Alliance has accepted Reiki Masters from a wide range of backgrounds as members.
Another Takata student, Iris Ishikuro, abandoned the practice of charging $10,000 for Reiki Master training, allowing Reiki to become more widespread.
A great deal of generic New Age content is now often taught either as an adjunct to Reiki or even as an integral part of the system, and numerous schools of thought now exist, some being freely offered and some proprietary.
The Reiki Network was formed as an organization to promote a standardized teaching of traditional Reiki. In addition to the teaching organizations, whose members are Reiki masters, many communities of Reiki practitioners have formed.
The teaching of Reiki outside of Japan is commonly divided into three levels, or degrees.
The first degree Reiki course teaches the basic theories and procedures of how to work with Reiki energy. The channel through which Reiki energy passes to the practitioner is said to be opened or widened through four "attunements" given to the student by the teacher. Students learn hand placement positions on the recipient's body that are thought to be most conducive to the healing process in a whole body treatment. Having completed the first degree course, the participant can treat himself and others with Reiki. The course duration is typically two days, although this varies widely.
In the second degree Reiki course, the student learns the use of three symbols which are said to enhance the healing effect and allow for distance healing. Another attunement is given which is said to further increase the capacity for Reiki to flow through the student, as well as empowering the use of the symbols. Having completed the second level, the student can treat people with Reiki without being physically present with the recipient.
Third degree or master training
Through the third degree, or "master training", the student becomes a Reiki Master. (In Reiki terminology, the word 'master' does not imply spiritual enlightenment.) One or more attunements are carried out and the student learns a further master-level symbol. Having completed the master training, the new Reiki Master can attune other people to Reiki and teach the three degrees of Reiki. The first and second degrees are prerequisites for the master training. The duration of the master training can be anything from a day to a year or more, depending on the school and philosophy of the Reiki Master giving the training. In the case of comprehensive training, the third level is often broken into two or three smaller stages of attunements and teaching.
There is much variation in training methods, speeds and costs, as there is no regulation of Reiki. Students on the traditional path may be made to wait up to a year or more after the first level, before being allowed to learn the second degree, and thereafter many more years before being taught the master level. Other teachers, taking a non-traditional approach, might cover all three levels within a few days. Correspondence courses over the Internet even offer distance training. Some traditionalists maintain that any method that teaches Reiki "quickly" cannot yield as strong an effect, because there is no substitute for experience and patient mastery of the art.
Whilst masters affiliated to the Reiki Alliance or the Reiki Network teach within the three level structure outlined above, The Radiance Technique®/Authentic Reiki® teaches a seven level system.
Many independent teachers combine Reiki with other techniques, such as working with crystals, colour therapy, spirit guides or visualization. Such methods are sometimes included as part of a Reiki course.
Opponents of Reiki say that any therapeutic effect may be due to the placebo effect. Post hoc reasoning and the regressive fallacy have also been suggested as possible factors. It has also been claimed that people receiving Reiki use it merely as a "feel-good" therapy and do not expect any significant healing effects.
Some safety concerns are shared with other alternative medicines. In particular, it is feared by doctors of Western medicine that patients might avoid clinically proven treatments for serious conditions, in favour of Reiki. Some Reiki practitioners encourage their clients to consult a medical doctor for serious conditions, stating that Reiki can be used to complement conventional medicine. It has never been reported or proven that Reiki causes harm, and it is often defined by practitioners as a gentle practice that allows for the body to heal itself more effectively.
Fr. Tom Ingoldsby of the Salesian Order of the Roman Catholic church denounced Reiki as "opening the door to evil and occult forces which have later side effects". Some Christians believe Reiki "creates a closer connection for them to God."
In respose to Fr Ingoldsby's diatribe, Reiki teacher and RFI co-founder Angela Gorman said it was understandable that some people remained sceptical about complementary therapies but she warned them not to be close-minded to new ideas.
“Some people’s opinions of Reiki are often anchored in ignorance and suspicion rather than pure scientific fact,” said Ms Gorman, a former nurse."
With the many varied ways that have been used to teach Reiki, there have emerged points of controversy between different groups, teachers and practitioners. Controversies exist on topics such as the nature of the Reiki energy itself, fees charged for courses and treatments, training methods, secrecy of symbols and attunement methods.
Following the death of Hawayo Takata, through to the mid 1990s, there were rival claims to the title of "Grandmaster" of Reiki. However, this dispute largely evaporated when it was discovered that Takata herself had invented the title.