The word Reiki (霊気) (/ˈreɪkiː/) is made of two Japanese words – Rei which means “soul, spirit” and Ki which is “life force energy”. So Reiki is actually “spiritually guided life force energy.”
The history of Usui Reiki begins with its founder, Dr. Mikao Usui. Sometimes called the Usui Sensei, Dr. Mikao Usui was born to a wealthy Buddhist family in 1865. Dr. Usui’s family was able to give their son a well-rounded education for the time. As a child, Dr. Usui studied in a Buddhist monastery where he was taught martial arts, swordsmanship, and the Japanese form of Chi Kung, known as Kiko.
Throughout his education, Dr. Usui had an interest in medicine, psychology and theology. It was this interest that prompted him to seek a way to heal himself and others using the laying on of hands. It was his desire to find a method of healing that was unattached to any specific religion and religious belief, so that his system would be accessible to everyone.
Dr. Usui traveled a great deal during his lifetime. He studied healing systems of all types and held different professions including reporter, secretary, missionary, public servant and guard. Finally, he became a Buddhist priest/monk and lived in a monastery.
Sometime during his years of training in the monastery, Dr. Usui attended his own training rediscovery course in a cave on Mount Kurama. For 21 days, Dr. Usui fasted, meditated and prayed. On the morning of the twenty-first day, Dr. Usui experienced an event that would change his life forever. He saw ancient Sanskrit symbols that helped him develop the system of healing he had been struggling to invent. Usui Reiki was born.
After his spiritual awakening on Mount Kurama, Dr. Usui established a clinic for healing and teaching in Kyoto. As the practice of Usui Reiki was spreading, Dr. Usui became known for his healing practice.
Further Development of Reiki
Mikao Usui founded his first Reiki clinic and school in Tokyo in 1922. Before he died, Dr. Usui taught several Reiki masters to ensure that his system would not be forgotten. Among them was Dr. Chujiro Hayashi, a former naval officer who set up a Reiki clinic in Tokyo.
Dr. Hayashi is credited with further developing the Usui system of Reiki by adding hand positions to more thoroughly cover the body. Dr. Hayashi also changed and refined the attunement process. Using his improved system, Dr. Hayashi trained several more Reiki Masters, including a woman named Hawayo Takata. Mrs. Takata was a Japanese-American woman who originally went to Dr. Hayashi for healing. Upon learning the system herself, Mrs. Takata took Reiki home to the United States.
Spread of Reiki to the West
Hawayo Takata was Tokyo in 1935. Mrs. Takata was very ill and in need of surgery, but she strongly felt through her instinct that she didn’t need that surgery to be healed. After asking her doctor about alternative treatments for her condition, she was told about the Reiki practitioner in town. Mrs. Takata had never heard of Reiki, but she made an appointment, even though she was slightly skeptical. Following her initial meeting with Dr. Hayashi, Mrs. Takata saw Dr. Hayashi on a daily basis. She found the sessions to be relaxing and pleasant and, ultimately, healing.
As time passed, Mrs. Takata learned Reiki One and Reiki Two. When she returned to the United States, Mrs. Takata continued to practice Reiki and eventually became a Reiki Master. Much of this happened near the beginning of World War II.
Mrs. Takata wanted to spread her system of healing to others. She made changes to her Reiki practice, then used Reiki to help heal others in the United States.
Before he died, Dr. Hayashi managed to impart all of Dr. Usui’s teachings onto Mrs. Takata. She continued to practice Reiki for many years. When she died, she had attuned 22 Reiki masters.
Today, people who practice Reiki use the methods developed by Dr. Usui, the founder of Usui Reiki. The genius of Reiki is that practitioners can utilize Reiki to help heal themselves and for their own wellness and enhanced well-being. In fact, working on self-healing is a prerequisite for offering Reiki healing to others. Modern Reiki masters can offer the Reiki energy to others through gentle static light pressure touch using the specific traditional Reiki hand positions and even over long distances like prayer is offered. Reiki healing complements many medicinal therapies and traditional medicine and can be used to help assist in the potential healing of people suffering from pain, illness, disease and more.
Modern Reiki is becoming more popular as time goes on, and the lineage of Reiki masters is growing every day. With the return to Usui Reiki, many people are using these traditional hands on therapy to heal themselves and others.