Reiki? Where’s the proof?


energy

I recently published an interview with Tadao Yamaguchi and introduced it to the Reiki community by promising rare insight into traditional Japanese Reiki. One of the readers found themselves disappointed, as, like so many articles on Reiki, we had offered no proof or supporting evidence of what Reiki is. The following is my attempt at an answer to this reader’s questions:

 

So what is Reiki, and where is the evidence?

To answer simply, Reiki is a natural healing system using touch created by Mikao Usui in 1920s Japan after he had achieved an experience of enlightenment, and crafted from extensive, deep knowledge of various traditions. Priding himself in the simplicity of his healing system, Usui sensei deliberately chose elements that would result in a healing modality easy to learn by anyone (and not forcing them to adopt elaborate spiritual systems or beliefs).

As to proof of what Reiki really is, we cannot offer it, as to date there is none. As Mr Yamaguchi says, “if the power of Reiki were to be scientifically proven, Reiki would spread a lot more rapidly.”

 

So is Reiki a belief system?

Not in my eyes. Experience shows that belief is not necessary for Reiki to have an effect, and probably very few people believe that Reiki will help them in any way until they experience various effects for themselves. While it is true that we can’t currently measure or explain Reiki energy in scientific terms, I am convinced that it would be possible to measure some of the effects of Reiki treatment in a scientific way. For example, many people experience deep states of relaxation and, often for the first time, tune into a deep part of themselves as a result of Reiki treatment. I am sure that these Reiki induced altered states of consciousness would show up on brain monitors (as has been done for meditation). At the moment, we perhaps just lack the institutional and financial muscle to instigate research of this type.

Reiki research

For an overview of credible research available on the efficacy of Reiki (no research has been done yet specifically on Jikiden Reiki) I would recommend a look at the medical papers listed on  Pamela Miles’ website . One of the studies she often cites is on patients who have suffered a heart attack. Giving Reiki treatment in this scenario has been shown to improve heart rate variability (which indicates a state of improved resilience and makes further problems less likely).

Is Reiki spiritual or physical?

“Is the system of Reiki spiritual and if so why is an attunement necessary?” Yes, it is a spiritual healing system, and it is mostly a physical treatment method. This is me paraphrasing Mikao Usui’s answer (the founder of Reiki practice) when he was asked the same question. To me, one of the big attractions of the Reiki healing system is that it works for anyone, regardless of whether you think of yourself as a spiritual person or not. And, really, spirituality and reality are inseparable, indivisible. You may like to read  Amanda Jayne’s blog post on the subject, too.

Underlying Reiki is a Shinto world view, based on the understanding that the original creative energy that resulted in the physical universe still permeates every aspect of it. I’m not particularly knowledgeable about quantum physics, and don’t always like how some of us in the healing world latch onto it perhaps without really understanding much.  I also have a feeling that the circle is closing, and that cutting edge science is not a million miles away from what the Reiki healing system conceptualises as a spiritual world view. I’ll leave this to the people who understand science to articulate! (If there’s anything in it).

Are attunements necessary?

Now the second part of your question, “Why is an attunement necessary?” Mikao Usui discovered that he had developed the ability to heal himself and others by touch, as an unexpected by-product of an experience of enlightenment. This happened for him after years of hard ascetic practices (and perhaps lifetimes worth of preparation, who knows).

The same path is open to anyone. And highly unlikely to be successful for you and me!! (At least in the short term). The beauty of the Reiki healing system is that Mikao Usui managed to create a method that reliably enables anyone to bring enough energy through their body to benefit themselves and others. That’s why we need ‘reiju‘, the slightly inadequate English translation of which would be attunement.

How does reiju work in scientific terms? I don’t know. Does it work? Absolutely! The energy that, for example QiGong practitioners can feel build up between their hands (sometimes after years of practice) can be felt immediately after three attunements.

Are Chakras part of Reiki?

Your last question “If in reality Reiki is a holistic system using vibration to raise the vibrations of chakras, why the secret? So this is hard to answer, as I’m not sure I entirely understand your question. First of all let’s clear up a misunderstanding. The chakra system comes from India, and has nothing to do with the original Reiki system. It’s not that it’s necessarily wrong to find similarities and compatibilities with other healing systems. They were simply not part of Japanese Reiki. The conceptual framework in Jikiden Reiki is a different one, based on applying high frequency energy (Reiki) on diseased parts of the body, or those areas that have accumulated excess toxicity, and using it to stimulate the body’s innate healing and cleansing ability.

Is Reiki a secret healing method?

“Why the secret?” So here I’m not sure what secret you are referring to. Why don’t we put out everything that we teach on the internet, as has happened with the Reiki system that’s come to the West through Mrs Takata? The answer, in essence, is respect toward the teachings and the original teachers. In spiritual traditions such as Esoteric Buddhism, you probably would have had to prove yourself by scrubbing temple floors for twenty years before you would be trusted with anything of equivalent value to what you are being taught in the Reiki healing system. Does it help, putting all that we know out there on the internet? Not in my view, as it simply cheapens everything and exposes form without understanding, leading to more and more mis-understanding.

Can we preserve the integrity of Reiki practice?

Are there any guarantees that we avoid misunderstanding when passing on the teachings directly (as the original teachers did)? I guess there can never be any absolute guarantees. We simply make the very best effort that we can to offer the teachings in their integrity, with their background understanding intact as much as is possible, by qualified teachers, who have had to demonstrate their understanding before becoming teachers. Does this offer a complete safeguard towards preserving the integrity of the teachings? No. Not always. People still filter what they are being taught through previously encountered concepts, misremember, misunderstand or apply their own ideas.  In Jikiden Reiki, this inevitable situation is counterbalanced by a worldwide supportive community including many practitioners and teachers inside and outside of Japan who are familiar with the Japanese language and culture. There is also a standard curriculum that is being taught by all Jikiden Reiki teachers.Committed to passing on Reiki in its original simplicity and clarity, we take collective custodianship of the practice and gently point out to each other when we think that we’re getting something wrong.

Tadao Yamaguchi gives unique insight into Japanese Reiki


Tadao Yamaguchi on kindnessIn this rare interview with Tadao Yamaguchi

the head of Jikiden Reiki Institute in Kyoto, Japan, speaks about growing up with Reiki as a child, his family’s involvement in the practice, their extensive treatment experience using Reiki to benefit everyday ailments as well as very serious conditions, and about his vision for the future of Jikiden Reiki.

Find out why Reiki went underground in Japan and became some kind of secret healing art, what kind of conditions respond well to Reiki, how to use Reiki to support serious health problems, who is suitable for practising Reiki, how to give the most effective treatments and more.

Read the FULL INTERVIEW here

An extract of Gisela Stewart’s recorded conversation with Tadao Yamaguchi has also been published in the November/December issue of Kindred Spirit.
Contact me if you would like me to send you a copy by mail order.

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Chronic illness: How to get the best results from Reiki treatment


Jikiden Reiki at Ladysmith  Physiotherapy

I’m amazed what even just three or four Reiki treatments can sometimes achieve. A month ago I saw a client three times in quick succession, who had been frequently ill for over two years and despite regular check-ups with her doctor and repeat medication, unable to get to the root cause of her problem. Tired of being ill almost constantly, she was willing to commit to the three sessions in quick succession that I had recommended.

We were going to reassess the situation after the initial boost, but it turned out that this was all the help she needed. Usually, chronic scenarios require a little more patience and commitment. However, this lady left feeling better after just three sessions. I am convinced that she would not have had the same results with the same number of treatments if given at weekly or fortnightly intervals. In my experience, to maximise chances of improving long-standing conditions, consecutive treatments are key.

In Jikiden Reiki seminars, when talking about the history of Reiki, we teach that Chiyoko Yamaguchi and her sister Katsue went out into the community for treatment on consecutive days, and working in this way fits well with the concept of byosen, a way of observing the body’s response to Reiki treatment that is a corner stone of Jikiden Reiki practice.  While byosen is strong, get back to the problem area as soon as possible (not a week later, as is the common expectation). It seems (from a discussion I followed on LinkedIn), that one of Mrs Takata’s students, Virginia Samdahl, also encouraged working in consecutive sessions. While substantial commitment is required from both practitioner and client, experience shows that using Reiki in this way is more likely to get the desired results.

On the related subject of chronic pain, internationally respected author and champion of integrative healthcare, Pamela Miles, recently refused to be impressed with a 40% improvement  after Reiki treatment, suspecting that even better results might have been achievable with a few more sessions. In my opinion, based on treatment experience and my understanding of Jikiden Reiki,  people who commit to an initial program of consecutive sessions or sessions scheduled in quick succession, can sometimes improve considerably. Learning Reiki themselves at this point, they can then self-treat for maintenance. If only there were a way of funding blocks of let’s say four to six sessions in quick succession, perhaps to be repeated once or twice (as required), so that more people suffering from chronic conditions could experience this type of shift.

You may also like to read:

Why the one-hour-a-week treatment model may not always be what you need

Check here for opportunities to learn Jikiden Reiki in Scotland in 2013

Staying Calm in the Midst of Chaos


How Reiki can help with the current unrest in the world

Amanda Jayne

Amanda Jayne’s article was first published on her website LearnJikidenReiki in October 2011. Anticipating presidential elections in the US, and in the wake of hurricane Sandy causing untold suffering and uncertainty, her subject seems as pertinent now as it did a year ago.

“There are huge movements rising up all over the world at the moment in what looks like ever-increasing chaos.  Dissatisfaction with political systems, corporations, economies, worry over environment and nuclear leaks, and vast differences in opinions on the way the world should look and what is ‘right’ and ‘wrong’.  My guess is that there is more to come during this period of change and I find myself speaking to a number of people who are concerned about the future and what it may hold.
There may be more chaotic energy in the coming times – or there may simply be a period of quiet change.  Whichever it is, it is clear that change is happening right now and that we are all a part of it, perhaps more than we know.  What is also clear, is that each and every one of us can and will contribute to what takes place in the world.  Some will protest and march for change, some have already taken to the streets, some will write, discuss and argue in the virtual world of the internet and some will find themselves caught up in the fiery energy of violence or disruption in communities.  There will be people who sit back and watch the changing world, thinking it has nothing to do with them, while others still may feel helpless or ignore what is happening around them.

All are contributing to what takes place in the world.  It is simply the way of things.   Our wants, attitudes, fears, joys, actions, connections, emotions and thoughts are contributing right now, whether we are aware of it or not.  Fear and hate breed fear and hate, contributing to chaos; while moving into greater awareness and greater peace contribute to just that.  As one of my teachers, Ron Hulnick says, “Every time one person resolves one issue, the whole of humanity moves forward.”

It’s good news that everyone plays a part because all we have to do is decide if the way we are currently being in our lives is what we want to contribute to the world or not.  This doesn’t mean we have to sell our houses and build an eco hobbit house in the wilds of Scotland (though I would love to!), neither does it mean we must chastise ourselves over every negative thought or fear that passes through our lives.  What it does mean, is that we can begin to bring awareness around our reactions, how we are feeling and what we are allowing ourselves to think into our lives.   It means that we can remind ourselves when we are feeling off-centre, or find ourselves in worry or panic over the news, that our greatest decisions and ability to discern truth comes only when we are heart centred and calm.  There are many practices to help us come back to centredness and Reiki is just one of them, but I highly recommend it.

Usui sensei’s intention when creating his Reiki method ‘Shin shin kaizen Usui Reiki Ryoho – Usui Reiki Treatment Method for the Improvement of Body and Mind’, was to help people to peel off the layers of ‘stuff’ we all accumulate during life, physically and mentally, so that we are no longer led by ego and come into alignment with our true selves – with Source.

For this he created and used three things:

a)  Physical treatments to assist the body in eliminating toxins that build up and cause illness, to help with pain and skeletal misalignment and to calm, soothe and release emotion.
b)  Psychological treatments that help the mind to let go of issues, beliefs, unhelpful thoughts and negative associations or habits it has been holding on to.
c)  The gokai – the five simple principles that point us towards living well in each moment of now.
You can download an updated copy of my simple practical guide to living the gokai here.

In short, Reiki can be used simply as an everyday tool to help us stay well when we are healthy and get well when we are not, but it can also be used to help us awaken, to move into greater peace and bring us to calm centredness in the midst of what appears to be chaos.

Usui sensei saw that the world reflects the people in it, and therefore the greatest change can be brought about not by sending Reiki to a situation or an environment, but by giving Reiki to people.  As each individual changes, the world changes.

No matter how complicated a situation looks, the only energy that can positively contribute and transform chaos is love.  Love does not mean I won’t take action or speak out, neither does it ignore what is before me.  Whether I am faced with an everyday family situation, news of a disaster or a decision about my involvement in a movement in the world I give myself Reiki, feel the energy in my body and I ask myself these simple questions:

– Is this thought coming from love or fear?
– Is this decision based on love or fear?

It brings amazing clarity.”

Amanda Jayne

After the event: Thoughts on learning Jikiden Reiki with Tadao Yamaguchi


at the 2012 Jikiden Reiki seminar with Tadao Yamaguchi in EdinburghDare I admit it? (I’m shy about this ): After a week of becoming fluent at hearing Japanese (but not understanding much unless translated), I have started teaching myself Japanese with the help of an Oxford University language course I got for Christmas two years ago. Will I stick with it? I hope so. In an already busy and committed life, and with my memory letting me down left right and centre, this has proven too hard before. Perhaps the effort of memorising a new language will offer a cure to my memory problems? (Thinking neuroplasticity here, and forever the optimist!)

Anyway, my language course tells me (and I’ve heard this before) that “you won’t hear Japanese people use first names often, except within the family or between close friends.” How generous of Tadao sensei (and formerly Chiyoko sensei) to treat their students as family. I love the community building aspect of Jikiden Reiki. From each Jikiden Reiki seminar I have attended (and that’s quite a few since I first discovered Jikiden in 2006), I have come home having made new wonderful and lasting friendships. After the seminar with Tadao Yamaguchi in Edinburgh September 2012I also love the humility of a teacher who keeps pointing his students to the potential within themselves and knows that this can be realised with the help of reiju and a little dedicated effort.

Anyone can do Reiki

This is what Tadao Yamaguchi sees as Mikao Usui‘s legacy. Even beginners can use Reiki successfully. Tadao sensei’s mother, Chiyoko Yamaguchi, who had learned Reiki from Chujiro Hayashi at the tender age of 17 and had practised on a daily basis for over 65 years, used to stress that the Reiki coming from her and the Reiki coming from you and me is the same energy, and that perhaps the only advantage an experienced practitioner has is that they may feel the body’s healing response a little more easily. At the recent training in Edinburgh, Mr Yamaguchi emphasized that with lots of practice, any practitioner can get to this level within half a year or so. To me, this feels both humbling and incredibly matter of fact, the reality of someone who deeply appreciates Reiki, having grown up nurtured by it from before birth, but to whom energy healing is also as natural as water and air. No need to make a fuss or be all mysterious.  Since in essence, Reiki is completely natural, in harmony with nature, and everyone’s birthright. Therefore, from a purely Reiki point of view, there are also no reasons not to give Reiki. The ability to do so is completely natural, too, and part of being human. Most of us simply need a gentle reminder of what is already there.

One of my students commented that training with Tadao Yamaguchi to her felt much more ‘serious’ than attending a seminar with Amanda Jayne or myself (the content of Jikiden Reiki seminars always being the same of course, regardless of who is teaching). It’s true, Tadao sensei definitely has gravitas. But also so much lightness and humour. Attending training with Tadao Yamaguchi and Rika Tanaka, in my experience, is always highly instructive, and also so much fun.

I also like the fact that Tadao sensei is so dedicated to transporting the

Japanese values and attitudes behind Reiki practice

In Japan, the student teacher relationship lasts a life-time, and in 1930s Japan, students would meet up with their teachers once a month if they could. They also repeated the seminars several times, to consolidate their understanding of the content and to receive further reiju.  (Tadao Yamaguchi  has many photographs of the early seminars with Chujiro Hayashi which prove this). The concept of repeating the same training can at first seem strange to students from Western countries. However, practitioners who have done so invariably comment how much they had missed first time round and how their understanding has deepened.

As the feedback from the Jikiden training with Tadao Yamaguchi keeps coming in, I find myself thinking about what it takes to be a student of Reiki. The founder of the practice, Mikao Usui, deliberately placed himself on the second rung of the achievement ladder, there always being more room for growth and development. And really, how could one ever be anything other than a student of Reiki? Nonetheless, I have a lot of respect for teachers and practitioners of long standing experience with westernised Reiki (sometimes 20 years or more) who have the humility to go back to the Japanese roots of the practice, and it’s always nice for me to hear when they find the experience rewarding.

Tadao Yamaguchi will be a guest speaker at the Mindful Peace Forum in Dundee on Friday.

 ” Wonderful, thorough, clear, transparent training/teachings withTadaoYamaguchi.”
Thank you again for arranging the seminar with Tadao.  It was very well run and I felt I learnt a tremendous amount.  However I think there was so much to take in I also lost a lot.  When he next comes I think I need to repeat so that I can catch up on what I missed so please keep me posted when you arrange another visit.
Thank you for a marvellous seminar. I was fizzing with Reiki, thank you Mr. Yamaguchi.”
Had a wonderful 4 days Gisela…..thanks very much for organising it all very much appreciated. Hopefully Tadao will teach again in Scotland???
Photo credits: Thank you to Katrin Brauer for kind permission to use some of her lovely photographs taken at the end of this year’s Jikiden Reiki training with Tadao Yamaguchi in Edinburgh

Reiki ~ The Most Natural Thing in the World


Natural Healing with Jikiden Reiki“Reiki ~ the most natural thing in the world.” This is how I would summarise the essence of Jikiden Reiki and the jikiden approach to Reiki.

Passing on the teachings of Dr. Chujiro Hayashi, Reiki is seen as essential, perfect human nature, in harmony with creation. Reiki as a healing method and as a spiritual path helps find the way back to this pure state. Step by step ‘as if peeling thin layers of paper’. Physically, Reiki energises the body so that the natural cleansing processes can function optimally.

Having grown up with Reiki from an early age, for the Yamaguchis Reiki is as natural as water and air, yet something deeply appreciated. This is the sense I get yet again while rereading Tadao Yamaguchi’s book ‘Light on the origins of Reiki’.

Related reading: Is Reiki physical or spiritual?

Why the one-hour-a-week treatment model may not always be what you need


The length and frequency of Reiki treatment depends on your conditionAs a Reiki practitioner I find that my clients often come with unspoken expectations about their sessions with me. Showing up for treatments at weekly intervals is one of them, and at times this appears to be a rule set in stone. Yet working in this way does not always get the best results.

A toxin free body is in a better position to take care of its own healing needs

As Jikiden Reiki practitioners, we  are guided  by the sensations we feel in our hands when placing them on a client. This body feedback helps the practitioner to locate the areas in the client’s body where toxins have accumulated. Carefully observing how these sensations change over time helps us to assess how long to treat a specific area and when to expect improvement. We refer to this skill as sensing byosen (pronounced: bjoh sen).

Our treatment decisions, in Jikiden Reiki, are based on this concept of byosen, tuning into and following the body’s natural healing response. As we focus energy on an area with high accumulations of toxins, Reiki helps to break these down more effectively. The sensations we are looking for can be felt at their most intense when this happens.  Often, the toxins are deeply buried within the tissues, though, so Reiki is needed to first bring them to the surface. During these periods we may not feel so much. So careful observation over a period of time is indicated!

We suggest an individually tailored program based on what’s going on in your body

From a Jikiden point of view, there are no standard hand positions nor a standard length of treatment. Of course we would not keep you on the treamtment table beyond your endurance limit. But for severe cases, a 70 to 90 minute treatment might be quite in order. Chiyoko Yamaguchi, my teacher’s mother, and herself trained by one of the original Reiki teachers, often gave Reiki for an hour and a half, and then asked her client to be back next day or as soon a possible, when she was working with severely ill clients. And this she would keep up for a period of two or three months, if necessary, until the sensations in her hands (and the client’s health of course!) indicated improvement.

Why you may want to learn Reiki for self-care

Of course, seeing a practitioner this frequently would be difficult to afford for most people. This is why Tadao Yamaguchi, the head of the Jikiden Reiki Institute in Kyoto, often recommends that someone who is seriously ill, learn Reiki and also receive frequent Reiki treatments from a family member or someone who is able to make this level of commitment to them.

Even with comparatively more minor health problems, the weekly treatment model may not always be best. While byosen is strong, perhaps two or three treatments in one week may help the client to return to full health much more quickly by comparison to the alternative of making weekly appointments by default.

Related reading: On the benefits of Reiki for cancer patients

Do your best and leave the rest to the Universe: When healing does not equate cure


“We are only there to love the spirit on its journey” ~ Doug McConnell

Healing does not always equal cureFrequently, I am amazed at Reiki’s amazing ability to facilitate healing, to tap into the body’s innate healing capacity and optimize results. Take wound healing for example: In my experience, using the Jikiden first aid method can seem like watching the healing process under a time lapse camera. You’ve cut your finger, it’s bleeding a lot, the cut is deep and feels throbbing and stingy. Giving first aid treatment doesn’t of course make the injury just go away. But the bleeding stops so much more quickly and the blood begins to congeal faster than you’d expect it to. The cut perhaps heals up in three or four days when, unaided, it would have taken a week or so.

I remember my daughter falling off her bicycle onto gravel and sustaining the kind of deep grazes along her spine that you know would turn green and seeping if you covered them up with a plaster, and would take at least a week, probably longer to begin to heal. Giving first aid Reiki treatment immediately, which may hurt as it accelerates the healing process, a crust had formed within half an hour. That’s all we did. In fact she then put on her T-shirt (no plasters needed), and went back out on her bike. The grazes were gone without a trace within the space of a week.

Treating cuts, scrapes and small burns in this way is not the only way Reiki facilitates healing. I have simply chosen this as an example because most of us have clear expectations based on experience as to how long such injuries take to get better. Using Reiki, we can observe with our own eyes that healing tends to happen faster than we would expect on average. Overall, seeing clients in my clinic in Galashiels, my treatment experience includes a wide variety of physical and emotional problems that have improved with Reiki, even in cases when doctors have had only pain medication to offer without addressing the underlying problem.

So I have come to expect good results from Reiki treatment. Yet this post has been prompted by the heartbreaking story of a boy who has just lost his leg in spite of lots of Reiki support to help prevent this. And by my own recent experience of giving Reiki to a pony suffering from grass sickness. Equine dysautonomia affects the central, peripheral and enteric nervous systems. With the condition usually leading to paralysis within the digestive tract, although nerve damage occurs throughout the body. Statistics keep any hope of recovery firmly in check. Only around 5% of horses affected by the condition make a recovery, while most pass away within the first two days. If they survive the 7day mark and therefore fall into neither of the two lethal categories of acute and sub-acute grass sickness, there is a small chance of survival following a period of intensive nursing.

Nursing a horse with grass sicknessI was called in on day 8 or 9, and sensing such a strong spirit in this very sick animal, I felt compelled to do what I could. In cases of serious illness, a Reiki treatment or two is not going to make enough of a difference, so I came out every day, sometimes late in the evening after work. Knowing full well that chances were slim, yet encouraged by the fact that the horse seemed to defy her prognosis at each step. Critically ill and with a prolonged and dangerously elevated heart rate. But still eating, still swallowing, still digesting and, with great difficulty, still peeing and pooing. We were told that horses who survive for 21 days sometimes recover. On day 20, the pony’s heart rate was more reasonable for the first time, the fever gone, and the constant tremors seemed to have lessened. I couldn’t help but feel hopeful. Wishing I could speak to a vet to discuss treatment priorities. Feeling byosen strongly in certain areas, I had prioritised treatment at the top of the head (poll), where the neck meets the shoulders and in between the front legs, and I was curious to know if this tallied in any way with the condition.

When I did meet the vet it was under different circumstances. In the morning of day 21 the pony had seemed fine, only to fall down a couple of hours later. Her hind legs without strength and almost paralysed, she was unable to get up again and was put down later that night. We don’t always get the result we want, yet my heart knows that this is how it had to end. Heart-breaking, but the right decision, the compassionate decision.

I ask myself futile questions. What if I had been called in earlier, what if I’d given her daily treatments instead of six days out of seven. What if I’d been there in the morning on the 21st day. Confronted with a lot of suffering and wanting to make a difference, I had noticed before that I had become too involved, and it is then that Reiki practice can become a little tiring. Giving Reiki itself is never tiring and replenishes the giver, too. On occasion, my mistake is to identify too much, which doesn’t help the receiver and it doesn’t help me. All we can ever do is the best that we can without expectation.  In the words of a colleague commenting on the young boy who miraculously survived his critical illness, but lost his leg: “I trust that when we do our best, the best result will come. It might not be the result that we are hoping for.” Another colleague reflects: I’ve often thought and meditated about “HEALING”. First I treated D. to save his life and then later I treated him to save his leg… someday I’ll give him a hug.” As I know first hand from accompanying my friend Ian through his journey with cancer, healing does not always  equate cure or the outcome that we would like, and yet, where there is love, healing still happens in other ways.

Photo credit: Ian Mackenzie, with kind permission from Talitha Mackenzie
A special thank you to the owner of the pony for permission to share this experience. 

Related reading: Why Healing is different from Cure

Mikao Usui’s Legacy: Healing the World one Person at a Time


Mikao Usui found his healing ability after a retreat on Mount Kurama

"Reiki will conquer the world and heal its inhabitants as well as the Earth itself." Mikao Usui

A lesson in limits for Jikiden Reiki practitioners

Guest blog by Elaine Rainey

At a recent UN High Level Meeting on Wellbeing and Happiness, discussion turned to how the concept of Gross National Happiness (an innovative economic model originally developed in Bhutan, a Buddhist country with a longstanding tradition of mindfulness) could be applied to the rest of the world.  Discussion inevitably turned to the difficulties faced by undertaking such a task on such a grand scale.

At this point, famous environmentalist Hunter Lovins took to the stage and addressed the audience with a parable about a humble hummingbird.  She said:

When the forest was on fire and all of the animals were fleeing around her, the hummingbird was ferrying droplets of water in her tiny beak, one by one, to try and staunch the flames. “What are you doing?” her distinguished animal colleagues asked. “The best I can”, replied the hummingbird.

As Reiki practitioners, we are armed with such a wonderful healing resource in the palm of our hands.  By nature, we tend to be a compassionate bunch who are sensitive to the suffering of others.  The desire to help and to ease the suffering of others is often strong.  Starting out with the best of intentions, we can soon find ourselves overwhelmed and burnt out.  An image of a stressed out Reiki practitioner providing distant treatments to many people simultaneously at the end of a long day springs to mind.

So, what can we do to avoid this and to deliver a sustained and healthy level of service to others through our Reiki practice?
The answer, from a Jikiden Reiki perspective, is one step at a time, one person at a time.  We are taught to start with ourselves, our family and friends, then moving out into the community around us.  We are not taught methods for sending distant Reiki to many people simultaneously, or to specific areas or disaster situations.  Just one person at a time.

I remember, at a Jikiden Reiki seminar, a Reiki practitioner asked Tadao Yamaguchi, the Head of the Jikiden Reiki Institute in Japan, for advice on someone they were treating distantly for a serious illness.  This person lived many, many miles away and the practitioner did not know them personally.  This practitioner was actually asking about specifics of the treatment approach, but Tadao Yamaguchi politely asked “Why are you treating this person so far away?
A fruitful discussion developed between the participating practitioners, resulting in a contact being made with a Jikiden Reiki practioner who lived locally to the person needing help.The point was not about never sending distant Reiki to people we do not know, or to those far afield.  It was about keeping things simple, being practical and drawing on the resources of others if required.
This is something I personally value very much about Jikiden Reiki.  The approach is very humble, straightforward, simple, grounded and manageable.  One person at a time, being relaxed, doing the ‘best we can’.

You can follow the progress of the UN High Level Meeting on Wellbeing and Happiness, and the thoughful write-ups by Claudia Chender MacLellan, at http://www.shambhalasun.com/sunspace

Connect with Elaine on facebook: @Jikiden Reiki Treatments

Photo credit: Zlatica Retzler (many thanks!)

How is Jikiden Reiki different from Usui Reiki?


Mikao Usui SenseiAnd what would an Usui Reiki Master get from taking this class? How often have I been asked this question in person or by email. This time, though, I have been asked in a public way, so I thought I had perhaps best answer in public, too. First of all: Jikiden Reiki is Usui Reiki, as this simple hand-healing method started with Mikao Usui in Japan in 1922. ‘Jikiden’ means directly transmitted, and in the Japanese language and culture, is a term that refers to a traditional art form,  passed on carefully from teacher to student without changes.

Chiyoko and Tadao YamaguchiChiyoko Yamaguchi, who had learned Reiki from one of the teachers trained by Usui Sensei, Dr. Chujiro Hayashi, and her son Tadao decided to pass on what they had learned from Dr. Hayashi after they had met with many Western Reiki practitioners and realised how much the practice had changed, with so many new elements having come in that orginally had nothing to do with Reiki practice, and with notions that they considered fundamental to Reiki practice either not known at all or marginalised.

What would a Usui Reiki master get from taking Jikiden Reiki training? I have taught a number of Reiki masters, who have hugely appreciated what we teach and who found that it has clarified many questions for them and deepened their understanding and their practice. I have also met  one or two who were happier with their own way of doing things.

So, I will answer your question from my personal experience, as ultimately we choose what’s right for us, and that’s individually different isn’t it. Having trained in Western Reiki to master level first (which in itself was a wonderful experience, and Reiki as a healing practice ‘caught’ me straight away), I could nonetheless sense the inconsistencies and felt uncomfortable at being given tools with applications that I knew from experience, worked just fine, but didn’t know where they were coming from. Incidentally, I have heard Phylllis Furomoto express what seems to me a very similar frustration at her experience of learning Reiki from her grandmother, Hawayo Takata, in two interviews.

I want to make it very clear that we have no criticism of Mrs Takata and are deeply grateful to her for having found a universal format (i.e. devoid of it’s original (Japanese) cultural and spiritual context) that allowed Reiki practice to successfully spread in many countries around the world. But in different historic circumstances from those Takata sensei found herself in in Hawaii and America just after the World War II, we can now gain access to the specific Japanese cultural and spiritual roots of Reiki practice, and for me that is important, as it makes the practice intelligible and trustworthy, and allows for deeper understanding.

Just for the record, I’m not saying that only Jikiden Reiki training allows for understanding of Reiki practice, and I have seen many practitioners grow deep roots and insight into the nature of Reiki simply from consistent practice (the path that Takata sensei recommended).  I had also realised a thing or two about Reiki practice and Reiki treatment in this intuitive way that weren’t being taught in Western Reiki. (My first Reiki Master had learned  in the 1980s, just a few steps away from Mrs Takata). You can imagine my delight when I found these confirmed, explained and elaborated upon in the Jikiden Reiki teachings.  In my opinion though it was perhaps the fact that Reiki was passed on without its Japanese roots that has also opened the door widely to  misunderstandings and to Reiki becoming amalgamated and confused with so many other ways of thinking about energy work. Instead of blending everything with everything else until we end up with grey, why not simply accept that there are many paths to healing, and different windows to truth (and keep our window clean)?

Again, don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that combining Reiki practice with other healing modalities or other thought systems is necessarily wrong and must never happen. But we are now in a situation where Reiki has become amorphous and personally, I can understand why anyone with their critical faculties intact might dismiss this wonderfully simple and accessible healing modality after a 20 minute browse on the internet. Jikiden Reiki is very much about keeping the practice as much as possible to how it was conceived of by its founder, and there’s a rigour and discipline in Jikiden Reiki that I see as a mark of respect to the original teachers.  Reiki was born out of an experience of enlightenment and crafted as a healing method from a broad knowledge base of different traditions. Mikao Usui prided himself in the simplicity of the method he had created, and to me this is one if its incredible strengths.

Frank Arjava PetterAsked why he hasn’t founded his own school of Reiki, internationally respected Reiki teacher, researcher and author Frank Arjava Petter gave the following answer in a recent newsletter: “Personally I don’t see the point in adding another new form of Reiki to the confusion because I think that trying to improve upon “soul energy”- Reiki- is quite inappropriate. Let’s be respectful instead to what we have been given by Usui Sensei and those who carried the torch after him.”

So without being able to reveal the details of Jikiden Reiki practice (you will appreciate that these are being passed on directly from teacher to student), what are some  of the aspects that I most appreciate about Jikiden Reiki?

I value the conceptual framework for how Reiki energy interacts with the diseased body and think that it has great practical value. In Jikiden Reiki, we don’t work with set hand positions, but instead  focus treatment on the areas where there are accumulations of toxins (byosen), using Reiki to help the body break them down and eliminate them more effectively. From a jikiden point of view, a toxin free body tends to naturally show a quick healing response and is quite capable of looking after itself. Yet, living in the 21st century it’s almost impossible not to experience toxin overload. Training practitioners to develop sensitivity in their hands so they can find the problem areas in my opinion is an invaluable asset, as working directly on the problem areas tends to get faster results when illness is already manifest and is also a skill of great value in preventative health care.  Using Reiki early on, perhaps we never need to experience the more serious conditions that may develop if we don’t regularly clear the build up of toxins. And what a blessing to have the means to do this in our own hands!

While the concept of byosen can easily be taught in a week-end workshop, you will appreciate that the skill of effectively reading a client’s body comes with time. This most useful perception skill is subtle at first and really begins to unfold with practice, ideally on others, not just oneself. Once fully developed, the ability to sense byosen gives useful insight into the natural healing process, and helps the practitioner make important treatment decisions: where to focus treatment and for how long. Are we dealing with a chronic problem or is it acute? How long to stay in the same area during a session, and how many sessions will be needed? Don’t get me wrong: We are not medically trained and cannot diagnose the nature of the problem or name your disease. We simply decide  where focusing Reiki treatment is most useful, and can assess healing progress and frequency of treatments needed for best results based on the changing sensations in our hands. On a number of occasions, the ability to sense byosen has also helped me to find areas where emotional trauma was stored in the body, and for this then to be safely released with Reiki treatment.

Going back to why adding more isn’t always a good idea and may create clutter where there once was clarity, I really admire the simplicity of the healing system created by Mikao Usui. Once the original context and intentions have been re-inserted into Reiki practice, we simply don’t need to worry about many of the complicated debates found in Western Reiki (on issues such as grounding or protection for example) as we realize that the answer has already been built right into the core of Reiki practice. “In the Western mind everything seems so complicated”, Chiyoko sensei once said. I  love the elegance of a system that takes care of complexity in the simplest possible way.

Personally, I also like that spirituality in Jikiden Reiki is implied in everything, as natural as water or air, and therefore need not be shouted from the roof-tops. (My colleague, Amanda Jayne has written a wonderful blog post on this, which I would encourage you to read). Instead we focus on becoming compassionate by working on ourselves. For this we have the Gokai, or 5 Reiki principles, which Arjava Petter describes not only as a road-map to enlightenment, but also as a reliable compass of our progress, indicating where we still need to work on ourselves. And this, at least in my case, is very much work in progress, and helps me to keep humble and real.

I had already mentioned how grateful I am for the insight Jikiden Reiki allows into the tools that we use in Reiki practice. This is a far different experience from being given shapes and words and their application. Learning about the context from which these tools were taken and their inherent meaning and function not only makes sense of the treatment methods we use (physical, psychological and distant) but also allows for a unique insight into the philosophy behind Reiki practice and the world view underlying it.  It is also here that we find the answers to issues that have become very complicated and involved in Western thinking about Reiki.  Again, everything fits so elegantly and addresses the task at hand in such a straightforward way.  Sei Heki treatment for example accomplishes incredible results, even with long-term mental or emotional patterns, and knowing the background to this treatment method it becomes clear how this can be achieved in such a simple way. I am of course not saying that you will find scientific explanations here, and you probably don’t expect this. I find Jikiden Reiki spiritually trustworthy and offering a coherent system though.

Ultimately, everything we do in Reiki practice is designed to bring us back, gently and at our own pace, to our original state of perfection and oneness, and Jikiden Reiki offers simple and effective tools along this way.