Reiki comes from Japan, and loosely translated it means “universal life energy”.
In the West, the early leaders of modern medicine like Galen and Paracelsus called this the “vital force.” The vital force is that special something that makes us alive. It isn’t well defined in purely scientific terms even now. Western medicine has not studied subtle energy, life force or mind-body therapies until recently. Many people still dismiss this natural health and healing method as pseudoscience or put it in the same category as religious “faith” healing.
In recent decades, however, modern medicine has began to accept the validity of the mind-body connection. Reiki intersects with mainstream medicine through the way it reduces stress. From a Western perspective, Reiki can improve health by quickly and effectively reducing stress and all the detrimental effects stress can create.
There is a long history of using life energy for health and healing in Asian cultures. The idea of energy medicine is much more common and accepted there. Acupuncture and Tai Chi from China are examples. (Chi in Chinese is the same as Ki in Japanese). Indian Ayurvedic medicine and yoga give us the chakra system, which also deals with life energy.
Reiki in particular was developed in the early 20th century by Mikao Usui. Reiki is now taught around the world in many different styles that have developed over the years. I studied Traditional Usui style under Reiki Master Tom Beardshaw.
The various styles of Reiki have different ideas about how Reiki came to be and how it should be practiced, but the essential core of Reiki is the same. Basically, a Reiki practitioner acts as a facilitator or a focusing lens. A Reiki session only focuses, strengthens and replenishes your own pre-existing connection to life-energy. You have a connection to life energy, otherwise you wouldn’t be alive. Aging, illness, injury, stress or an unhealthy lifestyle can affect the energy connection and hamper your natural healing abilities. In a Reiki session, the practitioner does not add anything of their own energies, and does not control or change anything in your body. Everything is directed by your own inner mind-body-spirit wholeness. That deep inner wisdom directs the extra energy from the Reiki-improved vital force. Your body, mind and spirit will direct the energy where it is most needed, even if that is different from what we hope or expect. The most advanced medicine in the world can not artificially induce life or healing. As the adage goes “all healing comes from within”. Reiki simply supports the natural health process.
Think of it like an Internet connection. Most of us are born with a clear, broadband connection to universal life energy. All sorts of things can slow the connection down. We might go from high speed broadband fiber optics to an 80s style dial-up modem. Reiki doesn’t directly heal or do miracles – just like changing your Internet provider doesn’t change your computer hardware. BUT Reiki does improve the energy connection. It puts your natural connection with universal life energy back on broadband. It helps your normal inner healing be the best it can be – on emotional and spiritual levels as well as physical ones. Through this mind-body connection, Reiki can help decreases stress and in turn help physical well being through relaxation. Reiki doesn’t offer any miracle cures, but it can give nature (and mainstream health care) a helping hand.
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