Looking for natural ways to reduce stress, my teenage daughter and I registered for An Introduction to the Usui Method of Natural Healing at a Maryland community college in 1997. More than two decades later, Dr. Usui’s method, commonly known as Reiki, is an integral part of my daily life.
What is Reiki?
Reiki is a Japanese word that can be broken down into two parts:
- Rei which can mean universal or spirit and
- Ki which can mean energy.
I say can mean these things because Eastern words often hold more than one meaning. Together, Rei and Ki form Reiki or Universal life-force energy. It is the energy that surrounds our planet and is part of each of us. I like to consider it part of the Collective Consciousness.
While Reiki is the energy itself, it is also a practice which can be broken down into three parts; Gassho meditation, the Reiki principles, and an energy healing modality.
Gassho means hands together, as in the prayer position. In Gassho meditation we sit, if possible, with hands together at heart level. Our palms are gently touching and our thumbs touch our chests. We lower our gaze and our chins slightly. The breath should be felt at our fingertips. As we breathe, our mind should focus on the place where our middle fingertips touch each other and our thumbs touch our chest.
According to common Reiki history, Dr. Usui recommended sitting in Gassho meditation for 15-20 minutes morning and night.
The Reiki principles
The Reiki principles, also called precepts, are considered Dr. Usui’s secret to health and happiness. There are five principles and they begin with an encouragement to be present and mindful. Depending on the translation it will be something like Today only or Just for today.
The translation that I first learned, so am most familiar with, is:
- Just for today, I will not worry
- Just for today, I will not anger
- Just for today, I will do my work honestly
- Just for today, I will give thanks for my many blessings
- Just for today, I will be kind to my neighbor and all living things
How can the Reiki principles can help you achieve your health and happiness goals?
Studies show that the long-term effects of anger and worry include anxiety, high blood pressure, headaches, sleep issues, nausea, pain, increased stress hormones, and increased blood sugar levels. Releasing anger and worry can reduce these levels and improve overall health.
Doing my work honestly not only refers to ethical behavior but, in this case, meditation. Meditation can also reduce stress levels, control anxiety, and improve sleep. It may also assist those attempting to overcome addiction.
Living with an attitude of gratitude can lead to better sleep, less fatigue, less depression, lowered levels of inflammation, and more self-confidence.
Kindness can enhance a sense of community and encourage deeper relationships with those around us.
Reiki as a healing modality
Reiki is also a healing modality that typically has three levels of training and requires an attunement process.
First Degree Reiki, Shoden, is for self-healing. The student is attuned and introduced to the practice of Gassho meditation, the Reiki principles, and the use of Reiki energy for self-care.
Second Degree Reiki, Okuden, is for practitioners. The student reviews the practices learned in First Degree then learns how to enhance their practice with specific Japanese words and symbols.
Third Degree Reiki, Shinpiden, is Master or teacher level. This training reviews the first two levels of training, introduces the student to the master symbol and how to pass attunements, and how to teach others this practice.
During a Reiki energy balancing session, the recipient will remain fully clothed and the practitioner will either lay their hands lightly on the recipient or hold them just above the body. Reiki can also be sent from a distance by Second Degree practitioners and Masters.
Unlike when I was introduced to Reiki, those searching for practitioners can easily find them on the internet. Two good resources are the Reiki Alliance, the International Association of Reiki Professionals, and the International Center for Reiki Training. Word of mouth is a great way to find a practitioner or teacher in your area. Not all Reiki practitioners’ practice in the same way. Ask questions and find a good fit.
Not everyone is comfortable with the attunement process. Some claim attunements are necessary to access Reiki energy. Others claim that attunements are necessary to remove blocks preventing a free flow of Reiki energy. This kind of controversy regarding training prevents some from exploring the benefits of Reiki at all.
If you are interested in accessing the benefits of Universal Reiki, sitting in Gassho meditation and following the Reiki principles allows us to tap in to Universal life-force energy without practitioners, teachers or attunements. We can bring balance to our lives by simply being Reiki.