The Mystery Of Reiki in a World of Science

By Chris Hanna

By Chris Hanna

Marjorie* was scheduled to have a painful kidney stone removed. The stone showed up on an x-ray the morning before her surgery. She came in for a Reiki session that afternoon. The next day when the doctor made the incision, he was surprised to find the kidney stone had vanished. This case is unusual because there is physical evidence that the problem was present before the Reiki treatment and gone afterwards. It is also unusual because she was referred for a session by her primary care physician.

Although there are different stories about where Usui Reiki originated, most Reiki teachers** agree that Dr. Mikao Usui, born in Yago, Japan in 1865, traveled to Mt. Kurama for a spiritual retreat in 1914. During this retreat he fasted, meditated and prayed. An energy entered him through the top of his head, and when he left the mountain he had the ability to give this healing energy to others, by placing his hands on them. In the years that followed he treated poor people in Kyoto and later in Tokyo. A great earthquake struck near Tokyo and he assisted many of the thousands of victims. He opened Reiki clinics and formed a healing society called Usui Shiki Reiki Ryoho. A member of this society, Dr. Mikao Hayashi along with one of his students, Mrs. Hawayo Takata from Hawaii, brought Reiki to the United States in 1938. Mrs. Takata initiated twenty-two teachers known as Reiki Masters. Today there are thousands of teachers around the world and hundreds of thousands of people experiencing the healing effects of Reiki.

The Japanese word Reiki is composed of two syllables,”Rei” (ray) and “ki” (key). The first, Rei is defined as universal, and more specifically as spiritual consciousness. Ki is the energy in the body (and all living things) that makes it alive. Ki is known as Chi in China, and Prana in India. When the Ki is low it is easier to become ill, and when a person dies, the Ki leaves the body. Reiki is spiritually guided life-force energy. In Reiki healing, the depleted energy of a sick or injured client is bolstered with new vibrant Reiki. As the Reiki practitioner holds their hands on or near the client, (who is sitting or lying fully clothed, often covered by blankets), the Reiki energy is drawn into the client’s body through the practitioner’s hands.

To me Reiki is like breathing. It requires no thinking and moves through my body easily and replenishes my energy as well as my clients. Because it is simple to give, I often take it for granted. When I do stop to think, I wonder, where it comes from and what it looks like? In the 1940’s a scientist from Russia, Semyon Kirlian developed a technique of filming the electro-magnetic field (known as the aura) that surrounds all living things. It is easy to sense the aura around your body by moving your hands slowly towards each other. As they get close you feel a resistance, heat or tingling. During a Reiki session the auric energy field expands and its electro-magnetic particles speed up. A session is often experienced as deep relaxation and lightness and a release of physical and emotional stress, followed by renewed energy.

An experience of Reiki’s relaxation effect occurred while bicycling on a windy day in northern Vermont. Dirt flew in my friend’s eye and lodged under her contact lens. After struggling for ten minutes trying to remove the lens she gave up in frustration. Although she is skeptical of alternative therapies I quietly offered to use Reiki. I cupped my hands over her eye for three minutes as the Reiki energy relaxed the facial muscles. She tried once more and the lens popped out.

Physicians who have studied and trained in conventional medicine are often skeptical of alternative therapies (which I like to refer to as complementary therapies) such as Reiki. My primary care physician is compassionate, humble and competent. His experience and gentle manner allow me to trust him. Several times I have started to tell him about Reiki and my belief that it speeds healing, but I saw a look in his eyes, a cautious skeptical look, and I stopped what I was saying.

When I arrived home from the doctor’s office my face was swollen in eight places where he had frozen pre-cancerous skin lesions. The freezing caused a stinging pain that changed to a dull ache, bringing up memories of my childhood dentist who drilled my teeth without novocaine. After thirty minutes of applying Reiki by holding my hands several inches above my cheeks and forehead, I examined myself in the mirror. The swelling and pain were completely gone. The eight pimple size lesions had turned a crimson red and will be replaced with healthy tissue over the next two to three weeks. Even though I have practiced Reiki for seven years on hundreds of clients and seen many transformations like this, I am still surprised at how rapidly the swelling receded. The doctor told me that my fair skin, sunburned during summers working outside, is likely to develop more of these lesions over time.

My experience of using Reiki in hospitals has been positive. A colleague of mine, Jesse*, was preparing to donate one of her kidneys. She wanted Reiki to be performed on her during pre and post surgery as part of her healing plan. Her doctor complied and left instructions that I be allowed in the recovery room immediately after the surgery. The night before, I went to her room and held her feet. Thirty minutes later she gently glided into a restful sleep. The morning of the surgery she relaxed in pre-op as the energy flowed from my hands into her. The transplant operation went smoothly and Jesse was wheeled into the large recovery room. The nurses cast wondering glances at me as I held my hands above her incision. After she was transferred to a private room we continued the sessions for several more days. Today, Jesse pursues a full life including skiing, biking and running. She and the recipient of her kidney are in excellent health.

In the book Reiki Energy Medicine, Reiki Masters, Libby Barnett, MSW and Maggie Chambers, document how Reiki classes and sessions are now offered in some hospitals. Patients, nurses, staff and even doctors are attending Reiki classes, at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in New Hampshire, and the Medical Center of Central Massachusetts. According to Barnett and Chambers nurses reported, “that something was missing from their interactions with their patients.” Reiki provided them with renewed compassion and healing ability.

The greatest mystery for me is the Reiki attunement, the process by which a student receives the ability to transmit Reiki energy to themselves and others. During the attunement, the Reiki teacher performs a brief initiation. Students sit quietly with their eyes closed and experience a tingling at the top of their heads and a pleasant warmth in their hands. After the initiation, they place their hands on top of their head as Reiki flows freely through their palms. Other hand positions include, the face, throat, shoulders, heart, stomach, back and feet, and they try each one. After completing a session on themselves, the students are in a state of deep relaxation, ready to practice on each other.

The mystery of Reiki lies beyond my understanding. I see it, feel it, and enjoy its healing benefits. My function as a Reiki teacher is to remain humble, to neither take credit for positive outcomes or negative ones. Reiki is a catalyst to promote physical, emotional and spiritual health. It does not replace conventional medicine but rather complements it. Ultimately, healing happens within each individual.

*Not the real name
** Reiki, The Healing Touch by William Lee Rand, c. 1991 Vision Publications.

Chris Hanna, MSW, Reiki Master, works as a healer, writer and carpenter. He is co-founder of Rising Sun Healing Center in Burlington, Vermont and can be reached at (802) 865-9813

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