Updated: Jul 25, 2022
Energy Therapies in Advanced Practice Oncology: An Evidence-Informed Practice Approach
Reiki, described as "spiritually directed life energy" (Rand, 1991, p. I-3), is a gentle hands-on spiritual healing tradition (Barnett & Chambers, 1996) originating from Japan. The word Reiki, meaning universal life energy, denotes an ancient system of healing that was rediscovered in the late 1800s by Mikao Usui, a Japanese Buddhist monk. Hawayo Takata, a Japanese-Hawaiian woman who greatly benefited from this modality, began teaching it in Hawaii in the mid-1930s, taking it to the US mainland in the early 1970s. In the tradition of the Japanese sensei (teacher), Reiki is passed on from master to student through attunement, an initiatory ceremony facilitated through the laying on of hands. This attunement is understood to open the student’s energy channels, thus facilitating the flow of universal life energy for treating others and oneself. Reiki master teachers trace their lineage back to Usui.
Generally, Reiki is taught at three levels: basic hands-on healing, distance healing, and master teacher. Although students learn basic hand placements, the "teaching" in Reiki lies in the practice. By offering Reiki, the practitioner receives benefit from the same universal life energy that flows to the recipient. The more the practitioner treats self and others, the more in tune he or she is with energy flow and balance. Each course level with its corresponding attunement raises the practitioner’s vibrations to higher healing frequencies. The master level prepares practitioners as teachers who can then pass on attunements to students.
Over the years, Reiki classes have evolved with much iteration. Some Reiki masters advocate a traditional approach to learning Reiki through the three levels and a strict apprenticeship over several years. Other masters offer the first two levels at the same time. Although the idea of chakras was not initially taught by Usui and his lineage, some teachers have since added these concepts to the courses they teach. While no official certifying organization offers credentialing for Reiki, courses in Reiki (as well as TT and HT) often include continuing education units from recognized provider organizations.
Reiki is understood to be present in every healing encounter: "hands on, Reiki on." Reiki may be offered as a whole treatment lasting 30 to 90 minutes, with a person lying on a massage table or seated in a chair. Reiki may also be offered briefly for comfort. There is no assessment or attempt to manipulate or balance the energies. The Reiki method allows the flow of universal life energy to the recipient, who in turn uses it where needed. Recipients experience deep relaxation, relief from anxiety and pain, and an increased sense of well-being. Practitioners report similar results (Potter, 2003).