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The Origins of Reiki

Updated: May 27, 2023

A Japanese Modality for Healing and Wellness

Reiki energy healing in Fort Wayne Indiana


In the last few years, Reiki and other alternative healing forms of practice have grown in popularity as a complement to traditional Western medicine. The popularity and effectiveness of Reiki have increased so much that some hospitals are starting to offer Reiki, major news networks are writing feature articles on it, and someone you know is probably talking about their Reiki sessions.


Reiki, roughly translated from Japanese, is rei "universal/spiritual wisdom" and ki "life energy."


Reiki is a special kind of healing energy that can only be channeled by someone who has received the Placement or attunement for it. This energy healing method aims to reduce distress in the body by calling upon the universal life force energy with the aid of a Reiki Master who has been taught the healing techniques. The teachings provide a way for students to advance their self-development and provide healing from pain, trauma, and other mental, emotional, and physical health concerns.


While Reiki is spiritual in nature, it is not a religion. It has no dogma and does not conflict with any religious belief. Many people of varied cultures and faiths practice Reiki today.


And with good reason, studies have shown that Reiki has dramatically improved multiple areas of the body related to both physical and psychological health over the past two decades. Some of these areas include reducing the effects of chemotherapy, healing from postpartum depression, and providing deep relaxation, just to name a few of the healing benefits of Reiki.


Practitioners of Reiki strive to live by the five main principles, which are as follows:


  • Just for today, I will not worry.

  • Just for today, I will not have anger.

  • Just for today, I will work with integrity.

  • Just for today, I will be grateful.

  • Just for today, I will be kind to all living things.


But where did Reiki come from? And how did it grow in popularity?


Reiki may seem like a new wellness fad as its popularity grows in the West, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. The roots of Reiki are deeply embedded in ancient healing practices and were rediscovered, redefined, and improved upon in the 1920s by one man whose methods we still call upon today for deep healing.


Meet Dr. Mikao Usui




Dr. Mikao Usui was a fascinating man; born in Japan, Dr. Mikao Usui dedicated his life to developing a broad and varied education.


His education focused on history, religion, medicine, psychology, and metaphysics. As he traveled, he began studying in the West areas of concentration like medicine and Christianity, always pursuing and searching for some missing piece he believed was void in his spiritual journey and practice.


In 1888, Usui contracted cholera as an epidemic swept through Kyoto. Cholera is an especially cruel illness that targets the digestive system and wreaks havoc on the organs. In this near-death experience, he is said to have had profound visions that set the pace for his continued discoveries and education. As he recovered, he developed a deeper interest in the esoteric sciences and healing.


He continued learning and studying in search of that missing piece. It wasn’t until the 1920s, in his 50s and at the advice of his Zen teacher, that he journeyed to Kurama yama, a sacred mountain north of Kyoto. According to Japanese folklore, the mountain is home to a mythical king and god of the tengu. There, Usui fasted and meditated for 20 days, becoming weaker and weaker as the days passed and never attaining the spiritual enlightenment he so desired. Then, at midnight on the 21st day, as he stood up, a powerful light suddenly appeared and entered his mind through the top of his head, striking him unconscious. When he awoke, he was overcome with excitement and a wonderful sense of vitality that he had never before experienced. He was overjoyed by the realization that the special state of enlightenment that he had been looking for had been gifted to him by this special type of high-frequency spiritual energy. Whatever spiritual awakening he set out to find was found, and in the sacred mountain of Kurama yama birthed the Reiki method from which we still derive practices and teachings today.


Upon his return from the 21 days in the mountains, he set up a clinic in Kyoto and began healing patients and teaching his Reiki methods so that they would not be forgotten. As his practice grew, the popularity of his methods grew.


It was Hawayo Hiromi Takata, a Japanese-American woman and one of Usui’s students of a student, who brought Usui's method of Reiki to the United States, where it has flourished. Her alternative healing and holistic health techniques resonated with patients growing frustrated with traditional medicine alone and not finding the relief they desperately craved. As her practice flourished, she continued to teach her methods, allowing for the expansion of Reiki healing throughout the United States.


Today, there are many Reiki Masters who continue learning and teaching methods developed by the founder, Dr. Mikao Usui. Whatever he unlocked, discovered, and was enlightened with on that mountain during those 21 days still echoes through our healing methods and teachings, crossing borders, overcoming language barriers, and transcending religious biases.


Reiki in Fort Wayne


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