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Reiki Defined

Reiki (pronounced ray-key) is a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing.  It was discovered by Mikao Usui in March 1922.  Reiki is administered by “laying on hands” and techniques such as this have been practiced for thousands of years. 

The word Reiki comes from Japanese “kanji”. Kanji are ideograms used in written language of Japan.  They originally came from China and are based on simple drawings. 


Over time they changed and have become more abstract, but one can still see the symbolic meaning represented by many of the kanji.  The word Reiki is represented by two kanji.  Rei and Ki.  They are shown below.  Rei is the upper character and Ki is the lower character.

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Rei - Spiritual Wisdom

The general meaning of Rei is universal, and this is the definition many have used.  However, Japanese ideograms have many levels of meaning.  They vary from the mundane to the esoteric.  So, while it is true that Rei can be interpreted as universal, meaning that it is present everywhere, there is a deeper understanding of this kanji. 


As you can see, the kanji for Rei is composed of three sections.  The upper section portrays clouds and it’s meaning has to do with the spiritual realms and represents more specifically those higher areas of consciousness that are beyond ego. Often referred to as the Spiritual consciousness, The Universal mind, or God.


The lower section Rei represents the earth and portrays layers of soil and stone.  The middle section of the figure, which is composed of three rounded squares, represents three aspects of a human being – body, mind, and spirit.  More specifically, this section represents the healer, who is located between heaven and earth and acts like a bridge to bring the wisdom, guidance, and healing of the universe down to the people and living things of the earth.

Japanese Garden
Image by Michael Dziedzic

Ki - Life Energy

The word “Ki” means the same as Chi in Chinese, Prana in Sanskrit and Ti or Ki in Hawaiian, and science calls it biofield energy.

Ki is life energy.  It is also known as the vital life force or the universal life energy. 


This is the non-physical energy that animates all living things.  If something is alive, it has life energy circulation through it and surround it, when it dies, the life energy departs.  If your life energy is low, or if there is a restriction in its flow, you will be more vulnerable to illness.  When it is high and flowing freely, you are less likely to get sick.  Life energy plays an important role in everything we do.  It animates the body and has higher levels of expression.  Ki is also the primary energy of our emotions, thoughts, and spiritual life.

The kanji for Ki contains a cross with emanating lines.  It is said that this part of the figure represents the steam above a pot of boiling rice.  The steam represents the spiritual life-enhancing properties of rice.


An Extract from Reiki – The Healing Touch by William Lee Rand

"You may experience sensations in the body such as heat or tingling. Some people report seeing colours or pictures, or having memories appear." 

What to anticipate in your Reiki Session

A Reiki session will last either 60 or 90 minutes. At your first appointment, you will have a short introduction or chat about the process and your expectations or intentions. Let your practitioner know about any symptoms you want to focus on.  Also, let the practitioner know if you have any injuries or are experiencing any pain.


For the most part of the session, there will be silence, but you can feel free to let your practitioner know if there is something you need to feel more comfortable with or to share what you are experiencing.


The practitioner will move their hands around your body. They may touch you lightly or have their hands just above your body. 

You may experience sensations in the body such as heat or tingling. Some people report seeing colours or pictures or having memories appear. Try to allow whatever arises to pass without attaching too much meaning to it. Your experiences may become deeper the more you continue with reiki. 

Image by Sharon McCutcheon
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