What is Reiki

Reiki is a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing. It is administered by “laying on hands” and is based on the idea that an unseen “life force energy” flows through us and is what causes us to be alive. If one’s “life force energy” is low, then we are more likely to get sick or feel stress, and if it is high, we are more capable of being happy and healthy.

The History of Reiki taken from;


Dr Mikao Usui Sensei 1865 – 1926 was the originator of what we today call Reiki. He was born on August 15th 1865 in the village of ‘Taniai-mura’  in the Yamagata district of Gifu prefecture Kyoto.


Mikao Usui probably came from a wealthy family as at that time only children from wealthy families could get a good education.
As a child he studied in a Tendai Buddhist monastery school entering at an early age. He was also a student of different martial arts. His memorial states that he was a talented hard working student, he liked to read and his knowledge of medicine, psychology, fortune telling and theology of religions around the world, including the Kyoten (Buddhist Bible) was vast. He married and his wife’s name was Sadako, they had a son (born 1907) and daughter. 

Usui sensei studied and traveled to western countries and China several times, this was encouraged during the Meiji Era and later, to learn and study western ways. 

During his life Miako Usui held many different professions such as public servant, office worker, industrialist, reporter, politician’s secretary, missionary, supervisor of convicts. He also worked as a private secretary to a politician Shimpei Goto, who was Secretary of the Railroad, Postmaster General and Secretary of the Interior and State. 

At some point in his life he became a Tendai Buddhist Monk/Priest (what we in the west call a lay priest). On several occasions he took a form of meditation lasting 21 days. On his memorial it says that at one time this took place on Mount Kurama (Horse Saddle Mountain). This is where he is supposed to have been given the inspiration for his system of healing – Reiki. It is very likely that he incorporated ideas and knowledge about healing from other system, both spiritual and physical, like Chinese Medicine,  other Eastern healing systems like Chi Gong, the Japanese equivalent Kiko, acupuncture and others.

Mikao Usui found that the healing techniques contained within his spiritul system worked well on various ailments. In April 1922 he opened his first school/clinic in Harajuku Tokyo. Usui had a small manual which  is now translated into English and published by Western Reiki Master living in Japan, Frank Arjava Petter, under the title “The Original Reiki Handbook of Dr Mikao Usui”

Mikao Usui’s skills as a healer and teacher must have been very good and his fame spread very quickly throughout Japan. This was a time of great change in Japan, opening up to the West and changes both in government and religion. His teachings became popular among the older people who saw them as a return to old ideals and spiritual practices. 

His school/clinic was formed not just for the spiritual teachings but it was also a way for people to obtain healing. As people in general at this time in Japans history were very poor, healing sessions were very cheap or free. According to Japanese history articles, healing and other similar practices at that time would be given for a minimal cost or more likely for free.

Reiki students seem to have worked with the teacher as a sort of payment (a small monetary fee might also have been involved).

The Usui teachings included teaching people how to heal themselves (a very central point still in Reiki of today). Healing would be given to them, then they were taught how to heal themselves. 

In 1923 on the 1st of September an earthquake shook Tokyo and Yokohama, measuring 7.9 on the Richter scale. The epicenter was 50 miles from Tokyo. Over 140,000 deaths were reported. The majority were killed in the fires started by the earthquake. It was the greatest natural disaster in Japanese history. Mikao Usui and his students started to give healing in the area and the demand and need for Reiki was enormous and as a result of his work he became even more famous. 

In 1925 Usui had become so busy that he had to open a new larger school outside Tokyo in Nakano. As he traveled widely his senior students would continue with his work when he was away from his school/clinic. 

Dr Mikao Usui passed away on March 9th 1926 at the age of 62. He is buried in Saihoji Temple in Suginami-Ku, Tokyo. Later his students created and erected a large memorial stone next to his grave describing his life and work. Much of the new information about Usui Sensei comes from the translation of this memorial. 

Three levels of teachings
Usui Sensei’s techings were divided into 6 levels, Shoden (4 levels), Okuden (2 levels) and Shinpi-den. The beginning level student (Shoden) had to work hard at increasing their own spirituality before being able to move on to the Okuden (inner teachings) level. Not many students reached the next level of Shinpi-den – Mystery/secret teachings.
It is reported that he had taught his system of healing to well over 2000 persons, and what we in the West call Reiki Masters (no such title existed in Japan at the time) to 15 – 17 persons.


Reiki in Hospitals

taken from;  http://www.reikiken.com/uk-hospitals-who-use-reiki


Did you know that Reiki is used in major hospitals throughout Great Britain? And in hospitals in the USA? And in Australia? And New Zealand? And Malaysia? And that’s only as far as my research has taken me to date (to November 2011).

In 2007, over 800 hospitals in the USA were offering Reiki to their patients. (Source – American Hospitals Association, 2007.) Reiki is serious therapy, proven to work (with scientific evidence publicly available; http://www.reikiken.com/reiki-under-microscope), and available in hospitals alongside conventional allopathic medicine.

In the UK

In the UK and around the world, the benefits of Reiki are beginning to be recognised by the community. As a result of this Reiki is now being used, mainly on a voluntary basis, in a wide variety of settings in the UK, including many parts of the National Health Service. For example, at the University College Hospital in London both full-time and part-time practitioners have been employed to give Reiki to patients, particularly those with life threatening diseases. The UK Reiki Federation has a “Pioneers” group and this includes about 12 members who are working with Reiki in hospitals or hospices, mainly on a voluntary basis.

The following is a list (by no means complete!) of hospitals and other health are establishments here in the UK that use Reiki to treat their patients. And in some cases, they also treat the families and carers of their patients.


University College London Hospitals NHS, London:

  • Reiki treatments offered to patients with stress and mood disorder
  • Reiki treatments offered to complement conventional cancer treatments
  • Reiki treatments offered to complement the treatments of endometriosis


Southampton University Hospitals NHS, Southampton:

  • Reiki treatments offered to palliative care cancer patients (day care)


Aintree University Hospitals NHS, Liverpool:

  • Reiki treatments offered by elderly medicine services


Wallace Cancer Care (works with Addenbrooke’s Hospital-Cambridge University Hospitals NHS), Cambridge:

  • Reiki treatments offered to complement conventional cancer treatments


South Tees Hospitals NHS, Middlesbrough:

  • Reiki treatments offered to complement conventional cancer treatments


Newham University Hospital NHS, London:

  • Project to offer complementary therapies including Reiki treatments to the staff and
  • later to the patients (UKRF newsletter Feb/March 2006, p. 7)


Great Ormond Street Hospital, London


Other examples of where places where Reiki is used –

  • St Teresa’s Hospice, Darlington
  • The Haven Breast Cancer Support Centres in Leeds and London
  • NHS Hospitals including Maternity Units, Cancer Wards/Clinics /Centres and Support Groups
  • Penny Brohn Cancer Care, Bristol
  • Hospices
  • Carers Associations
  • NHS Occupational Health Departments
  • Physiotherapy Units
  • NHS Medical Centres
  • NHS Mental Health Units/Psychotherapy Clinics
  • Special Needs – learning & behavioural difficulties and mental health
  • Medical & Paramedical (many members of the UK Reiki Federation are also practising doctors)
  • Social Services Day Care Centres
  • Drug & Alcohol Abuse/Addiction Programmes + Substance Abusers & Families Support Networks
  • GP & Dental Practices
  • Residential Care and Nursing Homes
  • Local Council Health and Harmony Events treating post natal mothers, Asian Elders, and others
  • Brain Injury rehabilitation centres
  • HIV/AIDS organisations’ holistic health and healing centres

UK Reiki Federation logo

(Source of above information – Doreen Sawyer, Secretary, UK Reiki Federation, 2010. I am most grateful to Doreen for permission to use this information here. See their website for further information about the UK Reiki Federation).