What is Reiki?


Reiki is the practice of promoting healing through meditation. The word Reiki translates as Rei meaning spirit and ki meaning energy, so quite literally Reiki is Spirit Energy


A Brief History

Founded by Mikao Usui in early 20th century Japan, the system of Reiki is held by these cornerstones:

  • hands on healing,

  • symbols & mantras

  • reiju (spiritual blessings/attunements)

  • precepts

Usui himself came from a long line of high ranking samurai and was born a Buddhist, attending his childhood studies at a Tendai Monastery. He went on to become very respected for his success in martial arts, as well ase becoming a Tendai Buddhist Monk. 

After many years of study, Usui when on a personal retreat in pursuit of rediscovery to Mount Kurama. There he fasted and meditated for 21 days. On the 21st day, the Sanskrit symbols appeared to Usui which helped him develop the system of healing he had been trying to create.

After this spiritual awakening, Usui set up a healing clinic and taught in Kyoto. Usui’s students went on to share the Reiki teachings, which eventually made their way to the West with Hawoyo Takata, who lived and taught in Hawaii. 

As we know it today, Reiki can vary in practice based on who’s teaching. As practitioners, we are always aware of our lineage, a Reiki family tree of sorts, that leads from yourself, to your teacher, to theirs, and so on until Usui. In my own lineage, there are five teachers removed from Usui and myself. In my own practice, I incorporate the traditional Japanese teachings that I’ve learned from my beloved teachers and strengthened with my own practice. 

The nature of the “practice” rests on the diligence of the practitioner to deepen their understanding of the healing process and commitment to the precepts

Many people have misconceptions when it comes to Reiki, one being that theoretically you could go from beginner to Reiki Master within a month by simply taking those classes. This would be a hollow accomplishment as the core of the study rests on the practitioner, not the class. A beginner’s Reiki course is only a few hours long, the nature of the “practice” rests on the diligence of the practitioner to deepen their understanding of the healing process and commitment to the precepts. You do not leave the class suddenly containing something you did not before. The underlying principle of Reiki is that what you need is there all along, and what we’re doing is acknowledging that on a very deep level

To offer Reiki feels much like being deep in meditation, there is peace, relaxation, and an overall feeling of “all is well.” To receive Reiki can vary, most often it is an incredible peaceful space to be in, and I myself often feel as though my entire body is buzzing, I float when I leave a session, clearly feeling the heightened energy of my own vibrations. Emotions can come up and be expressed during a session, and in rare cases a symptom can become temporarily worse before improving as a healing reaction is occurring. 

We can see the effects touch those who are close to us as well, this is the Reiki Ripple effect.

The healing effects of Reiki reverberate throughout our emotional, spiritual, physical and mental bodies. Beyond ourselves, we can see the effects touch those who are close to us as well, this is the Reiki Ripple effect. Oftentimes, when working with an animal, you will see the benefit of that session clearly effect the person who cares for them, as we are so deeply intertwined. On the other hand, when a person shares a Reiki session, we can see the animals in their life benefit from being around this person who now has less pain, less stress, and an overall sense of well being to share.

Scientific Research

In Kathleen Prasad’s Vets on Animal Reiki: The Power of Animal Reiki Healing in Veterinary Practice, Kathleen clearly explains how a number of peer reviewed studies over the last twenty years, funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), have found that Reiki is very beneficial both for humans and animals. These studies report that Reiki activates the parasympathetic nervous system, reducing stress, anxiety, depression and pain. The same studies show that Reiki improves self esteem and general quality of life.

Today, Reiki is used successfully in countless hospitals, shelters, sanctuaries, veterinary clinics, and other health care facilities as a complimentary healing technique.

Former NASA research scientist and practicing healer Barbara Brennan has an entire chapter in her Hands of Light: A Guide to Healing Through the Human Energy Field dedicated to showing us that “the scientific view of reality supports the idea that we are composed of energy fields and, in fact, goes far beyond that into realms that we are just beginning to experience, that is, a holographic view of the universe.”

I LOVE the holographic theory of the universe! More on this in a future post though…

Reiki is an incredibly gentle and effective healing modality that is a wonderful compliment to traditional medical or veterinary medicine, as well as other healing modalities and it is also an amazing way to promote your own self healing.


**It is important to note that Reiki is NOT a substitute for medical diagnosis and treatment. Practitioners do not diagnose conditions, nor do they force energy on animals in any way. The animals lead the sessions, taking part only if and when they choose.