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Reiki represents a form of spiritual healing, a practice proposed for the treatment of physical, emotional, mental and spiritual diseases. This ancient technique was developed by one man, Mikao Usui, in early 20th century Japan.

He claimed to have been the recipient of an ability characterized by “healing without energy depletion” after three weeks of fasting and meditating on Mount Kurama. Since then, Reiki has become gradually more and more popular; in 2002 there were over one million U.S. adults practicing Reiki treatments.
However, modern medicine doesn't approve of this form of healing. There is considerable controversy regarding the legitimacy of Reiki, and none of it is scientifically supported as of this moment. Not only that, certain studies have shown that the effect of Reiki is similar to that of a placebo.

History of Reiki practice

The Japanese Buddhist Mikao Usui, claimed to have gained the knowledge and spiritual power to apply and attune others to what he called Reiki. He also claimed that he had the ability to enable people to enhance their access to the energy through certain initiations. Before this remarkable “achievement”, he had also studied traditional Chinese medicine, Ayurveda, Qigong, and Yoga. He was an admirer of the literary works of Emperor Meiji. This is important because Mikao later used some of the Emperor's works to make a set of ethical principles.

One commonly cited translation is:

The secret art of inviting happiness
The miraculous medicine for all diseases
At least for today, do not be angry.
Do not worry.
Do your work with appreciation.
Be kind to people.
Every morning and evening, join your hands in meditation and pray with your heart.
State in your mind and chant with your mouth.
For improvement of mind and body.
Usui Reiki method

Mikao Usui’s students

Mikao Usui trained several students of his own, who later continued to train other people this ancient discipline. In the beginning it was quite a complicate technique, but one of his students, Doctor Chujiro Hayashi, had it modified into a simpler set of Reiki techniques. Hayashi also trained Mrs. Hawayo Takata, who brought Reiki to the USA.  This woman claimed that she had been appointed Grandmaster of Reiki through the lineage of Mr. Chujiro Hayashi, and that there were no surviving teachers of Reiki to be found in Japan after World War II. 

Mikao Usui’s schools

There are essentially two broad groups, or schools - the traditional one, and the independent one. The first group teaches and practices Reiki strictly as it was taught from Usui's time until Takata's time, while followers of the second school vary greatly in their practices and methods. Some fundamentally adhere to traditional Reiki practices, but also accept Takata's practice of charging $10,000 for attunement to Reiki "Master level".

How Reiki Healing Energy Works

According to Usui, the body is more than just a collection of functioning parts. Everything, as well as the body and its organs, generates a frequency and causes a special kind of its own energy field, which is continually changing. If our life force is low or blocked; we are more likely to get sick. When the opposite condition is present, we can maintain our health and wellbeing.

In Practical Terms

The simplest form of using Reiki is based on the practitioner placing their hands on the recipient with the intent of bringing healing, and willing for Reiki energy to flow. Of course, there is a set of hand positions which give good coverage of the recipient’s entire body.  

Remote Healings

According to Reiki practitioners, to the world of spirit there is no such thing as time or space. “The world we see around us is only a small fragment of all which exists. This small fragment is that which our physical bodies can detect and describe to our consciousness, or which we can construct machines to extend the senses of our physical bodies. There is more in existence than what our bodies can detect in this way (though with some training and practice one can extend the range of what our consciousness can perceive). “
Since there is no time and space to limit spirit, Reiki can operate without regard to limitations of space (at least). When remote–healing, one must objectify the recipient somehow; usually via a symbol drawn in the vicinity of the object representing the recipient.

Potential Health Benefits of Reiki Healing Treatments

According to the Reiki theory, a person gets sick when the flow of the "Life Force Energy" is disrupted, weakened or blocked. Such imbalances can be caused by many situations occurring in our lives, such as emotional or physical trauma, injury, negative thoughts and feelings, including fear, worry, doubt, anger, anxiety, and many others…
 
Some of the potential health benefits of Reiki Healing include:

    * Assists the body in cleaning itself from toxins,
    * Reduces side effects of drugs and helps the body to recover from drug therapy after surgery and chemotherapy,
    * Supports the immune system,
    * Increases vitality and postpones the aging process
    * Helps emotional clearing
    * Creates deep relaxation and aids the body to release stress and tension,
    * It accelerates the bodies’ self-healing abilities
    * Reduces blood pressure
    * Can help with acute and chronic problems and helps  the breaking of addictions,
    * Helps relieve pain
    * Removes energy blockages
    * If used with other natural therapies Reiki will reinforce their effect.
    * A practitioner will gain a positive outlook on life

Criticism

Safety of this ancient practice: Most doctors express concern when patients with serious diseases choose Reiki as a means of treatment, often cancer patients, Experts claim that Reiki does nothing but exploit the fear and hope of people with serious illnesses. According to them, Reiki experts are offering only a placebo effect in exchange for money. Roman Catholic priests have also denounced Reiki as "opening the door to evil and occult forces which have later side effects".
 
Internal Controversies: There have been some extremely expressed points of controversy between different groups, teachers, and practitioners of Reiki. These controversies exist on topics such as the nature of the Reiki energy itself, fees charged for courses and treatments, training methods, secrecy of symbols, and attunement methods.