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HomeAlternative HealingThe History, Purpose, and Practice of Reiki

The History, Purpose, and Practice of Reiki

History of Reiki

Reiki is a healing technique rooted in ancient traditions. Its origins are traced back to early 20th-century Japan, although the elements that form the foundations of Reiki have deep roots in Buddhist and Shinto teachings[1]. The healing practice was developed by Mikao Usui, a Japanese Buddhist, in 1922. Usui claimed to have discovered the method during a period of fasting and meditation on Mount Kurama, a sacred location near Kyoto[2].

Following his discovery, Usui founded the Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai (Usui Reiki Healing Method Learning Society) in Tokyo, spreading the practice throughout Japan. His student, Chujiro Hayashi, further promoted Reiki, opening a clinic in Tokyo. One of Hayashi’s students, Hawayo Takata, brought the practice to the United States in the late 1930s, leading to its international recognition[3].

Purpose of Reiki

Reiki is often used as a complementary treatment in health care and is predicated on the belief that a “life force energy” flows through everyone. The purpose of Reiki is to increase the flow of this energy, promoting healing and well-being[4]. When one’s life force energy is low, they may be more likely to get sick or feel stressed; conversely, if it is high, one is more capable of being happy and healthy.

This practice aims to bring about deep relaxation, destroy energy blockages, detoxify the system, provide new vitality, and increase the vibrational frequency of the body[5]. It’s a holistic practice, addressing the body, mind, and spirit, and can be used to encourage personal growth and improve the quality of life.

Practice of Reiki

The practice of Reiki involves the practitioner placing their hands lightly on or over specific areas of the client’s body to facilitate the process of healing. The belief is that the practitioner can channel energy into the patient to activate the natural healing processes of the patient’s body and restore physical and emotional well-being[6].

Reiki is generally divided into three degrees or levels, each with its specific practices. The first degree focuses on self-healing and hands-on treatment for others. The second degree includes distant or absentee healing (sending Reiki beyond the limitations of time and space), and the use of specific symbols to enhance the practice. The third degree, or the Master Level, is for those who want to teach and attune others to Reiki[7].

While Reiki is primarily a hands-on practice, it also incorporates meditation and breathing exercises. Practitioners also utilize specific symbols believed to enhance the flow of life force energy.

Despite Reiki’s spiritual nature, it does not require any particular belief system to work. It is not a religion but a practice that complements various faith perspectives, as well as medical and psychological treatments[8].


From its origins in Japan to its current status as a globally recognized practice, Reiki has provided an alternative or complementary path for those seeking to enhance their well-being. While empirical evidence on its efficacy continues to be explored, many individuals and practitioners find it beneficial in fostering relaxation, stress reduction, and general wellness.


  1. Nield-Anderson L, Ameling A. (2000). Reiki, a complementary therapy for life. The American Journal of Hospice & Palliative Care, 17(1), 31-36.
  2. Beckett, L. (2009). Reiki and Mikao Usui. Reiki Magazine, 29, 15-18.
  3. Stein, D. (1995). Essential Reiki: A Complete Guide to an Ancient Healing Art. Crossing Press.
  4. Baldini, I., Notter, M., & Pietrantonio, E. (2014). Reiki in medicine: a mind-body therapy. Holistic Nursing Practice, 28(3), 146-154.
  5. Thrane, S., & Cohen, S. M. (2014). Effect of Reiki therapy on pain and anxiety in adults: an in-depth literature review of randomized trials with effect size calculations. Pain Management Nursing, 15(4), 897-908.
  6. Miles, P., & True, G. (2003). Reiki—Review of a Biofield Therapy: History, Theory, Practice, and Research. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, 9(2), 62-72.
  7. Rand, W. L. (2011). Reiki: The Healing Touch. Vision Publications.
  8. Vitale, A. (2007). An integrative review of Reiki touch therapy research. Holistic Nursing Practice, 21(4), 167-179.
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