What is Reiki?
An attempt to define the many understandings of the system of Reiki
To us Reiki, the energy, is `spiritual’ energy or `sacred’ energy or we believe Japanese Reiki Master Inamoto Hyakuten called it something like `big’ energy to help explain to us its literal translation. This is it – THE energy.
We’ll try to explain how we see it though we’re sure to come up against linguistic limitations. It is also extremely difficult to talk about ‘it’ (Reiki energy) when we are `it’ already. Therefore some meanings may come across as dualistic in nature when that was never our intent.
Right from the very beginning we find different wordings in the translation alone. This doesn’t make the job of finding out what is Reiki any easier.
There are so many varied explanations to the question “what is Reiki?”. Is it different to the energies used by other systems are there different sorts of Reiki? We think it might even be easier to start with what we don’t think it is and discuss varied beliefs about Reiki before moving on to what we feel that it is.
We don’t see Reiki energy as a specific sort of energy but something much `greater’ than that.
We don’t see the energy used in Reiki as different to the energy used in Qi Gong, Yoga, etc… Rather it is the way that energy is utilized that produces different results (the feelings of denseness or higher vibration etc..).
Each system has its own techniques, practises and methods to aid practitioners in developing specific skills. At a basic level these skills differ according to the process undertaken by practitioners as taught in each system.
We believe there are a number of reasons as to why some Reiki practitioners feel that Reiki appears to produce different results to other energetic practices. It is good to remember we are talking about results here. This is not the energy (even here the word `energy’ might be inappropriate – especially for those of you who are scientific – is spirit or essence a better representation of what we are talking about?) itself.
The techniques taught in specific systems (such as Qi Gong, Yoga etc…) would have been developed for different reasons. For example chopping bricks with a bare hand is a technique belonging to a distinctive system for specific reasons. Though there are many different energetic systems, the ultimate result of working with energy is for the same purpose – to know enlightenment.
In Reiki we do not practise these sort of energy techniques, our intent and focus is different though ultimately we too are working toward enlightenment. Instead we may learn symbols and mantras to aid us in sensing energy, and hatsurei ho to develop our ability to channel more energy through the body. This does not mean however that the energy is different.
Some use psychics or spiritual guides to aid them in their understanding of what Reiki is or isn’t. But this still comes down to an individual’s interpretation (at whatever level) and is subjective. Therefore we do not see it that systems are energetically different. What is different are the variety of techniques taught (even within the system of Reiki) and then there is the individuality if those who practise these techniques.
We also do not see that there are different flavours of Reiki energy – rather different flavours of thought, practice and intention. We consider Reiki to be the energy (or spirit or essence) of everything. So we are not separate from it – it just is.
So where does the concept that there are different flavours of energy in Reiki originate from?
It may originate from a particular understanding of the attunement process. Some believe that an attunement enters one into a specific energetic path (the energetic path of their system or teacher). We don’t view the attunement in that way. The attunement is one of the elements of the system of Reiki but it is not necessarily the most important aspect. Each of the elements work together to create a system that aids us in developing our energetic strength and clearing energy in the body. Traditionally it seems that the attunement never appears to have made someone into something – whether that be a level or a member of a system. It simply supported practitioners in their own energetic work.
Ultimately, we feel that everybody is born with the ability to use the energy of Reiki for healing. It is an innate ability. We are Reiki energy. There is no IT and US.
On the other hand the actual SYSTEM of Reiki is a sum number of practices (hands-on practise, techniques and meditations, symbols and mantras, attunements and the precepts) that when brought together create something unique – the system of Reiki. A practise that supports an individual’s spiritual growth – this practise includes the ability to heal one’s self and to strengthen one’s capacity to channel energy and if our dedication is true and strong – perhaps to know enlightenment.
So why do people love Reiki courses so much when they already have the ability to do it? For many it is the unparalleled joy of the reminder that within themselves is their spiritual heart or core. After that initial joy it is the inner growth that occurs from working within a structure designed to work on oneself energetically (you can replace `spiritually’ here with the word `energetically’).
A practitioner’s commitment to, and time allotted to, self-practise will obviously benefit and develop his/her practise. As with everything in life the more we put into it the more we get out. The more self- practise that one undertakes, the more energy that is cleared in the body – with all the beneficial repercussions that come from clearing.
Using the techniques taught in Reiki we connect with ourselves again – whether it be the hands-on element, the meditations, the attunements, working with the symbols and mantras or looking deeply into the precepts. Reiki has much to offer – from many varied angles.
Each day we feel different and will consequently feel energy differently – nothing ever stays the same. What can happen sometimes is that if someone says – the energy is going to feel like this and that, then that is most probably how the energy will feel. We are very open to suggestion – especially when discussing something as illusive as energy (or essence or spirit). It is best to accept the sensations for what they are rather than to try to name them. They are the sensations not the energy itself.
The ultimate aim of our practise is to remember who we are – Reiki.
Read more indepth information about what is reiki here:
Bronwen and Frans Stiene are the co-founders of the International House of Reiki and co-authors of The Reiki Sourcebook, The Japanese Art of Reiki, Your Reiki Treatment, The A-Z of Reiki Pocketbook and the Reiki Techniques Card Deck. Bronwen and Frans teach in the USA, Europe and Australia. Visit the Courses page to find a course near you.