Hands-on Healing

Hands-on Healing is one of the five main elements of the system of Reiki. Below is an excerpt from The Japanese Art of Reiki.


Tenohira is the act of supporting Ki to emanate from the palms of the hands for healing purposes.

Placing the hands on the body as self-treatment is yet another aspect to healing the self within the system of Reiki. The practitioner places hands on or just off the body with the intent that Ki passes from them to the intended body part. The Ki is not pushed or forced from the hands, it is actually drawn through them by the receiving body. Once the body senses the Ki, it takes it where it needs and wants it. So, although the hands may be placed on what is considered an area of need there are more elements at play deciding on its direction and use.

The reason for placing the hands on or near the body is to allow Ki to clear stagnant energy, ultimately resulting in free flowing Ki. The added physicality of tenohira has its own unique rewards for the practitioner. A person who practices Reiki is not a Reiki ‘healer’ but a ‘practitioner’ for the simple reason that it is not the practitioner that is ‘doing’ the healing rather the universal Ki attempting to flow as freely as possible.

Hand positions generally cover the head, torso and limbs. It is beneficial for a practitioner to initially learn specific hand positions so that there is a sound basis to deviate from, once confidence and energetic knowledge is gained.

Tenohira is taught in the first level of the system of Reiki.


Palm-healing has a global history that extends throughout the ages. Religious groups and even monarchies (using their ‘Royal Touch’) have often claimed exclusive rights to these gifts, yet the truth is that each person has his or her own innate ability to heal. This is how the human body has evolved. For example, once cut, the skin develops a protective layer – the scab. This scab offers protection while skin reconstruction is diligently taking place underneath. Eventually the scab peels away exposing a perfectly new and ready-to-wear skin. Fever is another amazing gift the human body has developed over time. Firstly, it warns that inflammation is present. Secondly, it creates the antidote by kicking the immune system into action. Even emotionally the body moves into damage control by finding all manner of ways to continue to function effectively under extreme situations. An example of this is the fight or flight response that humans are hard wired with. Under stress the hypothalamus is stimulated, thus releasing chemicals to prepare the body to either run away or stay and fight. These are the natural abilities of excellently programmed bodies.

Touch is another naturally accessible component of a body’s holistic medicine chest. With touch you allow energy to be drawn and transferred via your palms. If you stub your toe your first instinct is to hold it … and then scream.

Historically, Usui taught tenohira. The spiritual teachings, including meditations, appear to have been his earliest teachings with palm-healing being added on in his later years. Once Usui began working with lay students he taught in a more formalized manner. Approached by Japanese naval officers, he began instructing the use of tenohira as a form of ‘first aid’. Palm-healing initially consisted of using five head positions and then the practitioner would intuitively place hands elsewhere on the body. Therefore, tenohira was taught to students to help themselves and others. The knowledge of where to place the hands on the body was formalized by Usui’s student, a naval surgeon, Hayashi Chûjirô. Hayashi went on to begin a formal treatment centre where clients could visit for healing. His practitioners worked in pairs on clients with one treating the head and the other the hara: balancing the mind and body at once.

Five Hand Positions on the Head for Helping Yourself

Five Head Positions Part II from International House of Reiki

Five Hand Positions on the Head for Helping Others

Five Head Positions from International House of Reiki

Further Web Resources