Reiki Background

What is Reiki?

Reiki is a Japanese practice that helps people feel centred and peaceful.  It is a complementary therapy that helps the body move into a state of rest and relaxation, which is a state that allows the natural self-healing abilities of the body to function.

Reiki is a safe practice that complements other treatments.  Please click here for an explanation of the difference between complementary and alternative therapies.

What does a Reiki Session look like?

A Reiki practitioner lays their hands either on or slightly above the client’s body.  Very little, if any, pressure is applied.  The client remains fully clothed at all times.  The only thing that needs to be removed is shoes if it is a table Reiki session.

Reiki and Spiritual Beliefs

Many Reiki practitioners, myself included, beleive that Reiki is the Universal Energy that flows through everything and everyone. The belief is that a Reiki practitioner uses their hands to encourage the healthy flow of energy throughout a person’s energy field.  The goal of the practitioner is to support the client in releasing any resistance or energetic blockages in their field in order to allow energy to flow freely throughout the body, promoting health and wellbeing.

It is a spiritual practice and as such it is not affiliated with any one religion.  Reiki is for everyone.


Reiki (靈氣) is a Japanese word formed with two Kanji, and Japanese Kanji can often have several different meanings.  The first character, 靈 (rei), means ‘soul’ or ‘spirit’. The second character, 氣 (ki), means ‘spirit’, ‘mind’, ‘air’, ‘atmosphere’, or ‘mood’.  The two Kanji together, 靈氣, in the context of energy balancing work mean Universal Life Force or Universal Energy.

Japanese ‘ki’ is akin to ‘prana’ in India and ‘chi’ in China.

Does this have something to do with chakras?  And, by the way, what exactly are chakras?

Yes.  Many people believe that the practice of Reiki seeks to balance the energy field of the body, and chakras are the main hubs of energy.

‘Chakra’ is a Sanskrit word that means ‘wheel’.  The Universal Energy that gives us life runs through our bodies along thousands of pathways called ‘nadis’ (‘meridian’ in traditional Chinese medicine).  Every point where two or more of these nadis meet is technically a chakra, but there are seven, depending on the school of thought, major ones where many meridians cross, like major intersections, and these seven are what people are usually referring to when they talk about chakras.  They are the major energy centres of the body.  The seven chakras run up the centre of the body from the base of the spine to the top of the head.  Here are the names of these seven chakras in English and Sanskrit as well as the locations.

  1. Root chakra (Muladhara) — base of the spine
  2. Sacral chakra (Svadhisthana) — just below belly button
  3. Solar Plexus chakra (Manipura) — just below rib cage
  4. Heart chakra (Anahata) — centre of chest
  5. Throat chakra (Vishuddha) — base of neck
  6. Third Eye chakra (Ajna) — centre of forehead just above eyebrows
  7. Crown chakra (Sahasrara) — at the top of the head

There are many different schools of thought when it comes to chakras. Some systems have five chakras and others have 22 or even more. For me, the seven main chakras listed above plus the Earth Chakra, located outside of your physical body but still within your energy field, resonates the most.

The chakras are often associated with a colour (blue for Visuddha), element (earth for Muladhara), physiology (stomach, pancreas, kidneys, etc for Manipura), and area of influence (emotions, movement, sexuality, etc for Svadhisthana), but there isn’t universal agreement on these, or even on their location in the body.  However, the idea is that when these chakras are healthy and well, the associated areas of the body and mental areas are healthy and well.  An imbalance in a chakra, whether it’s an over abundance of energy or lack of energy, will lead to imbalances in the areas that correspond to that chakra.

You can read 7 Chakras:  What You Need To Know on for a short summary.

What’s the origin of Reiki?

Reiki was rediscovered by Mikao Usui (1865-1926) in the early 1900s after a long period of research and meditation.  He had questions about the purpose of life and healing techniques, and after travelling to many monasteries in Japan and not finding the answer to his questions, Mr. Usui eventually learned Sanskrit in order to study the original Buddhist texts for himself.  It was during a period of deep meditation that he received the knowledge of Reiki.

Apparently there may have been other styles of Reiki being practiced in Japan at that time, but the style that I practice, Usui Shiki Ryoho, is the style that Mr. Usui taught.

If you’d like to learn more about the history of Reiki, please read this excellent, detailed article by William Lee Rand called “What is the History of Reiki?” on the website.