Reiki – A Basic Overview

By Theresa Ochenkoski LMT, RMP and Mitzi Johnson MD, RMT

A Little History of Modern Reiki

“Reiki” (pronounced “ray-key”), is the Japanese word for “Universal Life Energy.” This energy is all around us and each of us can channel it. Reiki as we know it in the USA today originated in early 20th century in Japan.   It was re-discovered in Japan in the late 1800s by Dr. Mikao Usui, a Japanese philosophJohn Harvey Gray's Reiki Logoer, physician, Buddist Monk and Christian seminary educator.  Dr Usui practiced Reiki in Japan and taught others to use it to help people heal.  One of his students, a  naval surgeon named Dr. Chujiro Hayashi, set up and operated the first Reiki clinic in Tokyo, organized Reiki training into 3 levels and created the hand positions we still  use today.   He also taught a a Japanese-American woman named Mrs. Hawayo Takata.  It was Mrs. Takata who later brought Reiki to the United States in the mid 1900s by Mrs Takata. Mrs Takata trained 22 Reiki Masters in the US to teach others about Reiki and how to use it to help as many people as possible. One of these original Reiki Masters was one of our teachers – John Harvey Gray along with his wife Dr. Lourdes Gray, Ph.D.  They are considered the most experienced Reiki Instructors in the United States

Reiki is Energy

The 7 Chakras
The 7 Chakras

Reiki is based on the principle of Universal Life Energy or Chi (pronounced “chee”).  It works to enhance the body’s natural healing ability.  Reiki does not involve physical manipulation.

Reiki works with the subtle energy field thought to be around (auras) and within the body (Chakras).

A Reiki Treatment

Before the Reiki session, the practitioner will go over an intake and listen to the medical history of the person having the session.  Reiki practitioners do not diagnose nor prescribe medications (unless of course your Reiki Practitioner is also a medical doctor). During a Reiki session, the recipient remains fully clothed, usually removing only their shoes.

Reiki is administered by a specially trained practitioner who uses healing intention and placement of hands in specific positions, either directly on or just above the body.

A Reiki Hand Position
A Reiki Hand Position

These hand placements help to align the Chakras (energy centers within the body) and bring healing energy to body tissues, organs and glands.  They are often done in a sequence or patterns, but can also be placed in specific areas of focus.

This passive contact, applied by a practitioner trained to access and serve as a channel for the life energy, is sometimes experienced as a warmth or tingling sensation.

During a full session, the hands remain in each position for 1-5 minutes covering 10-18 positions over the entire body. However, when indicated (i.e., injury or specific discomfort such as headache, etc.) Reiki may be applied to only (a) specific area(s) and still be effective. The session is typically done either sitting in a chair, or lying on a massage table.  Sessions typically range from 30 minutes to one hour.

What does Reiki feel like?

Experiencing Reiki is as unique as is each individual receiving Reiki.  Common sensations have been reported by people as feeling heat or coolness, tingling, vibration or buzzing, itchiness and/or drowsiness.  Some people have reported “feeling” nothing physical at all during the session but have noticed positive changes after the session is over.

Why do people get Reiki?

Reiki outcomes have proven to be difficult to measure scientifically.   What we have are recorded actual life experiences with Reiki and the positive outcomes of decressed stress and increased quality of life.   Through small studies Reiki has been noted to help:

  • Reduce Pain
  • Reduce Anxiousness
  • Reduce Nausea
  • Manage symptoms and reduce the side effects of medications and treatment
  • Support recovery after injury or surgery
  • Promote better sleep which can help decrease fatigue

Reiki also…

  • brings the body into harmony by relieving physical and emotional blockages
  • heals the cause and eliminates the effects of an energy imbalance
  • helps minimize the sense of helplessness when facing disease or trauma
  • can be used in conjunction with standard medical procedures and religious beliefs without conflict

Reiki Training

There are three levels of training in the process of becoming a Reiki Master, referred to as attunement levels. During this training and attunement by a Reiki Master Teacher, the students reach a point where they can access the universal energy flow through their hands to heal themselves and others. Once initiated into the first-degree level, anyone can use Reiki to heal themselves.  It does not require special talent, nor can it be done wrongly. The more a person uses Reiki, the stronger it becomes.   By the end of the 2 day Level 1 Reiki workshop students will be able to:

  • Scan the body of the person receiving treatment and perceive areas of reduced vitality flow.
  • Channel Reiki energy into yourself or others, and sense the energy as it flows through your hands.
  • Appreciate how attitudes can create dis-ease in the mind and emotions, and how the physical body might be affected.

Note: A Reiki Practitioner or Reiki Master does not practice medicine, diagnose or prescribe medication unless they are also a licensed medical professional. It is important to note that Reiki is not an isolated alternative to medical treatment.  If you have a health problem, you should always consult your physician before having a Reiki session.


  1. Reiki Handbook by Larry Arnold & Sandy Nevius, PSI Press, Harrisburg, PA
  2. Reiki, A Comprehensive Guide, Pamela Miles (2008)
  5. Reiki, The Healing Touch, William Lee Rand (1991)
  6. The Everything Guide to Reiki, Phylameana Lila Desy (2012)




1 thought on “Reiki – A Basic Overview

  1. Pingback: CLINTON

Comments are closed.