The History of Reiki Healer Traditions and Techniques
December 12, 2019 at 5:00 AM

Reiki-based techniques have a century of tradition backing their use. Based on techniques developed by Dr. Mikao Usui of Japan, Reiki healers have helped millions of people over the course of generations.

The history of this spiritual technique should add insight for those who are new to the ideas of spiritual healing of all types.

What Is Reiki Healing?

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, Reiki incorporates a specific type of energy healing. It is similar to the Roman Catholic and other Christian denominations’ anointing of oils or laying of hands. One difference lies in the Reiki concept of the Universal Life Spirit, which is loosely analogous to the Christian ideal of the Holy Spirit. 

Spiritual energy works through the Reiki healer and enhances the health and well-being of the patient. The recipient of the energy is encouraged to relax, which speeds healing, reduces pain, and alleviates other symptoms.

Dr. Mikao Usui and Reiki Healing

In 1865, Dr. Mikao Usui was born to a devoutly Buddhist family. He grew up during a time of ferment in Japanese history. In the 1850s, the United States Navy ended his country’s enforced isolation. Three years after Dr. Usui’s birth, a revolution ended almost three centuries of Shogun rule, restoring the political power of the Emperor.

Through the end of the 19th century, Japan increasingly engaged and learned from the West as it evolved into a regional Great Power. As ideas flowed from areas as far-flung as the United States, the British Empire, and the German Empire, many in Japan struggled to adapt to new ways while holding onto traditions and spiritual ideals central to the country’s culture.

As Japan wrestled with social changes and wars, Dr. Mikao Usui started to pioneer the techniques of Reiki.

In the same way in which the Japan in which Dr. Usui grew up evolved by opening its doors to the world, Reiki evolved by incorporating spiritual and medicinal healing ideas from all over. It helped Reiki to develop as a spiritual technique instead of a religion. Also like his country, Usui studied widely on subjects related to his passion, in his case, for healing, keeping his mind open to learning from everywhere. 

Reiki emerged in its final form from his studies at a monastery while serving as a Buddhist monk. He participated in a 21-day course on spiritual healing and a variety of other subjects. This, along with a lifetime of learning what works around the world, helped him to shape Reiki healing techniques.

One of the main tenets of Reiki lies in openness. Though it comes from the Buddhist and Shinto traditions of Japan, Christians, Jewish, Muslims, and those of any religion can receive healing and not violate the rules of their faith.

Establishment of the First Clinic and Reiki’s Spread to the West

Only a few years after the close of World War I, Dr. Usui established the first official Reiki clinic. He also trained several masters to help carry on the treatments. 

In 1935, 13 years after the clinic opened a US citizen of Japanese birth, Mrs. Hawayo Takata refused traditional surgical treatment for a serious condition. Her doctors referred her to Reiki where she underwent a full recovery.

So impressed was Mrs. Takata with her effective and possibly life-saving treatments, she endeavored to spread the practice to the United States. 

Reiki Today

A year before Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor, Mrs. Takata’s clinic successfully established the first Reiki clinic in the United States. Despite difficulties during the war, her practice and Reiki use expanded. Between 1940 and her death, she personally trained 22 Reiki masters who helped to carry forth this important tradition.

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