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Reiki, an Ancient Tradition
by Dr. Kathy Gruver, PhD, LMT, RM





Editor's Note from Sue O'Callahan: Reiki is an energy healing modality that has really taken root and blossomed all over the world. Kathy Gruver's article gives us the background on Dr. Mikao Usui, the person responsible for discovering this healing tradition. It takes us on his journey as well as provides some solid guidance for finding the right training and/or practitioner today.


Reiki is a hands-on healing energy technique where universal energy or chi, comes through the practitioner and into the person being healed. It heals on all levels of body, mind and spirit. It is relaxing, balancing and strengthening.

I had my first Reiki attunement in 1994 from a teacher in Los Angeles named Diane Vaughn. An attunement is basically another name for the initiation/procedure to give the healer the ability to use Reiki. An attunement consists of symbols placed in the hands and head of the soon-to-be healer. The attunement itself is a quick process, which only takes a few minutes. However, most Reiki teachers spend several hours if not days with the practitioner before the actual attunement.

There are three levels of Reiki: I, II and III (master level). The first level gives you the ability to practice on yourself and others. The second provides you with symbols to enhance the practice and also work from a distance, and the third attunement teaches you how to teach others. That is called the master level and unlike the name implies, does not make someone at that level superior to others at the lower stages. It simply means that they can pass attunements and teach others.

Reiki, meaning Universal Light Energy, is thought to be as ancient as humankind itself and its roots are steeped in myth. It is based on a master/teacher relationship and on initiations of the students. Reiki was re-discovered by a man that was looking for answers. Mikao Usui, a Christian minister and university professor, wanted to know how Jesus did his healing. A ten-year quest abroad and a seven-year search in the United States proved useless; no information could be found. Usui decided to embark on a journey.

He returned to Japan where he studied ancient texts in a Zen Monastery but knew he needed to go through the “test.” The test was a three week fast and meditation on a mountain. On the final morning of his quest, slightly before sunrise, Usui saw a bolt of light coming from the sky directly towards him. He felt fear and wanted to run but realized this is what he had been waiting for. The light struck his forehead over his third eye and Usui lost consciousness. He saw millions of colorful bubbles and the Reiki symbols appeared to him along with information about how to use them. It was the first Reiki attunement.

Usui took Reiki through the streets of Japan and spent the next several years traveling, healing, and sharing his story. It was believed that Usui made sixteen-eighteen Reiki masters in his career but only one, Chujiro Hayashi, was mentioned in most Reiki sources and was Usui’s successor. This man went on to teach Reiki, open a healing clinic and made sixteen masters in his lifetime.

Though information on Reiki, once kept secret, is available in every bookstore and on countless websites, even EBay, it is a unique skill in that you must have someone teach you. You can read all the books you want, but without the hands-on attunement, it just won’t work. I do believe that some people are born with Reiki ability, but I still think having a teacher, a guide, is necessary. It helps you to hone your skill and provides you with more focus and intention.

How Reiki works is pretty simple. You place your hands on the person (or above the body) with the intention of healing, and the energy starts to flow. It feels like a heat

and tingling in the hands. There is usually a deep sense of relaxation for the person enjoying the session and they may even fall asleep. Sometimes laughter or tears comes too. Reiki can only be used for positive purposes and can’t harm in any way. It enhances and accelerates the body’s healing ability and balances the chi.

Most people who practice Reiki are in the healing arts, but many lay people learn it to help with family, friends or personal development. Reiki is great for children, plants and animals. It can help with emotional healing after a loss or breakup, physical healing to speed the process and on a spiritual level to provide grounding or focus. Reiki practitioners exist in practically every city in the world and are easy to locate on the Internet or in health-related publications.

If you are looking for a Reiki healing session, ask the practitioner how long they have been practicing and what level they have been taught. Some use crystals and other accoutrements; ask what their healing involves in advance. Though it is not as important these days, people used to put great importance on tracing their lineage to one of the original teachers. You should know though what the healer’s background is and where they studied. Make sure you feel a connection with them and trust them, or seek another healer.

If you want to learn Reiki, seek out a seasoned, level III master. Someone should not be teaching others without years of practice. Ask if your attunement involves a healing session first, which is how I practice and if handouts are included. Also, make sure they can give you a certificate, especially if you want to be a practitioner yourself. You may want to meet the person before committing to the attunement and if you don’t feel a good connection, seek guidance elsewhere. There are now many versions of Reiki, slightly different symbols, different names, and different methods. A strict group believes Reiki should be exclusive and expensive. Others give hundreds of people attunements in a weekend at a campsite. For $75 you can become a Reiki Master on EBay. (Please don’t do that.) Reiki is becoming more mainstream and even hospitals and cancer centers are now embracing Reiki’s healing and research is being carried out on its success rates. The hospital website for information about where you can find a Reiki practitioner and become involved is www.centerforreikiresearch.org

Excerpt from Body/Mind Therapies for the Bodyworker by Kathy Gruver, PhD More information can be found at www.thealternativemedicinecabinet.com/books




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About the Author

Dr. Kathy Gruver has earned her PhD in natural health. She is the host of the TV series, The Alternative Medicine Cabinet and has authored 2 books on natural health. Dr. Gruver speaks nationally on health and stress-management topics and maintains a practice in Santa Barbara, CA. She can be reached at www.thealternativemedicinecabinet.com and is available for consultations over the phone and via Skype.






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