While there is nothing unethical about using Reiki, it is important for nurses and other healthcare practitioners to follow a few basic rules to make sure that their conduct is ethical and appropriate.
Helping others is at the core of the nursing profession, and I am sure that every nurse who has ever done Reiki for a patient has only done it with the patient’s best interests at heart.
As someone who has seen first-hand the incredible positive effects that Reiki may have on people with various health conditions (scientific research to back this up is still lagging), I can tell you that for many nurses who know Reiki, it may feel unethical not to offer it. How could you not offer a patient something that has no side effects and that the nurse knows could potentially help the patient tremendously?
Because of this, many caring nurses who practice Reiki and other holistic modalities may accidentally cross some ethical and professional lines while trying to help their patients.
Here are a few basic rules that may help avoid some of these ethical dilemmas:
The bullet points above are a few basic ethical suggestions regarding using Reiki in nursing practice and they closely relate to the general principles of nursing ethics, which are justice, beneficence, nonmaleficence, accountability, fidelity, autonomy, and veracity. You can read more about these pillars of nursing ethics HERE.
Hope this helps bring clarity to the ethics of using Reiki in a nursing profession.
Reiki was developed in Japan, and originally was passed on from teacher to student in oral tradition. It is no surprise that once it was introduced to the Western world via Hawaii, that many aspects of Reiki practice have continued to develop based on mis-translation and misunderstanding of various aspects the Japanese language and culture.
With much already 'lost in translation', another layer of miscommunication is added when Reiki practitioners try to explain Reiki to anyone with a scientific background. I hope this post will help clarify and prevent some of the common misunderstandings and miscommunications.
WHAT IS REIKI?
First things first, the word "Reiki" ( 靈氣 ) is an ancient Japanese word that has a combination of meanings that can roughly be explained as the "spiritual power of the universe" or the "universal life force energy" or "mystical energy of the cosmos" to name a few. There is a lot more meaning imbedded in the word "Reiki" than the literal translation, which is "spirit energy". As you can see, the literal translation certainly does not convey the full meaning of the word. This is not uncommon with Kanji (the Japanese hieroglyphs that have been adopted from the Chinese language).
In the Western world, we can be quite literal, and we can easily misunderstand the meanings behind the Japanese words. We have to make an effort not only to know the translation of the word 靈氣("Reiki"), but also to take the time to comprehend the meaning. For most Reiki practitioners, it would be something that one knows and feels, but something that might be hard to explain. It is that force of nature that connects everything, something that is a part of all of us and of the universe, flowing and shifting, unseen to the naked eye.
THE REIKI METHOD
In the 1920s Mikao Usui, the founder of Reiki, has developed a treatment method utilizing the Reiki energy (靈氣). He called it Shin-Shin Kaizen Usui Reiki Ryoho or 心身改善臼井靈氣療法 - "Usui treatment method for improvement of body and mind".
Over the years, the name of this treatment method has been simplified to just "Reiki" or "Usui Reiki". With that alteration we've lost the deeper meaning of the technique that Mikao Usui has developed.
The method was focusing on improvement of the body and mind using the existing energy of the universe, and by skipping half of the method title, we might be missing something important. We all have Reiki, it is a part of us and of the universe, and it naturally flows and permeates everything in the world. We are not 'giving' our energy to our Reiki clients, or removing 'bad energy' - we simply learn to facilitate the natural flow that helps bring the client to a more natural state of being on a physical and mental/emotional levels. When we know that what we are practicing is not simply "Reiki", but "Shin-Shin Kaizen Usui Reiki Ryoho" it reminds us of that.
IS IT REALLY 1, 2, 3?
In addition to dropping the official name of the Reiki method, we have also made another significant shift away from the original Reiki teaching by relabeling the Reiki levels. In the West, we approach things in a mathematical manner. That's why most people are familiar with Reiki 1, Reiki 2, Reiki 3, which is a very Western way of looking at the stages of learning.
When Mikao Usui taught Reiki, he called the levels "Shoden", "Okuden", and "Shinpiden", which reflected the nature and meaning of each training level, connecting the students to Reiki in a deeper, more intuitive way. In the Japanese culture, it is the meaning that counts, not the number in the teaching sequence.
So what do Shoden, Okuden and Shinpiden stand for?
The "den" part (傳) in Shoden, Okuden and Shinpiden means "propagate" or "transmit" as in "teaching". "Sho" (初) in "shoden" means "first time" or "beginner". "Oku" (奥) in "Okuden" means "inner", "inside". "Shinpi" in "Shinpiden" is comprised of two Kanji "神" which means "divinity", "spirit", "gods", and "秘" which means "hidden", "secret", "mystery".
So putting it all together, we uncover the true meanings of the Reiki levels that go beyond the literal translation:
Beautiful, isn't it?
LOOK AT ME! I AM MASTER!
Another very common misunderstanding that arose from the literal translation from Japanese is the concept of "Reiki Master". In Mikao Usui's time, when someone completed the Shinpiden level, that person became a "Shihan" (師範).
The meaning of the word "Shihan" literally means a "teacher" or "expert master instructor". "師" is "teacher/instructor/master" and "範" is "example/model", so overall, the idea is that a Shihan is an expert teacher, who also sets an example for his or her students, not only an expert in his field. Shihan is someone who shares a traditional teaching and who is a role model for others.
The "Shihan" title carries a lot of responsibility without an ego attached to it. This goes significantly beyond the common perception of the Reiki Master being a "Reiki expert" who may or may not be teaching Reiki.
FILLING IN THE GAPS
There have been many other aspects of Reiki practice and teaching that were too hard to translate, or to replicate (without being able to write them down in class). Many were difficult to understand because of the vast differences between the Western mindset and the Japanese culture.
Often times, in order to fill some of those gaps in understanding, Reiki teachers in the West had to come up with their own Reiki concepts and Reiki symbols that were more 'palatable' to their students. It is not surprising, considering that Reiki is deeply rooted in the language and culture that is foreign to us. It is also possible that the simplicity of Reiki may have lead to changes created by those Reiki teachers who felt that it was too simple in its original form and that by adding complexity they were adding value.
These mistranslations, additions, and misunderstandings range from minor to significant, and I am not going to cover all of them here. You may learn about some of them during your Reiki training. Regardless of any of the changes that may have taken place over the years, Reiki remains a beautiful mind-body healing art, and regardless where you learn it, I am certain that you will feel that.
Language and cultural barriers can certainly lead to misunderstanding of the Reiki teaching, but there is also another element that adds to the confusion surrounding Reiki. There is strong dividing force between the world of Reiki and the world of science, and it often leads to many miscommunications between the Reiki practitioners, their clients and the medical professionals.
SPEAKING THE LANGUAGE OF SCIENCE?
In Reiki, we use many terms that are often the same words that are used by scientists and medical doctors; however, it is critical to understand that although the words are the same, the meaning behind them is often different. By having this understanding as Reiki practitioners, not only we can avoid provoking the 'eye rolling' that we encounter once in a while from the medical professionals or people who are not familiar with Reiki, but we can also heal the communication gap that feeds the Reiki skeptics.
Here are some examples of the words, that we should use in a mindful way:
SO WHAT'S NEXT?
Reiki teaching is spreading rapidly, and with so many schools and styles of Reiki around many people go for the quickest and the easiest option to learn it. Some of us only use Reiki on ourselves, others on friends and family, many have found the path in Reiki and do it full time.
I strongly believe that as practitioners and teachers we have the responsibility to continue learning more, uncovering what we may have missed in our original training, developing ourselves on a mind-body and soul levels, and whenever possible connecting to the origins of Usui Reiki Ryoho, uncovering the treasures that may have been lost in translation over the years. When we grow, we have a positive impact on others around us, and on the world. We can develop as individuals and as a Reiki community with joy and gratitude.
In conclusion, I'd like to thank everyone I've learned from, my teachers, my clients, and my students. I feel grateful for the challenges I've faced as a doctor who practices Reiki - the challenge of learning to understand the non-scientific language of Reiki and the challenge of facing the negative perceptions of my physician-colleagues who view the path I am taking (practicing Medicine and practicing and teaching Reiki) as a 'strange' one at best. These challenges have helped me grow and have helped me develop a deeper understanding of Reiki, of myself, and of allopathic medicine.
I am grateful for my unique position of being able to be a "translator" between the two worlds of western medical science and of Reiki, the special Japanese holistic method for improvement of body and mind.
Thank you for being a part of my journey and allowing me to be a part of yours!
I am sure that there are as many opinions about this subject as there are Reiki practitioners, but I hope that among the recommendations you will find the books that resonate with you the most.
1. Consider starting your Reiki journey with Frank Arjava Petter’s “This is Reiki”. This book will not only give you the historical background of Reiki (which is essential for true understanding of this healing art), but it will also give you practical information about how to use Reiki as a holistic mind-body healing art:
2. After that, I would suggest taking a Reiki seminar, so that you can learn Reiki firsthand and not just through reading. Trust me, Reiki is amazing, and in-person Reiki training is an unforgettable experience.
3. If you wish to read a little more before signing up for your Reiki training, then consider reading the “Light on the Origins of Reiki” by Tadao Yamaguchi. It will parallel some of what you’ve learned in the first book, and will also offer additional insights into how Reiki was (and still is) maintained in Japan in its original tradition:
4. After learning Reiki, you may find “The Hayashi Reiki Manual” very helpful. I would not suggest reading this book before your Reiki training, since it is important to first understand why we are doing what we are doing as Reiki practitioners, and only then to learn some extra details of the “how”. This book is a great practical guide:
5. Finally, look into reading “Reiki and Japan” by Masaki Nishina. This book was just recently published, and it offers an authentic perspective on the development of Reiki in Japan. It will also help your understanding of whether the Reiki style you’ve learned is more westernized or more traditional Japanese. The only reason I am suggesting to wait until after your training to read it, is because there are many references to concepts that might not makes sense to you until you complete your Reiki training. This is a great book that offers insights that will help you make sense of many cultural aspects that have influenced the practice of Reiki:
In general, placebo effect is a human phenomenon. It is observed when a person perceives an improvement due to his or her expectation of positive effect of a specific treatment.
Every healing modality for humans has some degree of placebo effect. Placebo effect can range widely, from a few % up to about 30%, and the degree of placebo effect depends on multiple factors.
When it relates to humans, the real question is whether or not the specific treatment is more effective than a placebo. The only way to answer that question, is to conduct a placebo-controlled clinical trial, comparing a specific treatment for a specific problem to a placebo. A large number of people participating in the study is usually needed in order to determine whether or not the difference between the improvement in the placebo and the treatment group is statistically significant. If there is a statistically significant difference in a series of well-designed studies, then we can conclude that the effect of a specific treatment for a specific problem is real, and that it is not just due to a placebo effect. Until this extensive research is completed, we cannot make that determination.
Note, in my case, it was through decade-long observation of Reiki, Healing Touch and Acupuncture being effective for hundreds and hundreds of patients, that I could see that those modalities was effective significantly above 30%. It was only through that extensive observational evidence (and my neutrality towards the final answer) that I was able to come to a scientific conclusion that Alternative Medicine modalities such as Reiki, Healing Touch and Acupuncture can be effective beyond the placebo effect. With that said, it was my conclusion and my conclusion only, which has not been adequately tested by well-designed placebo-controlled clinical trials (at least in case of Reiki and Healing Touch). This means that although I am convinced that Reiki can be very helpful, and helpful beyond the placebo effect, it is by no means a scientific fact, since it has not yet been proven by scientific studies.
When it comes to animals, the placebo effect has not been adequately studied. I would expect, that those animals who can sense a caring human approach would be a subject to a placebo effect. It is not uncommon to see what's called a "caring nurse" phenomenon in human studies. This phenomenon is observed when the clinical research center staff is behaving in a caring way towards research participants, which significantly increases the placebo effect, often to the point, that it is impossible to demonstrate a statistically significant difference even between the treatment that is already known to be effective and placebo. I can imagine that with animals such as cats, dogs, horses, certain birds, etc., we can observe a similar phenomenon, where the effect of a caring healer would increase the degree of a placebo effect of an energy treatment. So just like with humans, the only way to scientifically demonstrate that a healing modality is more effective than a placebo for animals, is to conduct a series of well-designed studies, and specifically studies that take the "caring healer" phenomenon into account. There is no other way to answer that question.
On a different note, people don't utilize energy medicine for themselves or for their pets because it has been scientifically proven to work (it hasn't been), but because they have either heard good things about it or have already experienced it with positive results themselves. So whether or not it is a placebo effect, if what you do it works, it works. :)
Reiki is a mind-body healing method developed by Mikao Usui sensei in the 1920s in Japan.
In spite of various historical events and obstacles, the traditional Japanese way of Reiki practice and teaching has been preserved in Japan in the Yamaguchi family, through the Hayashi-sensei lineage (Mikao Usui -> Chujiro Hayashi -> Chiyoko Yamaguchi -> Tadao Yamaguchi). Reiki in this lineage has been directly passed on from teacher to student, and it is known as Jikiden Reiki (“directly taught”), with the Jikiden Reiki Institute in Kyoto, Japan, carefully maintaining the tradition.
The origins of the other Reiki styles also stem from the Hayashi-sensei lineage, which was brought to Hawaii (Mikao Usui -> Chujiro Hayashi -> Hawayo Takata -> her students), eventually giving rise to various ‘westernized’ styles of Reiki.
If you are interested in learning Reiki, I would highly recommend going to the source and learning Reiki the way it was originally practiced. The only place that exists in the world today that teaches Reiki in its traditional form, is the Jikiden Reiki Institute in Kyoto, Japan. I would highly recommend learning directly from Tadao Yamaguchi sensei, the president of the Institute. Tadao sensei not only teaches Reiki in Kyoto, but he also travels around the world, sharing his unique knowledge of Reiki in its original form. If you are not able to join Tadao sensei's Reiki seminar, consider taking a class from a Jikiden Reiki Certified Teacher.
There are numerous Reiki styles that exist today, and of course, you can learn any style of Reiki from any teacher, but please keep in mind, that all of the Reiki styles (other than Jikiden Reiki) have been passed on outside Japan, changing overtime, with new forms created through various modifications, by adding concepts from other healing modalities, and by simply being invented by different Reiki practitioners.
In part, this has happened simply because a lot has been literally lost in translation, as Reiki was first popularized in the United States, from where it eventually spread to the world. Overtime, more and more bits and pieces of this traditional Japanese healing art have become naturally ‘watered down’ to adjust to the western mindset, making it perhaps more comprehensible to westerners, but unfortunately less authentic.
A good example of that is the different levels of training that exist in various Reiki styles. In most westernized Reiki forms, you will see the levels of training numbered (such as Level 1, Level 2, etc.). This is not the Japanese way. Traditionally, each of the levels of Reiki training had a name with a specific meaning, not just a basic number. This is just an example, but there many other parts of the actual Reiki training that have also been simplified and adjusted, pushing many Reiki styles further and further away from the traditional healing art created by Mikao Usui sensei.
Some Reiki teachers even offer online Reiki courses. You can certainly learn history of Reiki and certain Reiki concepts online, but there is absolutely no way to learn Reiki without being a part of a class.
Regardless of which Reiki style you choose, Reiki is Reiki. You will be able to know that it is something very special as soon as you start applying what you’ve learned.
Jikiden Reiki happens to be the purest, most traditional form that you can find, since it was literally preserved unmodified in Japan, without any external influences, and without any concepts being lost or dropped because of the language barrier. Other styles of Reiki that haven’t ventured too far from the original, may also be great to learn.
If you are curious about the differences between Jikiden Reiki vs. Western Reiki, consider reading “Reiki and Japan”, a great book by Masaki Nishina, who is both a Western and a Jikiden Reiki Master. (The book may make more sense after you learn Reiki, since there are some references that may not be clear to a non-practitioner.)
What's the difference between Usui and Jikiden Reiki? Should I learn Jikiden Reiki if I am already an Usui Reiki Master?
Since Mikao Usui created his Reiki method, all styles of Reiki ultimately have Usui-sensei as a part of their lineage. That however, does not mean that all Reiki styles are the same.
What makes Jikiden Reiki different is that Jikiden Reiki has remained preserved in Japan in its original tradition for all these years. It was passed on directly and unmodified from Dr. Hayashi, one of Usui-sensei's students, to Chiyoko Yamaguchi, who later on, established the Jikiden Reiki Institute in Japan, which is dedicated to preserving the original Reiki tradition. Dr. Hayashi also taught Reiki to Mrs. Takata in Hawaii, and it was Mrs. Takata's students and their students, who decades later developed new Reiki styles, including Usui Reiki.
Naturally, because of language and cultural differences, Reiki has changed quite a bit outside of Japan. Many concepts have been added and removed overtime. So the main difference between Usui Reiki and Jikiden Reiki is essentially that Usui Reiki is more westernized and Jikiden Reiki is more traditional and more Japanese. There are lots of other differences, such as the symbols used in each style, the actual Reiki techniques, and so on.
When comparing Jikiden and Usui Reiki styles, it is important to remember that there is no right or wrong way, but the two are just different.
I am often asked by Usui Reiki Masters about Jikiden Reiki. Many of them are wondering about why would someone, who is already a Reiki Master of Usui Reiki would want to take a Reiki class in a different style. Well, there are two ways of looking at it. Of course there is no need to take a class if you have no interest in it. On the other hand, if you are curious about the Japanese Reiki tradition, preserved virtually unmodified from the original way Usui sensei used to practice it, then you may find Jikiden Reiki very informative and interesting. If you are interested in learning techniques that have disappeared in all westernized schools of Reiki, then Jikiden Reiki training may be of interest to you.
In general, I think that learning something new is never a bad thing :) (only if you are drawn to it, of course). So if learning Jikiden Reiki sounds like a waste to you, then I would not recommend investing you energy, time, and money into it. If learning Jikiden Reiki sounds exciting, then I would certainly recommend taking the class and learning Reiki in its original tradition.
A placebo effect is a psychological phenomenon, in which the recipient perceives an improvement in condition due to personal expectations, rather than the treatment itself. Generally speaking, the more serious the treatment, the higher the extent of the placebo effect. For example, the placebo effect from a ‘fake’ cream will likely be less than from a ‘fake’ pill, which will likely be less than from a ‘fake’ surgery.
The only way to discern whether or not an improvement of a specific condition from a specific treatment is due to a placebo effect is through clinical research. There is no other way of knowing whether or not the effectiveness of treatment (including Reiki) is due to a placebo effect.
Personally, I have a lot of experience with Reiki and based on my observational experience, I am certain that the effectiveness of Reiki is significantly above the placebo effect (and trust me, as a medical doctor and a clinical research physician I approach Reiki with a critical eye, just as I do any other type of treatment).
Unfortunately, in spite of numerous studies on the effectiveness of Reiki, there is no definitive proof that it it is helpful beyond a placebo effect. For the most part, this is due to research of inadequate quality. To quote the analysis of multiple studies on Reiki by Sondra vanderVaart et. al (Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.):
“The serious methodological and reporting limitations of limited existing Reiki studies preclude a definitive conclusion on its effectiveness. High-quality randomized controlled trials are needed to address the effectiveness of Reiki over placebo.”
It is not surprising, since most researchers are not Reiki practitioners and most Reiki practitioners are not researchers. How can you study something you know very little about, and how can you create a high quality clinical trial on something you know a lot about if you don’t know anything about research?
Just because the clinical research data is limited, it does not mean that the effectiveness of Reiki comes purely from a placebo effect. I have no doubt, that with high quality studies, we will be able to demonstrate clinically significant difference between the effectiveness of Reiki for a wide range of indication vs. placebo. It is simply a question of time and high quality studies.
P.S.: I am using the word "Reiki" referring to both Reiki energy (靈氣 - REI-KI) as well as the Reiki technique developed by Mikao Usui (心身改善臼井靈氣療法 - SHIN SHIN KAIZEN USUI REIKI RYOHO ) You can easily understand which "Reiki" I refer to based on the context.
The founder of Reiki Mikao Usui sensei himself thought of Reiki as a physical treatment technique. He also stated that Reiki can be helpful for psychological conditions, and considered Reiki to be a spiritual healing method.
The original name for Reiki, the way Usui-sensei called it, was 心身改善臼井靈氣療法 (Shin Shin Kaizen Usui Reiki Ryoho) or, in translation, “Usui Treatment Method for Body and Mind” (literally, “Mind-Body Improvement Usui Reiki Therapy”). The name itself says it all.
I, personally, see Reiki as a mind-body-and-spirit wellness method, that helps maximize a person’s natural healing potential, and helps restore natural internal balance, be it physical, emotional, or spiritual. Current medical science does not have an explanation for how Reiki works, but in my experience, it can be helpful on all levels, and often in a profound way. Again, as a medical doctor, I have no explanation for this, but I am certain, it is not a placebo effect.
As far as Reiki as the means to achieve enlightenment, I can certainly see that Reiki can be very helpful in that regard. When receiving Reiki, many people report having experiences of deep peace and clarity, similar to what one may attain in a state of a deep meditation, something that for most of us would take years of practice to accomplish. From my perspective, these types of Reiki experiences may speed up and help facilitate the process of getting closer to the enlightened state.
This is also true for the practitioners of Reiki. Most, tend to shift towards a more enlightened way of being with the ongoing practice of this unique Japanese healing art.
#Reiki #MindBody #Wellness #Healing #SpiritualTreatmentMethod #JapaneseHealingArt #MikaoUsui #UsuiSensei #ShinShinKaizenUsuiReikiRyoho #enlightenment
For a short answer, scroll down to “summary”. Continue reading for a more detailed explanation.
Personally, as a medical doctor and a clinical researcher, as well as someone who has observed Reiki in action for over a decade, I have enough observational evidence to be certain that Reiki is indeed effective for a wide range of indications, and even though I have not statistically analyzed the observational data, I am also certain that the effectiveness goes beyond the placebo effect.
However, my information is based on my own observations, and it will not, and cannot be accepted by the scientific community as proof of Reiki effectiveness, since this type of evidence has a very low weight in the hierarchy of scientific research. If on the other hand, I were to conduct a multi-center placebo-controlled, reproducible clinical trial, then its results may count for something.
In general, in order to demonstrate the effectiveness of any treatment modality for any indication, it takes multiple well-designed, high quality clinical trials per indication. (An indication means the specific issue we are trying to study and address. For example, if we are studying whether or not Reiki is effective for headaches, headaches would be an example on an indication.)
To conduct high quality research in Reiki takes lots of time and money, well-trained staff (in Reiki, and in how to be a practitioner in a clinical trial), high quality study design, proper statistical analysis, and so on. The combination of all of these and other factors is at the core of a high quality clinical trial that can produce valid results. Many high quality trials are needed, so that they can be eventually analyzed together, to convince the scientific community that a particular healing modality (Reiki, a specific medication, etc.) is indeed effective for something.
As of now, there have been numerous studies of Reiki effectiveness, and although some of the studies do show some effectiveness, overall, at this point, given the limitations and current low level of Reiki research, from a medical/scientific perspective, when the available studies have been analyzed, Reiki has been found to be neither harmful nor helpful.
This does not mean that Reiki does not work. It only means that given currentresearch, we can only conclude that it is not harmful (great news for Reiki recipients and practitioners), and we cannot conclude at this point that it is effective (OK news, considering limitations of the available clinical trials). This means that based on the available clinical evidence, a medical doctor will generally neither recommend, nor deter patients who seek Reiki treatment from getting it.
This viewpoint on the effectiveness of Reiki might appear nearsighted from the perspective of the Reiki community; however, if we want scientific proof, then we have to accept that individual Reiki experiences, no matter how plentiful and how remarkable, are not enough. It will take a lot of high quality research to get the scientific proof that’s acceptable to the scientific community. The good news is that if and when better evidence of Reiki effectiveness is available, the scientific community will accept it and will even recommended it.
We are not there. Yet.
Below are some of the obstacles to demonstrating Reiki effectiveness scientifically:
In summary, based on currently available, limited data from clinical trials evaluating Reiki effectiveness, we cannot conclude that it is effective from a scientific point of view (we do not have enough high quality data).
More high quality research is needed in order to determine whether or not Reiki is effective with a high level of scientific certainty, and beyond individual experiences and observations.
Disclaimer: I am replying to this question from a scientific point of view and not from the Reiki point of view.
Dr. Maria Danilychev, MD is a hospice doctor, clinical research physician, and a Jikiden Reiki Shihan (master/teacher).