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.
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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:
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.
Let me start my answer with a little bit of background of Reiki terminology.
It appears that the term Reiki “master” came into use in the late 1930s from Mrs. Takata, a Japanese American, who learned Reiki from Chujiro Hayashi (one of the prominent students of Mikao Usui, the founder of Reiki).
Reiki is a Japanese healing art, and Reiki terms had to be translated from Japanese into English as Reiki was introduced to the Western world. So the original Japanese term for Reiki “Master” was actually Reiki “Shihan”.
The word “Shihan” is probably best translated into English as “teacher” (also “master”, but used in the same connotation). The term “Shihan” is not exclusive to Reiki, and it is widely used in the Japanese martial arts as an honorific term for an expert instructor or a “master teacher”.
The term “Master” in English has many other meanings and may not convey the true sense of the original word “Shihan”. Over time, it has been used more and more loosely in many Reiki styles, becoming probably the most commonly utilized term when referring to a Reiki practitioner who may or may not be a Reiki teacher.
Now back to your question.
Reiki Shihan (vaguely translated as “Reiki Master”) is a real title that is used for someone who has completed the teacher’s level of Reiki training. So yes, it is a degree of Reiki training; however, it is not a university degree, if that's what you are asking.
As far as the term “Grandmaster”, it appears to be a vague translation of the Japanese “Dai-Shihan” (someone who is considered to be an expert teacher and who can teach more advanced levels of Reiki). Of note, there are very few actual real Dai-Shihans (“Grandmasters”) in the world. For example, in the traditional Japanese Jikiden Reiki style, as of today (2017), there are fewer than two dozen teachers of that level of training and expertise (Dai-Shihans) total in the world.
So to answer your question, Reiki Dai-Shihan (loosely translated as the “Grandmaster”) is a real level or degree of Reiki training and expertise, but it is not a university degree.
Since I am not certain if your question refers to immaterial vs. material benefits, I will attempt to respond to both options.
I have been observing Reiki in action for about a decade during my work at an inpatient hospice unit as a medical doctor. The observational evidence of the positive effects of Reiki and other “alternative” modalities have left a lasting impression on me, to the point that I have learned Reiki myself and have been actively practicing it since 2013, in addition to my medical practice. I do not have a scientific explanation of how Reiki works, but I continue seeing impressive results with Reiki on a daily basis.
So to answer the immaterial side of you question, I can tell you that those people, who have learned Reiki and are practicing it, are benefiting others by helping them on a mind-body level with this impressive healing art.
In addition, learning and practicing Reiki has a profound positive impact not only on the receiver of Reiki, but also on the practitioner himself or herself. For example, since I’ve learned Reiki, I am a better, kinder person. I am more relaxed and able to deal with stress a lot better. I worry less and I’ve become a lot more open-minded. Reiki has allowed me to let go of the ego-fueled directions in life, and has helped me focus on what’s really important instead. Learning Reiki has allowed me to take a path less travelled, but also the path, where I can be more true to who I am and to who I want to be, the best version of myself.
As far as the financial benefits, as with anything in life, I am sure that there are people, who may be using Reiki for financial gain. For example, I’ve seen online Reiki courses that offer Reiki mastership after a few-hours-long training. This can only be viewed as either a misunderstanding on the part of the person who is offering this type of online class (hopefully), or as a money-making operation, since Reiki is a hands-on healing art, and Reiki training includes a process that cannot be performed virtually.
With that said, we don’t have to let a few ‘bad apples’ spoil the whole batch. The vast majority of people who learn Reiki, offer it relatively cheaply and often for free. Reiki is a calling, and although many Reiki practitioners can make a living doing Reiki, overall, the majority are certainly not doing it just to make money, but rather to help others.
There are several ways to understand this question, and I will provide the answers to all of the following potential meanings:
As far as how to learn Reiki, I would most definitely recommend taking an in-person course, as Reiki cannot be learned in any other way. You can certainly find a lot of information about the history of Reiki online or by reading Reiki books, which may give you a good starting point; however, because of the nature of this Japanese healing art and because of how it is taught, it is impossible to learn it online or from reading a book. There are several inherent processes to learning Reiki that must be done in person and cannot be skipped. If those essential elements are dropped, you may find that the technique you learn is not very effective, and truthfully, it cannot be called Reiki at that point, as it will no longer be the true authentic Reiki in the way it was originally taught and practiced, but a different healing art (similar to Reiki, but different). So, taking an in-person Reiki course is the best way to learn Reiki.
Finally, if you are inquiring about getting a course of Reiki sessions, then it is definitely a great idea if you have any chronic conditions or serious concerns (as opposed to new, and/or minor symptoms). Your Reiki practitioner will be able to recommend the duration of the Reiki course. Think of it the way you would think of a course of antibiotics or of a course of physical therapy. One pill or one session can help, but it may not be enough. Ideally Reiki should be done daily or nearly daily, until the problem is resolved. In my experience, however, it may often take just one session or only a few sessions to address various wellness concerns, often to my disbelief as a medical doctor (we do not understand how Reiki works from the medical perspective, and in all honesty, the effectiveness of Reiki is often shocking to me, since medically-speaking, it should not work, but it does). Getting a course of Reiki sessions can be very useful, especially when trying to address long-standing, serious concerns.
There could be a couple of reasons why you feel that you might not be able to do Reiki correctly:
Personally, I prefer to call it a Reiki Practice, rather than a Reiki ‘business’, and if you love Reiki and are giving Reiki on a regular basis, you already have a Reiki Practice, so there is nothing else that you need to do, you already have what you are looking for :)
Most Reiki practitioners don’t get rich by practicing Reiki, so if you are hoping to make a lot of money in Reiki, it is probably not the the best field. With that said, here are several essential steps that may help you start a Reiki practice:
Reiki (靈氣)is a Japanese word for “universal life force energy”. The literal translation of the word “Rei” is “soul”/“spirit”. “Ki” means life force energy, which is a very common concept in many Asian cultures.
The original Reiki healing method was developed by Mikao Usui sensei in the 1920s in Japan, and he called it “Shin Shin Kaizen Usui Reiki Ryoho”, which means “Usui Reiki treatment method for body and mind”. Mikao Usui unknowingly connected with the Reiki energy as he was searching for enlightenment. He discovered that laying hands on a problem area of one’s body had a healing effect, and he started helping others using his newfound ability. Eventually, he also developed a way to teach Reiki to others, by helping them tap into the Reiki healing ability. Mikao Usui passed away in 1926, but through Dr. Hayashi, who was one of Usui sensei’s students, Reiki came to America (Hawaii), and eventually spread to the world. Since then, many new Reiki styles have been created, but most, if not all, have the same underlying concept of tapping into the universal life force energy and laying on hands to allow the natural internal self-healing process.
I’d like to clarify, that Reiki “energy” is not a scientific concept. Also from a scientific and medical perspective laying on hands should not have any beneficial effect beyond a placebo, or feeling comforted perhaps. However, I have to tell you that from my own decade-long scientific observation of Reiki helping patients in hospice, and later on through personally utilizing the Reiki method that I have learned from the Jikiden Reiki Institute in Japan, I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that Reiki can have a profound positive effect on a person’s physical, emotional and spiritual state, all of which go far beyond the potential placebo effect.
Reiki is a Japanese healing art. A Reiki “Master” is a translation from the Japanese word Reiki “Shihan”. Shihan means a respected expert teacher, “master instructor” (of either a martial art or a healing art, such as Reiki).
Just as in other Japanese healing traditions, it took a long time to become a teacher, and one had to practice the healing art as a Reiki practitioner/healer first. Once someone became a Reiki Shihan, that person could not only give Reiki treatments, but also teach Reiki. So to answer your question, a Reiki Master (in the traditional meaning of this word) is a Reiki healer, who is also a Reiki teacher.
In the West, the translation “Master” has shifted from the concept of Shihan “master instructor” as a “teacher” to that of “master” as an “expert”. Many Reiki practitioners today refer to themselves as Reiki “masters”, whether or not they teach Reiki, which is technically incorrect. Also some Reiki teachers only teach Reiki and do not give any Reiki treatments. Both have become commonplace, shifting away from the original tradition.
Regardless of the semantics, all Reiki Masters can offer Reiki sessions, and therefore can be referred to as Reiki healers.
Reiki is a Japanese holistic healing method for body and mind, and it can be very effective on a physical, emotional and spiritual levels.
There is a fairly large number of scientific publications on Reiki effectiveness; however, due to limitations of currently published studies, Reiki has not yet been scientifically proven to be effective. That does not mean that it is not effective, it simply means that there is not enough scientific evidence available today to demonstrate its effectiveness.
As a hospice doctor, I have observed Reiki in action at an inpatient hospice unit for over a decade, and was so impressed with how helpful it was to my patients (way beyond what one would expect from a placebo effect), that I have learned Reiki myself and now personally utilizing it.
One day, I am sure, scientific research will catch up, and the effectiveness of Reiki will not only be clear in practice, but also from a scientific point of view.