This post is dedicated to a very special person - Patricia Lee.
Patricia has been coming to me for Reiki for several months.
At 92, Patricia's health has been gradually weakening due to various medical conditions and Alzheimer's disease. Whether Patricia's Reiki appointment was pain, perseveration on numbers due to dementia, or something else, it was amazing how well she responded to Reiki! After nearly every session, Patricia would smile and tell me, "I feel wonderful!"
While having trouble remembering many things, remarkably Patricia seemed to always know when her Reiki sessions were coming up and would just beam with joy, as her daughter would later relay to me. Patricia was always looking forward to Reiki!
Just as Patricia was excited about her Reiki sessions with my Reiki students and me, we were looking forward to our Reiki sessions with Patricia. Her heart-warming smile could melt anyone! She had such a wonderful presence about her. We just loved her! There was something remarkable about this quiet woman. Something that is hard to put into words. It just felt so good to be around her! I think in some way, she was helping us as much as we were helping her...
Patricia enjoyed her Friday Reiki sessions at the Japanese Friendship Garden nearly every week for several months, but on January 25th, 2019 she could not come... Patricia was entering her final journey...
Several days later, I was thinking about Patricia. I knew that that her loving family was with her and I was hoping that she continues to be as comfortable as she was the last time I saw her.
Good thoughts and memories filled my heart. I was remembering how much Patricia loved Reiki. It made me smile. As I was thinking about it, it literally felt as if she was asking me to share about Reiki with the world. It felt as if she wanted more people to discover Reiki and just how wonderful it can be. It felt as if she was asking me to write about how I feel about Jikiden Reiki. It felt as if it was important for me to do it right then, without waiting. That feeling was so strong and so urgent, that although it was in the middle of the night and I was already in bed, I felt like I had to get up and write. I had to do it for Patricia!
So I set down and wrote about Reiki. I did it on my phone - could not even wait to open my computer.
What I did not know at the time, is that Patricia was very close to going home.
Soon after 'asking me' to share about Reiki with the world, Patricia passed away peacefully surrounded by her loved ones...
I wanted to write more about Patricia herself. I've come to learn quite a few special stories about her over the last several months. Patricia was an incredible woman, an amazing mother, and an impressive quilter. She was also a woman of few words, very humble and quiet, and I know she would not want to be in the spotlight. There is so much to share and yet, all of it would be too much and not what she would have wanted. Being respectful of that, I will share only her last message to me.
Below is what I wrote with with Patricia's guidance the day before she passed:
"Reiki is amazing! As a medical doctor who originally learned Jikiden Reiki (the traditional Japanese Reiki style) simply out of curiosity, I am astounded every day by how helpful Reiki can be!
Whether you are young or old, healthy or sick, give Reiki a try. It can help you feel your best on a mind-body level and it may even be life-changing for you! You don’t have to take my word for it, just ask my clients.
No, Reiki is not a substitute for medical care (I would never advocate for that) but it can complement Western Medicine and even offer so much more.
Yes, not every Reiki style is the same, and I can’t speak for all Reiki schools (there are numerous) and for all Reiki practitioners.
True, current clinical research on Reiki is extremely limited and largely flawed, and at this point, medical science views Reiki as “neither harmful nor helpful” because of the limited research we have on Reiki.
All I know is that I’ve seen incredible results with Jikiden Reiki for a wide range of symptoms and conditions. Some of these results are literally medically impossible (as a doctor I would not have believed the extent of these positive effects if I didn’t observe them with my own eyes).
Sounds unbelievable? Well, come in for a Reiki session, and judge for yourself. Take a little time for self-care. Feel your best naturally. I am here for you!
Dr. Maria Danilychev
PS: if you don’t get some benefit - your first session is free. So you have nothing to lose."
This was Patricia's final message to me - to share about Reiki, and I am grateful for being her 'messenger'. Patricia has touched my heart!
I know that Patricia will be greatly missed by all those who've known her and by all whose lives she has touched.
I also know that she is at peace, and that her message about Reiki will continue to spread and touch lives of many people all around the world.
In loving memory...
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:
There could be many other types of ethical scenarios of Reiki in nursing, but it is impossible to predict all of them. Some ethical questions and dilemmas are easy to answer and resolve, while others may be more challenging. Each situation is unique and must be addressed in a unique way while staying true to the fundamentals of professional and ethical behavior.
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.
This is not an uncommon statement to come across. I've heard it many times in person and seen it online many times. Here is my response to that notion:
"What makes you so sure? Your view may be based on something that you've read from a reputable source. However, just because something has been published, it does not mean it has been adequately studied. As a medical doctor and clinical researcher, I’ve been observing and studying Reiki for years, and I can tell you that when Reiki is done properly, the results can be quite dramatic (and it is not just a placebo effect).
I swear by science, and the only reason I even learned Reiki originally was for educational and research purposes. If at any point I would have found evidence that Reiki does not work, or if there was even a shred of suspicion in my mind that it only works as a result of a placebo effect, I would not have been able to do it in good conscience. So trust me, Reiki is not nonsense.
To clarify, there are numerous forms of Reiki in existence, and I can’t speak for all of them. I can only speak for the traditional Reiki style (Jikiden Reiki) which has been preserved in Japan, its country of origin. Many spin-off forms of Reiki have been created since the last century and not all of them utilize the most essential and the most important Reiki techniques that were used by the founder of Reiki Mikao Usui.
So I cannot guarantee that the newer Reiki styles work (some of them may only be "Reiki" in the name, but could be something else entirely). All I can say, that in my observational research as a medical scientist, the original Reiki method 心身改善臼井靈氣療法 (Shin Shin Kaizen Usui Reiki Ryoho) as passed on directly through the Jikiden Reiki lineage is most definitely a remarkable healing art.
Current clinical research in Reiki is very limited and of low quality for the most part - there are numerous design flaws and biases in most of the studies that I’ve read. So the scientific perspective (which is based on CURRENTLY AVAILABLE data) is that Reiki is neither harmful nor helpful. The issue here is that we have very little that is currently available on Reiki that’s not flawed in one way or another.
Just because current clinical research in Reiki is very limited (and of low quality for the most part) and just because at this point science does not have a clear understanding or a clear definition of what Reiki even is, it does not mean that Reiki is “nonsense”.
When you think of Reiki, don’t think ‘snake oil’, think of Reiki (the traditional form) as ‘acupuncture minus the needles’. That’s the best parallel I can draw for you. Not that long ago, scientists did not think much of acupuncture either, but now with better and more extensive research, acupuncture has been demonstrated to be effective for a number of indications.
I have no doubt in my mind, that properly designed and conducted clinical trials would be able to easily demonstrate the effectiveness of Reiki vs. placebo. I have not published any of my own observations yet, but repeatedly seeing and hearing "Reiki is nonsense" makes me want to get into high gear and just get it all out on paper, as well as get funding and staff for proper large scale clinical trials in Reiki. It is so long overdue. I think it’s time to put the scientific doubts about Reiki that are based on inadequate research to rest!"
Who is with me? Time to assemble a research team!
Do you have clinical research experience? Are you open- and scientifically-minded? Grant writer?
Post your comments below. Let's make this happen!
There are a lot of free resources out there, and some are better and more accurate than others.
I would recommend reading the following two books about Reiki (you might be able to find them at a library) and in the following order:
Feel free to explore this site San Diego Reiki - Jikiden Reiki with Dr. Maria Danilychev, MD and read this Blog - as you might be able to find some helpful insights there as well.
To save you some time in your Reiki research here is some information about Reiki to get you started:
Mikao Usui sensei was the founder of Reiki, and he developed his Reiki method in the 1920s in Japan and called it 心身改善臼井靈氣療法 - “Shin Shin Kaizen Usui Reiki Ryoho” (“Usui Reiki method for improvement of body and mind”).
Usui sensei taught almost two dozen teachers who were allowed to teach other teachers, and among them was Chujiro Hayashi.
Hayashi sensei’s lineage is the start of all known Reiki lineages. No other known lineages that you can follow exist today. There is an original association of Reiki in Japan called Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai, but it is a closed organization and you can’t learn Reiki from them (it’s a long story).
Chujiro Hayashi taught many Reiki practitioners and a number of Reiki teachers, and among them were:
Reiki became popularized in the 1980s by the students of Hawayo Takata many of whom later systematized her teachings, and also created their own forms of Reiki.
Numerous Reiki styles have been developed in the West since then.
Many of them have at least partially lost their connection to the Japanese nature of this healing art, with some of the teachings being literally lost in translation. Also, a large number of new styles of Reiki have incorporated other holistic healing modalities and concepts into Reiki teaching and practice. With that said, it is important to note that no Reiki style ‘better’ or ‘worse’ than another - all of them are just different from each other.
Here are a few links to some of the Reiki style options:
There are many other Reiki branches and teachings that you will come across.
A few words about Reiki Principles.
They were developed by Mikao Usui and were meant to be used by the Reiki clients, as well as by the Reiki practitioners to maximize all-around wellness on a mind-body level and to bring happiness into their lives.
Usui sensei believed that if your physical health improves with Reiki, but your mind/heart is not in the right place, then your physical condition can easily get worse again. That’s how he came up with the five precepts of Reiki - the Gokai (五戒):
Just for today,
Do not be angry
Do not worry
Do your duties fully
Be kind to others.
Usui sensei suggested saying the Gokai twice a day out loud and from the heart to help one live according to the principles. I’d like to point out that there isn’t anything neither religious nor contrary to any belief system in the Gokai. They simply use the mind-body connection to help improve one’s happiness and wellness.
The Japanese believe that words have power, and that saying something out loud creates a certain energy. That’s why it is often suggested to say the Gokai in Japanese, as it creates the best vibration, so to speak - as it was meant to be said. If you try it, you may notice a positive shift inside you.
Here is a link to Rika Tanaka’s website (she is a Japanese Reiki practitioner and teacher) as she pronounces the Gokai, in case you are curious about the Japanese version.
Note, other translations exist, but this appears to be the best/most accurate one, as has been verified to me by many native Japanese speakers who also know Reiki.
In terms of Reiki levels and Reiki techniques, they vary greatly from style to style. For the most part, most schools include a few basic practitioner level courses and one or more Master or teacher level courses as part of their training.
Any books or free resources that you may find that explain the techniques can be helpful, but it is not the same as learning from someone who’s been practicing and teaching Reiki.
I would also recommend against learning Reiki online (no offense to anyone who is teaching it that way). Other the historical background, you can’t really learn Reiki that way. If you want to learn how to do Reiki properly, you have to take an in-person class which includes hands-on practice and Reiju (attunement).
After you are done with your research and when you are ready to learn Reiki, choose the style that resonates with you the most. Explore some of the options above and connect with Reiki practitioners and teachers. You will know when it feels right.
As far as being able to pay for a course, trust that when the time is right you’ll be able to do it.
Not sure if you will find someone who can to teach you for free, but as you learn more about Reiki, you may start seeing each training for its value and not just pick something because it’s free or cheap (it shouldn’t be terribly expensive either).
For additional free Reiki resources, you can also consider looking at James Deacon’s site. There is lots of information there. Although not all of it is entirely accurate, it is understandable considering the quantity of information provided.
Feel free to reach out to me directly if you’d like any additional help or guidance.
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.
Dr. Maria Danilychev, MD is a hospice doctor, clinical research physician, and a Jikiden Reiki Shihan (master/teacher).