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:
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.
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.
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:
Dr. Maria Danilychev, MD is a hospice doctor, clinical research physician, and a Jikiden Reiki Shihan (master/teacher).