An Introduction To Usui Reiki – Spiritual Energy Healing

The Japanese reiki symbolReiki is a healing method which has been around for thousands of years. Although it is spiritual energy healing, it is available to all, irrelevant of spiritual or religious beliefs.

There are many forms of reiki, but possibly the most widely practiced in our Western world is Usui Reiki. This system was developed in Japan from the teachings of Dr. Mikao Usui in the early twentieth century.

The name itself is translated from Japanese as Rei (meaning universal / all that is / the divine source) and ki (meaning vital energy / life force.)

The Origins of Usui Reiki

Dr. Usui was a Christian Minister who studied theology and Sanskrit, in particular the Buddhist sutras or religious texts. He had a deep desire to understand ancient healing methods and the miracles of healing performed by Jesus and Buddha. After years of study and in search of further answers he spent 21 days on Mount Kurama for a period of contemplation, meditation and fasting.

On his final day on the mountain he experienced a profound vision whereby the sacred reiki symbols were revealed to him and he was filled with intense healing energy from the divine source – or heaven, or God, or the light, whichever sits best with you. So powerful was this vision and the energy that engulfed him, he lost consciousness for some time. When he came round he was full of life and vigour, and had the ability to heal.

Dr. Usui spent the following 7 years in Tokyo healing the poor in a beggar’s colony. After a little while, he realised that some of those he’d healed had returned to begging. When he asked why, he was told that it was easier for them to return to what they knew rather than to make changes to better themselves.

After a period of disappointment and further contemplation, Dr. Usui realised that in order to heal completely, it was not just the physical self that needed attention, but also the mental, emotional and spiritual aspects – the self as a whole. From here he devised the 5 principles of reiki with the aim of helping others to achieve fulfillment by taking responsibility for their lives.

There are various translations of these principles, but essentially they carry the same message. Below they are directly translated from Usui’s teachings :

Just today…

  • Don’t get angry
  • Don’t worry
  • Show appreciation
  • Work hard (on yourself)
  • Be kind to others

At this time Dr. Usui also decided healing should not be given free as it had become devalued. At the very least some form of energy exchange should take place. These principles are upheld today.

Horizon across the ocean against an almost cloudless sky

Keeping Reiki Alive – From Master to Student

We are all connected to the universal life force, but in order to channel it in the form of Usui Reiki we must first become reacquainted with its unique energetic vibrations by a Master. This is known as initiation and is essentially a re-tuning of energies to ensure the initiate is on the same wavelength as the reiki energy.

Due to the intensity of energy Usui experienced during his vision on Mount Kurama, he developed a system whereby he taught reiki in phases. This involved several initiations or realignments of energy over a period of time, allowing his students a period of adjustment between initiations.

It is said that Dr. Usui treated thousands with reiki and initiated sixteen Masters. These Masters, having demonstrated their dedication, commitment and competence were then able to pass the teachings on to others and in turn initiate further Masters. Thus, the Usui Reiki lineage came to be and all genuine Usui Reiki Masters are able to trace back to Dr. Mikao Usui himself.

Traditionally there are three levels of Usui Reiki; First, Second and Third Degree. More recently though the Third Degree may be structured so that in order to teach, the student must complete an additional Master Level as well. (See How to Learn Usui Reiki – Levels of Enlightenment.) With reiki there is an element of flexibility which allows, and in fact encourages, students and practitioners to use their intuition in order to develop reiki further. As a result, reiki becomes more personal and is constantly evolving.

How Does Reiki Healing Work?

As an initiate, once attuned to reiki it’s there forever. It doesn’t wear out or stop working if not used for some time. The only time reiki may not work is if a recipient states they don’t wish to receive it, or if they reject it on a subconscious level.

Types of reiki treatments are many and varied. A traditional full body treatment for example will have the recipient lying down as the practitioner follows a sequence of hand positions, channelling reiki to the individual chakras. The purpose of this is to clear any blockages and assist the body’s own healing process. A standard treatment like this can take roughly an hour.

Chakra colours illustrated by  a column of flowersReiki is totally versatile and short treatments or quick bursts can be given as well, in a sitting position or even standing at a bus stop. Reiki is non-intrusive and can be either hands-on or hands-off. Instead of focusing on chakras, the practitioner can concentrate on a particular area, for example a swollen ankle. As long as the energy is channelled for the greater good, from the source to the recipient, the healing will work with the aid of intention and visualisation.

It should be noted at this point that the practitioner is not actually a healer. They are in fact a “conduit” for the energy to flow through, from the divine force to the healee.

Reiki healing energy can be used to heal a person, groups of people, pets, plants, any living thing. In addition, reiki can also be sent as distant energy healing by those initiated to Second Degree and above; either to heal someone from afar or to treat issues from the past, or even to send energy and love to an event in the future. (See Distant Healing With Reiki.)

Reiki can be used on objects or to clear negative energies in the workplace or for cleansing a new home. It is often used in conjunction with other therapies such as aromatherapy, acupuncture and reflexology. The list goes on and on – the possibilities are literally endless!

Next Steps…

Finally, I hope this article has given you a good insight into the origins of Usui Reiki, what it is and how it works. Reiki is such a versatile and non-intrusive healing method – I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t benefit from having reiki in their lives, whether for a one-off pampering here and there or by incorporating the practice as part of their lifestyle.

If you have any comments or questions post them below or email me on If you’re considering giving reiki healing a try, find out how to prepare for a session and what to expect by reading The Usui Reiki Treatment Procedure. Please remember that reiki should not be used instead of medical treatment. Always consult with your doctor if you have known health issues.



  1. Very nicely written post. I am in the healing arena too, Reiki is a therapy I wish to learn for healing animals.
    It was very easy to read and well defined. I like the layout also of your site. I have been treated with Reiki both physically and from distance. Extremely powerful in effect and results.

    • Hi Teal,
      Thanks for your feedback. I’m glad you like the site and enjoyed the post. If you are looking to heal animals in a non-professional manner, learning Reiki Level 1 will be fine. If you are going to be practising professionally I would suggest working up to Level 2. This will also allow you to practise distant healing. (See How to Learn Reiki – Levels of Enlightenment). Let me know how you get on with the training and healing.
      Wishing you the best of luck

  2. Reiki is a very good way to get healing spiritually and also physically. I have heard a lot about it and your article helps me understand more and more about it. One the my known peoples do this way of healing and it really works. I love your article, looking for ward for more useful reads. thank you for sharing.

  3. Thanks for the interesting post! I’ve always been interested in Reiki, but have never received Reiki “treatment”. It was also nice to read about the history of Reiki, as it made me understand this practice more. What are the most common outcomes of Reiki, i.e. can it be physically felt and how does it make people feel?

    • Hi Lotta,
      Thanks for your message. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. During and after a reiki treatment people may feel nothing at all on a conscious level – but this doesn’t mean that the healing is not working. Other’s report a feeling of calm and peacefulness. Some people may feel hot or cold or feel a tingling sensation in certain areas. Reiki therapist often “go with the flow” and will either remain at one energy point for longer than others, or move on quickly to the next. They are led by intuition and what they feel at certain energy points. Like wise, this can be hot, cold or tingling sensations to name a few. Sometimes emotions are experienced, maybe relating to a major life event where feelings were buried. We are all very different and the list is literally endless as to how people react and feel after a treatment. My post Healing Techniques – The Reiki Treatment Procedure gives a rundown on before, during and after reiki so have a read. I hope you find it useful.
      Best wishes

  4. This was a very informative post on describing the beginning of Reiki and a definition of what it is. I myself am attuned to the Master level of Reiki and I would contend that the part about him being a christian was added later when it was modified to make it more approachable for the christians in the community.

    Great post though and great pics. I enjoyed it.

    • Hi Larry,
      Thanks for taking the time to add a comment. You raised an interesting point about whether or not Dr. Usui was a Christian. I’m really pleased you enjoyed the article and hope you’ll come back soon to see what’s new on Therapy Jet.
      Best regards

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