Beginners Guide: What is Reiki?


Each of us has the potential of being given a gift by the divine, which results in the body and soul becoming unified … a great many people will experience the blessings of the divine … Through it, the human being will first be made healthy, and then peace of mind and joy in life will be increased’.
Sensei Mikao Usui

Reiki is a Japanese healing system in which life force energy is directed through the practitioners hands to various points on or within the body in order to rejuvenate and heal the recipient. To anyone who is not familiar with alternative healing this above statement is going to sound like a lot of  hocus pocus. For this reason alone, Reiki is misunderstood which is unfortunate because Reiki is a valuable resource that compliments healing and health for all of us.

Don’t take my word for it ! Let me show you my perspective of what Reiki is:

Reiki is a philosophy and not a Religion

The use of Reiki actually works independently of any personal belief systems. The concept is that you do not “need” to know the history of Reiki or have any religious beliefs in order to benefit from a Reiki treatment. However, to better understand the philosophy of Reiki one has to take a step back and understand the general principals, and way of life in the East. 

First let’s get comfortable with these two important Reiki terms: 

REI ~ The Whole of Creation

KI ~ Life Energy 

KI is the name given to the vital energy that is used to animate and give life to creation. KI is also known as Qi, Prana, and or Chi again meaning “universal life force energy.” This concept has been around for centuries, flourishing in study in China, Japan, East Indies and India. 

Where do you see KI/QI/CHI/PRANA being used? 

Chines medicine especially uses a different approach to illness and the body than in the West. Chines medicine is based on the Daoist understanding of a universe where everything is interdependent and mutually interactive. Nothing is analyzed or interpreted without reference to the whole. Body, mind, and spirit are seen as one. Qi is the vital force of energy within the body and the universe. 

Tai Chi is graceful, a slow-moving exercise from China. It is an excellent way to work directly with one’s Qi, or life force. Tai chi movements are a way to develop and to increase one’s life force. Qi Gong is another form of movement, it’s focus is on enhancing a specific type of qi flow. It is also seen in such practices as: Mikkyo Buddhism, Kiko,and Japanese Shintoism.  

In Hindu philosophy including yogaPrana; the Sanskrit word for “life force” or “vital principle”, comprises all cosmic energy, permeating the Universe on all levels. Prana is often referred to as the “life force” or “life energy”. In the Hindu literature, prana is sometimes described as originating from the Sun and connecting the elements of the Universe. This life energy has been vividly invoked and described in the ancient Vedas and Upanishads. People use prana in yoga practices, chanting mantras or in prayer.  

This “life-force-energy” is also seen in many other disciplines such as: Martial Arts, Feng shui, Zen Buddhism, and Taoism. There is even reference to KI in the film: Star Wars. As the famous quote goes:  “May the force be with you.” 

Following this doctrine of thought, KI is the source of everything, the building blocks to our body and its ultimate health. 

It would be easy to associate this “life force energy” as being God. There is no right or wrong to this. We have built constructs in our minds to make sense of the world we live in. Ultimately the nature of reality is formed by our perception, free will and backgrounds. One could use the philosophy of Reiki as a religious ideology if they so choose, but it does not make the “life force energy” greater or lesser, it’s just how you look at it.

For those whom are fixed in scientific thought, it will be more challenging to accept that this energy is real let alone from a divine deity, but perhaps this energy is a source not yet discovered (or proved) in the medical and scientific community as of yet. Before electricity was invented the general public would have thought this new science to be witchcraft because it was not yet understood, perhaps the energy of KI is the next to thing to be discovered and proven as one of the sciences of nature. 

Therefore, Reiki is used as a principle of nature and the universe we live in. We don’t have to worship anything to gain access to this free source of energy. 

Where does Reiki come from?

The term Reiki was founded by Dr. Mikao Usui. He was born in 1865 and practiced Aiki Jutsu, Yagyu Ryu and Japanese martial arts. Within these practices he learned how to develop and use KI, the life force energy. After a spiritual journey on Mount Kurama (where he fasted for 21 days and mediated) Dr. Mikao Usui had a spiritual awakening experience where he received knowledge about the healing energy of REIKI. From this awareness Dr. Mikao Usui developed a method of transferring this Universal Life Energy so that it can be used for healing. This is how a new form of practice for QI was created called Usui Shiki Ryoho which means Usui System of Natural Healing.  

More on the history of Reiki and the life of Sensei Mikao Usui in my future Blog posts. 

How does Reiki work?

Anyone can do Reiki, although it is best when a student gains training from a Reiki Master. This is because the student will receive an ‘attunement’ from the Reiki Master upon themselves. This is an initiation process for the student that allows the Reiki Master to transmit energy to the student and to open the channels to Universal Life Energy. The principle is that once the student receives this gateway it stays with them for the rest of their life.

The energy moves through the laying on of hands. 

Anyone who gives Reiki is being used as a ‘channel’ for Reiki energy, it flows through the channel and distributes to the recipient as needed. The concept is that the Reiki energy knows where to go to heal the body, as the ‘channel’ the job is really to be an open vessel, and not an active participant of the healing. 

Reiki can be used for self-healing, healing others, animals even long distance healing. It even has been studied for a variety of conditions, including pain, anxiety, fatigue and depression. Reiki does not have any harmful effects. Overall, Reiki promotes well-being, compassion and responsibility towards Health for ourselves and for others. 

How many levels are there in Reiki?

There are three levels of Reiki. 

Reiki Level 1: The First Degree – covers the history of Reiki, hand positions, self-treatments, first ‘attunement’

Reiki Level 2: The Second Degree – covers Reiki symbols, distance Reiki, giving treatments

Reiki Level 3: The Third Degree – covers master attunement, master symbol, Reiki governing principles 

The fourth is when the Reiki Practitioner wants to become a Reiki Teacher themselves. However, some view this as Master training.

Regardless of the Reiki Level the person should strive to have a deep commitment to the practice. It is fundamental for the practitioner to continually utilizes their Reiki healing abilities, to meditate/contemplate on Reiki principals and how to apply them in daily life.  

How many types of Reiki are there?

Depending on your preference you can choose which type of Reiki feels best for you. The old school modality is from Sensei Usui, called Usui Reiki or Usui Skiki Ryoho. Although, when Sensei Usui taught Reiki to his students, when they became Reiki Masters such as Sensei Chujro Hayashi variations were made. By the time Hawayo Takata brought Reiki to Hawaii (from being taught by Hayashi) some Reiki symbols or methods were altered. This is not a negative, but the growth of Reiki as it began to flourish around the world.

Here are other forms of Reiki:

Tibetan Reiki – Tibetan method of attunement and combines certain techniques from the original Usui reiki

Karuna Reiki – means a profound feeling to alleviate suffering, with abiding compassion towards all beings. Karuna Reiki employs sounds, endowed with the power to heal. These sounds are sacred and powerful. They can be transmitted silently through intention or chanting, to bring about deeper levels of healing

Gendai Reiki – Mr. Hiroshi Doi is the founder of this reiki. He brings a strong Buddhist perspective to the original reiki teachings

Rainbow Reiki – Walter Lubeck, a reiki master began this form of reiki. In this system, working with the seven main chakras in the body brings about healing

Shamballa Reiki – reiki energy along with many vibratory symbols and healing rays to achieve the purpose

Kundalini Reiki – reiki energy is channeled through the lower base chakra rather than crown chakra

Imara Reiki – reiki energy is used to work on past life, repressed issues and helps in long distance healing

Reiki Jin-Kei DoThis form of Reiki emphasizes the spiritual, using the system as a path for enlightenment, as well as for healing

Seichem ReikiThis lineage goes back to Dr. Barbara Webser Ray and is taught over five main degrees and uses a combination of Usui Reiki and other forms from Egypt (symbols)

All have a unique contribution to Reiki, and to meet a different healing purpose. Reiki is known in every country in the world and there are several thousand Reiki Masters.

What is Reiki Attunement?

This is part of the Reiki training, in Level 1 the student will receive from the Reiki Master their attunement. What this means is that the Reiki Master opens the student as a channel for Reiki energy. The Rei or God-consciousness modifies the body in order to hold up this energetic frequency.  Many report having mystical experiences during their attunement. Once the student has received a Reiki attunement, it will remain with them for the rest of their lives. The positive of having this is that one can become more sensitive and access healing energy more easily. The challenge to this is that it affects the physical body as well as the mind and emotions, thus releasing toxins from your body and bring up repressed emotions which may be troubling if you have not dealt with them. This is part of the purification process and a Reiki student will learn how to self-heal and better clear their mind, body and soul. 

What is the science behind Reiki?

Reiki has been studied and evaluated by the medical field and have concluded that it’s uncertain whether Reiki is actually helpful. Although, there is no evidence that Reiki is harmful in any way to attempt to heal illness. Scientific research is now assessing the ability of human thoughts, emotions, and motive which affect the physical material world. There some  scientists, quantum physicists in particular, who are stressing the importance of studying factors associated with consciousness and its relation to our physical world. Reiki essentially uses human intention to heal another person so perhaps it is that intention what molds the fabric of reality. 

Quantum physicists have been advocating for the effectiveness of such treatment for some time. For example, Max Planck, the theoretical physicist who originated quantum theory — winning him the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1918 — stated that he “regards consciousness as fundamental” “and derivative from consciousness.” He also maintained that “everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness.” 

Perhaps there is a science for qi energy, we just have to be open minded enough to study, experiment and document it’s effectiveness. Learning Reiki is a good starting point for experiencing and working with healing energy and a wonderful method for deepening awareness of universal energy. In general, Reiki complements other healing methods and spiritual practices.

What are the Reiki principles?

JUST FOR TODAY – an instruction to live in the present moment. Past and future do not matter, the mind is to focus on the moment

JUST FOR TODAY DO NOT ANGER – do not feel guilty about anger, it must be addressed and released; this shows the practice of forgiveness

JUST FOR TODAY DO NOT WORRY – worry is linked with fear of the unknown, it is a thought pattern which results from feeling separate from others and from the universe, Reiki can calm your anxious mind and relax the body

HONOUR YOUR PARENTS, TEACHERS AND ELDERS – respect everyone you meet, and value yourself; show gratitude

EARN YOUR LIVING HONESTLY – it is important to honor your work and acknowledge yourself by doing your best

GIVE THANKS TO EVERY LIVING THING – Gratefulness is the source of happiness, be thankful

What are the FOUR levels of Reiki?

1.) Physical Level – Reiki helps to straighten the immune system, remove blocks, relive pain and stresses, cleans toxins in the body

2.) Emotional Level – Reiki has a relaxing, calming effect on the nervous system and brings balance to emotions

3.) Mental Level – Reiki calms the mind’s activity, helps with clarity, helps bring awareness and improves decisions in life

4.) Spiritual Level – Reiki connects to the Source and unconditional love , connects you with your inner being

Are there Reiki Associations? 

Yes there are! Each country has an organized Reiki association, which members can apply after they have had their Reiki Training. Some will be registered as Reiki Practitioners or Teachers and some may even include Animal Reiki within their discipline. This helps regulate Reiki for quality and to provide a community service to the public displaying who is certified. Be weary for those who practice without references or certification!

Known associations: 

Canadian Reiki Association –

International Association of Reiki Professionals –

The Reiki Alliance –

The Reiki Association (UK) –

The National Center for Complementary and Integrated Health (U.S.A) –

The most wonderful thing about Reiki is that it compliments everything in this life, from healing each other, animals, plants, our food source and the earth. If we let ourselves feel our natural born Ki we can generate our most powerful gift, the gift of health and vitality. Overall, Reiki is used as an Holistic treatment which revitalizes the mind, body and soul. There is no one correct form of Reiki, and all walks of life can use and gain access to this “life force energy”. Reiki is rooted in self-worth and love. 💖

Thank you for joining me today dear readers!

Beginners Guide: What is Reiki?

Please follow, like and comment. 


Stephanie Lise Groulx





Walia, Arjun. (2016). How Reiki Actually Works (The Science Part). Retrived from

Williams, Tom. (1996). Complete Illustrated Guide to Chines Medicine. London, England: Thorsons.

Honervogt, Tanmaya. (2008). The Complete Reiki Tutor: A structures course to achieve professional expertise. London, England: Octopus Publishing Group.

Ellis, Richard. (1999). Practical Reiki: Focus your body’s energy for deep relaxation and inner peace. New York, NY: Sterling Publishing C., Inc.

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