Remarkable Reiki

Invitation to Balance, Healing, and Happiness

The Complementary and Alternative Medicine branch of the National Institutes of Health (US) classifies Reiki as a form of energy medicine. A Japanese word, Reiki has been translated to mean the “universal life force.” Specifically, “rei refers to the greater spirit of energy that surrounds the cosmos; and ki refers to the life energy which is part of every being and thing.” Reiki practitioners endeavour to tap into and channel or transfer this life force energy in order to activate the body’s natural healing abilities.

The human body contains hundreds of areas where there is focused and concentrated energies. When you receive Reiki, the focus is usually on the seven major energy centers or chakras (Sanskrit for wheel). The seven chakras correspond to the the body’s principle glands and organs. While using specific hand positions either above or on these areas, Reiki practitioners access the life force energy. And as Debbie Papadakis, a Toronto area Reiki teacher, explains, “by accessing the life force healing energy, we can release blockages that are holding us from functioning at our optimal best.”

Reiki, then, is meant to help us return to balance, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. It supports wellness and strengthens our natural ability to heal by encouraging that balance.


Reiki originated in the early 1900s in Japan with lay Buddhist monk, Mikao Usui. Drawing on experience and knowledge combined with profound enlightenment during a 21-day fasting retreat, Usui developed a system of natural healing. By 1922 he started a healing society named “Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai.” Shortly after, he opened a clinic to give and teach Reiki Between 1922 and his death in 1926, Usui taught over 2000 students, training a handful to be teachers and to spread this simple healing system to people worldwide.

This passing on of Reiki from one to another is referred to as lineage. If you “have Reiki” you are part of a succession of teachers leading back to the founder. For instance, Virginia Hart Nelson, a Traditional Reiki Master in Toronto since 1994, was attuned (initiated) by Caroline Boddie who is just six people removed from Mikao Usui.

It follows that this passing of knowledge from teacher to teacher would lead to overlapping and expansion of ideas and techniques to Reiki healing. Today there are many different schools or branches of Reiki evolving from the original Usui method such as Tibetan Reiki, Karuna Reiki, Seichim Reiki and the Radiance Technique. Debbie Papadakis offers this advice on the subject of Reiki offshoots, “it is important not to be swayed by individuals that claim their method is superior to any other. It is up to the individual to decide which method suits them the best.”

And while there are many schools of Reiki, all focus on healing and for the most part adhere to the five principles or precepts of Reiki. These are simple statements on how to live and achieve “spiritual balance, a healthy body and happiness.”

Just for today:

I will not worry
I will not be angry
I will do my work honestly
I will give thanks for my many blessings
I will be kind to my neighbour and all living things


Initially, I was skeptical about Reiki. It didn’t seem like anything actually happened during a treatment. But I was mistaken – something definitely does happen. I had my first Reiki treatment with Virginia Hart Nelson. Virginia’s Reiki space is quiet and inviting. She gave me herbal tea before the session and explained what she would be doing. This set me at ease and by the time I got on to the table, I felt ready to experience this thing called the “universal life force energy.”

I start out on my back, made comfortable with a pillow beneath my head and knees. There is lovely, soft music playing in the background and with Virginia’s soothing voice asking if I am warm enough, I start to relax and quiet my thoughts. Virginia begins the Reiki at my head by placing her hands over my forehead and face to just above my nose. This, I later learn, is a basic Reiki hand position. She holds the position for a few minutes, occasionally speaking encouragements meant to help me relax even further. Virginia continues the hand placements at various locations, chest, belly, and thighs. I begin to drift, breathing easier and deeper. What is most amazing is how warm or sometimes hot her hands feel, even through my clothes. It is not uncomfortable, just surprising, and unlike anything I have ever experienced.

Once she has finished with my feet, Virginia asks me to take my time and turn over on to my stomach. She ensures again that I am in a comfortable position and she begins the placing of hands at various points on my head, neck, shoulders, and back. I feel myself going into an even deeper state of calm, drifting between wakefulness and sleep. It feels wonderful. Eventually she asks me to turn over and just rest a little longer before rising. My first Reiki treatment has ended (it lasted about an hour), and I feel a bit “spacey”, but in a good way.

I told Virginia before she began the treatment, that the only time I feel totally de-stressed is when I am lost in a book. I can now add Reiki to my de-stressor list. In fact, I felt totally relaxed during and after my treatment, came out feeling upbeat and slept much better than normal for the next several days.


The most commonly reported results of a Reiki treatment are: a sense of calm and relaxation, a higher level of awareness, better sleep, more ease of movement, more creativity, and a sense of being recharged and revitalized. There are many anecdotal stories pointing to more specific examples of Reiki’s healing “magic moments.” Here are just two.

Lisa Tabata, Reiki Master Instructor, tells the story of a client whom she calls John. A busy, accomplished professional, John had developed “severe physical ailments culminating from surgical and pharmaceutical intervention.” He was essentially bedridden, had very little physical strength, suffered from insomnia and had burning rashes and weeping skin all over his body. His skin was so sensitive he could not even be touched.

With the support of his physician, John traveled nearly half way around the world to receive Reiki treatments from Lisa, who attended to him twice weekly for a period of about five weeks. According to Lisa, even the initial session helped John rest more comfortably, with less pain and inflammation. By the third session he was able to greet Lisa at the door (a tremendous effort and critical milestone for him). Moreover, his appetite and energy began to improve considerably.

Tabata reports that by the 5th session, “John was able to wear his pajama shirt (impossible previously due to massive inflammation, pain, skin peeling, splitting, weeping and burning) and his seriously inflamed, dominant hand became about 30% mobile. Only two weeks into his treatment, John was more vigorous, pain-diminished, animated and coherent. His symptoms of dis-ease continued to taper to the extent that touching his inflamed skin was now possible. John could also begin to use his impaired hand to navigate dressing himself with limited assistance or hold a spoon; otherwise nearly impossible before Reiki treatments.”


Reiki Master, Barb Keshen thought readers might like to hear how Reiki can work for their pets. According to her, working with animals is incredible as they are so receptive to the energy “They don’t question it, or over-analyze it like humans. They just accept it for what it is – healing energy.”

Her story involves a golden retriever who was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumour. The tumour caused the dog to have seizures. It also weakened her hind legs to the extent she had to be walked with a supportive harness on the back legs. The dog’s vet maintained that the animal did not have long to live. Keshen, and her husband Richard, started to do Reiki on this very sick dog two to three times a week. Keshen happily reports that after these first treatments the dog was able to walk without the harness and the seizures lessened. After a month she was significantly better and seemed to regain her energy, and the vet was able to reduce her medication significantly.

Keshen concludes her Reiki success story, “the outcome of the sessions with this dog was that she lived for an additional good two years. When she was at the end of her life, in fact the last day she was with us, Richard and I gave her a session and she was able to lift her head after and give us a thank you lick.”


To become A Reiki practitioner, you need to study Reiki from a Reiki Master and receive attunements. No background knowledge of philosophy, religion or medicine is required, “just a desire and devotion to help yourself and others.”

There are three levels or degrees for Reiki training. Content may vary from teacher to teacher and branch to branch. Certification is provided by the instructor and demonstrates the required classes have been taken.


Many believe that no one can go to a Reiki treatment and not feel something change for the better. With stories like the above, this is not surprising. Reiki is often used as a complement to many other natural healing modalities. For example, Therapeutic Touch Therapist, Marlene George uses Reiki during her TT treatments. I was heartened to discover that Reiki is also being applied in mainstream medicine settings as well (pre and post surgeries and in dentists’ office are just two examples).

When all is said and done, Reiki is a totally safe, non- invasive healing modality that can help strengthen the mind body connection. If someone is very motivated and open to receiving Reiki’s healing energy, then, as many practitioners and clients can attest to, miracles can and do happen.

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