Reiki History and Practice

By Bhanu Swami - 2.11 2017


In the mid 1800’s Mikao Usui, began his quest to discover the secrets of healing.  He spent some time as a child in the Tendai Buddhist monastery and later utilized his knowledge from Buddhism.  It is said he found certain texts, which described the method of healing, but did not know how to acquire the powers to enact healing.  The original texts were in sanskrt, composed in India.  These were carried by Buddhist monks to China, and were translated into the local languages.  Japanese monks, journeyed to China about 800 AD, learned the sutras in China and brought copies back to Japan, where they translated them into Japanese.  The exact texts studied by Usui have not been specified.  Perhaps it was not texts, but local taoist and buddhist practices of chi gung which helped him develop his system of healing.  It is unlikely that he left Japan for Tibet or America as some stories say.

Usui named his healing system Reiki, which means energy from the ancestral spirits. He met Chujiro Hayashi, a retired naval officer and gave him master training in 1925.  After making about 16 masters, Usui died in 1930.  Hayashi became one successor, and trained another sixteen masters.  He opened a clinic in Tokyo, where the healers worked in groups on in-house patients.  He made a system for the attunements that other of Usui’s students did not use.

Hawayo Takata journeyed from Hawaii to Japan and appeared at Hayashi’s clinic after hearing of it from a medical doctor.  In four months she was healed of her gallstones, appendicitis and tumor.  Hawayo Takata received her first Reiki degree in 1936 and second degree in 1937.  She returned to Hawaii and opened her own clinic. Hayashi visited, and she received her third degree there.  In 1938 Hayashi declared her as his successor.  There are a few students of Hayashi and Usui’s other successors still  carrying on reiki in Japan today. 

Takata preserved Reiki in Hawaii and then took it to United States, Canada and Europe. During the 1970’s she trained 21 masters.  She did not train these masters in a systematic way.  She died  in 1980.  Takata’s grand daughter, Phyllis Furumoto, became the successor in traditional Reiki.  From this  several branches have evolved in the last 15 years.  In the traditional (American) Reiki there are three degrees, the third one being a master/teacher degree.  The third degree is expensive and given on invitation only.  Reiki first degree is usually taught in the same way in all groups.  Reiki second degree is also similar, but new techniques and symbols from other disciplines have been added.  Reiki third degree differs considerably in the different branches.  The method of passing attunements varies.  Traditional attunement passes four attunements for first and two for second degree.  Other groups use only one attunement for all degrees.

What is Reiki?

The Reiki attunement connects the person with the universal healing energy called chi, ki, orgone, prana, or bioelectrical field.  It will cure the person who has received the attunement, and channel through that person to cure another person simply by hand contact. 

This prana or Reiki is life-supporting, all-healing, all pervasive,  beyond space and time, and can be directed by consciousness of a person.  Under the direction of an adept person, it acts instantaneously over time and space, since it is all pervading. It is intelligent, and filled with love.  It can store and communicate ideas or thought forms, and can help manifest those ideas on the physical level.  It is accessible to all people, and may be increased in the body by practice.  The practitioner must be willing to channel the energy with pure intentions and the recipient must be receptive in mentality.  Certain physical locations  (mountains,  sea side, tirthas)  concentrate  this same energy, and certain objects as well (pyramids, domes, cones, cylinders, crystals and gems). 

Reiki or the Usui system does not require intense training to experience the flow of energy into the body or to transfer it from ones hands to another person.  The Reiki attunement effortlessly and safely opens the channels and cakras necessary for the flow to take place in any person who is receptive to it.  Other systems such as qi gong, taichi, yoga and pranic healing require years of practice to develop enough energy to transmit it to another person.  This is unique to reiki. Reiki does require however sincerity of purpose and perseverance to make it a powerful healing process for self and others.  There are no instant healers. 

Negative Energy

The prana exists naturally in the body and around the universe, it can be contaminated by negative thoughts, violence, suppressed anger, by drugs, alcohol and meat. This diseased energy if accumulated in any part of the subtle body due to various reasons, will eventually manifest as gross physical disease.  Unless the diseased energy is removed or replaced, there is little hope of a permanent cure for the disease. 

This contaminated energy may accumulate not only in people, but in certain places: unclean places, cemeteries or burning ghats,  or places where  sinful  people gather.  The contaminated prana may also stick to the aura of a person who contracts the contaminated place or person.  One can safeguard oneself by cultivating a strong subtle body or aura (through Reiki), by avoiding  such places and persons, and by  bathing  with water or salt water and changing clothing after contact. 

In normal pranic therapy and hands-on healing, the practitioner has a tendency to pick up the bad energy from the patient, and eventually may become sick or show similar symptoms as the patient.  Thus precautions must be taken.  However,  in using Reiki,  this danger is  less evident.  The healer does not absorb the negative energy of the patient even if he does not use precautionary measures, and thus may treat  many patients without becoming ill.

Action on the Subtle Body

The subtle energy of the body has its own form which penetrates the physical body, and extends beyond it in layers.  In the subtle body are various energy centers or cakras, which allow various levels of energy to enter the body, and thus keep the body in a balanced state.  A cakra may be overactive or underactive, thus creating a deficiency or excess of a certain type of energy.  This can cause congestion and depletion of the subtle body in different areas.  This will eventually cause ailments in the gross physical body. Sickness is thus caused by malfunctioning of the cakras or by accumulating diseased prana in various parts of the subtle body, which manifests as disease in the gross body.

A diseased person may also show leaks in his subtle body by which energy escapes. Sometimes the cakras may be distorted, ripped  or injured.  Sometimes the cakras and aura will hold negative entities or thought forms, which will distort the mental body and cause obsessions or delusions.

Reiki treatment brings in energy from the universe and channels it through the hands of the practitioner to the patient.  This  clean energy restores the cakras to normal functioning, revives depleted  areas of the subtle body and replaces diseased energy with  fresh energy.  Thus if there is mental problem, Reiki will also act  positively, by removing the negative thought forms or entities, repairing the damaged cakras and aura, and strengthening  the whole subtle body.

The Attunements

The attunement process has changed considerably since Usui’s time.  The main component is that someone with sufficient or activated power of prana has the ability by his intention  to stimulate the dormant power in another person, provided the receiver is also willing. 

The attunements consist of invoking energy on the cakras and hands of  a person.  This action clears the channels on the subtle body and lets the energy to begin to flow on its natural course.  At that time, some people perceive colors, pictures, past lives, or light,  or may experience clairvoyance, peace or love.

Reiki I heals physical diseases in the person who receives atttunement, but can also be used to cure others by contact.  Basic hand positions are taught.  The person should practice daily on himself. It takes about a month for  the body to adjust to the first attunement. Some persons experience cleansing of the body through intense dreams, diarrhea, etc. To stabilize the energy, it is advisable to do self healing daily and healing on others as much as possible for a month. 

Reiki II increases the amount of healing energy,  involves use of filter symbols, extends healing to the emotional level and penetrates to deeper causes of ailment.  The practitioner may experience the healing of old  complexes for six months.  As well as increasing the power in direct healing, Reiki II teaches distant healing. 

The Reiki Session

Anyone, male or female, young or old, can receive attunements and practice Reiki.  The mental state of the Reiki practitioner is important however.  He should start by offering  gratitude to his teachers and Krsna for his talents. He should practice with a calm mind, preferably in alpha state. Reiki principles which were taught by Usui, can serve as a meditation at the beginning and during a Reiki session .

This is a  method of inviting blessings,  a cure for many ills

Let me not be angry. Let me not worry.

Let me work with appreciation.  Let me show compassion for all living beings.

Day and night think and chant these words for changing mind and body.


Some practitioners, borrowing the practice from pranic healers,  first cleanse the subtle body of the diseased prana by sweeping the aura with their hands.  This eliminates the diseased energy before applying the Reiki energy, giving Reiki a  clean  start.

One should not force his attention on the disease, but simply apply his hands with an open mind to the body in a relaxed state.  He should not demand a certain cure, but leave the cure to Reiki.  He should also not become overly attached to curing a patient, as that will tend to draw the diseased energy from the patient to himself. 

Though a disease may manifest in a particular organ it is advisable to apply Reiki on the whole body, as the disease may have its origin in other areas.  Of course, more attention can be paid to the particular area of the disease as required.  Minor ailments may not require full body treatment.  Usually both hands are used, placed in a relaxed manner, fingers close together over the area for about three minutes. The area may draw energy to a peak and then fall.  After this one cycle  the hands may be  moved to another area. Different teachers have different hand positions: some start with the feet, some with the liver.  It seems that Usui only used seven positions, starting with the eyes. Hayashi introduced a longer series. The common whole body positions as presently taught are as follows according to order:

Eyes, Temples,  Back of Head, Throat, Heart, Solar  Plexus, Navel, Lower Abdomen, (Knees, Ankles,  Feet)

Back of  Neck, Shoulder Blades, Middle of back, Lower Back, Tail Bone, (Back of knees, Back of ankles), Feet


Finishing with feet helps ground the person.  Optionally one may clean or stroke the whole aura of the person from head to foot several times at the beginning and end of the session.  This helps clean out bad energy in the beginning and  ground the person at the end.

After treating a person, he may mentally seal the pranic energy in the patient and detach himself, leaving the results to Reiki.  The patient should rest well and drink plenty of water after treatment.

Effects of Reiki

In treating others,  physical symptoms may be relieved immediately.  If the disease is chronic, several sessions or sessions over many months may be required. There may be emotional release or recollection of previous traumas.  There may be detoxification effects in the patient as well, but after this healing crisis the person will feel better.  If the patient refuses the energy, nothing happens.  Though the practitioner usually feels heat in the hands, sometimes he may not feel anything.  Reiki is still working however. 

Reiki may be used in conjunction with traditional or alternative medicine with no harmful effect.  It increases the positive effects of whatever treatments are being given.  As it has its own intelligence, and does no harm, it may be applied in all circumstances.  Along with the attunements however, the practitioner will also begin to develop intuitive powers by which to judge the proper treatment of an individual.  Several persons may also apply Reiki on one patient with beneficial effects. 

Reiki may also be used to energize objects and places, which may accumulate negative energy.  Medicines, water,  food and crystals may be charged with Reiki to increase their effects.  It may also be sent into the past  to heal traumatic events or into the future to create positive events.

Refining Reiki Power

1. Certain ways of life will refine the reiki energy, allowing it to penetrate more fully: vegetarian eating habits, no smoking, no alcohol or drugs, regulated sleep, happy disposition, breathing through the abdomen,  meditation,  exercise,  sense of gratitude and devotion. 

2. The  room  can be made conducive by cleanliness, fresh air, sacred art,  incense,  flowers and soft music.

3. By regular sessions of healing on oneself and others, a  person can become a more effective channel for the energy.

4. The symbols should  be used with proper intention in a sessions to increase the effectiveness of reiki.

5. Prayer and japa are always effective for calling in the best, refined energy. 


Reiki Symbols

The symbols are means of fixing the intent of the mind.  They are like filters to guide the mind to activate and refine Reiki flow.  When applied consciously after Reiki II, because the intentions become focused, they increase the effects of the energy.  They are like triggers for the mind, which guide pranic energies to take effect.  They are a powerful means of directing the energy according to your will.  Do not underestimate their power and disrespect them in any way. 

They should be physically or mentally drawn while pronouncing the function of the symbol three times.  What is most important is to concentrate ones intention in invoking the symbols.  The first symbol should be used for all healing work.

Choku Rei (concentrate):

This intensifies the energy on the physical level.

This should be used for every healing.  It increases the quantity of energy passed by  focusing it.  It may be applied at the start or over particular parts of the body.

It may be used to energize food.  Together with sei heki food or crystals may be purified and energized.

The crystals may also be programmed with the symbols for healing or protection or any purpose directed.

Medicines can also be purified and energized by sei heki and choku rei.

This symbol may also be used to manifest desired objects in the future.  Visualize the object and then visualize the symbol or doubled symbol.  The desire must be beneficial,  respecting others’ free will and not injurious to anyone.


Before starting a reiki session, a person can draw the symbol on the four walls and top and floor to empower the room.  He can then draw the symbols on his own hands to invoke power there.  He can then draw the symbol on the patient and  bring the power there. 


Sei Heki (compassion):

This works on the emotional body,  healing past traumas.  As most diseases have an emotional origin, it may be used with most healing as well.

It should be used to stop bad habits, cravings, and blockages.

It may be used to purify a place or object of negative energy, to release ghosts, to protect a  place from negative influences.  Place it in the corners to purify and protect a place, or place it in a person’s aura.  It may be used with hon sha ze sho nen if the negative influences are karmic.


Hon sha ze sho nen (transmission):

This symbol works on the mental body or free will of the individual, helping him to choose the best future.

This is always used for distant healing, conveying the energy over time and space, but may be used in direct healing as well. 

In direct healing it helps recall the past karmas and patterns and reprogram them  for a more fruitful life.  Using the symbol while visualizing positive alternatives to a past negative situation will heal the past and create a positive present and future. 

In distant healing, this symbol may be used to program healing to repeat itself at set intervals over a specified period.

Through using these techniques the individual will begin to sense his and others’ existence beyond conventional time and space, and understand something of the working of the powers of God. 



Same for 1, 2 and 3rd attunements


Microcosmic orbit, huiyin

Open crown cakra

Hold breath and draw 4 over crown

Hold hands and blow symbol into crown

Hold breath and draw 1, 2, and 3 over crown

Hold hands and blow symbols into crown

At front, open hands.

Hold breath

Draw 1, 2, 3, 4, on both hands, tapping each time three times reciting the names.

hold hands to side and blow from base to heart cakra.


at back

close aura

draw 5 on spine

seal, bless


William Rand and Tibetan Attunements

Same for 1, 2 and add symbol 4 on hands in 3rd attunement


practice hui yin

draw raku on spine

place hands on  head for communion

meditate on symbol 6 and blow into crown, bring to base of head saying the name

draw 4 on crown and bring it to base of head saying name

raise hands over head

draw 1, 2, 3 over hands, bring symbols to crown and bring to base of head saying names


going to front, open hands and draw 1,2, then 3 tapping each time and saying name 

blow from hands to solar plexus to heart to ajna and crown then back to solar plexus and hands


going to back, look down from crown to root cakra seeing red ball of fire, affirm power of reiki in student

place thumbs at base of head and seal the energy

place hands on shoulders of student for blessings

release energy by going to front and sweeping hands downward


III a: place 4 on hands over head and on hands at front

III b: place the four symbols and 2 tibetan symbols on hands




ONE (only 1 is placed on hands):

a. Place one’s hands on head of student

draw 4 over crown saying name, move to base of head

raise hands over head and draw 1 over hands, move to crown and base of head saying name

in front hold hands of student in your left hand and draw 1 over ajna cakra

draw 1 over hands  tap three times and say name

blow from hands to ajna, crown, hands solar plexus and hands.

look through crown to heart cakra, affirming reiki power in the student

place thumbs at base of head and seal energy

place hands on shoulders and bless

at front, release energy.


b. draw 4 and 3 on  head moving to base of head saying name

draw only 1 on hands over head

draw 1 and 3 on ajna cakra

draw 1 on hands 

rest the same


c. repeat again


d. draw 4, 3, and 2 over head saying names

draw only 1 on hands over head

draw 1, 3 and 2  on ajna cakra

draw only 1 on hands

rest the same


TWO (1, 2, 3 are drawn on hands):

place ones hands on head of student

draw 4 over crown

raise hands over head

draw 1, 2, and 3 over hands

draw 1, 2, and 3 on ajna cakra

draw 1, 2, and 3 on the hands, tap three times


go to back

affirm energy

seal energy





add 4 on hands over head and on hands


Reiki Attunement German method



1. spiral clockwise above head three times meditating on golden dust descending from masters

2. draw ham on forehead with oil

3. fix symbol with hands on forehead and back

4. spiral clockwise again

5. open hands and draw ham, close hands

6. fix with both hands covering



1. spiral

2. draw three symbols on forehead

3. fix

4. draw symbols on hands through meditation

5. fix


three a

1. spiral

2. draw fourth symbol on forehead

3. fix

4. draw fourth symbol on hands through meditation

5. fix


three b

1. spiral with fire

2. draw fourth symbol on forehead

3. fix

4. draw fourth symbol on hands in meditation

5. fix



Furumoto Reiki Alliance: first attunement four parts (this is a little sketchy)


First Attunement

Part one:

draw 1 vertically over head saying name 3 times

draw 3 on spine starting from head, saying name 3 times

draw 1 on head horizontally saying name 3 times

place dominant  hand on head of student and other hand in air,

say 3 and 4 symbol names each 3 times: repeat 7 times 

go to  front and draw 1 over student’s hands with dominant hand, saying name 3 times

hold student’s hands with thumb of hand over top his two hands, say 3 times, then put right hand between hands and say 3 times

move students hands to ajna cakra

draw large 1 symbol in front of body saying name 3 times

draw 1 on roof of mouth with tongue and say 3 times, while blowing from fingers of student to top of head

blow from heart to top of  head

blow from solar plexus to top of head

move hands to heart

draw 1 over ajna cakra say name 3 times, 

place right hand horizontal to ajna cakra and other hand up, imaging symbol penetrating head

draw 1 in front of student to close energy

bring hands to sides


Part Two and Three and Four :

First four steps the same

Say 3 and 4 names 3 times each: repeat three times only

Place hands on shoulders of student and say same mantra three times

(Part Four only: move non dominant hand to base of skull and repeat mantra 3 three times

wait for energy of both hands to stabilize)