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Nic Whitham’s guide to... Reiki

Reiki symbol

Beginning this month, we’re launching a brand new series on complementary therapies. Our columnist Nic Whitham is co-owner and manager of Banyan Retreat, a spiritual development sanctuary and natural healing centre in Ashford, Kent.

What is Reiki?

Reiki is a Japanese word more generally translated as ‘universal life energy’. As most Reiki practitioners know, it is generally believed that Dr Mikao Usui (1865-1926) re-introduced Reiki as a modern-day hands-on-healing modality in the early 1900s. It was taken to the USA in the 1970s by Mrs Hawayo Takata (1900-1980) and has been popular around the world ever since.

Did Usui exist?

Thousands of students are given training and attunements into this form of healing each year, even though there is no evidence that a man or monk named Usui ever existed. Reiki students are taught that Usui was a monk in a Buddhist temple and also studied at the University of Chicago in his quest to find the source of healing power, but neither has records of anyone by that name having attended. Kathleen Milner, the founder of ‘Tera Mai,’ asks the question: “Did Takata invent Dr Usui so that healing would get into the world ?” She goes on to say:

“What if Takata went to Japan prior to World War II and came across a Buddhist monastery where a minor initiation began the process of opening her to her own healing channels and connection to Source? Did Takata receive the initiations that she passed on in a consciousness-raising experience? She would have also realized that at that time, Americans would not accept Reiki if they knew it came from a woman or a Buddhist.”

This is all good food for thought and there are many more questions which could be asked, but however Reiki healing came into being, it is one of the most popular modalities of hands-on-healing available today.

Spiritual understanding

Reiki is not just a healing modality, it also aids personal development, encourages students along a pathway of unfoldment to awaken innate personal gifts. It also has a spiritual aspect which allows students to have experiences of spirit that guide each to their own spiritual understanding.

When a Reiki practitioner or master links with the cosmic radiant energy, the practitioner draws energy and focuses it through their hands, thus providing a link between themself and the client. Some have described this connection as an opening or expanding of the chakras, filling them with universal life energy.

Intelligent healing energy

This energy can be applied to the practitioner himself, to animals or plants, and can even heal over long distances. It does not matter about the condition being treated, the practitioner does not even have to know about that condition. The intelligence of the healing energy will seek out the cause of the problem. It also touches the individual receiving the healing on a soul level.

Hawayo Takata

The attunements

There are normally three Reiki attunements (or initiations) Reiki I, Reiki II and Reiki master. The initiation is the process by which a master shares with the student the ability to practise. This is a more common practice in Asian spiritual traditions. It is extremely difficult to demystify the attunement process completely, since it is quite mystical in nature.

The process will allow the student to be opened and aligned to the Reiki energy and to be able to channel the healing energy. The sacred Reiki symbols are drawn into the student’s aura at the chakras, hands and feet. The energy moves through the student, through the crown chakra and creates an internal channel for the energy to flow.

The attunement is guided by a Higher Power, and functions at a higher level of awareness. This allows the student after a Reiki II attunement to think of the symbol or use any other way to activate it, and the energy the symbol is aligned to will begin to flow.

Transcendental sacred symbols

The sacred Reiki symbols are normally only revealed to students who are about to be attuned to Reiki II or Reiki master. Depending upon the branch of Reiki the student chooses to study, and the lineage of the Reiki master who is teaching, the sacred symbols will be different. They range from highly complex Japanese Kanji characters to actual symbols.

Some of the early Reiki masters insisted on a ritual burning of the notes, which probably caused much confusion and some of the early masters may have modified the symbols to the written meaning in Kanji characters. Whatever the origin of the symbols used in modern day Reiki, they allow the practitioner to give the healing energy additional focus and purpose.

There are similarities between some of the Usui Reiki symbols and the powerful symbols from Zen Buddhism. The symbols are transcendental in nature and enhance the Reiki healing by working on the root cause of a problem or condition.

Different forms of Reiki

There are many different forms of Reiki available today, mainly due to the fact that nobody has successfully trademarked Usui Reiki. Although some forms of Reiki – such as Tera Mai Reiki and Seichem, Karuna Reiki and Lightarian Reiki – have been successfully trademarked, this leaves the door open for any master to add their own stamp to the form of Reiki they teach.

Beware of internet attunements

This aspect should be given careful consideration when choosing a Reiki master, if you plan to learn how to practise Reiki yourself. It is also worth noting here that a number of people offer to teach Reiki and give the attunements over the internet.

If you choose this method then please proceed with extreme caution, although it may be possible to teach the history and theory of Reiki healing, it is certainly not possible to complete the attunements in this way.

The right intent matters most

Wherever you are on your healing pathway, please remember that it matters less how you use the symbols, or where you place your hands. As with all forms of healing, it matters most that you create the right intent. Intent is the one thing that will open the healing channel and control the flow of healing energy.


 Nic WhithamNic Whitham has been a spiritual healer for the past 40 years and holds an ITEC qualification in anatomy and physiology, reflexology, and Indian head massage. He also practises Thai massage, is a Reiki master, and a qualified teacher and practitioner of electro-crystal therapy and polycontrast interference photography. Nic also has in-depth knowledge and understanding of the bio-energy field and its impact on health.

Feeling extremely passionate about ensuring that healing is taught correctly, Nic teaches both spiritual and Reiki healing. His certified spiritual healing courses are affiliated to the British Alliance of Healing Associations.

Nic feels strongly about promoting a healthy lifestyle and the good use of complementary therapies as an alternative to mainstream medical use of pharmacology, where appropriate.

You can contact him via the Banyan Retreat on: 01233 714155 or visit: www.banyanretreat.com

• Next month: Reflexology


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