What is Reiki?

Reiki is a safe, non-intrusive, holistic hands-on healing technique which uses spiritual energy for balancing, healing and harmonising all aspects of the person – body, mind, emotions and spirit – and it can also be used to encourage personal and spiritual awareness and growth.

In the 1920’s a Japanese Buddhist priest, Dr Mikao Usui, rediscovered this ancient way of channelling healing energy, creating the Usui System of Energy Healing, or Usui Shiki Reiki Ryoho, which has become better known simply as “Reiki”.

The word Reiki is Japanese, and it is pronounced ray-key in the West, and lay-key in Japan. It is made up of two parts (see the two-part Japanese kanji on the left):


REI (the upper symbol) means Universal Life Giving. It is translated as “sacred”, “soul” or “spirit”, the “wisdom and knowledge of all the Universe” or “atmosphere of the Divine”.  It is the Higher Intelligence which guides the creation and functioning of the Universe, the wisdom which comes from God (or the Source, the Creator, the All That Is) which is all-knowing and understands the need for and cause of all problems and difficulties, and how to heal them.

KI (the lower symbol) means energy. It is the life-force energy which flows through everything – plants, animals and people, and even rocks and the earth itself.


When these words are put together, the meaning becomes “Spiritual Energy”, “Universal Life-Force Energy” or “God-Directed Life-Force Energy”, meaning a specific band or frequency of healing energy which comes through your own Soul energy, directly from the Source, and which is directed by that Higher Intelligence (through your Higher Self) for healing (or wholing) any living thing.

Reiki can be used by people of all religions, philosophies, ages and states of health. Life-force energy (Ki in Japanese, Chi in Chinese) flows within the physical body through energy centres and pathways called chakras and meridians, as well as flowing around the body in a field of energy called the aura.


This life-force is responsive to thoughts and feelings, and it becomes disrupted or blocked whenever we consciously or unconsciously receive and accept negative thoughts, feelings or spoken words about ourselves. Reiki helps to break through these blockages, flowing through the affected parts of the energy body and the aura, charging them with positive energy and raising the vibratory level of the whole energy field. It clears and balances the chakras and straightens the energy pathways (meridians) allowing the life-force to flow in a healthy and natural way around the whole body. 


This accelerates the natural ability of the body to heal physical ailments and opens the mind, emotions and spirit to an acceptance and understanding of the causative issues which have led to “dis-ease” in both the physical and energy bodies. Because Reiki is guided by a Higher Intelligence, it will always find its way to those areas of the physical body and/or the energy body most in need of healing, without any conscious direction from either the healer or the person being healed, and it adjusts to suit the recipient, so that each person receives as much or as little healing as they need.


Mari Hall describes Reiki as “Universal Unconditional Love or Pure Heart Energy. A love that has no boundaries and gives us the potential to be the witness to miracles in ourselves and others. It works on the mental, emotional, spiritual and physical aspects of all living things, bringing back into harmony what is dis-eased or distressed”.


© Johann van Greunen, Cape Town, May 2020