Reiki: A Guide to Self-Healing, the Japanese Way

We all want to feel healthy and whole. But, what does that really mean? In Reiki teachings, our bodies are not just physical containers. We are also made up of emotional, mental and spiritual bodies. Most modern medical practices only address the physical body — the pain. But, pain is often a side effect of what is going on in our human collective. As Plato once said, “The greatest mistake in the treatment of diseases is that there are physicians for the body and physicians for the soul, although the two cannot be separated.”

The healing art, known as Reiki, addresses all four layers to get to the root of any problem. By placing the hands over the body, Reiki healers share life-force energy, or ki in Japanese. This spontaneous bolt of energy helps to heal the physical body, improve decision-making, promote relaxation, enhance intuition and feel connected to the Universe. In short, it promotes balance in all aspects of life.

Japanese reiki

History of Reiki

While Reiki is practiced all over the world, it was founded in Japan by Mikao Usui in the early 20th century. As the story goes, Usui spent some introspective time on a mountain near Kyoto in 1922. After weeks of fasting and meditation, he experienced satori (or a moment of enlightenment). At that divine moment, he felt a powerful connection to the entire universe. 

On his way down the mountain, he injured his foot and intuitively placed his hands over it. To his surprise the pain magically disappeared and his foot was completely healed. And so, Reiki was born!

Immediately after returning home, Usui began developing a teaching system for others to heal through the hands. In the midst of intense political and social changes in Japan, he trained more than 2,000 students and attuned 21 Reiki masters.

Western vs. Japanese Reiki

Today, Reiki is practiced worldwide, and has greatly evolved from its original form. Particularly in the west, Reiki has integrated many other healing techniques from the use of chakras and crystals to yoga techniques and shamanism.

In the west, an ‘attunement’ from a Reiki teacher is required before one can use Reiki. An attunement is a ritual to share universal energy with the student. Therefore, Reiki is not seen as an innate ability, but instead, one has to be given access to this energy. In Japanese Reiki, anyone can practice Reiki, whether they are attuned or not. As Master Usui once said, “All living creatures, once their lives are given, commonly possess a mysterious healing ability as a heavenly blessing. This ability can be seen in grass, trees, animals, fish and insects, and is best realized in humans because human beings are spiritual leaders.”

Japanese Reiki

In Japan, Reiki is believed to flow out spontaneously without setting an intention. Unlike Western Reiki, the Japanese don’t set intentions to ensure other energies are not mixed up in pure Reiki energy. The only concern is: “where should I put my hands?” And that’s where the intuition comes in. In Japanese Reiki, intuition plays an important role in finding energetic blockages and illness. There are no hard rules for treatments. They simply let the intuition guide their hands to where they are needed.

Reiki, the Japanese Way

Inspired by the original Japanese tradition, this self-healing practice clears stagnant and negative energy from your energetic field to restore balance. It also increases your capacity to channel Reiki energy. With your intuition leading the way, let’s promote self-healing, the Japanese way.


Cleanse your auric field

First, cleanse your hands with cool water. Then, use your fingers to “comb” through the space surrounding your body, from head to toe. To do this, move your hands in multiple circular motions over the body. You may also request for the negative energies to be transmuted into positive energies for the highest good. Next, wash your hands again.


Say the 5 Reiki Principles

Repeating the 5 Reiki Principles, or Gokai, can help to promote the flow of Reiki energy. Words hold incredible power. So, when we say the Gokai words aloud, it influences our environment, body, mind and spirit. The Reiki Principles, as written by Mikao Usui, are as follows:

5 Reiki Principles

Repeat each principle three times.


Practice Reiji Ho

Reiji Ho is one of the Japanese techniques for intuitive healing. Before hand positions were created, Usui intuitively placed his hands to where they were most needed.  To practice Reiji Ho:

  • Find a comfortable seated position, and bring your hands into Gassho (or prayer position) to connect to Reiki energy.
Japanese reiki
  • With your eyes closed, place your hands over your heart and breathe slowly through your nose for at least 5 minutes. Focus on your breathing.
  • Keep your hands on your heart, and shift your attention to your body, moving from your abdomen to your throat, lower region and forehead. Notice how each area feels. Does it feel tight and contracted or open and relaxed? What emotions and thoughts arise?
  • While anchoring your energy into Mother Earth, bring your hands back to Gassho position. Call upon Mikao Usui, ascended masters, Reiki guides and your spirit guides. Visualize your connection with Reiki energy flowing down from your Crown Chakra. Bring your hands up to your Third Eye Chakra and ask that you are guided to where the energy is most needed.
  • Feel yourself becoming one with Reiki energy and place your palms over or lightly touch the area that feels right. Focus on the energy, while being open to psychic messages. After about five minutes, let your intuition guide your hands to another position.
  • As you move your hands through various placements, you may come across a blocked area that feels more dense. Give that area a little more TLC by shifting your hands an inch or two from the blockage. Be patient while you wait for the Reiki to start flowing again.
  • Keep moving your hands freely to different placements until you feel the energy dissipate.


Bring your hands back to Gassho position, and thank your guides and the Universe for this beautiful healing experience. Lastly, repeat Step 1 to clear the auric field of any energetic debris that has lifted from the body during the treatment.

May this experience help you heal the mind, body and spirit, while awakening your innate healing and intuitive powers.

What is your favorite self-healing practice? Share in the comments!

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Photos by peakSTOCK and humonia on iStock and Jacob Lund on Creative Market

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