Reiki and the Pranic Breath
“For today only, do not get angry, do not worry, be grateful, work hard and be kind to others.”
-Dr. Mikao Usui Sensei
The practice of Reiki has become more and more commonly accepted across North America in recent years, and many registered massage therapists are now learning this practice to improve the healing effects of their massage. What’s often overlooked about Reiki however is observing its humble origins; what is Reiki and where did it come from?
Reiki is a Japanese energy healing practice which translates as follows: Rei meaning “God’s wisdom” or “the higher power” and Ki which means “life force energy.” Therefore, Reiki is the practice of channeling life force energy from the heart of God, through the universe – and right into the palms of your hands, and then sending it with intention to where that energy is needed.
The History of Reiki
One of the stories about the history of Reiki comes from Mrs. Hawayo Takata, a Reiki Master who adopted the information for the West and presented the story as follows: It all started because of a man named Dr. Mikao Usui in the mid to late 1800’s when Dr. Usui was teaching in a Christian university in Kyoto Japan. Some of his students asked him if he believed in the healing miracles of Jesus Christ, to which Dr. Usui replied that he did. His students then asked if Dr. Usui could perform such healing miracles so that they might believe as well, to which he replied that he could not.
Dr. Usui then started asking other church leaders if they knew how to perform such healing miracles themselves, to which they also replied that they did not. So Dr. Usui set out on a mission to find out how to heal; he left Japan and journeyed across China and studied there. He went to North America and studied at the University of Chicago’s Divinity School and still could not find anyone who knew how the healing of Jesus could be performed.
Finally he returned back to Japan and still did not have the answer for his students. Defeated, he decided to climb Mt. Kurama for a 21 day meditation and fast, to give himself to spirit and try one last time to find the answers he so deeply sought. After the 21st day was finished, when he was about to leave a great light appeared in the distance and started moving towards him. The light reached out and struck his Third Eye, knocking him unconscious. After he awoke, millions of small glowing orbs and symbols started appearing before him, and their meanings were instantly understood. This was the very moment that the practice of Reiki was created; God’s wisdom flowing through life force energy.
From there Dr. Usui started healing in the slums around Kyoto, but found that when he only healed on a physical level, people would keep doing the same actions that caused their illnesses in the first place and the root of their suffering was not being addressed. So Dr. Usui expanded the Reiki practice to heal people not only physically, but emotionally and spiritually as well. He also at this time set the standard for an energetic exchange so that people would not take for granted that they could be healed miraculously, and instead stop the negative behaviour which caused it.
Dr. Usui then went on to call his practice Usui Shiki Reiki Ryoho and began to teach and train other students and practitioners which eventually lead to its current western adoption.
However in 1994, the original manuscript of Dr. Usui was found, which claimed that Reiki had originated from Gautama Buddha and was not influenced by the teachings of Jesus Christ as described by Mrs. Takata, who had developed the story for a westernized audience. Our personal understanding is that at the heart of the story, Dr. Usui wanted to follow in the footsteps of the greatest of spiritual masters, and by doing so devoted his life to the pursuit of attaining the same skills required to cause real physical healing. Only after proving that he would still keep going and setting himself aside for 21 days of fasting and meditation was he presented with the wisdom he was seeking. This is the foundation of what became the practice we call Reiki.
The Three Pillars of Reiki
One of the main principles in the teachings of Reiki is a practice known as ‘The Three Pillars’. Each pillar is a specific way that the practitioner can connect with the divine energy and allow it to flow through them. When practiced, these concepts will strengthen ones ability to flow energy through their body, and are invaluable to anyone who is trying to learn how to practice Reiki themselves.
The first pillar is called Gassho, and includes several aspects all working together to bring your awareness to the divine energy which you are intending on channeling. First, you would put the palms of your hands together in a typical prayer mudra and position them in front of your heart chakra. Then start breathing deeply, keeping your inhales and exhales the same length and keeping each breath as long as you can comfortably. You can start by breathing it into the lowest part of your lungs, pushing your diaphragm downwards, then fill the middle of your lungs, followed by the very top near your throat. Exhaling in reverse order.
As you breath in, visualize energy coming out from the center of our galaxy, the milky way and moving towards our solar system. Watch as this energy builds up as it connects with our sun and moon and bring it towards the Earth. Then visualize it entering you from the very top of your head and filling up your heart.
As you exhale, picture energy rising up from the very core of our planet and rising up through the layers of mantle before entering your feet and rising up to meet the energy in your heart. Breathing in this way is called the Pranic Breath as it will fill you with divine energy or prana and this becomes essentially the fuel for your Reiki practice. The position of your hands, the depth of your breath and the visualization you create in your mind are all parts of the first pillar.
The second pillar is called Reji-ho, and is the act of specifically asking for the guidance and assistance from our higher selves in our practice. This could be done in any manner of ways but can be even as simple as saying out loud “I call upon the wisdom and guidance of the Ascended Masters, to be with me in this practice and that the energy be used for the highest good and greatest intent.”
It is recommended to speak your intention out loud as the vibration we create with our voice carries resonance and by doing so we will strengthen the intention of our prayers. Part of this call will include being aware of what your actual intention is, be that for physical healing, emotional healing, spiritual healing, or a combination of all of them. So stating out loud what you are intending on using the energy for and holding the space for it to be used in the greatest good for all will help strengthen your connection with the divine source of which this energy emanates from. Bearing in mind that if your intention is selfish or egotistical, your call will not be heard; such as if you only want to heal a person so they believe that you can channel energy or that you were paid to perform Reiki and need it to be strong so that the person does not get upset with you.
The third pillar is called Chiryo and is the transfer of your energy from your field of awareness and out into the world or patient before you. There are many specific hand positions that can be used if you are just starting out, but over time and with practice you will know where to position yourself so that the energy is sent and received with the greatest alignment with your higher self. Many practitioners will not even touch the patient and will only work in their energetic field, sensing the field and allowing the energy to leave your hands and flow as it is needed. You can be very specific in aiming the energy to a certain chakra or point on the patient or you can send it generally and let it move to wherever the energy will flow. In both cases after you feel the energy has left you, return to Gassho position and ensure your connection with your visualization and breath are strong before sending out the next wave.
You do not need to be attuned in the practice of Reiki to begin practicing the three pillars on yourself and it is recommended to become proficient at maintaining your visualization and the flow of energy through you before you seek out an attunement. In either case, follow your heart and always keep your mind focused on serving the highest intention of your soul; knowing that all things will come exactly as they need to be.
If you wish to learn more about starting this practice yourself, this Level I Reiki manual is very amazing and covers Reiki Symbols and the hand positions in great detail! We wish you the very best on your energetic journey!