The Origin and History of Reiki

Dr. Mikao Usui, Founder of the Usui System of Reiki

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The origin of Reiki can be traced back thousands of years ago to the ancient cultures of India, Tibet, China, and Japan. This technique was rediscovered in the mid-1800s by Dr. Mikao Usui of Japan.
Dr. Usui, Japanese theologian, and a missionary, was the founder of the Usui System of Reiki. He was born August 15, 1865, in the village of Yago in the Yamagata district of Gifu prefecture, Japan. Dr. Usui had an avid interest in learning and devoted his energy to his studies.

He traveled to Europe and China to further his education. His curriculum included medicine, psychology, and religion. After a deep study of many spiritual scriptures under expert guidance, Dr. Usui discovered sounds and symbols that are linked directly to the human body and nervous system, which have been reported to activate the universal life energy for healing. He organized the process into a universal system. In March 1922, Dr. Usui decided to travel to Mt. Kurama, where he enrolled in Isyu Guo, a twenty-one-day training course. It is not known for certain what he was required to do during this training, but it is likely that fasting, meditation, chanting, and prayers were part of the practice. In addition, we know there is a beautiful waterfall on Mt. Kurama where even today people go to meditate. This meditation involves standing under the waterfall and allowing the waters to strike and flow over the top of the head, a practice that is said to activate the crown chakra. Japanese Reiki Masters think that Dr. Usui used this meditation as part of his practice. It was during the Isyu Guo training that he felt that the Reiki energy entered his crown chakra. This is reputed to have greatly enhanced his healing abilities and the ability to give healing to others without depleting his own energy!

Dr. Usui practiced and taught Reiki all over Japan for the rest of his life until his death around 1893. It is thought that he taught over 2,000 students to use Reiki. Sixteen of his students continued their training to reach the Reiki Master (Shinpiden) level, one of whom was Dr. Chujiro Hayashi. Dr. Hayashi, a retired naval doctor, received the Reiki Master initiation from Dr. Usui in 1925 at the age of 47. Up to this point, the Usui system of healing consisted of the energy itself, the 3 Reiki II symbols, the Usui hand positions, the attunement process, and the Reiki ideals. After being asked to do so by Dr. Usui, Dr. Hayashi went on to develop the Usui system of healing. Dr. Hayashi passed on the complete teachings of Reiki to Mrs. Hawayo Takata. Mrs. Takata was a Japanese Hawaiian and an American citizen. She set up a Reiki clinic in Hawaii and dedicated her life to teaching and practicing Reiki. Mrs. Takata was the thirteenth and last Reiki Master Dr. Hayashi initiated. In the Spring of 1936, she received First Degree Reiki. She worked with Dr. Hayashi for one year and then received Second Degree Reiki. In the Winter of 1938, Dr. Hayashi initiated Hawayo Takata as a Reiki Master. Between 1970 and her transition on December 11, 1980, Mrs. Takata initiated twenty-two, Reiki Masters. Below is a list of the Reiki Masters she initiated. The original twenty-two teachers have taught many others. In the decade since Mrs. Takata passed away, the Reiki teachings have spread rapidly throughout the world. It is thought that Reiki was first introduced to the Western world in the mid-1970s. Today it is estimated that there are thousands of Reiki practitioners and Reiki Masters, whose focus is to dedicate and commit their lives to living, being and perpetuating the positive aspects of the universal life force of Reiki while assisting in the harmony and balance of the universe by providing others with a means of balancing their bodies, minds, and spirits for the highest good of all concerned.


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Ariana Vincent directs the Ariana Institute in Houston, Texas, which offers continuing professional development for massage therapists. Ariana is a Reiki Master, a Nationally Certified Massage Therapist and a Massage Therapy Instructor who has practiced massage therapy and bodywork for thirty years. Her highest aspiration, personally and professionally, is to facilitate the integration of mind, body, and spirit, and to ultimately allow a state of balance to effortlessly and peacefully become an integral part of everyday life.

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