Ep. #74: Reiki 101: What Reiki Is, the History of Reiki, Benefits of Reiki, My Reiki Journey, & Your Reiki Questions Answered

I love reiki and it’s completely changed my life, which I’ll get into in this post and podcast episode. I’m going to cover what reiki is, the history of reiki, my journey with reiki, the benefits of reiki, and I’m answering some questions listeners sent in about reiki including what makes you the best conduit for healing energy, the best places to learn reiki, and more.

Reiki healer Eryn Johnson

What is energy?

I’d like to start with energy. Reiki is energy healing and energy is a huge buzzword these days — but what is energy?!

Everything is energy. This is something science has proven time and time again. Your chair, your body, an apple, a tree, sound, your AC system— our senses don’t detect the energetic movements of things like apples because they vibrate so slowly and at a low frequency, but they’re still made up of energy.

We are all made up of energy. There is only one tiny basic unit that connects everything and makes up all of us.

What Reiki is

Reiki translates to “Universal energy.” It’s Universal energy, spiritual energy, the energy of oneness, that can be channeled from one human behing to another to facilitate healing.

Reiki has its own intelligence. You don’t have to be special to give reiki. We all have this energy within us, which is awakened in reiki trainings through a process called attunement.

When you give reiki, you receive reiki. In my Reiki 1 manual by Reiki master teacher Miranda Barrett, she writes, “One of its most powerful features is that anytime we give reiki, we receive reiki. And it is no accident that those who come to us for reiki sessions are those that can help us heal our own challenges. For me, there is no longer a distinction between practitioner and client, just different roles we are assuming in the moment.”

I’ve found that to be so true in my experience giving reiki, and I love this because it really speaks to the nonhierarchical nature of reiki. We can all give reiki.

If you’ve never experienced reiki, I highly, highly recommend it. You can look for community reiki and reiki circles in your city for cheaper reiki, and check your local reiki school to see if they’re looking for volunteers to be in a clinic (aka receive free or cheap reiki) from their reiki students. If you’re in Philly, I host a monthly $10 reiki circle at The Common Room where you can come experience this powerful healing. Check my events page for upcoming circles!

The history of Reiki

Reiki was developed by Dr. Mikao Usui. He was born in 1865 in a little village in the mountains of southern Japan into a well-off Buddhist family. As a kid, he studied in a Buddhist Monastery. He was always interested in healing, and he became a medical doctor and moved to Tokyo after school. He had a bunch of different jobs — an official in the health department, health minister, he even became the mayor of Tokyo and later an entrepreneur. 

Summing up a long story, after he was married and had kids, he ended up going bankrupt and losing everything. It’s believed that that sent him on a spiritual path, where he became a Buddhist monk and lived in a monastery. 

But he was still looking for something. He wanted to find a method of healing that was unattached to any specific religion, accessible to everyone.

He isolated himself on Mount Kurama fasting, meditating, and praying. After 21 days, he felt an awakening. A vision of light, a feeling of complete peace and oneness, and he saw the ancient symbols that helped his create the Usui Reiki system of healing. 

He quickly moved his family back to Tokyo and established a healing Reiki clinic and school there (around 1922). He wanted to help as many people as possible, so he taught several reiki masters, making sure reiki wouldn’t be forgotten. 

I want to point out how radical this was — in Japanese tradition, these enlightenment experiences weren’t supposed to be shared. But Dr. Usui did, and he realized everyone didn’t need to fast on a mountain to experience reiki— you can experience it right here, right now, wherever you are. 

One of the reiki masters Dr. Usui trained was Dr. Chujiro Hayashi, who further developed the Usui system of reiki by changing and refining the attunement process & adding hand positions to more thoroughly cover the body. He also trained several more reiki masters, including Hawayo Takata around 1935, a Japanese American woman who originally came to him for healing.

A doctor had told Mrs. Takata she needed surgery, which she wanted to avoid, so she asked her doctor for other options. He told her about reiki, and said if it didn’t work she would have to come get surgery. But it did work, and she was healed.

She learned the system herself and took Reiki back to the US with her. She wanted to spread the system of healing to others, so she used Reiki to help heal people in the US. When she died, she had attuned 22 Reiki masters. And Reiki lives on!

My journey with Reiki

As you can see, I absolutely love Reiki. I often say that it’s been my most powerful healing modality. I give myself Reiki self healing every single day for at least 10-20 minutes, and it’s changed everything for me. Of course, I also give reiki to other people (which I love) but it’s been an extremely powerful healing practice for me personally.

Reiki has opened up my channel so much. It’s unblocked my creative energy (which felt so blocked for probably almost 10 years) and I feel this flow of creative energy all the time now, like I’m constantly receiving inspirations and downloads from the universe, invitations to pull them down into this physical plane.

I often set the intention to align with the energy of my desires and with the energy of love, and I definitely feel that Reiki has helped me become a magnet for my desires. It’s so beautiful. 

Reiki really just helps me feel more connected and supported all the time. And the more I use it, the more I feel it and the more I trust it. When i first started doing reiki I was like “IS IT WORKING?!” and I just kept using it every day. Now, I feel it so strongly, so powerfully, and in such a physical and energetic way.

Benefits of Reiki 

Some of the benefits of Reiki (from my experience and from my teachers) are:

  • Relief of physical symptoms like pain and discomfort

  • Release of blocked energy and blocked emotions

  • Release of limiting belief systems

  • Reconnection to your highest self, rediscovery of spirit within 

  • Become more present and enjoy your life more 

  • Open your self-healing power 

  • Balance energies in your body

  • Relax and reduce stress

  • Calm the ego

  • Reach a calmer, meditative state

  • Bring you back home to who you really are

  • Align with your higher calling and purpose

  • Enhance your connection to spirit

Each individual’s experience of Reiki will be super unique. You might see colors, words, and/or visual images. You might get intuitive hits, inspiration, and creative ideas. You might have an emotional release like crying afterwards, or the next day. Or maybe you just feel super relaxed. Maybe you fall asleep. 

Personally, I usually see color and get creative ideas & intuitive hits. I occasionally see images. I typically reach a calmer, more present, meditative state and deeply feel my connection with the Universe.

I love this quote by Liana Naima (who is coming on the podcast soon) from an interview with Essence where she says, “Energy healing causes you to question the energy you are attracting and emitting with your thoughts, subconscious beliefs, and behavior; the impact is profound.” 

Check out the full interview with Essence here.

Your Reiki Questions Answered

Thanks to all who submitted their questions on Instagram! Here are the questions I answer in this episode:

1. What makes your the best conduit for healing energy?

2. What’s your favorite thing about practicing reiki on other people?

3. Can you have upper level reiki abilities without paying for an upper level attunement? 

4. What are the best schools to learn Reiki at?

5. How has Reiki changed your perspective on healing yourself and others? And what do you find most challenging about doing Reiki on others?

Listen to this episode on iTunes, SoundCloud, Spotify, or Stitcher.

Click here to check out my reiki offerings.

Support on Patreon for as little as $2 a month to access the Queen of Pentacles breathwork meditation, monthly embodied tarot yoga classes (September's class is the Queen of Swords), monthly virtual new moon circles, & the Lilith: Healing the Wild book club: www.patreon.com/erynjohnson.