Reiki - A Spiritual Practice with a focus on Healing Self to aid Spiritual Development

  Mikao Usui 1865 - 1926
Mikao Usui
Remembering Mikao Usui, who died on this day 96 years ago, leaving a legacy in the form of a Japanese form of Spiritual healing, that still exists today in nearly every country worldwide. When we speak of Reiki, many people think of it as a hands on healing practice, a spiritual method for healing the emotional, physical and mental bodies, by utilising the abundant universal life force energy or Ki that surrounds us, however it's much more than that. Reiki is a spiritual practice, designed to bring awareness of the beautiful spark of light that grows within and around us. Too often this light is shaded by the fears, stresses, worries, and anger we pick up as we go about our daily lives, making it easy to forget the magnificent spark within us, and making it harder for others to see this light. We consistently lose ourselves in tv, mobiles phones, computers and work instead of experiencing the beauty that life has to offer through creative endeavours. These distractions and outside influences make it altogether too easy to quickly anger, worry, fear, become unhappy and unloving. And that's where the System of Reiki comes in - it uses 5 elements - precepts, meditations, hands on healing, symbols/mantras and the attunement/reiju - to bring awareness back to our magical eternal spark of light within and our ability to clear away anything that maybe diminishing it's brightness through compassionate service to others and accepting ourselves as the magical beings we are.


The precepts or Gokai as they are known in Japan, are there to focus intent on being the better version of ourselves and allow us to remember that anyone can have a bad day, but by changing your mindset, to focus on the good you can let it go, turn your outlook into something more positive and have a better day tomorrow.

For Today Only:

Do not Anger

Do not worry

Be Humble

Be Honest in your Work

Be Compassionate to Yourself and Others

This is nothing new, using positive affirmations is a well known technique in many holistic practices, in fact it's just another form of Neuro-Linguistic-Programming (NLP) as it's more commonly known in the scientific world. There is power in spoken word, especially when we speak about ourselves and understanding this is key, as our cells, our light bodies and the life force that flows within listens to our words, whether spoken out loud or internally, and follow instruction. Never judge or speak ill of yourself, just acknowledge your mistakes, always treat them as personal development, healing and learning, rather than something you beat yourself up over. Speak highly of yourself, and in turn keep your internal spark glowing, as when others see and feel this brightness of your spark, they will follow in your footsteps, praise you, and as a result, heal by furthering their own spiritual development. By being a better version of you, you are unknowingly providing a service to humanity, by allowing others to witness your light and in turn trigger a remembrance, a reconnection to their divine source / spark within. By healing self - you are healing others as a by product.


While most western versions of Reiki teachings almost always include some meditation practice. The western aspect of meditation in respect to Reiki is used to focus the mind, clear any distractions, allowing a clear flow of energy, while using visualisation techniques to engage the creative mind and processes, which effectively drowns out the Ego or Monkey mind. It is important to understand that this has evolved from the traditionally practised techniques of Mikao Usui. The following two paragraphs are an excerpt from The Japanese Art of Reiki.

“There are three major meditation; techniques taught in the first level of the system that lie at its foundation. The first of these is a cleansing technique called Kenyoku Hô. Following that is Jôshin Kokyû Hô: a meditation to focus the mind using breath and; finally, Seishin Toitsu: a unifying the mind meditation. These are taught in traditional forms of the system of Reiki.

The last is a meditation taught in the second level of the system called Hatsurei Hô. In modern times it is practised simply as a combination of the three aforementioned techniques”

As a teacher, I often come across students asking the question, “What does the Reiki energy feel like, am I supposed to feel it flowing?”. There is no simple answer to this. On one hand, you may already have some sensitivities to the energy, or are accustomed to sensing energies around you much like that of an empath or medium. On the other hand you may be completely new to all this, and this may be your first spiritual outing. The thing to remember here is the energy will always flow regardless if you can feel it, however you can aid, strengthen and channel the energy better with practices such as the ones outlined below as with everything you to practise will always strengthen your ability.


Dry Bathing is a quick routine that you can practise at the beginning of your Usui Reiki meditation or hands-on-healing practice as shown here. It is practised to cleanse the body, mind and spirit. We practise Kenyoku Ho with the intention to clear anything that is preventing us from being an open and receptive channel for Reiki. It can also be used to ground and disconnect from people, and situations that are causing distraction hence loss of focus on the self. You can see where the movements have evolved from the knowledge and teachings of ancient martial arts of which Mikao Usui was an expert.


  1. Gassho – Bring the palms to touch in front of the heart’s center. Hold the intention to clear anything that prevents you from being a clear and open channel for Reiki.

  2. Breathe in. As you exhale, sweep diagonally down from the left shoulder to right hip.

  3. Breathe in. As you exhale, sweep down diagonally from right shoulder to left hip.

  4. Breathe in. As you exhale, sweep diagonally down from left shoulder to right hip.

  5. Breathe in. On the exhale, sweep down the left arm with your right hand.

  6. Breathe in. On the exhale, sweep down the right arm with your left hand.

  7. Breathe in. On the exhale, sweep down the left arm with your right hand.

  8. Gassho – Bring your palms to touch at the heart’s center to acknowledge your practice. Cultivate gratitude for yourself and your practice.


Joshin Kokyu Ho is a foundational meditation practice in the tradition of Reiki. This practice builds the Hara, improves concentration and clears the energy field.


  1. Find a comfortable seated position and lengthen your spine. Bring the palms to touch in Gassho. Set any intentions that you may have for the practice.

  2. Allow the palms to rest on your mid-thighs. Let the center of the chest open ever so slightly.

  3. On the inhale, follow the breath as it travels through the nose, chest, and to the Hara (below the belly button).

  4. Hold the breath for a moment as you observe your body, mind, and energy field.

  5. On the exhale, let the lifeforce in your Hara expand to your entire body. Let it radiate beyond yourself and out into your surroundings. With consistent practice, you may feel comfortable expanding out to the entire Universe.

Practise this meditation for approximately 15 minutes. This meditation can improve the flow of breath, and Reiki in the body and mind. It can lessen the effects of stress, and help you ground your energy field.


This traditional Usui Reiki healing practice is used to unify the mind with intention, so you can connect with Reiki. Seishin means “spirit, mind, soul, or intention”. Toitsu means “to unite”. This visualization practice also builds the Hara, but helps increase our sensitivity to Reiki.

  1. Sit comfortably, with your spine lengthened. Bring the palms to touch at the heart’s center.

  2. On the inhale, visualize white light traveling from the hands, through the arms, heart, and down to the Hara.

  3. On the exhale, visualize white light traveling back up from the Hara, and out the heart to the hands.

  4. Continue practicing for at least 10 minutes. Visualize your meridians clearing with each breath.

  5. At the end, give thanks and gently release your meditation.

You may notice your palms become warm, move involuntarily, or tingle. You may also feel spaciousness in your body and mind. The sensations can vary greatly from one practitioner to another so allow yourself to witness or experience without judgement.

Finally we come to Hatsurei Hô. An original version of Hatsurei Hô, written by a student of Usui called Tomita Kaiji in 1933, has been included here, and is taken from the International House of Reiki website.


Hatsurei-ho is one of the early techniques. We know this for certain as it exists in a 1933 book by Kaiji Tomita, a student of Usui Mikao. Below is a translation of this technique from that book. The chanting of waka, poetry written by the Meiji Emperor, is not generally practised in the West.

Hatsu – to generate

Rei – spirit

Ho – method


First sit down and try to concentrate (unify) the mind and body. Choose a quiet place or somewhere comfortable where you can relax. Included in the text are 2 different readings of the word seiza. One means to sit still and is the first part of the technique, the other relates to the physical action of sitting in seiza.

1. Seiza (lit. Japanese) [to sit still]

Sit in the seiza position and gassho with the objective to gather/concentrate the energy from the heart into the palms of the hands. Hold the hands together without using force from the arms or the shoulders. Drop the shoulders and clasp the hands, joining the fingers lightly and feel the alignment of the posture. Close your eyes.

2. Joshin ho (Mind purification method)

The aim of Joshin-ho is to unify and purify the mind. Once the sitting upright is achieved, recite (in your head) some waka poetry and feel at One with its meaning.

Here is an example of the Meiji Emperor’s waka a form of poem used by Usui Mikao that can be used during Joshin Ho.

Asamidori sumiwataritaru ohzorano (As a great sky in clear light green)

hiroki onoga kokoro to mogana (I wish my heart would be as vast.)

If you have followed the previous steps and stayed focused on the palms of your hands they start to become warm. This is what Tomita ryu calls reiha (wave of rei). It describes the tingling sensation that is comparable to an electrical current. The heat created and the wave of rei are what constitute spiritual energy. Even if the sensations are weak at first, they should become stronger as you keep concentrating.

Come back later for part 2 where we discuss the hands on healing techniques, symbols and attunement process used in Reiki.

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