Reiki is a form of alternative medicine developed in 1922 by Japanese Buddhist Mikao Usui. Since originating in Japan, Reiki has been adapted into varying cultural traditions across the world. Reiki practitioners use a technique called palm healing or hands-on healing through which a “universal energy” is allegedly transferred through the palms of the practitioner to the patient in order to encourage emotional or physical healing. Reiki is pseudoscience. It is based on qi (“chi”), which practitioners say is a universal life force.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the English alternative medicine word reiki or Reiki is etymologically from Japanese reiki “mysterious atmosphere, miraculous sign” (first recorded in 1001), combining rei “soul, spirit” and ki “vital energy”—the Sino-Japanese reading of Chinese língqì “numinous atmosphere”. The earliest recorded English usage dates to 1975.
The Japanese reiki is commonly written as レイキ in katakana syllabary or as 霊気 in shinjitai “new character form” kanji. It compounds the words rei (“spirit, miraculous, divine”) and ki (qi: “gas, vital energy, breath of life, consciousness”). Ki is additionally defined as “… spirits; one’s feelings, mood, frame of mind; temperament, temper, disposition, one’s nature, character; mind to do something, intention, will; care, attention, precaution”. Some reiki translation equivalents from Japanese-English dictionaries are: “feeling of mystery”, “an atmosphere (feeling) of mystery”, and “an ethereal atmosphere (that prevails in the sacred precincts of a shrine); (feel, sense) a spiritual (divine) presence.” Besides the usual Sino-Japanese pronunciation reiki, these kanji 霊気 have an alternate Japanese reading, namely ryōge, meaning “demon; ghost” (especially in spirit possession).
Ann began studying Reiki in 1994 while working as a massage therapist. Today, she is a Level III Reiki therapist (Usui lineage), Certified Medical Reiki Master, Certified End-of-Life Doula, and Ordained Interfaith Minister. She assistant-teaches Reiki at the Potomac Massage Training Institute and also serves on the Board of the Center for Reiki Research. In addition to her hands-on healing work, Ann has been a writer/editor for 30 years and is a published poet.