REIKI – An Introduction to Hands-on Healing
An introductory article on the healing discipline of Reiki.

July 18th 2017 - Reiki (pronounced Ray-Key) is a natural healing method which balances the vital life energy present in all living things. It is part of a spectrum of healing disciplines that fall into the category of ‘energy work.’

Energy work therapies help to clear, balance and strengthen the energy anatomy. Our energy anatomy is comprised of the pathways through which energy travels that are located both within and around the human body, including meridians, chakras and the energy field, or aura. Movement of energy through these pathways maintains the health of the surrounding physical body. In other words, when energy moves freely, the cells, muscles, and organs benefit.

Reiki is a form of energy work which originated in Japan in the late 1800s. The word Reiki is a combination of two Japanese words: Rei, which can be loosely translated as ‘universal,’ and ki which means ‘life energy.’ Combined, these two words form a working definition of Reiki as ‘Universal Life Energy.’

Mikao Usui is widely known as the founder of Reiki. He lived and studied in Japan, exploring medicine, psychology, religion, and philosophy. In his quest to understand the purpose of life, he also trained in Zen meditation.

After devoting many years to this contemplative practice, Usui had a transformational experience which lead to his discovery and development of the Reiki healing method. He called his approach ‘Usui Reiki Ryoho’ which means Usui Reiki Healing System.

Usui began using his healing technique with family and friends, eventually developing a Reiki clinic where he offered classes and treatment. From these ancient roots, the discipline of Reiki has become widely taught and practiced in western cultures around the world.

There are traditionally three levels of Reiki training. Each level includes an ‘attunement’ which increases the practitioner’s ability to be a channel through which Reiki energy flows. In addition, Level One training includes the history of Reiki and the hand placements used within a treatment for both self and others. In Level Two, Reiki symbols are introduced, as well as methods of using the symbols to enhance healing effects. Level Three, or Reiki Master training, includes the introduction of more Reiki symbols and instruction in how to teach Reiki to others.

Reiki can be administered seated or with the recipient lying comfortably on a massage table. Within the session, the practitioner places hands lightly over specific areas of the body. The resulting benefits are multi-faceted, including relief of pain, fatigue, and anxiety, as well as an increased sense of relaxation and well-being.

The benefits of Reiki have captured the attention of the medical community and prompted research into the physiological changes in response to energy work. In his book, Energy Medicine; The Scientific Basis, James Oschman cites a study on page 86 in which the frequency emitted from the hands of an energy work practitioner was measured. The energy was found to spontaneously fluctuate through low frequency ranges (0.3 to 30 Hz) which are associated with nerve regeneration, bone growth, ligament healing and capillary formation.

As research confirms the benefits of energy work, hospitals are including Reiki as part of integrative medical care. Dr. Mehmet Oz, a noted surgeon at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York, introduced Reiki into his operating room. In Connecticut, both Hartford Hospital and Yale New Haven Medical Center offer Reiki volunteer programs providing this gentle, hands-on healing to patients. In Syracuse, NY, Crouse Hospital offers Reiki services for their patients. And these are only a few of the many hospitals nation-wide that have active Reiki programs in place.

From ancient civilizations to modern medical practice, Reiki is emerging as a time-honored method of preventative health care. Both straightforward and profoundly effective, it offers a natural way to complement traditional approaches to health and wellness.

If you are interested in evidence based research on the effects of Reiki, The Center for Reiki Research (CRR) is a dynamic on-line source that provides a current list and summaries of evidence-based Reiki research published in peer reviewed journals. CRR also includes a list of hospitals, medical clinics, and hospice programs where Reiki is offered.

If you find this article has sparked your interest, be sure to seek training or treatment from qualified professionals.

Professional Profile

Hallie Sawyers is the founder of Soul Song, a well known and respected educator with extensive training in energy work and body-centered therapies. Her mission highlights creating transformation on personal and professional levels through quality education in alternative approaches to prevention and wellness. She is a Traditional Usui Reiki Master Teacher, certified in polarity therapy, a Master Instructor of Integrated Energy Therapy, Nationally Certified in Therapeutic Massage and Holistic Aromatherapy, and an approved CEU provider for the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork and New York State. She offers individual appointments, lectures and training in Reiki, Integrated Energy Therapy, Hot Stone Massage, Reflexology, and Aromatherapy in New York, Connecticut and other areas by request. To schedule an appointment, lecture or class, you can reach Hallie at 585.967.0009 or visit

Contact Member:
Hallie Sawyers, LMT APP BCTMB
Soul Song
United States
Other than specifically noted credits, the information in this article is derived from the curriculum of Hallie's Reiki Level One Training.

To schedule a Reiki class, lecture, or individual appointment, contact Hallie at or visit her website: