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Reiki Myths

When you first learn Reiki you may encounter a number of marvelous, but false, stories about the origins and practice of Reiki.  Many of the myths and legends that are passed from one Reiki practitioner to another can be traced to Hawayo Takata.  Takata was student of Chujiro Hayashi, who had been initiated as a Reiki master by Mikao Usui, the founder of Reiki.  Takata is credited with bringing Reiki from Japan to the West. Indeed, in one way or another, most Western practitioners of Reiki can trace their Reiki lineage back to Takata.

We honor Takata for her efforts to spread Reiki beyond Japan. Without her, it is unlikely that the healing practice we recognize as Reiki would exist.  Unfortunately, she created stories about the origins and techniques of Reiki that had little basis in fact.  Even more unfortunate, it appears that many of her early students took the stories literally and did not appreciate their larger meaning.  As the practice of Reiki has spread to a diverse population of Reiki masters, still more myths have emerged among both practitioners and the general public.  Below is a list of some of the more common myths associated with Reiki.

1. Mikao Usui was a Christian minister.  Sorry. Usui came from a Buddhist family and may have practiced Tendai Buddhism.

2. Mikao Usui studied in America at the prestigious, University of Chicago.   Sorry.  Usui never studied at the University of Chicago.  In fact, he probably never even visited America.  Usui was certainly well-educated and well-read, but it is likely that most of his education came through self-study.

3. Mikao Usui was a physician and that is why he is often referred to as Dr. Usui.  Sorry.  Usui was highly respected as a teacher and mentor.  Hence, he was given the title, sensai.  "Sensai" was probably changed to "Dr" to make his teachings more palatable to Western students.

4. Reiki is a religion.  No.  Reiki is, at its heart, a spiritual practice.  It is concerned with certain elements of spirituality found in many formal religions, but Reiki itself is not a religion.  It is practiced by people of many different faiths.

5. Reiki only helps people who believe in it.  Wrong.  A patient/client is not required to believe that Reiki works the way it is said to work.  Reiki healing energy will go where it is needed.  It can help "nonbelievers", as well as "believers".

6. Reiki only "works" if you pay for it.  Wrong. This myth was probably started as a way for Takata and other early masters to justify the fees they charged their students.  Reiki practitioners certainly have a right to charge for their services -- everybody has a right to make a living -- but, a Reiki healing session will help the recipient whether it is paid for or is received free of charge.

7. Reiki can replace conventional medical practices.  No.  Reiki practitioners agree that serious illnesses, accidents, and other acute medical conditions require traditional medical interventions.  However, they do believe that Reiki can be usefully applied to a wide range of physical and mental disorders.  They believe that the application of Reiki can help the body heal itself.  But, Reiki practitioners generally see Reiki as something that should be combined with conventional treatments.

8. There is only one valid approach to learning and teaching Reiki.  Over the years, sensitive, well trained, and well-intentioned Reiki masters have added new concepts, symbols, and techniques to their practice of Reiki. Today, there are many different forms of Reiki (see examples on this website).  And, some of these seem quite different from the original Usui Reiki.  At the same time, there are well-known Reiki masters who believe that Reiki can be taught fairly quickly, or even at a distance, rather than face-to-face over a long period of apprenticeship. Does this mean that the more recently developed forms of Reiki are somehow less valid?  Does this mean that new ways of teaching Reiki are less valid?  You be the judge.  Just remember that Mikao Usui wrote down precious little about his system.  Remember also that Reiki energy healing taps into beliefs and healing practices that date back to ancient times -- to times long before Usui's enlightenment.  Similar approaches to healing exist in many cultures. Given all this, it would be surprising if there were one and only one valid approach to learning and practicing Reiki.  Ultimately, the validity of any Reiki practice lies not in its lineage, but in its efficacy.  The question that should be asked of any teacher, practitioner, or system of Reiki is simply, "Do the healing procedures really work; do they help people to cope with the pain of physical and emotional disorders?"


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Information provided on this website is intended for educational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek out the advice of your physician or qualified health care provider when you have questions regarding a medical condition. Never disregard medical advice or delay in seeking such advice because of something you have read on this website.