What is Reiki, How it Originated & Views of the Medical & Scientific Communities

Reiki is a common massage therapy practice which is among the courses taught in most massage schools. Yet, there are some who feel that it shouldn’t be considered as a genuine form of massage. This is why it is important to clear some facts about Reiki. You might wonder then; if Reiki isn’t to be considered a type of massage, what should it be considered?

At the end of the day, massage therapy involves the use of arms, hands, and in some cases, the legs of the therapist. Any technique used which employs the therapists’ limbs should be categorized as a type of massage. However, there are certain apprehensions regarding this when it comes to Reiki. To understand this dilemma, it is important that you know what Reiki is and how it originated.

What is Reiki?

As mentioned above, Reiki is part of the curriculum taught at most massage schools in the US. It is part of the therapeutic courses that you have to study while at massage school. That being said, the techniques and basic concept of Reiki causes a conundrum of sorts. It isn’t clear whether it should be considered a form of massage therapy or not.

Reiki is based on the concept of aligning the energies in the body. The techniques used to perform Reiki attempts to restore the balance of Qi in the body. This concept is imbibed in ancient Oriental massage practice.

The belief behind the practice of Reiki is that restoring the balance would trigger the body’s natural healing abilities and that the imbalances in energy are what causes health problems. Once they are addressed, a person can live a healthier, and more fulfilling life.

This goes against the accepted idea of massage. Massage is considered to be a technique through which the soft tissues of the body are manipulated. The purpose is the same, i.e. providing healing and relaxation. However, the manipulation part of massage therapy is missing from Reiki, which is one reason why considering it a form of traditional massage is unacceptable to some.

According to the practices and methods followed for Reiki, there is absolutely no need to manipulate the body’s tissues or muscles. In fact, it is quite possible that the Reiki expert will not even touch the patient he/she is working on. You can understand why this would pose a conundrum for massage therapists. If there is no touching involved, how can it be considered massage?

The Origins of Reiki

Reiki originates from Japan. This is no surprise as the concept of Reiki is based on Oriental philosophy. The father of modern Reiki is Dr. Mikao Usui and when he developed Reiki, he was working as the head of a Christian school, while also being a minister. One day, he was asked how Jesus managed to heal people who suffered from incurable diseases. It was then that Dr. Usui decided to come up with an acceptable answer to this question.

Not only did he study the Christian doctrine, but also spent many years visiting temples and Buddhist monasteries. Having found no answer to his question, he went on a 21-day fast. It was at the end of the fast that he supposedly had a vision of the answer.

He stated that, in his vision, he saw the methods that need to be followed to heal the human body. Having discovered this, he began sharing his ideas with other doctors. Eventually, it was Mrs. Hawayo Takata who understood and taught Reiki, initially to 22 people. The 22 then spread the idea, getting thousands of people to understand and practice Reiki.

The basic idea behind Reiki is that energy from the person performing the treatment transfers to the person receiving the treatment. The patient has to be involved in the process, and be responsible for retrieving energy from the practitioner. As a result, the positive energy enters the patient’s body and the harmony is restored.

Is Reiki a Religion?

The origins of Reiki are similar to how many religions came into being all around the word. One man came up with the concept and then shared it with others. From there on, the idea was given to thousands and the rest is history. In many ways, it seems that Reiki is a religion in itself.

That being said, Reiki experts and practitioners disagree with this. They feel that Reiki involves a lot of spirituality, but should not be considered a religion. The spiritual basis comes from the fact that Dr. Usui had to embark on a 21-day fast during which he connected with his soul.

This is why it may be possible for you to not even touch your patient, but still be able to provide the necessary treatment. The idea is to use spirituality to trigger the body’s healing powers. This is only possible if the practitioner and patient both play their roles perfectly.

People who don’t believe in the concept of Reiki will not be healed even if they receive the treatment on a daily basis. This is one more reason why it is not counted as a reliable means of massage therapy.

The Views of the Medical and Scientific Community

The medical community as a whole and many scientists as well, disregard Reiki completely. They feel that it is nothing more than “mumbo jumbo” which encourages people to feel better and that there is a difference between feeling better and actually getting better. The general perception is that Reiki convinces people that they are supposed to feel good about themselves and that their viewpoint should be positive, and that no actual healing that takes place.

The bottom-line is that whether or not Reiki should be considered a form of massage therapy is open to interpretation. As it has proven to be effective in treating certain patients, it may be an effective treatment for a range of other health issues as well. Time and science will tell.

Sure, some may argue that it may not fulfill the basic definition of a massage as we know it which is why calling it a type of massage can be a tad generous. However, it is taught in certain massage schools across the USA, which also indicates that there are some within the field who do feel that Reiki should be accepted as a bona fide type of a massage.

Neal Lyons is a founding member and volunteer contributor at the MTSI Institute, an information based portal dedicated to guiding and assisting aspiring massage therapists establish a successful career in massage. Neal is a published author and has collaborated on several mobile applications that serve the massage profession. You can view his published work on Amazon, iTunes, Barnes & Noble, Sony and Kobo. You can connect with him on Facebook, Twitter and on Google+

Posted in Types of Massage Techniques

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