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     Reiki (pronounced "ray-key") is a philopsophy and a system of energy work.  The first part, "rei", has several similar meanings, but is generally translated as spiritual, sacred, divine, or universal.  The second part, "ki", is the life force energy, so a simple definition of the word "Reiki" would be universal life force energy.  There are many different names for this energy, depending on the culture and beliefs of the individual or region.  The Chinese call it "chi", Hindus use the word "prana".  Regardless, the energy comes from the Divine Source of all things.

     Reiki specifically was developed in the early part of the 20th century by Dr. Mikao Usui, a Japanese Buddhist monk, who re-discovered the ancient energy and hands-on healing techniques while at the end of a spiritual quest to gain enlightenment about healing.  Dr. Usui honed his skills and healing practices, also incorporating meditative and spiritual aspects into what he later called the Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai (p. 44 The Reiki Sourcebook by Bronwen and Frans Steine).  Dr. Usui passed his teachings on to Dr. Chujiro Hayashi, who in turn passed the knowledge on to Mrs. Hawayo Takata, a Japanese-American woman from Hawaii, who is acknowledged as the first "Westerner" to be taught the techniques.  She is credited as the person who introduced Reiki to the Western world.

     Reiki, at its essence, is a hands-on, energy healing technique, but is also a philosophy and way of life.  The Reiki practitioner channels the Universal Life Force energy through his/her hands and directs it to the client.  The practitioner is merely a conduit for the energy from the Divine Source, and helps to convey and move that energy in the client for the healing of body, mind, and spirit.  Reiki is an intelligent energy, will go where it is needed most, can be sent distantly, and can do no harm.  Some possible benefits of Reiki are relaxation, stress reduction, pain relief, reduction in symptoms of chronic illnesses, more restful sleep, and increased positive feelings of well-being.

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