Reiki is much more than a complementary healing therapy; it is a complete self-healing system which can also be used to heal others. Reiki is extremely popular, especially 'Reiki Level 1' which can easily be learned in a couple of days but can then be used immediately to self-heal and to heal family and friends. In 2001, it was estimated that there were at least half a million people in the UK attuned to 'Reiki Level 1' and numbers were increasing rapidly; now, nobody knows.
The word 'REIKI' is a combination of the Japanese Kanji: 'REI' and 'KI'.
REI means 'Universal' but in more than just the physical sense. According to Shingon Buddhism, a being called 'Dainichi Nyorai' created the Universe, everything in it, and also is the Universe — he is literally 'everything' and 'everywhere', he is the sum totality of all that is. REI represents 'Dainichi Nyorai' thus REI represents the Universe and the God-Force that created it and maintains it.
KI represents the life-force that pervades the Universe and flows through all living things (it is called CHI in China and PRANA in India). The Japanese dictionary defines KI as ‘vital energy connected with the breath’; ‘invisible life-force’; and ‘material force of the universe’.
Combining the two Kanji to give REIKI also gives a simple definition of Reiki:
Universal or Spiritual Life-force
Reiki works on all levels — mental, physical, emotional and spiritual — to balance, energise and heal both body and mind. Research studies have shown it to promote wound healing, lower blood pressure, reduce stress, ease chronic pain and also acute pain such as that suffered by people who have been badly burned, boost the immune system, and also reduce the side-effects of medical treatments such as chemotherapy. It has been used successfully at a Cancer Clinic in Canada to manage pain in patients with terminal cancer giving them a better quality of life in their last days and reducing the need for opiates. There are also anecdotal reports of it curing serious illness.
Visually, Reiki is very similar to Spiritual Healing; they are both energy therapies using an energy-model of the human body rather than the orthodox mechanical model of western medicine; and the outcome is the same (i.e. a healer channels energy into a patient to bring about a beneficial effect). The main differences lie in how that outcome is reached:
Like Spiritual Healing, Reiki works equally well on plants and animals; it is not 'faith healing'; it is not a religion; and neither the healer nor the patient needs to have any particular religious belief to use it or benefit from it. Whether used on self or others, Reiki accelerates the healing process; it is very gentle but also very powerful.