Reiki (霊気 was developed in 1922 by Japanese Buddhist Mikao Usui. It uses a technique commonly called palm healing or hands on healing as a form of alternative medicine. Through the use of this technique, practitioners believe that they are transferring universal energy (i.e., reiki) in the form of qi (Japanese: ki) through the palms, which allows for self-healing and a state of equilibrium.


In Western Reiki, it is taught that Reiki works in conjunction with the meridian energy lines and chakras through the use of the hand-positions, which normally correspond to the seven major chakras on the body. These hand-positions are used both on the front and back of the body, and can include specific areas.  According to authors such as James Deacon, Usui used only five formal hand-positions, which focused on the head and neck. After Reiki had been given first to the head and neck area, specific areas of the body where imbalances were present would then be treated. The use of the chakras is widespread within Western Reiki, though not as much within Traditional Japanese Reiki, as it concentrates more on treating specific areas of the body after using techniques such as Byosen-hō and Reiji-hō, which are used to find areas of dis-ease (discomfort) in the auras and physical body.


Usui Reiki Ryōhō does not use any medication or instruments, but uses looking, blowing, light tapping, and touching. According to Frank Arjava Petter, Usui touched the diseased parts of the body, he massaged them, tapped them lightly, stroked them, blew on them, fixed his gaze upon them for two to three minutes, and specifically gave them energy, and used a technique commonly referred to as palm healing as a form of complementary and alternative medicine. Through the use of this palm healing (sometimes referred to as "tenohira" (掌, meaning "the palm"), practitioners believe that they are transferring universal energy (reiki) in the form of ki through the palms that allows for self-healing and a state of equilibrium.

Whole body treatment

In a typical whole-body Reiki treatment, the Reiki practitioner instructs the recipient to lie down, usually on a massage table, and relax. Loose, comfortable clothing is usually worn during the treatment. The practitioner might take a few moments to enter a calm or meditative state of mind and mentally prepare for the treatment, that is usually carried out without any unnecessary talking.

The treatment proceeds with the practitioner placing the hands on the recipient in various positions. However, practitioners may use a non-touching technique, where the hands are held a few centimeters away from the recipient's body for some or all of the positions. The hands are usually kept in a position for three to five minutes before moving to the next position. Overall, the hand positions usually give a general coverage of the head, the front and back of the torso, the knees, and feet. Between 12 and 20 positions are used, with the whole treatment lasting anywhere from 45 to 90 minutes.

Many Western practitioners use a common fixed set of 12 hand positions, while others use their intuition to guide them as to where treatment is needed as is the practice in Traditional Japanese Reiki, sometimes starting the treatment with a "scan" of the recipient to find such areas. The intuitive approach might also lead to individual positions being treated for much shorter or longer periods. A Western Reiki treatment is considered a type of large-scale treatment in comparison to the more localized-style treatment of Traditional Japanese Reiki.

The use of the 12 hand positions are believed to energies on many levels, by:

Energizing on a physical level through the warmth of the hands,

Energizing on the mental level through the use of the Reiki symbols,

Energizing on the emotional level through the love that flows with the use of the symbols,

Energizing on the energetic level though the presence of an initiated practitioner as well as the presence of the Reiki power itself.
It is reported that the recipient often feels warmth or tingling in the area being treated, even when a non-touching approach is being used. A state of deep relaxation, combined with a general feeling of well-being, is usually the most noticeable immediate effect of the treatment, although emotional releases can also occur. As the Reiki treatment is said to stimulate the body's natural healing processes, instantaneous "cures" of specific health problems are not normally observed. A series of three or more treatments, typically at intervals of one to seven days, is usually recommended if a chronic condition is being addressed, and regular treatments on an on-going basis can be used with the aim of maintaining well-being. The interval between such treatments is typically in the range of one to four weeks, except in the case of self-treatment where daily practice is common.