Reiki — Healing With Your Hands and Mind

Mary Gabriel giving Reiki to a horse.

By Susan R. Ajamian

Reiki is a healing technique many people are adding to their animal-care skills. It is easy to learn, gentle, non-invasive and safe to use. It eases pain and encourages the body to heal itself. It works on all levels of the body — physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. You can use Reiki on yourself, other people, animals, plants, your household, and even your food. Anita Curtis recommends that her Animal Communication students learn Reiki because it makes them more open to receiving messages.

Reiki is a one-way flow of energy, so the healer is not at risk to take on any of the recipient's problems. It is also empowering to learn Reiki, because while waiting for the doctor or veterinarian now you can DO something with your hands, instead of just wring them.

Reiki at Work

Here are some examples of how Reiki can help. One barn cat stopped tearing out her fur at the site of an old back injury. A horse's swollen eyelid reduced in minutes. Surgery patients felt calmer and more comfortable. One dying cancer patient didn't need painkillers; another's swelling reduced.

A Usui and Seichem Reiki Master, Chris Treml, has used Reiki on people and animals to help relieve colic and breathing problems, loosen tight muscles, and ease cancer's symptoms. One client had a tiny mixed-breed dog with a neurological problem that caused her front legs to knuckle over. A veterinary specialist said surgery would not solve the problem. The owners turned to Chris for help. After many long-distance Reiki sessions, the dog stopped knuckling over. The problem later recurred, but the dog improved when Chris resumed giving Reiki, and the impressed veterinarian asked for her name and number.

Mary Gabriel, a Usui Reiki Master and bodywork therapist, applies the benefits of Reiki healing to her bodywork. Her clients consistently report that her bodywork sessions bring them better results than they have ever experienced. One elderly head injury patient who was recovering in a nursing home responded visibly when Mary used Reiki; follow-up absentee healing treatments brought reports of further improvements each time it was given and the patient was eventually released. Mary's horse, Chavare, also benefits from Reiki. After giving him Reiki, Mary has calmer trail rides with Chavare; he handles tense situations better.

Some doctors and veterinarians use Reiki themselves. One surgeon revealed that she used it before every surgery. Reiki Master Linda Briel was introduced to Reiki and trained to First Level by her veterinarian and has taught it to others.

What is Reiki?

The word "Reiki" is represented by the Japanese kanji symbols Rei and Ki. Rei means "spirit" or "soul". "Ki" means "energy" and is also known as "chi", "prana" and "Holy Ghost".

Reiki is an energy therapy. It is an unending source of spiritual energy, the universal life force energy that surrounds and is within everything - it comes from outside as well as inside us. When using Reiki the healer acts as both a conductor and a source of the energy. The Reiki helps restore an individual's healthy balance and facilitates the healing process. Reiki energy does not diagnose; it knows what it is supposed to do for the highest good. Recipients of Reiki describe it as feeling like heat, cold, a vibration, a tingling, a cool breeze, or a sudden cessation of pain. When using Reiki one feels revived after giving as well as receiving a Reiki treatment.

Reiki, contrary to what some people think, is not a religion or dogma, nor does it require any belief in a supreme being. The healer does not need to alter her state of consciousness in order to give Reiki. It can also be sent over a distance, even to one or more recipients simultaneously. Reiki can transcend time and space. Past issues, whether known or unknown, can be addressed with Reiki healing energy; future issues as well, such as an upcoming marathon or some event, can be sent Reiki energy.

Chris Treml explains that Reiki can also be given to structures or objects such as home and household, letters or business cards, and anything else. This sets up a wonderful loving feeling when they are encountered. She gives Reiki to the structure of her house and the energy within.

Reiki can be given in conjunction with medical procedures or therapies. Linda Briel gives Reiki at the same time as her husband Ron does acupressure and massage. Many people sent Reiki before, during (to the surgeon's hands!), and after my horse Richie's 5-hour surgery. Despite his age (20 years old) and the difficulty of the intestinal re-section surgery he had no complications and was discharged ahead of schedule.

Healing may not be noticeable immediately after Reiki, but that doesn't mean there isn't healing going on, because healing may be happening on the inside where results are less obvious. When the body heals itself, it generally works on the vital organs first, or the most life-threatening problem, and then the less vital areas of the body. After Reiki a healing 'crisis' can also be encountered. Chris Treml explains that some people do have healing crises if they are getting rid of a lot of toxins and wastes and may experience diarrhea, loss of appetite, or a need to sleep more. Mary Gabriel has also had clients report a brief period of worsening followed by a huge relief. For this reason it is recommended that clients drink a lot of water after Reiki.

Rediscovering Reiki

The better-known form of Reiki is the Usui System of Natural Healing. Mikao Usui was president and minister of the Christian school in Kyoto Japan in the 1800's. His students asked him how Jesus healed people. When Usui didn't know the answer he decided to search for this knowledge.

He got a doctorate in theology in the US and then returned to Japan and got a doctorate in Chinese. He also learned Sanskrit so he could read the sacred texts in their original language. He finally found one that mentioned the ancient power to heal the body — but not how to learn it. So Usui went to a sacred mountain to pray for this knowledge. He fasted and meditated for 21 days. On the last day a light appeared and grew brighter until it knocked him unconscious. When he awoke several hours later, he had learned the power to heal and to teach others.

After seven years of healing others he realized that by giving Reiki for free he was healing their bodies but not their spirits. So Reiki should not be given away, but must be exchanged for something of value.

Before he died in 1926, Dr. Usui initiated more than a dozen Reiki Masters, including Dr. Chugiro Hayashi, who taught Hawayo Takata, the first woman and first American Reiki Master. Dr.Hayashi originally refused Takata's request to teach her Reiki. But in 1941 he summoned her to return to Japan. He told her that The Great War was coming and that everyone in Japan involved in Reiki would perish. So he taught her Reiki to keep the knowledge alive. In the 1970's she began training other Reiki Masters. By the time she passed away in 1980 she left behind 22 Reiki Masters in the US and Canada.

About 10 years later, Reiki Masters Marcy Miller and Kathleen Ann Milner learned from a Spirit that the Reiki taught by Hawayo Takata used energy from the element earth, but the Reiki Dr. Usui and Dr. Hayashi learned included the elements earth, fire, water, and air, along with three energies. The Spirit said that Dr. Hayashi did not tell Hawayo Takata about all of these because there was an Oriental tradition that the Master withheld knowledge from the students. This Reiki with the additional energies is called Tera-Mai Seichem Reiki.

Anyone Can Give Reiki

All living beings have the universal life force, and therefore are capable of giving Reiki without any training. Diane Stein mentions this in her book Essential Reiki. Chris Treml agrees, but explains that the healing is more effective if the healer has been trained to give Reiki. This training builds the healer's confidence and teaches procedures and ethical guidelines for using Reiki. And most of all, it includes the attunements which are transmitted by the meditation and touch of the Reiki Master. An attunement is a ceremonial blessing that opens up the Crown Chakra to concentrate and focus the Reiki energy from the Master through the recipient and to clear a path for the universal energy to travel into the healer's body and out through the hands. It has a cleansing effect on the recipient allowing for a more focused and concentrated Reiki energy.

Reiki training includes healing technique. There are symbols and words to use, and recommended hand placements on or above the human or animal recipient's body. Symbols can have specific applications for specific ailments. This information is also in the workbooks Essential Reiki by Diane Stein and The Reiki Handbook by Larry Arnow and Sandy Nevius.

Reiki certification is divided into three degrees — First Level, Second Level, and Third Level. The First Level student learns how to give Reiki while physically present. The Second Level student has more power, is able to do emotional healing, and learns how to send Reiki over a distance. Third Level, or Master, denotes someone trained to teach it. Preparing for the second and third levels requires study and practice. Mary Gabriel feels that because Reiki is spiritual and intuitive, sufficient study and practice help one give Reiki and pass it on with more depth.

Any individual can receive an attunement to give Reiki, including children and animals. Chris Treml said that even as a one-year-old her daughter would come to her for Reiki. Therefore Chris attuned her to First Level so she could heal herself when she wished. Chris has attuned other children. For example, a 10-year old boy uses it to calm himself. Chris also says, "You can attune an animal to Reiki so it can heal itself as it needs it." And Diane Stein writes, "Cats are particularly aware of Reiki energy, but they have an attitude about it. They feel that cats invented it."

How to Find Reiki Practitioners and Teachers

One can contact a Reiki healer of any level to experience its physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual healing effects. Even if there are no practitioners near where you live, you and your animals can benefit from having it sent by someone who is Level Two or above.

There are many Reiki Masters all over the earth. Choose one with whom you feel comfortable. Good places to look include referrals from friends or health food stores, and other bodywork practitioners. Someone who is First or Second Level Reiki can refer you to a teacher. Reiki's gentle, non-invasive and safe healing techniques can easily be learned and added to one's own care-giving skills. Sending love, healing, and spiritual wellness through Reiki encourages the body to heal itself, and is very beneficial.

For more information:

Chris Treml

Usui and Seichem Reiki Master


PO Box 71

Harrisonville, PA 17228 USA


Linda Briel

Usui Reiki Master

Pottstown, PA USA


Mary Gabriel

Usui Reiki Master

Bodywork Therapies

Leola, PA USA


American Holistic Health Association

PO Box 17400

Anaheim, CA 92817-7400 USA


See list for Practitioners; ask for search by category "Reiki"

Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals

1271 Sugarbush Dr.

Evergreen, CO 80439-9766 USA


See MassageFinder, then select "Reiki" and ask for referral

About the author: Susan Rifkin Ajamian is a freelance writer who specializes in complementary therapies, which she also uses to help her husband, her 21-year old horse, and their 20-year old cat. She learned First and Second Degree Reiki from Linda Briel, is a client of Chris Treml, and has attended Anita Curtis's animal communication workshops.