Working with Japanese and Western Reiki
by William Lee Rand
the past several years we’ve learned a lot about the Reiki taught
by Dr. Usui. The research done by Arjava Petter, his wife Chetna
Kobayashi, Mr. Doi and others have created a breakthrough in our
understanding of Usui Reiki and informed us of many techniques new
to the West. This contrasts with what we had been told was Usui
Reiki, but what we now understand was actually a Western development.
When we first began to gain this understanding, many thought that
the ideal would be to practice only the Japanese style of Reiki
and to stay as close to what Dr. Usui practiced as possible. But
now that we have had time to practice the Japanese Reiki techniques
and compare them with the Western style, a better understanding
has developed about what might be the best approach.
The style of Reiki presented to the West by Mrs.
Takata, was promoted by her as being the unaltered methods of Dr.
Usui. However, now that many have broken through the barriers that
prevented us from researching Reiki in Japan, we have discovered
that most of the techniques Mrs. Takata taught were mainly of her
own creation and possibly that of Dr. Hayashi. When comparing her
style with that of Dr. Usui, one could say that in many cases her’s
was methodically opposite to what Dr. Usui practiced.
Mrs. Takata’s style relied on memorizing rules and
working with standard procedures that remained the same for each
client. This included the standard hand positions for giving a
treatment. This was followed to such an extreme that when I attempted
to give myself Reiki by placing my hands on my legs, my first Reiki
teacher told me in a very emphatic way that “that is not Reiki”
because it was not one of the standard hand positions. I found
this attitude stifling, as it did not support the development or
use of the student’s inner awareness of Reiki. It also didn’t acknowledge
the differing needs of each client. However, this was not always
the case as the Takata style did include some reference to allowing
your Reiki hands to guide you, but this was only after one had given
the standard treatment.
Even though there are some limitations to this system,
it still has value. By placing the hands evenly over most of the
body, the whole person is treated, thus creating balance. In addition,
by using this technique, one treats the areas of greatest need automatically
whether you know where they are located or not. So, while the Takata
style may have limits, it allows virtually anyone to produce consistent
After Mrs. Takata passed in December 1980, for a
while most of her students continued to practice exactly as she
had taught. But in a few years, some began to experiment and to
channel, develop or release new systems of Reiki. The first of
these were Mari-el and the Radiance Technique. Many more followed
and there are now at least 30 different kinds of Reiki being practiced
in the West. In an environment like this, one needs to have a clear
understanding of ones personal needs and the ability to follow ones
inner guidance if one is to wisely choose which Reiki system(s)
many new techniques have developed in the West, the same basic framework
taught by Mrs. Takata seems to be the basis of most of these with
treatments continuing to be based on her standard hand positions.
Dr. Usui’s style represents a different approach.
He didn’t have standard hand positions. He taught his students
to develop the ability to use ones intuition to guide one to the
right hand placements. This often resulted in a unique treatment
for each client. He taught several techniques for doing this including
Byosen scanning wherein one uses the sensitivity in ones hands to
find the areas needing Reiki as well as Reiji-ho in which one is
guided directly with ones intuition or perhaps an inner sensitivity
to know where the client’s energy field is out of balance and in
need of Reiki. This style validates ones own subtle awareness and
encourages its development. It also allows one to develop a working
relationship with the Reiki energy and thus be guided by its potential.
In addition to the above techniques, Dr. Usui also
taught Gassho meditation, Kenyoku or dry bathing which is a method
for cleansing ones energy, Koki-ho, a method that uses the breath
to heal, Gyoshi-ho, a method of sending Reiki with the eyes, Jacki-Kiri
Joka-ho, a method for clearing negative energy from objects and
Enkaku chiryo which is a method for sending distant healing.
From this we can see that Mrs. Takata’s style focused
on a memorized system that was the same for each client and used
only the hands to transmit Reiki. In contrast, Dr. Usui’s style
was flexible and relied on the developed awareness of the practitioner
to provide a unique treatment based on the specific needs of the
client. He also taught how to send Reiki not only with the hands,
but also with the breath, and the eyes and included other techniques
Since each of these styles is so different, at first
many thought that they would have to choose between them. And since
Reiki came from Dr. Usui, it seemed that the logical choice would
be to practice Reiki as closely to Dr. Usui’s style as possible.
However, now that we have had time to practice and compare both
styles, what many have concluded is that since both styles have
value, the best approach would be to integrate them. The feeling
is that by bringing both the Western and the Japanese styles together
in one system, the best of both worlds is achieved. The Western
style, which is more linear, logical and left brained balances the
Japanese style, which is more open ended, intuitive and right brained.
This is what we have done at the Center. Our recently revised Reiki
I&II manual includes both the Western style of Reiki and
the Japanese Reiki Techniques (JRTs) of Dr. Usui. The JRTs can be
learned from our manual, but it is also recommended that one take
a JRT class or use the JRT
workshop video to get a better grasp of them. The video training
is presented by Arjava Petter and Chetna Kobayashi and is an excellent
way to gain an understanding of the Japanese mind as well as learn
the JRTs. We also offer class outlines that show how to teach the
JRTs and Western Reiki together. These outlines
can be downloaded free from our website along with many other
useful forms. Just click on Teaching
It is a joy to see how wonderfully Reiki is unfolding.
As we focus on Reiki and allow it to guide us, we discover greater
levels of harmony and balance in how it can express through us.
What at first seemed like a conflict is becoming a beautiful integration
of complementary styles. This will lead to the possibility of even
greater levels of health and well being for ourselves, our clients
and the world around us. May we all be allowed to choose ever-increasing
peace, freedom and love.
William Lee Rand is the founder and president of The International Center for Reiki Training, author of Reiki, The Healing Touch, Reiki for a New Millennium, and with Arjava Petter and Walter Lübeck, The Spirit of Reiki, editor in chief of The Reiki News Magazine, and developer of Karuna Reiki®. He has taught Reiki classes internationally for the past 12 years.