A gentle Japanese healing technique and meditation practice that supports wellness, wellbeing, and health on all levels.

This technique strengthens our body’s innate abilities to identify, assess, and bring the support needed for the body to move towards balance and health. This happens not only by supporting the body into a deeply relaxed state – allowing the parasympathetic responses of the body to more effectively do their jobs – but also by supporting, enhancing, and moving the energy of life which pulses through our bodies and is needed for these processes to happen. Without the energy of life, breath and body would not be animated to create our living journey.

Many influences can create challenges to the body’s abilities to deliver its highest potential: stress, injury, malnutrition, emotions, thinking patterns, trauma, environmental factors, age, behavioral patterns, hydration, among others. These stressors on the body then create congestion, static, and sluggish movement of life energy. When these factors are present, they do not allow our bodies to effectively tap into its highest potential for health.

A Brief History

Mikao Usui Sensei (August 19,1865- March 9, 1926) developed the practice of Reiki not only to share the flow of life energy to others but also to have a foundation and practice for others to develop and improve their own highest healing and life potential. Receiving a reiki session is one way to take a drink of life’s energy, and learning Reiki is also a way to give yourself the tools to do the same.

The main foundation of this practice is the Five Principles (Precepts), known in Japanese as the Gokki. The depth and intricate contemplation that is possible in all five principles can be studied and practiced for one’s whole life moving a person along a path of wholeness and health. Before listing the principles in both English and Japanese, it is wise to explain that much of the language used here in the West is an attempt at directly translating the Japanese Kanji (the symbols used in the Japanese written language-which originated in China) to English. This attempt very often misses the mark, and a clear, understandable, and honorable interpretation can be missed.

Kanji is defined as a “Chinese characters/pictographs. It is a word that has one or several meanings, which change depending on the context.” (Frank Arjava Petter)

A well-trained teacher can offer distinction and support in interpreting the intricacies of the meanings behind many of the Kanji symbols that are used in Reiki practice. The simplicity in the English translation should not be interpreted that we don’t anger or worry, or at times lose sight of gratitude. The Practice is in learning how to recognize these, how to release the effects of these, and eventually live in harmony with these guides.

5 Reiki Precepts

  • For Today
  • Do not Anger
  • Do not Worry
  • Fill with Gratitude
  • Be Authentic and Diligent in all you do
  • Hold Compassion to Yourself & Others
  • Gokki
  • Kyo daka wa
  • Ikaru-na
  • Shinpai Suna
  • Khansha shite
  • Gyo o hage me
  • Hito ni shinsetsu ni



Here are some things to keep in mind when looking for a practitioner to receive a session:

Look for someone who clearly presents as a professional. Their compassionate listening should not include recommendations for anything around your medical, psychological, or other needs (unless they are a therapist trained in those areas).

Ask at what level they have trained, and how long they have been practicing.

Who their teachers are, and the lineage of their style of Reiki.

Ask if they incorporate other modalities into their sessions – YOU the client should choose if you want additional techniques used.

Some of the things you might see added to a Reiki session offering could be crystals, essential oils, sound healing, or color therapy. These are not Reiki; they are additions to the Reiki session.

Many Reiki practitioners are happy to meet with new clients prior to a session so they can see the treatment space and discuss any questions.

Because the 5 principles (Gokki) are so important to the foundation of Reiki, look for a practitioner who knows them and incorporates them into their practice.

A Reiki session is often offered on a massage table for comfort. It can be performed anywhere even at a distance.

A client is always clothed in a Reiki session and hands can be lightly placed on certain spots on the body or can be above the body, not touching.

Reiki can support improvement in all areas of health and complementary medical treatments, but Reiki does not replace trained medical attention.

Holistic New Hampshire

In Summary

Many of these same questions as above would arise if a person were investigating a teacher.
Depending on the lineage (the historic path through which a style of Reiki has come to reach the teacher), there are usually three levels to training. In English, typically Reiki I, II, and III. In Japanese, one would see this represented as Shoden, Okuden, Shinpiden.

Reiki is not complicated, but it can be complex. Depending on how deeply a person dives into the history and the practice, the esoteric aspect will gauge the complexity of the experience. Like Yoga, one can get on a mat, move into some positions and breathe – and there is a benefit – or, one can take their practice all the way to studying with a guru in India and be on a life path of exploration and health.

The practice of Reiki is a gentle yet powerful tool that offers nourishment and support to your body’s highest potential.


Holisticnh.org would like to thank Leslie Jose ARMT/LMT for her contribution to this description of Reiki.