If Reiki were a tree, its roots would be found in meditative consciousness and practices that engender such states of consciousness. The soil that these roots would take hold in would be found in the life of Reiki’s founder Mikao Usui (Usui Sensei), and the conversation taking place in his lifetime in Japanese society.

Much of that conversation was centered around Japan’s native traditions and teachings, a return to and new elucidation of them.

A big part of these traditions is Japan’s stunning natural environment. Because of nature’s great beauty and impact, Japanese people have spontaneously loved and revered nature, making it a part of their daily living, art and spirituality. There are substantial and customary ways of depicting nature in Japanese art and poetry. As nature evokes a strong sense of spirituality, it has also been entwined with Japan’s spiritual contributions to the world. (Read: The Spirituality of Nature.)

The islanders blessed with a rich natural world recognized intuitively that even plants and trees speak and that human beings could not live without mountains and rivers.

— Motohisa Yamakage

In much of Japanese art, poetry and spirituality mountains hold a special place. This is relevant to Reiki because it appears that Usui Sensei was in the habit of taking mountain retreats, fasting and being in silence, i.e., meditation. He’s also associated with Japanese mountain asceticism known as Shugendō.

Over a thousand years ago, religious itinerants began secluding themselves in the mountains in order to acquire special powers. Over time, these practices took shape as a self-conscious school known as Shugendō, which incorporated various schools of Buddhism, Daoism, and local beliefs associated with Shinto.

— Caleb Carter

Hajime Namiki (1947 - ) Japanese Woodblock Print
Hajime Namiki (1947 – ) Japanese Woodblock Print

If Reiki were a tree, its roots would be silent contemplation, insight, reflection and meditation. This makes sense even in the context of Reiki “palm” healing.

Most people first hear about Reiki as a way to heal. Too many people even amongst those who learn Reiki, only know Reiki for its healing application. This is what’s promoted, what’s taught and passed on, and what’s considered to be the sole purpose and power of Reiki.

Healing is vital! It’s a global solution. The troublesome misunderstanding is that a Reiki class is going to give you healing power. Especially if what’s passed on is only Reiki’s hands-on healing application. It will help, no doubt, but this is a seriously limiting approach. It’s also incomplete.

It makes sense that the foundation of Reiki healing is its own, unique meditative practices. Healing has to arise from silence and contemplation. Otherwise it’s a mere technique, a modality.

Silence is the non-state in which all states arise and subside. Silence is itself the eternal witness without form or attribute.

— Adyashanti

Meditation engenders, cultivates and deepens silence. We want our healing ability, our healing of ourselves and others to source from wisdom and truth. We don’t want it to be a superficial process that we learn in a few hours, from a Reiki teacher who only teaches this one application of Reiki.

If Reiki were a tree, one of its main limbs would be healing. It’s clear what roots do for the rest of the tree.

The meditations in Reiki are distinctive and specific to the teachings of Usui Sensei. Some Reiki classes may have portions where there’s a guided meditation that’s an add-on, something the teacher includes. In a majority of Reiki classes, Usui’s meditations are not taught because for the most part Reiki has been reduced solely to its hands-on application and viewed as a modality of healing.

In fact, there are special meditations in Reiki that are designed to evolve the practitioner personally and spiritually, and send roots firmly into a foundation of wisdom and compassion.

The Reiki Meditations are step-by-step methods that cultivate and develop your personal ki and your ability to conduit and interact with universal Ki. The focal point is the Hara, a vibrational center in the lower belly that has much to do with the practitioner’s ability to transform and evolve. As Reiki is always for the whole person, its meditations also improve the practitioner’s all-around state physically, emotionally and mentally, not just spiritually. (Read: The Hara: A Physical and Spiritual Center.)

In Level I Reiki (Shoden — beginning teachings) there are two meditations which set the stage. These are classic meditations, each with particular purposes and benefits that can be part of your meditation practice for the rest of your life. In further Levels, additional meditations are given, some of which are more advanced.

Healing power is already within. We don’t necessarily know that. We don’t know how to access it. It isn’t powerful enough at first. Healing power first has to be recognized and awakened, then cultivated and harnessed, after that it can be wielded.

Reiki classes don’t give you healing power. Again, healing is innate. What a Reiki class does is create the environment where you can recognize, cultivate, harness and begin wielding the power of healing. And if you have the complete teachings of Reiki, this environment is yours for life. It’s portable with many gifts yet to come.

Any inner power comes to its fullest fruition through meditation. If healing is a faint flame at first, Reiki’s meditations fan it into a steady, strong, constant fire.

This truth which can be expressed in a great variety of ways was fully grasped by Usui Sensei:

Spirituality’s highest purpose is to touch a mystery beyond words, which is perceived only in silence and solitude. Listening within the silence puts one in touch with the energy, vibration, and spiritual forces that are at the heart of creation. The realms are real and can only be reached by a quiet mind and practice.

— Carol Schaefer

Usui Sensei was a highly developed healer because he was a lifelong spiritual practitioner, starting at an early age. He gave Reiki “palm healing” only when needed. The majority of his teachings were given when he taught Reiki’s singular meditations to his students.

He understood that a person is restored to their true nature through meditation, that this approach is lasting, that it heals at a core level and encourages enlightenment.


For detailed information in the original, Japanese Reiki teachings of Mikao Usui, please visit these pages:

Reiki Training Classes

Reiki Primer (with audio)

Pamir Kiciman’s online Reiki Resume

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Meditation: The Roots of Reiki