Reiki Level 1 – What Does Reiki – The Word – Mean, What Is Reiki & How Does It Work?

What Does The Word Reiki Mean?

Reiki, pronounced Rei – “Ray“, Ki – “Kee“, is a generic word in Japan used to describe any type of healing work based on life force energy.

The Japanese kanji (Japanese alphabet) for Reiki is”Rei” and “Ki“, that basically means life force energy. However, a deeper interpretation has evolved as Universal or Spiritually Guided Life Force Energy.

Reiki - Japanese Kanji
Japanese kanji, or Japanese alphabet/symbol of the word Reiki.  The top kanji is Rei the bottom is Ki.

Rei – Spiritual Energy

Rei has been interpreted to mean supernatural knowledge or spiritual consciousness.  This is the God consciousness or Source that is all knowing.

 Ki – The Life Force

Ki – is the life force.  

It is the Vital Life Force or the Universal Life Force.

This is the non-physical energy that animates all living things. As long as something is alive, it has Ki circulating through it and surrounding it. When something dies, the life force departs.  If there is restriction in its flow within or around your body, you will be vulnerable to illness.

Ki is used by martial arts in their physical training and mental development.  Meditation and Pranayama (yoga) also make use of Ki energy.

Reiki Means Spiritually Guided Life Force Energy

It is the God Consciousness or Source called Rei that guides the life force of Ki in the practice we call Reiki. Reiki can then be defined as Spiritually Guided Life Force Energy. This is a meaningful interpretation of the word Reiki, as it mostly describes the experience people have of it.

With the introduction of the word God, this does not mean religion. You could substitute God with Higher Power, Universal Consciousness or Source. This Source is what directs Reiki.

Reiki Master and author, Penelope Quest writes in her book, The Basics of Reiki that when you receive Reiki you are bringing more spiritual energy, more of your own soul or spirit into yourself; and that your spiritual energy is directly connected to Source.

2017 - Karon Beach, Phuket, Thailand

What is Reiki?

It is not a massage, religion, belief system or a substitute for traditional medical treatment.

Reiki is a form of energy healing.

Perhaps you are already familiar with these modalities of energy healing: yoga, acupuncture, Tai Chi and Qi Gong.

Yoga as a Type of Energy Healing

Yoga is an ancient practice of connecting breath with the body, originating in India. Pranayama breathing techniques practiced with specific poses of the body has a holistic benefit for the mind, body and spirit.

Prana is a Sanskrit word that means “rides on the breath” and is known as the life-giving force of all things. Yogis believe the Pranic energy surrounds and permeates the body. When specific breathing exercises, such as Prana Mudra – an invocation of energy – are practiced – we breathe in and surround ourselves with Pranic energy – helping to improve and expand Prana already within us (as a network of energetic channels called Nadis) and all around us – leading to a healthier state of consciousness.

Acupuncture as a Type of Energy Healing

Acupuncture is a more commonly known type of energy healing. Acupuncture is a medical practice originating in China. It is believed that Chi or Qi – life force energy – runs along pathways in the body called meridians. When blockages occur along a meridian, health issues happen. Needles are placed on specific locations along a meridian pathway to remove the blockage, allowing the life force energy of Chi or Qi to flow again. The benefits are holistic in nature as it reduces stress and pain.


Tai Chi and Qi Gong as a Type of Energy Healing

Tai Chi and Qi Gong are ancient Chinese martial arts of the practice of movement, breath and meditation. These gentle martial art forms cultivate, circulate and harmonize Chi or Qi – life force energy – within the body. The benefits are holistic in nature as it supports a healthier body, mind and spirit.

Tai Chi

Reiki as a Type of Energy Healing

Reiki is a dynamic and living healing system, a spiritually guided life force energy, channeled through the practitioner using a technique of a laying on of hands for stress reduction and relaxation.  It is thought to have originated as an ancient Tibetan Buddhist practice and was rediscovered in Japan in the late 1800’s by Mikao Usui (1865-1926). Mikao Usui’s system of healing evolved into the Usui System of Natural Healing or Usui Shiki Ryoho. It is a type of Reiki, a modality of healing based on life force energy. The benefits of Reiki are holistic as it supports healing on the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual levels.

To read more about the history of Reiki, click here.

Reiki - 2018 - Doha, Qatar

Comparative Chart of Yoga, Acupuncture, Tai Chi, Qi Gong & Reiki

 YogaAcupunctureTai Chi & Qi GongReiki
Life Force EnergyPranaChi or QiChi or QiRei – “Ki”
Where is the Life Force Energy?Within Nadis and on the Breath Within Meridians Within MeridiansChanneled Into 
How it HelpsImproves & expands PranaRemoves blockages Promotes flowRemoves blockages and promotes flow

 How Does Reiki Work?

We, as everything on the planet and the entire universe, is made of energy. Quantum physicists have many theories on this. One theory is that all energy exists on a continuum from the most dense and least conscious, or what we call physical matter, to the lease dense and most conscious, which we call spiritual.

Reiki is a spiritual energy vibrating at a very high rate and it works at an energetic level both with the physical matter of the body, and with the electromagnetic energy of the energy field that surrounds and interpenetrates the physical body.

Our physical body has an energy field made up of an aura, chakras and meridians.

  • The Aura – Is a field of electromagnetic energy, surrounding our body and made of seven layers. The aura can be described as the energy equivalent to your entire physical body.
  • The Chakras – Are a series of energy centers, the seven major chakras are located down the centre of the body, from the crown of the head to the perineum. The chakras can be described as the energy equivalent to your brain, heart and other major organs.
  • The Meridians – Are energy channels flowing throughout the body.  The meridians can be described as the energy equivalent to your veins and arteries, but carry the life force Ki, not blood.

Reiki heals by flowing through the affected parts of our energy field at a higher vibrational rate, raising the vibrational level of our energy field thereby helping to clear any energetic blockages.

Reiki supports healing as a complimentary therapy, as it is holistic in nature. It helps heal on a physical, emotional, mental and spiritual level.

  • Physical Level – Reiki supports the body’s natural ability to heal itself
  • Emotional Level – Reiki helps to examine emotional responses and promotes love and kindness
  • Mental Level – Reiki creates a state of relaxation, peace and serenity
  • Spiritual Level – Reiki encourages self-acceptance and a non-judgmental approach to humankind

This gentle, non-invasive energy work truly promotes relaxation and a sense of inner peace.

In Conclusion

Reiki is a dynamic, living healing system, a spiritually guided life force energy that is thought to have originated as an ancient Tibetan Buddhist practice. Reiki was rediscovered by Mikao Usui of Japan in the late 1800’s. It is a form of energy work that is holistic in nature, a complimentary therapy that helps heal on the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual level.

Stephanie, 💙

Reiki Level I Blogs:

Reiki Level I – History of Reiki – Usui Shiki Ryoho & Usui Reiki Ryoho

Reiki Level I – What Does Reiki – The Word – Mean, What Is Reiki & How Does It Work

Reiki Level I – What This Gives You

Upcoming Reiki Level I blogs will include:

  • Basic treatment form and hand positions for treating yourself and others
  • How to give treatments for accidents or injuries
  • How to use Reiki with plants and animals
  • How to use Reiki on personal problems and world situations
  • The 21-Day Clearing Cycle
  • Usui System of Reiki – a review of the Five Principles, Four Aspects and Nine Principles
  • In-depth information on the aura and chakras
  • Creativity and Reiki
  • Personal growth and spiritual development

My intention for writing this Reiki Level 1 blog series is to be used as a reference for my course, Reiki Level 1.

For more in-depth information on Reiki Level I, I recommend the books I used as references for this blog:


The Basics of Reiki – A Step-by-step Guide to Healing with Reiki, Penelope Quest

The Reiki Manual – A Training Guide for Reiki Students, Practitioners and Masters, Penelope Quest & Kathy Roberts

The Original Reiki Handbook of Dr. Mikao Usui, Frank Arjava Petter

About me: Stephanie Wells

I’m a Reiki Master Teacher of Usui Shiki Ryoho – the Usui System of Natural Healing. I was attuned in Levels I, II & IIIA in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. During a 6 week stay in Mararikulam North, Kerala, India I was reattuned in Levels I, II, & IIIA as well as acquiring my Level IIIB Master Teacher attunement.

15 Comments Add yours

  1. Brett says:

    Stephanie, thanks for explaining and comparing these different practices. This clarified several things for me. Interesting too that Buddhism, among other spiritual traditions, nicely complements these practices (or vice versa) and perhaps accounts for that tradition being so widespread in the places of origin for the four practices compared.

    1. Thank you Brett! I’m not too familiar with Buddhism, however I have participated in mediation classes with Shambhala Buddhism in Halifax. Mindfulness certainly pairs nicely with energy work, as the mind/body connection is part of how we heal ourselves and yes, perhaps this compliment would account for the widespread practices of these types of energy work in their places of origin! 🙂 Great thought, and so well articulated!!!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

      1. Brett says:


  2. Brett says:

    P.S.: Also meant to say that the Province is all the better and enriched for having you and Michael back in it.

    1. WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WHAT A LOVELY COMPLIMENT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thank you SO much Brett!!!!!!! You’re so kind and wonderful!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

      1. Brett says:

        🙂 You two keep being your terrific selves. 🙂

  3. Great information Stephanie! Reiki is very popular here!

    1. Thank you Diane!!! <3

  4. mama says:

    Stephanie, I have read your blog on Reiki a few times. You have explained Reiki exceptionally well and I felt peace in my body, mind and spirit each time i completed reading this blog. 🙏🏼🕊🤗

    1. Nice!!!! Thanks mama!!!!! xoxo

  5. mama says:

    Forgot to add ( after reading your blog ) I felt like Michael looks as he is getting a Reiki treatment! He looks so relaxed…

    1. He was very relaxed!!! <3 <3 <3

  6. Fascinating. My ex-boyfriend used to say he felt comforted when I touched him while we were cuddling (not sexually, but just enjoying the feel of his skin) and loved to be in my aura. He is the not the type of guy that knows anything about this kind of spiritual stuff (I was shocked when he spoke of an aura). He believes in God, but more in the ego, though he does have a soft side that I only saw come out when he was with me. Anyway, this is very interesting and I’m going to put an effort into learning more 🙂

    1. Reiki truly is amazing. Energy work is amazing! It’s life changing as it brings you back into your body, to reconnect with your authentic self. <3 🙂 If you have any questions, let me know and I'll do my best to answer!!

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