Mikao Usui, a Japanese spiritualist who lived in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, is considered the originator of reiki. During a spiritual retreat, Usui reported feeling subtle vibrations above his head. Upon returning home, he found the experience instilled in him a gift of healing and the ability to pass it along to others.

He decided to share the gift with others, attuning more than 2,000 students to the healing energy. With increased interest in reiki spreading, Usui traveled around Japan sharing his spiritual healing method.

One of Usui’s students was Chujiro Hayashi, a medical doctor and retired naval captain. Before his death in 1926, Usui encouraged Hayashi to expand reiki to a wider following.

Hawayo Takata, a Hawaiian-born Japanese woman, is credited with bringing the practice of reiki to the West. She received training in reiki after undergoing treatment for various ailments during a visit to Japan.

After her health was restored, she petitioned Hayashi to become one of his students. After receiving the training, Takata took the skill back to Hawaii where she began to practice and spread the healing art.

Over the years, reiki has evolved, and now, the various types of reiki number about 400. Some of the versions are Kundalini Reiki, Archangelic Reiki, Celtic Reiki, Monastic Seven Degree Reiki, Cocoa Reiki, to name just a few. Despite the variations, the essential aspect of placing hands on the person or animal is the foundation of the healing art.