Reiki is a form of hands on energetic healing that is quickly gaining reknown in todays world. Reiki is defined as both "Rei" and "Ki", which are translated into "universal energy". Indeed it is this universal energy that gives reiki its effect. The founder of Reiki was a man by the name of Mikao Usui, who sought to find the power which jesus christ used to perform his many healings. Following his guidance he proceeded to travel to the top of a mountain and to meditate for 27 days. On the 27th day of his meditaiton the sacred symbols of reiki appeared before him and he was filled with the knowledge of these symbols and their uses and also granted all the attunements necessary for him to channel the divine energy. The legend goes on to say that he descended from his mountain into the town fully enlightened as a healer. On the way down he stubbed his toe on a sharp rock. Placing his hands on his feet his foot was instantly healed. He then went for a meal in a restaraunt and ordered a hearty meal. Those who have fasted for extended periods know that eating a large meal after fasting for so long is very unwise and can cause large damage to the stomach. Using reiki, master usui was able to heal his stomach and ingest as much food as he wanted. He then proceded out into the village where he worked various healings on the townspeople.
The only person who has ascended to reiki masterdom without another master attuning him was Master Usui himself. The attunements are sacred rituals performed on the reiki student by their master, which alters the recipients energy field and chakras to enable the universal energy to flow through them.
The difference of Reiki to other forms of energetic healing (for example pranic healing) is that it does not involve to use of the healers own energy. The healer becomes a channel through which the universal energy flows and is sent, through the hands, into the recipient. It is in fact the task of the recipients own innate wisdom as to where this energy is needed, and it instantly flows to these areas.
The Reiki energy is augmented by the use of symbols which are drawn with the hands or with pure visualisation alone, as well as chanting out sacred names. Without appropriate attunements, these symbols cannot be used by a non-practitioner (this is not to create a sense of exclusiveness, but it is simply the fact that the universal energy in this form is not available to those who do not have to proper energy attunements to channel the energy into these symbols.)
Reiki's healing effects are vast and can be used to treat the body on the physical, mental, spiritual and all levels in between. A srtong belief in reiki is that physical ailments are caused by a mental imbalance, and reiki is used to correct this imbalance on all levels of being. Whilst the laying on of hands is the most common method, reiki practicioners are also able (through the use of certain sets of symbols) to transfer the universal energy across a long distance when the recipient is not able to be physically present. This is known as distant healing and can be just as effective as the laying on of hands.
There are obviously religious issues related to reiki as it is the same power that jesus used to perform his healings. Despite this, anybody of any religion can learn and perform reiki and it is instantly useable after one has been attuned. The only block would be that of the practitioners own morals.
The only way to learn Reiki is in the physical presence of a master. There is much controversy over "distant attunements" as they are usually done by a person sending several hundred dollars to a "master" they have not met and will not meet, and within 24 hours they are said to become fully attuned as a reiki master. This obviously points to the greatest place of fraud within the Reiki community and it is held by most true practicioners that distant attunements are impossible, as the actual ritual involves stimulation of the body on the physical level, which cannot be achieved without physical presence. There is also a new-founded form of reiki that includes "banning". The theory in this is that a person is gifted with reiki for a period of time, but eventually they are banned and can no longer channel the divine energy. This is false and a money-making scam for these same teachers who give the attunements, which lead to banning, have the "coincidental" ability to "unban" a person....but for a high fee. While it is a shame that such things need even be mentioned, it is much better that the aspirant be prepared to do thorough research into the "master" before they take their courses and to patiently search for a true master before embarking on the path of Reiki.