How similar are Reiki and Qigong?
I started Reiki by chance 10 years ago thanks to a voucher I received. I loved how it felt, the total relaxation I got from it and I thought it was curious that they alerted me to a physical issue later confirmed by a medical exam. After feeling the therapeutic effects of this practice, I’ve decided to do Reiki Level I. I use Reiki from time to time to reestablish balance and to relax.
As for Qigong (also known as Chi Kung or Qi Gong) it appeared on my path 4 years ago and it became one of the practices that I most enjoy to do daily. After nearly 2 years living in Asia, I had the possibility to train Kung Fu, live the health principles of Taoism and teach Qigong. This therapy helped in my daily routine and it is a fountain of serenity and balance for me.
Reiki and Qigong have similar therapeutic effects physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. They both have “life force energy” (ki or qi) as their basis, so we can say that they both promote health and wellbeing through the same essence. However, they are quite different from each other.
What is Qi or Ki?
Qi is life force energy. It can be called breath, energy, life force or essence. It is pronounced “she” and it is the Chinese term that describes the energy that gives life to the human body or that animates matter. Other systems, refer to this life force energy as prana, ka, mana, pneuma or wakan. When we talk about Qi or Chi in the Taoist Tradition or Ki in the Reiki Tradition, we are talking about the same life force energy.
When we become aware that everything is energy and that we ourselves are Qi in movement, we become more sensitive to the energetic fluctuations by which we go through and we can actively participate in the state of our vital energy.
Reiki is a Japanese method developed by Mikao Usui in 1915 in Mount Kurama near Kyoto. After many years studying Qiging, medicine, psychology, philosophy and theology, and being at a certain stage confronted with where would healing powers of people such as Jesus Christ or Buddha come from, Usui entered in a deep investigation of over 10 years that involved multiple journeys and ended up in a 21 day fast in Mount Kurama, where he had the enlightened experience which allowed him to understand that healing “power” incorporated by the hands of those human beings. He then started to use that therapy that would be called Reiki and teach that practice to others. He named it Usui Shiki Reiki Ryoho (the Usui system of the cure of Reiki) known today as the Traditional Reiki System) and he spent the rest of his life using the method. He taught it to Dr. Chujiro Hayashi, a retired doctor from the navy.
Hawayo Takata, a Japanese lady born in Hawaii in 1900, traveled to Japan in 1936 to inform her parents of her sister’s death and to receive medical treatment for her health problems. Instead of the usual treatment, she chose to have Reiki sessions and ended up working for a year in Dr. Hayashi’s clinic before returning to Hawaii. In 1938, Dr. Hayashi traveled to Hawaii, iniating Takata as the first Reiki Master outside of Japan. Takata would then train and initiate twenty eight other Reiki Masters and that’s how the western story of Reiki begun.
The word Reiki is composed by two characters “rei” and “ki”. Ki is that energetic life force present in all living organisms. Rei refers to the universal energy or cosmic energetic dimension, it is the energy that permeates all things both animate and inanimate. Reiki is normally translated as “universal energetic vital force”. However, due to the way it is used, a more complete translation could be “energetic life force cure guided by universal energy”. Reiki activates and balances the energetic life force present in all living things. It is quite simple to apply: the patient lies down (or sits down) comfortably and the therapist proceeds to the application of the technique with the hands near several points of the patient (normally without touching the person). There is no need for a diagnosis, because the energetic system of the patient absorbs the energy as it needs. There are techniques directed to the treatment of acute or chronic pain, physical or mental problems and also to attain focus and spiritual clarity.
Basically all leves of the receptor of Reiki (physical, mental, emotional and spiritual) can be balanced. People of any age (including children) can easily learn Reiki. Contrary to Qigong that has to be learned from a qualified Master for a long period of time, Reiki is normally learned in an intensive seminar by modules or levels, and the majority of the process is assimilated through regular practice. There are three or four levels of learning Reiki – depending on the system – that develop through time and practice and that culminate in the level of Master, where the therapist is able to teach others. Reiki can be applied at any time. It facilitates the cure of any kind of disturbances and, if it is auto-applied daily with a meditative practice, it promotes expansion, creativity, health and joy. Do you want to book a Reiki session? Contact me to find out more!
Written records date back Qigong to 2.500 years in China and there are also references to similar techniques to this practice dating back to 5.000 years. The origins of Qigong are:
- Chinese Shamanism, linked to the connection between Mankind and Nature, as a means to find harmony between the human body and nature’s elements;
- Taoism, through the consistent practice of Qi Gong it was believed that spirit and body were in balance and harmony between Yin Yang was found;
- Buddhism, certain types of Qi Gong were developed by Buddhists to compliment their seated meditations with movements which promoted serenity and awareness;
- Chinese Medicine, Qi Gong promotes overall health and therefore its practice has been advised by many Chinese Doctors as a preventative and restorative of the general balance of the organism (some forms of Qi Gong are incredibly powerful and may be used to strengthen specific organs);
- Martial Arts, since the practice of Qi Gong greatly improves performance, Martial Artists designed and developed some forms of Qigong.
Qigong may be translated as cultivating or nourishing life force energy. It is a method that coordinates movements with breathing, body postures and the intention to move vital energy to promote health. It is meditative and at the same time it purifies and strengthens the body, allowing energy to circulate. Normally, it is practiced individually, although there is also Qi Healing where – similarly to Reiki – the therapist assists the patient in moving his/her inner energy for healing purposes.
There are several types of Qi gong and all of them are based in the principles of a nice rooted posture, straight back, being relaxed, focusing the breathing in diaphragmatic movements and establishing an intention with awareness throughout the practice to flow the Qi in the body and the connection with energy to balance the organism. The main energy centers of the human body (known as Dan Tiens in Taoism and Traditional Chinese Medicine, something similar to the glands in Western Medicine) are healed and balanced through the consistent practice of Qi Gong. Qi Gong improves general health and it contributes to longevity, creating a mental state of serenity.
Other than promoting a state of balance and helping to relieve stress, Qi Gong is also useful to improve performance in sports and in martial arts, since it develops strength, flexibility, balance, velocity, coordination and resistance, while simultaneously strengthening the fascia (the structure that envelops muscles, nerves and organs and that basically gives shape to the human body). It is also a powerful tool for self-awareness and a mindfulness technique that promotes a meditative state, the root for spiritual awakening.
Similarly to Reiki, Qigong can also heal. Qigong Masters can elevate, control and direct universal force energy and use it to open specific channels of the body of the patient. Normally, a Qigong beginner has an intensive regime of exercises, diet and meditation. After many years of practice, practitioners may attain what could be super human healing powers, self-defense and spiritual manifestation of physical necessities. Just like Reiki, Qigong can also be practiced by individuals of any age.
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With experience in both systems, I can say that these practuces are complementary and they largely benefit those who practice them. The personal benefits of havint the microcosmic orbit (internal circulation of energy) open through Reiki or through Qigong are incredible for the vitality of any practitioner.
The consistent practice of Qigong and the incorporation of the Taoist principles in daily life contributes to strengthen physical health, mental and emotional balance and spiritual empowerment, so it is an extra benefit that all Reiki practitioners could benefit from. The simplicity of the use of Reiki, combined with powerful results, also make this technique the ideal companion for any Martial Arts or Qigong practitioner. There are several ways to integrate Reiki principles in an integrated practice with Qigong (or even Tai Chi, Nei Gong or Kung Fu), it all depends on the history and the imagination of the practitioner (it is also important that the person is previously rooted in each art). Reiki and Qigong develop a high intuitive awareness, promoting the capacity to understand emotions better, the energy that surrounds us, our place in the world and our interaction with nature. Philosophically, I’d say these two practices are a Yin Yang pair.
I must also remind you that Reiki and Qigong are not a cure for all illnesses, but rather a way of life based on balance and health, promoting and nourishing vitality daily. What I observe in modern times and with globalization is that we have opportunities like never before to acquire knowledge from different sources and integrate the positive aspects of different cultures and philosophies to promote health and wellness in our life. This assemlbles not only the way we act (what we do, what we eat, how we sleep, how we train the body), but also our thoughts and our emotions (the way we connect with our energy, the way we train the mind). We are a sum of everything that we think, feel, do. Energetically speaking, the thoughts we feed end up originating everything else. It is, therefore, important to take good care of ourselves, to cultivate balance and vitality in everything like the cosmic connection principle known as Yang Sheng Tao or the art of nourishing life. Both Reiki and Qigong can be key components for this way of being.