Article – Reiki and Illness

This is an extract from ReikiDharma Newsletter No 12 which I think is a very
down-to-earth and non pretentious view of some Reiki matters.

Reiki and Illness

Many of us seem to have a misconception about the nature of illness. Nothing in life is permanent: One day the skies are clear and the next day it is cloudy. Happiness and unhappiness chase each other through the life of each and every one of us; dark becomes light and light becomes dark. This is true on all levels. You can not freeze- dry any moment, any condition, a feeling, a thought or even thoughtlessness. If you try it, you destroy life in its totality. Sickness and health are part of the same package of life, the two sides of a coin. If you take one side away you loose both…

More dangerous than any sickness are our mental concepts, our judgements, our wanting of happiness and the avoidance of suffering. But happiness and suffering are states of mind. One can be happy when ill, or unhappy when healthy. So, all we can do is to nourish an inner attitude of gratefulness: remember the third Reiki Principle: “Kansha shite”(in Japanese) “Be grateful.”

When you think of illness it brings up certain memories from the past. Those memories may be your own, or those of others. These memories form theories and concepts in your mind. And with these theories you condition your self. Most of this conditioning has nothing to do with reality at all; it may be born out of a thousand- year- old social, cultural and religious misconception. It may be born out of something that was true but is out of date now. It may be born out of the moral ethic of your society or your ethnic group. It may be born out of the philosophy of your family or circle of friends. In Reiki too, we as a group have to be careful not to create new belief- systems that hinder us to cherish life in its totality.

Let’s look at what the most common conditionings in regard to illness may be.

The most common concept I encounter all over the world is that illness is a punishment of the divine. I have done something wrong and therefore I am ill.
This is a sad belief- system that you must let go of quickly: do it right now…in this moment; say good bye to it! The divine wants you to be whole and healthy. Whole and healthy is someone who lives in accordance with what is actually happening right now – whatever that may be: “mis- fortune, financial difficulty and even illness!

Another concept is that things happen for a certain reason: you have a flat tire on the highway, and you think that you are having it because otherwise you would have crashed the car a mile down the road. Thank god existence has saved you…
The fact is that nothing ever happens to YOU- you are not that important. Things just happen. Life does not need reasons…

The many facets of illness

Illness is never exclusively the result of one single factor. Every disease is a conglomeration of a million- piece- puzzle. The environment, the psyche, the food you eat, your karma (whatever that may be), the people you spend time with, the thoughts and emotions you entertain, the work you do, the place you live in- everything plays a role in it.

In order to have a certain disease your body must first have a genetic affinity with it. This affinity is the first pre- requisite for sickness. Someone who is not prone to lung disease can probably smoke like a chimney and still be a hundred and ten years old- and healthy.

Once that pre- requisite is given the body may react to physical/mental or emotional stress by being affected in its weakest spot. But we can not say that one single factor makes the body sick. To say that someone is be far- sighted because he does not want to see a certain thing is simply ridiculous. We all have our blind spots and that is alright- it does not necessarily make our bodies ill.
Even if it were true (and there can be cases) it would not promote healing to say so, because this theory promotes guilt in the ill person. And guilt is the worst poison there is.

Illness and the Soul

We must distinguish between all the levels of existence: body, mind and soul. Body and mind can be ill, but the soul is beyond illness. It is always whole, beyond our concepts and philosophies.
With the word “soul” I don’t mean what we usually think of as the “individual soul”. I experience Soul as something much larger that the individual spark, but a fire that consumes everything. This is collective rather than personal.
It is not that the Soul is in us, but we are in the Soul, just like a fish swimming in the ocean.

The immortal Reiki practitioner

A strange concept that we have created for our group, the group of Reiki practitioners, is that someone who practices Reiki should not get ill. Do you remember what happened to Dr. Usui himself? His life was very short by our standards- he only lived to age 60, from August 15th 1865 to March 9th 1926.

Reiki is no guarantee for you to remain healthy forever. We do not know what is in the stars for us, and nothing can change destiny- not even ten hours of Reiki per day. One of my favourite sayings in that respect comes from Meher Baba, an Indian Guru I love and respect very much. He said: “Disease does not kill people, death does.”

It is known that leading a spiritual life is not necessarily a ticket to health. Some of the world’s greatest spiritual masters battled their whole lives with very common illness. They had cancer, heart disease, cerebral hemorrhages, strokes, asthma, diabetes- you name it. If you find yourself with a serious illness, begin by bowing down to it and then do everything you can to promote healing on all possible levels. The ways of Reiki are mysterious: we do not know on which level healing will occur.

Esoteric science and illness

Many books and countless Reiki teachers talk about the relationship of body/mind and soul as if they understand it. I myself am not so fortunate. Life is such a mystery to me and I have no idea how it all works. Look up at the night sky on a clear night, and you know what I am talking about: we are so small and insignificant…

I suggest that unless one really knows it, it is better to remain silent about it. The same goes for theories about chakras, etheric bodies and the concept of karmic diseases. Consider these theories, remain open to them, but don’t create mental concepts.
We don’t even know what is happening to us today and what effect our present life has on our body. What to say about a previous life? Stay with what you know.

What can you do to stay healthy

The foremost is your inner attitude. Nourish a state of gratefulness with whatever you encounter. Perform only actions that are worthy of looking back at with pride. Watch your thoughts and emotions and entertain only healthy ones. Stop yourself when you notice destructive thought- and destructive emotional patterns.

Take care of your body as much as you can without creating too much stress with your daily regimen. If strict exercise or diet is too stressful it may outdo its benefits. If you are attracted by a vegetarian diet, it may help you to stay healthy. But this is not for everyone: if you crave fish and meat, listen to the wisdom of your body! Your body knows what is best for you. You must only learn to distinguish between the wisdom of the body and the desires of the mind. If all you want to eat is chocolate, there must be something odd going on…

If you drink moderate amounts of alcohol, tea and coffee, or if you smoke a moderate amount, do it, but do it consciously and with pleasure. Pleasure is a key word in physical, emotional and mental health.
We all need some help with relaxation. For some of us it may come in the form of a glass of wine or the occasional cigar, for others it may come in the form of kicking a sand- bag! Find out what helps you relax and consider the pros and cons…

The language of stress

Learn to listen to the subtle or not so subtle signs that your body and mind give you. Do you notice when you are tired, when you don’t seem to sleep enough, when you are irritated and restless? Do you feel energetic, refreshed and happy? How is your breathing pattern? Do you get enough air, enough nourishment? Do you sigh deeply?

Do you work too much? Most Reiki Teachers I know, do. How can you cut down on the work you do? There must be a way to slow down, to give yourself more time for privacy and rejuvenation. What about your hobbies? Do you remember them?
Do you receive Reiki treatments?

Many of us who practice Reiki, seem to acquire a habit of compulsory giving. It makes us feel good and noble on one hand but burns us out on the other.

Are you ready to receive, to be vulnerable and in need of being held, touched and loved? This habit of compulsory giving- I know it from my self- is a hard nut to break. In the past year I managed to defeat it by organizing a weekly Reiki- Share Group in which I too lay down on the table: oh, what I resistance I put up against that in the beginning. Remember that you can only help others when you yourself are well and full of energy.

Next, look at your life. Do you love yourself enough? Do you get enough love and nourishment from your family, your partner, your work and circle of friends? What can you do to make changes in this respect?

Do you live in the right place? I often ask myself what I would do if I had a Million Euro. Would I stay where I am? What would I do differently?
If there is something I would change, I work on changing it right now- before the money comes into my life. Why wait when you can have it now?

The Reiki- Teachers Trap

For those of us who teach Reiki- or anything else for that matter- there is one more very important issue that may play a role in your health. Ask yourself if you live what you teach. Do you teach the Reiki- Principles to your students? And what about your self? Do you follow them? Have you integrated them into your life? Do you teach unconditional love, egolessness, tranquility and meditation. What about your own inner life? Are you tranquil, egoless and meditative?

Or are you pretending to be someone or something that you are not? Are you floating on cloud nine, or are you just a simple being? When you teach there is no need to create a certain image of your self.
Just be your self and rest in the natural state…
A good way of finding clarity about your inner state is to look whether you act differently when you are home alone, or in a classroom. Are your movements graceful, do you have the same look in your eyes? Do you eat the chocolate that you tell your students not to eat?

Are you clear about where you are, what you know and what you don’t know? What helps me a lot in this respect is a simple thing: when asked something I don’t know the answer to I say “I don’t know”… And it is so refreshing not to know everything and to feel good about not- knowing…

And in this not knowing, you encounter a moment of silence…ahh… Take a few minutes to rest in this peaceful moment that contains no tension, no worry, no problem…This is where you find your self…


Frank Arjava Petter is the author of thes internationally best selling Reiki books “Reiki Fire”, “Reiki the Legacy of Dr. Usui”, “The original Reiki Handbook of Dr. Mikao Usui” and co-author of “The Spirit of Reiki” in collaboration with Walter Lübeck and William Lee Rand, “Reiki, Best Practices with Walter Lübeck and ” the Hayashi Reiki Manual” with Tadao Yamaguchi. So far his books are translated into fifteen languages. Arjava travels worldwide teaching Reiki, meditation and Family Constellations. More info at

One Response to “Article – Reiki and Illness”

  • Thank you Arjava for a very down to earth account of Reiki and illness. I have been working with Reiki for over over twenty years and find it refreshing to encounter a straightforward, uncomplicated look at our energy.

    For all those out there attuned to the beautiful energy of Usui Reiki I second what Arjava has said- Live the Principles – or do your best to do so. We are only human and struggle with issues about ourselves as yet undiscovered. It is a process, this life of ours, and we dont have all the answers all the time.

    But what I know personally from experience and from working with people’s challenges we have alot of tools available to us. If you have Reiki – use it, it will not let you down.

    Love and light to you in the work you continue to do and to all of you out there.

    Miriam @ the healing place

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