Japanese Reiki Techniques
The Japanese Reiki Techniques, or nihon no Reiki gihō (日本の技法), have gained popularity among many different lineages of Reiki. They impart a feeling of authenticity and a connection to founder Usui Mikao himself. These methods are a means of cultivating your inner connection to Reiki, and they will help you improve your skills in administering Reiki overall.
The Three Pillars
The Three Pillars of Reiki are gasshō, reiji hō, and chiryō. Together, these three aspects represent the three avenues by which we can improve ourselves through the practice. Gassho is the joining of hands in a prayerful state. Reiji hō allows the consciousness of Reiki to guide the hands. Finally, chiryō, “treatment,” is the hands-on application of Reiki learned in the first degree. The three pillars work together on the threefold aspects of our being: heart-mind, spirit, and body.
Gasshō Meiso 合掌瞑想
The first of the Three Pillars of Reiki Ryōhō as outlined by the Usui Reiki Ryōhō Gakkai is gasshō. Gasshō is written with the kanji for “unite” (合) and “palm” (掌); it literally signifies bringing the palms of the hands together as a symbol of reverence. Meiso simply means meditation. This Japanese Reiki Technique is the foundation of most of the following exercises. Spending a few moments in gasshō stills the mind, alleviates stress, and centers your whole being.
Each of the fingers on each hand can be representative of the different aspects of your being. For example, they can be associated with the five elements of Eastern philosophy (wood, water, fire, earth, and metal); they can also represent the five elements of alchemical lore (fire, water, air, earth, and spirit/ether/akasha). The hands, in Buddhism and other Asian worldviews, also relate to our archetypal opposites. The right hand is active, giving, solar, open, yang. Left is symbolic of being passive, receptive, lunar, closed (or hidden), and yin. To bring together these opposing forces in the stillness of meditation offers total balance.
When the hands are brought together, they are usually held at the heart or just above it. The height at which one’s hands are placed traditionally reflects the amount of respect being shown. Since gasshō isn’t being used as a gesture of greeting, heart-level is sufficient for Reiki. The palms are usually held together, although some teachers recommend a small gap between them. The fingertips are united, with emphasis placed on the middle finger.
As you practice gasshō meiso the idea is merely to still the mind and empty yourself of attachment and expectation. Thoughts will naturally come up; this is normal. Even practiced meditators experience this. The trick is to just observe them as they pass, rather than follow them to wherever they lead. Imagine stepping back and looking at your thoughts from farther away. If you try to resist or erase your thinking, it will push back against this resistance. Just relax and allow.
The effects of gasshō meiso include sharper focus and greater ease channeling Reiki. Each of the fingers is related to a different meridian, or energy channel, in your body. Bringing them together helps them work in perfect balance.
When practicing gasshō bring your awareness to your middle finger, which is associated with the element of fire. It is the power finger, and traditional Reiki recognizes it as the most potent of the fingers when applying Reiki for hands-on healing. Gently directing your attention to the place where the tips of your middle fingers meet gives your mind a means of avoiding attachment to arising thoughts. It also helps generate an affinity for the archetype of fire, which is cleansing and warming. This meditative experience can ignite the spark of healing and spiritual growth that underlies all practices in Reiki Ryōhō.
At the beginning, try practicing gasshō in silence for five minutes or so. Over time you can stretch this to as long as thirty minutes or an hour. Diligent meditation helps train the mind and spirit, your kokoro. This is the real goal of Usui Reiki Ryōhō; gasshō is the first tool we learn to begin the process of awakening to our true selves. Usui even asks us to practice gasshō meiso twice each day while reciting the precepts: asa yū gasshō shite kokoro ni nenji kuchi ni tona e yo (“morning and evening, practice gasshō and hold [the principles] in your heart and chant them with your mouth”).
The more you practice gasshō, the easier it will be. Since it is the first part of most of the Japanese Reiki Techniques, most practitioners feel Reiki flow whenever they place their palms together at the heart. Committing to a regular practice of gasshō embodies the fourth precept, gyō wo hageme, which invites us to work with diligence toward uncovering our authentic selves.
1. Sit comfortably and set your intention to meditate. Traditionally, this meditation is practiced in seiza, the Japanese manner of sitting, a kneeling position with your feet tucked beneath you. Feel free to sit in a chair or cross-legged on the ground.
2. Bring your hands together before the heart. Allow for a minute amount of space between the palms, with the fingers together in “prayer position.”
3. Bring your awareness to the point at which the middle fingertips meet. When thoughts arise, simply observe them detachedly; neither pursue nor dismiss them.
4. Continue meditating in this fashion until you are either unable to continue, or until you’ve drawn the exercise to a close.