Temari Reiki: A new hands-off approach to traditional Reiki


Correspondence: Jane Stewart Townsend, 2092 Albert Circle, Wilmington, NC 28403 USA. Email:janest@earthlink.net


This paper encapsulates the history of Reiki, an ancient healing art, from its origins in Japan to current practice in the United States. It defines Reiki therapy and discusses the development of a new Reiki method called Temari Reiki and the use of two additional chakras. Lastly, sample clients scenarios are provided. Because of the success of Temari Reiki in my practice, recommendations include that it be integrated as therapy to augment traditional Western medicine-based patient care plans for patients with cancer, pain, stress and other disabling health issues. Also, additional research using randomized clinical trials is recommended to examine the benefits of Temari Reiki for improving patients' well-being in mind, body and spirit.


Since the 1920s, the Japanese art and science of Reiki has provided strength and healing to people through its use of the body's natural energy centres. Reiki is a complementary health practice that uses energy fields or biofields to improve health and well-being. Energy biofield therapies are based on the belief that each person has ‘subtle forms of energy’ that surround and interpenetrate the body.[1] Such hands-on therapies including therapeutic touch and healing touch work with the patient's energy field.[2-4] The techniques used in Reiki vary geographically and in scope. In the following paper, I will share my experiences in transforming it into an even more powerful energy force via an expanded set of energy centres—chakras—and a new technique for the application of Reiki, which I call Temari Reiki.

Traditional Reiki is a complementary therapy where the practitioner uses his/her hands to touch specified areas of the body to enhance the person's body ability to heal using their own innate energy augmented by the practitioner's energy.[5] In contrast to traditional Reiki, Temari Reiki,[6] as a hands-off technique, is a simultaneously physical, emotional and spiritual experience that clients state takes them to a deeper level of healing.[6] In my experience with energy healing, clients were referred or came to me because neither Western medicine nor energy work modalities were effective. Energy work had turned into a treatment to cure their symptoms instead of getting to the root of the problem. Their bodies’ innate ability to heal was overlooked. Because it impedes a person's ability to heal, what I call ‘non-beneficial’ energy survives through mutation, similar to bacterial or cancer cells. Non-beneficial energy has mutated itself so that traditional healing energy methods either no longer work or are at best less effective, just as antibiotics become ineffective in healing an infection because the bacteria they targeted mutated. In the same dynamic, energy work must adapt in order to become more effective.

Traditional Reiki

Interest in learning how energy heals the body is not new. The origins of this healing art can be traced to the Buddhist monk, Kukai (774–835), founder of Shigon Buddhism.[5] Reiki is an ancient healing therapy that came to Western civilization from Japan.[5, 7] Dr Mikao Usui, Buddhist and spiritualist (1865–1926),[5] was interested in how people were healed by touch and subsequently searched for 7 years until he found a 2500 year-old healing technique which he called Reiki.

Dr Usui gave lectures on Reiki all over Japan and trained over 2000 students including Dr Chijuro Hayashi, a retired naval officer, who became his most ardent student. Usui passed on Reiki knowledge and techniques to Hayashi, who founded an internationally renowned Reiki clinic in Tokyo (April 1922)[1] where he held classes and lectured. A Japanese American woman, Hawayo Takata, was referred by her surgeon to Hayashi. After receiving treatments, Takata's health was restored. As a result, she wanted to become a Reiki practitioner but at the time only men were allowed. After 3 years of persistence, Takata surmounted that obstacle and became a Reiki Master in 1938.[8]

Takata returned to the United States in 1937, taught Reiki and initiated 22 Reiki Masters.[8, 9] The above explains how Japanese Reiki came to the United States but, since then, it has undergone a Western-style transformation. Usui and Petter note: ‘…Western Reiki … is a type of large-scale treatment; (while) the Japanese, intuitive treatment is specifically directed: the more precise (sic) we work, the better the results will naturally be.’[5] This is what I have attempted to do—and to refine—in Temari Reiki.

Traditional Reiki involves the use of 12 hand positions. Those positions ‘cover the entire system of endocrine glands, as well as all of the inner organs.’[5] They energize the human being on the physical, mental, emotional and energetic level simultaneously through the Reiki power itself.[5]

In the United States Reiki treatments are provided by reiki masters, nurses who have received Reiki training, and massage therapists in a variety of inpatient and outpatient settings.[10] Reiki is often one of the modalities offered at Integrative Medical Clinics. Also, independent practitioners offer therapy in clinics or private practices. Nurses and massage therapists incorporate the use of Reiki into their ‘healing touch’ as they provide spiritual support for patients in experiencing mental, physical and spiritual distress. There are three levels in Reiki certification up to and including the Master level. The Reiki Master level focuses on training and certifying individuals to practice Reiki.

I feel privileged to have been certified by Reiki Master Annie Miller, who has a very close lineage to the purest form of Reiki. Dr Usui took on Hawayo Takata as a protégé and, subsequently, a Third Generation Reiki Master certified Annie Miller.

Temari Reiki

As a strong believer and practitioner of Reiki for 7 years, I have learned that its methods need not be static. Also, after reflection about many Reiki sessions, I decided that the technique needed refinement. My technique, Temari Reiki,[6] directs healing energy to specific areas of the body in a purer form. This is done by applying the same physics principles that are demonstrated with the use of Styrofoam balls attached to car radio antennae for the purpose of improving reception. That is, Western Reiki imparts a general feeling of well-being, whereas Japanese Reiki, which Temari Reiki resembles, focuses on specific parts of the body that need healing. Those specific areas then radiate the results into the rest of the body. Therefore, it effectively accomplishes the original role of healing as set forth by Dr Usui, as noted by Usui and Petter.[5] My clients express feelings of intense energy transference into afflicted areas, which they claim initiates the healing considerably more rapidly than other treatments. Some sense a laser-like energy, others describe the sensation that something is being pulled out of them, still others feel as if a major infection is compressed to a point and then released by the body. They also observe a feeling of the greatest sense of peace they have ever experienced.

Traditional Reiki is a hands-on method of energy therapy, whereas Temari Reiki is hands-off and focuses on the chakras, or body's energy centres, as recognized in Japanese, Chinese, Indian and other Eastern medical practices. Kalashatra Govinda notes that the first mention of chakras came about in the 1500B.C.E text of the Vedas.[11] ‘These energy centers are neither physical nor anatomical… . found in the subtle energy system, although their radiant energy does correspond to positions within the body.’[11] Table 1 was adapted from Kalashatra Govinda and Cyndi Dale[11, 12] and depicts the traditionally accepted chakras as well as two more I will discuss later.

Table 1. The chakras of Temari Reiki
ChakraTemari BallRelationship/Body Functions
  1. Adapted from Govinda and Dale.[11, 12] New Chakra.
RootRed/Red starPelvis, bones, large intestine, rectum, sphincter muscle, nails, teeth
RenalDark orange/Gold starKidneys, bladder, renal, blood circulation (arterial/ venal)
SacralOrange/Light green starMale/Female sexual organs
Solar plexusYellow/Purple starDigestive system, small intestine, colon, liver, spleen, gall bladder, muscles, autonomic nervous system
HeartGreen/Orange starHeart, lungs, pulmonary arteries and veins (blood flow to internal organs) arms, hands
SuperstructureTurquoise/Dark blue starBones of the head, neck, jaw, shoulders, clavicle, vertebrae, bone marrow
ThroatLight blue/Dark blue starTissues of the throat, neck, oesophagus and trachea
Third eyeDark blue/Light blue starBrain/cerebellum, hormonal system, eyes, ears, nose, sinuses
CrownPurple/Yellow starBrain/cerebrum, balance of blood flow to brain, autonomic nervous system (sympathetic and parasympathetic)
HaloWhite/Silver star

Aura, energetic functions:

Levels of energy, life force, consciousness, frequency, prosperity

Temari Reiki is provided in sessions that last for 60 to 90 minutes by certified Temari Reiki practitioners who place their hands above the temari balls, situated over the corresponding chakras, as described in Table 1, and transmit energy through the balls to the chakras. I increase the energy transmission to and reception by the chakras, through the medium of Japanese temari balls made with styrofoam, a material used for many years to boost radiowave reception by placement on car antennas.

Modifying the usual type of Reiki energy transmission technique has given me access to wider frequency ranges with stronger energy flowing to the recipient. Viewing the human body as a form of ‘suspension bridge’, and understanding that each energy centre vibrates at a different frequency, we can discern that if one part of that bridge is awry it will effectively skew other portions of the bridge, or the body's superstructure.

Temari Balls

I first began to think about a new technique for providing Reiki between my Level II and Reiki Master certifications. On several occasions I thought that there had to be a better way to more effectively transmit energy without touching the client.

While studying ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arranging, I learned about a Japanese craft, temari balls. Diana Vandervoort notes that ‘Te-mari’ translates literally into ‘hand-ball’. From the humble origins of a toy ball for games, temari has evolved over a thousand years into a revered art form. ‘Through the centuries, the tradition of temari has continued, perpetuating … love and … beauty. Temari is … a very special gift … from the heart … and unconditional … love.’[13]

As I further studied temari balls, I postulated that I might be able to transmit Reiki through them to my clients. I designed and crafted a unique ‘skin’ of yarn and an appliqué pattern for the balls but varied each one to correspond with each chakra (see Table 1). For the primary design, I chose a six-pointed star with radiating interlinking bars. A hospice healing arts director exclaimed that they were ‘healing mandalas’.[11] In various spiritual traditions, the encircled pattern of a mandala could be employed as a spiritual teaching tool by aspirants and adepts alike. It focuses their attention, helps to establish a sacred space, and aids in meditation and trance induction. According to psychologist David Fontana, the symbolic nature of the mandala can help the meditator to access the unconscious at deeper levels.[14]

Identifying Two New Chakras

In the process of working on clients with the temari balls, I found what I believe to be two new chakras. They are connected to major organs or glands that govern body parts previously thought to be a part of—instead of distinct from—previously recognized chakras.

The first of the new chakras was the ‘Renal’, between the Root and the Sacral, and the other was the ‘Superstructure’, between the Heart and Throat. I discovered that they were absolutely necessary in order to make this new form of Reiki work. Without them, the session would be incomplete because crucial parts of the body, and their corresponding energy centres, would be neglected.

Temari Reiki Treatment Impact

Similar to the protocols noted in the literature, in my practice, I recommend that a client go through a minimum of three Temari Reiki sessions in order to build a good healing foundation.[9, 15] Additionally, each session addresses a different aspect of the healing process, and each creates a deeper potential for long-term success. This knowledge ultimately leads to self-empowerment and stewardship over their own health and well-being.

Vignettes of Temari Reiki Clients

As I performed this new type of Reiki, my clients and I recognized that I was on to something. A client who had experienced one or more traditional Reiki sessions stated that traditional Reiki seemed to feel like ‘Reiki “lite”‘. Virtually all of those clients described Temari Reiki as more ‘pure’ and ‘direct’, because the energy from the chakras travelled to the places in their bodies that needed it most. Many clients noted that they felt far better after experiencing a Temari Reiki session than any other form of energy work. In addition, they claimed that it augmented their treatment plans and/or independently alleviated their symptoms. The following vignettes from clients are examples of client perceptions of their Temari Reiki experience (names are fictitious).

Client A—Relief of chronic pain from plantar fasciitis and chronic wrist pain

Reiki; I had heard of it but didn't really know anything about it. As a product of the Western medical tradition, I first sought Reiki methods to help alleviate wrist pain, in addition to what I suspected was plantar fasciitis … Not only did I obtain relatively immediate relief from the two physical problems I was having, but I began to experience increased clarity and insight into my emotions and spirit … I am experiencing greater awareness and understanding of my physical, mental and spiritual states.

Client B—PTSD and depression

After literally years of therapy, medication, no medication, recreational drugs, sobriety, all of those ‘devices’ weren't helping to solve any of my anxiety, depression, mania or panic attacks. After Temari Reiki …, I could step out of my panic attack, manage my anxiety and relax. I can deal with things and become stronger by facing them. Currently I am on the lowest dose of medication for my PTSD that I have ever taken. One day soon I believe I will need no medicine at all.

Client C—Liver failure

On 1 April 2011, I was diagnosed with autoimmune hepatitis. My body was rejecting my liver as though it were a transplant. Subsequently, my liver was inflamed and my body wasn't receiving any liver enzymes. I couldn't digest anything. My urine was a reddish brown colour; my faeces were white. My skin was the colour of tangy honey mustard; people turned their heads to stare at me … I was incredibly weak. I really thought I was going to die. Fortunately, I saw a doctor who jumpstarted my liver with large doses of prednisone … My sister recommended that I see a Reiki master … It was one of the most incredibly moving, healing experiences of my life. During the session, I felt actual physical changes occurring in my body, even though Jane never touched me. I also felt a huge enlightenment, a deep knowledge of why I got sick and how to heal … With every session, I got better and better. My liver enzymes returned to normal much sooner than expected and I was able to get off the medication much faster. My doctor was amazed!


Often Reiki training includes learning the Reiki techniques and theory, practice, receiving treatments and reflection with mentors, Reiki Masters, and clients.[15] Reiki has minimal reported risks and side effects. Temari Reiki can complement health-care treatment for individuals with chronic pain, acute illnesses, cancer, mental pain and so forth. As the vignettes above imply, this synergy of East and West is integral to the best of both worlds—philosophy and practice and to patients’ well-being in body, mind and spirit. My forthcoming book The Vessel: Temari Reiki, a New Way of Healing[6] will offer a deeper, more detailed exploration of the principles highlighted in this article so that in the future practitioners of both Temari Reiki and other energy therapies can be pioneers and enhance their knowledge in order to incorporate this type of energy therapy into their practices.

Implications for Practice

Reiki is recognized by the U.S. National Institutes of Health National Center as Complimentary and Alternative Medicine and many Holistic Medical Centers as a complementary energy therapy[16] and emerging as one of the common therapies used in integrative medical care. A review in Chocrane of Reiki research concludes that Reiki therapy has some significant results in a number of experimental clinical studies;[16, 17] and that some Reiki studies are small with conflicting results.[18-20] Future research implications for Reiki therapy include the need for more randomized clinical trials with large samples and qualitative and quantitative research. Also needed are comparative studies using Temari Reiki, traditional Reiki, healing touch and other energy modalities. Particularly needed are interdisciplinary randomized controlled and placebo clinical trials with clients who have varied diseases and lifestyle issues. Lastly, continued exploration of outcomes of Reiki treatments and use in traditional and emerging health-care settings[21] is encouraged.


The author declares no conflict of interest.