This is how the working of Reiki is still described by most Reiki practitioners and teachers, as far as I know. But I feel this is not what actually happens. During my years of Reiki practice, my initial feeling of being connected to the Real Self has been confirmed many times – by my experiences and also by information from other sources. And, at some point, I dropped the concept of the extension cord, because I realized that my Real Self is not somewhere outside of my human body. No extension cord is needed – because my Self, my Source, is within every physical particle of me. Within the physical dimension is the spiritual dimension, which creates the physical...!
Rather than the concept of Reiki being some unknown cosmic energy that comes to us from above, it is defined much more precisely by a Japanese understanding. In this understanding, everything starts with God or Spiritual Essence:
Shin = God or Spiritual Essence (we can also use the word "Source")
Shin-ki = God-energy, Source-energy (in the spiritual dimension)
Rei-ki = literally "Spirit-energy" (though it's in the physical dimension)
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Eventually I came to realize that all of these are within us. Shin and Shin-ki are in the spiritual dimension, within every particle of physical matter. Without them, the physical matter does not exist. And Rei-ki is the first and most-subtle manifestation of Shin-ki in the physical realm. This is how and why the energetic vibration of Reiki connects us to our true Self and our Source.
When we're in the vibrational state of Reiki, we accelerate the flow of Source-energy from within us. It enters the physical dimension (as Reiki) and radiates outward. It fills our body and continues radiating outward through the space around us. Then, when we place our hands on someone else, our Reiki not only radiates to them, but their own state of Reiki is activated from within. Source-energy pours into them from within and radiates outward...!
This activation of the Real Self or the Source within us is what brings about all the effects: It relaxes us, removes our stress, gives us a more beautiful and youthful appearance, accelerates physical (including mental and emotional) healing and spiritual awakening. And, by bringing out the real You (your inner beauty), Reiki can turn-on your personal magnetism, attracting more good things and good people into your life.
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See the full list of YourTango articles by Don Beckett (in chronological order)