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Reiki in the Military

Updated: Oct 6, 2023

Reiki in the military providing a treatment for PTSD

The use of Reiki in the military is a relatively new phenomenon. Whilst the use of mindfulness meditation in a military context has a long history, the use of energy healing techniques is still relatively unknown, but increasingly becoming more widespread.

Reiki is well known for its ability to help alleviate such mental health issues as anxiety, stress and depression. It is now being used, alongside other complementary therapies for returning US military personnel after their tours of duty in such places as Afghanistan and Iraq. Such personnel often suffer from PTSD as well as physical and mental and emotional pain, or have serious bodily injuries, finding it hard to re-integrate back into society. Some of the symptoms of PTSD are insomnia, irritability, depression, feelings of isolation, nightmares, hyperarousal, and suicidal tendencies.

The use of Reiki is proving to be greatly beneficial in these cases, eliciting powerful relaxation responses, decreasing physical pain, calming emotions, and clearing the mind as well as helping to release trauma. It has also been used successfully to treat hyperarousal, anxiety disorders and panic and tension-induced physical pain. Military veterans responded by claiming to feel tranquil, more relaxed and at peace following their first Reiki treatments. One described Reiki as phenomenal!

So successful has the programme been, that the US military was set aside $4 million dollars to investigate the effectiveness of complementary therapies, including Reiki (both hands-on and distant) and extending out to include such practices as transcendental meditation and other forms of bioenergetics. The US Defense Department “is dedicated to supporting evidence-based approaches to medical treatment and wants to support the use of alternative therapies if they are proven efficacious," noted a request for proposals to receive funding.

The Early History of Military Interest in Reiki

The use of Reiki in the military might be quite new, but it does have historical precedents. Back in the 1920’s a Japanese Naval Captain and medical doctor called Chujiro Hayashi, along with two other officers, Jusaburo Ushida and Kanichi Taketomi undertook training in the system from its founder, Mikao Usui.

Usui had been providing some healing work at a naval base and the results so impressed the military that they asked Usui to provide training. Initially resistant to the idea (as were many of his existing students who didn’t feel it was right that a spiritual practice should end up in the hands of military men), there seems to have been some arm-twisting that took place and Usui relented, agreeing to teach the three naval officers.

Reiki in the military has a long history back to Chujiro Hayashi

The navy wanted to use Usui’s system as a form of ‘first aid’ to be used on the Japanese ships. At the time, the navy was desperately short of medically trained personnel (it was estimated at the time that there was one doctor for every five thousand navy ratings), and they needed a method that could be used as an interim measure until proper medical attention could be given.

The method that Usui taught to the naval officers, which we could call his ‘Navy System’, was a stripped-down version of his more comprehensive method that involved meditation and the chanting of sacred sounds. It was very much a spiritual development system, rather than just an energy-healing practice.

This truncated healing method was implemented by the Japanese navy and there are 1930’s Japanese Defense Manuals that give details of the Reiki system that had been developed for them. This was not and shouldn’t be seen as an evolution of Usui’s method, but an ad-hoc version, put together for a particular purpose. It’s this method that the West has inherited today, believing it to be the complete system of Mikao Usui.

Changing the Focus of Usui’s Method

Hayashi, himself a Christian, was not particularly interested in the spiritual aspects of Usui’s system but he was extremely interested in its treatment possibilities. He kept detailed records of all the treatments that were given, using this data to create standard hand positions for different ailments. This information was put together in a comprehensive healing guide called the Usui Reiki Hikkei. This work had the approval of Mikao Usui, and in fact built on the healing work that Usui had already started. Usui was very much interested to see if his method could stand alone as a healing system. It’s important to note however, that the use of the formal hand positions that Hayashi developed were considered secondary to the practice of byosen, which involves scanning the client’s energy field with the hands and detecting energetically where they needed treatment. Only those who were not particularly sensitive to the energy were allowed to fall back on the system of formal hand positions.

Following Usui’s death in 1926, Hayashi took over Usui’s seat of learning. With the help of Taketomi and Ushida, Hayashi continued to teach Usui’s method and operated a hospice there. In 1931 he changed the centre’s name to Hayashi Reiki Kenkyu-kai (The Hayashi Reiki Research Centre) and began teaching his own approach. It is this approach that would define the practice through the rest of the 20th century and eventually spread across the globe under the name of Usui.

Modern Military Reiki

In a study examining the effectiveness of Reiki, conducted by the Military Medicine Journal, researchers observed a clinically and statistically significant drop in PTSD symptoms, eliciting a powerful relaxation response. Those that have experienced trauma or deep levels of anxiety have trouble reaching this state themselves. Such a state allows the body/mind complex to let go and reset itself. This in turn promotes healing on all levels. The practice of Reiki is now being considered as a core treatment in combatting PTSD with the US Defense Department. One of its main benefits is that it’s easy to learn and can be used for self-treatment.

There are indications that perhaps the Egyptian military, under the auspices of President Sissi, are also taking an interest in energy healing. Whilst I was training students in Egypt, one of my students was asked if she could provide regular Reiki treatments to Egyptian military personnel. During that period, I also received requests from various members of the Egyptian armed forces for training.

Reiki in the military is providing relief for veterans around the world

It seems that, just as with mindfulness meditation, the world’s military are increasingly taking notice of the benefits of Reiki. Whilst mindfulness has extensive scientific and medical support, Reiki is still in the scientific hinterlands. This doesn’t mean, of course, that Reiki isn’t scientific, just that science has yet to find a way of measuring and understanding the practice. That it benefits countless numbers of people around the world is beyond question. It can also benefit military personnel in today’s modern military forces, just as it did the Japanese navy prior to World War Two.

The military are especially vulnerable to certain mental health conditions, and if Reiki can be brought in to help treat those conditions, then this is an entirely good thing. Perhaps Reiki is destined to spread through the world’s military just as mindfulness meditation is doing at the moment.

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Unknown member
Jun 01, 2023

Thank you for such an indept article.. I recently completed. 3 levels of Reiki training. And I'm hoping to connect with my local VA to see f they will allow me to treat military personnel with PTSD and other exotic issues. I have pretty complex PTSD myself. Though it did not come from combat. My reason or doing this is I have been learning live with it after 30 plus years and every time I hear of military suicides, it crushes me.

Pete M

Elizabethtown NY

Unknown member
Jun 02, 2023
Replying to

Thank you. If you don't mind if you come across any VA related information regarding reiki , please pass that on to me, thank you.

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