In order to understand Reiki’s emergence in popular culture, it helps to have an understanding of what popular culture is. Simply put, it is the total of ideas, perspectives, and attitudes preferred and established by an informal consensus within the mainstream of any given culture.
This applies especially to the Western culture of the early to mid 20th century, and the emerging global culture of the late 20th and early 21st century. Popular culture is heavily influenced by media, and is defined as anything that outlives the fad, or tadpole, stage of life. The surviving ideas of popular culture permeate the everyday life of a given society.
The principle agent for Reiki’s delivery to the West was Hawayo Takata. Takata was born on December 24, 1900 and eventually brought Reiki to the West shortly after World War II. However, Reiki didn’t enter the American mainstream until the 1970’s. By the time of Takata’s death on December 11th, 1980, Reiki had taken a strong hold in the United States. Hawayo had initiated and trained 22 third level, or Master Level, practitioners.
With the exception of people who were already invested in alternative perceptions of reality, Reiki was initially met with skepticism by the general public. Many thought the art was the domain of charlatans.
A study performed by Dr. Eisenburb at a Boston hospital showed that more than 80 million Americans had participated in alternative medicine, including Reiki healing. The participants in alternative medicine had spent more than $14 billion in expendable income on complementary health care. Today, some universities, such as Naropa in Colorado, teach Reiki formally to students along with other alternative healing technologies. Indeed, 75 out of 117 U.S. medical schools offered elective courses in Complementary Alternative Medicine (CAM), or included CAM topics in required courses.
During the 1970’s, a registered nurse named Dolores Krieger, begun introducing Reiki to her patients. Due to her efforts, the amount of research into Reiki has increased. Several medical research studies have verified Reiki’s effects, but have not explained how it works.
In 1998, the United States congress established the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM). NCCAM has since published a survey revealing that more than 60 percent of doctors from a divergent specialties recommended alternative medicine to their patients. A total of 47 percent of those doctors reported using alternative therapies themselves.
At the University of Saskatchewan, Dr. Ahlam Mansour of the College of Nursing, received a research grant from the Canadian Breast Cancer Research Initiative (CBCRI) to conduct a study of the effects of Reiki on patients receiving chemotherapy for breast cancer. The study addressed levels of anxiety, physical problems, spiritual well-being, and blood counts.
It would appear that from the ashes of World War II, Reiki has come to life as a phoenix might, brings needed waves of relief to ailing people everywhere. Despite religious controversy, mainly with Rome, Reiki continues to engage the public, and now the medical industry, as a reputable and effective healing technology.