Ki, in Japanese belief, is the life energy responsible for keeping the body functioning. Low levels of ki, or energy, make it more likely for the person to get sick; similarly, higher amounts of ki make it easier for people to be happy and healthy. Reiki healing is the art of manipulating another person's ki to induce healing effects; the practitioner must be in a calm state of mind to tap into and use the recipient's reservoir of ki. Meditation and reiki are therefore said to go hand in hand due to the use of meditation to calm the mind, feel and use ki.
One of the most important concepts in energy meditation and reiki exercises is the Seiki no Tanden, or center point. This point, located 3 inches (7.62 cm) below the navel and 2 inches (5.08 cm) in, is the center of gravity in the human body and the center of ki, from which all energy flows. Cultivation of the Tanden involves deep breathing exercises and quiet meditation; during these exercises, the student breathes deeply into the diaphragm, allowing it to expand and take in oxygen and ki, then exhales. In addition to reiki cultivation, deep breathing is a more efficient method of taking in oxygen and expelling waste air, as fewer muscles are used.
The flow of ki throughout the body is subtle, often described by practitioners as warm and tingling. Other sensations tend to override the sensation of ki and make it difficult to locate and control. Therefore, meditation and reiki are practiced as an effort to aid the practitioner in stilling his or her conscious thoughts. The flow of ki is directly linked to breathing; as the person inhales, ki builds in the Tanden, it spreads through the body on the exhalation. Exertion of willpower sends the ki to wherever the practitioner wants it to go, usually the hands because reiki healing involves channeling ki through the hands to specific points on the body.
Combining regular meditation and reiki assures that no negative thoughts and emotions cloud reiki healers' ki. Using ki to heal another person requires that the healer's ki be balanced; emotions directly affect the ease of ki flow. Another interpretation holds that reiki practitioners are channeling universal ki into the body of a patient and need to be in a clear state of mind so that their ego, or self, does not interfere with the channeling. Reiki practitioners need to be able to sense the ki flow in another person to determine where energy blockages exist.