From about 1937 until 1970, Mrs. Hawayo Takata was the only Reiki Master practicing in the United States. In the last decade before she died, she initiated 22 students into Reiki Masters so that Reiki could continue in the West. She died in 1980.
Mrs. Takata was born in Hawaii – in fact, her first name, Hawayo, is a feminized form of the name of her home state. It is said that when she was a young child, after a summer’s work in a sugar cane plantation, she made a prayer that she would never have to work in such a harsh way again to make a living.
After her husband died at age 35, Hawayo Takata had the responsibility to raise her two young daughters alone. It was a hard path, but she was determined to succeed. At one point in her thirties, Mrs. Takata had a serious condition in which surgery seemed the only way to become healthy again. She was traveling in Japan, and when she went to the hospital in Tokyo for the surgery, she heard a voice say that the surgery was not necessary. She was already on the surgical table, but she heard it three times! So, she stood up and went to speak with the surgeon, asking if there was any other way to heal her condition aside from the surgery. He told her about the Reiki clinic that had been founded by Dr. Hayashi, follower of Dr. Usui, the founder of the Usui System of Natural Healing (what we now call Reiki).
She went there, and, working in pairs, the practitioners healed her over the course of some time just by the energy of Reiki. On the first day she was so astounded that she looked up their sleeves for battery packs or something that could explain the energy she was feeling. They explained to her that what they were doing was using the energy of the universe to heal the body. Dr. Hayashi, the director, explained that in the same way we cannot see radio waves, but we know they are there because the radio receives the signal, Reiki energy is there, we just cannot see it.
After what seemed a miraculous experience of being healed by Reiki, she asked if she could stay and learn Reiki herself. Dr. Hayashi, the head of the Reiki hospital, did not want to teach her because he did not want the secret of Reiki to leave Japan. However, It was obvious she was determined to bring Reiki with her to her family in Hawaii, and she had her friend, the esteemed surgeon, write her a formal letter of recommendation. Ultimately, Dr. Hayashi relented.
She stayed in Tokyo and trained with Dr. Hayashi and those at the Reiki clinic for about two years. After that, she came back to Hawaii and practiced Reiki there. Her abilities soon found her a wide following of patients and a following of those who wanted to learn Reiki from her. She was able to heal all sorts of conditions: asthma, heart conditions, tumors, arthritis, fatigue, even baldness, it is said!
Her story is inspiring, and she was an avid believer in keeping the body healhty. “Find the cause and you will remove the effect,” she often said, quoting Dr. Hayashi. It was important to her that her patients not harbor emotional or mental baggage that could slow the healing work down.
In some ways when you read about Mrs. Takata, you realize that her process is about the healing, not about money or fame. She did not set time limits on her treatments, and, often for chronic conditions, it could take as much as a year of Reiki to return someone to health. If she did not live near the patient, she might teach the family Reiki so that they could continue to give treatments on a daily basis. In this way, the body would be able to heal.
While she did make her living through giving Reiki, it also seemed to be her calling. She worked hard at staying physically healthy herself. For example, it is said she walked to the golf course every day so that she could to play a round of golf. She also ate in an extremely healthy way and often drank a pureed “tonic” of watercress, beet, carrot, and celery juice to strengthen the blood.
Mrs. Takata is a strong model for me, and I, too, believe that my work is about the healing, the sharing of this energy, and creating stronger bodies and thus a stronger world. I believe we need to take the time to let our bodies heal themselves on a daily basis (sleep is one way we do this), and Reiki is one focused way to give the body time to heal. Receiving Reiki is a restful, peaceful way in which you allow energy to come in and work with your own self-healing powers so that things may be rebalanced as necessary.
So, while many illnesses or ailments need surgical or chemical intervention, something like Reiki is worth a try, at least initially, as it will often have powerful effects. One might need to be patient and allow Reiki time to work, but any little bit should help. As Mrs. Takata often said to her students, “Better some Reiki than none at all!”
Note: Though there are many biographies and stories about Mrs. Takata in print, the information on this page came from Helen Haberly’s book, Hawayo Takata’s Story, published by Archidegm, MD, 1990.
In fact, in Fran Brown’s book, Living Reiki: Takata’s Teachings, I read one story that Haberly did not include that I find quite interesting. After a few years of Reiki training and practice, Takata found that she had a gift for clairvoyance. She knew of certain people at hospitals who needed help and things of that nature – seeing the image in her mind of something that was happening far away. It was so disconcerting she went back to Japan to discuss with Dr. Hayashi what should be done. He told her she had two paths to choose from: that of healing or that of clairvoyance. She chose the path of healing as the clairvoyance was keeping her from sleep at night and was somewhat disturbing at times. In several months, Brown says, “she had returned to her comfort zone” of being a Reiki healer (42-43) without the potential blessing but also, she found, the burden of clairvoyance.