Getting Back to the Roots of Reiki: A Conversation with Bob Weissberg

Bob Weissberg

by Erin Lehn Floresca

Bob Weissberg, M.D., Usui reiki master, and owner of The Reiki Path, LLC, was first aware of reiki in the mid 1980s, when one of his office nurses, recently trained in the practice, asked if she could use reiki on a few patients. Over the next 14 years, reiki would pop up for him in interesting ways. By 1999, after making a decision to open an integrative medicine practice, Weissberg decided to seek training in this intriguing spiritual energy healing practice. After initial training, he utilized it successfully with patients in his practice. In 2004, he became a reiki master teacher, and he has enthusiastically been using reiki on himself and others for almost two decades now, as well as teaching many students.

What is reiki?

Many people don’t realize that reiki, a Japanese word meaning “universal spiritual energy”, was originally a personal development practice, in addition to a hands-on healing method. It included special precepts, meditations, mantras and visualizations. When Japanese Buddhist Mikao Usui founded Usui Reiki Ryoho, meaning “Usui’s spiritual energy healing method”, in the early part of the 20th century, it strongly focused on spiritual enlightenment, with healing on all levels flowing naturally from the practice. Over time, practitioners began focusing more on the hands-on healing aspects. Reiki came to the West via Japanese-American Hawayo Takata in the mid 1930s. Over time, the system developed primarily into a gentle healing modality, known formally as Usui Shiki Ryoho, in the same category as bodywork, and it spread throughout the world.

Does a person receiving a treatment need to be aware of the broader aspects of reiki?

Not at all. The person receiving reiki doesn’t have to practice or know anything about reiki at all. The deeper truths are there, regardless of whether we believe or understand. If you were to observe an Usui Reiki Ryoho session, it looks very simple. The practitioner’s engagement with the inner aspects adds depth to the session that goes beyond simple healing and relaxation.

What should a person seeking a reiki treatment bring with them?

Bring a willingness to let go of your discomfort, and an openness and curiosity of what might occur in a positive way. Reiki doesn’t force anything on anybody. It just is. It’s no frills. It’s radically simple. Reiki is always available—like oxygen, the trees, nature or the sun shining.

How does reiki work to relieve something like chronic pain?

Let’s say somebody comes to me seeking relief from neck pain. It could be that it all started with an injury, maybe with emotional content. After a while, feelings get buried in the pain. As an adult, a person may still tense up related to the daily stresses of life. It becomes a chronic condition. As the practitioner, I don’t need to know any of their story unless they want to share it with me. The reiki will go to whatever aspect the person is able to address, without a conscious thought. The person seeking treatment doesn’t have to do anything. All we need is their willingness to heal and my willingness to be radically present with the reiki. The more I can “be reiki,” the less I need to do. We don’t have to do anything. We just have to be.

Does the spiritual development help you “be” the reiki?

Yes, reiki is not about “doing.” It’s about “being”. If the essence of reiki is being, then the goal of the practitioner is to be reiki. Spiritual practices help me get out of the way so the healing can happen. It’s more of a matter of awareness. Through my awareness and consciousness, the receiver can access what they need to heal.

Does reiki work for everyone?

The best part is—we all have it. What I’m helping you to do in a session is remind your system that you have it. I’m helping you tune back into it and become aware of it at some level—whether consciously or unconsciously. Sometimes you can feel it on a physical level, and sometimes in other ways. Regardless, the reiki is working and supporting healing on all levels.

Bob Weissberg offers reiki healing sessions, in addition to one-on-one teachings, one- day group classes, and multi-day class series. The Reiki Path is located at 17B Computer Dr. E., in Albany. For more information, call 518-390-0299 or visit

Erin Lehn Floresca is a frequent contributor to Natural Awakenings magazine.