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Beginners Guide to Reiki Healing

Updated on March 12, 2020
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Claire has worked with crystals and many other aspects of paganism for over 12 years. She has also studied reiki up to master level.

Reiki is a Japanese word that describes a form of healing using spiritual energy. It is a completely safe, gentle and non-intrusive system that can be used with adults, children, animals and even the earth itself. In addition to this, reiki can also be used safely by people who have existing health issues, special needs or disabilities alongside other treatments and medications.

Unlike the majority of complementary or conventional therapy, a person does not need to visit a reiki healer to benefit from reiki. The nature of Reiki energy means that it can be sent over distance to any person or place in the world. This means that not only can it be sent to people in other towns, cities and countries, reiki can also be sent to places inaccessible to the healer such as sites of natural disasters. Reiki can be used to balance, heal or harmonise all aspects of a person. Although it may be referred to as a form of hands-on healing there is no massage or manipulation used during a reiki healing session. To transfer the healing energy the healer needs only to place their hands on or slightly above the person being treated. Because treatments do not have to involve physical touch, reiki can be a good choice for people who struggle with this or dislike being touched by strangers.

Reiki can be used to greatly benefit a person and their lives. It is well known for its ability to heal physical ailments but can also be used in healing mental, emotional and spiritual issues, whether these are caused by present difficulties or by things we have experienced in the past. Reiki can also be used in space clearing, cleansing objects such as crystals and to infuse items with soothing healing energy.

Reiki can help to bring tranquility and peace to your life.
Reiki can help to bring tranquility and peace to your life. | Source

The Beginnings of Reiki Healing

In the western world, the term reiki is used to refer to a system of healing the mind, body, spirit and emotions that was discovered by a Japanese Buddhist priest, Mikao Usui. His method became known as Usui Reiki Ryoho which translates to Usui spiritual energy healing method.

Mikao Usui began his Buddhist studies as a small child and became an expert in a variety of martial arts. He had a very strong understanding of the life energy found within all living things, known as Ki. In his fifties, Mikao Usui had an experience of enlightenment including visions of the sacred symbols still used in reiki today. During this experience, he received the gift of healing as well as the knowledge of how to pass this gift onto others. Usui went on to develop this healing system and began practising reiki in 1922. After the Tokyo earthquake of 1923, Usui and his students where thanked by the Japanese emperor personally for their help in aiding and healing the wounded.

In 1926 the organization known as, Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai (Usui Reiki healing method learning society) was created and was dedicated to keeping the teaching and use of reiki alive. The organization remains open today and its members still follow Usui's teachings closely. His techniques are taught from the two manuals he wrote detailing the healing method. Usui personally taught reiki for four years and during this time he taught many people the first level of reiki healing (Sho-den). Before his death in 1926 around 50 of his students had attained level two (Oku-den) and 17 acquired the highest level of training known as Shinpi-den. This final level of reiki attunement is also known as master level and gives the student the ability to pass the gift of reiki on to other people who wish to learn.

One of Usui's students that reached the level of Shinpi-den was Chujiro Hayashi. Hayashi went on to start a clinic where he treated many patients using reiki healing. One patient, Mrs Hawayo Takata had been diagnosed with a tumour while visiting her parents in Japan. She received daily reiki treatments while awaiting an operation to remove the tumour. However, the tumour disappeared before her operation was scheduled and this experience lead her to become interested in learning more about the healing powers of reiki. Chujiro Hayashi learnt the first two levels of reiki, Sho-den and Oku-den from Hayashi before returning home to Hawaii where she opened a clinic offering reiki healing to others. She later went on to achieve Shinpi-den (master level) and began passing on the knowledge of Reiki to people across America and Canada. Mrs Takata renamed the levels: first degree; second degree and third degree and before her death she was able to guide twenty-two people through to the third degree. From these teachings, reiki was able to spread over the western world.

The Teaching of Reiki

When learning Reiki, students are taught the five principles for living a good life. They may also be taught meditation and energy-cleansing techniques. The five principles of living a good life are as follows:

• Just for today, I will not be angry (Okoru-na)

• Just for today, I will not Worry (Shinpai suna)

• Just for today, I will give thanks for my blessings (kansha shite)

• Just for today, I will work honestly (Goo hage me)

• Just for today, I will be kind to others (HIto ni shinesetsu ni).

These principles are regarded as a fundamental part of reiki training and are said to contain the power to heal to mind, body and spirit. They guide students in moving away from a lifestyle that is believed to have the potential for creating illness and disease. Living by these principles can help to bring balance and perspective to life and remind you that even if you fail today, tomorrow is a chance to try again.

Although we refer to studying reiki as being taught, it cannot be learnt as we would academic subjects. Reiki is not knowledge-based and possessing a large amount of knowledge does not give you the ability to work with its energy. Reiki is very much experience-based and the ability to use it in healing yourself and others is a skill that is passed on from a reiki master to the student through a process known as attunement. That said the attunement process does not fully prepare you for working with reiki. Sources such as books, lectures, and video are useful in introducing people to reiki and in teaching the practical aspects of, such as hand placements and how to drawn reiki symbols.

Anyone can learn reiki and no prior experience of energy work or healing is required. Reiki is taught in three stages during which you will be taught information and techniques to further your practice. The relevant attunement is received at the end of each stage. Many teachers request that a break is taken between receiving an attunement and starting the next level of training, but this is not always the case. You do not have to progress through all three levels to work with reiki.


Level One

Level one focuses on the basics of reiki energy and how it can be worked with to bring about healing. You will learn the history of reiki, how it works and how it is used. This level also includes the teaching of the five principles of reiki, basic anatomy, hand positions, self-healing and how to understand symptoms as sigils from the body. After receiving the level one attunement you will be able to give Reiki healing to yourself and others.


Level Two

While studying this level you will learn about the techniques that are used in distance healing as well as three new reiki symbols. Level two further expands your knowledge and abilities in reiki and includes information regarding the ethics of reiki and maintaining your energy.


Level Three

Once you have progressed to the third and final level of reiki training you should have a deep and thorough knowledge of this healing method. Level three includes teaching regarding the three pillars of reiki, further techniques for using reiki, techniques for healing animals and the master healing symbol. On completing this level you will receive the master attunement and will now be able to pass the gift of reiki on to others.

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How to Learn Reiki

If you are interested in learning reiki you can do so by studying with a reiki master in person or over distance, for example through an online course. Some people believe that studying and being attuned to reiki in person is superior to doing so over distance but many successful reiki healers have trained in this way. Studying reiki via distance learning can be more accessible for many people, for example, if you cannot find a reiki master nearby or have difficulty travelling. Depending on your teacher it may also be possible for you to study online or by post but receive your attunements in person. If this is not possible or practical your attunements can be sent to you over distance in the same way that Reiki healing is. Another method that may be used to send attunements is a chi ball. A chi ball is a ball of energy that contains the information needed for your attunement. This is created and sent by the teacher and will remain until the energy is called in by the intended recipient. Chi balls are a very convenient method of sending and receiving attunements as the teacher and student do not have to be available at the same time for it to work.

There are many places online that offer courses in reiki but take care to read reviews and do some research beforehand to ensure that they are reputable and that the course materials cover what you wish to learn. It is also important to check that attunements are included as without these you will not be able to connect to and use reiki energy or progress to the next level. This can also lead to extra expense if you have to pay for the attunements separately. If you decide you would prefer to learn from a reiki master in person it is still important to check that they are reputable and to be sure of what will be included.

Organisations such as The International Society of Reiki Professionals, Reiki Pages or The Federation of Holistic Therapists are good starting points for finding reputable reiki practitioners on and offline. There are many websites and distance colleges that offer a course in reiki and it is wise to look at reviews of these before signing up, especially if they appear to be very expensive. Some general study colleges offer reiki training and there are also several sites specifically for spiritual learning such as The Sunshine Academy of Metaphysics and Natural Therapies and BSY.

As well as the traditional Usui Reiki Ryoho method of reiki healing there are other systems of reiki such as crystal reiki and Now reiki that may include additional or different information. They may also work with different energies. There are also a vast number of reiki attunements that will connect you to various types of energy, for example, dragon, fairy or angel energies. Some of these can be used independently and are healing methods in themselves but many require that you have been attuned to a set level of Usui Reiki to be used correctly.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2012 Claire

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