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What is Reiki?

Reiki is one of the most popular energy-healing systems in the world. Founded in Japan in the early 20th century, it is simple to learn and everyone who has been attuned to it can use it. While easy to learn, Reiki is also easily misunderstood. If we want to understand it properly, we need to look at it as both an alternative therapy and a spiritual path. Even if we concentrate on one, the other is always present. What makes Reiki so unique is that the two are closely interwoven: healing and personal development cannot be separated.

When Mikao Usui discovered that he had “healing hands” he determined that if he could do it, so could others. So he created a system that could be learned by absolutely everyone.

When it comes to explaining exactly what Reiki is and how it works, most people are at a loss. Practitioners normally feel a physical sensation in their hands and recipients often experience strong sensations of warmth or energy movement.



What is Reiki Used For

Elements of the system

How Reiki Works


How Reiki is taught


Traditionally, Reiki is taught on three levels. However, in some Japanese traditions the second and third levels are subdivided into two tiers each. Nothing additional is taught – only the learning time extended.

Level 1

Western name: Reiki 1

Japanese name: Shoden (the beginner’s teachings)

Prerequisites: None


  • Attunements (normally four)
  • Basic palm-healing techniques
  • Breathing, cleansing and meditation techniques
  • Reiki principles
  • Symbols and mantras (implicitly they are used by the teacher during the attunements but are not revealed to the students)

Level 2

Western name: Reiki 2

Japanese name: Okuden (the deeper/inner teachings)

Prerequisites: Reiki 1 (and ideally a few weeks or months of practice, but this is not absolutely essential)


  • Attunements (normally one, but sometimes up to three)
  • Advanced and more intuitive palm-healing techniques
  • More breathing and meditation
  • A deeper look at the principles
  • Three symbols and mantras (the Power, Harmony and Connection Symbols)
  • The requirements for practicing Reiki professionally (included on some Western-style courses only)

Level 3

Western name: Master/teacher level

Japanese name: Shinpiden (the mystery teachings) or Shihan (Teacher)

Prerequisites: Reiki 1 and 2 and some experience as a practitioner. Some teachers ask for a minimum period of one or two years between Reiki 2 and Reiki Master level.


  • A Master attunement (normally one, but sometimes two)
  • Even more breathing and meditation
  • The Master symbol and mantra
  • A deeper look at all teachings from previous levels
  • How to give attunements/Reiju
  • How to teach Reiki

Finding a Reiki  Teacher

The easiest way to find the right teacher is to ask the universe for guidance. You may find that you meet someone in the unlikeliest of places, or simply use Google. If you feel attracted to a certain website, name or photo, then this person is likely to be the right one to start with.

Every teacher has their own style, personality and experiences. The main criteria is dedication. Be careful if a teacher offers 20-odd other disciplines as well. Reiki should be the main focus. Also be sure that Usui Reiki is being taught, not another discipline that has borrowed the name.

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