The Six Principles of Reiki
Articles Inspirational articles from Hay House authors
The Six Principles of ReikiTorsten Lange explores the spiritual healing technique's fundamentals
If you’re like me, you’ve heard (and possibly tried to follow) so many principles, rules, regulations, moral codes and ideas on how to change your behaviour that you are, frankly, sick of them. Thank you for the moral high ground, but we have normal life to contend with. Please stop the theory – I want something I can apply!
This is how I started (or rather didn’t start) with the Reiki principles. I heard them and discarded them.
It didn’t help that I wasn’t given the correct principles. Instead, mine included a paragraph asking me to honour my teachers and elders – and I’d had challenging experiences with teachers and elders in my life.
If you’ve come across a similar version of the Reiki principles, rest assured they’re not original. I assume the offending paragraph was added by a Reiki teacher having a bad day.
The real Reiki principles are at the very heart of the original Reiki teachings. They are given a lot of space on the memorial stone and it is suggested that they’re repeated every day. By doing so, you may find what I eventually found for myself: they are utterly, utterly helpful. I cannot do without them any more. I would go as far as to state that they have transformed my life.
This is a translation of the original version from the memorial stone:
Just for today,
Do not be angry.
Do not worry.
Do your work with diligence.
Be kind to others.
Repeat, repeat, repeat
In the Japanese tradition, the principles are regarded as a key to opening up to Reiki. Mikao Usui referred to them as ‘the secret method to invite happiness’ and the ‘miraculous medicine to cure all diseases’.2 He asked his students to sit in Gassho and repeat them every morning and every evening.
So, repeat them again and again and again. Use auto- hypnosis. Say them, think them, dream them. Become them.
The Reiki principles are tools to train the mind. They add an element of psychology to Reiki and work on conscious and subconscious levels.
It would be easy to fill an entire book with the many layers of the principles, but for now I will just concentrate on a few key aspects. You will find out more by applying them.
Just for today
Mother Teresa had a fabulous hands-on approach: ‘We have only today. Let us begin.’ This is what this introduction to the principles encourages us to do: begin. Implement the principles. Don’t wait!
There’s no excuse. If we look carefully, we have got the time. The American Lama Surya Das says: ‘...it’s not time we lack, but focus, priorities, and awareness.’
Having the time or not is a matter of choice. ‘Just for today’ also means: ‘I may have tried yesterday, I may not have always succeeded yesterday, but yesterday is gone. Today is another day, another chance, and I will try again. Again and again, until I succeed.’
Every day is a blank sheet, and step by step, we improve.
Do not be angry
When I discuss this principle on a Reiki course, the reaction isn’t always positive. We seem to be hugely resistant to either accepting or confronting anger. Quite a few people have suggested rewording the principle. They would prefer to repeat ‘I am calm’ or ‘I am peaceful’ or ‘I am relaxed.’
Simply repeating ‘Do not be angry’ can make us feel uncomfortable. The negative phrasing brings up anger rather than suppressing it. But that is exactly what it is designed to do! This principle isn’t an affirmation. It isn’t designed to airbrush, suppress or negate anger – it’s meant to bring it up! In order to deal with it, we need to be aware of it.
After repeating ‘Do not be angry’ a few times, a student of mine once started crying. Memories of a huge confrontation with her mother flashed up – from 15 years before! She was shocked to find that this incident was still so ingrained in her subconscious that a simple exercise could bring it up. But Reiki had finally brought her the strength to deal with it.
Harbouring anger is never beneficial, either for the person holding on to it (it makes us both miserable and ill) or for the person at whom it is eventually directed. The Buddha concluded: ‘You will not be punished for your anger; you will be punished by your anger.’
The principle does not say: ‘Handle your anger.’ Nor: ‘Share your anger.’ It says: ‘Do not be angry.’ Which means: ‘Be something else.’ It reminds us that we have a choice.
Anger is triggered by disappointment, shock, insecurity – or just being interrupted. We were expecting something that turned out to be different. So what happens then?
The chemicals that are subsequently released and that make us ‘feel’ anger are dealt with by the body quite quickly. They are completely flushed out of our system in less than 90 seconds.4 All we need to do is take a deep breath and hold on for a minute – and our response to the situation doesn’t need to be directed by anger, but by whatever we choose to replace it with.
Can we change the situation? Can we change our attitude? Learn for next time? Accept? Forgive?
Or, maybe, take action? Does our anger lead us to make the world a better place?
Now anger turns into something useful: a tool for change. And there’s no need to hold on to it.
This Reiki principle offers the opportunity to react differently.
Do not worry
During the years between my bankruptcy and my discovery of Reiki, a friend once asked me if I had a wish for the New Year. I said, ‘To wake up one morning without fear.’ So for me to write about ‘Do not worry’ is like being a bank robber advertising burglar alarms. But a recovering one. Reiki gradually brought help. And with it trust.
Worries are nothing but lack of trust: ‘Last time something difficult happened, so it might happen again tomorrow!’ Well, it might. Or it might not. If it does, we need to deal with it. Tomorrow. Not today. If it doesn’t, our worries will have been a complete waste of time. I’m sure I wasted years of my life worrying.
If worries lead to proper preparation, they have served their purpose. We can let them go and leave the rest to the universe. And we can send Reiki to the problem. It’s easier said than done, of course. Everyone goes through difficult phases and sometimes they seem to last forever. But they don’t. One day they will have passed.
And the more we let go of our worries, the more we open to synchronicity. And miracles.
A while ago this principle was the topic of a Reiki Share – and we did a practical exercise too. Every participant was asked to write down five things they were grateful for. Some started writing straight away, some took a moment to do an inner search, but afterwards almost everyone complained that five weren’t enough – they’d found so many more!
The good old gratefulness list is a brilliant tool to make us aware that there are things we’re grateful for. We just have a tendency to casually overlook them (the famous glass- half-empty attitude).
Once we realize we are grateful, we can often feel an almost physical sensation in our whole body. Our energy becomes the happy vibration of gratitude.
A student mentioned that while giving a Reiki treatment once she was overwhelmed by gratitude for the connection. As soon as this came in, the heat in her hands tripled. Gratefulness is an incredible tool for clearing blockages.
Do your work with diligence
When I first heard this principle, it sounded odd. What is spiritual about focusing on your work? It took a while before it dawned on me that it wasn’t just about work, it was about our whole life.
Whatever we do, whatever situation we are in, we need to act with diligence. In contemporary language, this means we need to take responsibility for our life. Where we are may not be our choice, but how we act definitely is.
We are never in the wrong place, in fact: we are where the universe placed us. No matter whether we know it or not, we are here for a purpose. We can make the most of it if we apply three basic ideas. Mindfulness. Respect. Honesty.
This applies to having a shave in the morning (today I did mine in a rush, and currently sport a little cut), to listening to the person we are having a conversation with (my sister recently noticed that I wasn’t giving her my undivided attention on the phone), and to carrying out our job. Basically, every task will improve if we do it with diligence.
And, of course, the more diligent we are with Reiki itself, the more it can change our lives.
Be kind to others
I once took part in an exercise at a spiritual seminar. Paired up with somebody we hardly knew, or even a complete stranger, we were asked to give them a compliment. First there was a moment of silence – most of us didn’t know quite what to do. Then people began to ‘positively examine’ their partner. The first person came out with: ‘Cool shoes.’ Then it was: ‘Nice glasses.’ ‘You have beautiful eyes.’ ‘Do you know that you have an amazing smile?’ ‘I admire your courage, coming on this course on your own.’ A few minutes later, the room was filled with happy people. The entire energy had changed.
Kindness doesn’t have to be difficult. It can be offering your spare bedroom to a friend (as happened to me when I lost my home – thank you, Ari and Bob!); it can be offering a smile to the cashier in the supermarket. And of course Reiki is an amazing tool for sharing kindness.
An excellent book by David Hamilton, Why Kindness is Good for You, examines the most recent worldwide research into kindness and draws some amazing conclusions. Research at various universities has shown that people who do the highest number of acts of kindness also score highest in terms of personal happiness. The act of giving leads to more fulfilment than the act of receiving. And, interestingly, it is through emotional warmth that the hormone oxytocin is produced. Lining the arteries in our body, this is vital in preventing cardiovascular disease. Dr Hamilton concludes that being kind leads to health and happiness.
Every day is full of opportunities to show kindness. And full of opportunities to do the opposite. This Reiki principle reminds us that the choice is ours.
Exercise: Reciting the principles
I would strongly recommend following Mikao Usui’s advice. Every morning and every evening, sit for a moment in Gassho and repeat the principles.
But please take your time. I sometimes stop suddenly halfway through and think: You didn’t mean it! And start again: ‘Just for today, I will not be angry [then I pause for a moment and check whether I’m holding anger or feelings of resentment], I will not worry [pause again: Am I worrying? Have I given my worries over to Reiki?], I will be grateful [pause again to see what comes up], I will do my work with diligence [where do I need to improve?] and I will be kind to others [anyone in particular today?].’