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Do attunements actually work?

do reiki attunements work

A bit of a cheeky question!

I thought this title might attract some attention!

There are some silly people in the world of Reiki who are squitting about Reiju empowerments and suggesting that they don’t do anything, so I thought I would turn the tables slightly by posing the question, “what do attunements do, anyway?”

The received wisdom that comes through the general Western approach to Reiki is that attunements “attune” you, in that they connect you to an energy source that you weren’t connected to before, opening you up to something that wasn’t part of your world before the rituals took place.

But is that really what it’s all about?

I don’t believe so.

Connected to something new and different?

I’m going to put to one side for the moment that fact that Usui Sensei didn’t use or teach attunements – he never attuned anyone to anything – and let’s think about this idea that an attunement connects you to something different, something new, a new energy source.

How can that be?

How can there be something so fundamental that we aren’t already part of?

If we think about the Buddhist origins of Reiki, one of the principles of Buddhism is that reality is illusion: the idea of us being separate individuals, distinct from other people, is illusion; the true reality is that of oneness… we are not separate. Mikao Usui was a Buddhist. Mainly, he taught people who were Buddhists or followers of Shinto.

Would he have established an energetic system, when his whole worldview was based on the idea of oneness, that was based on the idea of connecting you to something different, separate and distinct from you, when this went against everything he believed in?

I don’t think so.

So, for me, attunements don’t hook you up to a new energy source that you didn’t have access to before. What they do is to ‘flag up’ to you something that has always been there as a part of you, ready to use. Attunements are a way of helping you to notice something that has always been there but which has been out of your awareness and thus not easily accessible to you.

I hope a couple of metaphors will help here…

“The high-pitched sound”

Imagine that you walk into your friend’s lounge and they say to you, “can you hear that high-pitched noise?”. You listen and you can’t hear anything. They say, “no, listen, it’s there”.

You try again and, by altering the way that you are focusing your attention, perhaps by tilting your head, by being aware of sounds that aren’t of the usual frequencies, you become able to hear the sound that was there all the time, but to begin with you were unable to hear it.

Your friend ‘made the introductions’ between your awareness and something that you did not have access to before.

A NLP metaphor

One of the principles of NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) is that in order for us to be able to function, our subconscious minds are obliged to take the millions of bits of information that come in through our senses every second, and ditch most of them by using ‘filters’ that distort, delete and generalise what is coming through to us.

Without this we’d never move; we don’t have the processing power to deal with all the inputs that come to us.

One of the ways that we filter thing is based on what we have been focusing our attention on. Many people will have noticed that if they are thinking of buying a particular brand of car, they suddenly start to notice that car everywhere they go. Examples of that car have always been around with that sort of frequency but they were previously unimportant to us and so ‘deleted’ from our conscious awareness.

A new ‘filter’ has been set up that says, “notice this type of car” and our unconscious mind brings into our awareness something that has always been there but which is now within our awareness.

Attunements do this too, setting up a new ‘filter’ that brings to our attention something that has always been there, an integral part of you, but hidden behind a veil.

Click your fingers to attract someone’s attention

So rather like someone who shouts to you, “Hey”, clicks their fingers a few times, saying, “look at this, here, look, notice this, feel this”, attunements help to bring into our awareness something that has always been there.

And once you are able to notice those high-pitched sounds, for example, you can always ‘tune into’ them. As with Reiki, once you’ve been given the knack of focusing on and becoming aware of what is there, you can always do it.

Do attunements actually work?

Well the answer is both yes and no.

They don’t connect you to something new and different and separate from you, because there is no such thing, though they do allow you access to ‘the energy’ which has always been there with you.

And that’s all you need.





13 Responses to Do attunements actually work?

  • Buzzy says:

    Great to hear such, perhaps, bold words. I have to agree though! I remember when I decided to learn reiki part of that came about because I was already aware of the enrgy in me and already doing something that I presumed could not be reiki as I hadn’t yet been ‘switched on’ I thought that after spending the day on the course, I would be ‘supercharged’ but of course felt very little change energy wise afterwards, just more aware of how to work with and develop my connection with that energy.

  • Taggart says:

    Hi Buzzy, I think that your experience is something that a lot of people will have experienced. What I do think, though, is that if you’re working with energy and you haven’t been ‘attuned’ then the system you’re using isn’t Reiki because Reiki is framed in terms of having received attunements and the lineage.

    And I do think that there are advantages in being attuned for people who have been working with energy ‘freestyle’, in terms of protection and also in terms of providing a ‘structure’ or ‘framework’ to work with/through. I have taught some spiritual healers who found that ‘connection’ to Reiki was beneficial although they were already working with energy.

    So I’m not saying that attunements (or empowerments) are unnecessary, just that some people end up working with energy without having received them, and that’s fine, and it’s not ‘Reiki’, and that attunements (or empowerments) are a very useful, effective, powerful way of bringing that energy awareness, and structure to work through, and protection, but they’re not giving you anything new, just something that you weren’t able to experience without having had the ritual done to you to draw your attention to what was already there.

    Wow, that was long-winded! Hope that makes sense.

  • I agree with you Taggart.

  • This post spoke to me deeply. In teaching Reiki classes, I “know” attunements work the way you describe them, but had no vivid way to describe the attunement experience to students or to the public at large that asks. Then, one day, just before a Reiki 2 class, I was sitting outside preparing myself for the class. I heard birds singing and was simply enjoying that. Then, suddenly I could hear more and more birds, many of whom were more and more distant from where I sat. Then I heard more birds singing that were ever more distant. And, I thought to myself, this is exactly what happens during an attunement! So that is my analogy—very similar to yours, really! In fact, I was able to use this very analogy just an hour or two later than day during my class. Thanks again!

    • Sandra Stafford says:

      … and your analogy of birds has spoken to me, too. I have experienced this as well, and it’s amazing, isn’t it.

  • Taggart says:

    Wow, that’s a lovely analogy, Elise, and prettier than my one, so thank you for that. Once you have the knack of focusing on something, you can disappear into it and a whole new world appears that you didn’t have access to before.

  • I enjoyed reading your article. Whether I am teaching or practicing I relfect on what I heard and experienced from my teachers Hiroshi Doi and Hyakuten Inamoto. When I give what is called an attunement, I feel I am inviting that person into the light at a certain level. From there it is up to the person’s higher-self and the universe whether or not their pathway is fully opened to the level I am teaching.
    I agree that universal love and harmony can unlock some doors within us, behind which may lay great some talents.
    Daianshin to you.

  • Ben says:

    Nice analogy indeed. And I agree with you and your teachers to Roberta. Thanks for sharing. I just started reading a book called Brain States by Tom Kenyon. This is very on topic and I highly recommend it!

  • Mohammad says:


    I am in reiki level 3. May I ask for a master’s degree attunement? Thanks in advance.

    M. Siavoshan

    • Taggart says:

      We don’t send out attunements for all Reiki levels, I’m afraid, and I think that without training at a particular level, such an attunement wouldn’t be very helpful. We do send out distant empowerments that you can tune into every week, though, and these can make a difference to your experience of Reiki if you are working with the energy regularly. You can read about our distant empowerments here:

  • This is similar to how I describe attunements, but I use the radio waves metaphor. I read somewhere that it is how Chujiro Hayashi described it. Radio waves have existed ever since the Universe was in the right state for them to exist, so from earliest times. However, we only became aware of their existence in the 1800s, and we only became able to receive them, and then send them, when Marconi did his stuff. We were only able to detect the radio waves sent by the Universe from 1963, when researchers at Bell laboratories in the US realised that the noise they were picking up from their sensitive antennae was, in fact, radio waves emitted by the Universe. In order to receive radio you need an antenna: in order to hear radio you need a loudspeaker. However, these waves have been going through each and every one of us ever since we were born. So Reiki is like putting an antenna inside us, to enable us to connect to these waves.

  • Valerie says:

    I was surprised at your first sentence ‘ people who are squitting about Reiki’ …. I am from Norolk and we often say ‘what a load of squit’ for something daft or rubbish , never heard it outside Norfolk !!
    But I love your way of explaining the connection as a high pitched buzz you can’t hear at first ! Having come all the way through Reiki via Reiki Evolution, I love your simple down to earth explanations … and often hear folks with all the extra add-ons they put into Reiki, indeed talking a load of squirt !

  • Valerie says:

    Sorry miss-spelling, should have said Norfolk!

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