What if I get it wrong?
When we go on a Reiki course, whether at First Degree, Second Degree or Master Teacher level, we are given instructions telling us how to carry out various tasks, and if we are conscientious then we will try our best to follow those instructions to make sure that we are ‘doing it properly’. So whether we are treating ourselves, giving someone else a Reiki treatment, or performing an attunement on a student, we hope to achieve the desired results by doing it right, by following the instructions to the letter, and if it appears to us that the desired results have not been achieved then we tend to surmise that we have not followed the instructions properly, that we have forgotten something vital and done it wrong, and we may believe that the lack of an expected result is our fault.
If only we could have done things properly then things would have been different.
But there are two problems with this. Firstly, in reality, not following all the instructions will have very little effect on the efficacy of our treatment or attunement and, secondly, a lack of an expected response or result does not mean that we have done it wrong, or that something has not worked properly.
Treatments that ‘go wrong’
Let’s think about Reiki treatments for a while. We have been given a set procedure to follow by our teacher and perhaps we have a certain ritual to carry out before we commence the hands-on treatment. Perhaps we have been given a standard set of hand positions to follow or a set of things that we are ‘supposed’ to do at the end of a treatment, to bring things to a close. We carry out the treatment and then the recipient says that they didn’t feel very much, or they didn’t feel anything at all, or they felt unsettled and not relaxed, and we think back and realise that we missed one of the ‘introductory’ stages, or we got the words wrong, or we forgot to say something, or we used the ‘wrong’ sequence of hand positions, or we missed out a hand position or two, or neglected to carry out one of the closing stages of the treatment.
Because the treatment ‘didn’t work’ (apparently) we then assume that this is because we got the treatment wrong, we did the wrong thing, we forgot a vital stage, and it’s all our fault.
But we should remind ourselves that not everyone in the world of Reiki is taught to carry out treatments in exactly the same way. Other people may have stages to go through and phrases to say that are very different from how you were taught; they may not have even heard of half the things that you were taught to do, and yet their treatments work perfectly well. Should we assume that they are not doing things properly because they are not doing it the same way as you? Or should we assume that your treatment is inadequate because you are missing out vital stages that other people were taught to go through? Of course not: there are many different ways of approaching giving Reiki treatments, different traditions, different styles, different flavours, some simple, some complex, and they all achieve the desired results.
So we should realise that the ‘vital’ stages that we were taught to go through are perhaps not quite so vital as we first thought. Reiki accommodates many different ways of working and no phrase or hand movement or ritual is absolutely necessary. Reiki is above all that fiddly detail. It doesn’t matter.
What matters when you treat someone is that you focus your attention on the person you are working on, that you feel yourself merging with the energy and the person in front of you, that you allow yourself to disappear into the energy, neutral, empty, no expectations, and just let it happen. Anything else beyond that is just frippery, icing on a cake that was fine when it was plain. We don’t need to gild the lily, we don’t need to adorn unnecessarily something that was already beautiful, or to make superfluous additions to what is already complete.
So follow the instructions that you were given, by all means, but don’t fret if you don’t follow the sequence exactly, and please allow yourself the freedom to tailor your routine according to what feels right for you; find your own style and comfortable way of working rather than slavishly following a set of instructions passed on to you by another person. Go with what feels right for you on that occasion; be guided by intuition.
And why should we assume that the treatment did not work, that the session did not give the recipient what they needed, just because they felt very little, or felt nothing happening, or felt unrelaxed during the treatment? While many people have a wonderful time while being treated, seeing coloured lights, feeling tingling sensations or intense heat from the practitioner’s hands, experiencing deep relaxation and peace, melting into the treatment table, not everyone experiences that. Not everyone is the same. Not all recipients have a great time when they receive Reiki. Some people feel nothing, some feel very little, and some are quite unsettled by the whole experience. But no matter what they noticed happening, they received what they needed, and they experienced whatever sensations they needed to experience.
It’s nice to have positive feedback at the end of a treatment session, and people saying how relaxed they were and how hot our hands were etc. helps to boost our confidence, but such things are not compulsory and not everyone will say these things. We didn’t mess up their treatment because it would be very difficult to mess up a Reiki treatment: Reiki is foolproof!
Attunements that go wrong
The same comments apply to the carrying out of attunements. There are very many different attunement styles being used in the world, some quite simple, some quite complicated, and there will be stages and ritual movements or phrases/affirmations being used by some teachers that are not being used all by other teachers. One teacher may be going through – to them – a vital stage that others do not replicate, while others will be doing ‘necessary’ practices that we do not follow. And yet all these attunement styles work.
So while we should always try and do our best, and follow the attunement instructions that we were given, we should not worry terribly if we realise that we have missed out a particular stage or forgot to say a particular phrase, or failed to draw a symbol perfectly. What is important when attuning someone is your underlying intent; the details of the ritual are there to create a ritual ‘space’ in which the attunement can occur, but there are no really vital stages that have to be carried out no matter what, so we should not worry.
And we should remember that the reaction of a student to an attunement will vary greatly. If a student feels very little or nothing we should not assume that the attunement has not ‘taken’; this would not be possible. Equally, we should not assume that a student who experienced ‘bells and whistles’ has been far more effectively attuned. Such sensations and experiences are nice for the recipient but do not really indicate anything significant. Attunements work, even with some mistakes, and sometimes the recipient has an amazing experience; sometimes not. It doesn’t matter what they feel or don’t feel.
So we should feel confident that Reiki is giving the recipient what they need, whether they are receiving a treatment or an attunement, we should try our best and be conscientious but we should not worry too much if we don’t follow all the instructions. We should allow ourselves to find our own style, own comfortable way of working, which may be a little different from other people’s but which is just as valid, and we should not assume that a lack of ‘bells and whistles’ on the part of the recipient means that something hasn’t happened. There is no one ‘correct’ way to do things, there is no correct response to treatments or attunements, and Reiki accommodates many different styles and approaches. So we can relax!