Category Archives: contraindications

Feng shui your Reiki

Many of you will be familiar with Feng Shui, the Oriental art of placement, where you arrange your living environment to allow smooth flow of chi through your home, eliminating areas where chi will stagnate, and slowing down the speed of fast-rushing chi. So what has that to do with Reiki? Well they both deal with chi, but what I am really thinking of is applying the basic principles of Feng Shui to our practice of Reiki. This may seem a little strange, but please bear with me.

The basic principle of Feng Shui, the first thing you have to do before you do anything else, is to get rid of your clutter, because a cluttered environment leads to a cluttered life. Only once you have rid yourself of your unnecessary bits and pieces should you move in to apply the other more specific principles of placement. So could we de-clutter our practice of Reiki, what would that be like, and how could we achieve that? Is our Reiki cluttered now? How could we pare it down to the essentials and leave the unnecessary stuff behind?

We do seem to have a tendency in the West to make things endlessly complicated, almost on the basis that if it’s more complicated then it’s better. We like to introduce rules and regulations and restrictions and dogma, maybe because rules make us feel supported and safe, or maybe because we just can’t leave a simple thing alone! Yet the system that Usui Sensei taught to his surviving students wasn’t complicated. It wasn’t cluttered. It was simple and elegant and profound, and I think that we’ve drifted away from that in many ways. We’ve introduced rules and restrictions and dogma into many aspects of Reiki practice: connecting to the energy, treating someone, hand positions, distant healing methods, situations where you ‘should not treat’. This is all clutter and we can do without it. Freeing ourselves from this burden of technique and method and limitation would be a great and beneficial clear-out. We don’t need it. It holds us back. Let’s look at a few examples of unnecessary clutter.

A while ago I was contacted by a poor girl who had been taught that she needed to go through a fifteen-stage ritual in order to ‘connect’ to Reiki. She and the other students on the course were quite worried, obviously concerned that if they didn’t get all the stages right then the energy wouldn’t come through properly and their treatments would be ineffective. Naturally they wanted to do the very best they could for the people they were working on, and they were focusing hard on getting all the necessary stages right.

Yet ‘connection’ with Reiki is simply a state of mind; you connect when you intend to connect. Some people will hold their hands in a particular position (hands above them with palms uppermost to the sky, hands to the sides with palms face up, hands in the prayer position, hands in their lap with palms up, hands folded over the Dantien). Maybe they will say a set form of words, but all these are optional. Bring the energy through your crown to your Dantien and bathe in the light, flood the energy through your body, be still; you are connected when you intend to be. It is a matter of focus, a matter of where your attention lies.

Some people are taught that they must always keep one of their hands in contact with the recipient when they treat, based on the idea that if you take both hands off then you have lost your connection to the recipient and the energy will not flow properly. But your connection to the recipient is a state of mind too: you focus your attention on them, you merge with them and become one with them, and that is sufficient no matter what you are doing with your hands. In fact your treatment starts as soon as you are standing by the table with your attention directed towards the person. Your treatment has already started when you are scanning, or feeling the energy field. Reiki works just as well when you have your hands off the body, though Reiki is basically practised as a hands-on method.

Some Reiki people are taught rigid ‘standard’ hand positions that have to be used every time you treat, and there is the view that if you are not using ‘the’ hand positions then you haven’t been taught properly. Some even have a rigid time limit that has to be followed, so you can only keep your hands in each position for so many minutes… you can buy Reiki CDs which make a little ‘ping’ sound every three minutes (or whatever), and everyone changes hand positions like a robot. Yet what if your hands are going like crazy, what if there energy needs to flood into a particular area for a long time and you need to keep your hands there for 5 minutes or 10 minutes or 15 minutes? The answer would seem to be that you follow the system rigidly and ignore your hands. How sad.

Now standard hand positions are useful when you first learn Reiki: it’s reassuring to have some sort of system to follow. But we can move beyond those standard hand positions in a couple of ways. When we ‘scan’ the body we night discover areas that are drawing lots of Reiki, but they aren’t covered by the ‘standard’ hand positions… we can alter our hand positions accordingly, or add extra positions, to make sure we’re directing the energy into the areas that are drawing the most Reiki. We can use intuition, too, to control our hand positioning, and this has great benefits for the recipient because we are directing the energy into just the right combination of positions for each person we are working on. We might feel inexplicably ‘drawn’ to a particular area, we might just ‘know’ that we ought to be treating a particular area, or we might be practicing “Reiji Ho” from Japan, where our hands are drawn by ‘invisible magnets’ to the right areas to treat. Again we are leaving the rigid standard positions to one side and going with the flow. That was Usui’s way: there were no real standard positions. You simply put your hands where they wanted to go.

Distant healing is another area where lots of rules and regulations have crept in over time. Some people are taught quite complicated rituals that they have to carry out when they perform distant healing, with a set form of words that ‘have’ to be used in a particular way, and with various required visualisations. Yet the bare bones of distant healing are to know where the energy is to go – to set a firm intent – to use the distant healing symbol maybe, and to merge with the recipient, allowing the energy to flow. Anything beyond that is optional. People have different styles: some like to actively visualise and develop a detailed ritual, and that’s fine, but it’s not actually necessary. Others like to keep it simple, and that works just as well. Even the use of the distant healing symbol is optional, though it does help us to focus on merging with the recipient, a way of experiencing ‘oneness’ with the person you’re sending the energy to. Distant healing is perfectly possible at First Degree level, too: it’s simple a matter of intent, of focusing your attention in a particular way. The energy follows your thoughts, it follows your focus.

The final area where we could give our Reiki a big ‘clear out’ is in the rules and restrictions that can control who we should and should not treat. Some people are given a long list of ‘contraindications’: situations where you should not give Reiki because it might be dangerous. Some contraindications that I have come across include: pregnant women, babies, people with pacemakers, diabetics*, people undergoing an anaesthetic, people wearing contact lenses, people with cancer, people suffering from stress, people with broken bones, people taking homoeopathic remedies, people undergoing chemotherapy, people with a torn muscle. There will be many more examples taught in different lineages. These restrictions are nonsense, they have no basis: there is no proper evidence – even anecdotes – to back up the restrictions that are taught in some lineages. Reiki is safe, the person’s body draws it to the right areas to treat, and Reiki is seen as divinely inspired, intelligent, it is seen as pure unconditional love. That view hardly sits too well with the suggestion that you can hurt someone using Reiki. We think too much, we worry too much, and we create problems where there are none.

So a practice of Reiki that follows the first principle of Feng Shui will be a simple practice, free from rules, restrictions and self-imposed limitations. Feng Shui’d Reiki will be free from dogma, and free from rituals that you ‘must’ follow for Reiki to work effectively. It will be a practice that is based on simple intent and intuition, where you merge with the recipient, where you become one with them, and where you let the energy guide you. Let’s get rid of all that clutter and free up our practice, and just let the energy flow.

[ * There appears to be some anecdotal evidence that some diabetics may experience a short term alteration in blood sugar levels following a Reiki treatment. They should be made aware of this possibility and monitor their sugar levels accordingly. In theory a course of Reiki treatments could alter a diabetic’s blood sugar levels long-term, and thus their insulin requirements, and again they should be aware of this and monitor their blood sugar levels accordingly. However, this does not mean that you should not treat diabetics using Reiki, as is suggested in some quarters. It just means that diabetics should keep an eye on their blood sugar levels following a Reiki treatment or a course of Reiki treatments, which is what they should be doing routinely, anyway.]

Attunements, empowerments & contact lenses!

Wait! Reiki can mess these up, apparently!
In this article I would like to talk a bit about attunements and empowerments used in Reiki, explaining the similarities and differences between these rituals. I was prompted to write this article after reading a message posted to an Internet discussion group a while ago, on the subject of Reiju empowerments. The message contained such a lot of misinformation and distortions that one could have concluded that it was posted mischievously, or maliciously, for ‘political’ reasons. Just the other day I smiled broadly because I came across an item on a web page which was trying to argue that the empowerments used by Mikao Usui were ineffective in connecting people to Reiki! Very strange. In any case, hopefully I can clear up some confusion or misunderstandings that people might have about attunements and empowerments, and this article should be of interest to people at all Reiki levels.

As for the contact lenses, you can find out about them towards the end of this article!


No matter what sort of Reiki course you choose to follow, wherever you are in the world, you are likely to go through a ritual or a series of rituals which can be seen as a way of ‘connecting’ you to Reiki, a way of hooking you up to something that you were previously not connected to. That is a common way that such rituals are viewed: a way of ‘attuning’ you to something that you were not attuned to before, a way of plugging you into a new source of energy that was not available to you before.

But perhaps it is more useful to say that an empowerment, or an attunement, is a ‘ritual permission’, a permission to recognise something that is within, something that has always been there. The effect of the connection ritual is to allow you to channel energy for your own benefit, and for other people’s benefit, in a way that was not possible for you before you went through the ritual with your Reiki teacher.

Most people in the world of Reiki have been ‘connected’ using an “attunement” ritual, a version of the ritual that Mrs Takata was using, and while increasing numbers are now being connected using an “empowerment”, for the foreseeable future those attuned will always outnumber those empowered: most Reiki teachers attune, only a minority empower.

What are “attunements”

Until approximately 1999, everyone within the world of Reiki will have been ‘attuned’ using some sort of variation of the connection ritual that Hawayo Takata taught to the Masters that she initiated in the 1970s. Since the ‘70s Reiki has spread throughout the world and the attunement rituals used have evolved and changed as they have been passed from one teacher to another down the line. Some attunements are now quite complicated affairs, with many, many stages, while others are fairly simple, though there are some common themes that seem to run through most methods, for example the placing of the Reiki symbols into different parts of the student’s body (head and hands for example), tapping, blowing, affirming, visualising.

So there is not one standard attunement ritual used in the world of Reiki: there are endless variations, some quite contradictory to each other; if one method works in terms of the ‘theory’ behind it then a very different method does not make ‘sense’ and simply cannot work, and yet all methods do seem to work perfectly well. Some people insist that there have to be four attunements for Reiki First Degree, which is a big historical misunderstanding that I will not go into now, while others use three, or two, or even one attunement on their courses. All these approaches work.

It should be stated that Mikao Usui did not give people attunements, he did not attune anyone to any symbols, and he did not teach attunements. Attunements were not part of the system that Usui taught: he used empowerments instead. Usui taught empowerments to his Master students, and this was not done early on in their Master training – passing on the Reiki ability to others was only taught towards the end of the Master student’s formal training with Usui Sensei.

Now, the Imperial Officers who trained with Usui had not trained with him for long enough to have reached the level where they would have been taught to empower others, so where did the attunements used on most Reiki courses come from? Interestingly, it seems that after Usui’s untimely death the Imperial Officers put together a ritual that replicated the feelings or the experiences that they had when being empowered by Usui. Dr Hayashi passed on such a ritual to Mrs Takata, and then variations of this ritual spread throughout the world.

So attunements started their life as a constructed ritual put together by the Imperial Officers, and this ritual has now evolved, changed, altered over time as it has been passed from teacher to teacher in the West. These various attunement methods have been used to attune most of the Reiki people in the world.

So attunements work, of course. They ‘connect’ the student to Reiki. But that is not the end of the story: if we are going to get the most out of our Reiki then we are going to have to commit ourselves to working with the energy regularly, on ourselves, on other people, to develop our ability as a channel, to develop our sensitivity to the energy and to develop our intuition. An attunement gives us a baseline connection to the energy, but we can develop ourselves further, and benefit further, through our own efforts.

And in fact we can benefit from receiving further attunements, too. This is something that Reiki Master William Rand has been advocating for many years now, I believe. He does not say this because attunements are in some way ineffective, or temporary, or weak: he recommends that people get together to re-attune each other because he has found that there are definite benefits associated with having your ‘connection’ to the energy reinforced or renewed.

So one attunement is enough (or two, or three, or four, or however many attunements you had on your Reiki course, or however many attunements you believe are necessary), but there are definite benefits associated with being reattuned, and if we are serious about our Reiki then we need to also commit ourselves to working with the energy regularly. You don’t just go on a course and that’s the end of it: you need to work at your Reiki.

What are empowerments

When people talk about empowerments, they are referring to “Reiju empowerments”. You can write the word “Reiju” in two different ways using Japanese kanji, one way meaning “accepting the spirituality” and the other meaning “giving the spirituality”; spirituality in this case means ‘connection’ to the Reiki energy. In fact the word Reiju has been interpreted in several ways, for example “giving of the five blessings” and “the union of mind and ki”. The line in the Reiki precepts where it says “the secret method of inviting happiness through many blessings” might actually mean “the secret method of inviting happiness through receiving many Reiju empowerments”.

The empowerments that Mikao Usui used with his students can be referred to as “Reiju” and these were equivalent to a Tendai Buddhist blessing, a blessing that a Tendai teacher would bestow on a student with the intention that the student should receive what they need. Usui Sensei gave the blessing using intent only, but within Tendai Buddhism there is also a physical ritual that can be carried out which conveys the Reiju blessing; details of this ritual were passed to the West from Usui’s surviving students in the late 1990s and it is this ritual that we use on our “Reiki Evolution” First and Second Degree courses.

The effects of empowerments do not wear out. Empowerments ‘connect’ you to the energy; they allow you to recognise something that is already there. Just like attunements. The consensus that I have seen amongst those teachers who are using Reiju in practice, all over the world, is that not only are empowerments effective but they also confer special benefits. In my experience, students who receive Reiju seem ‘better connected’, better able to work intuitively, more sensitive to the energy in the early stages, when compared with people who have been attuned. Not everyone will agree with this, but many people who have moved from giving attunements to giving empowerments are saying the same sort of thing.

One empowerment is enough but it is nice do a few on a Reiki course, and we choose to carry out three empowerments on our First and Second Degree courses. But there are definite benefits associated with receiving Reiju repeatedly, and Usui Sensei’s students received Reiju from him again and again throughout their training at all levels. William Rand’s recommendation that Masters re-attune each other, because of the benefits associated, serves to echo this original practice. We echo Usui’s approach ourselves, by making distant empowerments available for all our students to tune into at any time on a Monday, every week, and Reiju empowerments are also given to students attending our teachers’ Reiki shares.

Receiving Reiju regularly helps to ‘reinforce’ your connection to the source. It enhances self-healing, it helps the student to develop spiritually, it enhances intuition and increases sensitivity to the flow of energy. Being reattuned will also help to achieve this, though as far as I can see it is not so common within the world of Reiki for re-attunements to be offered.

Now for the nonsense

One or two people are trying to argue that Usui Sensei’s method for connecting people to Reiki is ineffective. They are saying that Reiju is a weak and provides you with only a partial and lowly connection to the energy, that you are actually “dis-empowered”, unable to benefit from Reiki properly and unable to treat other people effectively.

These people – who will not have experienced Reiju for themselves, of course, or used Reiju in practice – are also arguing that Reiju-connected students are obliged to desperately carry out energy exercises every day to try and maintain some sort of a decent energy-channelling ability, and that they are dependent on their teacher for a regular ‘top’ up, without which their Reiki ability will dwindle and disappear. This is such a distortion of reality! By way of contrast, they also say that attunements give a far better permanent connection to the source, and the implication is that the student then does not need to carry out any energy work to develop themselves because they are perfectly connected right from the start, and no further commitment or responsibility for personal development is required.

Interestingly, in the same article, I was amused to hear that:

    You should not treat people with pacemakers. This is nonsense, of course. Please see my article “Restrictions on Reiki” for a longer discussion of this Reiki fable.
    First Degree does not really give you anything, and you cannot treat yourself and other people effectively at this level. This of course flies in the face of the cumulative experience of hundreds of thousands of people who have taken First Degree and whose lives have changed for the better through Reiki, and who have helped friends and family members at First Degree.
    You should take Reiki First and Second Degree in one weekend to be able to use Reiki effectively. Again nonsense, and the global consensus is that you should wait between Reiki levels to give yourself a chance to work on yourself and gain confidence, putting what you have learned into practice before moving on. Exhorting people to take Reiki1 and Reiki2 in one go, because they will not be able to do Reiki properly otherwise, is largely a marketing ploy in my view.

There is a lot of nonsense spoken about Reiki, and two more examples that were just sent to me the other day nearly had me choke on my cup of Tick Tock tea: there is a local college somewhere in the UK (I won’t name it) that tells it’s Reiki students that they should not treat people who wear contact lenses because the energy will distort the lenses, and in that same part of the country there is also a teacher who is telling their students that every time they use one of the Reiki symbols they are shortening their life by several minutes.

We have a word in England for such advice, and for the nonsense that is being written by one or two people about Reiju empowerments: “claptrap”. Claptrap should be avoided at all costs; claptrap will seriously diminish your enjoyment and experience of this wonderful system that we have been given. So the next time you hear that you shouldn’t treat people with pacemakers, or contact lenses, or green trousers for that matter, or the next time you hear that Usui’s method of connecting people to the energy doesn’t work properly, take such comments with a pinch of salt, ignore them, and move on!

Sending distant healing – do I need permission?

permission reiki distant healing

Unethical to send distant healing?

Some people are of the opinion that it is totally unethical to send distant Reiki to a person if they have not given their permission first.

They see it as a gross intrusion, interference, a violation of that person’s personal space, a violation of their energy field. I do not agree with this point of view and I see no problem in sending Reiki to whoever you want.

Here are my reasons…

Reiki is a beautiful healing energy that will not cause anyone any harm, and any Reiki sent is dedicated to the ‘highest good’ of the recipient, so that it is line with their karma or destiny. This means that you are not manipulating them or imposing your preferred result on the situation: if the person really does not want to be healed, or it is not appropriate for them to benefit, then the Reiki will not work.

Permission to pray?

You do not obtain someone’s permission if you are going to pray for them, and I see sending distant healing rather like a concentrated form of prayer, where you are asking for Divine intervention in someone’s life, in whatever way is appropriate for them.

Nobody rings up their friends to obtain their permission to pray for them. When there is a natural disaster somewhere in the world and people are praying for victims, they don’t withold the prayer until they have obtained the written permission of all the faceless intended recipients.

If someone was lying in the road, unconscious after a road accident, would you refrain from sending Reiki to them just because they couldn’t sit up and give you consent in writing? No, of course not: you’d send Reiki to their highest good and hope that it made a positive difference to them.

Scare stories about people being made to wake up when under an anaesthetic when receiving distant Reiki are just that – scare stories – like so many of the restrictions placed on people’s Reiki practices because of myth and unfounded rumour. And if you are really worried that this might happen, then simply intend that the energy be received by the person at whatever moment is appropriate for them in the next 24 hours.

We are neutral in the process

We should remind ourselves that when we send distant Reiki we are neutral in the process, we have no expectations and we do not push for a particular outcome.

We stand aside and what the energy does, if anything, is out of our hands. We offer the energy to the recipient, we do not force it on them, we do not make the energy do anything for the recipient; it is just there for them to use as they wish, or not.

So permission is irrelevant.

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Picture Credit: Denise Cross Photography