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.




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34 thoughts on “Do attunements actually work?

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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!

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

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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!

    1. 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:

  7. 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.

  8. 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 !

    1. My grandmother grew up in Suffolk, Valerie, so that may have something to do with it. The verb “to squit” was just a normal part of my growing up! 🙂

  9. I totally agree, Taggart. This is what I have taught for many years now. I feel very comfortable viewing the attunement as a blessing ceremony, an opportunity for students to acknowledge a new way of experiencing reality. I leave the attunement to the last part of the workshop, after students have become aware of Reiki energy by experiencing all the exercises and meditations, so that it becomes a sacred ending, a confirmation of all they have learnt about Reiki as a method for health and happiness. I encourage them to see the attunement as a sacred ceremony that helps them commit to living in a new way with the new insights they have gained from the training.

    1. I’m glad this way of looking at things works for you, Heather. Interesting that you use the ritual at the end of the course. We tend to use them during the morning of a course, and they seem to give the students something different each time; I think it’s useful to repeat them but not everyone has that belief/experience, and that’s fine! 🙂

  10. Hi Taggart. I join the ranks of those agreeing with you on this. I was doing a form of energy healing way before I trained in Reiki and was getting results. However, having trained I now know that my previous results were quite varied and somewhat random and that I had no real control over what I was doing. The difference, even after just Level 1 was immediate and obvious. I do as you do, three empowerments on my courses and it’s interesting to see how the students reactions vary from the 1st to the 2nd and 3rd. I see the empowerments just as you do in that they increase our awareness and sharpen our ability to be selective, rather like listening to a classical orchestra and being able to concentrate on a particular section or even an individual instrument.

  11. Having been “attuned” by three different Masters. I must say that I did not find any of the attunements to be particularly special or awakening, at the time.
    What I would say is that since learning about Reiki. My life and personal health have improved steadily. Whether this would have occurred anyway as I walk my life is possible. (my overall health began to improve before I learned about Reiki)
    I view Reiki as another tool in my arsenal along my learning journey towards helping first myself then others. Alas though much of the stuff that I read and hear about Reiki is lost on me. I have read that there is only one energy and we are it. Reiki is just a tool to become aware of the wonderful energetic beings that we are. This statement makes the most sense to me. Thus the ceremony of Reiki whilst being special, and healing, so is a good meditation.

    1. Hi Kay, I agree that there are many ways to develop yourself, whether meditation or other energy work. I do think that the Reiki empowerments, while not connecting you to anything that wasn’t there already, do help you to recognise something within you in a powerful way and can lead to the positive changes that you referred to. Many people find that Reiki initiations do indeed give them a big, all-singing-all-dancing “WOW” experience but that does not happen for everyone; no matter what people notice happening when attuned/empowered, the initiations seem to open you up to positive change and give a new potential to capitalise on by working with the energy regularly. 🙂

  12. Wow! Some very interesting dialogue over the years! But ref June 11, 2011. What did you mean by ‘protection’ by having recognised attunements?

    1. In terms of ‘picking things up’ from people that you’rer working on. Some hands-on therapists seem to find that working with people leads to them assimilating, say, the recipient’s state of mind or perhaps have an echo of physical ailments, and being attuned to Reiki seems to stop that from happening.

  13. 😛 a brilliant article and very interesting as it is a subject I am very aware of at the moment. I have recently been asked by a couple of people to help them. they bought an online course with someone I will not name who basically says that Usui did not receive an attunement and he didn’t use attunements so you can train to Reiki master just by reading all about it, meditating a bit and hey presto you are a Reiki master. It is a cheap course for all three parts and I believe it has a lot of good content but there is no attunement. These people were having real issues with the energies being unable to feel properly and ‘unable to control ‘it , they were left adrift without much support and unable to connect properly. I attuned both distantly for free and have given advice about letting it flow and getting rid of the ego and wanting specific outcomes. Both had quite strong reactions to the attunements but a couple of weeks later have found their energies balancing out and have felt the usual sensations of the Reiki flowing that were absent before. They are now enjoying the process and really feeling the Reiki and over the moon with how it has worked.
    I am pleased to have helped them but worried that there are people out there who aren’t fully connected who can go on to teach, I suppose they have their own paths to walk and mine has involved helping them to reach their potential.

    1. Well that’s contorting the truth a little! It is true that Usui Sensei did not receive attunements and did not teach attunements (because attunement rituals were created after his death by the Imperial officers) but what Usui did was to empower his students (using intent) and for less able Masters a physical ritual – Reiju – was available for them to use to empower students, who were then taught over a period of time.

      You might like to take a look at this blog, on the issue of becoming a Reiki Master with no effort,:

      I’m glad that your distant attunements for these people have made a difference to them.

  14. I agree with you, empowerment’s are not just powerful I feel they give students what they need at that particular time.I now start my energy work with empowerment’s, including Reiki shares.In my work at our local hospice I also empower those patients who wish to help themselves. Judging from the reaction from my students and patients,it’s working.

    Thank you for valuable insight.
    C. A. Hearnshaw.

    1. I think that starting a Reiki share with empowerments is a lovely way to start the session; I always used to do it that way, actually. A bit of meditation plus an empowerment get everyone cranked up energetically and chilled out ready for swapping treatments!

      I think that ‘therapeutic empowerments’ are a lovely way to give people some tools to use to help themselves.

  15. Thanks everyone for all your insights. Before I began my Reiki journey I had worked for over 20 years with methods that channelled my own energy. To me, learning about universal energy that could be channelled through me, rather than having to deplete my own energy, was a revelation. I came to the conclusion that attunements, empowerments as well as the use of symbols and mantras in Reiki were all means by which we signal that our intention is to access a particular sort of energy in a particular way. To me it is all about working with intention. Was it Hawayo Takata who worked with Reiki by simply saying ‘Reiki on.. Reiki off’?

    1. Hi, yes that quote was from Mrs Takata, explaining how Reiki hands-on healing was so simple. The Reiki empowerments/attunements do make all the difference, don’t they, in opening someone up so they don’t have to use their person energy reserves when treating someone. And yet I think that possibility was always there for people, but it takes something like Reiju to help someone notice what’s already there. ?

  16. Superb way to explain.. people often ask “ what’s reiki anyway?” I usually try to say what you’ve said so clearly here, I’ll be pinching some of this! Thank you.

  17. Yes I believe Reiki was in me before my attunments. After Reiki 1it was like a brick being removed from the dam and energy just poured out of my hands. Love your approach to Reiki

  18. Yes attunements do work. I am rosicrucian, and reiki trained. Both work along similar, yet subtily different ways. I believe that after an attunement nothing passes between master and student, apart from the understanding they have been empowered to do it. I believe it was always there, but they had to be told.

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