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The “21-Day thing”

reiki 21 days twenty one

Where did the 21 day thing come from?

I wanted to talk a little bit about the “21 day thing”: the 21-day self-treat or the 21-day clear-out after attending a First Degree course.

I’m a bit puzzled by this and I’ve been trying to fathom where it came from, and why it should be recommended.

I think this idea probably came into being because it echoes the story told about Mikao Usui’s discovery of Reiki on Mt Kurama where, according to the story that Mrs Takata passed on, Usui Sensei went up Mt Kurama and fasted and meditated for 21 days, culminating in him being hit by a bolt of light, seeing symbols, and Reiki was born.

We know now that this isn’t actually what happened: Usui didn’t fast for 21 days up the mountain, though he did carry out something called the “Lotus Repentance meditation”, and this did last for 21 days I believe.

But this was quite a formalised process – an established Tendai practice – and he went home at night after each day’s meditation. In any case, this did not lead to the ‘eureka’ moment that Mrs Takata spoke about since Usui was already teaching his system before he carried out the first of his Lotus Repentance meditations, and he performed these meditations several times during his lifetime.

7 x 3 = 21

People have speculated and taught that the 21 consecutive days of self-treating is required because the energy makes a visit to each of a person’s chakras three times during this period.

The emphasis on chakras within Reiki seems to have originated within Reiki’s journey through the New Age movement, where some lineages have incorporated various New Age practices like crystals, spirit guides and Angels etc. Chakra work wasn’t part of the original system.

And this three-times-through-your-chakras seems to me to be a bit of ‘reverse engineering’, where you have something that you’re supposed to do, and then you back-track to try and find a justification for it, to make sense of it in your head.

Some suggest that if you carry out a practice for 21 days then you will have established it as a habit, and there may be something in that, actually.

Don’t stop after 21 days!

The problem that I have with this idea of a 21-day practice is that some people “do their 21 days” and then stop, or have only a sporadic practice afterwards, as if once you’ve done your 21 days… that’s it, you’ve cleared yourself out and you don’t need to work on yourself so dedicatedly afterwards.

And I also have a problem with the idea that you have a clear-out just during that 21 day period and then you’re sorted.

In my experience, the way that people react to Reiki in terms of ‘clearing out’, whether that be in terms of physical reactions or states of mind or emotions, seems to vary greatly from one person to another. And while Reiki doesn’t seem to give people an experience that they can’t handle, some can make a great big fast clear-out initially, some have it happening in dribs and drabs, while for others the process may be delayed for a while.

Everyone’s different. And there’s always something more to clear out!

We all live lives, we have stress, we suppress emotions, we fail to deal with things, so if we carry on working with Reiki, there will be stuff that we will need to shift in the future to bring things into balance for us, not just in those first few weeks.

And just wait until you start attuning people: you may have a mega-clear-out waiting for you!

So while I don’t object to people working on themselves dedicatedly for three weeks – why would I? – I’d rather emphasise that if you’re going to gain the greatest benefit out of your connection to Reiki then you need to work on yourself regularly.

You don’t have to self-treat (or carry out Hatsurei ho) every single day (and then beat yourself up for not being perfect if you have to miss a day sometimes) but if you can make Reiki a regular part of your life then you will reap the rewards.

And that’s not just for 21 days: that’s for life.

Over to you

So, do you have a regular practice of using Reiki on yourself?

And, if so, what have you noticed in terms of the way that your mind/body has responded to that ongoing energy work?

Did you have a bit of a clear-out to begin with, or a great big clear-out, and then occasional ups and downs after then?

Need a hand with your Reiki habit?

If anyone does want to carry out some task or practice for 21 days in a row, here is a free online service that will keep track of what you have been doing, sending you an e-mail every day to see what you have done. It’s called Habit Forge.

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Picture Credit: Martin Fisch


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