Reiki teaching: using learning preferences

People learn in different ways. When we learn we take in information through our senses, so we see things, we hear things, we learn through doing and we mull things over in our mind. The best learning comes when you provide people with training that engages with all these aspects.

Some people tend to prefer one approach over the others, so you might find that one person much prefers to listen, whereas another might really need to see something before they ‘get it’, while yet others need to do practical things, to move, to really understand and remember what they are being presented with.

In NLP (Neurolinguistic Programming) these preferences are called being visual, or auditory or kinaesthetic. There is another preference, too, when people are referred to as ‘audio digital’: these people need a strong sense of order or logic before things sink in properly for them.

I am quite a visual person, so I like diagrams, I think in pictures (not everyone does), I use Mind Maps, my written notes are quite visually diverse and sometimes flamboyant. I need that visual input more than, say, listening to something. And I have a great need for logic and order.

“The SatNav episode”

This was brought home to me several years ago when I was training in NLP and my wife Lorraine and I were going somewhere fairly local that we had not been to before. We had the SatNav on but hadn’t bothered to attach it to the windscreen; Lorraine had it resting in her lap and she looked at it and told me where to go.

Lorraine prefers the auditory sense so it made sense to her to just call out the instructions to me on this fiddly route; she said that I didn’t need to see the screen. I thought that I didn’t… But I did! I really did! It was excruciating for me to travel without seeing a map of where I was going.

I had to stop the car in the end and look at the SatNav screen so I could *see* where I was. Once I had seen the territory it all made sense and I understood where I needed to go.

I needed to see to understand, whereas Lorraine didn’t have that need.

When I give directions to someone I always want to reach for a scrap of paper so I can show someone; they might respond, though, by saying “just tell me!” My mind will be saying, “it’s much better if I can show you.”

But for them it may not be…

Don’t assume everyone is just like you

The problem comes because we tend to assume that the way we learn is they way that everybody learns. So if you learn by listening, you might run a course where you spend most of your time talking, and there will be students who are desperate to see something demonstrated, or to see a diagram, or to have an overview of what they day will entail, or to see the logical links between things, or to try something out for themselves, to ‘get their hands dirty’.

So by running a course where you show things, you talk about things, you supervise people practising stuff, and you make sure that your day flows logically from one thing to another, you are providing your students with the very best training.

You are touching all bases and making sure that the course meets the learning preferences of all your students.

And by touching all bases, you actually make the learning more meaningful and effective for everyone, because the best learning uses sights, sounds and physicality, no matter what someone’s preference might be. So a ‘visual’ learner like me needs images, but I will learn better if I also get to hear and to do.

Making your courses touch all bases

  • On a live course it is straightforward to make sure that you are touching all bases: On a First Degree course, for example:
  • Talk to them about Reiki and about the exercises they will be carrying out
  • Show them what they will be doing when they perform the movements of Hatsurei ho and a Self-treatment
  • Have them go through the physical movements with you
  • Make sure they have seen you make the movements and practised the physical movements for themselves before they close their eyes for you to guide them with your voice

When dealing with the subject of treating other people, you can talk about the subject and then you can give a visual demonstration of the hand positions, talking to your students when you do that to give hints and tips and useful advice. They then go through the hand positions themselves, guided by your voice.

Teaching materials to use on the day

You might consider having some display boards set up, with colour photographs demonstrating full treatment hand positions. Your students will take the information in subconsciously during the day.

On my Reiki Master Teacher live courses I used to have display boards set up which showed the stages of giving Western-style attunements. They can see the visuals as you talk them through the process, then you give them a visual demonstration, then they go through the movements themselves with you or another student talking them through the stages.

I even had some A3 sheets and marker pens so students could draw little diagrams to explain the attunement stages, and I also had students sit down and talk each other through the process.

So I was engaging with all senses: they looked and were were watching, they listened and they explained; it is very powerful having someone explain something to another person because you have to have things well-ordered in your mind in order to do that. They created visuals and they carried out physical movements while receiving spoken instructions.

All in all, a powerful learning combination.

Creating course materials that engage all senses

At Reiki Evolution we use detailed and comprehensive course manuals containing text, summaries and photographs. The manuals are well ordered and logical and students get to read about the experiences of many other students that have been through this training.

Along with the printed manual, students for First Degree also receive separate “at a glance” summary sheets with lots of photographs to illustrate the stages of carrying out Hatsurei ho, giving a Self-treatment, and some Full treatment hand positions.

I include some blank ‘cartoon strip’-style squares for them to do little drawings, perhaps just with stick figures, to illustrate the treatment hand positions, to jog their memory. I also include a set of “20 Reiki questions”, the answers to which they are expected to search for in their course materials, and I include a separate sheet with the answers that they can look at to check their discoveries.

We provide audio CDs with commentary (just like listening to a Reiki training course, but something that you can play again and again) and we also provide guided meditations, talking students through their daily energy exercises, a self-treatment meditation, a distant healing meditation and a Reiki symbol meditation.

You can see why we do that, can’t you? We provide logic and order, we provide written information, summaries and images, we provide short talks you can listen to and we give you the chance to be guided as you put Reiki into practice on yourself and with other people.

Engaging with people’s different learning preferences, and ensuring that your live course and your training materials are multimedia, leads to the most powerful and effective learning.

Need some help with your course materials?

reiki first degree course book cdI have put together comprehensive and detailed course manuals and easy-to-listen-to audio CDs with commentaries and guided meditations. All these are available for you to use on your own courses (no matter what lineage you have) and you can order them in packs of four at greatly discounted prices. Reiki teachers all over the world are using them. Find out more by clicking here:

Reiki Evolution Manuals and audio CDs.




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Photo credit: Fons Heijnsbroek

3 thoughts on “Reiki teaching: using learning preferences

  1. Thanks Taggart. As usual you provide very timely and useful reminders of things we may not have in the forefront of our minds. I was reminded of this recently when I discovered that two students from some years ago hadn’t grasped or retained information I’d given them on their Reiki 1 course. I do use materials to support different learning styles, but the practical work we did on self-healing obviously hadn’t clicked with these students. More work needed there from me.

    1. Hi Linden, what we do is always a work-in-progress, isn’t it? You can always improve things, and often it’s the students that provide the impetus for this, either through the questions that they ask (that I hadn’t dealt with in what I said) and the things that they struggle to ‘get’. I have spent years amending my courses to try and make them as thorough and easy to learn as I can, and I am sure you will too. It’s never-ending, or should be, anyway 😉

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