Tag Archives: reiju empowerments

Report on the 2012 National Gathering

Well, that was quite an event. October 6th saw 140+ Reiki people from all over the country descending on Baden Powell House (right next to the Natural History Museum in South Kensington) for a day of fun, learning new things and making new friends. We had workshops and distant healing and Reiki shares, Reiju empowerments for all, and kotodama chanting. The venue was nice, light and airy, with a lovely atmosphere, and as the day progressed the place just buzzed with energy.

A few highlights of the day for me were seeing every one of the ‘Reiju’ seats occupied, with a queue of people waiting for their turn for a dose of blissfulness, or seeing everyone basically ‘take over’ the on-site café and turning it into a Reiki café, chatting on comfy sofas over tea or coffee, or maybe that experience of oneness at the close of the day, after that fantastic chanting!

It was great for me to get to meet and spend time with so many lovely Reiki people, and to publicly show my appreciation to my team of fantastic teachers.

What we did

Workshops featured Tina Shaw (“Discover your intuitive self”), Martine Moorby (“EFT for personal transformation”), Irene Forsyth (“Seeing auras”) and Marilyn Harvey (“Reiki meditations”). We were also lucky enough to have two separate QiGong sessions, the first hosted by Rhonda Bailey and the second hosted by Thalbert Allen and Maggie Tarling from the College of Elemental Chi Kung.

Attendees joined in Reiki sharing sessions and there were Reiju empowerments for anyone who wanted one (lots of people wanted one!), given by our team of lovely teachers. We held a couple of ‘chat to a Reiki teacher’ sessions and we had ‘en masse’ sessions in the Main Hall where we sent distant healing and chanted a sacred sound which elicits a state of oneness.

Useful links

Tina is now running special courses in Developing intuition and using a pendulum, which you can read about here: Special courses.

Martine teaches Emotional Freedom Technique in North Yorkshire and can be contacted here: Martine Moorby.

Rhonda teaches Tai Chi, QiGong and meditation in Kent, and you can find her here: Rhonda Bailey.

I particularly wanted to thank Thalbert for coming to our gathering to run a session for us. Thalbert Allen is co-founder and Director of the College of Elemental Chi Kung in Finsbury Park, and you can read more about the College here: Elemental Chi Kung.

Next year’s gathering

Very shortly I am going to be announcing the venue and the date for the 2013 National Gathering, and I look forward to seeing many familiar faces there next year; it can’t come quickly enough as far as I’m concerned!

Here’s a photo of me with 15 of my team of teachers:

National Gathering Oct 6th 2012: here’s the schedule for the day


Only about seven weeks to go to our 2012 National Gathering at Baden Powell House in London, and I thought I’d share the schedule for the day so you can see what we’re going to be getting up to.

9.00am – Arrive
9.15am – Welcome
9.30am – Three workshops lasting for 1hr 15mins each (See NOTE #1)
10.50am – Free tea/coffee and biscuits for 45 minutes
11.35am – Drop-in sessions lasting for 60 mins (See NOTE #2)
12.40pm – Group distant healing session in the main hall, with Sarah Berrisford
12.55pm – Hour lunch break
1.55pm – Three workshops lasting for 1hr 15mins each (See NOTE #1)
3.15pm – Break for 30 mins
3.50pm – Drop-in sessions lasting for 60 mins (See NOTE #2)
4.55pm – Closing session in the main hall: Kotodama chanting with Hannah Shine
5.10pm – Ends

NOTE #1: Three main workshops

We are hosting three main workshops, lasting for 1hr 15mins, and these will be repeated twice during the day so that people can attend two out of the three. Here are the workshops:

  • “Discovering your intuitive self” with Tina Shaw
  • “EFT for personal transformation” with Martine Moorby
  • “Energy Cultivation Techniques” with Rhonda Bailey in the morning and Thalbert Allen/Maggie Tarling in the afternoon
  • Everyone attending will already have made their choice of workshop online. If you haven’t, contact Taggart King now.

    NOTE #2: Drop-in sessions

    These are hour-long sessions, most of which you can just mill into and out of as the mood takes you. Again this session is repeated twice during the day so people can attend as much as they can. We have:

  • Reiki share, hosted by Faiy Rushton (morning) and Sarah Berrisford (afternoon)
  • “Ask a Reiki teacher” – an opportunity to ask questions and chat to a group of Reiki Evolution teachers
  • Reiju empowerments – receive a Reiju empowerment, or more than one if you like, from a group of Reiki Evolution teachers
  • Bookable session (fully booked now): “Seeing auras” with Irene Forsyth in the morning, and “Reiki meditations” with Marilyn Harvey in the afternoon
  • So have a bit of a Reiki share, go and have an empowerment, and chat to a Reiki Evolution teacher for a while, or have an hour-long Reiki share, or listen to questions and chat with our Reiki teachers for an hour, any combination you like!

    I know I’m getting excited about the event and I hope that everyone who attends has a great time, trying out some new things, chilling out, chatting to new friends, and getting a great big dose of Reiki!

    Best wishes,


    The Kaizen of Reiki

    If you have come across the word ‘kaizen’ before it will probably have been in the context of industrial quality control or personal development. “Kaizen” is a Japanese word that is usually translated as ‘improvement’, but it means more than that. The word has connotations of continuous, gradual, orderly and never-ending improvement, the willingness to constantly, relentlessly pursue improvement a small step at a time. The application of the kaizen principle is the reason why Japan’s economy was transformed after the Second World War. All workers were encouraged to make suggestions as to how quality and production could be improved, even by tiny, tiny percentages, but over time the effect of these tiny percentage improvements, applied consistently and built upon, transformed Japanese industry.

    So what has this to do with Reiki? Well the word kaizen actually appears towards the end of the Reiki precepts. The line in Japanese is “Shin shin kaizen, Usui Reiki Ryoho”, which could be loosely translated as “Mind body change it for better Usui Reiki method”. So when Usui was talking about using his system to improve the body and mind, I get the impression that we are looking at a lifelong commitment to work with the system, to focus the energy on ourselves again and again, long-term, in order to produce small incremental improvements within ourselves, to dedicate ourselves to developing our effectiveness as a channel. But small changes build on previous small changes, an enhancement upon an enhancement leads to amazing development over time. And Usui’s original system gives us the solid, concrete techniques that we can use to develop ourselves: as channels, in terms of spirituality and in terms of intuition, to produce our own individual Reiki Evolution!

    So how do we pursue our own kaizen of Reiki? How do we apply the concept of continuous and never-ending improvement to our practice of Reiki? Here are a few suggestions…

    Root your practice of Reiki in daily energy work.

    If you are serious about wanting to obtain the many benefits that are available to you through the Reiki system then you are going to have to work on yourself most days, ideally every day, and by doing so you will build up the beneficial effects of Reiki within you. It is not sufficient to use Reiki on yourself once a week, or to assume that if you treat other people occasionally then this is enough to give you the Reiki you need.

    Your first priority should be yourself, and this means daily energy work. This does not need to be an onerous task, nor does it need to take a long time to carry out. Sometimes we decline to use Reiki on ourselves because we do not have the perfect opportunity, perhaps because we do not have, say, 30 minutes to work on ourselves. Yet even 10 minutes of energy work, when carried out consistently each day, would be far better and produce much better results than doing nothing for days, and then a great big blitz for a big chunk of time on a weekend to try and ‘catch up’. Spending even a small chunk of time working on ourselves each day builds up a momentum and stirs changes which build and build. Sporadic practice leads to some beneficial changes, but you are not maximising your Reiki potential.

    So, how can we work on ourselves? Well, a good place to start would be to practise Hatsurei ho, a series of energy exercises taught in the Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai (the ‘Gakkai), an association set up after Usui’s death by the Imperial Officers who had trained with him for a while. ‘Hatsurei ho’ means something like ‘start up Reiki technique’ and consists of a series of energy meditations/ visualisations that focus on your Tanden (Dantien in Chinese) and which are designed to be carried out every day. The effects of Hatsurei ho are to:

      Clear and cleanse your energy system
      Help to move your energy system more into a state of balance
      Help to ground you
      Help to build up your personal energy reserves
      Allows you to grow spiritually
      Develop your ability as a channel for Reiki
      Help to develop your sensitivity to the flow of energy
      Help to develop your intuitive side

    The exercises take perhaps 12-15 minutes to carry out each day, and can be fitted into the busiest of schedules if the will is there. We can all make this time for our Reiki practice.

    But we should also focus the energy more specifically on ourselves, on our own self-healing, by carrying out a self-treatment each day. Whether you carry out the Western ‘hands-on’ method of treating yourself, or use the self-treatment meditation that Usui Sensei taught, you should focus the energy on yourself on a regular basis to help bring things into balance for you on all levels, and to help you to release things that no longer serve you: mental states, emotions, physical things. The energy will deal with many aspects of your body/mind, many deeply-embedded imbalances, if we give the energy the opportunity to do its work on us, digging deep and chipping away at the ‘baggage’ that we carry, over time.

    We prefer to use Usui Sensei’s self-treatment meditation because it seems more intense and versatile, but all self-treatment approaches are valid. Usui’s Sensei’s system was all about spiritual development and self-healing, so Hatsurei Ho and self-treatment can lie at the very heart of your Reiki practice. You need to put yourself first, and the principle of kaizen means that by working on yourself consistently, great transformations are possible. You owe it to yourself to allow yourself to obtain the benefits that are available to you through Reiki.

    Receive spiritual empowerments throughout your training and beyond.

    Training with Usui was rather like martial arts training, where you were in ongoing contact with your teacher over an extended period of time. Part of your training involved receiving simple spiritual empowerments from Usui Sensei, repeatedly, at all levels. Each empowerment reinforced your connection to the source, cleared your channel for the energy, allowed you to develop spiritually and enhanced your intuitive potential. To echo this practice, Taggart sends out a distant Reiju empowerment every week, on a Monday, which can be ‘tuned in to’ by any Reiki person. You can find out about this, and what to do, by visiting this page of the Reiki Evolution web site:

    Reiju Broadcast

    On each occasion that you receive Reiju you are given what you need, and as your needs change from one occasion to another, this simple spiritual ‘blessing’ helps you to develop. A one-off attunement or empowerment does of course give you something permanent, and when you learn Reiki for the first time the attunements or empowerments that you receive provide you with the ability to use Reiki permanently, but it does not stop there: by receiving empowerments on a regular basis you are building momentum and allowing the energy to penetrate more deeply within you.

    If we are committed to ongoing improvements within ourselves then we should make the time to receive an empowerment weekly. And again it is the regular commitment which is the key, the key to deepening your experience of the energy and its beneficial effects on you.

    Work on developing your intuitive potential.

    Mikao Usui’s original system did not focus very much on the treatment of others, and any instruction on treatments would not have involved slavishly following a set of ‘standard’ hand positions that you had to apply to everyone you treated. Usui’s method was simpler and more elegant. You allowed the energy to guide your hands to the right place to treat, different from one person to another, and different within the same person from one treatment to another. The way we have been taught to do this is through a ‘technique’ called ‘Reiji Ho’ (indication of the spirit technique’), a way of emptying your mind and merging with the energy, getting your head out of the way to allow intuition to bubble to the surface. The exciting thing about Reiji Ho is that it works for everyone, and with time – we come back to kaizen’s small incremental improvements – your hands will move more quickly, more consistently, more effortlessly, and you will start to attract more intuitive information. So every time we treat someone we should spend time cultivating our ‘Reiji’ state of mind, and gradually, gradually, we develop.

    Learn to become the energies.

    …that you are introduced to at Second Degree and Master levels. Usui’s system didn’t involve symbols as far as most of his students were concerned. Students were expected to carry out meditations over an extended period of time in order to learn to experience different energies and, at Second Degree, students were introduced to the energies of “earth ki” and “heavenly ki”, which represent two fundamental aspects of our being. By practising ‘becoming’ earth ki and heavenly ki again and again – a powerful self-healing practice – these energies became so familiar to the students that they could ‘connect’ to the energy direct without having to use a prop like a symbol. Usui provided some Shinto mantras for some of his students to use to invoke the energies, but it was possible to move beyond these mantras with time, too. In my article ‘A Simple Way with Symbols’ I describe a meditation that you can use to ‘become’ these energies.

    But again we see that to obtain the greatest benefit, to enhance self-healing, to free up our practice and move beyond symbols, takes time and commitment. A quick meditation carried out a few times is not enough: Usui Sensei’s students spent 6-9 months meditating on just one energy, and this was done because the principle of kaizen – plugging away and developing by small amounts again and again – led to deep changes over time.

    Live your life according to Usui’s guiding principles.

    Usui’s simple principles to live by offer perhaps the best example of the principle of kaizen in our Reiki practice: Usui Sensei’s precepts are a work in progress. They are not something that you read through and think “OK, got that”: the precepts are simple to read and understand but they are something that you drip-feed into your daily life over time, more and more over time.

    We may begin by thinking about the precepts when we first come across them on a First Degree course: we reflect on how they might impinge on our lives, our thoughts and emotions, our behaviour; we might imagine situations from that past that might have proceeded better had we exemplified the precepts, and we might imagine situations in the future and see ourselves behaving in a way that demonstrates that we are living the precepts.

    But this initial surge of interest in the precepts is not sufficient to produce the beneficial changes that the precepts can produce in our lives.

    To fully embrace Usui Sensei’s spiritual principles takes regular reflection and ongoing thought. On an ongoing basis we consider our thoughts and our behaviour, we reflect on the principles and what they mean to us. If we do this then over time we will find that living the precepts becomes easier, that our behaviour is modifying itself, that there are more permanent changes in the way that we react and behave and relate to other people. But this will only happen if we ‘chip away’ at our current behaviour patterns, using the precepts as our guiding light. There are no quick fixes: the precepts are not just for First Degree. The precepts are the essence of our Reiki practice.

    Now, we do not need to be perfect, we do not need to beat ourselves up for not applying each and every principle on all occasions, but by dedicating ourselves, and by forgiving ourselves, and by trying to do a little better each day than we did the day before, we transform ourselves.

    That is the key to our kaizen of Reiki: dedication and commitment, patience and forgiveness, and openness to the source. Long term.

    Mindfulness and compassion

    In this article I want to talk about Mindfulness and Compassion, which I believe are two essential components of Reiki practice. Whether we are treating others, working on ourselves, empowering others or living our lives with Reiki, we should grow to embody those two states, the essence of the Reiki precepts.


    According to Usui Sensei’s surviving students, Mikao Usui introduced his students to the practice of mindfulness at First Degree level, and emphasised this more at Second Degree level. According to the Concise Oxford Dictionary (9th Edition), to be mindful is to take heed or care, to be conscious. Mindfulness or being mindful is being aware of your present moment. You are not judging, reflecting or thinking. You are simply observing the moment in which you find yourself, fully aware. Moments are like a breath. Each breath is replaced by the next breath. You are there with no other purpose than being awake and aware of that moment.

    So mindfulness is a state of living in the moment, of being relaxed, calm and fully engaged in what we are doing. Mindfulness is being fully aware of what is happening right now and giving ourselves completely to our task without distraction. By learning how to enjoy and be in the present moment we can find peace within ourselves.

    Like precepts, mindfulness is largely associated with Buddhism and it is a meditative practice that is not reserved for special meditation sessions: it is a practice that you can embrace as part of your daily life and when carrying out routine and mundane tasks.

    The best guide that I have found to the use of mindfulness as part of your daily life is the following book, written by Thich Nhat Hanh: “The Miracle of Mindfulness” and I recommend that all Reiki practitioners and teachers obtain a copy and practise being mindful during their daily activities.

    I believe that Mikao Usui’s precepts are all about mindfulness, and that when we are exhorted by the precepts to “just for today” release anger and worry, we are being guided to exist as far as we can in a mindful state. Anger and worry are distractions, you see, and if we can exist in the moment by being mindful then we will not dwell on the past and beat ourselves up for things that did not go the way we wanted, and we will not dwell on the future, perhaps worrying about things that have not yet happened. We can learn to release our attachments to the past and the future and just “be” now, content and accepting in the moment, by learning to be mindful.


    The final precept, that of being “compassionate towards ourselves and others” is for me an exhortation to be gentle with ourselves, to be patient, to be light-hearted, to not take ourselves quite so seriously and above all to be forgiving – first of all of ourselves but also of others. By accepting and forgiving ourselves we start to release our anger and our worry, and move towards a state of contentment in the moment.

    The original system was a spiritual path, a path to enlightenment, and the precepts were what Usui Sensei’s system was all about. These principles are a foundation for everything we do with Reiki: the states of mindfulness and compassion arise from following the precepts and from working with Reiki.

    For example, how do we feel when we carry out a Reiki treatment? Treating someone with Reiki is a special, special gift. We feel a closeness, an intimacy, a merging with the recipient; we receive trust and we experience compassion. Ideally we should just be there in the moment, with the energy, with the recipient, with no expectations. We do not treat someone with the intention to resolve their health problem or eliminate their headache. We just merge with the energy and allow Reiki to do its work; we create a sacred space for healing to occur. If our mind wanders, as it may do, then we notice this and gently but firmly bring our attention back to the present and what we are doing. We become one with the energy as it flows through us, we become one with the recipient, and we experience that blissful contentment in the moment. When we treat we are mindful: we are an observer, not a participant.

    Though some are taught that you can hold a conversation with someone as you treat, or watch television at the same time, this really will not lead to the best being given to the recipient. To be the most effective channel we can be, we need to be there with the energy, fully and gently engaged in our work, giving ourselves fully to the task without distraction.

    Those same principles apply when working on ourselves, whether carrying out Hatsurei ho or self-treating. The state we should seek to achieve is that of being fully engaged in the endeavour, of being with the energy without distraction, merged, aware and simply existing in the moment, with a gentle feeling of forgiveness, love and compassion towards ourselves.

    So both Mindfulness and Compassion are fundamental to our life with Reiki, fundamental to the Reiki precepts, to working on others and working on ourselves. Not surprisingly they are also an essential component of the transmission of Reiki to another person through carrying out Reiju empowerments. Reiju is the ‘connection ritual’ that Usui Sensei used, and taught to his surviving students. It is simple, elegant and powerful, free from the clutter and detail that surrounds most Western attunement styles. When we perform Reiju we have no expectations: we are there in the moment with the energy, following the prescribed movements. We are relaxed and fully engaged in what we are doing, aware of what is happening right now, and we give ourselves completely to our task without distraction. That is the essence of Reiju, the essence of treatments, the essence of the precepts, and the essence of our life with Reiki.

    Back to basics: Reiki Second Degree

    People learn Reiki for many reasons and come from an amazing variety of backgrounds, all attending for their own personal reasons. Reiki courses in the UK present a whole variety of approaches, some “traditional” Western-style, some more Japanese in content, some wildly different and almost unrecognisable, some free and intuitive, others dogmatic and based on rules about what you should always do and not do. Reiki is taught in so many ways, and students will tend to imagine that the way that they were taught is the way that Reiki is taught and practised by most other Reiki people.

    What I have tried to do in this article is to present a simple guide to what in my view is the essence of Second Degree: what it’s all about and what we should be doing and thinking about to get the most out of our experience of Reiki at this level. My words are addressed to anyone at Second Degree level, or anyone who would like to review the essence of Second Degree.

    The first thing I want to say is that there should usually be an interval of a couple of months or so between First and Second Degree if you want to get the most out of your Reiki experience, and that it is unwise to take both Degrees back-to-back over a weekend. We would not take an advanced driving test the day after passing our basic driving test, so why would we believe that moving on to a more ‘advanced’ level with Reiki would be an effective way to learn when we have had no opportunity to get the hang of the basics of First Degree? Can we get the most out of Second Degree when we have had no opportunity to get used to working with and sensing and experiencing energy, when we have had no opportunity to enhance our effectiveness as a channel and our sensitivity to Reiki through regular practice, when we have had no opportunity to become familiar with a standard treatment routine and have had no opportunity to feel comfortable and confident in treating other people? Reiki is not a race, and we need to be familiar with the basics before moving on.

    Second Degree is all about:

    1. reinforcing or enhancing your connection to the energy 2. learning some symbols which you can use routinely when working on yourself or treating others 3. enhancing your self-healing 4. learning how to effect a strong distant connection (distant healing)

    And ideally it is also about opening yourself up to your intuitive side so that you throw away the basic Reiki ‘rule book’ and go freestyle, gearing any treatments towards the individual needs of the recipient.

    There are many approaches to doing these things, and I wanted below to touch on each one and to dispel some myths that may have been passed on.

    Enhancing your Connection to the energy

    On your Second Degree course you will have received some attunements or some empowerments. Attunements are not standard rituals within the world of Reiki and take many forms, some simpler and some more complex. They have evolved and changed greatly during their journey from teacher to teacher in the West. There is no “right way” to carry out an attunement and the individual details of a ritual do not matter a great deal. They all work. Equally, there is no “correct” number of attunements that have to be carried out at Second Degree level. Whether you receive one, two, or three attunements on your course, that is fine.

    On your course you may have received some “empowerments” rather than attunements, though these are less common. The word “empowerment”, or “Reiju empowerment”, refers to a connection ritual that has come to us from some Japanese sources, and is closer in essence to the empowerment that Mikao Usui conveyed to his students. If you are receiving empowerments rather than attunements then you really need to have received three of them at least.

    What we experience when receiving an attunement or an empowerment will vary a lot. Some people have fireworks and bells and whistles and that’s nice for them; other people notice a lot less, or very little, or even nothing, and that’s fine too. What we feel when we have an attunement is not a guide to how well it has worked for us. Attunements work, and sometimes we will have a strong experience, but it’s not compulsory! Whether we have noticed a lot, or very little, the attunement will have given us what we need.

    Since in Mikao Usui’s system you would have received empowerments from him again and again, it would be nice if you could echo this practice by receiving further empowerments (or attunements) and perhaps these might be available at your teacher’s Reiki shares or get-togethers, if they hold them. But it is possible to receive distant Reiju empowerments and various teachers make them freely available as a regular ‘broadcast’. This is not essential, and your connection to Reiki once given does not fizzle out, but it would be a beneficial practice if you could receive regular empowerments from someone.

    Being “attuned” to a symbol

    For many years within the world of Reiki, people believed that the symbols would not work for you, that they were essentially useless, until you had been “attuned” to the symbol: then it would work for you. Unfortunately the only connection rituals available in the West were ‘attunements’ which involved attuning you to a symbol, so no-one knew how to carry out a ‘symbol-free’ attunement to see if you really needed to be attuned to a symbol for it to work for you.

    But in 1999, from Japan, emerged Reiju empowerments, a representation of the empowerments that Usui conferred, and these empowerments do not use symbols. Finally we were able to see if you really needed to be attuned to a symbol for it to work for you. Lo and behold we discovered that the symbols work fine for people who are connected to the energy using Reiju; they work fine for people who are connected to Reiki but who have not been ‘attuned’ to the symbols. It seems that once you are connected to Reiki – and now we know how to achieve this without symbols entering into the process – the symbols will work for you, and in fact any symbol seems to push the energy in a particular direction without you having to be specifically ‘attuned’ to it (whatever that means). The Reiki symbols are simply graphical representations of different aspects of the energy, a way of representing and emphasising what is already there.

    “Sacred Symbols”

    In some lineages students are not allowed to keep copies of the symbols and have to reproduce them from memory, based on what they learned on their Second Degree course. There is the suggestion that the symbols are sacred and not only sacred but secret, and should not be shown to people who are not involved in Reiki, or people who are at First Degree level. Where this idea came from in the Western Reiki system is not clear, since certainly Dr Hayashi had his students copy out his notes by way of preparing their own manuals, including copying down the symbols.

    For me, the Reiki symbols are simply graphical representations of different aspects of the energy, useful tools to assist us in experiencing or becoming consciously aware of different aspects of what we already have, and what is special or sacred is our connection to the source, not the squiggles we might put on a piece of paper.

    Because of the ‘Chinese whispers’ that have resulted from students not being allowed to take home hard copies of the Reiki symbols, there are many different versions of the symbols in existence, but they are mainly variations on a theme and they all seem to work in practice. Do remember, though, that the original CKR had an anticlockwise spiral, and to use a version of CKR with a clockwise spiral is to use a symbol that is not part of the Usui/Hayashi/Takata system.

    Using Symbols in practice

    Some students are taught there is one ‘correct’ way that symbols have to be used. Reiki is not so finicky. The important thing when using a Reiki symbol is to focus your attention on the symbol in some way, so whether you are drawing the symbol with your fingers hovering over the back of your hand as you treat someone, whether you are drawing out the symbol using eye movements, or nose movements, or in your mind’s eye, all approaches will work. You do not need to visualise the symbols in a particular colour and if you can see the symbol in your mind’s eye in its entirety – this takes practice – you can ‘flash’ the whole symbol rather than drawing it out stroke by stroke.

    Just because we have been taught some symbols does not mean that we are now obliged to use them all the time when we treat or when we work on ourselves. They can be used to emphasise different aspects of the energy, but this is optional. Use of symbols does seem to boost the flow of energy, so we can use them when it feels appropriate. This is the key: to bring a symbol into a particular part of a treatment when we have a strong feeling that we ought to, to work intuitively rather than following a set method.

    I have written in other articles below about the issue of simplicity within Reiki practice, and the complicated way that people have ended up using the Reiki symbols, for example mixing symbols together or using complicated symbol sandwiches. Remember that the simple approach is usually the most effective, and that there is no hard and fast way that you ‘have’ to work with the symbols you have been shown.

    By the way, if you have been taught that you have to draw the three Second Degree symbols over your palm each day or else they will stop working for you, you can safely ignore these instructions. The symbols will work for you no matter what you do or don’t do with your palms!

    Why the symbols are there

    At Second Degree, the prime focus of Reiki is still your self-healing, and the first two symbols are there to help you get to grips with two important energies that will further or deepen your self-healing. Putting the ‘distant healing’ symbol to one side, the other two symbols represent the energies of earth ki and heavenly ki, and we need to fully assimilate these two energies to enhance our self-healing and self-development. If we are going to use these energies when we treat other people, it makes sense to be thoroughly familiar with these energies, to have spent time ‘becoming’ these energies. We can do this by carrying out regular symbol meditations.

    Making ‘distant’ connections

    The third Reiki symbol that you are introduced to on a Second Degree course is commonly called the ‘distant healing symbol’. We should remember that distant healing is perfectly possible at First Degree level and that we do not need to use a symbol in order to send Reiki to another person: intent is enough. But using this symbol can help us to learn to better ‘click’ into a nice strong merged state.

    There is no set form of ritual that ‘has’ to be used in distant healing, there is not set form of words that has to be recited, no established sequence which needs to be reproduced in order for distant healing to be effective, so we can find our own comfortable approach, different from other people’s but equally valid. The details of the ritual that we use are not important. All we need to do is to focus our attention on the recipient and maybe use the symbol in some way, merge with the energy, merge with the recipient, and allow the energy to flow.

    Intuitive working

    Ideally, Second Degree should be the stage where you start to leave the basic ‘rulebook’ behind and go ‘freestyle’, gearing your treatment towards the recipient’s individual energy needs, so that each treatment will be different, as the recipient’s energy needs change from one treatment session to another. Some students will already be modifying the basic treatment routine by the time that they arrive on their Second Degree course.

    Set hand positions and a prescribed scheme to follow are useful things to have at First Degree, and allow the student to feel confident in treating others, but sequences of hand positions can be left behind when we open to intuition. Intuitive treatments seem to do something special for the recipient: when you direct the energy into just the right combination of positions for that person on that occasion you allow the energy to penetrate deeply and this seems to lead to a more profound experience for the recipient. Treatments using intuitively guided hand positions may involve much fewer hand positions being held, and each combination being held for much longer, than in a ‘standard’ treatment.

    We recommend that the Japanese “Reiji ho” approach is used to help Second Degree students to open to their intuitive side, since the approach is so simple and seems to work for most people even within a few minutes of practice. The resulting strong belief that the student is “intuitive” is a hugely empowering state and opens many doors.


    Reiki has the potential to make an amazing, positive difference to you and the people around you. Remember that Reiki is simplicity itself, and by taking some steps to work on yourself regularly, and share Reiki with the people close to you, you are embarking on a very special journey. How far you travel on that journey is governed by how many steps you take. Carry on with your Hatsurei and self-treatments, get to grips with the energies of CKR and SHK through regular meditation, find your own comfortable approach to carrying out distant healing, and open yourself to intuitive working. And have fun!

    Back to basics: Reiki First Degree

    People end up on First Degree courses for many reasons and come from an amazing variety of backgrounds, all attending for their own personal reasons. Reiki courses in the UK present a whole variety of approaches, some “traditional” Western-style, some more Japanese in content, some wildly different and almost unrecognisable, some free and intuitive, others dogmatic and based on rules about what you should always do and not do. Reiki is taught in so many ways, and students will tend to imagine that the way that they were taught is the way that Reiki is taught and practised by most other Reiki people.

    What I have tried to do in this article is to present a simple guide to the essence of First Degree: what it’s all about and what we should be doing and thinking about to get the most out of our experience of Reiki at this level. My words are addressed to anyone at First Degree level, or anyone who would like to review the essence of First Degree.

    First Degree is all about connecting to the energy, learning to develop your sensitivity to the flow of energy, working on yourself to develop your ability as a channel and to enhance self-healing, and working on other people. There are many approaches to doing these things, and I wanted below to touch on each area and to dispel some myths that may have been passed on.

    Connecting to the energy

    On your Reiki course you will have received some attunements or some empowerments. Attunements are not standard rituals within the world of Reiki and take many forms, some simpler and some more complex. They have evolved and changed greatly during their journey from teacher to teacher in the West. There is no “right way” to carry out an attunement and the individual details of a ritual do not matter a great deal. They all work. Equally, there is no “correct” number of attunements that have to be carried out at First Degree level. The number four is quoted often as being the “correct” number but this has no basis in Reiki’s original form, and whether you receive one, two, three or four rituals on your course, that is fine.

    On your course you may have received some “empowerments” rather than attunements, though these are less common. The word “empowerment”, or “Reiju empowerment”, refers to a connection ritual that has come to us from some Japanese sources, and is closer in essence to the empowerment that Mikao Usui conveyed to his students. Again, there is no correct number of empowerments that has to be carried out. One is enough but it is nice to do more.

    What we experience when receiving an attunement or an empowerment will vary a lot. Some people have fireworks and bells and whistles and that’s nice for them; other people notice a lot less, very little, or even nothing, and that’s fine too. What we feel when we have an attunement is not a guide to how well it has worked for us. Attunements work, and sometimes we will have a strong experience, but it’s not compulsory! Whether we have noticed a lot, or very little, the attunement will have given us what we need.

    Since in Mikao Usui’s system you would have received empowerments from him again and again, it would be nice if you could echo this practice by receiving further empowerments (or attunements) and perhaps these might be available at your teacher’s Reiki shares or get-togethers, if they hold them. But it is possible to receive distant Reiju empowerments and various teachers make them freely available as a regular ‘broadcast’. This is not essential, and your connection to Reiki once given does not fizzle out, but it would be a beneficial practice if you could receive regular empowerments from someone.

    Developing your Sensitivity to the energy

    People’s experience of energy when they first start working with Reiki can vary. Some people notice more than others, particularly in the early stages, and if we perhaps notice less going on in our hands when compared with another student on the course we can become disillusioned to an extent: that little voice in your head says “I know Reiki works for everyone… but it’s not going to work for me. I knew it wasn’t going to work for me”. Well if this describes your situation then I can say to you that Reiki will work for you, and is working for you, and the vast majority of Reiki people can feel the flow of energy through them in some way, though your particular ‘style’ of sensing the energy may not involve the more usual heat, fizzing, tingling, pulsing etc. that many people experience. There are a few Reiki Master/Teachers out there who feel absolutely nothing in their hands, but this is not common, and Reiki is still working for them.

    Sensitivity to the flow of energy develops over time, with practice. Some people are lucky enough to be able to feel quite a lot in their hands and in their bodies to begin with, but others have to be patient, trust that Reiki is working for them, and perhaps focus more on the feedback that they receive from the people that they treat, rather than what they feel – or don’t feel – in their hands.

    It would be worthwhile if all First Degree students spent some time regularly practising feeling energy: between your hands, around your cat or dog or your pot plant or a tree, around someone else’s head and shoulders, over someone’s supine body, noticing any differences in the sensation in your hands as you move your hands from one place to another. Don’t expect to experience a particular thing or a particular intensity of feeling. Be neutral and simply notice what experience you have and how that experience might change from one area to another.

    On some First Degree courses this process will be taught as “scanning”, where you hover your hands over the recipient’s body, drift your hands from one place to another, and notice any areas which are drawing more energy. This can provide some useful information in terms of suggesting additional or alternative hand-positions to use when you treat, and can suggest areas where you are going to spend longer when you treat.

    Working on yourself

    It is vital that after going on a First Degree course you establish a regular routine of working on yourself in order to develop your fledgling ability as a channel and to obtain the benefits that Reiki can provide in terms of balancing your life and self-healing. Most people decide to learn Reiki because they are looking for some personal benefits as well as looking to help other people, and the way to get the most out of the Reiki system is to work on yourself regularly.

    On your First Degree course you will have been taught a self-treatment method, perhaps a Japanese-style meditation but more likely the Western “hands-on” self-treatment method. You will most likely have been given a set of hand-positions to use, but please remember that these positions are not set in stone and, particularly if some of the hand positions are quite uncomfortable to use in practice, you will develop your own style. It is fine to change the hand positions based on what feels right from one self-treatment to another, and you should do what feels appropriate. There is no “correct” set of positions that you have to use, and each hand-position does not have to be held for a particular period of time. Treat for however long you have time for, and however long feels right for each hand-position you decide to use.

    Many people are taught that they have to do a “21 day self-treat”, and some people have the impression that they then do not need to self-treat any more. The “21 day” period has no real basis, and I can say that you ought to be thinking in terms of working on yourself long-term. To gain the greatest benefits from this wonderful system you need to persevere and make working with energy a permanent feature of your life with Reiki, a basic background practice, the effects of which will build up cumulatively as you continue to work with the energy.

    You may have been taught a series of energy exercises and meditations called “Hatsurei ho” which comes from Japanese Reiki, and I can commend this practice to you. It is a wonderful way of grounding, balancing, and enhancing you ability as a channel, and should be a regular part of your Reiki routine.

    Treating other people

    First Degree is also about starting to work on other people, a process which also benefits the giver, so plus points all round really! A few students may have been taught not to treat others at First Degree, or for a particular prescribed period, but this is an unnecessary restriction and Reiki can be shared with other people straight away.

    There are many different approaches to treating others, and we should not get bogged down with too many rules and regulations about how we ‘must’ proceed. Reiki can be approached in quite a regimented way in some lineages, and students may worry that if they are not remembering all the stages that they ‘have’ to carry out then they will not be carrying out the treatment properly. This is an unnecessary worry because treating other people is simple.

    So here is a simple approach that you can use: close your eyes, maybe put your hands in the prayer position, and take a few long deep breaths to calm you and still your mind. You should have in mind that the energy you will channel should be for the highest good of the recipient, but there is no particular form of words that you need to use when commencing your treatment. Now we are going to focus your attention on connecting to the energy. Imagine that energy is flooding down to you from above, flooding through your crown, through the centre of your body, down to your Dantien (an energy centre two fingerbreadths below your tummy button and 1/3rd of the way into your body). Imagine the energy building up and intensifying there. You are filling with energy. Now direct your attention towards the recipient and imagine that you are merging with them, becoming one with them. Feel compassion and enjoy the moment.

    You may now begin your treatment, and maybe it would be nice to rest your hands on their shoulders for a while, to connect to them and to get the energy flowing. What hand positions you use will vary depending on what you were taught – there are many variations – and they are all variations on a theme, a way of firing the energy from lots of different directions to give it the best chance of getting to where it needs to go. Hand-positions for treating others are not set in stone and do not have to be followed slavishly. They are just there as a set of guidelines to follow to build your confidence when treating others, and with time and practice you will start to leave behind these basic instructions and gear any treatment towards the needs of the recipient on that occasion, perhaps based on what you picked up when you were ‘scanning’ and perhaps based on intuitive impressions, where you feel drawn to a particular area of the body. Don’t try and work out ‘why’ you have felt drawn to a particular area of the body: just accept your impression and go with it.

    Reiki is basically a hands-on treatment method, though for reasons of comfort and propriety you will choose to hover your hands over the recipient in some areas rather than resting on the body. I do not plaster my hands over the recipient’s face or throat, for example, because I think that this is uncomfortable and unsettling for the person you are working on.

    You do not have to hover your hands for every hand position, as some people are taught, and equally you do not have to keep at least one hand in physical contact with the recipient’s body at all times, for fear of ‘losing’ your connection: your connection to the recipient is a state of mind, and where your hands are is irrelevant!

    As you treat, you should aim to feel yourself merging with the energy, becoming one with the energy, to imagine yourself disappearing into the energy, and this can give you a quite blissful experience. Your mind may wander, particularly in the early stages of your Reiki practice, but you do not need to worry about this. If you notice thoughts intruding, pay them no attention; let them drift on like clouds. If you make a big effort to try and get rid of your thoughts then you will have in your head the original thoughts and then all the new thoughts about getting rid of the first lot of thoughts… you have made things worse! Just bring your attention gently back to the recipient, to the energy, feel yourself disappearing into the energy, merging with the recipient, and let the energy flow; your treatment can become a wonderful meditation.

    It is not acceptable to chat to other people while giving a Reiki treatment. If you want to be an effective channel for the energy then you need to direct your attention to the work at hand and make sure you are not unduly distracted. For this reason, conversation between yourself and the recipient should be restricted. Reiki works best of you are still and focused, merging with the energy, in a gentle meditative state. Developing this state takes practice and you can’t do it properly if you are chatting.

    You do not need to stay for a particular set amount of time for each hand position. Though it would be probably be best to stay for a few minutes in each position, if in a particular hand position you feel a lot of energy coming through your hands then you can stay in that position for longer – sometimes a lot longer – until the sensation subsides and you can then move onto the next area. Your hands can guide you. Work from the head and shoulders, down the length of the body, and it is nice to finish with the ankles. Many people are taught to smooth down the energy field at the end of a session, and that is a nice thing to do, but remember that you do not have to follow any rituals slavishly, particularly in terms of any sort of ‘closing’ ritual; you do not need to touch the ground, you do not need to say a particular set of words, you do not need to visualise anything in particular, and you do not need to make any ‘set’ movements of your hands or body.

    The Reiki Precepts

    On your First Degree course you will have been introduced to the Reiki Precepts, or Reiki Principles, Mikao Usui’s “rules to live by’”. Just in case you have been given a slightly distorted version of the precepts, here is a more accurate translation:

    The secret of inviting happiness through many blessings
    The spiritual medicine for all illness
    For today only: Do not anger; Do not worry
    Be humble
    Be honest in your work
    Be compassionate to yourself and others

    Do gassho every morning and evening
    Keep in your mind and recite

    The founder, Usui Mikao

    The phrase “Be honest in your work” really means “be honest in your dealings with other people”.

    Any reference to ‘honouring your elders, parents and teachers’ is a later addition to the list, and is not what Mikao Usui taught.

    The precepts were the hub of the whole system, and it is said that as much spiritual development can come through following the precepts in your daily life as would come from any energy work, so they are important. If we can try to focus on living in the moment, not forever dwelling on the past or worrying about the future (fear is a distraction), if we can remind ourselves of the many blessings we have in our lives, if we can forgive ourselves for not being perfect and if we can see things from another’s point of view, if we can be compassionate towards ourselves as well as others, then we have gone a long way towards achieving a liberating sense of serenity and contentment. This is not something to be achieved overnight, of course: it is a work-in-progress.


    Reiki has the potential to make an amazing, positive difference to you and the people around you. Remember that Reiki is simplicity itself, and by taking some steps to work on yourself regularly, and share Reiki with the people close to you, you are embarking on a very special journey.

    How far you travel on that journey is governed by how many steps you take.

    Reiki Sensations

    In this article I would like to talk about the sort of things that students might feel – or not feel – when receiving attunements or empowerments, when working with energy and when treating or being treated, and the significance of these sensations. The article is particular addressed to people who have just taken a First Degree course or who are only just starting on their journey with Reiki, though it should be of interest to people at all Reiki levels.

    Attunements or empowerments

    (Please note that, to avoid unnecessary repetition, I am going to use the word ‘empowerment’ to refer both to Reiju empowerments and Western-style Reiki attunements.)

    When we arrive on a Reiki First Degree course, we probably have very little idea of what we might experience when going through an empowerment. If you read books about Reiki, everyone seems to be going through an exceptional, once-in-a-lifetime experience, but for most people it really isn’t like that.

    There is no way of predicting what an individual will experience when receiving an empowerment, whether in person or at a distance. You may have an amazing experience, or you may feel very little or nothing. It is not uncommon for people to see some colours or feel some heat or tingling or pulsing or pressure in various areas of their bodies. For some people an empowerment is a unique experience, profound, emotional, an experience that is almost unbelievable. For others very little happens.

    Sometimes you might find that there will be four people, say, on a course. Three people are talking about the surprising, or interesting, or special experiences that they just had, and one poor soul is sitting there thinking to themselves “I knew this wouldn’t work for me… I know Reiki is supposed to work for everyone, but it hasn’t worked for me”. We assume that if we notice a lot happening then the empowerment has ‘taken’, that it has worked really well, and we assume that if we felt very little – or if we felt nothing – then the connection ritual has not worked, that we haven’t been attuned, or we haven’t been attuned properly.

    But what a student experiences when they receive an empowerment is no guide as to the effectiveness of that empowerment. In fact what a student experiences really is irrelevant, because empowerments always work. Of course it is nice and reassuring to have the “bells and whistles and fireworks” – it helps you to believe that something definite has happened – but someone who has noticed all these things has not been more effectively empowered when compared with a student who felt very little or nothing.

    Experiences are interesting, but not important. They don’t mean anything in terms of whether, or how well, an empowerment has worked, because empowerments always work, no matter what the student feels or doesn’t feel.

    Experiencing energy

    People are all different, and people differ in terms of how sensitive they are to the flow of energy in the early stages of their work with Reiki. Sometimes people arrive on a Reiki course massively sensitive to the energy, and perhaps better able to sense subtle differences than is their teacher, and that’s nice for them, while other people may notice something very subtle, or perhaps nothing at all. Most people will feel something.

    So when playing with energy, most people will feel something in between their hands when they try to make an energy ball. Most people will feel something when they try to feel someone else’s energy field, or if they practise ‘scanning’ (assuming that there is something there to detect – there won’t always be). But not everyone will feel these things to begin with, and the people who do not feel anything should not be disheartened: because sensitivity to such things can develop with practice and repetition. Most people will find that, no matter how sensitive they find themselves when they first learn Reiki, when they start to work with the energy regularly – for example by carrying out Hatsurei ho every day, and by self-treating – their sensitivity to the energy will increase. But this is a work-in-progress and we may need to be patient. And we may find that our sensitivity to the energy never reaches our goal, or is never as great as other Reiki people that we come across. Maybe we are setting an unreasonable target for ourselves.

    And we should remember that sensitivity to the flow of energy is not the be-all and end-all of Reiki. We can work on ourselves and derive the many benefits that come through Reiki, no matter what we feel or don’t feel when we carry out hatsurei ho or self-treat. We can treat other people effectively no matter what we might feel or not feel in our hands. I have come across several successful and effective Reiki Master / Teachers who do not feel anything going on in their hands, and never have done. The reason why they continued their Reiki training, rather than giving up in the face of no physical sensations to encourage them, was because they practised on lots of people and they could see, by the positive responses they received from the recipients, that something was definitely going on, that they were doing good things, that Reiki was certainly doing something for the people they treated even though they couldn’t feel the energy.

    You may ask how you can treat someone when you can’t feel anything, or if you can’t scan very well at the moment. Well, most people in the world of Reiki are taught a standard set of hand positions to use when they treat, and these standard positions can be followed, giving general coverage over the body; the energy is drawn to areas of need, so that works perfectly well. Not everyone scans. Not everyone is taught how to scan. It isn’t a vital step in a treatment, but it can be a useful one to perform if you can do it.

    But if you can work intuitively then of course you can place your hands in the right places for each person you work on, and stay in each position for the most appropriate amount of time, not based on the sensations you are feeling in your hands but based on your intuitive impressions. Everyone can work intuitively with some practice, and you may well be taught how to carry out “Reiji ho” (a Japanese method for opening to your intuition during a treatment) on a Second Degree course. So an intuitive approach to treatments actually eliminates any advantage in being able to sense strongly in your hands.

    Sensations experienced by people you treat

    Now, you will not be surprised to know that the experiences of people being treated also varies a great deal. For some people, on some occasions, treatments are very strong. They might feel intense heat from the practitioner’s hands, see coloured lights, drift in and out of consciousness. And on other occasions that same person might feel the treatment to be mild and gentle. The energy is drawn by the recipient in amounts that are appropriate for them on that occasion, so the perceived ‘strength’ of any treatment is determined by the recipient’s need. The practitioner is just a necessary bystander in the treatment process.

    While some people seem to quite often notice a lot happening when they are treated, there are also people who feel very little or nothing when they receive a Reiki treatment, no matter who they receive the treatment from. If you have just started out on your Reiki journey and you just happen to treat one of these people, or a few of these people, as your first ‘clients’ then you may end up disheartened, thinking that their lack of a strong sensation means that you are ineffective as a practitioner. We want the recipient to feel a lot because that reassures us that we are doing things ‘correctly’, that we are effective as a channel for the energy. But things aren’t always so simple: while quite often there may be general correlation between what the practitioner feels and what the recipient feels (a very hot area for the practitioner is felt as a very tingly area, say, for the recipient) this correlation will not always be there and, sometimes, you might find a practitioner feeling a raging furnace in their hands, amazed at the strength of what is going on, while the recipient did not notice anything at all, and perhaps didn’t notice anything at all during the entire treatment!


    So really this whole article boils down to one simple phrase: “just for today, do not worry”. While it is perfectly natural to want to have some physical sensations to help us believe that we are really doing something when we use Reiki on ourselves and on other people, and while most people who learn Reiki will receive sufficient feedback to reassure them, this will not always happen. With practice and experience we start to let go of the need to be reassured by what we and others feel, and we come to realise that no matter what we feel or don’t feel, Reiki is working for us. But it can be difficult to accept this in the early stages, particularly if we are a little sceptical.

    If you aren’t feeling too much at the moment my advice to you is to follow the instructions you were given: carry out your Hatsurei ho every day, self-treat regularly, and get your hands on as many people as you can. Do short blasts on someone’s knee or shoulder, treat people in a straight-backed chair for 20-30 minutes, do full treatments; go with the time you have you have available. The important thing is to get the hands-on practice and you will find, if you treat a good cross-section of people, that you will receive from them the positive feedback that you need, and with sufficient practice you may find that you start to notice more with time.

    So be patient, don’t worry, and have fun with your Reiki.

    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!

    Intention in Reiki work

    do reiki attunements work

    It never fails to inspire me how this word *intention* can be so subtle, yet so powerful.

    Apparently, in the non-physical realms, (for use of a better word), as we think , we are there, as we intend, it happens etc. etc………………

    I have worked with the Universal energies for many years and I can still be absolutely amazed at how powerful our intentions can be.

    It is us who make it complicated and complex.

    At times sometimes we can feel very much on our own,  especially if you are like myself, and don’t experience any whistles and bells  with angels floating around the room!

    Initially it is wonderful to get proof when we first start to work with Reiki, but like most things, it balances out and starts to calm down. The *honeymoon phase* may be over for a while, but rest assured, it will return when you are least expecting it.

    This is what I love about channelling this energy, it surprises us time and time again.

    We don’t always get what we want though. It can manifest in many different guises, and that is why it is very helpful to be open, to be alert and to surrender to what the energy is presenting to us.

    Live the 5 Reiki Precepts. Be mindful. It is all happening NOW1

    Be childlike and trusting and put no conditions on anything!

    When something does manifest, for heavens sake *trust* what you are being shown or given. Your intuition is never wrong. It is the language of the Soul basically!

    Sometimes we think it is wishful thinking, we are imagining things, or it’s my mind playing tricks.

    Our Western chattering minds can tell us all sorts of untruths about ourselves, that we are not developed enough, that we cannot sense anything, and that everyone else is getting something except little old me!!!

    Getting our heads out of the way for a start is a good thing, asking Reik to assist us to be more open and trusting helps.

    You know, we are Light Beings having a human experience while in body. So why, as a Spiritual Being can’t you believe in yourselves? You come from Light and you will go back to Light.

    {You have just forgotten this temporarily}

    You are part of the whole Universal Cosmos. And it is awesome, is it not? You are Reiki, (and Reiki is just a word which came up later in Usui’s time on earth)  but now you know this *consciously* due to the courses we offer at Reiki-Evolution.

    O.K. I have went off track and twittered on a bit,  and I want to keep my message simple and uncomplicated.

    Reiki is meant to enjoyed, not endured!

    My students are very precious lovely Souls, who yearn for deeper and further knowledge, and I always talk a lot about Intention at the courses I host.

    What I put out, comes back to me. I am very much aware of these Universal Laws, therefore it is important to keep our thinking as kind and loving as we can. Example if we put out aggression, if we are judgemental of others etc, then that’s what we’ll come up against.

    Intolerant and unkind people! Usually with unbalanced egos!

    But yes, they are learning too and have a right to be here

    We are all playing out a drama prior to an agreement we made at some point!.

    For some it is challenging and painful, while others seem to skate through life. Who said life would be fair anyway? We create our experiences, consciously or unconsciously.



    A number of years ago, I had a student who completed all of her Reiki training with myself. This lady was paralysed from the waist down, due to a major road accident years before.

    She gets around very capably in her *jet set buggy* and has the most beautiful and positive attitude to life. Nothing is a problem she can’t overcome. She has walked the road of the *suffering* so to speak, and life’s challenges will not hold her back from what she has to do.

    She runs Reiki courses on a regular basis.

    Now, remembering that this lady cannot stand, has no physical power from the waist down, manages to transmit the most powerful Western Reiki attunements at her Master classes, purely by *Intention*

    She also transmits the Reiju Empowerments very beautifully, while sitting in her chair, all by *Intention* (And Usui Sensei did this also!) Without any rituals. All pure Intention!!!

    I have received from her and have experienced her transmissions, and have been witness to the uplifting and wonderful energies when she is working.

    This is *Intention* at work. She believes, *no she knows who she is* . A Lightworker!, following her inner guidance.

    And can I say that this Soul could teach us all about *humility*

    She works quietly and powerfully.


    Another example I would like to share with you is about a student of mine who came along to do her Reiki Two with me a few months ago.

    In the afternoon when we were going through the level 2 techniques etc, I was explaining to  her the *many hands* method.

    She brought in her ethereal hands and was being gently guided by the energies. She then asked me if it was O.K. to direct some of these energy hands to *her own back* which was painful and uncomfortable. I noticed that she had been stooping a bit.

    “Well, why not, I said, “we are all working as one, we are one, we are connected together as one energy, yes bring some of these hands around to your own back, and intend that the Reiki energy flows into your own back.

    (I was very tempted to put my own hands on her back, but wanted to see what would happen)

    Lo and behold, after a few moments she started to feel a warmth coming in, like a soft soothing balm being applied to the affected area, just being in the moment and experiencing this was a very powerful revelation for her and the other students.

    Yes, we are all one!


    This is the power of *Intention*

    No doubting, just trusting and being open to what is. It. may not always be what we would expect, but Reiki only works for the greater good of all concerned.

    I wish each of you a magical and transforming Reiki journey.

    May your path be strewn with opportunity and growth, and of course much joy!

    Like the Angels, lets take ourselves *lightly*


    Warm Wishes

    Margaret  Craig

    glasgow reiki course scotlandMargaret Craig is one of the Reiki-Evolution team of teachers offering Reiki training at all levels in and around Glasgow and beyond since 2001.

    Margaret has a nursing background which she discontinued a number of years ago. She is trained in many of the Complementary Therapies which she also practices. Hypnotherapy and Past Life Regression work also keep Margaret very busy in her Holistic practice.

    Glasgow Reiki courses

    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.




    Did you like this blog?

    If so, you are going to love this book…


    “Spot on! I’ve been teaching reiki for many years and I must say I wish this book had landed back then!

    I’ve put together courses and really would have loved a book like this to refer back to, it’s concise, clear, laid out really well and is informative and a mini support system to boot.

    If you’re entering the Reiki world with an aim to become Master/Teacher then having this book in your armoury will benefit you.”
    S J Price

    Teaching Reiki

    A Comprehensive Guide to Running Great Courses

    This is the book I really wish had been available when I started running Reiki courses in 1997. And it would have helped me greatly in my journey as a Reiki teacher thereafter.

    You’ll find a wealth of advice about how to set up and run your Reiki courses: read articles about planning and structuring your courses; find out how to explain things to students in a way that honours their learning preferences and personality types; discover how to create top quality course materials and how to support your students long-term.

    We look at the differences between ‘Western’ and Original Japanese Reiki and I explain how I created “Reiki Evolution” courses, which pass on the essence of Reiki’s original form. Read this book and you’ll know how to teach “Reiki Evolution” style: what to say, what to teach, and even how to teach Reiki in a ten-week ‘Evening Class’ format.

    This book will be of interest to anyone who is about to start teaching Reiki, or to established Reiki teachers who are interested in enhancing the quality of their courses.

    Read the contents list before you order, if you like, by clicking on this link: Table of contents

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    Try our distant empowerments

    distant reiju empowerments, attunements
    Distant Reiju empowerments for you to tune into every Monday

    Hidden away on an obscure page on our web site (I now realise!) is something that I would like to make a bit more prominent, and that is that I send out a distant Reiju empowerment that any person who has learned Reiki can ‘tune into’. You can tune into the empowerment any time on a Monday, wherever in the world you are (I send out the empowerments in advance with the intention that they can be received the following Monday, whenever that might be local time, you see; intention is the key!). You can tune in more than once on a Monday if you’re feeling so inclined. 🙂

    There are definite benefits associated with receiving regular Reiju empowerments, and indeed regular attunements. In fact, for a long time, International Reiki Master Teacher William Rand has recommended that Reiki Masters get together to attune each other, not because the effect of attunements wear off (they don’t) but because being re-attuned gives a lovely ‘kick-start’ to your system, hitting the ‘reset’ button and helping to clear stuff out: rather like a spring clean.

    And it’s the same with Reiju: the effects of Reiju don’t wear off, but there are definite benefits associated with receiving this lovely, energising and balancing gift regularly if you can: not essential, but beneficial to receive nevertheless.

    What is Reiju?

    You could see Reiju as a simple, Japanese version of an attunement, which was used by a group of Usui Sensei’s surviving students to transfer what Usui used to bestow on students using intent. In the original Japanese form of Reiki, empowerments would have been received week in, week out, throughout a student’s life with Reiki, at First Degree, Second Degree and beyond. Some people are making Reiju empowerments available at their Reiki Shares by way of echoing this tradition, but not all students can attend evening get-togethers. Many people within the world of Reiki do not have access to empowerments at all: maybe their Reiki Master has not learned the technique yet, or maybe they have lost contact with their teacher.

    Distant attunements or empowerments work incredibly well, and of course there is no difference between an attunement or empowerment given in person or given at a distance; distance is not relevant to the practice of Reiki.


    Each week I will perform a distant Reiju empowerment, done with the intention that it will be received by any Reiki person who wants to ‘tune themselves in’ to the ‘broadcast’. The empowerment can be received any time on a Monday.

    This is what you can do to receive your empowerment:

      If you know about Hatsu Rei Ho, the basic energy exercises of Japanese ‘Gakkai’ Reiki, then go through the sequence as normal. When you have performed Seishin Toitsu for a few minutes, stay with your hands in Gassho and say to yourself ‘I will receive my empowerment from Taggart now’.

      If you are not familiar with Hatsu Rei Ho, simply get yourself comfortable in a chair, with your eyes closed and your hands in the prayer position. Take a few deep breaths to calm yourself, and then say to yourself ‘I will receive my empowerment from Taggart now’.

    You may notice a lot happening; you may notice very little. What you notice may continue for less than minute, or you might be experiencing things for 5-10 minutes. It is quite variable… see what happens, and post a comment below to let us know what you noticed!