The first time I encountered Reiki, a classmate put her hands over the crown of my head. She said she was channeling energy through her hands. I didn’t feel anything, except maybe the warmth from her hands floating above my head. But I had a scratchy feeling in the back of my throat hinting that a full-blown cold was on its way, and I figured a little healing work would be a good thing.
That night, I had a fever, sore throat, cold sweats and shivering. I felt dizzy and light-headed. It was one of the worst colds I’ve ever had – but the next morning I felt completely well. I felt I had gone through a whole two-week cold in one evening! I certainly wanted to believe this Reiki had something to do with it, but I’d never experienced anything like it. I wanted to learn more.
I found out that one learns Reiki by having it handed down to him or her by a Reiki Master. The student receives an attunement, which involves the Master drawing ancient symbols over the student’s head and hands. The attunement opens up the channels that allow the energy to flow through. It seemed all a little strange to me, but I decided to learn the first of three degrees, and after I received my attunements, I could definitely feel immense heat flowing from my hands, a heat I’d never felt before.
I learned that Reiki had been handed down from Master to student since the early 20th century when Mikao Usui founded this form of energy healing. Loosely translated, Reiki means “energy of the spirit” in Japanese, and is often translated as “Universal Life Energy.” There are many forms of Reiki now, but the one I have learned and now teach has been handed down from Master (meaning teacher) to student since Usui first discovered it. This form of Reiki involves three degrees. First degree means a person can give hands-on treatments. Second degree means a practitioner can send energy to anyone, anywhere, and any time. Third degree, or Mastership, means that person can teach Reiki to others.
Reiki is different from other forms of energy healing because of this attunement process. Anyone can practice Reiki by being attuned. The attunement opens up the channel by declaring to the universe that the practitioner is an open vessel for healing energy. Once a person is attuned, he or she is open to this energy flow for life. The attunement also protects the practitioner by declaring only a one-way flow of energy. Reiki does not require any visualization or other techniques to “turn it on,” but is always available simply by placing your hands on another being, drawing the symbols used to send it, or even just bringing it to mind. It flows regardless of if the recipient “believes in it” (though people resistant to healing for whatever reason will not allow it to flow into their bodies).
There are many ways of passing on the attunements, depending on what the Master was taught and what he or she believes. Some people give four attunements for first degree while others give only one. Different Masters charge different amounts for their classes. Some will teach multiple degrees in a weekend, while others stress that a practitioner needs time to assimilate the new energy flowing through his or her body before moving on to the next level. The key to choosing a teacher is to ask lots of questions, decide what is important to you, and follow your intuition.
An attunement opens up a channel of energy, and once you have been attuned, new levels of energy flow through you. This heightened energy generates a cleansing process in your life as your physical, emotional, and mental states adjust to your increased level of universal energy. The cleansing period occurs for roughly three weeks following the attunements, and can manifest in many ways. You may feel new or particularly strong emotions. You may gain new friendships, or end old ones that no longer serve you. You will probably experience vivid or strange dreams with highly symbolic images. Old memories may surface, asking you to come to peace with them. The attunement process not only opens up a channel of energy, it attunes your whole being to a higher level of existence, and that can mean many different things to different people.
There are many thoughts as to what an attunement actually is, and what it does. Some say that the first four attunements open the top four chakras: heart, throat, third eye and crown. The final attunement for first degree seals open the crown, connecting you with Reiki energy for the rest of your life. Others believe it is more esoteric, having to do with consciously declaring the intention to open to Reiki energy. The symbols are also sometimes called “keys,” and drawing them opens “doors” to other levels. These levels might be thought of as different dimensions, different degrees of listening to Spirit, or whatever makes sense to you in terms of energy.
When you give a Reiki treatment to someone, you place your hands directly on their body, or a few inches above the surface of their skin, depending on what is most comfortable. The recipient usually feels immense heat flow from your hands. They may feel a softening in their tissues as everything relaxes. Occasionally they will feel increased pain as the energy intensifies the healing process. For instance, when I put my hand over a cut it may burn a little, but then the pain goes away completely and the injury heals very quickly. The Reiki practitioner will feel a tingling sensation in his or her hands, and can feel where the energy is flowing. As one’s sensitivities develop, the practitioner can sense things going on in the recipient’s body. Different practitioners experience this information in different ways. I tend to sense things not quite like seeing it and not quite like feeling it, but somewhere between the two. I see an area in the body in my mind’s eye, and I feel a sort of quality about it. Sometimes I get images that have no direct correlation to a specific area of the body, but to the overall person, like an image of a small child being cradled by huge hands. Some people smell things. Others literally hear sounds or voices.
Reiki has many aspects to it, from the attunement process to giving and receiving energy. Different people work with it differently, for it is a reflection of Spirit/God/Goddess being channeled through each individual. It is also pure healing energy, and cannot do harm. Reiki has profoundly changed my life, from my first experience with it when I moved through an intense illness in one night, to each class I teach and every person I talk to about Reiki. When I am filled with doubt about my place in the universe, Reiki is the one thing that always holds true for me and always reminds me that there is more to life than meets the eye. I’ve personally experienced people regaining consciousness, having out-of-body experiences, remembering pieces of past lives, and being relieved of serious pain or illness through the application of Reiki. The energy is a very powerful, very profound force for healing and transformation. I encourage you to learn more and see what it has to offer your life, and the life of those you love.