Reiki Learning – 1 system, 4 levels, many names
Based on questions I get from clients, students and potential students, I feel there is a fair bit of confusion about the Reiki learning journey. This post seeks to remove the confusion and present what’s important to know in order to choose between the many courses on offer.
“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose,
By any other name would smell as sweet.”
— Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet
Over the years, many Reiki Masters have added words to their programmes so that they are now Something-Something Reiki instead of just Reiki. This is fine and they are all good programmes. Just so long as we understand that Reiki refers to an energy and a healing modality and neither of these changes with an add-on to the name. The Reiki energy is the universal life-supporting energy of creation, known as ki in Japanese, qi in Chinese and prana in Sanskrit. As a healing modality, Reiki is a system established by Dr. Mikao Usui in Japan in the early part of the 20th century.
Of course, Reiki Masters (teachers) bring their own energy and their own understanding to their teachings; but in the end, Reiki remains Reiki, no matter what specialised name you give it. Most Reiki Masters attune their students to bring their energies into better balance and to open their chakras (energy centres) to more effectively channel the Reiki energy. They teach the Reiki healing modality, the chakra system (which is linked to kundalini energy) and principles for living well that have come down to us from Dr. Usui. At the higher levels, they also teach the Reiki symbols – used in different kinds of healing – which also have come down to us from Dr. Usui.
The Reiki Journey.
First, let us understand that learning Reiki is a journey. It is not something to be squeezed into a single weekend. This is because it is much more than just book learning. It is practice, experience and growth. And it is a journey for you – if you decide to help others with Reiki, it is still part of your journey (as well as theirs). But, before you rush to help others, do heal yourself. In my experience, anyone over the age of 15 definitely needs some healing. So, do start with yourself. After your short Level 1 course, you will be able to heal others too – but please do not neglect yourself!
The Teacher. The first step on your journey is to choose your teacher. This means you need to know who exactly will initiate you into Reiki and teach you how exactly to do it. Choosing the right teacher is more important than choosing the right curriculum because a lot of what you learn will depend on the energy, experience, teaching ability and attitudes of your teacher.
How do you choose the best teacher for yourself? All Reiki Masters are good teachers – they all help us to move forward in life. But who is a really good fit for you? See who you can connect with – look at their face (even in a photo) and see how you react to that. Does it bring a smile to your face, do you see something here you like, do you connect in some way? If not, look a little deeper – read comments from previous students and clients (often available on the Reiki Master’s website) or, if you know any of them, talk to them. Read your potential teacher’s blogs or descriptions on their website to get a sense of their values and attitudes. Drop them an email or other message and see how they respond. Finally, check how much experience and what qualifications they have.
Traditionally, there were 3 levels of Reiki learning. Today, most Masters offer an optional level for those who want the self-mastery that comes with the final level, but do not want to become Reiki teachers. It is best to take your time to master each step before moving on to the next. I recommend a gap of 3 months or more between levels. Also, be mindful that everyone does not have to be a Reiki Master. Some may usefully stop at Levels 1, 2 or 3.
Level 1 Reiki Level 1, traditionally known as the 1st degree, introduces you to the concept of Reiki and all that it offers, and teaches you how to channel the energy to yourself and others. Most importantly, it includes 4 attunements to bring your own energies into better balance and make you more open to receiving the Reiki energy you are learning to channel. The teacher uses the Reiki energy, channelled through her/his own hands, to attune your chakras. By the end of this short course, you will be able to do Reiki for yourself, other people, plants and animals – just so long as they are within touching distance.
After the course, it is important for you to practice regularly, especially on yourself. I teach this level over 2 or 3 mornings, and then ask my students to do 21 days of self-practice to help them reach a certain level of wellness, and to make Reiki practice an easy habit.
Level 2 Reiki Traditionally known as the 2nd degree, this level truly expands – and deepens – your practice. It also adds much greater flexibility to your practice. In addition to doing hands-on healing for yourself and others, you will now also be able to heal people (or animals) half-way across the world! That is the power of distance Reiki. You will be able to heal relationships, cleanse crystals and clear spaces (such as a room or a house). You will be able to send positive, healing energy to several people at once, and energy to strengthen your own goals.
You receive 3 attunements at Level 2 and learn 3 of the 4 Reiki symbols to empower you with accelerated self-growth and greater flexibility in your healing abilities. Please understand, though, that there is a difference between “healing” and “cure.” For one thing, Reiki practitioners believe a person must heal themselves, with support from their “healers” no doubt but not without their own willingness to heal. For another, Reiki heals not just the physical symptoms of an ailment, but also the underlying root causes.
Level 3 Reiki This is a level that has been added by many Reiki Masters in recent times. It gives you all the benefits of the final, Reiki Masters level, without qualifying you to teach Reiki. This is usually a longer course than Levels 1 and 2. There are fresh attunements and you learn the remaining fourth symbol of Reiki, the most powerful of all. The attunements come at the end of a process of deeper understanding and greater growth, when you are truly ready for the energy of the attunements.
I teach this course over 6 sessions, ideally spread out over 6-8 weeks. But teaching methodologies vary and the Reiki Master will bring a lot of their own understanding of life to their teaching of this level.
Reiki Masters This is level is meant for those who want to teach Reiki. You do not need to do this if you simply want to practise Reiki to heal yourself and others. If you have already done your Level 3, this can be taught over 2 or 3 sessions. It is simply a matter of learning how to attune and teach others.
A Controversial Term In addition to these internationally accepted levels of Reiki ability, some people also call themselves Reiki Grandmasters. Internationally, however, this title is reserved for the founder of the Reiki healing modality, Dr. Mikao Usui, and the two healers and teachers who immediately followed him, Dr. Hayashi and Mrs. Takata.
Clearer Understanding So, now with this clearer understanding of Reiki, you are ready to embark on your own journey of healing and growth for yourself and others.
If you still have questions, feel free to email me (firstname.lastname@example.org)