When I first began the journey to become a Reiki practitioner, I knew little about the different levels of mastery and their meanings. I didn't really understand what the attunement process was all about — though I had some friends who had achieved Master level status.
In some ways I believe I benefitted from going in with a clear and open mind. However, a general understanding of the levels beforehand can not only help those looking to become a Reiki practitioner, but also those who are searching to work with a practitioner.
There are typically three (sometimes four) levels that can be attained, and these are centered on the attunement or empowerment process, combined with education and practice. While certain components are standard in achieving each of the levels, there is a wide variance in the way Reiki Masters (instructors) arrange their courses.
The Reiki attunement is what makes Reiki unique to other forms of healing touch and energy work. This ceremony, called Reiju (Ray-joo) in Japanese, is performed by the Reiki Master and opens and expands the main energy channels of the student's body, allowing universal energy, also known as Qi/Chi/Ki, to flow more freely and deeply.
Because of this opening process, the attunement also does what Reiki is meant to do — clear blockages. As a result, this can create significant energy changes within the individual and many will undergo an intense period of self-growth.
Here is a breakdown of the three levels of Reiki and each of the attunements:
1. Reiki Level 1: The First Degree
Level 1 is a practitioner's initiation into Reiki and is open to anyone. The focus during Level 1 is on opening the energy channels on a physical level, allowing the practitioner to connect to the universal life force energy, which flows from the cosmos through the crown of the head and down to the heart and hands.
Many Reiki Masters emphasize self-Reiki as the goal of the Level 1 designation, encouraging students to focus on practicing Reiki on themselves, thereby working through their own obstacles. The Reiki Level 1 attunement was initially given in four separate attunements. There are some Reiki Masters who still teach using this method. However, many Reiki Masters provide the Level 1 attunement in one single attunement. Many experience physical symptoms of energy in their palms after the first attunement — including tingling, coolness or heat. Typically the Level 1 course also includes an overview of the history of Reiki, hand placements and self and group practice.
2. Reiki Level 2: Second Degree
Level 2 is often defined by a focus on practicing Reiki on others, as well as an expanded opening of the energy channels. Additionally students receive the "Reiki symbols" and Level 2 attunement. The Reiki symbols allow the practitioner to connect more deeply to the universal energy, as well as draw on the qualities that the symbols represent. This includes the ability to provide distance Reiki, or sending healing energy to individuals wherever they may be.
This symbol also may be used to clear energy blockages across time, as well as physical locations. Due to the intensity of the attunement process, some Reiki Masters recommend that at least 21 days to a full three months pass between receiving the Level 1 and Level 2 attunements (Level 1 is required to receive Level 2).
However, there are many Reiki Masters that combine Level 1 and Level 2 into a combination class, and may even teach these over the course of one weekend. The Level 2 attunement is typically given in one single attunement, with a focus on opening up the central channel even more, with an emphasis on the Heart Chakra. Typically Level 2 also includes practice in drawing the symbols, invoking their qualities, as well as distance healing.
3. Reiki Level 3: Third Degree & Reiki Master
In many courses, the Third Degree and Reiki Master are the same designation. However some teachers separate Level 3 from Reiki Master, in order to emphasize the difference between receiving the Master attunement, from being trained in attuning new students or practitioners.
The Reiki Master Level is traditionally considered the teacher's level — a practitioner who has received the energy and knowledge to attune new Reiki practitioners. Many receive the Master attunement, along with the corresponding symbol, yet don't feel comfortable or practiced in properly attuning others — hence the distinction between Third Degree and Reiki Master.
Becoming a Reiki Master also represents a deep commitment to the Reiki practice, and some feel that significant time should pass between achieving the Second Degree status and Master Level. Because the Master Level is taught in a wide range of methods, you should meditate on which path feels right for you and spend time and consideration in selecting a Master.
The Reiki Levels provide a general organization of the progression of Reiki mastership. Because Reiki courses are taught and organized in a wide variety of methods, it's important to research and find both the format and instructor that is right for you.