So You Want To Learn Reiki? Read This First

So You Want To Learn Reiki? Read This First Hero Image
Photo: Hayden Williams

As a highly sensitive person, I love the idea of being enveloped in an all-encompassing, universal energy as I move throughout my day. From getting out of bed in the morning to working in my office to going for an evening run—it gives me great comfort to know that I am constantly surrounded by a force field of invisible vibrations that have the power to enhance my general well-being. This longstanding appreciation for what the eyes cannot see recently compelled me to dive in and learn more about how I can utilize these energies to better not only my own life, but the lives of others—so I decided to spend a weekend becoming a certified Reiki 1 & 2 practitioner.

First, what is Reiki & how does it work?

Reiki is a Japanese technique that is used to heal physical and mental trauma, and to support mental clarity and spiritual well-being. In Japanese, the word "rei" refers to a higher intelligence that permeates all living and nonliving entities and guides the inherent functioning of the universe. The word "ki" refers to the nonphysical energy that flows through everything that is alive, including plants, animals, and human beings—because of this, ki is also often called "life force energy," and is known as qi or chi from other lineages. The combination of these two words is what defines reiki as "spiritually guided life-force energy."

To administer Reiki, a practitioner channels life force energy through his or her hands unto another. It's said that the aforementioned spiritual guidance enables the Reiki to flow through the affected parts of the subject's energy field and charges them with positive energy. It raises awareness in and around the physical body where negative thoughts and feelings are contained. This causes the negative energy—such as stress, anxiety, physical pain, sadness, confusion, etc.—to loosen its grip, allowing the touch of the Reiki healer to swoop in and clarify the energy pathways.

As previously mentioned, I’ve always been intrinsically drawn to the idea of energy healing—healing through means that aren’t able to be seen by the naked eye. My fascination only grew more concrete when, as the Content Editor for mindbodygreen’s trainings and classes, I had the privilege of creating a Reiki Healing 101 class with Reiki Master Kelsey Patel. Being able to witness her performing reiki firsthand, as well as having many an in depth conversation about the value the practice has provided to her, soon had me hooked on the idea of becoming a practitioner, and someday, a master.

How I became a Reiki practitioner.

Reiki is different from almost all other healing modalities. It’s actually transferred to each student from a Reiki master during what is called an attunement process. This process is said to open the crown, heart, and palm chakras and creates a unique connection between the student and the teacher. Once you have received a Reiki attunement, you will have Reiki for the remainder of your life. It does not "wear off" and you can never lose it.

I did my research and found Kristin Reed, a local Reiki master in Brooklyn, New York, who gives attunements out of her home. Her experience in energy work is extensive, she keeps her groups small, and I like the idea of learning about the practice in someone’s personal spiritual space. The first day was dedicated to Reiki Level 1: The First Degree training, and the second day was for Reiki Level 2: The Second Degree training.

Reiki Level 1.

There are actually three levels of Reiki (or four, depending on your teacher) for which one must be attuned before becoming a master—starting with Reiki Level 1: The First Degree. This level is all about learning the history of Reiki, proper hand placements, the basics of how to use Reiki on others, and the practice of self-Reiki, which encourages students to use the technique on themselves in order to work through personal hardships. However, in my opinion, the most important piece of the Level 1 training is to ensure that the practitioner's energy channels are opened on a physical level, enabling him or her to connect to the universal life force energy, which flows from the cosmos through the crown of the head and into the heart and hands. This experience often causes many practitioners to report feeling sensations in their palms after the first attunement. I indeed felt an intense tingling while some of the other students experienced coolness, heat, or pressure.

As mentioned, the attunement process is the focal point of each level of training. Especially in Level 1, stagnant energy is moved and/or dissolved, allowing the student to heal. My Reiki master warned us that this first attunement can often be uncomfortable and exhausting and that we may leave that evening feeling drained or anxious, as many repressed insecurities and pains may rise to the surface. Ultimately, this was all part of the spiritual detox process, and these matters needed to be addressed before they could ever begin to be resolved.

Before we go any further, I am very aware that this all might sound a bit “out there” and can be hard to fathom. Until I actually tried it, I was curious, but always a bit skeptical of Reiki. However, when speaking with other healers about it touched me so deeply (in one instance, I almost started crying), and when various parts of my body began tingling, getting warmer, or getting colder during my first attunement, and then when those giving the attunement actually recognized these same changes in my body as well—without even laying a finger on me—I can wholeheartedly say I am no longer a skeptic. As you can see, learning about Reiki truly requires you to open your mind, and this is one huge perk of the practice that I have been able to translate to other parts of my life, very much to my benefit.

Photo: Anne Marie Rooney

Reiki Level 2.

After completing Level 1, I felt energized and full of hope. My faith and belief in the power of things we cannot see and perhaps don’t fully understand was heightened, and ever since, I’ve felt more mystified, excited, and intrigued by the universe at large.

Once we received our Level 2 attunement, we dove right into learning all about, as well as how to draw, the major Reiki symbols. These sacred symbols are each associated with a specific healing frequency, such as power, emotional wellbeing, and balance. They are drawn in midair before a healing session begins to help practitioners focus their energy on the most relevant frequency for the person they are practicing on, and to help them connect more deeply to the universal energy.

We also learned how to channel Reiki beyond the boundaries of time and space (i.e., distance Reiki). Through time transcendence, we can heal ourselves and others of any physical or emotional traumas that occurred at any point in life—even as small children. Through space transcendence, we can heal those we love from afar. To practice this, I brought in a photo of my mom that day (she lives in Wisconsin) and channeled some positive vibrations her way!

Up next: Reiki Level 3 & Master.

Though I haven’t had the opportunity to participate yet, the final phase of my Reiki education will be Reiki Level 3: The Third Degree and Reiki Master trainings. Most practitioners will take the Level 3 and Master training at the same time, as they are often the same designation. The definition of a Reiki master is anyone who has received the master attunement and master symbol, understands how to give all the attunements, and has actually taught a Reiki class, thus demonstrating their ability to pass Reiki on to others. Those who have taken Reiki master training but haven’t taught at least one person would not qualify as Reiki masters but rather Third Degree practitioners—that's the distinction between Third Degree and Reiki master.

As far as a timeline for becoming a Reiki master, it was recommended to me that at least six months to one year should pass between my Level 2 and Master training. Because becoming a master requires such a deep commitment to the practice, it’s important that one continually utilizes their Reiki healing abilities, meditates on which spiritual path feels right for them, and spends significant time considering and selecting a master to learn from. I hope to complete my master training sometime next year.

I personally haven’t yet used my certification to treat paying clients, but I have used it on friends and family. My partner has horrible back issues, and I performed Reiki on his back every evening for about a week. Very shortly thereafter, his omnipresent back pain had disappeared, and he hasn’t experienced any since! Sure, this could be attributed to other factors, but given the timing, the fact that he did not change any other habits at all, and that absolutely nothing he had tried in the past had been able to relieve his pain, I’m giving credit to the reiki!

How to find a Reiki master teacher.

As I find with most things, the best option for finding where you can become a certified Reiki practitioner is to peruse the internet and find out what you can about others’ experience in the trainings you’re interested in. Technically, you don’t need to be certified by any overarching organization to be considered a true Reiki master, but I did find my teacher through the International Center for Reiki Training website, which has an extensive list of certified masters in my area.

My Reiki journey continues.

Learning Reiki has been such a gift for myself, and I hope for the people I’ve practiced it on. While I’m definitely itching to participate in a master program, I know that I still have a lot of practicing and studying to do before I feel confident enough to call myself a true Reiki master. Until then, I will continue utilizing the beauty of universal life-force energy to shape my world and the worlds of those around me—and for now, this is enough.

If you’re interested, I highly recommend finding a training near you, so we can all band together and raise the vibrations of the world at large.

If you want to learn more about Reiki, check out our class first.


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