Reiki teachings claim that Reiki is inexhaustible and that it can be used to induce a healing effect. Practitioners claim that anyone can gain access to this energy by means of an attunement process carried out by a Reiki Master.

Reiki is described by adherents as a holistic therapy which brings about healing on physical, mental, emotional and spiritual levels. The belief is that the energy will flow through the practitioner's hands whenever the hands are placed on, or held near a potential recipient. Some teachings stress the importance of the practitioner's intention or presence in this process, while others claim that the energy is drawn by the recipient's injury to activate or enhance the natural healing processes. Further to this notion, the belief is that the energy is "intelligent", meaning that the Reiki knows where to heal, even if a practitioner's hands are not present in the specific area.


The teaching of Reiki outside of Japan is commonly divided into three levels, or degrees, the most common of which are described below. Traditional Japanese Reiki was taught intensively under Usui's guidance, with weekly meditation meetings where Reiki was given and used to scan the body in order to supply an energetic diagnosis, which is known in Japanese as Byosen-hō, as a Japanese Reiki treatment is intuitive and specifically directed in comparison to a Western Reiki treatment, which tends to generally treat the whole body instead of specific areas.

First degree

The first degree Reiki course, sometimes given the Japanese name of Shoden ("初伝" in Japanese, meaning "'Elementary/Entry Teachings"), teaches the basic theories and procedures. A number of "attunements" are given to the student by the teacher. Students learn hand placement positions on the recipient's body that are thought to be most conducive to the process in a whole body treatment. Having completed the first degree course, a Reiki practitioner can then treat himself and others with Reiki. Course duration is dependent on the Reiki Master Teacher; some hold four sessions spread over a number of days, others hold two sessions over two days.

Second degree

In the second degree Reiki course, sometimes given the Japanese name of Okuden ("奥伝" in Japanese, meaning "Inner Teachings"), the student learns the use of a number of symbols that are said to enhance the strength and distance over which Reiki can be exerted. This involves the use of symbols to form a temporary connection between the practitioner and the recipient, regardless of location and time, and then to send the Reiki energy. Another attunement is given, which is said to further increase the capacity for Reiki to flow through the student, as well as empowering the use of the symbols. Having completed the second level, the student can work without being physically present with the recipient - a practise known as "distant healing". Students in Japan sometimes only attained the Second Degree after a period of 10, sometimes 20, years of practice under Usui's tutorship, and the majority of student never attained the Third Degree.

Third degree

Through the third degree, or "master training", sometimes given the Japanese name of Shinpiden ("神秘伝" in Japanese, meaning "Mystery Teachings"), the student becomes a Reiki Master. In Reiki terminology, the word "master" does not imply spiritual enlightenment, and is sometimes changed to "Master/Teacher" in order to avoid this confusion. According to the specific branch of Reiki, either one or more attunements can be carried out and the student learns a further symbol. Having completed the master training, the new Reiki Master can attune other people to Reiki and teach the three degrees. The duration of the master training can be anything from a day to a year or more, depending on the school and philosophy of the Reiki Master giving the training. There are commonly two types of Master: Master Teacher and Master Practitioner; a Master Teacher is a Master of Reiki and also has the ability to teach Reiki (i.e., attune others), though a Master Practitioner is a Master of Reiki but does not teach Reiki.


There is much variation in training methods, speed of completion (i.e., attunement), and costs. Though there is no accreditation and central body for Reiki, nor any regulation of its practice, there exist organisations within the United Kingdom that seek to standardise Reiki and Reiki practises, such as the UK Reiki Federation and the Reiki Council (UK). Reiki courses are also available online, although traditionalists state that attunement must be done in person in order to take effect, as the Reiki Master/Teacher doing the attunement must be able to actually touch the energy field of the person being attuned. A distance Reiki attument is not always recognised by certain Reiki federations, such as with the UK Reiki Federation, who state, "[a]ll training must have been "in-person" or "face to face" (distant attunements are not accepted)." Some traditionalists also hold the ideal that methods that teach Reiki "quickly" cannot yield as strong an effect, because there is no substitute for experience and patience when mastering Reiki.

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