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Reiki Blog Hop: Reiki Recommendations for Beginners
Welcome to the Reiki Blog Hop! I was the wrangler for this hop and proposed our topic. I often get inquiries from people who are curious about Reiki and energetic healing. Specifically, they ask me about learning Reiki and if I have any upcoming classes. I have cut back considerably on my Reiki teaching schedule, so lately I have been referring people to colleagues in the area. But I hate to tell someone to simply sign up for a class — especially when they might get lured into one of many low-quality Reiki classes available out there! I’ve taken to recommending certain books as a starting place, but in the past my approach has been different. I was curious how other Reiki students and teachers approach this issue! So I put it out to our dedicated Reiki Blog Hop team to see what our brainstorm brings. I proposed the topic of “Reiki Recommendations for Beginners.” Below are the different suggestions I’ve given to Reiki newbies over the years. Hop around the circle using the navigation links to hear what our other bloggers have to say!
Reiki Recommendations for Beginners
Whether to Initiate a Practice with Initiation
Once I was talking with one of my early teachers, and she said that the Reiki initiation or attunement needs to be the first thing experienced, even before the precepts. Perhaps, despite all my training and the full extent of my embracing of Japanese philosophy, this is where my Western gumption and DIY attitude rears its willful head. I don’t like to approach Reiki Ryōhō as being first and foremost about the initiatory lineage, which can be quite apostolic in its succession.
I highly value the energetic initiations–that’s not where my problem lies. In fact, I have sometimes invited those trained in another energetic healing modality to step in to a Reiki shares session, and have been surprised that their energy and approach to a session is so different from that of Reiki. In my mind and experience someone is not a Reiki practitioner unless they have been properly trained under a properly trained teacher.
The Practicality of Practice
However, many teachers believe that the attunement is the only, or at least the single most important, aspect of Reiki training. As a result, they center classes around receiving an attunement with very little other instruction offered. As a teacher, my focus is not only on opening the door to the Reiki energy through the blessing of reiju, the initiation ritual, but instilling in my students the necessity of keeping the channel open and clear through the regular practice of the techniques taught. In the primary lineage I teach, Usui Reiki Ryōhō through the Internation House of Reiki (IHR) lineage, the five pillars of the system of Reiki are: the precepts, the breathing meditations, the palm healing, the symbols and mantras (in this approach reserved for Level 2 and higher), and the initiations.
Reiki to me is about regular practice. To this end, I encourage students to try working with the precepts and/or breathing meditations even before taking a class. This allows them to see how a regular practice impacts their lives. This is an experience that can’t be taught, but ultimately can be the most transformative aspect of the system.
In order to guide the student into an initial experience of Reiki, here are my top three recommendations.
Recommendation 1: Attend a Talk
When I was first building my Reiki business I prepared a series of talks that I offered usually for free or very low cost through local meetup groups, churches, and metaphysical store lecture night series. Each talk had a slightly different focus. One shared quotes from the founder of the system of Reiki, Mikao Usui. One expressed the Japanese philosophical idea of Oneness, which is sadly foreign to most Western practitioners. Other talks recommended the Japanese traditional approach that starts with spiritual development, from which healing arises, as opposed to the contemporary approach of starting — and frequently not progressing beyond — the basics of healing the body. I offered five or six talks in total.
But each talk contained two things in common: the Reiki precepts and an introduction to meditation. I would guide the group through a basic meditation and then have them practice the gokai sansho (saying the Reiki precepts three times) as a call-and-response with me. One of my teachers, Hyakuten Inamoto, says that Reiki can’t be described, only experienced. I had developed these talks before I studied with him! But I share his belief and wanted to create an experience of Reiki for those interested.
Recommendation 2: Experience a Session
I honestly had forgotten about receiving a session as a first approach to Reiki until one of my students made a comment to this effect in the Reiki Blog Hop Facebook group. Of course! Receiving a Reiki session is probably how the vast majority of practitioners are introduced to the system. Back in 2003, before I learned Reiki, a couple of my friends had started talking about it, but it wasn’t until one of them invited me over for a session that I decided to pursue training. As she started the session, I suddenly felt an intense rush of energy, comparable to but more intense than what I experienced during the ritual work that I did. To experience this amount of energy in my usual spiritual practice, I would have had to build up to it over the course of a much longer ceremony. But here it was with Reiki as soon as she started! “I just drew the symbols in your aura,” she said matter-of-factly. WOW! I had to learn these symbols. I signed up for a class the next day.
If you don’t already have a friend who practices Reiki and is looking for guinea pigs (my friend was straight out of a Level 1 and 2 weekend class), the next best way to find out what a session feels like is to attend a Reiki Shares event that is open to the public. In Denver, you can find open shares through the Denver Traditional Reiki Meetup. Most Reiki Shares events offer short sessions with multiple practitioners working at once. Some Reiki Shares also include a group meditation, and some will include the recitation of the precepts or even the reiju blessing. When I led a Reiki Shares event, I always offered reiju before we started, and then after the first round of palm-healing sessions, I would take the new people aside and teach them the basic breathing meditation and the precepts. Two of my students, LeRoy and Nina Jaramillo, continue this format in their Reiki Shares event that they lead on the third Sunday of the month. Visit Meetup for details on the next meeting.
Of course, scheduling a session with a professional Reiki practitioner is also an option, one that involves a higher monetary commitment than a donation-based Reiki Shares, but one that is usually chosen by people who have a specific ailment for which they are seeking treatment. If you find yourself getting relief from Reiki sessions, please consider taking a class — the system of Reiki is available to anyone (anyone with common sense, according to the Founder Mikao Usui!) and the empowerment of learning to heal yourself will change your life!
Recommendation 3: Read a Book
This isn’t my favorite way to learn anything, and yet the amount of great information that is available makes this one of the most accessible ways to get a foundational understanding of Reiki (or pretty much anything else!). I used to lead a Reiki Shares event myself every month, and always recommended to potential students that they attend. I have to admit to being disappointed by the miniscule percentage that followed through. I don’t lead that event any more, so now when students express interest, I guide them toward the Reiki section of the metaphysical book store where I have my office.
There are a lot of good Reiki books, and plenty of bad ones too. Currently my go-to recommendation for a great beginner Reiki book is The Japanese Art of Reiki by Bronwen and Frans Stiene. My reasons for selecting that over many other equally valuable books is first, that it is written by one of my teachers and approaches Reiki Ryōhō from the perspective that I teach. Consequently, if the book really resonates with a potential student, they know that, since I’m trained in that lineage, I would be a good teacher for them.
Secondly, and you just might see a pattern here, the book introduces the five pillars of Reiki as conceptualized by Frans Stiene: the precepts, the breathing meditations, the palm-healing, the symbols and mantras, and the initiations. The book includes detailed information on the precepts and how to work with them, and gives excellent written instructions for the basic Reiki breathing meditation, joshin kokyu hô. This book encourages the potential student to take a class with a qualified teacher, but doesn’t hesitate to introduce those basic experiential practices that are at the heart of the practice of Reiki.
My Top Recommendation
As you can see, I favor meditation and working with the precepts as the best place to start your Reiki practice. I encourage experimenting on your own even before seeking out a teacher. I believe in empowering the student through a specific course of self-development and spiritual practice, not overwhelming them with a guru-like experience of zapping them with power from on high, but failing to follow through with guiding their development, answering their questions, and keeping them on track with their practice. That’s why I structure my classes the way I do.
I have a recording of the meditation I would lead back when I did my talks. It’s not technically joshin kokyu hô, but it’s close and a good introduction to a breathing meditation if you’d like to try it. You can find it on my website. And I have a printable copy of the precepts, if you’d like to start working with them. Explore the Reiki category of my blog for more information.
Now — let’s hear what the other hoppers have to say!
Joy Vernon specializes in Traditional Japanese Reiki and is a certified Reiki Shihan (Teacher) in three Usui Reiki lineages. She is a Reiki Practitioner and Teacher in the Usui Reiki Ryôhô lineage through IHR, having studied with founder Frans Stiene in 2015. She also studied with Komyo Reiki Kai Founder Hyakuten Inamoto in 2011 and 2013. Joy was first trained in Usui Shiki Ryôhô/Usui Tibetan Reiki in 2003 and started teaching Western Reiki in 2007, but has been teaching the more spiritually focused traditional Japanese Reiki since 2008. She is the Organizer of the Denver Traditional Reiki Meetup and is a member of Shibumi International Reiki Association. Joy is also a Certified Professional Tarot Reader. Learn more at JoyVernon.com.