Updated: Oct 6
Reiki is possibly the fastest-growing complementary therapy in the world today. People all over the world are flocking to Reiki classes as its benefits for their health and wellbeing become ever clearer and more widely accepted. Reiki is starting to find its way into mainstream healthcare settings in the West and is being used for a range of different conditions and health-related problems.
It’s being used with those who suffer from cancer as a way to help resolve the side effects of chemotherapy. It’s being used to deal with depression and anxiety and stress-related issues. Its benefits in reducing and relieving physical pain are becoming more widely accepted. It has been used for addiction recovery and in treating chronic and long-term arthritis.
The anecdotal evidence for the effectiveness of Reiki is continuing to mount and scientific research into how Reiki works, and its various applications are now underway worldwide.
With all of that, perhaps you are considering learning Reiki for yourself because one of the major benefits of the system is that it can be self-administered. Why spend all of that money going to receive treatments from a practitioner, when you can give yourself a treatment in the comfort of your own home as often as you like?
Where do you start? How do you find a good Reiki teacher?
1/ The first question you need to ask yourself is “what am I expecting to learn from this course?” Some classes, especially in the New-Age drenched West, are dominated by talk of spirit guides (all and sundry spirits from various dimensions), ascended masters (disembodied beings of claimed advanced spiritual awareness that appear to the inner vision), angels (beings that exist in the three Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam), how to use crystals (nothing to do with Reiki), pendulums (nothing to do with Reiki), extra ‘more powerful’ symbols (there are only four symbols in the system of Reiki. The others aren’t necessary). and a plethora of other New Age add-ons. If this is your bag, then go for it, but don’t expect to be taken seriously by the mainstream Reiki community or indeed, the medical profession!
If what you are looking for is simply the ability, skills, and knowledge to apply Reiki in an effective way for the improvement of your physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing, then there are a lot of teachers out there that have a more balanced and down-to-earth approach.
2/ How long was the teacher’s training? This is an important question to ask. Reiki is a very simple method to learn, and anyone can master it in a relatively short amount of time, however, there are an increasing number of people claiming the title Reiki Master whose training from beginning to end took no more than a weekend. Clearly, Masters of nothing. Would you trust someone with so little experience and knowledge to teach you something that you need for the quality of your life and your own healthcare maintenance? Of course not.
Again, there are teachers of Reiki (most good ones don’t call themselves Masters – a title very much aligned to the ego) who have taken the time and care to develop their knowledge, understanding, experience, and skills over a number of years. The journey to becoming a good teacher is a long one and can take many years of working with the system.
Allied to this is the question of whether the Reiki teacher is actually able to teach! Having knowledge of something doesn’t mean that there is an ability to pass it on effectively to others. Reiki teacher training does not address the issues and skills around effective teaching. If you can, find someone that has trained professionally as a teacher in some other discipline (schoolteachers have spent years honing their skills in the teaching and learning field for instance), go to them. This isn’t to say that without professional training a Reiki teacher won’t be any good. Many have a natural ability and enthusiasm to impart their knowledge, but err on the side of ‘more training is better’.
3/ The previous point obviously raises the next one: how long will the training take? Will it be just for a morning or an afternoon? If this is what is being offered, steer clear! You can only learn the very basics of the system in such a short period of time. A Reiki level 1 class has enough in it to fill at least a whole weekend and an intensive one at that.
Some teachers have cut this class down to the bare minimum to maximise their income and to cut their own costs. This isn’t acceptable. You should endeavour to make sure you get your money’s worth and seek out someone that will give you the real depth and underpinning knowledge of the system. There are plenty of good teachers out there that will offer you effective and meaningful training, and a weekend is not such a great commitment for anyone.
4/ You should also enquire about their lineage. A lineage is the line of teachers going back to the founder of the system, Mikao Usui, in Japan. Many teachers these days have no idea what their lineage is, in fact, it is increasingly common for teachers to not understand what the word lineage means! Some consider the concept of lineage to be out of date or old-fashioned.
A lineage, as writer Jack Kornfield once pointed out, is the sacred container for spiritual teachings. It is the way that deep spiritual practices and knowledge are passed from one generation to the next in an unbroken line. It’s not so much about the names within the lineage but more to do with the integrity of the system that maintains the clear transmission from one teacher to the next.
There are many teachers who still adhere to the lineage system. Look for teachers who work in one of the following lineages: Reiki Jin Kei Do, Usui Shiki Ryoho, Jikiden Reiki, Gendai Reiki Ho. There are others also but if someone has abandoned the concept of lineage, ask yourself what else has been thrown out of the system or worse still, what has been added that shouldn’t be there?
5/ How long has the teacher been practicing Reiki? It’s all well and good that someone has completed their Reiki training, but have they done much work as a Reiki practitioner, offering their services to others? You would be surprised at how many rarely give Reiki treatments to others! If you are in their class and you want to ask about the effectiveness of Reiki in a particular health situation, the teacher should be able to answer you from direct experience, not from second-hand evidence that they read on the internet or in a book.
Many teachers also combine their teaching practice with working full time or part-time as professional Reiki practitioners. These are the ones that you should seek out. They have the experience and knowledge to pass on to you, that will prove vital in your own use of Reiki, either on yourself or on others if you choose to become a practitioner yourself.
6/ Does the teacher offer support following your training? Many teachers these days are more than happy to take your money, run you through a quick training and then say goodbye. This is not acceptable in any sense at all.
One of the things that will happen following your training in Reiki is that you will go through a detox period yourself. This can work on a physical, mental and emotional, and even environmental level. Sometimes this detox period can be very uncomfortable. You should make sure you have a teacher who is willing to support you through this process and answer your questions following the class if you need them. In the lineage of Reiki Jin Kei Do, for instance, it is a requirement for teachers to make a life-long commitment to supporting their students. Many others also offer this extensive support.
7/ Finally, ask what is included in the course. You should receive a comprehensive manual or set of notes to refer to once the class is finished. Critically, you should also receive something called an attunement or initiation into the system of Reiki. This should happen in person and not at a distance. Distance attunements have become a big money-making scam in the world of Reiki in recent years and another reason why the practice is routinely ridiculed by the medical profession. Without this attunement, you won’t be able to practice Reiki at all as the attunement is the mechanism by which you gain the ability to channel this energy.
During the class, you should be presented with information on the history of Reiki and your own lineage. You should be shown how to carry out effective self-treatment and how to offer treatments to others. The mechanism of how Reiki works should be discussed and what the outcomes are likely to be for the recipient (whether yourself or another person). The detox should certainly be discussed (this happens to everyone that you work on, not just to you after your training). You should also get a certificate at the end of your training.
So, there you have it. Seven key points to consider in your journey into the amazing world of Reiki, and don’t skimp on the cost. This is a one-time lifetime investment. Cheap training will usually mean poor quality with little substance. Be kind to yourself. Good luck on your journey!