Reiki for Beginners: What You Must Know (Simply Explained)

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Verified by Mindmonia

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Reiki stones

Nowadays more and more people are looking for alternative healing techniques for stress and pain relief. Reiki therapy is one of many alternative healing techniques. 

Reiki is about energy and symbol work, which is supposed to help the body to restore and balance its natural energy level. The healing is done by the Reiki therapist putting their hands on the patient and shares Reiki directly through their hands.

In this article, we will explain what Reiki is, how the energy therapy works and what you have to do to learn Reiki yourself. We will discuss the 5 Reiki principles, the different symbols, and hand positions before going into Reiki meditation and music. 

Here is a clickable table of contents to navigate through this article:

What Is Reiki?

Reiki (pronounced Ree-Kii) is a healing method that is over 2500 years old. In the 19th century, Reiki was rediscovered and spread by Dr. Mikao Usui, a Buddhist monk from Japan. Therefore Dr. Mikao Usui is often called the inventor of Reiki, which is true to a certain degree. 

The word Reiki consists of two Japanese words: “Rei” and “Ki“. Rei means “the wisdom of God” and Ki means “life force” or “energy“. Combined the meaning of Reiki can be translated as “spiritually guided life force“.

Reiki is about the energy that surrounds and infuses everything and everyone. Often Reiki is equivalently used to describe Reiki therapy or the apprenticeship of becoming a Reiki Master or practitioner. 

Strictly speaking, Reiki is a healing practice that is based on energy purification and aims at holistic healing of body and mind. For example, there is no way to heal a specific muscle group with Reiki. Similar to the 7 chakras, the aim is to balance the entire energy flow of the body.

Should you be wondering: “What is reiki good for?”: 

Reiki healing can take place on several levels: physical, mental or emotional. Depending on your symptoms, Reiki (in theory) can for example help against headaches, depression or concentration problems. 

If you are not familiar with the term energy purification or energy work, here’s a short explanation: energy work is a complex concept that can be classified under the term alternative medicine in most cases. The goal of energy work is to heal the human body through spiritual-supernatural energy. 

Woman getting healed with hands

The definition of Reiki:

“Reiki is a form of alternative medicine, in which the Reiki therapist acts as an energetic connection and balances and purifies the energy flow of their patients using different hand positions and symbols to send Reiki. In this way, patients get healed physically, mentally and emotionally.”

Since we don’t have any direct experiences with Reiki so far, we are skeptical about its ability to really heal patients.

Although Reiki is a spiritual concept, it must under no circumstances be labeled as a religion. It’s true that Reiki may have had a certain religious background, but “modern” Reiki is no longer of religious nature. 

How Does Reiki Work? (+ 5 Principles of Reiki)

Over and over again people report that Reiki therapy has helped and freed them from their diseases and suffering. However, scientists have a different opinion. 

In the past, some studies about the effect of Reiki on the human body were conducted (you can read more about them here). None of them have been able to establish a connection between Reiki therapy and the healing process. Either because of a lack of healing or because it was not clear that Reiki therapy was responsible for it.

Skeptics often think of the placebo effect when thinking of Reiki’s healing power. With the placebo effect, the patient takes a medication or receives a treatment that has no medically proven substance or effect on the human body. However, the patient doesn’t know anything about it, because the placebo effect works with the power of the subconscious.

With regard to Reiki we found a very interesting study:

In 2010, a study was conducted to determine the placebo effect of Reiki treatment. A controlled experiment was carried out on 100 participants who all suffered from fibromyalgia (a chronic disease that can manifest itself in muscle and connective tissue pain as well as pressure pain). They were given Reiki therapies at regular intervals, which were performed by a Reiki therapist in one group and by an actor pretending to be a Reiki therapist in the other.

The study showed that the participants of the two groups had no differences in the course of the disease.

We at Mindmonia believe that Reiki is a concept that deserves its place in the spiritual world, but we can’t recommend it to everyone as a healing therapy because it can’t replace actual medical treatment. 

If you want to learn Reiki in order to practice it yourself, you have to find a Reiki teacher or master. The Reiki system is based on four different layers of knowledge called “levels”. Your Reiki skill level is defined on the level you are at.

Hand posing next to hip

Reiki Masters see themselves as an energy channel to do good to other people with their energy healing. The healing doesn’t take place using their own energy but using the energy from their surroundings. Therefore, according to the Reiki concept, a Reiki teacher is able to heal themself.

Before acquiring any level there is a so-called Reiki attunement. The Reiki attunement is a ritual to prepare the student for the new abilities.

Here is an overview of the Reiki levels:

  • Reiki 1. level: the first Reiki level is for opening the energy channel. In this phase, the student is prepared to become a Reiki practitioner. 
  • Reiki 2. level: in the second Reiki level the students learn the three most important Reiki symbols (explained below).
  • Reiki 3. level: the 3rd level is also called the master level. Here the students learn to use the fourth symbol, the master symbol.
  • Reiki 4. level: the fourth and last Reiki level enables the student to teach Reiki to others and to perform reiki attunements.

With time, however, different types of Reiki developed. Today’s concept of Reiki originally comes from Japan (Western Countries have only adapted this practice). Therefore, the Japanese Reiki system is different compared to the Western system. For example, the number of attunements is different.

In this article, we will take the Reiki system according to Dr. Mikao Usui as a starting point, since it is by far the best known of all.  

Another important concept of Reiki teaching is Reiki principles. According to Dr. Usui, the Reiki life rules are part of the spiritual purification. With the 5 Reiki principles, habits and routines should turn into good and “heal”. 

Here is an overview of the 5 Reiki principles.

The 1. Reiki Principle

Original: Kyo dake-wa okoru-na

Translation: For today only do not anger

Meaning: Anger is a negative feeling that you should banish from your everyday life because it worsens your mood and hinders your personal development.

The 2. Reiki Principle

Original: Kyo dake-wa Shimpai suna

Translation: For today only do not worry

Meaning: Similar to anger, worry is an emotion that demands your full attention and focus. Always question whether your concern is justified and whether you can change the overall situation. If this does not apply, worries result in nothing but negative energy.

The 3. Reiki Principle

Original: Kyo dake-wa Kansha shite

Translation: For today only be humble

Meaning: This rule is quite self-explanatory. Just be grateful for everything you have. Living in a house, food every day and health, for example, are things we like to take for granted. In order to practice gratitude in everyday life, start with the small things.

The 4. Reiki Principle

Original: Kyo dake-wa Gyo o hakeme

Translation: For today only be honest in your work

Meaning: Earn your living with honest work. Although this may sound common, it means that you should always be honest with your colleagues and with yourself. To start you could admit the mistakes that you made. In addition, the fourth Reiki rule of life says that you should not steal, cheat, or engage in other dishonest practices that harm other people in order for you to reach your goal.

The 5. Reiki Principle

Original: Kyo dake-wa Hito ni shinsetsu ni

Translation: For today only be compassionate to yourself and others

Meaning: Be nice and friendly to your fellow people and be so from the bottom of your heart. Be sincere in the positive energy you send to your surroundings. If you are friendly to others, it is very likely that they will be friendly to you as well.

As you have certainly noticed, every Reiki principle begins with the same words. The first part “Kyo dake wa” stands for “for today only” and refers to the idea of being present in the here and now. Don’t think about what happened yesterday or what will happen tomorrow. Focus on the present moment.

Just like we explained in our Karma article, we see the 5 Reiki principles as a useful addition to daily life. The rules can help you experience a better understanding of yourself and, on top of that, they also ensure a harmonious life with other people. 

Reiki Symbols and Meanings

The heart of Reiki are two things: symbols and hand positions. 

Symbolism plays an important role in the overall concept of Reiki. Reiki masters and practitioners believe that information is stored in the symbols and can only be released by people who received a Reiki attunement. 

Every Reiki symbol is supposed to cause a certain action or achieve a certain result.

Here is an overview of the most important Reiki symbols.

ChoKu Rei

ChoKu Rei Symbol

The ChoKu Rei symbol strengthens the energy transfer and thus improves the healing process. This symbol is used whenever Reiki energy should flow. 

Dai KoMio

Dai KoMio Symbol

Dai KoMio is the master symbol. Translated it means “the great shining light” and it strengthens your inner control over yourself and manifests itself in our will for absolute silence. This Reiki symbol is only given to you upon attunement to the third level.

Hon Sha Ze Sho Nen

Hon Sha Ze Sho Nen Symbol

This symbol stands for time and space and serves for distance healing. According to the Reiki teachings, you can also send energy from far away. This is why you need this symbol.

Sei He Ki

Sei He Ki Symbol

Sei He Ki is used for emotional healing and purification.

The symbols can be used in a variety of ways during therapy. You can draw them, for example, on a sheet of paper and place them in the therapy room and redraw them before each therapy session.

Hand Positions

The second essential component of Reiki is the hand positions. Depending on the symptoms of the patient, the Reiki Master will place the hands in different positions on your body to initiate the healing process. Since Reiki practitioners believe that the energy needed for healing is transmitted through the hands, the Reiki Healer will touch you on different spots during the therapy session. 

For example, in a complete energetic cleansing, the therapy begins with the Reiki practitioner covering your eyes with the palms of his hands and working his way down step by step over your head and neck to your chest. How many Reiki hand positions there actually are is unclear. However, most healers perform between 12 and 17 positions per session.

What Is Reiki Meditation

Reiki meditation is a special type of meditation in which you concentrate on Reiki energy. It’s designed to strengthen the connection between your personal energy and the energy that surrounds you. 

Reiki therapists believe that Reiki healings work better when they use reiki meditation before they start with their treatment. This type of meditation is said to help you feel the Reiki energy more intensely and to help you control it better.

Dr. Mikao Usui developed a technique to improve his meditation practice. This technique is called the middle finger technique and is especially suitable for Reiki meditation. 

Put your hands together, each finger touching its counterpart (middle finger on the middle finger, index finger on index finger, etc.). Now concentrate all your energy on the middle finger and keep this focus throughout the meditation.

If you notice that you are losing focus, squeeze your fingers together. This way you will focus on them again.

Learn more about meditation in general in our detailed Meditation Guide for Beginners.

Reiki Music 

There is a certain kind of music that you can hear during Reiki Therapy as well as during Reiki Meditation. 

This so-called Reiki music is not essential, but helpful. Especially the Zen Reiki meditation music, as the calming background music can intensify the focus and create a more intense meditation experience. 

Yet what exactly makes Reiki music so special? As you may know, our brain works in frequencies, each frequency triggering a certain emotion. This is exactly what Reiki music makes use of. It’s adjusted to a frequency which is beneficial for pain relief as well as for relaxation.

Give it a try by following this link, where you will find a playlist on Spotify which helped us in our attempts to perform Reiki Meditation.


In the last chapter of our Reiki guide, we compiled and answered a list of the most frequently asked questions and misunderstandings.

What Does Reiki Feel Like

It’s hard to describe what Reiki feels like. How Reiki actually feels depends on many things. Your Reiki therapies may be more intense than others, depending on how open you are to spirituality. There are so-called Reiki sensations that trigger certain emotions and reactions in the body. 

Is Reiki Scientifically Proven

Not really. As we mentioned above, there are some studies that show in detail that Reiki works only because of its placebo effect.

How to Use Reiki Symbols

You can draw the symbols so that they can unfold their power. However, there are certain rules that you must follow when drawing them. 

How to Practice Reiki

There is no single way to practice Reiki. You can talk to a Reiki master or teacher, or try to practice it yourself.

How to Become a Reiki Practitioner

The first step is to find a Reiki teacher. There are many Reiki workshops that you can find online, too. After, you will become the trainee of your teacher.

What Is Usui Reiki

Usui Reiki is one of many Reiki systems. It’s the best-known one and we discussed it in this article. 

What Does Reiki Mean

The word Reiki consists of two parts “Rei” and “Ki”. Translated from the Japanese, Reiki means “spiritually guided life force”.

What Is Reiki Good For

Reiki can help you with physical, mental and emotional pain. 

How to Become a Reiki Master

The easiest way to become a Reiki Master is to look for a Reiki specialist and to participate in his or her special Reiki training.

How to Learn Reiki

You can learn reiki by practicing it, but in order to master the Reiki technique, you have to find a reiki instructor to teach you.

Does Reiki Really Work

This depends on whom you ask. We at Mindmonia are skeptical about the Reiki technique because we ourselves didn’t have any direct experiences with it. There is also no scientific proof of the effect of Reiki on the human body yet. 


Reiki is a healing practice that is supposed to relieve pain and suffering with the help of energy work. A Reiki specialist works with hand positions as well as with symbols or holy signs to support the energy work. 

From a scientific point of view, it still isn’t proven whether Reiki has a serious effect on the human body. Many even consider it pure charlatanry.

We believe that Reiki works because of the placebo effect and that the healing comes from the body’s healing capabilities and not from energy work. Regardless of how it helps, the important thing is that it helps. If people feel better after Reiki therapy, whether because of the placebo effect or not, then Reiki therapy deserves its place in the world.

Moreover, the 5 Reiki principles are a great set of rules for a relaxed and cultivated coexistence.

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