Are You a Reiki Martyr?

If you are practicing on others, especially as a hospital or hospice volunteer, and you are not practicing daily self-treatment, you may well be a Reiki martyr. (Audible gasp)

“But,” you sputter, “Reiki is safe. I was taught that Reiki is safe.”

Reiki is safe, but is the practitioner safe?

That depends.

What are you doing to make it so?

Self-care was a vital component of Usui’s practice. The necessity of self-treatment was carried through Hayashi and Takata, who famously said, First yourself.

Ethel Lombardi was a Reiki master trained by Takata. Lombardi’s student, Elaine Andres, remembers Ethel telling her students they weren’t allowed to give a Reiki treatment to someone else on a day they didn’t practice self-treatment.

Self-practice is the beginning and remains the foundation of Reiki practice at all levels.

Do you resonate with the universe?

Daily self-practice moves us into what Reiki masters Hyakuten Inamoto and Hiroshi Doi refer to as resonating with Reiki, meaning “we are at one with the universe.” In this state, we have transcended duality; we experience oneness and realize there is nothing to be protected from, and we are safe.

As Inamoto and Doi said,

…as long as we resonate with the universe, there is no opposite, such as good or bad. All good, so we don’t have to worry about protecting ourselves when we offer Reiki healing.

As long as we resonate with the universe.

Fortunately, you don’t have to be permanently established in this state in order to treat others safely. But you do need a steady mind, especially when you are treating others. It’s easier to have a steady mind when you have confidence in your Reiki practice.

When you have confidence in your Reiki practice–the true, grounded confidence that only comes with practice experience–you are more likely to remain resonating with the universe when treating others, and to avoid ruminating about the client afterwards. As Takata said, Do your best and walk away.

How can you know if you are safe?

You are safe when you are calm, mindful, and present. You may not be safe if:

  • you are worried about what’s happening with the recipient
  • you are trying to fix the recipient
  • you are trying to have a specific outcome
  • you have an emotional need to impress the recipient
  • you feel sorry for the recipient
  • you cannot witness another’s suffering with a placid mind
  • you are insecure in your practice, perhaps due to inexperience
  • you don’t know the difference between compassion and sympathy.

These are just some of the scenarios in which you may be in danger. But not from Reiki; from your mind.

How can you know if you are safe? By the state of your mind. Is your mind steady and peaceful?

How can you keep your mind steady and peaceful? Daily Reiki self-practice.


Do you have a story to share about Reiki and safety? Please share it in a comment below.

Read more of my conversation with Japanese Reiki masters Hyakuten Inamoto and Hiroshi Doi.

If you want to improve your effectiveness and comfort when talking about Reiki, here are some resources:
Helping More People with Reiki (free video series)
4-Step Balance System to Communicate Reiki
Write Reiki

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21 thoughts on “Are You a Reiki Martyr?”

  1. I was initiated into MariEl in the eighties by Ethel Lombardi. There were two initiations with a requirement to request permission before doing a healing and then a third class where we didn’t need to ask permission. How is MariEl related to Reiki healing and it’s steps?

    1. Hi carol. I’m also a carol who was initiated by Ethel in the 80s. Do you remember what gem she used to use. It was a yellow gem. I remember she was against using crystals as she considered them dangerous as they could pick up negative energy so easily and transfer to person using the crystal.

    2. Carol,

      Ethel was a Reiki master trained by Hawayo Takata who later developed an entirely different healing system which she called Mari-El.

  2. I’ve been working on animals for about 2 months, and honestly, didn’t realize what an imbalanced state I’d been in for months before beginning Reiki at a local shelter in May. This article is incredibly refreshing and eye-opening, and a serious wake-up call . Caretakers need to care for themselves first. I’d been doing Reiki constantly, focusing on ill animals, somehow thinking that I’d be fine and would even feel better because I’d be doing what I love-caring for animals. After about 6 weeks and a few emotional bouts (not just regarding the animals, but also personal), I was more distressed than I’d ever imagined one who was doing Reiki constantly could be.
    I do think that there are many factors that influence any situation, but in the end, the only thing you can guarantee is your own well-being by doing personal treatments constantly.

  3. Thank you for this blog. I have seen so many energy workers suffer burn out because they neglect their self treatments. If we are to treat others, we must maintain our own energetic at all times. I loved what you wrote about how we must “remain resonating with the universe when treating others, and to avoid ruminating about the client afterwards.” It truly is all about resonance. I am only beginning to understand how resonance occurs and how it changes, and how healing occurs through resonance. I continue to expand! But the mind, which is the ruminating one, can pose a risk for repetition and running in circles, cycles of ruminating resonances…the mind who does not like to be controlled and resists every effort of self-destruction (wouldn’t you?!), the mind, which is all of these things when it is without the guiding force of the Heart, the Spirit, and the Guiding Force of the Universe – which, when we are in resonance, is also the Guiding Force of Ourselves.

    Sometimes, I will admit, my energy levels falter, my vibrations are lower, and I am drained. In addition to feeling a desire to heal the world, and that there is never enough time to accomplish all the things I am driven to accomplish, I am a caretaker at home, a wife and mother of several children. I used to struggle with not giving myself all the time I need everyday, eyeing the ever growing to-do list in front of me. But I am getting better! I have found that I need to incorporate self-treatments at regular intervals throughout the day, that I need to occasionally “get grounded” and plant my bare feet on the earth, particularly before bed. I avoid high EMF static environments, and always shower/bathe after particularly toxic ones. These, I have noticed, have a severely negative impact on my calmness and clarity of mind. I also use crystals, in my home and my treatments. My favorite is citrine, and my favorite healing crystal is the Reiki pen ( These practices and tools have been amazing at transforming my energy levels, and my life!

    Thank you for your blog – wonderful topic, and one I wish more people took awareness to.

  4. Your book was one required in my Reiki 2 class this past semester. The chapter where you spoke a lot of practice, practice, practice was very valuable to my classmates and I because it validated even more our instructor’s emphasis on the importance of daily self-treatment (and journaling).

  5. I love this article! Thanks for writing it Pamela. It’s so true that we can be in danger from our own thoughts if we are not mindful of them. Here’s an example: I saw one of my Reiki 1 students brushing herself down vigorously after a practice Reiki session, as if she had something horrible spill all over her arms. I asked her what she was doing and she looked at me very puzzled. I said to her – if you think there is horrible debris all over you from your client, then you will attract that. There is nothing on you, believe it, feel it, know it. She smiled, and understood.

    1. Beautiful story, Abby, and I agree. However, it’s also true that sometimes things do happen, which gives us another really good reason to remain mindful. When we notice something unusual going on, we don’t want to ignore it. Better to check up, and when in doubt, rebalance yourself and strengthen your boundaries.

  6. Staci, all you need to do is to place your Reiki hands on yourself and restart your daily self-treatments. You don’t lose our capacity to practice Reiki when you fail to practice regularly, you just aren’t developing it when you are inactive. sometimes people like to receive a treatment or even take another First degree class, but you can also just start practicing again. And if you need a reminder, read How to Practice Reiki Self-Treatment.

    You might also like to take my free Usui Virtual Retreat.

  7. I have not been doing any type of Reiki in a while. I have not had a treatment or done a treatment on myself or anyone else. How do I get back to Reiki? I moved to a place where I don’t know anyone and fell into a depression and I feel myself being pulled pack to Reiki because I love it and I enjoy it and I want to do good for myself and others. I want to know the first step in getting back to where I was.
    thank you,
    staci PS, I am reiki advanced paractitioner.

  8. Pamela, thank you for this blog. I find the resources on your website very interesting and very valuable for my Reiki practice. I am always curious what you are going to write about next!:)

    I feel that many Reiki teachers do not stress the importance of self-treatment. When I took the first level of Reiki in 2004 the focus was completely on treating others. I learnt how to treat myself but was told that I needed to regularly practice treatment on others in order to become a good Reiki practitioner. I found a neighbor who was very willing to receive Reiki treatments and we met once a week. After a few weeks I felt very drained and unbalanced. This experience taught me to put myself first when it comes to Reiki practice. Now I might even turn down family members if have not had a chance to treat myself yet!:)

  9. Vickie Derbyshire

    I really love reading your information. You are very knowledgeable on Reiki and how it works. So much of what you say is a gentle reminder of what I was taught about Reiki but have forgotten. I know when I do Reiki with no pre-conceived concept it is so much more powerful. If I do reiki and have something even remotely in the back of my head it seems like it is just not doing anything. Now after reading this I am wondeirng if perhaps the missing link is the days I skip the reiki on myself! I am definately going to take note of that! Thanks so much!

      1. Your blog makes such an important point: Our job is to stay aligned with Reiki, then there is nothing to protect ourselves from 🙂

        Making time for saying the Gokai on a daily basis (and integrating them into daily life) is equally invaluable for aligning ourselves with Reiki.

  10. Karla Hartzell

    Once again this is a re affirming moment as to why we should persevere in daily self treatment. Perhaps it is human nature to prioritize so many other things ahead of things you do for yourself, but we all do it. I certainly benefit from the AH HA.. moments I derive from reading this log.

    This posts safety questionnaire is beneficial as well and If you didn’t find anything in it that you identified with I think it would be rare.

    Most people have a desired path for themselves in their Reiki life but under prioritize the need to support themselves in their journey along that path. Some even quit the journey before it is completed.

    I deeply value the information I gain from this log….it helps me to remember to stay on the path, how and why I chose it in the first place and not to consciously or unconsciously end my journey before it’s completed!

  11. Thank you, Pamela. As the foundation of Usui Reiki, self-practice is of utmost importance. Usui said, “if you can’t heal yourself how can you heal others?” I find that true. I also have found a steady mind can make the work more powerful.

    The detachment you speak of is also important, going back to the precept of not to worry. Some clients will be in a sorry state, and it is natural to want to give comfort, but keeping an emotional distance is better for all concerned. The practitioner’s heart and mind can stay focused on the practice which will make him/her more effective at treatment. I think that’s what makes doctors so effective in their treatments.

    I do have to say that I will work sometimes work with intention toward a specific outcome and it has been fairly successful, but since it’s not MY outcome, it’s what the client asks for, I’m not attached and can do as Takata sensei said and do what I do and walk away.

    1. Paul, I don’t think it’s a matter of keeping emotional distance, but rather being in the state in which we can see the goodness of all that is, just as it is. When the practitioner is not enmeshed in emotions–which are always projections of his/her own concerns–the inner heart remains tender and accessible.

    2. Thank you so much. I am a Reiki 2nd Level Practitioner currently taking my Master class. This article is exactly what I needed to read. My teacher was telling me everything that I just read and I just had to step back and absorb all of this and take it in. I’ve also read, “INTERVIEW with REIKI MASTERS HYAKUTEN INAMOTO and HIROSHI DOI,” which explained a lot! All of this information has truly broadened my full understanding of this Divine practice. Thank you so much! I did fall victim to the misunderstanding that I could fix my client. I understand more of why doctors have the emotional detachment from their patients. It is better emotionally as a Practitioner to master balancing the emotions. Thank you so much!

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