Waiting for…Second Degree

Good things come to those who wait.Reiki healing

That was one of my mom’s favorite aphorisms, offered frequently to her impatient, let’s-get-going child — me.

Like Mark Twain, I was amazed how much smarter my parents became as I got older, and I’ve learned the value of sustained effort over time to improve skills and achieve goals…but honestly, waiting is still not one of my strong points.

In 1986, I took Second degree training a week after my First degree training. It doesn’t seem to have hurt my practice. I was thrilled with Reiki from the beginning, and 27 years later, I am more passionate than ever.

Yet I encourage Reiki students to practice First degree, hands-on Reiki treatment for at least three months before learning the distant healing techniques taught in Second degree.

This may appear a bit hypocritical — do as I say, not as I did — but please consider the reasoning behind that suggestion.

When I learned to practice Reiki in 1986, I was already an avid meditator who had been studying yoga and meditation for 25 years. I was also a professional intuitive, meditation teacher and healer, specializing in what would come to be called mind-body medicine, helping people use their minds to improve their health and well-being.

I was very comfortable navigating subtle realities and lived with a sense of connection to all that is. I regularly saw the powerful impact of subtle practices. So although Reiki was an entirely new practice, the idea of healing without touching, as in Second degree Reiki practice, was not such a stretch.

I’ve been teaching since 1990 and I see that for most Reiki students, even First degree is a stretch. In the space of about ten hours, students go from having regular hands to having amazing hands, hands that at the very least bring a new level of comfort and relaxation, and for many, hands that pulsate and emanate soothing warmth. Wow! Reiki hands open a new reality of self-care to explore, and this gift takes some getting used to.

Even those First degree students who are already at ease with the wonder of their Reiki hands often look skeptical when hearing about Second degree practice.

But I know that as they practice daily Reiki self-treatment over a period of time, and live with the reality of connecting to Reiki source for sustenance, their understanding will become grounded and open to other possibilities, so that they can approach distant healing with great confidence.

And there is another reason I encourage waiting for Second degree.

First degree is easily learned; it’s practically technique-less. Second degree requires not just learning techniques, but becoming fluent in them. It’s unlikely that students who leave the class uncomfortable with the Second degree techniques will actually use them on their own. And often, the frustration affects their daily hands-on Reiki practice, and that too falls by the wayside.

Almost all the people I’ve met who took Reiki training but don’t practice, took First and Second degree on a weekend, or — gulp — in one day. I think I serve my students better by giving them solid training in First degree — not just the four initiations, protocols, history, Precepts, but also ample time to practice and discuss their experience and questions in class — and leaving Second degree as a possibility for the future.

Related reading:
Earn Your Reiki Training
A Feel for Reiki Healing

Let’s stay in touch! Lots of travel ahead. If you signup for my email list and give your state or country, I’ll let you know when I’m coming your way.

Do you want to bring a credible Reiki practice to the mainstream public? Check out the Mainstreaming Reiki recorded series, or see if the live Communicating Reiki Mainstream is coming your way.


18 thoughts on “Waiting for…Second Degree”

  1. Pamela previously wrote, “if you have any question as to what would best support your relationship with Reiki… ” This for me was the most intriquing sentence of the previous posting. I continue to go back over this comment emphasising “on your relationship with Reiki”. I never thought of myself as having a relationship with Reiki. Not every teacher will offer this simple yet straight forward and honest concept to their students. I bet it seems common knowledge to most Reiki folk….but it is new and much appreciated by me. I have a relationship with Reiki! I took that for granted. Just saying the words brings it into such powerful being. I have a relationship with Reiki! From now on I will attend to my new friend, Reiki and cherish my relationship much more earnestly. That sentence made my relationship with Reiki my real friend, a friend for life! I enjoy putting Reiki in my best friend category because I truely cherish and nurture my friends. Their contribution to my life can not be measured easily. It is exactly the same for me with Reiki. Thanks for that pearl!

  2. Mara,
    Falling asleep before getting through all the placements in self-treatment is not a failure, not at all. Remember that the Reiki connection continues as long as your hand is on your body, whether you are awake or asleep.

    As pleasurable as it is to offer a Reiki treatment to another person, self-treatment is the foundation. Have you taken a look at the Usui Virtual Retreat on my website? Perhaps it could support you in diving ever more deeply into your practice.

    If you practice self-treatment regularly, you’ll know if and when it would be supportive to take Second degree. And if you have any question as to what would best support your relationship with Reiki, I encourage you to discuss the decision with your Reiki master, if you have maintained a relationship with him/her.

  3. I took 1st degree ten years ago. I practised for some time but then I stopped. I don’t even know why…I just had self-treatments sometimes but often I fell asleep before concluding the practise. Now I am starting again and my whole lifes seems restarting again. The most amazing aspect is giving Reiki forme, even more then receiving it. I thank all the people use it and I hope I’ll be able to take 2nd degree as soon as I am ready. When can I be sure I’m ready? Any suggestions? Thanks A LOT.

  4. Kelley,

    Twenty-three years–you win the prize! 🙂 not that there is one, other than everything we receive from our practice.

    Traditionally, as Mrs. Takata taught, there is First degree, Second degree, and Reiki master for those few who feel called to teach. Usui and Hayashi also only trained a small number of Reiki masters, a few less than Mrs. Takata. About a decade after Mrs. Takata’s death, some abandoned her education standards and guidance, began “splitting” the Reiki master training and offering a third degree.

  5. What I come to realize reading all these posts and revisiting my life right now is how our linear and achievement education is so different from Japan’s and the Eastern’s world. We are so taught to work hard and get results, and also do as fast as we can ( When I was a kid, when finished with my day homework, I had to always advance my nest week’s assignments – straight A student that I was raised to be) instead of simply embracing life and its process… here, in the Western world we accelerate processes instead of letting them be, in the name of achievement.

    Western is all about doing, Eastern all about being.

    Like they say, when the East and West will fuse together, we might just find a “perfect” balance. I feel like there is a certain shift happening in that area of life… slowly but surely.

    Again Pamela, thank you for this post!

  6. I just read Waiting for…Second Degree. I was initiated into First Degree in 1985 and the Reiki Master strongly recommended waiting to go onto Second Degree. She wanted us to become comfortable with First Degree. Twenty three years later and I took Second Degree. I was very content with just First Degree and didn’t feel a need to do Second Degree until my mother, who lives in another state from me started having serious health concerns. I wanted to be able to do something for her even though I couldn’t be there. The right Reiki Master came into my life last year and I became initiated into Second Degree. While I don’t think people need to wait 23 years to take the next step; I do think it important to have space between initiations to become familiar and comfortable with the energy. Each time I do Reiki it is a new experience and it did take me a little while to get comfortable with it and confident in its ability.

    I read above about someone taking Third Degree. I have read a little about people doing that, but what is the Third Degree? I learned there was the 1st and 2nd and then Master.

    Thank you,


  7. I agree that months should go by between levels in order to process it in the energy systems and gain experience working on people. I am saddened when I see people teaching of levels in one weekend.

  8. I have been told that in Japan. Many things are taught with the idea that you have to first adopt, completely undestand and practice your teaching before advancement can take place. I have internalized this as a cultural philoshopy that many could benefit from, regardless of coure of study, me included.

    Our discussion may indeed evolve into another thread about personal developement through practice versus study and I believe I could learn a lot from that as well!

  9. I completely agree with you about the commitment to practice. As the great yoga master, the late Pattabhi Jois famously said, “Practice, and all is forthcoming.” We simply cannot predict the benefits that will come with consistent practice over time.

    Regarding clearing–in nearly 20 years of teaching, I only heard one such report of discomforts post initiation, and how can we say definitively that it was in any way linked to Reiki practice? I am vigilant about staying with the facts and not wrapping any beliefs or superstitions around our practice.

    Everything we say to students and clients directs their attention and sets up expectation. I prefer to direct students’ attention to the benefits and to practice. I also underline that we cannot overdose on Reiki (the balancing response is determined from the body’s own wisdom), and that if they ever feel less than well, it’s helpful to give themselves more than the usual treatment.

    And I state clearly that practicing Reiki doesn’t mean students shouldn’t get whatever medical care they and their doctors feel is needed.

  10. Clearing for me was not just a waiting period. It was a term of daily self practice to assist the person in overcoming any discomforts or ill feelings that sometimes can be associated to being attuned to the higer frequency energies of Reiki degrees. (And also to integrate practice of course.) Have you heard people mention runny noses, headaches or flu-ish feelings post attunement? I have been instructed that this is natural and the daily treatments ease the transitions of clearing the body of negativity. Perhaps I was taught this to incourage daily practice, or not…I do not know, but I faithfully participated in my perscribed clearing period of daily self treatments without every having an ill effect from an attunement so I am not really sure. As for waiting for each degree….I believe it is very necesary. I do not belive in attunements bundled together in a short period of time or packaged in a weekend seminar. The commitment is not meant to be an easy task or a difficult one but the commitment to Reiki needs to be personal and practiced to be developed to the fullest. Like anything else, I guess, the commitment you bring to the practice is crucial and equal to the outcome.

  11. Thanks, Susan, for underlining the value of waiting.

    Daily practice over time brings us to a place of deeper balance and understanding, which is quite different from the idea of clearing.

  12. When I learned First Degree from Hawayo Takata, she never mentioned clearing. What she emphasized was the necessity of taking time to integrate Reiki into our lives in order for us to receive its value and benefit. She made it very clear that integration came through daily self-treatment. She also encouraged us to treat family and friends and exchange treatments with others. Clearly, Karla, your own teacher has a keen sense of why time and integration are so important.

    Mrs. Takata also expected students to practice Reiki for a year or longer before taking Second Degree. When you wanted to take the second level, you wrote her a letter describing how you were currently using Reiki in your life and why you were interested in further training. She could then decide if she was ready to teach you. I remember her saying that she kept these letters in an album and how much it pleased her to see how her students were practicing.

    I appreciate how Mrs. Takata’s approach—a process of patient practice and reflection and the thoughtful request for further teaching—supported us as students to honor the practice, our teachers, and ourselves.

  13. Karla,
    Curious why you attribute the idea of a clearing related to Reiki training to “true Asian fashion?” That was not part of my training, and I always thought clearing was a New Age superstition that Americans had added on.

    I’ll see if I can get one of Takata’s direct students to weigh in on this.

  14. In true asian fashion, My teacher believed and taught that each degree not only has a period of clearing but that you have to live with and adopt each level or degree into ones lifestyle before taking the subsequent degrees. There was a minimum time for each and you had to be recommended to or invited to the next level. Your teacher told you when you were ready for the next level. It was like a training period simillar to student teaching in my oppinion and very valuable. I too am known for my impatience. I benefitted greatly from having a firmly evaluated teacher to ensure I was in the right mind, practice and habit before advancing. I adopted a set term of self imposed minimum practice hours to achieve before I even wanted to advance. Therei s great honor in respecting the way Reiki is taught. You learn to honor yourself and your lineage along the way.

  15. I also took second degree a while (in my case, about six months) after first degree. I didn’t know there was another way, and I’m glad I didn’t; I wouldn’t have understood not to get in my own way by rushing things. I deeply appreciate being taught and attuned this way.

    After my first degree, I spent months doing nothing but daily (often twice daily) hands-on self-practice, which laid the groundwork for a lifetime relationship with Reiki. It was deeply healing and a beautiful meditation practice, as well.

    I waited years before seeking my third degree attunement, and I find this level to be much the same – another launching point for more ongoing development. Reiki continues to teach me daily. The practice is the foundation on all levels.

    I intend to teach this way when the time comes, as well. Foundation first and always.

    Alice (in Brooklyn)

  16. Thank you so much for your thoughtful comments, Veronique, and congratulations on having chosen a Reiki master who understands the value of practice. The extent to which we develop our initiations through practice rather than study is not widely recognized. You are fortunate indeed.

  17. I am so glad you brought this up. I have just completed my second degree and this 6 weeks after my 1st degree.

    When I first looked at classes, I was very torn between a two levels week-end class or simply take my first level and give it some time. I have always been a fast learner so the full 2 levels week-end was very appealing to me. I wrote to different schools for opinions and questions. What was interesting is that those wee-end schools did not answer me back or did 3 weeks later. That told me a lot right away (not saying that they are all like this though). Also, my lesson at the time, was to learn to do things slowly and one step at a time, so my answer came to me quickly.

    So I went with my first level and then my second six weeks later and can I say how happy I was for the time between. You know that 21 day cleanse? Well my cleanse lasted 6 weeks intensively! And I was experiencing such amazing revelations through dreams and meditation that it was a little overwhelming. I am so grateful that the master I chose is so available to her students as she has helped me with all my questions and uncertainty of that new revealing time.

    I only had 6 weeks between, which was fine for me as I was not working at the time, so I had all the time to take it in, practice, research, etc. So I totally see why someone could use a 3 months period between.

    When I asked my master “how about level 3?” at the end of my second degree she told me that she had a class coming in 4 weeks but I wouldn’t be ready. I truly have appreciated her frankness and her “concern” for her students.

    What I am realizing more through constantly reading on Reiki and practicing is how much we, in America, have been taught and are often driven by time, accomplishments and fast solutions. We do not take time to live and feel the flow of things and evolution…embrace processes. We also have tendency to think BUSINESS right away instead of ART or PRACTICE…letting ourselves melt in our art/passion.

    Anyway I thank you for bringing this up as I hope that future students will find this article and find answers and inspiration.



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