Half of What You Know about Reiki Is Wrong

As doctors graduate medical school, they are famously told, “Half of what you learned in medical school is wrong. The problem is we don’t know which half.”

If only the Reiki community were as forthright about how dubious much Reiki information is.

As Reiki practice receives more mainstream attention, conflicting information poses a serious obstacle for new people. Many practitioners complain that good information is hard to come by.

As a community, let’s make it easier for people to get reliable Reiki information.

All it takes is for each of us to exercise some critical thinking about what we read — and say — about Reiki practice. Look at it as if you were watching a tv commercial, because that’s how other people look at what we say.

Make an effort to stay current with historical fact. There aren’t many facts about Reiki founder Mikao Usui and how he developed his practice; there is much we will never know.

A good way to build credibility is to acknowledge when facts are lacking — to simply say, “We don’t know” — rather than presenting undocumented material as if it were factual.


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19 thoughts on “Half of What You Know about Reiki Is Wrong”

  1. Hi there

    Interesting post. I was a massive skeptic of all things holistic until I met my wonderful wife 10 years ago. She instilled the belief in an inner peace and the fact that we are all a mass of energy over time and then when she became attuned about 5 years ago I decided to open myself up completely to it. After all, what was I scared of?!
    I have nevr looked back and my life has gone from one amazing year to another by embracing reiki and a holistic lifestyle. I had a bad back a couple of years ago and Debs worked her Reiki magic and there it was – gone!
    I have also since witnessed her ability to give people relief and peace.
    What always comes across with non believers is a sense of fear of the unknown. In fact I would go as far as to say that they seem frightened to allow themselves to believe and accept because that is what society and the media has told them! So sad!
    It is so great to see that Reiki is starting to become more and more accepted with it even being used in care homes for pain relief and peace.

    You have a great website here and having started a Reiki Healing site myself, to draw together all the latest news and info relating to Reiki healing so that more people can become accustomed to it, I will certainly be sending people here for a read.

    I wish you well


  2. After almost 10 years of practicing Reiki (having received my Master/Teacher designation in 2002) my experience, and the way I teach it, is that Reiki “becomes” the individual. I studied Reiki for a specific art project to commemorate September 11 – so that the art project would be “healing art.” Long story short, the project was never finished (at least not in this dimension) and Reiki didn’t remain “Reiki” within me for very long…it has evolved into so much more. Aside from it being a modality, it is a never ending path, a process, that leads to the deepening of one’s soul. It isn’t just about hands-on healing. It can be incorporated into any and every way of life, career choice, avocation. It cannot be misused. There are many modalities out there, many forms of Reiki, and no matter what is chosen, it is all energy and it all comes from and leads back to the same place – whatever an individual knows to be “God” within themselves. At some point, the student (and one is always a student and never knows everything about it) becomes confident enough to step beyond the “what” and “how” of Reiki and into the deep “knowing” of it on a soul level and how it has “become” the individual.

  3. Pamela, at what point is it appropriate to begin offering Reiki as a professional service to others?

    1. Crystal, I don’t think there is a single measure that fits all practitioners. There are two points to consider: what is in the best interests of the practitioner, and what is in the best interest of the clients?

      Although Reiki practice itself is safe, the Reiki practitioner who doesn’t know how to hold her boundaries when working with other people may not be safe. A practitioner who has a solid foundation of daily Reiki self-treatment is more likely to be safe for herself and for her clients than one who starts practicing on others and being paid too soon. When we practice every day on ourselves over a long period of time, we come to appreciate how profound and far reaching the benefits of Reiki are, and we are less likely to get emotionally involved with our clients and their results. This makes us better practitioners, more able to be present and responsive to our clients without trespassing boundaries.

      I move my students carefully from practicing on self, family, and friends to practicing on people they don’t know (with supervision and if needed, being paid to cover expenses such as room rental), to gradually practicing on people who come to them solely for Reiki and who pay a professional fee.

      It’s very important that students don’t begin accepting money for their services before they are comfortable doing so–and that they inquire into the nature of any discomfort. If the discomfort is because they don’t have enough practice experience to really value what they are offering and be able to remain steady regardless the client’s experience, then it’s best to log-in more supervised treatment hours and check in again later. If the student has had thorough training and mentoring, the student’s confidence level is generally a good guide. There is no reason to push, and many reasons to wait. In the beginning, the student is gaining so much from the experience that there is no need for payment, but gradually that balance shifts to where the student has become an experienced practitioner who can serve her clients well.

      There are also ethics and clinical skills that are an important part of being a Reiki professional, which are not taught in Reiki classes.

      I encourage practitioners to become professionals before becoming Reiki masters, and only becoming Reiki masters if they are going to teach. But that’s a whole other conversation! 🙂

      Two Reiki practitioners who completed my 100-hour internship program on the general surgery floor of Beth Israel Medical Center wrote about how that experience deepened their confidence in their practice and their understanding of boundaries: Offering Reiki in Hospital and Hospital Reiki Internship.

  4. I came to Reiki via “western Reiki” teachings. How many ‘schools’ of Reiki are there now? No wonderful people are confused.

    Here is an important question that we each need to ask ourselves……
    First we must respect and honor our teachers but we each need to question the teachings. We need to experience first hand for ourselves and then with our own experience come to conclusions.

    The translation of Reiki is Spiritual Energy. Ki is the same as Chi. It is the life force. It comes from the highest source. My first question to ask yourself is, is it possible to “Master” universal energy? If you say no then how can we call ourselves Reiki “Masters”?

    A question above was that a “Reiki Master” told someone that a grandmother with a pacemaker could not receive Reiki and could not be trained in Reiki. How does that feel to you? You do not need an “attunement” to work with Reiki (Spiritual Energy). Laying on of hands has been around since the beginning of time. Everyone has the ability. I teach all of my clients and for that matter anyone that is interested, a traditional Japanese Reiki meditation and I also would teach the grandmother hands on healing. Why would anyone deny someone healing? Good grief. This is about giving and love, not ego and holding “power” over another.

    The bottom line is, each of us must do our personal practices in the system of Reiki, meditations, work with the precepts, work with the symbols and mantras, the Reiju for Reiki Teachers and hands on healing. What is YOUR experience. What is your truth?

    It is also helpful to have a teacher that is doing their daily practices and is someone that you can go to when you have questions and are ready to move deeper into the system of Reiki.

    Thank you Pamela for doing this. We are all in this together, walking hand in hand on this wonderful path of life.

  5. Thank you for your comment, Wendy, but changing the title of a post is not going to remove anyone’s doubts.

    Each person needs to find his/her own way through the doubts. That’s part of the process of healing.

    It’s easier for people to do this when they are provided with credible information. When people come upon information about Reiki that is not credible, it understandably creates doubts rather than removes them.


    In shamanism your community gives you the title SHAMAN, because the healing works.

    I suggest in REIKI you are a MASTER when the healing works.

    REIKI is incredible, but it requires years of dedication to master the full healing potential of this incredible healing system.

    i would love you to retitle it to INCREDIBLE REIKI, and remove the doubts, reiki works,
    and is governed by SPIRITUAL LAWS and ENERGY.


    IARP member

  7. Hi – as I’d emailed over recently ref to a website with an area “practice” that had voluptuous women striking sexy poses in lingerie and looked basically like prostitution ad offering “Reiki” as a part of their services. Not that Reiki can’t enhance love making – it was just junking Reiki up in terms of kind of associations it made.

    How can we keep Reiki legitimate without the credentialing process of Massage and Nursing?

  8. One of my goals is to make it easier for hospital administration to understand what makes a practitioner credible.

    The lack of standards in Reiki training is a huge challenge for the integration of Reiki into conventional medicine. Medicine is so credential-oriented that many hospitals don’t even realize there are no agreed upon Reiki standards, and that some First degree practitioners are more experienced than some people who consider themselves to be Reiki masters.

    You may be interested to read two other blogposts: Recipe for Reiki Credibility and Reiki Classes: What’s Right for You?

  9. Barbara Hennessy

    As you know, I am involved with having to submit my Reiki certification at a hospital. How does a hospital set standards for who is a credible Reiki practitioner when the practitioners themselves come from different lineages and have very different ideas about what the practice is and even what the hand placements are?

    Clearly, this blog is very important.

  10. What a great question, Jan–thank you for asking it.

    We each have to decide for ourselves what is credible. In this weekend’s blog, we will discuss the elements of credibility and engage the community in this important exploration.

  11. For me, doing Reiki is a spiritual practice. I have studied Reiki in 3 different lineages and know which one resonates with me. I am confused by the word “credible” in your “Campaign for Credible Reiki”. . How is the judgement made as to what is credible in Reiki practice. Are we talking about ethics as in medicine or the professions? We know that there were a lot of stories told about Usui that have not been found to be true historically. I guess my question is: Who decides what is credible, and what are the standards that go into making the decision as to what is credible?”

  12. Peter, I’ve asked people to share their most pressing question related to Reiki, either as someone looking to find out about the practice initially, or a practitioner with questions. I’m not trying to get a list of possible questions–I could do that myself without taking a survey–but rather find out what are the questions that are most important to people and how easy/hard has it been for them to find good information about those questions.

    So please only enter one question, and the question only, not the response. Thanks so much for your support.

  13. Pam, do we have to fill in our details every time when we want to post another question?
    Is there a way to see questions already posted? Thanks.

  14. Cathy, the Campaign for Credible Reiki is motivated by just this kind of misinformation, which keeps so many people from getting Reiki care.

    There are no known medical contraindications to Reiki treatment, meaning there is no time when Reiki is not safe, as long as people are also getting the medical care and supervision they need. Keep in mind that Reiki treatment is balancing through the body’s own self-healing mechanisms.

  15. Can my 81 year old mother, who has a pacemaker, receive and be trained to give Reiki? A family member was told no by a local Rieki master. Thanks!

  16. I think a pertinent question for people being introduced to the practice, coming from different backgrounds, is What is the Reiki phenomenon? Some people like to say it has a source ‘out there’ somewhere and is channeled by us into the client. I haven’t really seen anyone else mention it, but all the early references to the word Reiki, including what Usui said, has it coming from within us rather than from without. So, What is the phenomenon, and from where does it come?

    As source to what Usui said, I refer to the questions and answers ‘interview’ purportedly written by Usui, “Reiki practitioners radiate ki or chi and light from all parts of their bodies, especially their eyes, mouth and hands.” This indicates a more personal source than an outside source, though he does call it later in the same document a “spiritual power”.

  17. My ‘feet’ straddle two lineages. I received Reiki 1 in the tradition of William Rand and my Reiki 2 in the lineage of Usui Shiki Ryoho. Still being somewhat new to Reiki, I am not sure how different the two ‘lineages’ are from each other, but that is not my question just yet.
    When I use the “symbols” I am told to “draw” them and say the mantras while visualizing the associated color. William Rand seems to emphasize “intent” above all.
    If I “draw” them on my palm (while visualizing) and my fingers cause some lines to “cross” each other, do I have to start over? Or is just getting the “lines” “order” etc approximately right, enough?

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