As we head off to the USA on our Shinpiden teaching tour this week we received a question which we’ve answered numerous times but never posted. So, now it is time.
Q: Do distant attunements work?
A: It is a very relevant question in light of the fact we are all so enamoured of the Internet and that is the culture that distant attunements have sprung out of.
It is phenomenal the list of Reiki Branches with curious new Age names that have sprung up on the Internet advertising distant attunements. So, is it worth putting your money into these courses? Will you get anything out of them?
First, does the concept of distant attunement work? Well, it seems to us that if Reiki practitioners believe that distant healing works then… why not. Energy is everything and working with energy does not necessarily require the physical body to be present.
Yes, there are definitely some buts!
Does receiving an attunement mean that you have studied the system of Reiki? Of course not. The attunement process is just one of the five elements of the system of Reiki that you are required to experience. The others are learning about hands-on healing, symbols and mantras (in levels II and III), the precepts, and meditations/techniques. Find an indepth analysis of these elements in our book: The Japanese Art of Reiki.
Without these elements then it cannot be said that you have studied anything. An attunement alone is not the system of Reiki.
What does an attunement do anyway? Does it give you a Reiki level? Does it make you a ‘healer’? We don’t believe either of the above. An attunement is a support offered by a teacher to a student to help the student move his or her energy. It is the student that, as always, must do the work to progress from one energetic level to another and a teacher can support that. The attunement gives the student a glimpse of where his or her energy can move to. An experienced teacher offers the student energetic insight into where he or she can move a practice. Traditionally in Japan, the reiju (the forerunner to the attunement) is often translated as a ‘spiritual blessing’. The reiju is also performed regularly by the teacher and is not relegated to making someone a level of anything. It is merely a teacher supporting the student’s progress.
Everyone is born a healer. We have been healing since the day we were born (and who knows prior to that)! The system of Reiki gives you guidelines and a practice to develop your energetic and personal development skills – but don’t let the system negate the fact that each of us is/was and always will be able to heal ourselves and others.
Is the teacher able to perform the attunement? Attunement is not an empty ritual – it is something that one works toward being able to perform. It is not a magic process whereupon you can suddenly wave your hands and instead of producing a bunch of flowers you ‘attune’ someone. None of this. A teacher needs to be committed to working on oneself and developing one’s energetic prowess. It is this prowess that the student glimpses and becomes encouraged to move in the same energetic direction as the teacher.
We have an article on reiju and its meaning on this webpage.
Finally, how do you know that the person on the other end of the attunement, the [insert New Age name here] Reiki teacher that you have just paid has actually performed an attunement? Do you know this person? Can you trust them or have you just filled in an online form and received a time to ‘receive’ an attunement? This is risky business!
Bronwen and Frans Stiene are the co-founders of the International House of Reiki and co-authors of The Reiki Sourcebook, The Japanese Art of Reiki, Your Reiki Treatment, The A-Z of Reiki Pocketbook and the Reiki Techniques Card Deck. Bronwen and Frans teach in the USA, Europe and Australia. Visit the Courses page to find a course near you.
My very first Reiki attunement was distant and came with excellent email instruction. It was more instructive than my first in person Reiki class. I started out teaching distantly, and must say developed a closer bond to these students than I have with my in person students. My distant students got along just as well as my in person students. I no longer teach distantly because Reiki instruction is more available now than it was 15 years ago and it is better to have a local teacher to participate in group work with. Maybe more important is the teachers and students involved rather than whether attunement and instruction is local or distant.