Practical hints for Reiki Practitioners
Within the system of Reiki there are five major elements that a Reiki practitioner will learn, practise and experience. They are hand positions, meditations and techniques, the five precepts, symbols and mantras, and the subject of this article – reiju. Each of these elements works together to create a whole system for spiritual development and healing that is unique.
Definition of Reiju: Spiritual Blessing
In Japan, reiju is the name given to the method a teacher uses in order to communicate with individual students on an energetic level.
In the process of moving from Japan to the West, reiju changed a number of its aspects including its name. In the West its altered form is usually known as an attunement, initiation or transformation.
Teaching, and being taught, is all about communication. In a Reiki class students will not only study the five major elements of the system of Reiki. They will also learn about the history of the system, what Reiki is (and perhaps isn’t), and experience Reiki personally.
Methods to aid learning are: listening to the teacher’s knowledge, reading the manual, practising the techniques taught, and picking things up and processing them energetically.
Energetic communication occurs throughout our daily lives. An experienced teacher will be aware of this phenomenon, working consciously with it in class. Ueshiba Morihei, a Japanese mystic from the early 1900s and the founder of aikidô, once had a student come to him with this question, “Sensei, why is it that when I practice with you in the dôjô my work is so smooth, yet when I practice at home alone I can never achieve these same heights of excellence?” Ueshiba replied, “Because in this dôjô you are One with me and I am One with you.”
In apparent acknowledgement of this phenomenon, Usui Mikao, the founder of the system of Reiki, formulated the concept of reiju: a method to develop the energetic connectivity between student and teacher by bringing it into the conscious arena and building upon it.
Reiju is thus a concentrated energetic communication between teacher and student. The teacher and student reach out to each other and in moments of true connection, with the support of reiju, they become One energetically.
It is a potent tool for Reiki teachers to support them in developing their skills and working toward replicating the expertise of practitioners such as Ueshiba or Usui.
Making Reiju Work for the Teacher and Student
For reiju to be truly effective there needs to be active participation in the ritual from both the teacher and student.
The student may think – I just have to be here and the teacher will make it all happen.
The teacher may think – I just have to do the ritual and something will happen.
Such thoughts by the teacher and student do not lead to optimal energetic communication.
The student’s responsibility is to him or herself; to be as open as possible in order to access the healing and deeper understandings that energetic practise can provide. There needs to be a willingness and openness to self-heal rather than a waiting for others to do the healing. This motivated approach opens students to the possibility of complete communication with the teacher. It is where two consciousnesses share the same experience. The more energetically developed students are, the more aware and conscious they will become. Receiving reiju regularly is an ingenious method to continue this development.
The teacher’s responsibility is to perform the reiju effectively. This requires self-responsibility. Teachers need to develop their skills and strengthen Reiki (spiritual energy) within their own lives before they can support others in the process. This is achieved by gradually moving through the levels of the system of Reiki and fully integrating the teachings with ongoing personal practise at each step. Otherwise the performance of reiju is perfunctory; an outer shell without any centre. An ‘empty’ reiju may trigger a student’s awareness that energy ‘exists’ but it cannot facilitate a student to a heightened level of knowledge and awareness. Don’t be tricked into thinking that because the student felt something that a physical ritual without soul is ‘working’. Fluffing up a student’s energy field may mislead both the teacher and student into believing that something happened – but this sensation is in fact simply an awareness that energy has been stirred.
Initial experience = Initiation
During reiju students may experience themselves as being One with the universe; that the universe is them and they are the universe. Or perhaps there is a complete sense of profound inner peace. This type of student experience is not unusual during reiju and is usually temporary rather than permanent. It can be labelled as an initial experience. This initial experience is a reference point for students’ inner Reiki work. It offers students insight into where solid practise with the elements of Reiki can lead them. It is the metaphysical carrot dangling in front of the human donkey.
The words ‘initial’ and ‘initiation’ both come from the same Latin word meaning ‘beginning’. For this reason it is possible to see how the word reiju may be translated into English as initiation. With the student being able to recall the fleeting experience from reiju at any time, there is produced an initial place to begin; a place where students can formulate their current understandings and discover a path to follow.
The Magic of Reiju
Reiju is not a magical trick; it requires a clear depth of understanding and inner work. If it had simply been a trick, Usui would have performed his magic left, right and centre and not have had from his 2000 Shoden (Level I) students just 70 Okuden (Level II) students and approximately 20 Shinpiden (Level III) students, as is stated on his memorial stone. He would have ‘zapped’ them all and many besides that. If by performing reiju a student were to become magically enlightened, have an energy centre ‘opened’, or ‘receive’ a specific level of Reiki (these are just some of the claims made about the modern day attunement), why is it that the Usui Reiki Ryôhô Gakkai performs reiju at every single meeting between student and teacher? It is because magic is not the answer, but rather the commitment to personal practise from both the student and the teacher.
In a recently published Japanese book on Eguchi Toshihiro’s life (Eguchi was a well known healer, and a student and friend of Usui) called Tenohira-ga Byoki-o Naosu (Cure Your Illness with Your Palms), it relates that Eguchi performed a type of reiju called kosho michibiki. It quotes Eguchi as saying that everyone can do hands-on healing once it is opened up. The way to open it is to do gasshô and meditate and then someone with a stronger power connects with you. This is a good description of reiju. That ‘stronger power’ is the teacher who has practiced the techniques and meditations and reiju for an extended period, knowing how to connect strongly with the energy and others. When this teacher steps into the energy field of a student with the intent to become One with that student, then a spiritual blessing can take place.
It is believed that Usui Mikao would sit opposite a student, create an energetic space and reiju would transpire. There was no physical ritual involved. Usui was likely able to do this due to a life that had centred intently on continual spiritual development.
Eguchi was also known to work in this way. Professor J. Rabinovitch writes of her teacher, “Miss Endo [a student of Eguchi] (then aged around 97 in 1994) … initiated me without my knowing it, just by putting my hands under hers (I had no idea what for at the time) for a longish period of time and then telling me just to ‘keep practicing’, saying my hands were very good.”
A reiju with physical movement was used by some of Usui’s teacher students. This method is a direct descendant of the reiju that is taught today. It is unsure whether Usui actually taught the physical ritual for reiju or if the students themselves introduced it in an effort to replicate their energetic experience with Usui.
According to Tendai practitioners there is a strong link between the execution of the practice called go shimbô and the physical ritual of reiju. Go shimbô is practised in Mikkyô (esoteric Tendai) and is known as ‘Dharma for Protecting the Body’.
During this physical reiju, the student sits in meditation while the teacher performs a specific pattern of movement around him or her. As with the non-physical reiju no symbols and mantras are used and the reiju does not ‘attune’ the student to the symbols as is sometimes believed in the West. There are also no differences in reiju for various levels as has developed with Western attunements. This is because each reiju supports the student in clearing stagnant energy and deepening the understanding of energetic work. Therefore, the more often one receives reiju the deeper one can go into the system of Reiki.
It is the student’s ability to expereince more energy that creates perceived differences, not the reiju itself.
Using a physical ritual helped Usui’s teacher students to be able to recreate the energetic space that Usui manifested. Often a physical link can help us to find our way and enable us to focus our intent clearly. It does not take away the requirement that one works on oneself – in fact it is an encouragement toward that constant goal. Ritual is structure, and structure gives us something to hold on to when we feel we do not have the ability to perform the task alone. After many years of solid personal work, when confidence has grown and the ritual and its energetic practice become second nature there is another step the teacher must take – removal of the ritual.
It is easy to fall in love with a ritual or the idea of ritual and to let it rule the entire process. Inability to work without ritual is pure attachment and attachment distracts us from inner work. It is wrong to invest reiju with more ‘power’ than it actually contains. By holding onto the physicality of reiju complete Oneness may never occur as the ritual may eventually come to stand between the teacher and this attainment.
When one begins to consciously remove ritual from one’s life, this action resonates through all aspects of existence; opening doors unseen and previously unheard of. But to do so prematurely is to jump off the train before arriving at the station; the teacher will be left confused, unsure and with no where to go.
The Spiritual Blessing
During reiju you receive nothing.
Reiju offers students and teachers the opportunity to awaken to what already exists deep within. It is developing qualities that are already present; uncovering them – not creating them.
The Spiritual Blessing of reiju is in fact You. You are the force of nature, the beauty of innocence and the wisdom of ages. It is your responsibility alone to not only know that but to be that.
Through the originality of the system of Reiki, all is possible.
Dôjô – Place of practise
Eguchi Toshihiro – Well known hands-on healer from the early 1900s who was a friend of Usui Mikao and a student
Kosho Michibiki – ‘Illuminating Guidance’, a form of reiju used by Eguchi
Reiki – Spiritual Energy
Reiki, the system of – The system created by Usui Mikao that utilises Reiki
Sensei – Teacher
Tendai – Japanese form of Buddhism
Ueshiba Morihei – The founder of aikidô who lived at the time Usui Mikao
Usui Mikao – Founder of the system of Reiki
Usui Reiki Ryôhô Gakkai – Usui Spiritual Energy Healing Method Society, which claims Usui Mikao as its first president and still exists in Japan today
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.