Mantras and Symbols

Carol Ryan Articles, English 3 Comments

After working with mantras and symbols, how do I feel they have affected my life? I’d say that in the early part of my Reiki training, the symbols and mantras made me question, made me want to learn more and look more deeply into what they really were about and how they could be used. Back then I used them as I’d been taught, but as time and my Reiki journey progressed, several things changed, including me.

Years ago, I sat in a Reiki Level I class, listening to the story / mythology of Mikao Usui’s background and life, how he “discovered” the symbols in ancient Sanskrit texts and then how on Mount Kurama, he was “given” Reiki and then saw and understood their true significance. Hearing this, and other such things about what Reiki was or was not, I felt (as I had during my earlier religious upbringing) interested in the story, but skeptical of some of the facts.

The Takata-lineage teacher with whom I began my studies was (and still is) someone who I love and admire, and she was just passing down information as her well-respected teacher had taught it to her years before. I’ve always felt (and have been encouraged in this by favorite teachers and mentors) that we take from each class exactly what we need at the time. And not everything a teacher says has to ring true for the teachings still to be of great value.

I certainly found this with my Usui Level 1 training, Long before I learned more about the symbols, it was the practice of Reiki as I learned it – mainly focused on the precepts and hands on healing for ourselves and others – that was invaluable to me that first year. I knew it was something I would continue to practice and share for the rest of my life, and I was grateful to have begun to learn about and practice it.

Even if some of the teachings didn’t sound right to me, the intention behind them and the overall picture – universal energy, shared with love and compassion – did. And the practice just felt right…I found it helped me become more calm and peaceful, even in difficult times that were occurring at the time. And while I’d say I was a happy, optimistic, grateful and compassionate person before, Reiki practice seemed to enhance these traits / emotions even further and minimize the “sting” of ones that might not be so pleasant. It helped me become more able to spend time in the present rather than being angry about the past or worried of the future.

The precepts especially were helpful in their simplicity and wisdom. I was eager to learn more about the symbols my teacher had referred to in Level 1, how I might use them to help myself and others. I returned for Level 2 training, and at the start of class, opened the manual to see a big “Notice: The following information is to be treated as a secret. Do not reveal symbols, their names nor procedures to others who are not trained to use them, and attuned at the 2nd degree Reiki or above. This manual is given to you in trust for your personal use. Hold this sacred.”

Ooookay, I thought. I guess that sounds reasonable; again, she is respecting what others might have taught and done before, But I would have been happier with “sacred” and not “secret” – it felt exclusive, and went against my feeling of wanting to share with others anything that might help spread peace, joy, and healing in the world, starting with ourselves. (Yeah, I know…I sound like a hippie.) ☺ Back to the symbols and what effect they’ve had on my life.

That day I learned, for one thing, that Symbol 1 was “Empowerment” and its general meaning was “Put the power here.” Drawn once, its name said 3 times, it “activated” the other symbols and could be used any time we wanted additional focus, protection, or power. It could be used for/on ourselves, other people, animals, plants, or objects, or to “empower ourselves to live more fully.” For example, if we drew Symbol 1 over our mailbox and chanted its name 3 times, soon we might receive a check for $1 million dollars! Just joking here; that wasn’t taught. ☺

But class that day gave us the idea that CKR had and could invoke power for all sorts of things, including creating protected / sacred spaces. For a long time, part of setting up for Reiki shares saw me spritzing homemade sage mist into each corner of the room, drawing the symbol with the bottle in my hand and saying CKR 3 times. But even then, with due respect to my teacher, I didn’t really believe the symbol itself had power; this process had just become part of my pre-Reiki share ritual to quiet my mind, connect to the energy, and let it fill my heart and the space.

During Reiki sessions with friends, family, and later clients, I sometimes would draw symbol 1 or 2 over them, depending on whether they wanted help with focus/power or mental/emotional issues, and after completing “Reiki Master” class, I’d visualize symbol 4 within myself before starting a session and then would draw it over the head of the person on the table. I would (and still do) draw symbol 3 over the Reiki prayer box that I used for healing requests, written on slips of paper and placed inside. But I always felt that I was using, or maybe I’d more accurately say connecting to the symbols differently than how I’d learned in classes.

Years ago I remember talking with my nephew after his Level 2 class. Neither of us felt that the symbols held any real power on their own, no magical ability to transform issues or “send” Reiki. We saw the symbols merely as focusing tools, even though we hadn’t yet read that anywhere, and saw “distance Reiki” as connecting to Oneness. To us – and many others, I imagine – it just made more sense. The symbols themselves were not secret or magic; they were there to help us unlock the secret, find the magic that already was inside each of us, connecting us all.

As I read more, and began to study with other teachers, including International House of Reiki, I was really happy to learn things about Mikao Usui and the system of Reiki that were much more in line with things I had felt all along. Seeing the symbols as focusing tools or “training wheels” helped me gain confidence in my practice. The emphasis on chanting the mantras – something I never had in my early learning – and the connection of each symbol to a particular energy or a particular deity added wonderful new elements to my practice.

These days, I often use the CKR symbol and mantra; I think chanting it has helped a lot as I become more grounded and focused, less of the “upside down pyramid” that I think I often was before…a bit too spacey, a bit too airy. I also use SHK, which I feel helps create harmony and connection between my mind and spirit. And I use all 3 symbols in 3 Diamonds practice, visualizing 1 as I bring Earth energy up, 2 as I bring Heaven energy down, and 3 as I bring both of these energies into my heart and send them outward, feeling the connection to all.

So throughout my Reiki journey, the symbols have affected my life in different ways. Symbol 4 especially has new meaning for me now – aside from being part of Reiju, it reminds me of and helps me feel the Great Bright Light that shines inside and out, and connects us all in Oneness.

Comments 3

  1. Hi Carol,

    Well said you! What a delight to read this lovely article whose words mirrored the truth of connection. As I followed along, my head bobbed “Yes!” at several points. I especially enjoyed your points on ritual as a way of remembering how to Be Reiki.

    Ai to hikari,
    Cecelia

    Thank you for

  2. Thanks, Cecelia! I actually hadn’t thought about this article in awhile, so it was a nice surprise to see it. Also nice to see your kind words – happy you enjoyed it. 🙂

  3. This is beautiful! I wonder if we had the same first Reiki teacher; the teachings and my Intuitive questioning were Exactly the same 🤣. Verbatim. So fortunate to have found International House 🙏🙏🙏

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