What to expect from your Reiki I (First Degree) Course

Before you begin ...

It is a good idea to contact anyone from whom you may be interested in learning Reiki and talk with him or her before deciding whether to proceed with training. Also read any available literature about the course or workshop you are considering. This is especially valuable if the person has not been recommended to you by one of more of his or her students.

Reiki courses are available at many schools and colleges that offer a range of courses in different therapies. In these cases it may or may not be possible to speak with the Reiki Master in advance, though it is usually possible to speak with others such as his or her previous students.

This page includes general information about the material that is usually included in Reiki I courses. It is intended as a starting point for anyone considering such a course from any Reiki Master, and may help prospective students to understand the material offered and so discuss course content more easily with the Reiki Masters they approach.

Why some people are not sure what to expect prior to their Reiki I Course / Training

Many people find it difficult to describe and explain Reiki.

One reason for this is that Reiki is an energy that is more naturally conveyed by experience than in the form of words or even pictures. This does not mean that words, pictures, symbols, sounds, and other representations are not useful. All of these have valuable roles to play, although they may not be the best or easiest way in which to begin to appreciate Reiki.

People choose to learn Reiki and so receive Reiki I attunements for a variety of reasons, and with different amounts of information about what to expect. For example, some people may simply have experienced Reiki at a 'Health and Well-being' event and then chosen to learn this themselves, possibly without the contact information of the person or group their treatment was received from.

Typical course content for a Reiki I Workshop

The following elements are usually included in Reiki I courses.

Topic / Component of Course

Introductory Session

  • Reiki Master's own terms and conditions of teaching

Some Reiki Masters will teach anyone (without conditions), while others ask their students to make promises concerning how they will use Reiki energy and/or how much money they will charge for treatments and/or attunements (in the case of Reiki 3 Courses).

  • Introductions of group members to each other
    (if the course is being taught to a group rather than an individual)

The individual attention gained from learning alone, or in a very small group may be beneficial. Conversely, learning with others has the benefit of sharing experiences. In the case of group courses it is both polite and helpful to meet the other participants early in the day and establish rapport.

  • Summary/discussion of what Reiki is, what participants may expect, and the timetable and format for the course or workshop

This is essential because misunderstandings are possible and it is easier for all if common understanding is established as soon as possible. Even if everyone is well-informed, the Reiki Master is likely to wish to confirm this so that he/she is sure that everyone feels as confident and at ease as possible.


Basic Theory of Reiki

  • Description of the traditional version of the story of the History of Reiki, that is the story of the re-discovery of Reiki by Dr Mikao Usui in the late nineteenth century.

Click here to read this traditional story.

It is necessary to be familiar with this story in order to fully appreciate what Reiki is, as it is known today. Knowledge of this is also a reasonable expectation of anyone who has received training in Reiki.

  • The five principles of reiki feature in the traditional version of the reiki story. Some reiki masters discuss these separately in addition to their occurence in the 'story of reiki', both to emphasize their importance and to discuss modern interpretations and answer any questions about them.

The 'Five Principles of Reiki' feature in much of the literature about this method of healing. Trained practitioners can reasonably be expected to be familiar with them.

  • Explanation of the method or structure by which Reiki is taught.
    This may include a summary of the Levels:
    I, II, III (Practitioner) and III (Teacher), what is taught at each stage, and the experience the Master advises as appropriate between each of the Levels or sets of Attunements.

This may be well-known to some students but assuming knowledge may cause the members of the group who do not already have the information to feel lost, confused, or irritated (especially if it appears to them that that prior study was expected and they were not advised of this). This is why some Masters prefer to at least summarise all the key points to ensure that no-one feels left-out as the day progresses.

  • General questions and discussion about Reiki before proceeding to the attunements.

The Reiki Master may wish to confirm that everyone now understands what Reiki is and is actively choosing to receive Reiki I attunements.

This is also a useful stage at which to include an opportunity for general discussion and questions.

Popular topics include the participation of 'Reiki Guides' (spirit guides) and how to sense and communicate with them. Other discussion topics include channelling Reiki without the request or knowledge of the recipient/s, which may lead on to discussion of Reiki for animals, plants, spaces, circumstances and so on. The views and explanations given by Reiki Masters may of course vary according to the individual and his or her own guidance and experiences.

Reiki I Attunements

  • Reiki I attunements (may be performed in two parts), according to the form of Reiki being taught, and the preference of the Reiki Master.

The Reiki Master will say something about the attunement process and explain exactly what he or she would like participants to do and when. Attunements may be carried out individually or in small groups of up to four people.

  • Discussion and sharing of experiences of the attunements

This might be included in the case of courses for groups as it can be a helpful way of demonstrating the variety of experiences among different members of the group. Conversely, some Reiki Masters do not encourage too much focus on this in case:

(i) anyone who experienced very little is then disappointed when hearing others' more elabourate accounts, and / or
(ii) some people prefer not to describe their experiences initially, but rather to reflect on and assimilate them personally in the first instance.

Experiences do vary and there is no "right" or "wrong".

  • Reiki treatments - either self-treatments or treating other members of the group

There is usually much enthusiasm to begin as soon as the attunments are completed and this is to be encouraged. Channeling Reiki is an essential stage in completing the attunement process and so generally takes place as soon afterwards as possible.

  • Discussion and sharing of experiences following initial reiki healing exercise

This is usually spontaneous. It can be helpful to describe one's experience of channeling reiki energy and to hear others' initial reactions. It helps students to articulate their sensations and the discussion process of expressing these to others and hearing their accounts is a valuable way for all members of the group to validate their experiences and so feel more confident. This is important for many reasons, one of which is that as Reiki Practitioners, students will be asked about their experiences of channeling this energy. Most people find it easier to answer such questions when they also have awareness of how others describe their experiences.


Reiki Treatments

  • Learning the Reiki Hand positions/sequences for treatments.

    The actual positions and sequences may vary between Reiki Masters. Some courses include two sequences of hand positions - one for self-treatments (usually seated), and another for treating others (usually with the client in a reclined position, perhaps also turning-over part-way through).

Hand-positions and the order in which they are used does not really matter. However, there are many reasons why it is useful to learn and use such a sequence, at least initially. These reasons include:

  • The discipline of following a set sequence of positions means that new Reiki Practitioners need not think about choosing where they are placing their hands or why. This helps to release all concentration to focus on the sensations of channeling this energy, which is most appropriate and will eventually guide the Reiki Practitioner to concentrate the energy as needed, perhaps then spending more time on some positions than others, and later just using hand positions as energetically directed.
  • Managing the timing of treatments may be a challenge for new practitioners.
    This is easier when there are a fixed number of positions, each to receive the same period of time. It is then simple to merely become aware of the timing on each position (with practice during the course) so that a whole treatment can then be given, with reasonably good time keeping, without the practitioner having to give much conscious attention to this aspect of the treatment.
  • It is important to do regular self-treatments to build-up and maintain ones own energy. Channelling energy to different positions on the body may invoke subtly different sensations. By regularly following the routine taught during a Reiki I course new practitioners can ensure that they experience the widest range of sensations that are assosiated with their own energy-balancing needs. This is helpful later when discussing others' sensations when clients ask, describe, or wish to talk about them.
  • It is helpful for students to learn two routines (perhaps the first on Day 1 and the other on Day 2 if the course takes place over two days).
    This is because it is then easier for the students to adapt treatments themselves later to accomodate whatever circumstances they encounter.
    For example, some clients may be physically unable to use a treatment couch and so may prefer to receive seated treatments.
  • Practice and discussion of the hand position sequences and discussion and sharing of individuals' experiences of this part of the course.

Practice, familarisation and discussion with others are all vital aspects of the learning process. It is most helpful for students to do this as a group and with the benefit of supervision and advice from the Reiki Master as soon as possible.

  • Discussion and possibly practice of channeling hands-on reiki for animals, plants, trees and crystals.

Reiki practitioners are sometimes asked about Reiki treatments for non-human recipients so it is useful to include at least some discussion about this as part of Reiki I courses.

Including practice of such Reiki Treatments (where possible) is also useful because it enables group members to discuss their experiences. Such discussions often help people to better appreciate and articulate their own experiences, to establish further rapport with other members of the group with whom they may wish to stay in touch, and may also make their initial experiences more memorable.

However, it may not be possible to include a practical element to this part of the course - for example if there are no small domestic animals (such as willing dogs or cats) available, or if any member of the group objects to or is allergic to such animals. Alternatively or in addition, the group may work with plants (if available) or trees (if available, and weather permitting).
It is usually possible to include some simple work with crystals.


Other General Topics

  • Reiki Groups, Associations, Insurers, and other ways to network with other Reiki Practitioners
  • Local Events / Reiki Shares / Healing Groups
  • Related interest groups, courses, meetings, and similar.
  • Recommended books, websites, and other resources.

There are many practical topics concerning the use of and continuing an interest in Reiki.

These include how to meet and stay in touch with others who share this interest. There are also the subjects of further training and insurance for those interested in treating other than themselves and their immediate family and friends.

While information about these is not essential for a Reiki I course, such topics are often included towards the end of the session, either as a planned element of the course, or in response to questions from students.

and at the end ...

Most reiki masters present their students with Certificates stating that they have received Reiki I Attunements and associated training. Many reiki masters also provide their students with handouts and/or a manual to keep and use to revise any aspects of the course that they may wish to re-read later.

In many cases, members of Reiki I course groups keep in touch with each other.

The end of the course is an opportunity to swap contact details with new friends.

The above is just a brief summary of typical components of basic Reiki I courses.
Individual Reiki Masters may include other elements and/or omit some of the above.

Other items that might be included:

Other topics included in Reiki I courses might include some or all of the following, which are associated with Reiki:

  • Space-Clearing Techniques
    These may be used in preparation for giving attunements and/or treatments.
    Techniques may include the use of incense, smudge sticks, tibetan bowls, cymbals, clapping into the corners of rooms, essential oils, flower and/or other essences, meditation or other approaches. Not all Reiki Masters or Reiki Practitioners use any of these. Those that do tend to have a preference for one or two such techniques and might explain their chosen techniques to their students.
  • Basic "Energy Medicine"
    Introductory level teaching about the concept of 'energy medicine' might include discussions about and/or demonstrations of auras and chakras. Auras have many layers and can have various colours. There are a series of chakras located in a vertical line approximately along the spine and colours and other associations with each one.
  • Meditation, Visualisations and Mental Imaging Techniques
    These are likely to be incorporated into most Reiki I Courses in some way.
  • Sensing and Working with Spirit Guides
    Some Reiki Masters also practise as mediums and might include some information about their spirit guides or those that have worked with their students. However, this may or may not be appropriate in the context of training groups of people as opposed to individuals.

Reiki is a wonderful energy to connect with and channel.

Everyone who learns Reiki is drawn to it at a time that is right for him or her, and to the teacher whom he or she is meant to develop with at that particular point in time. We learn in many ways, formally, informally, and by experience.

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This is not medical, First Aid or other advice and is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment. Consult an expert in person. Care has been taken when compiling this page but accuracy cannot be guaranteed. This material is copyright.

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