Reiki is an initiation-based practice, unlike yoga, for example, which is a skills-based practice. The initiations are the only part of Reiki that you cannot teach yourself: you need to find a teacher who will perform the ritual for you. So you’ve got to ask: are initiations truly necessary, or could you feasibly become a practitioner of Reiki without them?
Everyone is connected to the source of life, whether you call it God or the Universe, or don’t call it anything at all. Because of this connection, everyone has some level of innate healing power. So why would you need a special initiations? Technically speaking, you don’t. But it’s available to you to make things easier.
The initiation has several benefits:
- It accelerates your healing ability.
- It guarantees that the energy you are connecting to is part of the Reiki lineage, founded by Mikao Usui. The Reiki lineage brings with it a specific type of spiritual guidance, and the energy has a certain quality. Each healing modality is different, and the initiations makes sure that you are getting Reiki energy, and not something else.
- You are given protection during the spiritual work you do as part of Reiki. For more details, see the page on protection.
- It is often a powerful healing experience in itself. You may feel strong rushes of energy through your central channel (sushumna), in your hands and feet, and in any of your major chakras.
Because of the power of initiations to bring change, you should be prepared for strong emotions to arise both during and immediately after the initiation. Many people experience a period of integration, lasting approximately 21 days, following the initiation. During this period of time you might experience turbulence as old feelings, memories and experiences come to the surface. It’s important to apply the level one self-healing techniques to help you during this process, and to look after yourself with extra attention.
Although it is deeply profound and moving, the process of initiation is simple. The teacher, with the aid of all the Reiki symbols and mantras, acts as a channel to manifest the bright energy of Reiki at this place and moment in time. The teacher follows a sequence in which she or he places symbols into key points on the student (especially crown, heart, hands and feet). This anchors the Reiki vibration into the student’s physical, emotional and spiritual bodies.
Preparing for a Reiki initiation
Some people advise purifying yourself in the days and weeks leading up to your Reiki initiation. The list of things you should abstain from is long: meat, alcohol, stress, sugar, smoke, TV… While cutting back on any of these things will probably be good for you, none of them is truly necessary. The initiation is powerful enough to transform you from within, even without having made any special preparations or lifestyle changes.
On the other hand, a Reiki initiation brings about deep cleansing on all levels of your being: physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual. It is therefore quite natural that before the initiation you may feel a pull to make positive lifestyle changes. This might be improving your diet or even going on a fast, or it might be taking more time out for reflection. Trust your heart to guide you in the right direction.
Whatever you choose to do, it will be beneficial to create some sacred space before the initiation. Understand that now is a special moment in your development towards full health, and that it is a moment that deserves respect. If you live a chaotic life, make sure to slow your schedule and give yourself time to breathe deeply.
What you do during an initiation
During the initiation you will be sitting on a chair or stool. Your spine will be relaxed, and your feet will be fully resting on the floor. This is important so that you can release energies down into the earth.
At the beginning of the initiation, the teacher will stand behind you, resting his or her hands on your shoulders. You sit with your hands resting on your lap, palms facing up. At a certain point during the initiation, you will put your hands in prayer position and raise them to your forehead. A short while later you will return them to their resting position on your lap.