common Q & A's about Reiki

... sometimes by softening our thoughts, relaxing our focus, and melting our hearts, we create an inner warmth and flow that gives us the elasticity and internal strength to overcome our challenges ~ Merrie Bakker

I’m often asked how much time a Reiki class should take - why are some classes merely 5 hours and others 16 hours or more.

The simplest explanation I have is that there is a lot to cover. The history is important. There are many important events and people that have shaped the Reiki we practice in the West today. There is some misinformation, too, and all of this needs to be addressed. More knowledge means more clarity and more respect for the healing work.
Back in the 1920’s when Reiki got it’s start in Japan, the students were completely conversant with how our meridians and chakras work and here we are not. So this little parcel of knowledge needs to be incorporated into a class. Over time we have learned that there are some quick and unique methods of learning how to “run energy” that are completely aligned with the ability to pass on energy, as Master Usui encouraged his students to do and which took him a long period of time to transfer - sometimes years.
A thorough class needs a certain amount of time to be taught correctly. Other aspects, such as centering, special focussing, learning how to scan with your hands, entrainment and protecting oneself from taking on the client’s issues and / or unwanted energies and further challenges can be learned through trial and error by students but are much better when taught by a seasoned teacher so that it can be practised so that there is no “by the seat of the pants” type experiences due to poor learning.


Some people have asked me whether I suggest taking Level One and Two at the same time and if not, then how much time should be spaced in between each level.

Historically, Master Usui and his teachers did not have weekend courses but one came one evening per week to the group sessions of meditation and Reiki or one day to gather occassionally on the weekend . It would not be unusual to be in a certain level group for many years. one progressed over the course of one's dedicated life's practice. So, when I’m asked if I teach the classic Usui system, I have to wonder if that potential student has eight years to spare!

In present Western Reiki we know that some classes of Level One are all a student really needs. A good foundation in hands on healing - a thorough Level One - for working with friends and pets and plants and family is a fine set of tools. If working with clients is your goal, then Level Two is important to add, in time. Mrs. Takata, who is the main teacher who brought Reiki to the West, is known to have students return for Level Two after a year or more but also to offer it to students who were keen, from out of town and for whom she had a really good intuitive feeing that they could do their Level Two after a few weeks of time in-between these two levels and with lots of practice during that time.
She showed us that there were no hard and fast rules. Each student and teacher uses their inner guidance for the right answer. Some Reiki organisations have rules. This facilitates keeping things on an even keel but is not in the original spirit.

One head's up that I learned the hard way. I was so concerned with getting it right and helping others that I neglected to work on myself initially - and that’s also a bit of avoidance that needs thought. Working on oneself often is a valuable component of learning and improving and gaining confident hands.


Does Reiki heal the body, the mind, the soul or the spirit?

yes, yes, yes and yes.
We have to keep our bodies healthy. If our soul, mind and spirit isn't healthy that will eventually impinge on our physical body! Often when the soul, mind and spirit are comforted and healed, our body will become healthy naturally as a result, on it’s own, complements of mother nature.

Is it psychic energy that is used?

Not really other than that when our energies intertwine, especially when one is quiet, focussed and balanced, then information flows. Chi, like intuition is fluid and wise. But you could say it is a physical method of introducing a higher vibration of energy - raising the body’s tissue higher - to allow natural healing.
A chronic disease / conflict may take longer than an acute accident. But a person receiving Reiki will feel improvement at the first treatment. Psychic insights can happen or not - just like in normal life... certainly psychic channelling was not how Reiki was initiallly conceived. Today we tend to see this happen amongst people dabbling aroound... without a true knowledge of Reiki.

Do I have to believe in Reiki Healing to get results from a session?

No. It doesn't matter if YOU doubt, reject or deny the way Chi, energy, ki or qi works. However many tests have shown that the healer MUST believe or no improvement will occur. It’s not at all like a psychological method of treatment or hypnosis. There may be one out of three of my clients who believe in Reiki, before sessions change their minds later and yet they have experienced  benefits from the outset; but feeling is believing.

Can any illness be cured by Reiki?

Yes. Any illness - either organic or psychological can be lessened, supported or alleviated - grief, timidity, bad habits as well as the whole spectrum of possible physical ailments. Even help with cancer is achieved when the underlying issue to a tumor or cancer diagnosis is properly addressed.

How do we know that healing is appropriate for Christians to do?

In I Corinthians 14:1 Paul tell us to eagerly desire spiritual gifts.
In I Corinthians 12: 28 Paul says that healing is one of these gifts. Paul also says that each of the gifts is best expressed with love.
Jesus is quoted in John 14:12 as saying, “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I go to the Father.” We know that Jesus practiced laying on hands type healing, therefore, would it not be appropriate for Christians to practice healing by laying on hands, too?


How does Reiki work from a scientific point of view?

A look in to this is at - third article.
Dr James Oschman has an entire book on this, of course.
Scholars and people of intelligence have been studying this phenomenon but modern science can't solve it as long as the thinking is inside the box (of rigourous science) (where we never find the wondrous stuff!) it will be slow catching on.

Does Reiki have any negative side effects?


Do I need to have knowledge of anatomy, physiology or medicine?

No. I remember a major set-to with a nurse who had administered the US Healing Touch Association, years ago… She felt this energy work should only be allowed to be used by nurses because they had the required knowledge of the human body and the rest of us were dangerous amateurs… That defeats the entire understanding of the beauty of this magical energy! If tissue / an organ / an area is needing energy, then the Reiki energy flows to that area, much like water, to the lowest vibrating tissue that needs it most.
Hands-on-energy, for example, on a head that is having serious dental issues, will have the Reiki energy flow to the most desperate areas. Hands-on-energy on a head to someone with high blood pressure will not increase the blood pressure one iota! Ever!
Rather, the kidneys, when they receive energy, will be able to heal better/faster and add to the lowering of the blood pressure as the blood flows through more smoothly (through the parenchema and collecting tubules) of that individual. This is where there can be a bottle-neck and therefore the source of blood pressure issues. As there is no way anyone can have arteries and veins so hardened that it can increase bloodpressure, we do not have to avoid that condition.
Most of Master Usui's students were well educated people and had only advanced knowledge of meditation, meridians and chakras. Master Hyashi was a doctor, and he healed and taught Reiki to all people.

What do famous medical scientists think of this method?

Western medical doctors often scoff at energy work as well as Reiki as it is hard for them to see value from something so subtle… even though they may not have experienced any Reiki. Medical scientists, however, seem to have an open mind and receive Reiki first before slandering it and have written some interesting insights to bolster the Reiki work.
Modern medical, mainstream, Western medicine does not know how to take notice of the shocks, psychological issues and unresolved conflicts that affect us on the cellular level. Hence, doctors try to repel, belittle or exclude energy healers who do not have their particular training as therefore having no value and are not likely to step up to the plate and collaborate. It’s difficult to solve / treat with just chemicals. I have taught Reiki to over two hundred people and almost no one has failed to be able to work with energy.

If I can heal others, can I heal myself?

You bet. If you are really ill or challenged, then use a buddy system. Setting up a buddy system while healthy is the best route to follow. Call your Reiki teacher and ask for someone to exchange with.

How can I see this energy?

This can be a journey and for some of us it is easier than others. Try the TREE exercise.
Try this - if you haven’t already given it a try. Go out to a treed area at dusk and pick out a large robust tree with lots of foliage. Put yourself into a relaxed state and place your attention and then concentration at the top of the tree - we’ll call that 12 o’clock. Then, look to the right at the sky where one o’clock would be while keeping your concentration at the top of the tree. Can you see the tree’s Life Force Energy moving about - maybe wisps or gray / blue movements of vibrant energy? Does the tree have an identity? Do you feel closer to the tree? Try at dawn if you feel it your ‘seeing’ could be improved… everything takes practice, positivity and commitment…

What’s this Master Level III and IV or IIIa and IIIb all about? Are there different kinds of Masters?

In keeping with the past teachings, there is a need to charge a bit more for the Master Level. And also in keeping with past practices, the process included that only the very dedicated would be teaching Reiki in the first place. Over time some Reiki teachers were smart and sought to capture a possibly interested market and created a marketing approach to the Master Level - divvying it up into two parts - to whet the appetite. Master Usui, Mrs Takata and her next level of teachers would never have done that. There is no benefit. You are either ready to teach or you aren’t!

Sometimes the desire to teach can just BE there - an inspired calling! Sometimes it’s because a Reiki practitioner has worked with so many people, has had such a valuable time practising Reiki, that it is the next most natural step. The right time is usually very obvious to both the teacher and the student.


Does one need inherited talent or is anyone capable - right away or after decades of practice?

Reiki, once learned, cannot be forgotten or lost. However, it  is a practice that requires discipline to attain true mastery (all subtle energy work does in my opinion). Master Usui's work in the rediscovery of energetic manipulation has been sliced and diced and demeaned via courses claiming Reiki mastership in a weekend (or less). The Americanization of Reiki has resulted in a band-wagon approach to learning and accompanying exploitation. (Reiki is NOT channelling messages - or reading the Alashic records or looking into the future (crystal ball gazing).
Reiki mastership involves dedication, focus, a keen desire and personal nature to want to reach out to people.
Energetic transference has been proven and measured, in a clinical setting, by organizations such as Holos University and the Heartmeath Institute.
The initial levels of Reiki mastership precede a path that will gradually result in the death of ego, deepening of life lessons and increased inner awareness. In short, Reiki is a discipline leading to esoteric, subjective and highly personal results.

What are the differences between Western Reiki and Traditional Japanese Reiki as taught by Master Usui?

Traditional Reiki usually refers to the methods and teachings of Master Usui and his amazing, pioneering work back in the early 1920’s in Japan. The “closed” Japanese Reiki societies that had formed during Master Usui’s time and that remained active after Master Usui’s passing in 1926, kept to the techniques and the spirit of his intentions and teachings. Therefore Traditional Japanese Reiki healing, even to this day, not only emphasizes hands-on-healing, but also focusses on meditation and the life-long pursuit of spiritual enlightenment. After all, it was the meditation groups from which Master Usui’s later Reiki groups evolved. The sense that was maintained was one of solemnity and deep respect for one and other and for the teacher.

Western Reiki has a more simplified and practical sense to it. Western Reiki education is more hurried. Here we have more of an emphasis on short periods of commitment to classes (a day or two at a time) and to the learning in general. In Western Reiki some practitioners use Reiki on themselves daily when possible and share Reiki often with others, while some may just take all the classes and have very little practical “hands-on” experience but motor through the three or four levels that are offered, much like we did in regular school - after grade one comes grade two and off you go!

With Traditional Reiki one stays at a certain level for a long time until one has evolved one’s way to the next level. This dedication would include the contemplating and practicing of the Five Reiki Principles as well as daily self-Reiki and the balancing of one’s chakras. The emperors poems were an important adjunct in Master Usui’s time in each of his classes. Privately, the study of the Haiku continues as part of a Reiki student’s evolvement, including the emperor’s.

In Japan one continues to return to class often and regularly. In North America most Reiki Exchanges are ad hoc and often poorly attended, as we are busy people taking ever more courses and expanding our knowledge - “continuing education”. Keeping up one’s spiritual training is re-enforced at the Traditional Reiki classes in Japan for “continuing evolvement”, as great respect for the light, love and healing of this higher dimension energy is re-enforced.

Western Reiki has somehow evolved the Reiki get-together / Exchange into a covert client recruitment tool! There really are better ways to acquire new students or clients! Never in Master Usui’s time would non-Reiki people, who may have shown a sincere curiosity, be invited to a Reiki class/evening and be told to just stand there and pretend and that the Reiki would “flow” in spite of having spent the time or having been taught. These well meaning people who dropped-in were given a “quickie” attunement - good enough to last just for that evening - like an enteric coated pill! Go figure.

A serious Reiki Exchange would allow time for Reiki for each practitioner, and a guided meditation(s) to start things off, as well as time for serious questions and answers and feedback - and these could be about how to better feel the energy in ones hands; how to better feel the client’s needs; how to improve living by the five precepts; etc.
If you have the feeling of being a bit rusty (not really possible), then join us - we’ll remove some rust!
If you are a Reiki student and have taken Level One, as a minimum, why not come and join us at the next Exchange - listed below.

So, see you soon.

have a lovely read ...

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Merrie Bakker, Reiki Master Teacher
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