Reiki Elements

What is Reiki? Reiki (pronounced ray-key) is a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing. It was re-discovered by Dr. Mikao Usui in the early 1900s.  Mrs. Hawayo Tanaka brought Reiki from Japan to the West in 1938.  Reiki is given by the “laying of hands” that has been practiced for thousands of years.  In fact, the basis for modern-day Reiki may have started in Tibet more than 2,500 years ago.

The word Reiki comes from two Japanese words – Rei and Ki.  The word “Rei” means higher knowledge or spiritual consciousness.  The word “Ki” means life energy.  This is the same meaning as in Chi (Chinese), Prana (Sanskrit) and Ti/Ki (Hawaiian).  Life energy plays an important role in everything we do.   Reiki harnesses that life energy to promote healing, relaxation and a sense of peace.


There are five elements of the system of Reiki. They are:

1. Reiki principles

2. Hands-on healing for self and others

3. Meditation

4. Mantras and symbols

5. Attunements

These five elements work together to form the spiritual and healing components of Reiki.


The Reiki Principles (the “gokai” in Japanese) are the foundation of Usui’s teachings. They are based on leading a respectable life, practicing self-care, emphasizing health and happiness, and following a spiritual path. The five Reiki principles are:

Just for today: Do not anger

Just for today: Do not worry

Just for today: Be grateful

Just for today: Be honest in your work

Just for today: Be compassionate to yourself and others

Reiki practitioners are taught to incorporate these principles into everything they do. They are asked to repeat these words out loud and in their heart to improve their mind and body.  Reiki practitioners believe living your life according to these five Reiki principles, will help you to become more fulfilled, happier and healthier.


Reiki uses hands-on healing practices to help energy move through a Practitioner’s hands. This type of hands-on healing is very different than what you would physically experience during a massage. Massage Therapists use pressure to manipulate muscles to loosen them and increase blood flow. Massage recipients are usually not clothed.

On the contrary, Reiki Practitioners place their hands lightly in specific areas on (or a few inches above) a recipient’s body. Reiki recipients wear comfortable clothing. Reiki practitioners are given specific hand placement guidelines but many follow their intuition and place their hands where the body needs energy the most.


Reiki healing techniques are both traditional and non-traditional. Traditional techniques are the ones developed as part of Mikao Usui’s teachings. These include using specific symbols, seating positions, breathing, meditation and cleansing rituals. Many martial arts practices also use these techniques.

In terms of Reiki, these techniques help to ground the practitioner and generate more energy. Grounding helps strengthen a practitioner’s energy before a Reiki session or remove negative energy from a recipient after a Reiki session.

Non-traditional Reiki techniques include using additional symbols, breathing methods, crystal healing and chakra balancing. Many of these techniques you will read about in upcoming Chapters. These practices are often combined with Reiki to helps strengthen and enhance energy flow.


Mantras (“jumon” in Japanese) and symbols (“shirushi” in Japanese) are two tools which are taught as part Reiki training. They are used to invoke specific energies when practicing Reiki. In the beginning, using these tools awakens a student’s inner energy. Eventually a practitioner no longer needs to use these tools as Reiki energy becomes part of their everyday being.


Mikao Usui used attunements (also known as initiations or “reiju” in Japanese) as an integral part of his Reiki teachings. Before a student could practice Reiki they had to receive an attunement from their teacher. Through the attunement process, the teacher would “transfer” Reiki to the student. Today this is still done in a physical ritual in which the teacher energetically communicates with the student.

The purpose of an attunement is to strengthen the student’s energy and spirituality. They are usually received at the end of each Reiki level. They are not, however, just limited to training. Attunements can be received at any time. In fact, early Reiki practitioners received weekly or monthly attunements in an effort to increase their spiritual and energetic experiences.

Working together these five elements form the basis of Reiki as practiced today.


Sending you love, comfort and peace!