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What is a Reiki Master?

By Lily Ruha
Updated May 17, 2024
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A Reiki master is a person who is qualified to lead others in Reiki and to train them to become masters. Reiki is a Japanese healing art that taps into subtle energy forms as a way to heal people. Healing and transformation in Reiki are thought to occur on all levels — physical, mental and spiritual.

A Reiki master uses Reiki to address a wide range of issues. Depression, eating disorders, aches, pains and anxiety are among the long list of conditions addressed by Reiki practitioners. Critics of Reiki argue that it has not been studied enough and resembles a form of faith healing. Studies on the effectiveness of Reiki, however, are more and more prevalent. Reiki masters can be found in hospitals and therapy centers around the world.

To become a Reiki master, a person has to first go through what is known as an attunement. In this stage, the focus is on opening up the body to feel and channel energy. This energy, or life force, is referred to in Japanese as ki, which is qi or chi in Chinese. The philosophy behind Reiki is similar to some forms of alternative medicine, such as acupuncture, where the steady flow of energy throughout the body is considered critical for achieving health.

In the attunement stage, a person working to become a Reiki master learns the Reiki basics, usually in a course labeled Reiki I. The concept of energy flow and the history of Reiki are often taught at this stage. The healing process in Reiki is carried out through specific placement of the hands on the human body, a technique which is usually taught early on.

Those who want to become a Reiki master generally move on to Reiki II. At this stage, students learn the names and intentions behind specific Reiki symbols. Some classes require that aspiring Reiki practitioners write out these symbols and picture them in their minds. The Reiki symbols are related to personal power, mental ability and the sending of energy from a distance to others in need of healing.

Reiki masters generally complete a third course. At this stage, students commit to working regularly to help heal others. They also send healing energy from a distance to people in other locations.

Reiki is rooted in Japanese Buddhism. It was founded by Mikao Usui in 1922 during his teaching of a Buddhist course. Some argue that the roots of the Reiki healing system date hundreds of years back in Chinese history. Some Reiki masters focus heavily on the spiritual aspects of Reiki, believing that healing occurs as a result of divine energy and intervention. For some Reiki practitioners, especially in Western countries, the focus is more on the power of the energy itself and less on a spiritual or god-centered element.

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