What is a Reiki attunement

by Roberta R. Barnes © 2004

Reiki attunement has became a common way to refer to the gentle act of a Usui Reiki Ryoho instructor opening another to universal vibrations of love and harmony.  This might sound mysterious, but all styles honoring Usui Reiki Ryoho involve love and harmony not mystery.

What is called a Reiki attunement can be thought of as a sacred ritual passed from instructor, to instructor, to instructor in a way that honors the essence of Mika Usui. However, it is just the beginning of the Usui Reiki Ryoho journey; a journey on which only what is best for the one receiving happens.

When you receive what is commonly called a Reiki attunement from a qualified Usui Reiki Ryoho instructor you will experience a shift in mind, body or spirit that is right for you, at the time that is right for you.  It is most commonly a gentle shift that increases your awareness of the beauty in life, which brings with it a calmness.

Because Usui Reiki is a piece of pure universal energy that is the vibrations love and harmony, you know the Usui Reiki flowing through you is positive.

Everyone experiences what is commonly called a Reiki attunement in his or her own unique way; each life form is unique and each person has his or her reality by which all experiences are viewed.   It is your view of experiences that forms your beliefs and it is your beliefs that form your reality, which is then what determines your view of experiences.  <read about breaking the cycle>


Any style honoring the essence of Mikao Usui’s original spiritual practice is does not have mysterious secret rituals and symbols. The only time mystery is attached to Usui Reiki Ryoho is when you understand that there is more knowledge in the mystery than there is in the known.  One of the training wheels (Reiki symbols) that instructors use in teaching represents the harmony, romance and mystery of the moon, but the moon’s mystery is tranquil and peaceful.  


In answering what is a Reiki attunement, the first thing to do is to break the question down into parts.

The word attunement has become attached to a qualified Usui Reiki Ryoho instructor opening another’s pathway to universal energy (inviting a student into the Reiki light); some use the word channel instead of pathway.  Many other Usui Reiki Shihans and I refer to opening a student’s pathway to the universal vibrations of unconditional love and harmony using different words.  Some have said that the way in which it was originally done was similar to Reiju, but the strong Japanese Usui Reiki techniques such as Gendai Reiju are different than what is called an attunement.


In most dictionaries the meaning for attunement is given as being or bringing into harmony, or a feeling of being at one with another being.  Being in harmony with anything requires balance within and being in a state able to receive. Therefore, to be opened to a piece of the source of all energy/universal energy commonly called Usui Reiki you must be in a receiving mode. This does not require eating special foods, or wearing specific clothing because being open is a state of mind.


Herbalists, forest rangers, farmers, and many people have an attunement to nature. Nature has its own form of energy. Anyone drawn to a plant, animal, or bird for no logical reason, and is aware of receiving a gift from that connection knows nature’s form of energy.

Each life form within nature has its own life force energy and its own ki/qi, which is very close to life force but different. Ki is one of those words that is difficult to describe, because it is an energy that includes mind, body and spirit and not simply the energy that keeps the physical functioning.  Both of these energies are forms of universal energy, but are not universal energy.

We have all heard the basic law, energy can neither be created nor destroyed, but changes form; there are zillions of forms of energy.  The spiritual practice of Usui Reiki Ryoho uses the piece of universal energy (the source of all energy), which is the vibrations of unconditional love and harmony.

Throughout history different people have used many forms or universal energy and a few have connected with different pieces of universal energy. Many forms of energy are within and around us 24/7. Regardless of how many forms of energy one has experiences, each new energy feels different, if he or she is open to receiving and acknowledging different vibrations.


While the phrase Reiki Attunement has become popular, it is important to remember that this is just he beginning.  Learning all the history, exercises and techniques that help you to achieve the personal growth that comes with this spiritual practice requires many hours of instruction in classes and out of class practice.

No one can force anyone’s pathway to open to universal energy; if the higher self of a person is not ready and willing to be open it does not happen because the universe allows free-will.

Universal wisdom flow with Usui Reiki so you automatically know that universal energy flowing through you will not cause any harm.  When introduced to an pure form of energy that is new to you there will be a shift in mind, body and spirit.  The shift happens in different ways for each person because each of us is unique, but it is not a healing crisis as you find as various healing modalities.  Each master instructor describes this to her or his students in different ways; most of my students simply notice that they become calmer in life.

With each initiation (attunement) received from a qualified Usui Reiki Ryoho Shihan (master instructor or advanced teacher) your pathway opens a bit wider to allow more of the vibrations of unconditional love and harmony of universal energy to flow through you. To completely open up to be one with the universe, which is a bit beyond human comprehension, would take a life time of study, discipline, and practice.

For Mikao Usui to reach his first awakening it took years of gathering knowledge of all kinds, practice and disciplined meditation. Then he did not connect to universal energy until his second awakening following three years of disciplined daily Zen Buddhist studies, and days of very deep meditation to a level that few people are able to achieve.

As popular a phrase as Reiki attunement has become, sometimes the knowledge that Usui Reiki Ryoho is a spiritual practices is lost.  <read more about Japanese Usui Reiki >


Your Ki/Qi and life force energy are strengthened by pure Usui Reiki, and the ‘healer within you’ is awakened and enhanced.  This is all new to you; the conscious mind sometimes attaches symbols to this, such as colors or variations in body temperature. Some times  the deep enriching harmony that is created within you goes unnoticed by the conscious mind, but your higher-self notices.

While I often say just the word “Reiki”, I know “Reiki” is a Japanese noun that has many meanings.  Alone it does not represent the spiritual practice that Mikao Usui founded in the early 1920s. <read more- What is Reiki>


Healing is a byproduct of Usui Reiki Ryoho;  Mikao Usui’s spiritual practice balances and surrounds with harmony so that one can live with health and happiness. Sometimes that requires a shift of acceptance.


This initiation sometimes called attunement is the sacred ritual passed on from instructor to instructor.  <read more about MIkao Usui’s spiritual practice>


No style honoring Usui Reiki Ryoho is better then any other style and each person should connect with the Reiki teacher that feels right to him or her.  I would however not suggest you study 5239 Reiki if you want to learn a spiritual practice.  Then again, even though Reiki Kushida is a Japanese astronomer who co-discovered the asteroid 4875 Ingallis, discovered at least 14 supernovas in other galaxies, and who the asteroid 5239 Reiki is named after, she still might have studied with members of the Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai.

Even if Reiki Kushida did not study Usui Reiki Ryoho, she still may have mentally connected with a part of herself that was a very strong energy when she was looking through her telescope. In the 1980s, I began experiencing altered states of mind through meditation, which might be described as the same feeling as an attunement by someone not being open to the zillions of forms energy.  When we limit our thinking then we3 try to put all new things into the slots that have already been formed.


Brain waves operate at many levels, so with guidance and practice you can experience many energies simply within yourself.  None have the same feel as the universal vibrations of unconditional love and harmony we have come to call Usui Reiki. Following studies of other forms of energy I attended a festival of energy practices. and opened myself up to receive all the positive energies around me.  There were many strong forms, especially when combined, but none were an actual piece of universal energy.

Usui Reiki is a pure piece of universal energy, which is why when you are first opened to this flowing through your body you will experience a shift in mind, body and spirit.  Nevertheless, this shift will not cause a healing crisis unless you expect it to be and then your mind will create what you expect.

The world is full of mysteries and many different forms of energy. Each time we experience a new energy it feels very different then what we have experienced before, but that does not mean it is universal energy.


You do not have to be looking for energy to experience vibrations. Love is energy and people often find those vibrations without looking. Mikao Usui was not looking for a healing nor was he looking to connect to the universal vibrations of love and harmony, it just happened while he was in extremely deep disciplined meditation because he was ready.


I have received what is commonly called attunements in many styles of Usui Reiki Ryoho. The vibrations of love and harmony of universal energy is always the same, but the life force energy of the person through which it flows can change the way the energy feels, looks, and smells. One thing that does not change is that being opened to Usui Reiki  will not do anything negative to your mind, body, or spirit.

The spiritual practice of Usui Reiki Ryoho often involves the use of your hands, but it is not massage. Drinking water is not needed. If you are thirsty feel free to drink water, but Usui Reiki does not create a need for water. Reiki balances and surrounds with harmony. Do not try to outguess the universe or analyze universal energy, instead allow the universal vibrations of love and harmony to flow freely through you.


If it is right for you to release any encumbrances this will happen, but at the time and in the manner that is right for you. This most commonly happens in the hours, days and sometimes weeks following the empowerment. There is no 21 day healing crisis with the spiritual practice Mikao Usui founded,  but if you like the idea of 21 days it is good at any time to say that for the next 21 days I will pamper myself and be better and better each day in every way. .


Think of universal energy as the pure water coming from a spring in an untouched natural forest. The water drunk from a paper cup will taste different then that from a glass or a tin cup, different again depending upon what other beverage was first in the cup or glass, and different depending upon how well the cup or glass was cleaned. It is the same with universal energy flowing through body, mind, and spirit. Universal energy that has not been altered also has a very fine delicate feel.

An attunement/initiation/empowerment is only the beginning, and it is the instruction from a Usui Reiki Ryoho Shihan who has put years into study and practice that is important. Many things can be learned from books and DVDs but any style honoring Usui Reiki Ryoho cannot be learned for books and DVDs. 

  • There are no odd rituals practiced and secret symbols used if the style of Reiki follows the tradition of mikao Usui’s spiritual practice Usui Reiki Ryoho.
  • No hidden secrets and no way anyone can skip the time needed for the shifts to happen at all levels.
  • Each person assimilates in her or his own reality and what appears new to him or her might be viewed as a secret.

There are many others energies and energy practices in the world. Usui Reiki Ryoho is the connection to a unique form of energy and stems from living the Gokai, which is the middle se tin of the Usui Gainen.

It is each person’s choice what he or she wishes to study, the only thing to remember is that the path you walk is who you become.

Words have many meanings and when translated from another language that multiplies. Do you know the meaning of Japan? The kanji for Japan literally means, “The origin of the sun”, or less literally, “Land of the Rising sun”. The Japanese kanji for Reiki can means many things and some are opposite to the essence of  Usui Sensei’s spiritual practice.

Thank you for respecting the © on all the information Roberta R. Barnes is sharing with you and not copying  anything without her written permission, not changing any of the wording and including Roberta R. Barnes as the author.

 Everything on this site is © Roberta R. Barnes.    In understanding copyright of articles on the net please read 10 Big Myths of Copyright Explained.


This entry was posted on September 20, 2013. Bookmark the permalink.