How Many Reiki Levels Are There And What To Expect From Each One

When thinking about the Reiki Levels or Reiki Degrees we should have a more spiritual approach rather than a technical one.

There are many schools of Reiki and each one has it’s own teachers and masters, who in turn like to explain Reiki in their way. They like to offer attunements to students from their perspective, or by following the old Japanese Reiki traditions.

So which way is the right way?

Well … it’s not an overstatement to say – all of them. You’ll see why in a minute.

Reiki Levels – How They Came To Be

I will shortly explain why this is true, but first, let’s understand how and why Reiki was split into several degrees, over the decades.

NOTE: I will be talking about Usui Reiki Ryoho and not about the other Reiki Systems.

Reiki came into our world as a WHOLE.

It is important to understand that originally, Reiki did not have a systemized way of being taught and it did not have degrees or levels. Reiki came into our world as a WHOLE and wasn’t split or segmented in any way.

That’s why we have to understand a couple of very important points before we can move further:

Reiki Is A Spiritual Practice

 It was “given to us” from a much higher plane of existence through a Buddhist priest, called Mikao Usui in the 1900s.

Given this fact, Reiki can very well “fit” our physical world simply because there is much more than what we can actually see (the material world around us). The physical, energetical and spiritual worlds fit together like a glove.

We are the ones making the separations in order to have a better understanding and a more clear perspective. But in reality, separations do NOT exist, which brings me to the second idea:

All Reiki Levels Have Their Own Purpose

This separation doesn’t make one weaker than the other or vice versa.

It is simply a clearer path for us to understand and assimilate Reiki knowledge. There are Reiki Masters who still have so much to learn while there are Reiki level 1 practitioners who have 100% integrated the Reiki philosophy and essence. 

As mentioned before, Reiki originated in Japan in the 1900s and was brought to light by a Buddhist priest called Mikao Usui.

Following his calling and the advice of fellow monks, he went alone on Mount Kurama where he started a ritual which consisted of fasting, prayers, and meditations.

After 21 days of fasting and being worn out, through a powerful vision, the sacred practice of Reiki (along with a sequence of symbols) was revealed to him.

After returning from Kurama Mountain, Usui Sensei healed many people. They became interested not only in receiving Reiki but in practicing it as well.

From Usui To Others

Therefore, Mikao Usui had many students, one of them being, Chujiro Hayashi, who in turn trained Mrs. Hawayo Takata.

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These are the three big names in Reiki and the ones that made the history as we know it today.

Reiki almost became “extinct” after the Second World War if it wasn’t for Mrs. Takata, who managed to bring it to the West, with the help of Hayashi Sensei.

Along the way, Reiki was “split” in multiple degrees, or as they are known today, the 3 main Reiki levels.

The reason for this was to help the student have a gradual, linear yet secure evolution. 

There is no rush in Reiki. 

We all need time to absorb the freshly assimilated information. We have to study, understand and finally implement it. That is why everyone needs time to adapt to the new energy and vibration that enters the body.

Each one of us has an optimum rhythm in which we operate. Therefore we need to integrate freshly assimilated knowledge before we put it in practice.

Reiki is no different. 

If we rush things we risk overwhelming our mind with information and drain our body at an energetic level.

It can be more difficult to repair this than taking the time to gradually learn and move towards your goal step by step.

Each Reiki level represents a spiritual and energetical “leap” towards a higher level of awareness, knowledge, and consciousness.

What Is An Attunement And What Does It Mean?

Back in the day of Chujiro Hayashi and Takata, things were not as segmented as they are today.

  • Reiki level 1 was taught in four main parts with four attunements.
  • The second level had 2 main attunements.
  • And the third one also had 2 attunements.

There are many Reiki schools out there, each one having their way of passing on attunements for Reiki levels.

Some schools prefer to attune in the old traditional way, others prefer a more modern approach. 

You may receive multiple attunements for each degree or just one attunement for 2 or even 3 levels of Reiki at once.

It all depends on the Reiki Master/Teacher and her way of choosing to pass on Reiki to students.

Personally, I have tried it both ways and I can confirm that the attunement works each time, regardless of the approach.

How so? Because it’s not the person who attunes you! The Reiki Master/Teacher is only a vessel through which the universal energy and spirit guides manifest themselves.

The attunements and their energy are passed on through a sequence of techniques that have the purpose of opening the main channels and energy centers to the universal source of life force energy.

The 3 Reiki Levels As We Know Them Today

Reiki Level 1 – SHODEN

Or the beginner teachings.

Here you learn about the Reiki Principles, one of the main pillars of Reiki knowledge and spirituality:

  • You learn about the hands-on technique, how to work with yourself and how to do the self-treatment; 
  • The 21 days which is another important concept of the Reiki practice;
  • Communicate with your Spirit Guides;

At Reiki level 1 you learn how to work with yourself. You learn about the different stages of vibration through wich your physical, emotional and energetic body goes through. 

It is a beginner level in a more metaphorical way. That’s because you begin to get to know yourself better through meditation and practice on yourself.

You learn that you are a channel, an instrument through which the Universal Source of Life Force Energy flows and manifests itself.

Reiki places your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual body in a state of healing. 

As it travels through you, the universal energy cleanses blockages, suppressed feelings, anxiety, fears, depression, and it helps you reach a higher state of awareness and consciousness.

This awareness will start growing with a focus on yourself. What’s there that needs healing and balancing?

With time, this is going to develop into a degree that will help you understand others and the world around you.

These Are The Reiki Principles

  • Just for today, I will be grateful.
  • Just for today, I will not anger.
  • Just for today, I will not worry. 
  • Just for today, I will do my work honestly. 
  • Just for today, I will respect all life. 

Recite them every morning, every night, every time you do Reiki or feel they will help. Everything comes from inside, all the change, love, and evolution.

About The Hands-on Method

As mentioned, at the first degree of Reiki you learn the hands-on method of healing.

By activating your hands, you learn how to place them in certain positions. This will channel the light/energy through your whole body, removing residual and negative energy and freeing yourself from mental and energetic blockages.

The purpose of these positions is to heal your main energy centers and channels and create a strong flow that you become gradually aware of.

It’s recommended to start from the head down so that all the unwanted energy will flow lower and lower and eventually into the ground.

The 21 Days Of Self-Treatment

The initiated should perform the self-treatment at the very beginning, every day, for 21 days.

The time of day is not important as long as you reserve a moment of peace and silence to do the full self-treatment.

During these 21 days, you should become aware of the energy flowing through your body and the changes that take place.

Normally people fall in these 3 categories:

  • Extra sensitive – the ones that feel even the slightest change in their energy fields and can describe it in detail;
  • Normal sensitive – people who have the feeling of the energy flow but do not feel every small fluctuation in their fields;
  • Insensitive – people who have a difficult time feeling and describing the energy flow;

In either case, do not worry, Reiki works and the energy flows. In time, with constant practice, it will not matter if you are extra sensitive, normal sensitive or insensitive. That’s because you will begin to be in balance and feel the flow of energy naturally.

This period of 21 days is considered by many therapists as the general optimum time for an organism to calibrate itself to the new vibrations and the universal source of energy. 

The 21 days also symbolizes the period of meditation Mikao Usui went through.

The “healing crisis”, even though a bit rough, got its name from the changes that take place in your body at the energetic level.

What to expect during these 21 days?

Some people feel like yawning or crying, others feel exhausted or hyper energized, while others go through slightly more rough symptoms like nausea or dizziness.

Do not worry. This is all normal and it will stop soon after you get more balanced. Reiki will help your organism detoxify itself at a physical, mental and emotional level.

It is recommended (but not mandatory) to avoid too many meat-based meals or consuming large amounts of alcohol. Any excess is to be left aside and you should drink a lot of water to help flush out toxins.

If you are following any sort of medication, continue to do so.

Reiki helps you heal and grow, but as mentioned before, we all live in a physical world so allopathic medicine has its uses. Unfortunately, many doctors and medical centers are skeptical about the idea of alternative ways of healing.

Nevertheless, the two can go along just fine.

And don’t forget!

This is a time for healing, both inside and out. It’s a time when you get to know yourself and understand what needs to be changed for your higher good.

Spirit Guides

One of the most important things you will learn in Reiki is how to work with your Spirit Guides.

They are positive energetical entities and/or angels from higher planes of existence. We all get one when we are born, but most of us forget that they exist, let alone communicate with them.

When receiving the Reiki attunements you also receive spirit guides. 

They can enhance our power in self-treatment and treatment on others as well as help us in our daily life if we understand how to have a proper connection with them.

They can be specialized in a multitude of tasks and by asking them for help in certain activities, they will be more than happy to guide us.

Reiki Level 2 – OKUDEN

This is all about the inner hidden teachings.

If the first degree was about working with yourself from a more physical perspective, Reiki level 2 focuses more on the mental and emotional part.

 What exactly does this mean?

When we are attuned for this level, we gain access to a higher vibration, a stronger flow of the universal energy and a sharper awareness of our true mental and emotional present condition.

We become aware of our capability to channel energy through time, space and our emotional body while healing it.

There is one important aspect here:

The more you advance and practice, the more you will bring to the surface the root of your imbalances.

The reason this happens is so you can become fully aware of them and slowly start healing from the source. This way you can have a clean, well built mental and emotional foundation. 

Of course, they will come to the surface and they will heal in your optimum rhythm. It only depends on you to start working with yourself first. Later on, with experience, you will learn how to do so with others.

At this level, we also learn there is no space, no past, no future but only the present moment and that’s all that matters.

The second degree consists of the following:

  • The awareness and a higher vibration that comes with the attunement in Reiki Level 2;
  • The sacred Reiki symbols;
  • The power symbol, the mental-emotional healing symbol, the distance symbol and two non-traditional symbols used for healing of the heart and communication;

You also learn how to use them for energizing and cleansing yourself and others:

  • Learning how to transmit light into distance, time and space;
  • Learning how to cleanse a room or space in which you want to practice Reiki;
  • Creating Reiki Projects;

Reiki Symbols For Level 2

The CHO KU REI symbol (CKR)

The Cho Ku Rei Reiki symbol has the most various uses of all the Reiki symbols. It generally translates as “All the power of the universe, right here, right now”.

cho ku rei reiki symbol reikiscoop

CKR can concentrate a huge amount of energy in one point, healing, cleansing and protecting.

It acts as a light switch and it enhances the ability to channel the universal energy and it may be activated on energy centers, on the whole body or the palms for a better flow of energy. 

The SEI HE KI symbol (SHK)

It represents healing at a mental and emotional level. It brings out harmony and balance to any level or situation.

sei he ki

Sei He Ki can be used for opening a dimension, therefore it is often used in therapy for cleansing the subconscious (in a balanced way) so we can understand what needs to be healed.

Many self-sabotage and self-induced negative thoughts can be easily cleansed with the help of SHK.

It is also used for activating energy centers, energy channels and it can help us cure addictions.


This is one of the most interesting symbols in all Reiki systems. Hon Sha Ze Sho Nen is the reiki distance healing symbol and it helps you transcend time and space when sending energy.

hon sha ze sho nen

Usually, it is used together with the other two symbols having the sequence: CHK – SHK – HSZSN. This way you are able to send healing light to the past, present, future and in distance.

There are a few things to know before engaging in sending light in the past or for someone else.

Just bare in mind these are simply short descriptions of the symbols.

The SHIKA-SO symbol

It is mainly used for the throat energy center for healing a number of physical affections and enhancing your communication skills.


Shika-So helps us express our deep, repressed emotions through efficient communication, thus having a harmonious relationship with the people around us.

The SHIKA-SEI KI symbol

This is a very powerful symbol, used mostly for the heart chakra, which helps release any emotional blockages and stress.

shika-sei ki

Shika-Sei Ki is useful for relationships and together with Shika-So, helps us heal our emotional and communication blockages.

It can also help cure a series of physical heart conditions by tapping into the energetic structure and making us aware of the true cause behind those imbalances. 

You can use the symbols in various situations and with different healing methods.

I personally believe that we are yet to discover their true value and potential.

Through meditations, I am sure that there are many more uses and useful attributes that can be applied even for deeper methods of healing.

Go beyond traditional Reiki and discover the Shika Sei Ki and Shika So Reiki symbols.

Reiki Level 3 – SHINPIDEN

Also known as the mystery teachings.

Many Reiki schools consider it The Master Degree. 

This level consists of:

The enhanced ability to channel the universal energy;

  • Learning about what a Reiki Master is and what are her/his responsibilities;
  • The Master symbol along with all the information and vibration that it brings;
  • Meditation with the Master symbol;

The truth is that Reiki level 3 comes with a considerable potential of spiritual awakening and a significantly increased ability to channel the universal energy.

Some Reiki Master/Teachers decided that they don’t want to pass on attunements on others but still want to deepen the knowledge of Reiki. Therefore, Reiki level 3 is split into two main attunements:

  • One attunement is simply for the 3rd degree and brings all the knowledge with it but without the possibility and information to pass on attunements;
  • The other attunement contains both the information of passing attunements as well as all the knowledge of Reiki level 3.

Reiki level 3 is only the beginning of a potential spiritual evolution that lies within you. It is up to you to bring it to the surface!

Some of the responsibilities of a Reiki Master are:

  • Bring light where there is darkness, love where there is hate;
  • To spread the truth and knowledge as best as possible;
  • Guide people on the right path and in their own rhythm;
  • Have a positive attitude and to be capable of improving on all levels;

Reiki Symbols For Level 3

The DAI KO MYO symbol (DKM)

Dai Ko Myo Master symbol, associated with the true meanings of:

Light | Wisdom | Spiritual Growth | Life | Love | Happiness

dai ko myo

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Even the simple meditation visualizing the DKM symbol will have a cleansing and healing effect on all your structures.

It represents the Divine energy that manifests through us and our healing hands.

It represents the pure light, the highest level of wisdom and energy that a person can aspire to.


The Reiki levels represent much more than just a few learning steps. As presented in the beginning they are spiritual leaps in which we change our vibration and knowledge. We seek to gain new wisdom from each attunement and each level.

Reiki is an amazing art, you just have to learn how to use it and then apply it.

On its own, it can help you to a certain point. Then, it is up to you to work with yourself to bring the universal light/energy into the physical world so that is can manifest through you.

In this way, you will contribute with a little bit more positive energy and more peace to this ever-changing world.


About Vlad and ReikiScoop

Vlad is a Usui Reiki Grand Master/Teacher who has also gained the Master/Teacher Level in Karuna, Shamballa MDH, and Gendai Reiki, with 15+ years of experience. He now shares his knowledge through ReikiScoop. You can always read more about Vlad and ReikiScoop in the about section.

5 thoughts on “How Many Reiki Levels Are There And What To Expect From Each One”

  1. This is excellent article and has resolved all the queries i have had in my mind even after completing level 2. Thanks much vlad. Do you provide course for level 3A?

    • Hi there and thank you for writing.

      I am looking forward to building a Reiki level 3 (a and b) course in the near future. It will also contain the attunement procedure for each level. It’s going to take quite some time to finish it so bear with me until then 🙂



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