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

When thinking about Reiki levels, one should place them on a more spiritual scale than a technical one.

In other words, the level of Reiki should not be determined by how many attunements you have or how long you have been practicing. Instead, it should be based on your ability to channel the universal energy in various situations and for different purposes.

There are many Reiki schools out there.

Some follow the Japanese traditions, while others perform attunements in their unique way. But, regardless of the approach, they all have one thing in common – the connection with the spiritual realm.

There Are 3 Usui Reiki Levels

  • Reiki Level 1 [SHODEN] – beginner teachings;
  • Reiki Level 2 [OKUDEN] – hidden inner teachings;
  • Reiki Level 3 [SHINPIDEN] – mystery teachings;

How Did Reiki Levels Came Into Existence

We first have to understand how and why Reiki was split into several degrees.

NOTE: I’ll be focusing on Usui Reiki Ryoho because other Reiki systems might differ.

Reiki came into our world as a WHOLE.

It’s essential to know that Reiki didn’t have a structured method of learning when it first emerged. It wasn’t broken down or divided in any way. Reiki entered our world as a whole and was not split or segmented initially.

Reiki Is A Spiritual Practice

We “received” it from a much higher plane of existence through Mikao Usui, a Buddhist priest who lived in the early 1900s.

Given this fact, some people may feel that they need to be religious in order to benefit from Reiki—but this is not the case.

The universal energy that Reiki works with is present all around. The spiritual and physical planes perfectly blend together to provide us the existence we’re privileged to experience.

That’s why Reiki is perfect for anyone, no matter their belief system.

At the end of the day, we’re the ones making the separations to have a more clear perspective. In reality, these segmentations don’t really exist but are sometimes necessary to integrate such concepts.

Each Reiki Level Serves A Unique Purpose

The different levels we know today give us access to certain vibrations, but this doesn’t make one weaker than the other. It’s simply a clearer path to understanding and assimilating the Reiki knowledge.

There are Reiki level 1 practitioners who have integrated the Reiki philosophy, while some Reiki Masters still have a lot to learn.

Reiki Was Passed On And Evolved

As mentioned before, Reiki originated in Japan in the 1900s and was brought to light by Mikao Usui. Following his calling and the advice of fellow monks, he went alone to Mount Kurama, where he engaged in a ritual of fasting, prayers, and meditations.

After 21 days, he visualized the sacred practice of Reiki along with a sequence of symbols.

Usui Sensei healed many people after he returned. Others saw the benefits of Reiki and became interested not only in receiving healing but also in practicing themselves. That’s when Mikao Usui understood the power of passing on his knowledge and how this could influence many more lives.

Chujiro Hayashi was one of his first students and the second Reiki Grand Master. He trained Mrs. Hawayo Takata, who introduced Reiki to the Western World. Together with Mikao Usui, these are the three big names who defined the practice as we know it today.

Yet, like everything else, Reiki evolved and was later split into the 3 main levels, which helped students experience a smoother progression.

To my knowledge, there isn’t an exact date or person who decided on this change. Rather, it’s the result of distinct experiences that lead to a natural outcome.

What Is A Reiki Attunement

Through the attunement process, the Reiki Master will facilitate the connection to the universal life force energy. This will allow you to use Reiki at its full potential.

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 with its unique approach. You may receive multiple attunements for each degree or just one for 2 or even 3 Reiki levels. It all depends on the Reiki Master/Teacher.

Personally, I’ve experienced both. And I can confirm that the attunement works each time, regardless of how you do it. This is because your teacher is merely a vessel through which the universal energy flows.

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

During the attunement, you connect to a higher vibration level, and that’s why it’s best to progress one level at a time. It’s possible to feel dizzy, yawn, or even feel fatigued. Some people start crying, while others feel nauseated. Rarely do these symptoms manifest severely, but they are present in mild forms in most cases.

It’s essential to be as open and relaxed as possible because that allows the energy to flow through you more easily. Once the attunement is complete, you are permanently connected to this higher energy level and can start using it immediately.

How Do Reiki Attunements Work

During the attunement process, the Reiki Master/Teacher becomes a channel that will help open your energy channels and enhance the universal energy flow.

To have a pleasant and rewarding experience, the most important thing is to find a Reiki Master/Teacher that you resonate with. This will ensure a healthy connection and a comfortable energy exchange.

I will always recommend getting the attunement in person. Opening the energy channels and energy centers is a sensitive process, and I believe it’s more effective this way.

Still, there’s nothing wrong with distance attunements. If you cannot find a local Reiki Master, or if the situation doesn’t allow it, there are online options available. Remember to find someone with a good reputation who can offer proper guidance.

Reiki Level 1 – SHODEN

Reiki level 1 is also known as the “beginner teachings.”

NOTE: If you’re just starting out, check out our Reiki for Beginners guide!

At this level:

  • You learn about the 5 Reiki Principles, one of the main pillars of this spiritual practice;
  • You become familiar with the hands-on technique and how to work with yourself through the self-treatment;
  • The concept of 21 days that follows the attunement. This is considered the initial healing stage;
  • You learn how to communicate with your Spirit Guides;

Reiki level 1 is all about working with yourself and connecting to the universal life force energy. It’s when you explore the different stages of vibration that your physical, emotional, and energetic bodies go through.

You start to get to know yourself better through meditation and learn that you are a channel through which the universal source of life force energy flows and manifests.

As it travels through you, the universal energy cleanses blockages, suppressed feelings, anxiety, fears, and depression. The goal is to guide you towards a higher state of awareness and consciousness.

This awareness will help surface imbalances that require healing. As a result, your understanding of the world will grow and slowly become more flexible and tolerant.

These Are The 5 Reiki Principles

  • Just for today, I am grateful;
  • Just for today, I am happy;
  • Just for today, I am at peace; 
  • Just for today, I work honestly;
  • Just for today, I respect and I’m kind to 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.

Just as in the book of the great Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu – “Tao te Ching” these principles play a more profound role beyond what we physically see.

They are a fountain of wisdom with a higher spiritual meaning.

Even though Reiki was split into several degrees, it has preserved its strong positive resonance. This will probably last for centuries to come.

I’m confident that Reiki has helped raise the consciousness and vibration of many groups of people worldwide. This eventually led to decreased negative energy and, therefore, fewer conflicts.

Reiki positively influenced our world at scale.

Reiki is a catalyst for higher spiritual human evolution, and it all starts with the attunement for level 1. But, as we’ll later discuss, it’s not only the wisdom and the practice itself that matter, but the actions we engage in.

“Just for today”

This strongly motivates the inner-self to be present and live in this moment -Now!

It’s a spiritual time that we can truly take control of and determine how to think or feel.

We cannot alter the past. And we don’t know what the future holds. But being in the present moment can positively influence our lives.

One of the most powerful things you can do is be grateful and forgive.

While the indication for forgiveness may not be evident at first sight, the Reiki Principles help us acknowledge this fact with simple but meaningful phrases.

The Root Of The Problem

Reiki level 1 is all about the basics of the practice. They might seem counterintuitive for someone who has been doing this for a while. Still, these are the fundamental principles each practitioner follows.

Reiki helps our mind, body, and spirit transition into a state of healing.

But to maintain this balance, you have to solve the underlying issue. Through regular practice, you’ll gradually surface the root of the problem so you can heal it.

It’s probably one of the most important distinctions we have to make. And it can be challenging, considering we’ve all been “trained” to address the symptoms instead of identifying the source.

Even acceptance is a huge step in one’s evolution. Yet, actual transformation can only come from within because evolution is the effect of a proper and harmonious improvement process.

The Hands-on Method

At Reiki level 1, you don’t use symbols or other complex techniques, just a clear intention and your hands.

But, make no mistake, this is a powerful method. It will allow you to tap into the universal life force energy and channel it where needed. Some even stick to this approach their whole life and enjoy significant rewards.

To use the hands-on method, you activate your palms by rubbing them firmly against each other. Then place them in specific body areas to channel the universal light. This will help remove residual and negative energies while dissolving blockages.

These hand positions aim to heal your main energy centers and create a clean and robust flow.

Reiki is flexible, and there’s no wrong way of doing it. Still, it’s recommended to start from the head down to guide all unwanted energies into the ground.

Read more about traditional and modern hand positions >>

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 feel the energy flow at one point, even if it’s not significant;
  • Non-sensitive – those who may never feel the energy flowing;

Regardless of your sensitivity level, Reiki still works the same for everybody. So, do not worry too much and trust the process.

The 21 days is also known as the “healing crisis.” It’s an optimum timeframe for the body to heal and calibrate itself. You’ll raise your vibration and dissolve part of the negative energies you’ve been carrying around. It might not be comfortable, but it’s definitely worth it!

After that, you’ll reach an initial state of balance when the universal energy flows naturally. It’s actually when the real work begins.

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 The 21 Days Of Self-Treatment

Some people feel like yawning or crying, while others become exhausted or hyper-energized. There are slightly more severe symptoms like nausea or dizziness at the extreme end. These are similar reactions to the attunement but more likely to occur, considering you’ll work with Reiki for longer.

Still, don’t worry too much. They are normal and will gradually fade. Think about it as a detox exercise at the physical, mental, and emotional levels.

Ideally, you should avoid heavy meat-based meals or large amounts of alcohol. Try to get enough rest and drink lots of water to help flush out toxins.

NOTE: Don’t let this intervene with your regular prescriptions. Reiki is a gentle and supportive therapy that you can use in conjunction with other treatments.

The 21 days of self-healing is a time of introspection that will influence all levels. It’s a way to get to know yourself better and uncover deeper imbalances. Of course, they won’t surface all at once, as this is a long journey that will develop at an optimum pace for you. Still, it’s a chance to get closer to your higher self and make the first steps toward your greater good.

Spirit Guides

One of the most important things you will learn in Reiki is how to work with your spirit guides. These can sometimes be angels but are generally beneficial entities of light from higher planes of existence.

We all have one from birth, but most of us are unaware of its existence. You’ll also receive additional spirit guides through the Reiki attunements.

Their role is to support you in self-treatment, when practicing Reiki on others, as well as in your daily activities.

Constantly working to improve your connection with them will bring many benefits along the way. You can do this by regularly asking for their help but also by sending them Reiki while being grateful for their assistance. You should also try to be open to their guidance, which can come in the form of signs, intuitions, or dreams.

reStart your Reiki practice with a specialized course!

Reiki Level 2 – OKUDEN

Reiki level 2 is all about the “hidden inner teachings.

If the first degree was about working with yourself from a more physical perspective, at Reiki level 2, you start focusing on your mental and emotional side.

This means you gradually receive access to higher vibration levels and, therefore, a more potent energy flow. As a result, your awareness sharpens while your mental and emotional condition is enhanced.

The more you practice and improve, the more likely you’ll be to surface certain imbalances. Even if they sometimes seem to overwhelm you, they only become present when you’re ready to heal the root cause. Therefore, expect this to happen and be grateful for the growth possibility.

Later on, you’ll learn how to do this for others.

Reiki level 2 teaches us that there is no space, past, or future. There is only the present moment, and it’s all that matters. It consists of:

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

You also learn how to use them for:

  • Energizing and cleansing yourself and others;
  • Sending light at a distance, through time and space;
  • Cleansing a room;
  • Creating Reiki projects;

Reiki level 2 is all about working on your mental and emotional bodies. The attunement will open you up to higher vibration energies, which will help you to surface any imbalances you may have been carrying. This is a necessary step in order to heal the root cause of these issues.

Reiki Level 2 Symbols

At this stage, you also receive access to the main Reiki symbols. They enable the practitioner to better focus the universal energy but also tap into higher vibration levels. In turn, this will gradually develop your awareness and enhance the self-treatment effects.

We’ll briefly cover their meaning and role, but each has a dedicated article if you want to learn more.

Cho Ku Rei Reiki Symbol

Cho Ku Rei is the most versatile Reiki symbol of all. It generally translates as “All the power of the universe, right here, right now.”

Cho Ku Rei Reiki Level 2 Symbol

Cho Ku Rei can concentrate a huge amount of energy in one point, healing, cleansing, and protecting that area. It acts as a light switch that can enhance the universal energy flow.

You may activate it on your energy centers, the entire body, or your palms to better guide the flow.

Sei He Ki Reiki Symbol

Sei He Ki represents healing at a mental and emotional level, promoting harmony and balance.

Sei He Ki Reiki Level 2 Symbol

You can use it to open a dimension. That’s why it’s often used in therapy for cleansing the subconscious to understand what needs to be healed.

Sei He Ki can also assist us in removing many self-sabotage or self-induced negative patterns. It’s ideal for activating energy centers and channels but also to support us in the process of healing addictions.

Hon Sha Ze Sho Nen

Hon Sha Ze Sho Nen is one of the most interesting symbols in all Reiki systems because it can enable the practitioner to send universal energy through time and space.

Hon Sha Ze Sho Nen Reiki Level 2 Symbols

You may use it in the following sequence to support the healing of your past, present, and future:

Cho Ku Rei + Sei He Ki + Hon Sha Ze Sho Nen

NOTE: There are a few things to take into account when considering this practice. Remember that this is merely a brief overview and not intended as a lesson on symbols.

For example, one essential aspect of sending light in such a manner is doing so for 10 minutes a day only a couple of times a week. The dedicated Hon Sha Ze Sho Nen article (referenced above) will cover more of these best practices.

Shika Sei Ki

Shika Sei Ki is a very powerful symbol that you can use on the heart chakra to help release emotional blockages. Together with Shika So, they work together to improve relationships and support communication.

Shika Sei Ki

It has the potential to tap into the heart’s energetic structure and make us aware of the actual cause behind existing imbalances.

Shika So

Shika So works perfectly with the throat chakra for healing a number of physical affections and enhancing your communication skills.

Shika So

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

We are yet to discover the real potential of these symbols. However, I’m confident that many more attributes will come into sight through meditation and practice.

Read more about the Shika Sei Ki and Shika So here >>

How To Use And Activate The Reiki Symbols

Symbols don’t follow a single pattern, and you can use them in various ways. They can enhance the cleansing effect, balance emotions, bring harmony to a space, and also use them to channel energy at a distance.

Intention is key when practicing Reiki, and it stands true when activating symbols as well. So, regardless of the two methods mentioned below, having a clear objective and focus in mind will make the difference.

Method 1 – Drawing

  • Join your index and middle fingers together with your thumb to better focus the energy;
  • Pronounce the symbol’s name 3 times as you draw it on your palms, chakras, or in front of you;
  • After you finish drawing the symbol in your palms, gently clap your hands together to complete the activation process;

Drawing, pronouncing, and clapping are 3 elements that work together to help manifest the symbol’s energy into the physical plane.

Method 2 – Visualizing

Gradually, you will become more familiar with their meanings and function.

  • You may simply visualize a Reiki symbol bathed in bright white light, energizing the area where you want it to operate;
  • You don’t have to stress too much about each line;
  • The important thing is to have a clear idea of what you want to achieve and why you use a specific symbol over another;
  • You can always draw them on your whole body and on your back to enhance the protection against negative energies;

I believe each symbol has more uses than any book or course can present. That’s why our role as practitioners is to be flexible and allow them to guide us towards the best way to use them.

It’s essential to start slow and progress at your own pace. Things will be revealed to you when you’re ready. We’re all at different stages in our spiritual journey, and it would be unwise to receive access to vibrations we cannot control. Therefore, be patient, and let your intuition be your guide.

Reiki Level 3 – SHINPIDEN

Reiki level 3 is also known as the “mystery teachings” or the Master Level. It’s when the practitioner’s ability to channel energy increases significantly by connecting to higher vibration levels.

It also comes with greater responsibility as the practitioner is expected to use the freshly acquired knowledge to help others as well.

The Structure

  • The teachings and responsibilities of a Reiki Master;
  • Gaining access to the Master symbol;
  • Internalizing the information attributed to the Master symbol;

Reiki level 3 is a pathway to spiritual awakening and a deeper connection with the universal life force energy.

While some are willing to pass on their knowledge through attunements, others simply want to improve their practice and experience. That’s why Reiki level 3 is split in two main parts:

  • The first type of attunement provides access to the energy and information of level 3;
  • The second type enables the student to perform attunements;

Reiki level 3 is only the beginning of a potential spiritual evolution that lies within you. Of course, you’re the only one who can nurture this gift and manifest its value in the physical plane.

Here are some of the responsibilities a Reiki Master has:

  • Bring light where there is darkness, love where there is hate;
  • 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 be able to improve on all levels;

Reiki Symbols For Level 3

Dai Ko Myo

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

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

Dai Ko Myo

Dai Ko Myo represents the Divine energy that manifests through us and the highest level of energy and wisdom a person can aspire to.

It’s a symbol for deeper emotional healing, spiritual awakening, and enlightenment. As the Master Symbol, you can use it to amplify any other symbol’s energy, clear energetic blockages, or add a protection layer.

Cho Ku Rei + Sei He Ki + Hon Sha Ze Sho Nen + Dai Ko Myo is the most used and efficient sequence of symbols to open a gateway of light towards a higher vibration level. This can significantly enhance the energy flow and make it more efficient.

The Master/Teacher level is the last one in the Usui system. From here on, once you feel comfotable with this stage and you’re looking to advance in your spiritual journey, you can check out the Reiki Grand Master system >>

reiki symbols guide promo

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Does It Take To Progress From One Level To The Next

There is no rush in Reiki.

We all need different time frames to absorb information, understand, and implement it. In Reiki, you also need to allow your body to adapt to the new energy and vibration.

That’s why it’s best that you do not follow a pattern but evolve in your own rhythm.

If you rush, you might risk overwhelming yourself and even become confused. This can quickly lead to a loss of self-trust, taking a lot more time to correct than waiting for things to come naturally.

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

How Long Does It Take To Learn Reiki Level 1

3-6 months is the average. But this implies regular practice and learning. Actually, they go hand in hand. Together they’ll allow you to internalize the specific knowledge and become comfortable with the vibration. Still, avoid getting stuck in timeframes and only compare your progress with how you felt yesterday. We’re all different, so there’s no rule. The most important thing to remember is – “There’s no rush in Reiki.” Time will tell when you’re ready, so enjoy the process!

Do You Learn Symbols At Reiki Level 1

No. The first level is about connecting to the universal life force energy and learning the hands-on method. You receive access to the 3 main Reiki symbols (Cho Ku Rei, Sei He Ki, Hon Sha Ze Sho Nen) through the level 2 attunement. At this stage, you can also include Shika So and Shika Sei Ki.

How Many Levels Do You Need To Become A Reiki Master

You have to pass through the first 2 attunements/levels to become a Reiki Master. Just keep in mind that “Reiki Master” is a term that defines a practitioner who has simply received the level 3 attunement. Therefore, you are not a master per se once this event occurs. This is a lifelong journey of constant learning. Yet, this threshold will allow you to reach the highest Usui vibration levels.

How Many Types Of Reiki Are There

There are countless types of Reiki out there. Since Mikao Usui defined Reiki as we know it today in 1922, the practitioners that followed upgraded the initial learnings and even channeled new systems. Karuna, Shamballa, and Seichim are probably the most popular.

Still, they all have Usui Reiki at their core. The main difference lies in the level of vibration and information. Therefore, one should only progress once they feel the need to go deeper into this art form and make use of specific techniques.


Reiki levels are much more than just a few steps in your spiritual journey. They are changes in vibration and knowledge. Each attunement opens us to new possibilities and will guide our path from that point on.

Reiki is an art form with infinite choices that will only become better and more efficient with time. It can bring balance at all levels, but it’s also a catalyst for spiritual growth.

Each Reiki level has a unique role, and remember that you don’t have to advance if you feel comfortable with where you are. The most important thing is to benefit from the universal life force energy to improve your life and have a positive contribution.

Time will tell if you are ready for the next level. If you feel a strong pull to move forward, then go for it! Don’t let anyone else tell you what’s best for you – only you can know that.


Vlad and ReikiScoop

Vlad is the co-founder of ReikiScoop, a spiritual brand that supports those eager to tap into the universal life force energy through specialized courses, an actionable newsletter, and inspiring resources. He is a dedicated Reiki enthusiast and spiritual seeker who has reached the master-teacher level in Usui Reiki, Karuna, and Shamballa MDH.

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9 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 🙂


  2. Wow I just stumbled upon the Reiki teachings and your article described everything really well for a beginner like me. Everything makes lots of sense. The fact that we’re all connected to energy is the fundamental idea of this practice and everything else builds upon that.

    • Hi there and thank you for your feedback.

      Indeed, you are correct. Everything around us is made up of energy and information, even the primordial physical elements.



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