The 5 Elements of the system of Reiki & The 3 Pillars

The Five Elements and The Three Pillars

1. Developing Spiritual and Mental Focus - The 5 Life Precepts/Principles

2. Hands-on Healing (the physical aspect)

3. Techniques and Meditations

4. The 4 Symbols and their Mantras

5. Reiju a Spiritual Blessing/Empowerment OR Western Attunement


1. Developing Spiritual and Mental Focus

This occurs over time from working with what were known as Usui's special set of Precepts, now referred to as 'The 5 Life Precepts/Principles'.  Usui is supposed to have said "That as much Spiritual Development would come through following the precepts, as would come through carrying out any of the energy work". The Precepts are at the very heart of the system of Reiki and are considered to be Universal teachings.  Originally there was a lot of speculation as to where these Precepts first came from.  It was thought that The Emperor of Japan who held the position at the time of Usui, first adopted these 5 Precepts for his people to live by, and whilst he may have used the Precepts it is now known they have been around for much longer.  In fact they have been traced back to the early 9th Century and were used in a Tendai sect of Shugendo with which Usui was known to have studied. These Precepts were a way of addressing aspects of the Buddhist 8-fold Path in a simplified form.


Whilst they are called The 5 Life Principles/Precepts there were clearly 6 and perhaps the first being 'For Today only' is actually the most significant and powerful of them all. They are considered a tool for transformation, 'The secret of inviting happiness through many blessings, the spiritual medicine for all illness'.   And perhaps 'many blessings' refers to what is known as Reiju in Original Japanese Reiki, what we call today an Empowerment, a Spiritual Blessing and in Western Reiki is known as an Attunement.  It is known that Usui would give his students a Reiju each time they met and practiced the system of Reiki.


It is understood Usui taught these Precepts as early as 1915. Another set of traditional precepts were said to be Usui's original precepts.  There are many versions of the Precepts today, in books and on the internet with slight differences in the wording, which may have been down to translation, but they all really mean the same thing.  And it is thought that Hawayo Takata may have made some changes to them to make them more suitable for a Western mind at that time, ie changes in the last line that often read 'honour your parents and teachers'.


One of the most interesting methods of working with the Precepts is to meditate on them. You may like to do this whilst sitting in Gassho, and you may feel that you want to work with just one or two of the Precepts at a time, perhaps spend a couple of months on each one before you move onto the next.  This will allow you to discover the many layers that exist within each of them.  So sit for 10 to 20 minutes, say for instance, 'Do not anger', say it up to 10 times (don't count it), and then sit in the energy of it. Has it evoked anything inside of you?  Do this at least twice a day. Emotions may come up, and this is a good thing, if you are holding onto old hurts, they are better out, enabling you to heal on every level.  The idea is that the Precepts be kept in mind and guide you through your daily life. So think about the personal meaning of the individual Precepts and take notes on your experience with them, perhaps in the form of a journal.   And remember ...  'Be Compassionate to Yourself ... '.


For Today only

Do not anger

Do not worry

Be humble

Be honest in your work

Be compassionate to yourself and others


2. Hands-on Healing

Hands-on healing is the physical aspect of Reiki, used on yourself or for the healing of others. This aspect is considered one of the most important in the system of Reiki. Everyone has the ability to use their hands for healing. The system of Reiki gives you the confidence to use your hands, strengthening your abilities and taking you deeper into them. Beginners can use hand positions as guidelines. Mikao Usui taught 5 hand positions initially, concentrating on the head. Western Reiki typically teaches 12 hand positions, they are fine to use as a guide but as your confidence grows you should eventually be able to let go of these and work more intuitively.  


3. Techniques and Meditations

The Japanese Techniques were introduced into the system of Reiki to support and strengthen the students energy, to create a focus and to support a spiritual journey. One of the techniques is Hatsurei-Ho and this encompasses Kenyoko-Ho (Dry Bathing); Gassho Meditation which means 'two hands coming together' and Joshin Kokyu-Ho which is a breathing technique. Other techniques such as Reiji-Ho are practiced, this heightens your sensitivity to energy work, it is a intuitive practice. Another practice is Byosen scanning, this is where you feel for different sensations on the body to guide your hands to healing that area.  


Meditations are taught throughout all three levels of Reiki, these can be simple breathing meditations like Joshin Kokyu-Ho, where you visualise light energy coming in through your Crown going down to your Hara, and expanding it through yourself and out into the Universe.  More advanced meditations such as Seshin Toitsu are typically taught where you imagine you are breathing in and out through your hands, this meditation builds sensitivity in the hands.  


4. The 4 Symbols and their Mantras

You will learn 3 of the symbols of Reiki at level 2 and the 4th symbol at level 3.  Each symbol has its own Mantra.  The Mantra is like it's name and we would usually repeat this Mantra 3 times whilst drawing the symbol, this then connects us to it, changes the vibration of the energy, making it a powerful tool for healing.  The symbols are used differently in Western Reiki to Japanese Reiki. In Western Reiki we use them externally and with Japanese Reiki we use them interally.  You use different symbols for different energy work.  We won't mention the names or show drawing of the symbols here as it is important that they be respected and only used when necessary and by people who know how to use them correctly. 


This is how Bronwen Stiene from the International House of Reiki explains them:  "Each symbol and mantra represents a certain cosmic element, such as Earth Ki, Heart Ki and Heaven Ki.  The symbols and mantras were provided as training wheels for students to use until they were ready to discard them once they had become the appropriate energy. They are tools which support an inner awakening and it is at that point that the tool can be released".  

5. Reiju A Spiritual Blessing/Attunements

Reiju would be received during a Reiki Course and at follow-up meetings and taught to those students that progress to Reiki Level 3 (Western Reiki) or 3rd Degree Shinpiden level (Japanese Reiki) so that they may complete this ritual for their students if they choose to advance to Master/Teacher level.  


Along with the five Reiki principles/Precepts, Usui based his Reiki system on three other practises; Gasshō, Reiji-hō, and Chiryō.

Gassho ("合掌" in Japanese, meaning "two hands coming together") is a meditative state where both palms of the hands are placed together, and was practised each time at the beginning of Usui's Reiki workshops and meetings. One technique of Gasshō is to concentrate on the pads where the two middle fingers meet before each treatment.  This helps to steady and focus the mind.


Reiji-hō (霊示法, meaning "indication of the Reiki power method") is a means of connecting with the Reiki by asking it to flow through the practitioner, and is commonly split into three parts.  The Reiki will either enter through the crown chakra, as this is the highest ascension, the heart chakra, as indicated by the pure love of Reiki, or the hands, as the palms are attuned with specific Reiki symbols.  


Firstly, Fold your hands in front of your chest and ask that Reiki flow for it's highest and greatest good of your client.  Next, bring your folded hands up to the 3rd eye and ask Reiki to guide your hands to wherever they are needed.  Do not feel you have to rush this, take your time.  Thirdly, follow your hands and begin the treatment. Trust in your intuition.


​Though similar to the practice of Byosen-hō, Reiji-hō relies specifically on intuition to heal, whereas Byosen-hō scans for areas with the hands, feeling for subtle changes in the aura of the practitioner's hands and the aura of the recipient.


This method may take many months of practice before you can trust in your intuition to guide you, but in the meantime, it's fine to either follow a set of hand positions and/or work with the 'Byosen'.

Chiryō ("治療" in Japanese, meaning "medical treatment") requires the practitioner to place his/her dominant hand on the crown chakra and wait for ‘Hibikki’ (響き, "feedback") in the form of an impulse or inspiration, which the hand then follows. During Chiryō, the practitioner gives free rein to the hand, touching painful areas of the body until the area no longer hurts or until the hands move on their own to another area.  Use all clues available to you.  Use your senses and knowledge of the body to tune into your Client.  If you don’t get a clear message from this technique, hold one or both of your hands above the Clients Crown Chakra to tune into their energy.  Alternatively, use the Byosen Method.


Setting Your Intent

One of the most important aspects when using Reiki, is your pure intent.  Your intent for healing to take place, whether it be for yourself or someone else. And this intent should always be followed up with a statement, said to yourself (if you are with a client), asking that 'Reiki be sent for it's highest and greatest good'.  If you are reiking someone else you may like to ask them to be 'open to healing', you may like to even ask them to be 'open to receive everything that they need at this exact moment in time'.  Let the Universe know what your intent is, it opens you up for powerful healing.