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Misconceptions of the Attunement Process

Article by Phillip Hawkins

Science has a habit of supporting spiritual teachings even though they may first appear to be at odds with one another. For years science and spiritual teachings were thought by many to be antagonistic yet as ignorance and fear has given way to knowledge and understanding that apparent gap has closed as we have come to realise that both science and spiritual teachings are discussing the same realities albeit in languages alien to one another. That is until quantum physics became the universal language that both the scientist and the teacher could relate to and identify with in relation to their own particular school of thought.

Spiritual teachings that were once considered no more than woolly abstract concepts are now being validated by the sciences that provide both the mathematical equations and the necessary evidence to be considered as scientific proof of spiritual truths. Teachers tell us that we are ‘beings of light’ and quantum physics now confirm that all matter, including matter that makes up the human body, is itself made up of waves and particles of light.

Physicists such as Max Planck, David Bohm and J. S. Bell were able to prove that matter including the physical body doesn’t exist in the way we think it does, and the concept of an ‘empty space’ is an illusion, that at the heart of our universe, there are no separate parts to anything, and that everything is connected to everything else. This means that we do not exist ‘in’ a universe; we were created as part of a universe that illuminates and animates all things.

This has far reaching implications to Reiki students and teachers alike as we must accept that given such evidence Reiki, which by our own definition is a universal energy, can’t exist separate from the rest of the universe. Reiki is part of creation and as such common sense and logic must lead us to the conclusion that we are already connected to the universe and Reiki even if we are unaware of the fact. If this is so, and quantum physics and spiritual teachings appear support one another in this conclusion you can’t connect through an attunement, empowerment or otherwise what is already connected.

So what is an attunement and what purpose does it serve?

Before I offer an answer for your consideration let us take a moment to consider that there a reported 300 Reiki derivatives worldwide and I think it’s reasonable to accept that the majority if not all of them will have some variations on the teaching and attunement theme as part of their training. With all of these variations there has to be a common denominator that links them all together. There is; if we accept for a moment that they are all Reiki regardless of their brand name or individual identity, then that common denominator is our attention and intention which allows us to work with the energetic connection that already exists to bring about a desired outcome in the form of raised awareness in the student. Not to connect but to educate.

If we further accept that atunement’s ‘work’ to educate with all of their variations then we must also accept that structure the atunement process isn’t as important as our attention and intention which underpins the whole procedure no matter what form it takes.

It’s recorded that Dr Usui would at times empower/attune his students when he was nowhere near them simply by using his attention and intention. Now we can dis-empower ourselves by saying this was Dr Usui and he was able to do things we can’t do because of who he was. Or we can adopt a more pragmatic approach and simply accept that he was able to do what he did because he understood, accepted and worked with the realities discussed at the beginning of this article. Not as we may have first thought to connect his students to Reiki, but to simply make his students aware of the connection that already existed. He did this by raising their level of awareness through increased knowledge and understanding, the basis of all healing, education and awareness. As Dr Usui himself said the only person we can heal is ourselves and we do this by taking ownership for the life we lead and investing time and energy in our health and wellbeing. This we can only do when there is a shift in our level of awareness to such an extent that we are willing and able to consider new ideas and apply that knowledge and understanding in the way we live life.

If you believe we are spiritual beings developing through a physical expression of life, then you must also accept that this connection is infinite regardless of how many transformations it may go through. If however, you believe we are mortal with an indeterminate time between our first and last breath then our physical connection to the universe begins at the moment of our conception and is reinforced at birth. Either way the connection exists; what is missing is the awareness.


So what purpose does the attunement serve?

The attunement is guided learning and a teaching aid; we all learn in different ways and to do this we need to be able to absorb information in a way that resonates with us and makes sense. Attunement’s work on several levels and provides a physical experience that gives the student a point of reference; a date in their diary to refer back to and say that’s when I was connected to the universe. The only thing it can’t do is initiate a connection that already exists.

If we can accept this train of thought then it must lead us to a natural conclusion that whatever educates the student to the connection they already have with the universe can be defined as an attunement. If on reading this you feel it is a step too far, I would ask you to consider that Dr Usui wasn’t attuned or empowered by anyone. His moment of enlightenment came not in the form of an attunement but through the dawning of his own spiritual awareness. Sitting in meditation he realised it was through the existing connection that his journey of spiritual development had gained a new direction, purpose and meaning. It was not to connect but to understand the nature of our relationship to a universe that sustains us.

This does not in any way dis-empower the Reiki teacher, if anything it places a greater responsibility on their shoulders to provide ongoing support, to educate and empower their students to gain a greater knowledge and understanding of their relationship with universe and the role we have chosen to play.

Healing in relation to Reiki is a by-product and was never meant to be the defining principle of what Reiki is all about. Reiki is and always has been a discipline of personal spiritual development. It’s through this that we educate and then heal ourselves. The only person we can heal is ourselves and we have neither the responsibility nor the authority to arbitrarily heal others. Educate and empower yes; so that they can take ownership and live their lives in such a way that promotes their own health and well being.

As a teacher I have a duty of care to educate and to challenge my students to think for themselves to ask questions and seek out the truth where ever that may be. To do so is not to dishonour or disrespect what has gone before but to use the established as a solid foundation from which we can gain a new perspective and raise our level of awareness, which is the basis of all personal development. The word Reiki is a label; the problem with labels is that once attached they take on a life of their own and we can then begin to identify more with the packaging instead of the content, and buy into the belief that tradition, manuals, hand positions, symbols and attunements are Reiki. They are not; they are a man made physical interpretations of a spiritual truth. Reiki when stripped back is a distillation of knowledge and understanding, a prerequisite for all education and healing, for without knowledge and understanding neither one would be possible.

Attunements have their place in Reiki; they along with the rest of the students training provide a point of reference to which the student can relate to and identify as the start of their Reiki journey. As teachers we need to be able to put this timeline into context. Their Reiki journey may just be beginning but it comes not as a starting point in life but simply as a continuation of a spiritual journey that began long ago when we became a part of creation.

Are we immortal spirit or mere mortal that is for each of us to decide for knowledge and understanding never comes to us complete? No matter when we believe our journey began or where we think our chosen path may lead us, our destination is that of spiritual enlightenment. It is our home, and like the prodigal son of old it is a place that we will all return to one day.

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Phillip Hawkins
Phillip Hawkins

A Reiki practitioner since 1999, Phillip started teaching Reiki in 2000 and using those skills and abilities he has spent the majority of the last seventeen years working with a wide range of social and educational needs including Autism and ADHD. Working with addicts dependent on alcohol and drugs, people whose lives were extremely violent and abusive, and others who had to deal with severe mental health issues. This has enabled him to work extensively in the private sector, schools, colleges, education and care in the community, the prison service and psychiatric units.

In 2016, Phillip decided to semi-retire from full-time employment to concentrate on developing his career as a published author and the setting up of his Reiki personal development programme at the Chilton Community College.

{ 31 comments… add one }
  • Zino Athens May 25, 2015, 8:27 am

    I really feel you have gone deep into this Philip and probably went on a quest yourself to understand our connection to the universe with and without the attunement. I do agree with you that the connection has always existed and will always exist. However, I feel attunements align us to certain frequencies of the universe, so that we can achieve out purpose in life. Thanks for the article.

  • Phillip June 5, 2015, 8:06 pm

    Thanks for taking the time to read the article and posting your comments. You could be right and its something I will give thought to.


  • Dalton July 22, 2015, 3:01 pm

    Wow, this is am IMPRESSIVE and accurate article. Thank you for this insight.

    • Phillip July 22, 2015, 4:01 pm

      Hi Dalton
      You are very kind and I appreciate your comments. Glad you like it.


  • Lori September 3, 2015, 11:07 pm

    Thanks so much for this article …I am studying Reiki online from home and receiving my attunements as distance & self attunements …I can feel their power regardless of the naysayers …thanks for lending validity to this method of learning and attuning …not everyone has access or the money for traditional learning; yet we want it badly. Reiki has changed my life …the world need more Reiki!

    • Phillip September 5, 2015, 9:09 am

      Glad you like the article and it has helped you in some small way. The world is full of people who have opinions on things they know nothing about. My response when I have to engage in discussion with them is a simple one. It usually goes something like this;

      Them: All that stuff is crap!
      Me: OK…how long did you study before you arrived at that conclusion?
      Them: I didn’t waste my time with study cause its crap!
      Me: OK….so you haven’y taken the time to study it because you think its crap and not worthy of your time….is that a fair comment?
      Them: Errr…yeh I suppose so.
      Me: Well in that case we have to accept that your opinion is based on ignorance in the true sense of the word…..lacking knowledge and understanding.
      Them: Well…its my opinion and I’m entitled to it.
      Me: Yes you are, and I will always defend that right, but the true worth or value of an opinion is based not on its content alone, but on the life experience, knowledge and understanding that helped formulate it.

      At this point the conversation usually comes to an abrupt end.

      This conversation works just aswell with ourselves as it does with others, when we are tempted to judge and critisise another person…….we all do it at times and its part of growing up, regardless of what age you are. It also helps when we begin to doubt ourselves or what we believe in, in the face of adversity.

      Stick with it, you will be fine. Let me know if you need a study buddy or just moral support.


      • Lori September 7, 2015, 3:35 pm

        Thanks so much! And some great advice!

  • Leonard March 8, 2017, 4:28 am

    I sometimes wonder where these Myths and Legends come from especially when no proof is ever offered, yes proof is in a way offered but not in a practical practiced way
    Attunements are used to raise the vibrations of the higher Chakras. They are constructed from the vibrations of Energy/ Frequency & Vibration and this comes from Language & Symbols, when they are written as a sentence and that sentence is applied through the Physical into the Chakras of the Mental/ Emotional body and a change is made with that sentence, meaning that at the last session of a level the 3rd dimension body, the Physical is combined with the 4th dimensional Mental/ Emotional Body. This connection is tested through the Crown by being aware of Heat/ Warmth or just not being able to enter the Crown. If comments continue to be made in any manner to contradict this statement then prove it. The system of Reiki is NOT Universal Life Force Energy, it is internal to remove dis-ease from the Mental/ Emotional so that it does not manifest into the Physical.

    • reiki51 March 8, 2017, 1:21 pm

      Ok…..if that’s what you believe I have no problems with that.


  • Steph March 8, 2017, 12:39 pm

    Thank you for this article, one of the things that put me off Reiki for a long time was the idea that is was exclusive and only worked for those who had been attuned, which went against what I had experienced. Having learned more about it as part of my journey I came to a similar conclusion to you. I feel that the connection is there for everyone, attunements and empowerments help us to connect to the part of us that is already connected to Source, maybe raising our vibration/state of mind/confindence/belief or whatever else needs to be healed or changed within us in order to be a clear channel. It also gives some structure to the system, a way of being certified, legitimised and insured, I mean imagine if everyone in the world felt connected to each other and their higher power and went around healing each other willy nilly all over the place without paperwork to back them up/cover their backsides…oh hang on… what if they did?!…

    • reiki51 March 8, 2017, 1:41 pm

      Hi Steph
      I was trained in the traditional way that promotes that the Reiki Master attunes or empowers the student thus connecting them to the Reiki energy. Confusion doesn’t sit well with me, so when I asked who attuned/empowered Usui and was told the universe did and Usui realised he was already connected to that infinite energy source, then I realised we must all be connected to it through conception and birth. I simply make my students aware of that fact and then help them to develop that relationship through the acquisition and application of knowledge and understanding….raising their level of awareness. I use Reiju empowerments to simply help the student develop mentally, emotionally and spiritually in whatever way they need. The only person we can heal is ourselves and a little bit of diligent research uncovers three very important facts. Firstly Usui didn’t call it Reiki, others gave it that label, he simply referred to it as his way. Secondly, Usui never promoted it as a healing modality for others, it was and still is about personal spiritual development. Finally, Usui didn’t use symbols and his students weren’t empowered using symbols. He used Reiju empowerments using his intention that his students receive what each individual needed to help them develop.


  • Korey Long March 8, 2017, 7:56 pm

    Very interesting article. Thank you for sharing it and for your insights.

  • Vaijayanthi March 9, 2017, 8:09 am

    Dear Mr. Phillip,

    Thank you very much for such a wonderful article. It just feels as if someone has taken my thoughts and words from my mind and put it in this article.Thanks again. Healer is ‘The Lord’ and we are just channels in assisting our fellow humans in identifying their original nature of Sat (Existence or Truth)- Chit(Expression -Knowledge about Spirit)- Ananda ( ever Blissful). We all have come to this path of healing for a spiritual purpose and let us all get together and intend to heal ourselves and send love and light to our planet.


    • reiki51 March 9, 2017, 9:19 am

      Thank you Vaijayanthi, so glad you enjoyed the piece and the words resonated with you.


  • Raymond Kerby March 9, 2017, 1:50 pm

    Thank you Phillip,

    I have known for several years that the attunement process was not necessary. I was given a date and time for my attunement to be given at a distance. I did exactly as the lady said and when it was all finished I really thought something spectacular had happened to me. The truth was the lady that was supposed to do the attunement had been in a accident and died just before the said date. I really don’t think that she would have performed the attunement in spirit, so I have been a Reiki practitioner for many years now without an attunement and doing just fine. I have also taught my wife and son and his wife Reiki without attuning them and they also are doing Reiki just fine. The healing energy has been there since we were cavemen and it will be there long after we are gone form this earth!

    Intent is everything!

    Thank you,

    • reiki51 March 9, 2017, 1:57 pm

      Raymond, thank you for sharing that with me, your experience adds validation to my own beliefs. I have a class of Reiki level 1 students tonight who I have taught this level of awareness and understanding to and with your permission I would like to share your comments with them. Keep up the good work and keep telling it like it is.


  • Dawn Mitten June 30, 2017, 10:33 pm

    Wow – I am blown away by your insight and thoughts. How can I be in touch with you one on one? I have some questions that I really think you could help me with.

    • reiki51 July 1, 2017, 10:36 am

      Hi Dawn, thank you glad you liked the article. My email is philhawkins11@gmail.com, or you can check out my work on my fb page Phillip Hawkins Reiki. Look forward to hearing from you.


  • Juli August 31, 2017, 10:33 pm

    This is precisely how I teach. Thank you for the beautiful article and lovely validation, Phillip. In love & light, Juli

    • Leonard (Mr T) September 1, 2017, 12:00 am

      Precisely what you teach. I check if a person claims to be a Reiki Practitioner I check, how do I check, simply by performing a distant connection through the CROWN, write the persons name and put a hand over the Crown and HOLD that position. Results; warmth/ Heat or just not being able to enter, however if the energy does not hold and the flow is down then what; In the 1st instance the applied vibrations are held and in the 2nd instant no vibrations are held.

  • reiki51 September 1, 2017, 2:41 pm

    Leonard, glad you liked the piece. When I was attuned many years ago I was given the attunement process in graph form consisting of columns and rows that covered two sides of A4 paper. A complicated step by step approach that works, not because of some magic formula but because energy follows intent so the attunement process can be as complicated or as simple as you want. Its your intention that creates the result you are looking for.

    As a teaching aid and a way of proving that energy follows intent I have used a yellow smiley face as a symbol in my classes, and it works. I have also reduced the two pages of attunement process down to the size of a small business card. On the card it simply says ”You can now do Reiki”. I simply hand the card to the new student, get them to read what it says and then give Reiki to demonstrate to themselves that they can do it.

    Don’t just take my word for it, try it and prove to yourself that ”energy follows”

    Best wishes


    • Juli September 1, 2017, 9:30 pm

      Again, thank you for the validation, Phillip. I also teach that the symbols and other “tools” we use are simply that….tools to help us to set our intention. I love the smiley face as a symbol as well. In love & light,
      Juli 🙂

  • Leonard (Mr T) September 2, 2017, 1:47 am

    When we are Born we have been given certain gifts,(see 1 Corinthians 12 Paul’s Letters) however we forget them. Nikola Tesla suggested the to understand the Universe we have to be familiar with Energy/ Frequency & Vibration and again we forget that. Takata could not explain what Reiki really is so how can we.
    Draw a simple chohurei and hold it, we have forgotten as to how to be aware and then do the same with the other 3 recognised symbols and you may start to be aware.
    An Attunement is simply writing a sentence from language or symbols and placing that sentence into the Psychic/ Mental Emotional 4th dimensional body Energy Centres (Chakras) Crown/ Kings Crown/ Heart/ Throat/ Third Eye & the Palms of the Hands and when sealed you hold those vibrations for the rest of your life.
    Now we look at how do we test that those applied vibrations are held.
    When hands are placed over the Crown you become aware of something.
    Is there warmth/ Heat or just the appearance of Blockage or are you able to go through to the feet.
    If the former is observed then the applied vibration are being held if however the latter is observed then they are not held.
    The same can be performed as with distant healing.
    That is the simplicity of the system of what is incorrectly called REIKI.
    I really don’t care as to what you claim the system is or how you hide truth, this system that raises your Chakra Vibration has the ability to effectively remove dis-ease from from a body either as hands on or distant, maybe not yesterday but it will tomorrow and it will mix and work with your spiritual gifts..
    Simple but to many Complicated and truth is stranger than the fiction that many display.
    Cheers all .
    P/S If the energy is held then everything that you touch, the energy flows always.

  • Jan E June 30, 2018, 2:26 am

    Phil: I would like to expand upon your article with respect to what you would like other Reiki practioners to understand. I am a Light worker and this is knowledge shared with me by the AN NAIS (the collective name for Angel guides).
    1) You state “Reiki is and always has been a discipline of personal spiritual development. ” This is true, as we all should remember when we
    made our connections to guides and or angels with our attunements. With our attunements we found a deeper connection to ourselves, we became the change in ourselves and found deeper spirituality, not religious fervor. We found Peace and learned to love ourselves better. However Reiki or any energy healing is now more about expanding Peace thru healing our clients. If we could teach all people to access their spiritual connection to self heal it would be a perfect world. People can be lazy, distracted, have little self confidence in their own connections, etc. That is why we as practioners are here to aid people in their search for healing and to help them find Peace. Our Intent and connection thru attunements is our service to others. In providing channeled energy we also find healing along the way.

    From my understanding with past and present Guides and the AN NAIS each level of attunement changes our personal vibrations, each level of Reiki attunement increases our vibrational change. Not by alot, however as we change vibrationally we leave behind lower Guides and have access to higher vibrational Guides.

    We can access angels ( not Arch Angels ) at any time if we only listen. They are pure love and light and will never cause harm or fear. They are the messengers between humanity and the Arch Angels.

    Our Intent at attunement along with the symbols placed into our aura is our commitment to service to the Realm/the Universe/the Source….
    Attunements are commitments to service to help heal, connect and relay messages and to bring Peace to our clients.

    Yes anyone can do energy healing and it doesn’t have to be called Reiki (which can be a brand or actually the definition of the type of energy healing that we channel. There are other energies that can be channeled! ) but those that arent attuned arent committed to service and may or maynot have access to higher guides.

    As we are attuned to Reiki 3 and Master you may have noticed that you are no longer bothered by lesser entities. You may still find lost souls come to be sent home, but your Auric vibration has changed enough to shed lesser Guides and lesser energies.

    Attunements do have a role in our lives as healers. We use our free will and intent to move into each level of Reiki. What we aren’t teaching and should, is that these choices to move forward in levels are also a commitment to service to channel energies and Peace to this world.

    We should never Raku a client as the Raku symbol commits service to the Realm. You should never attune yourself to Reiki Fire as the attunement opens a portal to all energies to have access to your brow and your auric energies. This attunement removes your free will to connect or not connect to the Realm. You are open at all times, and as such you may have access to many Guides but you are also a source of energy for them to deplete.

    “Healing is always the intent, Peace comes with each healing. Peace to the client and yourself. It is our responsibility as healers to bring as much Peace into the world as we can, whether thru clients or directly to Mother Earth.” “Attunements are also gifts for higher connection to different types of energies and to create personal vibrational change as we work in each life time to gain ascension.” “The name does not matter, the energies always have been, we are reminded in these times to use it to help as many as we can and bring Peace. ” guided msg from the AN NAIS 062918 Living With Light Joules Healing

  • manyanstarr June 30, 2018, 6:34 am

    There is a big problem when there is any discussion about Attunements; Attunements are to find the placement,it is the Affirmation that works to increase the Energy/ Frequency Vibration within the Energy Centres. Affirmations consist of Language (Words or symbols) that are applied as sentences to energy centres (Chakras). Maybe the simplicity of the system and how it actually works is where the problem is. In other posts I have maintained my direction and understanding as to how in reality it works.

  • reiki51 June 30, 2018, 9:09 am

    You don’t need affirmations of any kind, you don’t even need the spoken word. Its the power of intention that does the real work everything else are props. To prove this point I produced a small card and on it was a simple short statement of my intention as a Reiki Master. The card said ”You can now do Reiki”. The student read this silently to themselves, then promptly demonstrated to the group they could. We can make it as complex or as simple bas we want, everything including symbols, mantra’s/affirmations are underwritten by the power of our intention. There is no right or wrong way, just different.

  • Atma Jnani December 17, 2018, 10:28 pm

    Namaste, and thank you for this well-said article!
    I also appreciated all the comments.
    I will always remember that beautiful summer day in my favorite forest near the sea … I was laying in my hammock, feeling full of …ananda… I saw a symbol among the foliage of centuries-old plantains… (I was a level II reiki practitioner back then) When I left the Island I came to my parents’ house since there’s was no internet I try to find something similar to that symbol searching my sister’s library (she was my Reiki master back then) ..Ok! I found it! was the tibetan Dai ko Myo! I told later to my master i was being enlightened when i was in my everloving forest and i saw the master symbol.. she didn’t believe me and well, its ok, but i strongly believe cause i had the experience to say so, that that summer was a serious passage to the next initiation of my life’s journey (not only because of the symbol..i was on mantra yoga every day, reading the B.gita every day.. ) Some days ago i had my master teacher karuna ki attunement after…almost 15 years from that day! … I used to express my wish to take Karuna ki reiki from those days but since i was a komyo reiki kai practitioner, my master used to say that is all that i will need!… no way! not my way I might say 🙂
    Haha! I was drowned to write my story here…well..

    pranams of love and light! <3

  • Phillip Hawkins December 18, 2018, 12:14 pm

    The greatest barrier is the belief there is only one way. Intolerance of anything different and the need to defend our way. Find your own path doing no harm to yourself or anyone else, and let those who want to argue do so. Regardless of what path you take we will all meet again on the other side, where we can sit and discuss how we made our way home.

  • Leonard Thomas (MrT) December 19, 2018, 5:44 am

    There will always be opinions claiming absolute reality.
    I do not want to be in that category. I will just put this thought.
    When somebody tells me that they have Reiki I will just ask them for their 1st name. With a proxy I will open to their name, and just let the energy tell me if they have or if they don’t.
    If they have retained the Frequency of the Affirmation (Sentence) within selected Chakras then I will be aware of Warmth/ heat or just not being able to enter the Crown, however if I feel that I can enter the Crown and move into the body then I an aware that they do not retain the Frequencies.
    Reiki is not Spiritual, in reality it is for the perishable and mental/ Emotional body and this is not what the early practitioners understood and that has carried into this reality.

  • nadege Blanc October 8, 2019, 2:21 pm

    Thank you for this wonderful article. I received self attunement for level 1-2 and 3 . I am now taking a course online where I can received a distant attunement. Is that ok? or should I just received one from my Master/Teacher.
    Thank you

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