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What are Reiki Attunements All About?

Article by Angie Webster

One of the most strange and mysterious things about Reiki to those first investigating it is the attunement process. Even the word “attunement” leaves a bit of mystery. It sounds like a vague and unknown thing that is impossible to wrap the mind around because there is nothing in the experience to compare it to. This can even make it seem a little scary to some. So let’s explore Reiki attunements and bring some understanding to what they are, what they do, how they feel and what happens afterward.

What are Reiki Attunements?

An attunement is a part of the Reiki training process. It is something that only a Reiki Master is trained to do.

The process can be seen as accomplishing two things. One is to do a very intense healing on the recipient, which goes very deeply into the energy channels, opening and clearing them. This makes way for rapid healing to begin for the newly attuned Reiki practitioner. Opening and clearing these energy channels not only allows for a greater healing, it allows for the Reiki energy to flow more freely through them, so that the recipient of the attunement will now freely receive Reiki at all times, particularly when intending to receive it, and will also allow Reiki to transmit through them, flowing more easily through these energy channels.

We all have Universal Energy flowing through us and around us. It is everywhere, in fact. Reiki attunements allow us to open up to this energy and become more aware of it than we normally are. It literally attunes us to it. When we come into the world as infants, we are much more in tune with this energy and as we become habitualized to this world, we lose the awareness of it. Reiki attunements help us to open our awareness to it.

What do Reiki Attunements do?

Most people who have a Reiki attunement, even at the first level, can feel the energy flowing through their body, their hands, and sometimes their feet right away, sometimes even as the attunement is being done. This doesn’t happen to everyone and a few only report minor sensations or none at all. They may not feel the energy flowing through them, but when they practice Reiki on another, they will be told that the energy is felt and shifts will be seen.

In doing Reiki self-treatment after an attunement, even the newly attuned will feel peace, even if they don’t feel a lot of heat or other sensations coming from their hands. The perception of the sensations are somewhat different for everyone and will vary from session to session, which is normal.

Reiki Attunements

During the attunement, the Reiki Master will ask you to close your eyes and become still and prayerful or meditative, looking within yourself for the meaning and symbolism of the process to you. You may be asked to focus on your breath and to notice your center.

The Master will then draw symbols which represent various healing energies, such as the power of love, harmony, the Unity of All or God with us, and one that helps to dissolve the illusion of time and space. These will be drawn in your aura and on your hands.

There are some slight variations aside from this in the ways that different Masters do an attunement, so these are only the basics, not the entire process. Most Masters begin and end the process with a brief prayer or intention, which may or may not be spoken aloud.

How does a Reiki Attunement feel?

People experience various different things during an attunement and your experience will be your own. Whatever you experience is exactly what is appropriate for you at the time. Don’t get concerned about comparing with others or with what you read on the internet.

Many people feel sensations of heat or tingling or of vibration rising up their spine or flowing down from the crown to the base of the spine or the feet. Some feel their hands grow hot. Many see colors or have visions. A few hear sounds such as music or bells or angelic voices. There are many possibilities. It is a rather profound and moving experience for many.

What happens after an attunement?

In the days after an attunement, many people have a healing response, often referred to as a healing crisis. This can last for up to two or three weeks, fluctuating in the symptoms and severity, and many teachers will teach that you should expect it to last 21 days.

In truth, it varies from person to person and from one attunement to the next. Some people have no healing response at all, for some it is very mild, others are very sick for the first day or two with flu-like symptoms and then feel a lot better, with only mild emotional fluctuations for a week or two after that. For some, the healing response is almost entirely emotional, with emotions arising and releasing, maybe with crying spells or anger coming out and releasing. It may be gentle or not.

It is best to simply observe and let the energies pass, journaling and processing as needed. Nearly everyone will notice that their life changes in some way after an attunement, even if it is only that their responses to things shift. Keeping a journal in the weeks after and attunement can help you track the process and is very interesting to look back on later, even if the changes seen mild or insignificant at the time.

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Angie Webster
Angie Webster

Angie Webster is a Reiki Master, Teacher, and Author. Angie’s primary focus is animal Reiki, which she adores. She teaches online classes on energy healing, flower essences, herbalism, and personal growth. Angie often works with nature healing and Earth healing, hoping to better understand our connection with Mother Earth. Angie is the author of Animal Reiki: How it Heals, Teaches & Reconnects Us with Nature and Reiki from A to Z. You can follow her at: angie-webster-healing.teachable.com and on Facebook (facebook.com/angiewebsterhealing).

{ 27 comments… add one }
  • poonam tripathi July 30, 2015, 7:28 pm

    Wonderful article Angie…so well explained !! Gratitude !!

  • far July 30, 2015, 7:33 pm

    I have done 1 nd 2 level reiki.but i dont feel any intuitions or signal.nothing feel during healing. Wat reasons. I have nagative thoughts i m single parent .cant do any thing i want to do some thing but not doing. Every thing is giong nagative in my life. Evry thing is block

    • Angie Webster August 1, 2015, 7:40 pm

      Not everyone who becomes trained and attuned in Reiki feels a lot of sensations, especially at first. This may be especially true if you have a lot of healing work to be done in your own life. The best thing to do is to treat yourself every day with Reiki to help heal your own life and also to work with the Reiki principles each day, as they are also part of the healing work for healers. I hope your life improves soon and that you find peace. Blessings.

    • jon August 17, 2015, 5:39 pm

      try some fasting and read the psalms of healing, drink a lot of water, I hope will help.

  • Monique July 30, 2015, 8:24 pm

    After I received my atunement for Reiki 2, I rode home on my motorcycle. Since it was cold I wore gloves but my hands became so hot I had to take them off, cooling my hands in cold running water after I got home. I definitely felt a lot!

  • clare July 31, 2015, 3:54 am

    When I was attuned to Reiki 1, my hands were buzzing hot for 2 days. I also had moments of running under cool water. I felt alot of changes and sensations. It was fantastic! About to complete Reiki 2. Excited!

  • Maureen August 17, 2015, 5:07 am

    If only a Reiki Master can attune you then how did Dr Mikao Usui become attuned if he was alone on a mountain for 21 days? Surely if the Master could do his own attunement than mere mortals like ourselves can also do it because he was only a mere mortal when he did it.

    • Angie Webster August 17, 2015, 10:47 am

      I do think that anyone can tune in to the Universal Life Force energy, as well as to the life force within themselves. What Mikao Usui did on the mountain was the cumulation of an entire lifetime of learning, meditation and prayer. He was already quite used to sensing energy and very aware of Universal Life Force. He was on the mountain to connect more deeply and was seeking an answer to his own healing and an opening to his own path from Spirit. A clearer opening and deep understanding was brought to him, which can be thought of as an attunement. Part of that included understanding how to help others more quickly open to this understanding, as well.
      It is true that anyone can open to this on their own, yet it may take a very long time to achieve the level of awareness for them to receive the information or to even begin to understand the steps they need to take to being making themselves more open to it, clearing their minds and their energy channels. An attunement allows all of that to happen right away, offering a deep healing and transformation to take place, through Universal Life Force (or God, if you wish) within.

    • Patricia Penner August 20, 2015, 11:57 am

      If you are asking that question, you either have not been attuned to Reiki or your teacher has not done a proper job in instructing you how Dr. Usui came to create Reiki. I personally believe, especially after reading all of Frank Arjava Petter’s books on Reiki and others also, that Reiki is a compilation of all the things Dr. Usui studied and learned in his all too short life (he past around his mid 50’s.) It is said he had an “enlightenment moment” on top of the sacred mountain Mt. Kurama when a great white light struck him in the forehead and knocked him unconscious after he performed a 21 day fast and meditation for the purpose of trying to receive the information on how to attain Satori (a state of being where nothing bothers you no matter what is going on with you or around, you know your life purpose and are doing it). All the information about the system and how to use it were imparted to him while in that unconscious state. Or so the story goes. Dr. Usui was (if you will) attuned by the Creator or Spirit. I have never heard of anyone asking how he become attuned before – and I don’t feel he actually did, he created the system (and he says so in a newspaper article or radio show interview he did that is in Frank’s last book).

  • Patricia Penner August 18, 2015, 12:04 pm

    I have taught and done Reiki for over a decade and read more than 60 books on Reiki, and am also a Karuna Reiki Master Teacher, and run two Facebook Reiki Groups. An attunement elicits a 21 day cleanse in all the major chakras, not a healing crisis. A healing crisis is elicited when someone has a Reiki session (usually a lot of sessions in a row as per Mrs. Takata’s protocol to treat really severe cases). People who are brand new to energywork and have never done anything like T’ai Chi or Qigong, etc., may experience very little if anything at all after an attunement as far as sensation in their hands, etc It may take some time before they build up to that and doing things like “pulling taffy” (a T’ai Chi/Qiqong exercise) or putting a drop of lavender oil in the center of the palms of the hands can help to open the palm chakras and then have a greater awareness of sensations in the hands from the flow of energy. Also many people don’t have all the bells and whistles during an attunement that more sensitive (intuitive) people might have. Everyone is different and will experience the attunement differently. Reiki enhances whatever gifts/talents you have brought in with you this lifetime but won’t give you things you did not bring in with you. So if you are an intuitive, whatever gift set of those abilities you have will be enhanced and over time, going up in levels of Reiki training and doing lots of reiki on others and sending a lot of distant reiki, will enhance your gifts even more (I can testify to that)! Reiki does not make you an intuitive. I encourage journaling also during your cleanse.

  • Patricia Penner August 18, 2015, 12:15 pm

    We all have Universal Energy flowing through us and around us. It is everywhere, in fact. The Reiki attunement allows us to open up to this energy and become more aware of it than we normally are. It literally attunes us to it. When we come into the world as infants, we are much more in tune with this energy and as we become habitualized to this world, we lose the awareness of it. A Reiki attunement helps us to open our awareness to it. (I also don’t agree with this statement. The source of Reiki is the divine and Reiki energy comes down to you from source, when you connect with it. There are two camps in the Reiki world around this issue and what you stated in one camps view. It depends on which translation you ascribe to when translating the words Rei and Ki The older Kanji characters describe Rei Ki as being the action of heavenly power (rain) descending down to meet your personal energy (Ki) I am very much in the camp of Reiki being a divine energy that we tap into from whatever the Divine means to you – Jesus, Buddha, Quan Yin, or just the Creator, Spirit, Intelligent Intelligence etc. – up to you and your belief system). As a T’ai Chi & Qigong instructor for almost 25 years I know waht Universal Lfie Force Energy feels like (what you describe) and that is not what I feel when I channel Reiki. I am stickler for setting the public straight. There is a ton of misinformation going around on the internet about Reiki and confusing the public. That is why I am think regulating Reiki would clear up a lot of this problem.

  • Allison August 30, 2015, 6:00 am

    A really great article Angie, a very thorough and easy to comprehend explanation of the attunement process.

  • Bianca D October 29, 2015, 11:32 pm

    Brilliant description Angie. Nice comment thread too ^_^

  • Tasia October 30, 2015, 4:22 pm

    This is a great article. I am Reiki I certified and had an attunement during the class and after I definitely felt the healing process and felt so much lighter. Do I need another attunement or once it is done, that’s it? Thank you again for the article.

    • Angie Webster October 30, 2015, 8:25 pm

      Great question! Once you are attuned to Reiki, you are attuned for life. It is fine to receive additional attunements, but attunements don’t wear off. If you want advance to level 2 or the Master level, you will need additional attunements and classes for that. Also, it is a really good idea to continue practicing self Reiki each day as a habit to continue refining the way the energy flows within your system and to continue your healing process.

  • Judy November 17, 2015, 5:44 pm

    I have to tell you that my I & II attunements were very very physical. I felt the energy enter and I jolted a few times. I was sick for a while after those attunements. My ART attunement was oh so lovely with more meditation but I still felt the jolt of the energy entering and settling in my core. So amazing. The attunements were done by different people so hence different experiences. I recommend re-attunements from other people.

  • Kathleen December 15, 2015, 8:55 am

    Yes we all have energy, but when the person is attuned to Reiki as they are attuned to each degree their energy is “locked” so their energy will never go below that level but can go higher. Where a person that hasn’t been attuned their energy can be very erratic. It is also ONLY a Master/Teacher that can attune a person in person! Never over the internet and not by reading a book and not on youtube. I have seen all of this and Master Usui would cry at what have some done to this gentle healing art.

  • racheal clarke March 5, 2016, 7:28 pm

    after Reiki 1,
    I cried a lot healing I guess

  • Mark Brinsden March 5, 2016, 9:23 pm

    One thing I do know after receiving Master Level Attunement from several ‘Masters’ is that they all think they are right, have all the answers and have the best form of Reiki. There are also people who say you can’t do distance attunement, but I have tried receiving it and it was good. I have received the wide spectrum of attunements from the New Age style to one of various Japanese styles. They all work to some degree. But when I used to teach – the first thing I would do before attunement would be to get all the group in a circle with their hands on the shoulder of the person in front and they would all feel Reiki energy at once. Once you are told to look for it, it will be there. The simple intention is already enough. So the training is nice to have, but if the right intention is there, even that can be fairly minimalistic. Just follow ‘Just for today…’ is enough. As for as charging for Reiki goes – I have charged for Master Attunement only, as a way to ensure that the students are serious more than anything. If I were to charge it would be for my time not the healing and my time would probably be too expensive, so I prefer to give it freely. I now only practice on friends and family who ask for it. The Reiki Energy is a blessing and has change my life in many ways. Thank you Mikao Usui and thanks Angie for a good and thoughtful article.

  • abby June 19, 2016, 8:38 pm

    i was attuned a few years ago, but to be honest i was not really in the right place emotionally for it, and i never continued with it, i was going to a group, but thought i was more a psychic than a healer. i eventually had to stop going due to work commitments. i stopped all of it. Now some 15 years later my life has completely changed and i am well and truely on the path of light, and reiki has come back into my life, i feel very drawn to it now, but wonder do i need a refresher or similar attunement? i have read once you are attuned it is for life, but as i did not ever really heal myself from the start, how should i go about including this in my life now?, i try now to regularly meditate and do yoga, but i definitly feel a yearning for reiki, what should my next move be? fyi unfortunately i am still unable to join a group, so am basically doing it on my own, but would like to start healing myself first… then i am sure the angels/universe will make available to me who/what i need 🙂 your advice on this would be greatfully received, thanks with love and light.

    • Angie Webster June 20, 2016, 6:43 pm

      Hi Abby,
      You do have the attunement still within you and you can choose to start doing daily Reiki self-treatments whenever you wish to. This will begin the process of clearing away old energy blockages and reawakening you to the energy. Having Reiki session from another practitioner is always nice and that could be a way to help you get started clearing energy, too. In addition, you also have the option of taking a refresher course, which can be done as a whole new class, if that’s what you choose. Also, some Reiki teachers, including myself, offer Reiki refresher courses for those who never really used their Reiki practice, stopped for a long while or have lost their confidence for some reason. That would brush you us on the basics and give you a re-attunement to the level you were at before. No matter which method you opt for, really commit to a daily Self-Reiki practice for at least a few weeks, for at least a few minutes a day. After that, consider making it a lifetime practice. Contact me if you would like to discuss a Reiki refresher class. angiewebsterhealing@gmail.com

  • abby June 26, 2016, 4:45 pm

    Hi Angie,
    i wanted to update you, i have been doing self reiki daily, and i can definitly feel it now, when i put my hands either side of my head specifically i feel what i can only describe as an energy. its like an air cushion between my hands and head and if i move my head i can feel it moving around, it is quite a strange feeling, but comforting coz i feel it is working 🙂 i will continue with this, as it feels so right now, compared to last time. i was reading a post on reikirays regarding children, and it said about magic hands, in children, i know this wasn’t your post, but do you know if it would work, as the child hasn’t been attuned? or does it work because of their age and innocence therefore more open to source? many thanks with love and light Abby

    • Angie Webster June 26, 2016, 6:15 pm

      Hi Abby,
      That’s wonderful to hear that things are going so well with your self-Reiki practice!
      I’m not certain which article you are referring to regarding Reiki and children, but I will answer based on my own understanding of children and energy. Children are very highly sensitive to energy and are often still very aware of it, even on a conscious level, while they are young. Some lose this awareness and sensitivity as they become more conditioned, but others retain some level of it into adulthood. Some lose the sensitivity earlier than others. I don’t personally feel it is necessary to attune a very young child, as they are already in touch with the energy of healing and the Divine. I feel the same about animals, as they are also very sensitive and aware. As they become older, children may wish to become attuned, or otherwise reacquainted with the healing energy.

  • Bonnie Augustine August 22, 2016, 12:48 am

    Wonderful article, Angie! As a Reiki Master, just beginning to share this healing with students, your advice was encouraging and validates the way I teach it. Namaste’

  • ATUL SHARMA June 7, 2017, 6:30 pm

    Excellent book. Experienced a lot. Thanks

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