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Reiki; Keeping it Simple

Article by Phillip Hawkins

It seems inherent in human nature to make things complicated; we take the simple things in life and make them unduly complex and more difficult than they need to be, it’s almost as if we distrust simplicity and automatically presume that there must be more to ‘it’ than meets the eye. Maybe it’s because we are born with love as our default mechanism but as we grow we learn to fear and mistrust to such an extent it becomes second nature.

Our approach to spirituality is no different; the more important we perceive a thing to be the more serious we become in its pursuit and in doing so we can lose perspective and objectivity and adopt the rigid mindset that something so profound must be complex and esoteric. There are some who actively feed this myth by taking something simple, making it appear complex and complicated only to charge considerable amounts of money for the pleasure of making it ‘easy to understand’. This is also the basic principle of ‘rebranding’ where a product goes full circle usually with a new name; new packaging in order to attract new customers to what is an old tried/tired and tested product. We see this in all things spiritual with people coming forward with a new spin on a very old idea, and it doesn’t come much older that creation itself.

Reiki provides us with an excellent example of how a basic practice can give birth to countless derivatives which on close inspection are separated only by the front cover of the manual that carries its name and the obligatory symbols that try to create a sense of uniqueness, which on closer inspection is superficial or nonexistent. Even if you factor in the differences between the Eastern and Western versions of the Reiki story and strip away the ‘packaging’ that is used in some cases to add volume and make it look more than it is, you are left with three very simple principles upon which everything else hangs. Unconditional love is the spiritual energy that forms the basis of all creation; our free will is the means of all physical and spiritual growth; and this creative spiritual energy follows our intent to literally form our reality.

Image by micahcraig

In Reiki as in many things in life ‘less is more;’ which when you think about it is the simplification of our actions, we do less until we reach the point where nothing appears to be happening yet everything that needs to be done is done through the power of our intent. Dr Usui’s memorial stone carries the inscription that his desire is for our Reiki to be ‘formless and free flowing’ this can only happen when we let go of the many physical trappings that can restrict its flow and impede our Reiki practice to such an extent that we become bogged down by techniques and procedures that provide rigidity and structure, and comfort in the knowledge, that which is seen to be done provides visual ‘proof’ that something is happening.

All of the techniques, hand positions and symbols used in Reiki work for no other reason than they are all underwritten by the principle that energy must follow our intent, read any book on the use of Reiki symbols and techniques and you will invariably find the link between the symbols and the catalytic power of our intent. Dr Usui would regularly empower/attune his students when they were nowhere near him, he was able to do this because he understood and accepted the spiritual law of intent. He also had no need or desire to do anymore than was necessary to achieve the desired outcome. If we need proof we need look no further than science to validate this principle. Quantum physics provide both the mathematical equations, which are a prerequisite to scientific study, and research based proof that all energy, spiritual and physical is responsive to the conscious mind and instrumental to the creative process.

There is nothing wrong with using symbols, hand positions or well documented techniques in our Reiki practice; they all work by nature of our intent. The level of their success will be defined by the quality and quantity of our intent, the recipient’s receptivity to Reiki and the effect of the above principles. Reiki as we know it is ‘energy’ pure and simple; all else are nothing more than add-on’s to try and give form to the formless. The danger comes when we begin to believe that the hand positions, symbols and techniques ‘are’ Reiki and must be used ‘religiously’ in a pre-determined way in order for it to work. If the ultimate goal is for Reiki to be formless and free flowing; the acceptance and application of unconditional love as the energy of creation and the use of our free will and intent, should be the only prerequisite to our practice, formless and free flowing in effect, simplicity itself.

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.


{ 40 comments… add one }
  • Sarah September 16, 2013, 8:45 am

    I agree wholeheartedly with this article. It’s very refreshing to read such a clear-thinking piece. So many people seem pre-occupied with reiki types, symbols and other paraphernalia.

    • Phillip Hawkins October 24, 2013, 6:31 pm

      Hi Sarah, so pleased you enjoyed it. Thanks for the kind words.

  • Angie Webster September 16, 2013, 11:09 am

    I agree wholeheartedly! Having pure, loving focus is the most important thing we can do to heal and direct energy for the highest good. This is the basis of all teachings of spirituality or healing.

    • Phillip Hawkins October 24, 2013, 6:39 pm

      Hi Angie, pleased you enjoyed it, thanks for the feedback.

  • Patricia Fimio September 16, 2013, 11:25 am

    well written….I couldn’t agree more

    • Phillip Hawkins October 24, 2013, 6:41 pm

      Hi Patricia, so pleased you enjoyed it, thanks for your kind words

  • Randall Hall September 16, 2013, 11:51 am

    While I agree that simplicity is best, I came at Reiki through one of the variant versions. And even though I do not practice that version any more, I can honestly say I would not be a Reiki practitioner today if that variant didn’t exist.
    So I say, let the other variants exist and let people find Reiki and healing through the path that appeals to them the most.

    • Phillip Hawkins October 24, 2013, 7:11 pm

      Hi Randall, I could’nt agree more. I’ve said many times that all the Reiki systems work, they do so because of the creative energy that underwrites them. That energy calls us to it in different ways, whats important is that we take the call and make the journey.

  • Peggy Harris September 17, 2013, 2:32 pm

    Thank you so much for this message. I’m new to Reiki and had discovered naturally the healing energy that moves through me. I have found using certain techniques created by others can actually bog me down. Now I open myself up with intention & trust the highest good will be done.

    • Phillip Hawkins October 25, 2013, 5:43 pm

      Hi Peggy firstly thank you for taking the time to post your comment and your kind words. I can honestly say that I was very confused when I came to Reiki due mainly to all off the Reiki experts and their must do’s and don’t do’s. On Dr Usui’s memorial he speaks of Reiki being fluid and free flowing which requires us to quieten the mind in order to hear, feel and experience spirit communicating with us. What I have found is that spirit speaks the loudest to me in moments of silence and quiet contemplation. The development of any skill requires practice and an awareness of the basic principles, but mastery requires the ability and confidence to improvise and go beyond the known and accepted. Thats how we develop, grow and achieve things. If a technique works for you great; if it doesn’t let it go and find something that does. If you can’t find it, create it yourself, and don’t automatically assume that others have all the knowledge and answers. The creative energy we call Reiki doesn’t need words to express itself, trust it and yourself and you won’t go far wrong. If I can help in any way please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

  • Eileen July 28, 2014, 12:25 pm

    Yes! Refreshing! Thank you Philip.

    I’m so pleased to read of the simplicity of Reiki. It’s something I feel is important.

    I wonder what you think of something I observe – that the most profound healings take place when I am unaware of what is going on. eg my daughter was three months pregnant before we knew. During that three months I ‘gave’ her Reiki. She’d had an operation the year before and it seemed that that was what was being ‘treated’. I could blank out with the power of it – hardly able to hold up my head. Each time she benefited yet symptoms returned – so much so that she went to the doctors who sent her straight away for blood tests. A phone-call the next morning told us she was pregnant. A beautiful boy arrived six months later.

    Which country are you in?


    • Phillip Hawkins July 28, 2014, 3:31 pm

      Hi Eileen
      Thank you for taking the time to read my article and then posting your kind comments. Firstly congratulations on the birth of your grandson I’m so pleased for you as a grandparent my self I know how special this is.

      I think its human nature to want to be associated with success which is one of the reasons people are drawn to the celebrity culture, even a tenuous link is better than no link at all, we need to feel a part of something special rather than on the outside looking in. In some ways Reiki is the same; we want or need to feel that we played a part in the healing process and there is nothing wrong with that as long as we recognise where the healing is coming from and our part in the process.

      There are two things that will restrict the flow of Reiki and thus limit its effect. Firstly if the person doesn’t want Reiki (Reiki is neither intrusive or dictatorial and has neither the desire or the authority to overide our freewill). Secondly if the Reiki practitioner becomes too involved in the process, tries to hard or tries to impose their will/control/conditions on the flow of energy because of what they think should be happening. It is much easier to treat a stranger than it is to treat a loved one. With a stranger we can have a certain objectivity but with a loved one it is the most natural thing in the world to want what we think is the best for them, even if we don’t know what the best thing is. Your example reflects this because you thought you were treating one thing when in reality there was something totally different going on that no one was aware of.

      The only person we can heal is ourselves and healing is as much about education/knowledge and understanding as it is about taking pain away which can be a very dangerous thing if the underlying cause goes unnoticed, this precept is often overlooked in our desire to do good and facilitate healing in another. A Reiki practitioner is nothing more than a channel a conduit through which the Reiki energy flows and part of the healing process is to ensure that conduit, that pipe is free from debris so that the energy can flow freely without interuption or restrictions. This is why spiritual teachings instruct the physician to first heal themselves.

      The best thing we can do is learn the techniques, then forget them so that our actions become instinctive guided by the energy itself rather than what the manuals say, and then get out of the way mentally and emotionally so that Reiki can get on and do what only it can do.

      My email address is philhawkins11@gmail.com please keep in touch and let me know how your Reiki is coming along. If I can be of help in any way please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Oh… I live in Newton Aycliffe in County Durham England


      • Rayne October 13, 2014, 1:00 pm

        That needs it’s own post. Very well stated.

        • Phillip Hawkins October 13, 2014, 3:45 pm

          Hi Rayne
          Thank you.


        • Jill Howcroft March 31, 2016, 9:56 am

          I agree. That was so refreshing and reassuring to read. I came to Reiki gradually when searching for a ‘thing’ to label what I felt had been happening throughout my life as a friend, mother, nurse and midwife. I have always felt that love is a big healer and that my purpose here was to spread love wherever I go. Since I retired I delved more deeply into meditation and spirituality, feeling that religions are too prescriptive and man made based on fear. I wanted an outlet for my feelings of spirituality and connection to something beyond the physical. I took Reiki 1 and 2 and boy has my life changed. I felt that I had finally found the ‘groove’ I had been searching for. However there is SO much information and different symbolism etc. That
          I have been concerned that I am ‘doing’ it all correctly and worry if
          I forget to draw a symbol or have my hands in the right place. I think it is because of my career and wanting to be active in the healing process. Now I can relax and let go and just be the conduit as deep down that is really what I feel is really needed. Thank you. I am from the beautiful ancient City of York UK. Namaste.

          • Phillip Hawkins March 31, 2016, 3:08 pm

            Hi Jill
            Pleased you like the work and it was able to help clear a few things up for you. Glad you found your groove and don’t let anyone tell you there is only one groove and they have it. If it feels right it is right for you. Let me know how you get on.


  • Sherrie Ashenbremer October 10, 2014, 11:33 am

    I took Reiki 1 & 2 last summer. I am working on using my Reiki, especially on myself. It’s hard for me to settle down and it’s hard for me to find the time. I want to use it more for myself and my dogs. I also use Reiki on the shelter dogs where I volunteer. They really seem to like Reiki Thank you for this article, I enjoyed this one

    • Phillip Hawkins October 10, 2014, 1:25 pm

      Hi Sherrie
      Pleased you enjoyed the article and thank you for taking the time to get in contact. Hope your Reiki practice goes from strength to strength


  • derry October 10, 2014, 5:00 pm

    Another cracking article , love your writing !

    • Phillip Hawkins October 10, 2014, 5:14 pm

      Hi Derry
      Thank you…pleased you enjoyed it.


  • Michelle November 11, 2014, 4:08 am

    I am so happy to read this article as I am only new to Reiki & absolutely love Reiki, I too have read so many articles on these so called REIKI MUST DO’S & found them all a little to much. Thankyou for the confirmation that keeping it simple & our intention is the most important thing whilst doing Reiki

    • Phillip November 11, 2014, 10:56 am

      Hi Michelle
      Pleased you enjoyed the article. Its seems a human trait to complicate things and the bigger a thing is the more complicated and complex we think it must be. With Reiki the opposite is true and all we need is the desire to keep it simple and our attention and intention.

      Reiki first enters our mind (attention) and then our hearts (intention) and its through this heart mind connection knowledge and understanding can begin to bring about a change that we define as a healing process in mind, body and spirit. This is why we say quite clearly in Reiki that the only person we can heal is ourselves, and by channeling Reiki we assist others to begin the healing process in themselves, if they wish to for by and large healing like good health is a personal choice that we have to make and then take an active part in.

      In truth we are not healers because that healing energy comes from the source whatever you may think that source to be and we simply channel that energy. The best thing we can do is firstly deal with our own ‘stuff’ so that we are free from the physical, emotional and mental debris that may impede the flow of Reiki, and then simply get out of its way so that it can get to work doing only what it can do.

      Reiki is not Reiki; in as much as the name is just a label we have attached to it and it has been called different things over many thousands of years. The hand positions, the symbols and various man made techniques are not Reiki they are simply our attempt to redefine the infinite to a size we are comfortable with and as such they can all be viewed as cosmetics that comfort us but contribute nothing to the power and nature of Reiki. If anything we are because it is….not the other way around.

      Reiki by any other name is a free flowing conscious creative energy that we experience as unconditional love and healing, there is nothing we can do that will either add to it or detract from its power and purpose which is to educate us for knowledge and understanding is the basis of all healing be it mystical, magical or the mundane. Our role as practitioners is to simply work with it in such a way that allows that energy to flow unimpeded to the recipient in the hope that they will then begin to take on the responsibility of their own health and well being through a change in their thoughts, beliefs and actions. This free from our own expectations of what it should or should not do. Simple lol.

      Reiki works; all we have to do is get our ego out of the way so that it can do its job, and the best way I know to do that is through knowledge and understanding and a desire to keep it as simple as possible so that there is nothing of myself in the process and all we are left with is Reiki doing its stuff.

      A long reply…but one I thought was necessary, hope it helps


      • Rayne November 11, 2014, 1:35 pm

        Again, a brilliant and well stated description, Philip. I have been practicing Reiki for 10 years, giving me many opportunities to attempt to explain such concepts. Though I have stumbled at times trying to give the right words, your description is a more enlightened version of what I’ve adapted myself to adaquetly explain.
        I am also a massage therapist and energy worker, two very complimentary healing modalities to Reiki, but each with their on significance and intent. I often use all three healing techniques in the same session, something that has become very natural and free flowing in my experience. And I have thoroughly loved and enjoyed how my Reiki channeling has evolved with my understanding over the years.
        Thank you for your elegant description here. I hope you don’t mind if I adapt some of your phrasings in my future endeavors to communicate Reiki to new people in the future.

        • Phillip November 11, 2014, 2:39 pm

          Hi Rayne
          Thank you for taking the time to read the article and providing me with such generous feedback. I believe that knowledge and understanding can’t be owned and as such must be shared freely. Please feel free to use my work as and when you feel its appropriate to do so, all I ask is that you acknowledge the source. I consider all of my work a resource to be used in such a way as to help others get a better understanding of what we do, and why we do it.

          Thanks again

  • Caz May 30, 2015, 8:05 am

    Thank you I sometimes use my symbols sometimes I don’t this confirms I am doing this right I like to feel comfortable Ian’s at peace. Methods can become too prescriptive we then lose sight of our intent.
    Free flowing loving healing thoughts with no blockages, perfect! Thank you for helping me feel reassured at how I am delivering my reiki to others and myself.

    • Phillip May 30, 2015, 11:00 pm

      Hi Caz
      Pleased you liked the article and it resonated with you. There is no right or wrong in this instance, just different and different is not only good its necessary to the needs of the individual. Conformity has its place but not at the cost of knowledge and understanding. Be true to yourself while respecting the needs and values of others and allow them to follow their own path.


  • sarah March 30, 2016, 6:15 am

    Lovely article..i often put my hands over where someone has pain n i send healing thoughts and it always works..you can feel heat and energy from your hands to the persons pain..never rained in reiki but wud love too xx ty for the read x

    • Phillip Hawkins March 30, 2016, 12:50 pm

      Sarah, so pleased you like it and it was able to help you in some small way. Check out my Facebook page Phillip Hawkins Reiki for more articles such as this one. Let me know if you would like to learn more about healing energy that we have come to know as Reiki.

      Regards Phillip

  • sarah March 30, 2016, 6:18 am

    Best reiki article ive read yet

  • Tracey May 30, 2016, 9:09 pm

    Once again, another wonderful article from you Phillip! You are blessed with a wonderful gift of having a way with words, as well as a way of seeing things that gives so much help and understanding to others. Thank you so much for sharing this and look forward to more of your insightful words.
    P.s Do you think you will ever visit Australia and give some lectures here?

    • reiki51 May 31, 2016, 8:27 am

      Thank you Tracy, so pleased you enjoyed that particular piece of work. If you check out my author page Phillip Hawkins Reiki you may find other articles to enjoy. I would love to come to Australia to meet like minded people such as yourself but as I work full time, time and finances play a large part in what I am able to do. This is one of the reasons I use my writing to connect with as many people as possible. Who knows maybe one day as we have good friends and some distant relatives in Australia. Thanks again for your kindness. Regards Phillip.

  • Laura August 5, 2016, 6:49 pm

    Very well said..we set our own limits. You just need know ALL things are possible. These words helped me, this is the way I have always felt,..I go more on feelings. Begins with Belief and then it becomes a “Knowing”. In that lies the difference. Thank you for your words. Blessings Laura

    • reiki51 August 5, 2016, 8:03 pm

      Hi Laura, thank you. Glad you enjoyed it


  • Kikihana April 22, 2017, 4:05 pm

    Finally comes an article that does not try to sell Reiki add-on. Thank you, Phillip.

    • reiki51 April 22, 2017, 5:44 pm

      Hi Kikihana
      Thank you, glad you liked the piece of work. A fundamental part of my teaching I pass onto all of my students is the need to strip away all of the add -on’s, myths and created misconceptions. Once we do, all that’s left is reiki energy in its purest and undiluted form. We can’t add anything to it, but our negative ego would have us believe otherwise. I teach that its important to keep it real, but most importantly to keep it fun.


  • Susan July 8, 2017, 2:52 pm

    Thank you Phillip for such an intelligent article. I obtained my Master/Teacher degree a number of years ago, and have always felt that Reiki would work for the greatest good, even if it diverged from my own hopes. There is a purity in Reiki that doesn’t need embellishment. I have, over the last couple of years, noted a tendency in some circles to bend Reiki practice to a particular faith system and to ‘hard sell’ new embellishments. I think that Reiki has a higher purpose than ego, and that you have captured the simplicity and strength of Reiki in your excellent article. Reiki isn’t broken and we don’t need to ‘fix’ it.

    • reiki51 July 8, 2017, 7:51 pm

      Hi Susan
      Glad you liked the article. I agree we sometimes forget that the energy we have ”labelled” Reiki is the complete article and doesn’t need our permission or approval to exist, and no matter what rituals we introduce into our practice we add nothing to it. Its ego that would have us believe that we can.

      I was trained in the traditional teachings of Reiki but after nearly twenty years experience I now teach it as Reiki personal development working from the point that the only person we can ”heal” is ourselves. I go to great lengths to strip away all of the add on’s, myths and misconceptions so that all we are left with is the energy that can help us transform our lives if we are willing to work with it.

      But each to their own way of doing things.


  • Lucie August 8, 2018, 4:24 pm

    Hi Phillip, I just read your article and it’s simplicity gives me hope that I will be able to start practicing Reiki, Starting out is not easy. You lack confidence that you can actually be a Reiki healer, I have been attuned to level 1 and 2 over a year ago and have been working through my own personal issues which I believed needed to be addressed before I could in any way help heal others. So thank you for this enlightening article, it really makes starting my practice seem like something possible.

  • reiki51 August 8, 2018, 7:51 pm

    Hi Lucie, thank you for reading my work and taking the time to get in touch with me. Starting anything new is always the hardest part. Its overcoming that inertia, once we get moving it becomes a lot easier. We have to work on our own stuff, that’s what makes us of use to others. Its a strength not a weakness. A perfect teacher wouldn’t be of use to anyone.

    There isn’t a day go by that I don’t work on some issue or aspect of my own life, its how we grow and develop as a person and as a Reiki practitioner. The secret is to allow the energy to become who you are so that it expresses itself in every aspect of your life. You get to the point where you stop doing Reiki and become one with the energy.

    I set up the Phillip Hawkins Reiki Personal Development group to provide support and guidance for my students. The majority are Reiki Master Teachers but you are more than welcome to join if you think it would help you. If I can help in any way please don’t hesitate to get in touch


  • Nathalie March 17, 2019, 12:59 pm

    Good reminder, we inherently feel this to be true, but thanks for taking the time to write it! The more rituals people feel the need to add, the more it begins to sound like religion and really it is so simple and straightforward, yet… people will do what they do…🙄

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