Did Dr. Usui use hand positions with Reiki?

Therapist performing reiki on woman's head

In Reiki Levels I, II and Master courses we are taught various hand positions to be performed in our Reiki self-treatments and sessions with others. An interesting tidbit of information is that accounts of practitioners Dr. Mikao Usui taught have noted that Usui did not use hand positions in the way we do now. Notes made indicate that Dr. Usui focused his hand positions solely around the head with the client seated rather than lying down. Also, Usui initially did not use any positions when administering attunements, rather he performed reiju by being seated still, in quiet contemplation with his students.

Students over time were taught new procedures when learning how to perform Reiki sessions and attunements. These procedures were primarily impacted by the Master’s background – for example Chujiro Hayashi had a military medical background and he implemented specific hand positions depending on the symptoms the client was presenting which is in alignment with the traditional medical model.

One question many students ask is “why do we need hand positions when Reiki goes where it is needed?”

My response takes a couple of things into consideration. The first is practical and focuses on our intellectual selves. Clients tend to feel that having the physical presence of hands in various positions makes Reiki “work” better because they have not fully embraced the understanding that Reiki is not limited by time or space. As a society we are also starved for touch and closeness so the hand positions can also meet that physical need.

The second reason hand positions can be helpful in Reiki sessions is that they ensure we are not subconsciously avoiding any areas within the bodymind. By being open to focus on every aspect of the bodymind, we surrender any egoic restrictions that we are holding on to that are not wanting us to heal, balance and grow.

On the flip side, I also receive many questions from students about how to treat a specific condition using Reiki hand positions. This train of thinking can also limit the flow of Reiki energy. Remember that as Reiki practitioners, we are not treating or diagnosing. A symptom could be connected with many other symptoms and distract you from the root of the imbalance. Allow the bodymind of the recipient and Reiki energy to work with what is needed to be balanced now for their highest good.

For example, a person wanting to lose weight with Reiki may be tempted to place their hands with a focus on the hypothalamus and thyroid for hormone balancing as well as the pancreas and stomach to assist with blood sugar and digestion but this limits the scope of the session. What if the excess fat is the body’s way of insulating itself from toxins that are being stored? What if the additional weight is a way for the person to protect themselves from the energy around them because they are extremely sensitive and have not learned how to process it? You need to step back from the desire to Do and just Be in your sessions. The wisdom of Reiki will do the rest.

In this way we honor the teachings Dr. Usui has passed on while working within the expectations of modern society.

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