Let me start by saying technology can be a wonderful thing. I am a big fan of the ways it allows us to connect across continents, time zones, and cultures, and it definitely has its place for learning—more on this below. However, I think there are huge benefits to learning Reiki at an in-person training, and I discuss the powerful ways this differs from Reiki training online so you can decide for yourself where to learn Reiki.
How does Reiki training in person differ from Reiki training online?
Having the support of a Reiki teacher in person provides more immediacy as the teacher can give you feedback from what she is seeing, hearing, and sensing as you work with energy.
[bctt tweet=”Having the support of a Reiki teacher in person provides more immediacy as the teacher can give you feedback from what she is sensing” username=”DeborahReiki”]
The benefits of experiencing Reiki energy in person through the sessions, meditations, and attunements in class with the supervision and guidance of a teacher really can’t be compared to the disassociation of an online experience. Not to mention, you can’t practice giving someone a full Reiki treatment on a massage table over the internet.
Practicing in person with your fellow students also provides immediate feedback. In my Reiki workshops, I always have students practice with each other more than once and with different students, so you get a sense of working with different people’s energy. Our individual energy is an imprint unique and distinct to each of us (and it’s one of the things I love about my work, noticing the beautiful differences from client to client, student to student.)
Here are more details on the benefits of learning Reiki in person:
- Physical touch: Practicing giving Reiki in a mini-session or full treatment on a massage table within the context of a classroom setting helps you trust the energy is flowing. Trusting that the Reiki you’re sharing with your partner is “working” is something that often takes time and practice for many students.
- Personalization: Reiki classes can be personalized based on the individual needs of the students. We all learn in different ways—people are more or less visual, auditory, or kinesthetic in their learning styles, and having a skilled teacher modify her teaching depending on how you learn can be incredibly helpful.
- Practice: It’s nice to be able to practice doing a mini Reiki session in a chair, or a full session on a massage table, with the supervision and feedback of a teacher and the peer support of fellow students to practice with.
- Receiving attunements/reiju: Students are more or less sensitive to energy, especially as a beginner Reiki student, and will often feel and notice physical, mental, and emotional sensations during the attunement more easily with their Reiki teacher right in front of them performing the attunement. (It also helps their linear mind to trust that something is happening!)
- Learning the Reiki symbols/mantras: In Reiki II and Reiki III (Reiki Master), students learn 4 symbols and mantras to help them work with different kinds of energy. Learning Reiki in person can be helpful in a couple key ways:
1) Accuracy–Having the teacher review your drawings of the symbols to ensure you’re writing them correctly is important.
2) Group dynamic–Chanting the mantra with a group is a more intense experience than chanting it by yourself, as it amplifies and magnifies the energy through sound (this is often a highlight of the class).
- Preparing for professional practice: If you’re considering offering Reiki as a professional practitioner, it’s important to have lots of practice giving Reiki sessions (one of my former teachers said you should give at minimum 100 sessions before you even think about charging and working professionally!). (Want more info on professional practice? I wrote a book, Building a Powerful Practice: Successful Strategies for Your Wellness Business, that can help you.)
Being able to ask your teacher questions as things come up during sessions, as well as get feedback from fellow students who understand Reiki in a way that a friend or family member who hasn’t studied Reiki won’t, offers a solid foundation of support from which to learn.
The Process of Reiki Certification
Reiki certification online (and to be honest, some in-person Reiki classes) often just offer a certificate of completion of the course.
In my Reiki workshops, there are optional Reiki certification requirements at the end of the course including: practicing self care, giving and receiving a certain number of chair and table sessions, and completing a brief written assignment.
The purpose of this outside practicum is to anchor and support students’ learning by practicing. It also gives students time to integrate what they’ve learned and to learn from Reiki through daily practice (hint: it’s your best teacher).
Does Reiki training online have a place in Reiki study?
I find that online training can be ideal for more advanced Reiki students. Once you have a solid foundation and direct experience in place from in-person classes, additional Reiki training online can be a nice supplement and way to connect (and a wonderful use of technology).
For example, you can receive an attunement (otherwise known as reiju) without the teacher physically being present with you. For students new to Reiki and meditation, this can be hard to wrap your mind around.
Being in a state of oneness with someone is something explored through the Distance Reiki technique (otherwise known as the Absentee Healing technique) in Reiki II. Once a student has had the direct experience of working with energy on themselves, their classmates, and friends and family, as well as learning and practicing this technique, they will be better able to understand and experience online attunements.
If you’re someone who already is very comfortable working with energy, then having less guidance and practice opportunities through an online experience might be just fine. Especially if you already have other types of energy or bodywork experience under your belt, or are interested in using Reiki with friends/family and yourself versus starting a professional Reiki practice.
So while learning Reiki at in-person Reiki I, II, and III classes is ideal for all of the reasons I listed above, having access to Reiki training online as you continue your studies can offer a good option for additional support.
When students sign up to take a Reiki II class, one of the techniques they are often most interested in learning is Distance Healing, also referred to as Absentee Reiki. Clients sometimes ask about this technique as well.
In this comprehensive guide I include:
- Information about what Distance Reiki is
- Why I prefer calling it Absentee Reiki
- How it works
- How to maximize the effectiveness of the technique
- What to expect from Distance Reiki as a client
- Direct examples from the student’s perspective
So here we go! Here’s everything you need to know about Reiki Distance Healing.
What is Distance Reiki Healing?
Distance Reiki is a technique within the system of Reiki that enables you to give a Reiki session beyond the limitations of time and space. It expands the practitioner’s ability to transmit spiritual energy beyond physical touch.
In other words, it’s a way to offer Reiki without the recipient being in the same room with you.
Why do I prefer calling it Absentee Healing?
From a traditional Japanese Reiki perspective, the Reiki Absentee Healing Technique focuses on offering Reiki from a state of Oneness, or connection to everything. In this way, you aren’t “sending” Reiki, instead you’re feeling one with another person and sharing Reiki this way.
The word distance implies separation (the opposite of being in a state of Oneness) so I prefer using the word absentee instead. For me, this is further supported by the use of the Reiki symbol and mantra HSZSN (often referred to as the Distance Reiki symbol) in conjunction with the Absentee Healing technique. HSZSN is all about helping us be in a state of Oneness.
How Absentee Reiki Works
The Absentee Reiki Technique is usually 15-20 minutes long, but can continue longer if you like.
The practitioner schedules a time and date with the recipient (or client) for the Absentee Reiki session. By setting up a specific time the recipient can be in a receptive state (such as lying down or meditating during the treatment).
In advance of the session, the recipient will also email a photo of themselves to the practitioner, along with their name, age, location and any intention they have of what they want the session to support (e.g. a physical or health issue, goal, or challenge).
Having these details will help the practitioner connect to the client or recipient if they haven’t met before.
How can I maximize the effectiveness of the Absentee Reiki technique?
There are several things you can do to maximize the effectiveness of Distance Reiki Healing:
Create sacred space: Use candles, lights, music, incense, etc: whatever helps you get in the right state of mind to be in a state of oneness to offer Reiki. Barbara gives a great example below about what helps her get into the right state of mind.
Get in a meditative mindset: Recite the Reiki precepts, sit in meditation while doing the Reiki Purifying Breath technique, etc.
Work with the Reiki symbols and mantras: Chant, draw, or say the Reiki mantra or Distance Reiki symbol for HSZSN to help you access the oneness state of mind as you hold the client’s request in your mind.
Visualize: Imagine the client as if they were right in front of you—what do they look like, sound like, smell like.
What to expect from Distance Reiki as a client:
Clients will sometimes notice physical sensations during the Distance Reiki session, just as they might during a in-person session—warmth, tingling, or a sense of relaxation or peacefulness, for example. You might also notice the mind calming down or the alleviation of physical symptoms.
From the Student’s Perspective
As part of my Reiki II certification process, I ask each student to answer a few questions about their personal experience practicing the techniques and meditations from class.
Below four students share their unique experiences practicing Reiki Distance Healing:
Sarah Koestner is an actor, teacher, and coach, as well as a Reiki III graduate:
Giving Absentee Reiki was a fascinating experience. I truly doubted my ability to give this kind of Reiki before being challenged by the certification process to give it a try.
I feel like I learned on a deep level that distance is an illusion. I had a profound experience giving Reiki to my sister, where I had a visions of “spirits” giving her Reiki. After it was over she told me that she felt like she had been given a “virtual massage.” I thought that was such a great description of what Absentee Reiki can be.
Other recipients had very visual experiences. Again, it was interesting to see how everyone’s experience of Reiki can be different, and yet equally profound.
Working with the Distance Reiki symbol and mantra HSZSN as part of the Absentee Reiki technique was enormously powerful. I feel like I can genuinely feel the illusion of distance fading away when I work with this symbol. It immediately gives me a profound sense of inner peace and calm, almost as if the world drops completely away.
Caroline Gomez is a yoga teacher, mom of three, and a Reiki III graduate. Here’s her experience using the Absentee Reiki technique:
I learned that just because I’m not physically with the person receiving Reiki, it doesn’t make the distance Reiki treatment any less powerful.
In addition, the absence of the physical body forces me as the practitioner to move inward and connect to my intuition even more than an in-person session. I’ve found that that the most profound and powerful treatments I’ve given have been distance Reiki sessions.
Barbara Becker is an actor and works in the arts, as well as being a Reiki III graduate:
After asking permission (which my mother gave with a degree of skepticism as to how Reiki can work from a distance, though she has gone to several Reiki circles at a Senior Center in Florida), I gave absentee Reiki to my mother on 4 consecutive nights, the same time each night.
She had recently fallen and was very bruised, achy and depressed/worried but relieved that she (thankfully) didn’t break anything. I hoped the Reiki transmissions would ease her pain and bruising, lighten her spirit, and aide in regaining her physical confidence during recovery.
Since this was my first time doing absentee Reiki, I set up a sacred space using John Levine’s music (Vision of Love) to relax and took purifying breaths while filling out a note card with a nature scene on the cover.
I chose to write in picture cards with their own envelopes instead of blank pieces of paper because this enhanced my ritual. I also used a lovely box which is now set aside to store future absentee transmission cards. Creating a special soothing environment grounded and strengthened my focus. Each night, I wrote down the date, my request, my mother’s information, her symptoms and my intentions after setting up my sacred space and then gave Reiki.
Over the 4 nights, I noticed that sometimes I was more focused than others, so I learned to give myself adequate time before beginning each transmission. My thoughts wandered at times beyond my mother to her two closest friends who are also dealing with health/pain issues, so I decided to include them on some level during the transmission while focusing mainly on her.
I discovered that visualizing my mom while holding a small stuffed animal and moving my hands over areas of her body that she had told me were affected helped because it made her more “tangible.” I am highly visual, so if I can “see,” it is easier to act. It helps to imagine, which in turn helps me to focus.
When I spoke to my mom after all 4 transmissions had been completed (as well as the day after my first transmission), she said she felt no improvement and was still depressed and sore. I was disappointed since I had hoped the transmissions would have immediate positive impact.
I believe that Reiki has enormous impact because of my own experiences. What I realized (yet again) is that I cannot control what she or anyone accepts or rejects on any level. Even though my efforts proved unsuccessful in her view, if one is open to something, it is more likely to have a positive impact and clearly if one is not, the opposite may occur.
All you can do is try/allow. Wanting it to “work” for her is like trying to control her. That is disrespectful. So I have to let go of that hope. I choose to believe that regardless of her current state, Reiki energy did move through her and will aide her recovery even if it doesn’t appear to have done so yet. She may not be able to accept this because her heart is sad, her body is sore, and she is not in a receptive state. That is now. My compassion must “see” that. The future holds possibilities. Tomorrow or next week may be different.
All one can do is allow the Reiki energy to flow. Where it lands, how it lands or is perceived by others is beyond our reach. One has to let it flow and let it go. One has to see that even within the “no” is a “yes” waiting to surface.
As an actress for decades (who continued my training for many years), I learned that once you develop a strong technique/foundation, you must trust it enough to let go of it in performance and rely on your gut/intuition. Not everything you learn serves you well for each role. Certain things may fall by the wayside and not work for you, while others will form the basis of what you do regularly as a performer. Knowledge is your toolbox. Each role may require different tools.
Diona Ceniza is an arts therapist and Reiki III graduate:
During the times I’ve done Absentee Reiki, I felt pretty comfortable with the process. I was able to visualize the other person clearly and feel the energy being channeled to him/her. But there is something about being able to touch the individual, or at least be in the same space with them, that for me takes the session to a greater, more meaningful level. It just feels more natural, so I admittedly find myself pushing Absentee Reiki aside in favor of the chair or table protocol.
It’s interesting to read how different each student’s experience was, and how trusting yourself and not judging the outcome is so key. And to realize that there are many different tools and techniques in the Reiki practitioner’s toolbox, and both the practitioner and recipient will be drawn more or less to the various techniques. The flexibility of the system of Reiki enables you to modify and adjust according to both you and your client’s needs.
How can I schedule a Distance Reiki Healing treatment?
If you’re interested in taking a Reiki class and learning more about Distance Healing, read this previous post about how to find a qualified teacher.
And if there’s a topic or question about Distance Reiki I didn’t include, let me know and I’ll include it.
Diona Ceniza is one of my past students. She recently completed the full Reiki training—Reiki Levels I, II, and III—and is moving into setting up her professional practice. Here’s her experience of learning Reiki.
The Benefits of Reiki Self Care
I learned first-hand about the benefits you get to enjoy when doing Reiki self-care. I never really know how it will turn out each time I give myself Reiki, but often I experience an amazing sense of well-being, a feeling of becoming more centered, and on a couple of occasions a sudden outpouring of emotions (i.e. crying my eyes out!)
I have come to realize and appreciate how important giving myself Reiki is as part of my self-care regimen.
[bctt tweet=”I have come to realize and appreciate how important giving myself Reiki is as part of my self-care regimen.” username=”DeborahReiki”]
Reiki Treatment: What to Expect
The more I study Reiki and dive deeper, the more I learned to remove expectations. When I first started, there was this hope that each session would be an amazing cleansing or big release of emotions. Now I see that I wouldn’t be able to function if it was that intense every time, and I’m more trusting of the process.
So whether the session leaves me crying, on cloud nine, or somewhere in between, I’m grateful. And even if some sessions are more subtle, the overall effect of practicing self-care Reiki on my life has been anything but (a relationship ending abruptly, strong push towards a new career, just pure chaos…). So I guess another lesson I learned from giving myself Reiki is that it truly does have a cleansing effect, and while it can be painful, it’s ultimately for the best.
How Getting Reiki Sessions Can Vary (A Lot!)
I hope to become a professional Reiki practitioner and receiving professional Reiki sessions taught me a couple of things. Firstly, it taught me how to conduct myself when running a private practice. Secondly, I learned how different each session and practitioner can be. Practitioners differ considerably in their approach but can be equally impactful.
My first experience receiving Reiki was quite dramatic. The first practitioner I went to worked at home and was very open. She said I needed to leave my job, gave me the necklace she was wearing because she said it would help me stay grounded, and ordered a Pema Chodron book for me on Amazon. The session felt like the practitioner tapped into a lot of stuck energy in my chest. It physically felt as if someone sat on my chest during the session! The session itself was intense and I went home that night hunched over from the emotions that had been dredged up.
My second experience with a different practitioner was more subtle, but the impact of it lasted long after the session. The session took place in an office setting. It was more gentle and uplifting, and there was a stronger sense of boundaries that, as an art therapist, I am more familiar with. I felt much lighter and less stressed for a few months after the session.
Despite these differences, however, my sessions with both practitioners were equally transformative, shifting my life towards a path that involves potentially becoming a Reiki practitioner myself.
The Benefits & Challenges of Giving Reiki to Others
One of the first things I learned giving Reiki to friends and family was how energized I felt. In a way, it can actually feel more healing than doing Reiki on myself.
Reiki & The Ego
On the other hand, I also realized how afraid I can be to offer Reiki to other people, largely because of my own ego and worries that the other person wouldn’t feel any benefits.
Ego is especially present when I give Reiki and it’s the reason it took me so long to fulfill the certification requirements. For months, I delayed asking others if I could practice on them because I was afraid of hearing them say no, or worse, that they would find the experience lacking if they said yes. In other words, there’s a big part of me that wants to be seen as a great practitioner, never mind the wellbeing of the client. I try to be mindful of it as much as I can and remind myself that it is Reiki doing the healing, not me.
The biggest lesson I’m taking away from this is that I have a long way to go in terms of realizing that I am not giving Reiki or doing the healing, the person takes from the energy what he or she needs. I also need to become more in touch with my intuition.
Reiki & Connection
I also realized that when giving Reiki, I feel deeply connected to the other person. Besides feeling immense gratitude that they are willing to open themselves up in such a big way, their happiness and well-being becomes my primary concern. I’ve never felt bonded to another person in such a deep but peaceful way.
Learning Reiki and taking the full training was excellent. I continue to enjoy this amazing journey and have learned and grown so much.
Interested in learning more about Reiki? Here’s how to find a qualified Reiki teacher.
In New York City and want to take a class? Check out the details here.
Because the experience of Reiki is so different for each person, I asked one of my students to share her first-hand account of what she learned. Jessica Quan recently completed her Reiki Level One training—here is her personal experience:
The Impact of Daily Self Reiki Practice
I never realized how powerful Reiki could be until I started to practice on myself.
Through practicing the Reiki self-care protocol daily, I not only became more grounded and peaceful, but I truly learned and felt the power of something greater than myself. For me, it is this spiritual element that serves as the key to empowerment and healing. Furthermore, I learned that self-healing is paramount before being able to impart this gift to others.
[bctt tweet=”I learned that self-healing is paramount before being able to impart this gift to others.” username=”DeborahReiki”]
My New Morning Routine
The Reiki precepts (principles to live by) have been especially instrumental in grounding me before I start each day. Giving myself Reiki in the mornings is a beautiful way to begin the day, allowing me to have a sound heart and mind.
How Reiki Helped After a Break Up
After Reiki I, I went to see Deborah for a session, which is a different experience than giving myself Reiki. I learned the power of touch from another. While receiving Reiki from a professional practitioner, my body and mind reached a perfect state of peace and relaxation. Physically, I felt the warmth and healing touch from Deborah. At the time, I had just come out of a painful breakup, but I must say that after the session, there was a sense of emotional release and healing with Reiki.
Giving Reiki to Friends & Family
In giving Reiki to others, I learned that this is something I want to do for the rest of my life. My grandmother was a natural healer in Guam. It wasn’t until I learned Reiki and started practicing on others that I realized this gift was inherent within me as well. Taking Reiki I has been one of the most humbling and gratifying experiences in my life. I have found that this is my true purpose.
Interested in learning more about Reiki? Here’s a Beginner’s Guide to Learning Reiki.
In New York City and want to take a class? Check out the details here.