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The Reiki Hand Positions - Necessary in All Cases, or Training Wheels to Guide?

Reiki cat shows us some Reiki hand positions

Photo courtesy anomalous4

The Reiki hand positions are very handy (pardon the pun), but don't let them limit you. First, let me ask you a few questions:
  • What is the purpose of physical location for non-physical energy work?
  • How can you work healing if you're bound to a rigid structure that ignores intuition?
  • How can you heal if you don't have a plan of action or prepared method?

Right there is the core of the problem. Going all the way back to the 1880s, back when Dr. Usui was teaching, Reiki was very formalized and heavily structured, which made sense given the culture at that place and time.

To this day, every student gets taught the Reiki hand positions as part of the initial training. I remember studying the positions for Reiki work on oneself, as well as for others. The first time I gave Reiki it was to my instructor as part of the lessons. I was so nervous about remembering where and when that I needed to step back and remember that I was the conduit, not the source.

There's a great quote which illustrates this perfectly:

"Art is a collaboration between God and the artist, and the less the artist does the better." -- Andre Gide

Eventually, as I learned to trust more, I found that I intuitively knew what areas needed the attention. Sometimes they would almost magnetically draw my hands to them. Sometimes I'd get a taste of what the recipient was feeling and sometimes I just knew. Intuition works differently for everyone, and so your intuition may not work the same way as mine. This is why learning the language of feeling is so important.

At the end of the day, it's all about healing. Don't let your doubts stand in the way of being there to help. My Reiki teacher, Nanette, told me that while she's non-traditional in practice, she teaches the traditional style (including the traditional Reiki hand positions) to her students. When I teach Reiki, I will do the same. Why? Training wheels. Learn the forms, then become formless.

Reiki Hand Positions to Use

If you study Reiki, you'll get this info anyway, but for those just curious, here's some info on the Reiki hand positions. First, a few notes:

  • Reiki is given from the hands. In many cases, the hands are barely in contact with the body. In sensitive areas, or depending on the preferences of the parties involved, there may be no contact at all.
  • The Reiki practitioner (depending on training) will use Reiki symbols before actually beginning. This increases the connection and the healing power.
  • When receiving Reiki, the most important thing you can do is to relax and accept. Let go. Don't even move your body, let the practitioner do that for you (depending on cirsumstances).

The locations for giving Reiki are fundamentally the same regardless of whether you're giving it to yourself or to someone else, but the actual Reiki hand positions will be (obviously) a little different depending on the circumstances.

Reiki Hand Positions for Self Healing

  • First, put your hands up to your face, with fingers pointed up and the palms covering the eyes and upper cheeks.
  • Keep the fingers pointed up, but rotate the hands around and up slightly to cover the temples.
  • Now, move the hands back behind the head, and point the fingers to the side, one hand above the other, with the lower hand just above the neck
  • Bring the hands down and place the heels of the hands together at the front of the neck, with the fingers wrapped around the neck going back.
  • Bring your hands down to your chest, and point them over to the side, one hand above the other, with the top hand just under the collarbone.
  • Move the hands down to the ribs, fingertips pointing towards each other.
  • Keep the hands in the same orientation, and move them down to the abdomen.
  • Now move your hands to the lower abdomen, with the hands pointed down.
  • Now, we're going to go down to the thighs. Place your hands at the top, with the fingers pointed towards the knees.
  • Move forward to the top of the knees, with the fingers going over the edge, and down along the lower half of the knees.
  • Move forward a little more and put your palms on the kneecaps, fingers still pointed down.
  • Slide down a little further, so the palms are on the upper shin, fingers still pointed towards the feet.
  • Now, we move forward again and place the palms just above the ankles with the fingertips touching the top of the foot.
  • Now, take your arms and cross them over your chest, placing the heel of the palms on the collarbone, fingers pointing backwards, going over the muscles.
  • We now uncross our arms, and bring our hands down to the lower back, fingertips pointing toward the glutes.
  • Now let's move down to the gluteus muscles, hands slightly to the side, fingers pointing towards to the legs.

Once again, if you feel pain or problems in a specific area, go ahead and put your hands on the spot. Remember, the Reiki hand positions are a tool, not the result.

One advantage of giving Reiki to oneself, is that you don't have to worry about sensitive areas; you can use the Reiki hand positions as they are and just focus on the issue at hand. With Reiki hand positions for healing others, you have to (of course) be attentive to people's space and sensitive areas. Naturally, you will want to straighten that out right at the start before it can become a problem!

With no further ado, here are...

The Reiki Hand Positions for Healing Others

These Reiki hand positions are set with the idea that the recipient is lying on their back. Note that when moving any part of the recipient's body (if applicable) be as gentle as possible. Gentle is the key. The recipient should always feel supported.

  • We start with the palms over the eyes, with the fingers pointed down the body.
    • This can actually be pretty scary. Give the mouth and nose some room so that the person can breathe easily.
  • As with before, we rotate the hands around and place the palms over the temples, with the fingers pointed toward the jawline.
  • Bring the hands around behind the head, gently moving it to the side. Cradle the head, with the palms on the bulge on the back of the head, with the fingers pointed towards the neck. If this is a non-touch session, this will probably be done with the person sitting up straight, with the hands pointed up.
  • Gently letting the head rest back, move the hands so the "knife-edge" of the hands and pinkie fingers touch along the collar bones, with the tips of the fingers touching where the collar joins, palms pointing towards the neck.
  • Now, we're going to place one hand across the upper chest, with the second hand below, pointed upwards, so that the fingertips are touching the thumb of the hand placed across the chest.
    • If you're working on a female, here is a classic example of a place where you'd move a few inches away from the body. This isn't set in stone, as the recipient might want contact, particularly if the practitioner is female as well, and/or if the recipient is dealing with breast cancer. More than the Reiki hand positions, the will and needs of the recipient will show the right way to go.
  • Place the recipient's hand atop yours, both hands flat. Place the other hand on the shoulder.
  • Move the hand on the shoulder down to cradle the elbow. Keep the other hand right where it is.
  • Now we bring the hand on the elbow down atop the hand being held, so that it is sandwiched between yours.
  • Now we move our hands down to the ribs and abdomen, both hands on the same side, with fingers pointing towards the front of the body.
  • Move your hands to the other side, with your fingers pointed towards the side/back.
  • Now, we move our hands back to our side and place them over the abdomen and upper hip on our side.
  • We move our hands to the other side to cover the abdomen and upper hip there as well.
  • Now we cover the lower hips. One hand on the front of each hip, slightly to the side, where the joint is.
  • Now we move to the thighs, Both hands together on the near thigh, fingers pointed toward the other leg, palms on the front of the thigh. Then simply move forward to the other thigh, in the same position, with your fingers still pointed to your front.
  • On to the knees. Place your palms over the kneecaps, one hand on each.
  • Now the lower legs. Same as with the thighs, both hands on one,
    then move forward to the next.
  • Next, the ankles. Place one hand over each, on the front side of the recipient.
  • Now, we move down and position ourselves at the feet of the recipient. Take one foot, and cradle the heel with the hand on the same side. Take your other hand and place it on the sole of the foot, with the fingers pointed up towards the toes.
  • Take the hand on the sole of the foot, place it on the top side of the foot.
  • Now, we repeat the process with the other foot.
  • Now we come up and repeat the process with the arm and shoulder on the other side.
  • At this point, I will move my hands about a foot or so away from the body, scanning for any spots which want attention. If I find any, I'll go back and cover them again.
  • If the recipient is face-down, this opens up the back up for work, using the same basic Reiki hand positions as the front, except again you may need to exercise caution around the hips and glutes. If they're experiencing back pain of any kind, this is the way to go.

Once again, trust in yourself and in the Source to provide and guide you. From a traditional standpoint the Reiki hand positions are important, but don't let them limit your healing.

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