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Can you learn reiki online?

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Posted: 1 October 2015
There seems to be a great deal of activity on social media every time an online reiki course pops up. The debate is mostly split into three categories, those that just don’t accept reiki – period, those that think it’s a great opportunity, and those that are adamant reiki cannot and should not be taught via online learning.

Now, I’m in full favour of modern technology and how it can enhance our lives, and this can be exemplified by instances such as – robots delivering life changing operations in hospitals, whilst the surgeon operates them from another room. This could be seen as a distance medical procedure. The three dimensional printer creating a new jaw bone for a hospital patient requiring bone grafting and cosmetic surgery is also modern technology at its best. Technology is progressing fast and we need to embrace it and learn how to fully use it to the best of our human experience. Who knows what will be possible in another 200 years time.

Although, I also feel that a subject and practice such as reiki, is one that needs subtle human interaction, guidance and support. I completed part of my higher MA degree as distance learning and most well-respected universities now offer online-learning, but they usually don’t offer courses that need an interaction between human emotion and touch.

For those of you interested in learning reiki online, I’d advise to do your research as you would with any learning establishment. Explore the current reiki landscape and investigate the leading reiki practitioners, and ask yourself the following questions – do they offer reiki courses via online / distance learning options? Who are offering online learning reiki courses? And what experience do they have, not only to teach reiki but also teach via online / distance learning methods? Now, the same questions may be asked for similar holistic health learning, yoga, massage, martial arts and many other therapies can be found offering online and distance learning. Many of these courses are frowned upon within certain professions.

One of the main questions to ask yourself would be – What do I intend to gain from an online reiki course? If it’s for personal pleasure and study of the subject, you may save yourself a lot of time and money by spending your time reading a good reiki book. If you just want to gain some more certificates, then that’s fine but are they aimed to heighten the ego or advance your career? If you intend to progress into a professional role within reiki, and eventually want to teach, be aware that most professional organisations don’t recognise distance learning training and certification. It may also play an important factor in gaining professional insurance to practice with paying clients.

I also hear comments such as – well… if you can do distance healing you can do distance learning. I say – those that make these comments know nothing about reiki and everything about answering questions.

So, what camp do I position myself in? Well… I would prefer to learn via a face-to-face teaching environment with a real time teacher. This gives a closer connection with the teacher and student bond, and also plays an important role of the Japanese custom and heritage that makes it distinctly reiki. The subtlety I mentioned earlier works on many levels, and this refinement flows between practitioners, ki energy, the mind, the breath and the learning environment. This combination accumulates to create the delicacy of the teaching and learning experience.

To learn another culture by distance learning is not only difficult in its own right, but also trying to gain all of the elements described above by online learning also looses the intricacy of the reiki process. It would be like joining in with an online tea ceremony and not being able to taste the flavour and smell the aroma.

Some other comments in favour of online reiki learning are – If ki/chi flows through us all, you don’t really need a teacher to experience reiki and online learning is a cheaper option to face-to-face courses. I support the first part of the comment and I agree that reiki lives with us all, but yet again I have to highlight the issue of subtlety. Having practiced Qigong before moving into reiki I could feel the ki/chi was a very powerful element within my body, and one without any teacher attunement or reiju. The subtlety of sensing ki/chi may escape many even after many lessons and years of practice. This is where the face-to-face interaction with a teacher will help greatly to improve your practice. The attunement in reiki is often a misunderstood component of the reiki practice. If you understand it as a ritual and blessing it then becomes an even more personal bond between you and your teacher, and nothing about your teacher giving you special powers. Once again, it would be like comparing the difference between receiving an email for your birthday or receiving a beautifully handcrafted and handwritten birthday card, plus, delivered in person.

The online learning method has strengths and weaknesses and you need to choose your subject and content wisely. I must admit, I’ve taken many different online and distance learning courses to compare delivery, content and approach to teaching. I personally feel that Japanese reiki is not a subject to be best experienced online or via distance learning.

If you feel that choosing online learning is a much more convenient way for you to learn, and you can’t dedicate 1 or 2 days out of a year to learn a level 1 reiki course via a face-to-face teacher, then I would have to boldly say, perhaps reiki is not the best practice for you. I say this in a caring way, because just like any proactive holistic health practice – yoga, tai chi, qigong etc… dedication and regularity are the keys to success and daily well-being.

For me, learning reiki online would be like looking out of a window and seeing the trees swaying in the wind, but not being able to feel the breeze on your face.
Written by: Jikiden Reiki Dojo
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