Reiki Level 2 [The Basics of the Inner Teachings]

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Reiki, the Japanese system of hands-on energy healing discovered by Mikao Usui that has spread across the world throughout the past century, is transmitted and taught in three different levels: Reiki 1, Reiki 2, and Reiki Master/Teacher.

As you may know, each level requires a transmission of energy or “attunement” from a Reiki master, which serves to introduce and initiate a Reiki student to different aspects of this universal life force energy and to how it manifests in our lives.

Regardless of whether you are a student, potential practitioner, or recipient of Reiki energy, it can be helpful to learn about the differences between each of the levels and what they encompass in order to better understand the depths and nuances of our vitality as human beings.

Here, we’ll take an in-depth but easily-approachable look at Reiki Level 2.

What Is Reiki Level 2?

As an appropriate indicator of its teachings, level two of Reiki is also known as Okuden, which translates from Japanese to “inner teachings” or “hidden teachings.”

Whereas Reiki 1 (Shoden) focuses primarily on introducing Reiki energy to the student in a theoretical and physiological way for the purpose of self-healing, Reiki 2 teaches techniques for expanding this energy beyond the body for the purpose of developing a practitioner’s spiritual awareness, finding a deeper sense of connection to all of life, and healing others.

In most countries, completing a Reiki Level 2 course qualifies a student to be a Reiki Practitioner and offer Reiki treatments to the general public (although in many places, additional wellness-related credentials are required).

That being said, working with energy is different for everyone. Because of this, it is possible for someone attuned to Reiki at Level 1 to be comfortable practicing Reiki on others and, on the other hand, an Okuden attunement doesn’t necessarily mean that a person is ready to give healing sessions.

How Do I Learn Reiki Level 2?

As with all levels of Reiki, Level 2 is transmitted from master to student via an attunement (Reiju), during which the student will receive a higher frequency of Reiki energy than that which was transmitted in Level 1.

The Reiju process is kept as a secret by Reiki masters; recipients of Reiki energy receive the transmissions during special ceremonies with closed eyes.

For some courses of Reiki, the only formal pre-requisite for receiving a Reiki 2 initiation is a previous attunement to Reiki at Level 1, and it is fairly common for teachers to combine Reiki Level 1 and Reiki Level 2 into one workshop or course.

However, it is highly recommended to take time to practice between Reiki levels.

Most schools of Reiki recommend 21 days of a self-healing practice after a Reiki 1 attunement before choosing whether to continue with an Okuden training.

This allows the student to become familiar with the sensations related to Reiki energy throughout time.

After this, it is up to each individual student to determine if or when they feel ready to proceed with Reiki Level 2.

These days, there are Reiki masters that teach primarily online and give attunements via distance. Since energy transcends space and time, this is indeed possible.

However, if you are considering a Reiki training via internet for professional purposes, keep in mind that some institutions and clients may discredit attunements and trainings that were not transmitted in person.

What is Taught in Reiki Level 2?

Reiki courses vary from school to school and from master to master (some might take place over the course of a few hours and some over the course of several days), but in most classes and workshops, attunements are typically accompanied by specific practices and practical methods for applying Reiki at each level – the ­Level 2 details of which we will explore here.

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A large portion of Okuden teachings and, to most people, the most intriguing part of Reiki Level 2 is the introduction of the first three Reiki symbols (Shirushi).  

These symbols are utilized by the Reiki practitioner to direct and invoke specific qualities of Reiki energy.  

The symbols are used differently amongst different schools of Reiki, but in general, Western Reiki emphasizes the use of symbols more than schools of the traditional Japanese lineage. 

Depending on the lineage and a practitioner’s preference, symbols may be visualized, drawn with a hand or finger, recited/spoken by name, or not utilized at all during treatments. 

Historically, Reiki teachings and symbols were kept very secretively, to the extent that some masters required any lesson notes and symbols to be burned after teachings. 

Although many teachers and Reiki practitioners still request that the symbols and their names remain a secret, it is very easy to find all sorts of information about Reiki, including the symbols online. 

Because of this, a basic description of each of the Reiki 2 symbols is listed below. 

Keep in mind that reading about, drawing, or learning the mantras for symbols does not enable a person to utilize them without an attunement.
  • Cho ku rei is typically the first Reiki symbol taught and is known as the power symbol. It is used to harness focus and strength and as a general tool for overall Reiki energy activation, channeling, empowerment, and healing.
  • Sei hei ki is the second symbol that is transmitted in Level 2 of Reiki, and it is used to balance emotions and prevent harmony. Sei hei ki is helpful in Reiki practices related to emotional and mental stability, overall wellness, memory, and protection from energies that may be negative or undesirable.
  • Hon sha ze sho nen is typically the third and final symbol practiced in Reiki 2 (although Western Reiki sometimes incorporates two additional symbols). It is known as the symbol for distance healing and is said to enable the practitioner to navigate both space and time by directing Reiki energy to past events and future experiences (in fact, Hon sha ze sho nen translates to “having no present, past, or future).
While Cho ku rei and Sei hei ki are symbols that hold their power in only geometric form, Hon sha ze sho nen is what is called a Jumon; it holds its power in the vibration of its name, along with its form.


In Reiki, each symbol is represented by a Kotodama - what other spiritual traditions would generally refer to as a corresponding mantra or sound frequency. 

Essentially, each symbol is associated with a multi-syllable chant that can be repeated either aloud or mentally. These mantras are used to replace a symbol or to enhance its effects. 

Kotodamas are supported by a traditional Japanese belief that certain powers and energies live in words (a couple descriptive translations of the word Kotodama are “soul of a word” and “word carrying spirit.”) 

By using a symbol’s Kotodama, the symbol’s power comes from consciously speaking its sound frequency. In the case of Hon sha ze sho nen, its Kotodama is different from its name, although both carry the symbol’s energy.

Additional Practices and Healing Methods

As previously mentioned, Reiki curriculums differ widely from teacher to teacher. 

However, in general, a Reiki Level 2 course will include advanced practices for focusing Reiki energy in specific ways through certain hand positions, meditations, visualizations, mantras, and/or intentions. 

Examples of techniques that might be taught in an Okuden course include using Reiki energy to overcome emotional challenges, heal trauma from the past, or help either oneself or others heal addictions. 

A Reiki Level 2 curriculum might also encompass specific practices for working with the energy of animals, plants, foods, or crystals. 

When working with energy, it is most important to take care of oneself first. 

Thus, most Reiki 2 courses will begin with practices such as breathing techniques and meditations for learning how to monitor, balance, and increase a student’s own energy. 

These teachings may include practices for energetic cleansing and purification as well. 

Since Reiki Level 2 qualifies an initiate to practice Reiki on others, Okuden courses also include ethics and professional guidelines for working with clients.

Who Can Benefit from Reiki Level 2?

Reiki is a universal energy that we can all perceive and embrace.

While giving or receiving Reiki healing treatments, it is common for people to experience feelings of relaxation, peace, an increased sense of intuition, spiritual guidance, and connection to both other humans and the world that surrounds us.

In general, the more we pay attention to energy, the more we are able to feel, understand, and utilize it.

For those already attuned to Reiki at the first level, Reiki Level 2 offers a more powerful flow (or vibration) of Reiki energy.

Because of this, an Okuden attunement can help a student along his or her path by offering physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being and support in all areas of life.

It also allows a person the opportunity to share Reiki energy with others, both informally and professionally.

Reiki often serves as a gateway from physical to non-physical realms and is a safe, easy way for anyone interested in or new to energy work or natural healing to get to know the connection between the physical and energetic bodies.

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