First Degree Reiki
First degree is the entry to Reiki practice, in which students are empowered to offer Reiki by gently placing hands. First degree Reiki is easily learned, and suitable for people of any age and at any level of emotional or physical health who have the interest. Hawayo Takata said, "First yourself." Reiki training starts with self-treatment, and self-treatment remains foundational to the continuing development of a Reiki practitioner at every level, including professionals.
Takata gave four initiations in First degree training. In the First degree classes, students are introduced to the concepts of subtle healing, trained in both abbreviated and full treatments, and given the history and the Precepts. Students begin practicing Reiki on themselves in the first meeting.
Precepts of Mikao Usui
As translated by Hyakuten Inamoto
Do not anger
Do not worry
Be kind to others
The precepts were a vital part of Usui's system that offer non-dogmatic contemplations to guide outer behavior and inner intention. Usui called them "the secret of inviting happiness through many blessings, the spiritual medicine for all illness." Like the great teachings of all true paths, the precepts are timeless, as conducive to wellbeing in today's world as they were in Usui's time. Reciting the precepts at the beginning and end of each day, continually contemplating their meaning, and expressing them through one's conduct creates a powerful structure to support one's Reiki practice. Usui considered the precepts an integral part of the practice.
I have seen many people with life-threatening illness learn the First degree and receive great benefit from their daily Reiki practice. It is far more beneficial to practice daily at the First degree than to take Second degree training and use it occasionally. Daily self-treatment for at least three months is recommended before studying Second degree.
The traditional placement of hands for Reiki treatment follows the Asian medical paradigm, treating the head and front and back of the torso to affect healing throughout the system. In addition, hands can be placed anywhere there is pain or injury, but this may be unnecessary after the core Reiki placements.
Second Degree Reiki
Second degree training enables students to offer Reiki mentally when touch is impossible or inappropriate. This is referred to as distant healing. The Second degree technique uses symbols in a way similar to the way Taoist healers traditionally use talismanic healing images.
Second degree moves healing out of the linear First degree experience of hands-on/Reiki on and hands-off/Reiki off. Second degree can be used to offer distant healing to individuals, as well as to heal relationships, enhance problem-solving, uplift tense situations, defuse enmity, inspire collaboration, and empower spiritual self-inquiry. It cannot, however, be used to create specific results. As in First degree, the practitioner can only offer the Reiki connection; we can never direct Reiki to accomplish our goals.
Many psychiatrists and psychotherapists feel touch is outside their scope of practice, and use the Second degree to augment the power of healing available during their sessions. Second degree can be particularly useful for professionals serving the mentally ill or rape or trauma victims who may prefer not to be touched.