by Carrie Laymon, Reiki Master Teacher

Those of us fortunate enough to live in areas with large, active holistic communities usually are blessed with many choices of Reiki teachers. There truly is someone for everyone. So many choices, however, sometimes makes it more difficult to compare the differences and make a wise decision. Following are some tips that may help you find the teacher who is most appropriate for you.

Compatibility: Sharing energy is very personal. Above all else, I believe that energetic compatibility is key to your class experience. Don’t be timid. Ask questions, listen with your “inner ear”, and honor the intuition or feelings you get as a prospective teacher speaks with you. If you feel good with a person and their philosophies, your experience likely will be positive as well.

If you aren’t sure, you may want to consider getting a Reiki session from the prospective teacher/s you feel most drawn to. This will give you the opportunity to share their energy, experience how they work, and view their practice environment.

Honoring You: Reiki is about sharing energy from the heart, and honoring all individuals as they are in each moment. Your teacher should honor and respect you at all times; be happy to support you and the growth of your practice; act with honesty and integrity; and always work to support your best interests.

Practice Experience: Ask a prospective teacher about their practitioner experience. It is easy to obtain a Master Teacher certificate within a very short time. However, it takes time, consistent practice, and ongoing personal growth work to develop awareness, understanding, and incorporation of the Reiki principles into daily life.

If someone has not used Reiki in practice for a considerable time prior to teaching, they are less likely to have developed the awareness, understanding and range of practical experience needed to meet the responsibilities of teaching.

Philosophies: The practice of Reiki has evolved considerably over the years, and will continue to do so. There are many variations in its practice and teaching. These range from the traditional Usui foundational base to newer forms which continue to be introduced.

Usui Reiki provides the core foundation from which you can grow and expand. In many cases, this foundation may be required before other forms of Reiki are taken.

Different teachers may maintain different philosophies about what Reiki “is” and how it “should” be used. Some are rigidly traditional while others may diverge to the point that the traditional foundation is lost.

A good guideline is to look for someone who respects others’ ways, but provides balanced approaches that will give you a good basic foundation from which to begin.

Ask a prospective teacher about their philosophies and approaches to Reiki and choose someone whose responses feel compatible with what feels right for you.

Investments: Recently, there appears to be a wider variety of fees for Reiki classes than existed in the past. Just as fees may vary, there also may be considerable differences in quality and in what you receive for your investment.

Therefore, it is wise to consider your purpose for taking this training, both now and in your future. If you have a desire to begin a formal Reiki practice, to integrate it with other work you do, or to use it on others apart from yourself and family, consider the value of finding a high quality, comprehensive class that will provide you with certification and the tools, information, and deeper understanding you will need to offer public service.

Class Materials: Reiki class materials may range from a few photocopied handouts to full manuals. Sometimes a full manual may be included in your registration cost or you may be asked to pay extra for one. Ask about this and understand what exactly you are getting.

Good reference materials will be important to you later as you integrate and practice what you learned in class.

Also, be clear on whether the class you are taking will provide certification as well as the attunement. Occasionally, you may find an “economy class” that offers attunements and some basic information but does not certify or truly prepare you to practice Reiki on anyone other than yourself.

Class Length: Individual classes may range from 3-4 hours to more than a day. If an individual class level is less than a full day, time will force you to sacrifice either foundational understanding or valuable hands-on practice time.

Note if someone charges you nearly as much for a half-day class as others do for a full day or more.

Hands-On Practice Time: Reiki is experiential and can only be learned and integrated through adequate practice. Find out approximately how much time in each level is spent on book work or lecture vs. experiential activities. You need time to understand the background, foundation and philosophy, and the feeling and experience of using Reiki.

I feel that the average ratio should be approximately 50% experiential for Level 1 and at least 75% experiential for Levels 2 and above. I highly recommend avoiding classes that do not allow you a full hands-on practice experience.

Follow-up Support: It is typical for questions or issues to arise after you have left class and begin to practice Reiki and integrate your attunement. Your teacher should be there to freely support you after you leave class.

Will your teacher be easily accessible to you, and in what ways and to what extent? Will your teacher promptly respond to you when you need it?

Continuing Education Credits: If you need your Reiki class to meet requirements for professional continuing education, verify that your prospective teacher has current approval from the appropriate licensing agency to offer the credit hours you need.

A teacher’s class advertisements should specify their credentials; what type of CE they are approved to offer, and the number of credit hours you will receive. If this is not clear, be sure to ask. If in doubt, call your licensing board to verify.

Organization: Your prospective Reiki teacher should be able and willing to provide you with at least the following before you register: clear written information about what is included in each class; fees and policies on cancellations and refunds; any preparation required on your part; class time and location.

You also should receive reasonably prompt confirmation of your place in the class and of receipt of your payments.

The degree of organization, respect and clarity with which a prospective teacher deals with you during your inquiries and before class may be a good indicator of how your relationship and class experience are likely to evolve.