Please enjoy this brilliant article written by Om Reiki founder, Jeremy O’Carroll.
One of the challenges prospective Reiki students face is finding a quality course. With no official governing body to ensure standards, many classes can be laughably bad.
No more than a few hours in length. No course materials. Uncommitted teachers. They often have little to recommend them beyond an attunement and, hopefully, an encouraging word or two.
Not surprisingly, this lack of quality control has spawned hundreds of Reiki associations worldwide – all of them hoping, in some way or another, to help guarantee a certain set of standards.
In many ways, this is a praiseworthy thing, and since I’ve started my teaching career, I’ve always been a member of an association. Membership is voluntary, but it does give me a degree of credibility, and ideally, helps challenge me to ever-higher standards.
The downside of membership, however, is bureaucracy. As Reiki healers, we do what we do because we love working with energy and helping people.
That is what we live for. That is what we want to get out into the world and do.
We want to feel Reiki energy coursing through us. We want to heal the planet. We want to help people connect to a deep part within themselves.
What we don’t want to do is spend large chunks of time filling out forms and obeying rules we don’t believe in.
Of course, when associations are run well, you will hopefully believe in their rules and find sense in their forms. The challenge for associations, however, is to find a balance between ensuring standards and getting out of the way.
They need quality controls to have a reason to exist, but if they interfere too much in a healer’s work, they become an unwanted pain.
The Challenges of COVID
For the most part, Reiki associations do, thankfully, operate mostly in the background. Since the introduction of COVID, however, a new set of challenges has arisen, challenges that typically require more governance.
In some ways, this is a good thing, for associations can help healers navigate the minefield of COVID safety regulations. In other ways, it can lead to overregulation and a failure to move with the times and innovate.
In particular, dissension has recently arisen around the issue of online teaching. Is it a valid way to teach Reiki? Or will it lead to a drop in standards and unacceptably poor quality courses?
While there are exceptions, most Reiki associations have taken the position that you simply can’t teach Reiki online and have banned their members from doing so.
In fact, some have gone so far as to ban members from teaching any form of Reiki online, whether they call it by another name or openly state that online teaching is not recognized by their association.
I have to admit that before COVID, this position seemed sensible to me. I mean, how can you teach Reiki online? Don’t you need to give the attunements in person? Don’t you need to be in the same room as other students to practise properly with them?
To do anything else seemed laughable, and all but sure to guarantee shoddy standards and incapable students.
My Online Experiment
With Melbourne being the ‘lockdown capital of the world’, I’ve had to cancel or postpone a lot of my courses. For a while, I just accepted my fate, but eventually, last year, when lockdown was firmly entrenched and not going anywhere, I decided I wanted to do something for students who had enrolled in classes that had been repeatedly pushed back to a later and later date. In the end, I chose to run some courses in two parts: the first part would be unofficial and conducted online. The second part would be done in person.
Effectively, everyone got to do the course twice: once online and once in person. Ideally, this would give students some healing tools to practise while stuck at home during lockdown, but even in the worst-case scenario – if the online courses were garbage – I’d still get to teach them everything in person.
So by my way of thinking, there was no downside to my students, and potentially a good deal of upside depending on how well my online classes went.
Before my first class, I was confident that certain components could be taught well online: the meditations, the Reiki precepts, all of the Reiki theory – there was no reason they couldn’t be as good as in a regular class.
But what about attunements?
What about the Reiki healing?
To my surprise, the online attunements worked a treat. All of my Level 1 students connected to Reiki energy and, like in a regular course, could enjoy practising their new skill right away.
Admittedly, for Reiki 1, where there is no distance healing, the emphasis was mostly on self-healing. But I did get participants to practise on pets, family, plants, and anyone or anything they could get their hands on – and everything worked beautifully!
In fact, students seemed to connect to Reiki energy just as well as in a normal class – something I could verify later on when I met them in person.
What I Learned from My Online Experiment
Reflecting on my experience, it became clear that I had become blinded by tradition. Reiki had always been taught a certain way, so I presumed that was the way it needed to be taught. But that is, of course, laughably illogical.
Even so, when I tried to explain this to Reiki associations and healers, they would typically remain skeptical and trot out the usual mantra: ‘Reiki can’t be taught online’.
The problem with this position is that it all too clearly mirrors people who say that regular Reiki is itself fake, a placebo, ‘demonic’ or whatnot, even when they have never tried or experienced it.
You have probably come across people like this, and unless you’re in a particularly Zen state of mind, it is frustrating. For how can they judge something they have never tried? It’s like saying a particular dish at a particular restaurant tastes terrible when you have never eaten it. It just makes no sense.
You would think that testimonials from lots of happy students would help, but not so. For people of a certain bent, it doesn’t matter what evidence you produce, their position remains immovable.
The crazy thing about all this is that Reiki has a long tradition of distance healing – something all associations and people involved with Reiki recognize.
“Yes,” they say with a sage nod of their head, “it may seem miraculous, but Reiki can certainly work over distance – even vast distances.”
But if this is so, why can’t you do an attunement over distance? Is it really logical to presume that regular Reiki energy can fly over distance to heal someone, but when it comes to an attunement, it loses all of its power?
Is it really logical to presume that the mechanisms that unlock a student’s healing potential during an attunement can’t work over space?
And even if it does seem logical, wouldn’t it still be sensible to test your belief and see what happens?
And if online Reiki teaching does work, wouldn’t the logical (and scientific) thing be to admit that, even if we don’t fully understand what’s going on?
Not so, according to most Reiki associations!
Why Online Classes Can Even Work Better than In-Person Ones
I love in-person courses. Don’t get me wrong. I love being in a room with other healers. I love getting to know them. I love sharing a space.
But I have also – to my surprise – realized that you can not only still share an energetic space online, you can even gain some advantages from learning to heal online.
For instance, in some ways, Reiki 2 works better online because you can properly test out distance healing. In my unofficial classes, I simply inverted my regular course structure and taught distance healing first. Then we practised all of the other Level 2 techniques via distance healing.
In one class, I had a student in Taipei, and guess what? She felt the Reiki energy just as clearly as the other students who were dotted around Victoria.
So students got more experience and actually became more confident in their distance healing skills than they would in a regular course.
Another virtue of online classes is that everyone can be in their own energetic space for the meditations and healing. While this isn’t necessarily an advantage, at times, when someone is working on really deep issues, it enables them to relax and flow more with the healing process than they would if surrounded by a roomful of strangers.
What’s more, even when done online, classes do still get to enjoy ‘group energy’. This, I admit, surprised me, but somehow, like with distance healing, group energy does form, and with it, everyone is able to go deeper into their meditations and healing than they generally would alone.
Of course, everything I’m talking about here regards ‘live’ online courses, as opposed to recorded classes. I’m talking about courses where you are getting direct and immediate feedback from your teacher, where you can see – live – the faces of the other participants, share your experiences, and practise your techniques together.
I’m not saying that recorded classes can’t work well, but although I have taken several, I don’t think I’m in a position to judge them properly.
Am I arguing that online Reiki courses should replace in-person ones? Not at all. Other things being equal, most people will still probably choose the in-person option. But I do believe online learning is a valid alternative, and in many cases, it may be the only viable option.
Sometimes people live in remote places. Sometimes (or in Melbourne’s case, often), people are in lockdown. Sometimes, for health reasons, people can’t travel. Sometimes people are too emotionally vulnerable to mix physically in a group. There are lots of potential reasons why you might want to learn online.
So from my experience, it makes very little sense to ban online Reiki courses. By all means, ensure they meet the same standards as in-person courses. Make sure they have the same amount of contact hours. Make sure they teach the same essential skills. Make sure the teacher is properly qualified. But once a teacher has ticked those boxes, let them do their work in peace.
If Reiki is a good thing. If it is a healing thing. If it benefits the world, then don’t keep it locked up in a box because ‘things have always been done in a certain way’.
Be scientific. Do your tests. And if teaching online does work, embrace positive change.
The world is no longer the place it was when Mikao Usui taught Reiki in Japan in the 1920s, and it’s time the Reiki community fully understood this.
And with COVID shaking up the world, now is the perfect opportunity to free ourselves from outmoded ways of doing things and evolve.
(Article Copyright, Jeremy O’Carroll 2021)
I’ll be holding my next Chi Activation Healing course on Oct. 30-31 (online). The course is ideal for experienced healers and will take what you have learned in modalities like Reiki and Pellowah to a new level.
So if you would like to tap into multiple healing frequencies and expand the range of issues you can successfully treat, check out all of the class details at the course homepage.
Next, we will be restarting our in-person courses again from early November. Due to government regulations, they will only be open to vaccinated students, but if you are able to come along in November, we have several upcoming events:
Reiki 1 (Fitzroy North) – Nov. 6-7
Pellowah 1 & 2 (Fitzroy Nt) – Nov. 13-14
Mastering Your Chakras & Mastering Your Mind meditation courses (Daylesford/Denver) – Nov. 20-21
Reiki Retreat (Daylesford/Denver) – Nov. 27-28.
Also, for those interested in doing our Reiki Master Level course, it has now shifted to Jan. 7-9 (2022) at my beautiful new centre in Denver (in between Woodend and Daylesford). So if you are looking to work with Reiki in 2022, then come along. The course will give you the skills and qualifications you need.
If you have any questions, reply to this email or call me (Jeremy) on 0417 328 457.