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Reiki Level 1: The First Degree (Shoden)
Level 1 is a practitioner's initiation into Reiki and is open to anyone. The focus during Level 1 is on opening the energy channels on a physical level, allowing the practitioner to connect to the universal life force energy, which flows from the cosmos through the crown of the head and down to the heart and hands. Many reiki masters emphasize self-reiki as the goal of the Level 1 designation, encouraging students to focus on practicing Reiki on themselves, thereby working through their own obstacles. Typically the Level 1 course also includes an overview of the history of reiki.
What to expect during a Level 1 Attunement:
The Reiki Level 1 attunement was initially given in four separate attunements. There are some Reiki masters who still teach using this method. However, many reiki masters provide the Level 1 attunement in a single session. After the first attunement, many experience physical symptoms of energy in their palms—including tingling, coolness, or heat. Anxiousness, exhaustion, and sadness are not uncommon after the Level 1 attunement.
Level 2 gives students the skills to practice reiki on others and open energy channels more deeply. Students also receive their symbols during this level. There are five symbols in reiki and each one corresponds to specific energy (power, harmony, distance, mastery, and completion). Students are expected to use these symbols to bring the universal energy of reiki into their everyday lives in more practical ways. The symbols can also help people provide reiki over long distances or send healing energy wherever it may be needed in the world.
What to expect during a Level 2 Attunement:
The Level 2 attunement is typically given in one single attunement, with a focus on opening up the heart chakra, the midpoint between the physical and spiritual chakras. Students have their eyes closed for this attunement so they can look within and fully feel into the process' effect on the heart.
In many courses, the Third Degree and Reiki Master are the same designations. However, some teachers separate Level 3 from Reiki Master. The Reiki Master Level is traditionally considered the teacher's level, and masters are able to walk away and attune new Reiki practitioners. However, many receive the master attunement, along with the corresponding symbol, yet don't feel comfortable or practiced in properly attuning others—hence the distinction between Third Degree and Reiki Master.
Becoming a reiki master also represents a deep commitment to the Reiki practice, and some feel that significant time should pass between achieving the Second Degree status and Master Level. Because the Master Level is taught in a wide range of methods, you should meditate on which path feels right for you and spend time and consideration in selecting a master.
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