The Reiki principles or life rules are actually not really rules as in how you should be or what you should or should not do, but more intended as ideals that you pursue in order to have balance, peace and happiness in your life.
Within the Reiki tradition, the 5 principles are often spoken in silence or aloud during a (gasho) meditation. Mikao Usui, a Japanese monk who rediscovered Reiki in the late 18th century, encouraged his students to do it every morning and evening.
The five precepts will have a different meaning for everyone and may also be different for you at certain period of times in your life.
It is very difficult and perhaps impossible to live within these principles every day and every moment, but they can help you become more aware of your own thoughts and actions and help you continue to improve yourself and develop how to deal with your thoughts and emotions.
And if, for example, you consciously reflect a year later, you will most likely notice changes, even if only in 1 of the principles. And the following year you will notice more development again.
The 5 Reiki principles or rules of life
The translation from Japanese could be translated as:
- Just for today I will not worry
- Just for today I will not be angry
- Just for today I will do my work honestly
- Just for today I will give thanks for my many blessings
- Just for today I will be kind to my neighbour and every living things
In addition, Mikoa Usui had a 6th principle. This principle is sometimes left out in the more western oriented form of Reiki practice:
- Just for today I will honor my teachers, parents and elders
Short explanation per principle
1. Just for today I will not worry
In life we all have worries sometimes, problems come our way and situations that are tricky or just very difficult. But worrying too much and for too long can lead to chronic stress and, for example, anxiety. Worries are often focused on the future and for that you do not live in the NOW. Sure, certain (smaller) concerns can push you to action, which is good, and that is taking action from the ‘now’.
With this rule of life you can further investigate whether the concerns you have are problems that you make (bigger) yourself, whether you mainly worry about something that could possibly happen in the future or do you have worries that you create yourself such as that you think you should lose weight?
Or do your worries come from situations that have happened to you, such as a financial crisis, an illness or the death of someone.
To what extent does your ego play a role and to what extent can you allow what is happening, and to accept what is? And if you can tackle a concern or problem, can you do deal with it from the ‘here and now’?
2. Just for today I will not be angry
It is not at all the case that you should not be angry at all. As suppressing emotions is not good at all. It’s more that you are aware of why you got angry and how you deal with it and what you do with it next. You can gain more insight into what ‘triggers’ you, by what and by whom? In the long run you will notice that you also become angry less quickly, less intensely or for a shorter period of time.
3. Just for today I will do my work honestly
Within this principle, you can also ‘work’ in everything you do, whether it’s a paid job or not. It’s about honesty. To be honest with others but also with yourself! Do you do what you really want in your life, what makes you happy and do you follow your dreams?
4. Just for today I will give thanks for my many blessings
Showing gratitude has a positive effect on your mood and is very powerful. Every day you can take a moment to name (or write down) what you are all grateful for. These can be big things like a house and healthy food, to small things like a nice conversation with the neighbor.
If you are interested to know more, check my previous blog about the power of gratitude, including 3 exercises to put into practice.
5. Just for today I will be kind to my neighbour and every living thing
Being kind is both to yourself and to others. In Buddhism people believe in reincarnation, hence the extra words ‘all living things’. This includes everything in nature, for example also stones. Being kind, or having compassion for others is very healing for yourself and also works very well against anger or judgment. If you believe that everything is energy, and positive thoughts, words and actions have a higher frequency, kindness raises a higher vibration in yourself and attracts others with a higher frequency.
6. Just for today I will honor my teachers, parents and elders
Within many ancient traditions, knowledge was passed from teacher to student much more. Knowledge of practical things but also spiritual knowledge. Elders and ancestors were more honored than they are today, especially in the West. By honoring the teacher, you honor the knowledge you have been given. Students, such as within the ancient Reiki tradition, but also in Buddhist monasteries, had the same teacher for years. Bowing to the Buddha can also be seen as respect for the teachings, teachers, elders and the Buddha in yourself.
Adjustment of the 5 rules of life to only positive sentences
Studies have shown that if you want to change things constructively and positively, you name what you want and not what you don’t want. As with affirmations, you speak from the present tense, something is phrased positively and you use sentences as if something is already so.
The first Reiki rules have the words ‘worry’ and ‘angry’. Perhaps the rules have not yet been adjusted because they come from an older tradition, but if you like you can of course change the principles in, for example:
- Today I will trust that everything will be fine
- Today I will love and be helpful
- Today I will be true to myself and others and do my work with integrity and honesty
- Today I am grateful for my many blessings and all that I receive
- Today I will be kind to my neighbour and every living thing
I am convinced of the effect of affirmations, but the original Reiki rules also work well for me because they work as a kind of mirror. For example, when I get angry, the sentence ‘just for today I will not be angry’ often comes up and that can help me at least try not to get stuck in that anger, but to observe what happens, how I feel and then let go. So in this case I recognize anger in the moment itself, the 2nd principles comes to mind, and not the words ‘loving and helpful’.
Powerful in simplicity
They are only 5 or 6 rules, or principles, and if you look closely at them, they include everything that is also reflected in world religions, such as being good to your neighbor, no stealing, no killing etc. But because the rules state ‘Just for today’, it’s easier to handle. If something doesn’t work or go well today, try again tomorrow. During meditation you can also go deeper into what each line means to you and what it does to you, in order to gain more insight into yourself.
No rules of ‘must’ but for inspiration and motivation for yourself
Maybe “principles” sounds a bit rigid to you and you don’t like rules very much. Doing something or not because it ‘has to’ or because ‘it’s supposed to be’, does not always work well for me. On the other hand, from our upbringing and culture, we consciously or unconsciously follow quite a few rules. Sometimes they’re just handy, and it’s okay as well not to follow some rules as long as you don’t bother others with them, right?!
You can see the Reiki principles as an inspiration for yourself, your development, to obtain (more) balance, peace and happiness and not that of someone else.
This meditation form was taught to his students by Mikao Usui and was performed every morning and evening. You have a formal and informal form. Gasho helps you focus and quiet the mind during meditation. Gasho could be translated as ‘two hands coming together’. You sit on the floor or chair, place your hands together, as if in prayer position, at chest height. You close your eyes and you bring your attention to the tops of your middle fingers where they meet. If your mind wanders during the meditation, bring your attention back to this point. You can also lightly press your fingertips together to refocus. After a few minutes, say out loud or internally the 5 principles. The meditation can last around 10 minutes.
Other ways to master the Reiki principles
During my Reiki 1 training, more than 25 years ago, we were given a printout of the 5 principles to hang somewhere in the house with the advice to put it somewhere where you will see it every day, so that you can easily keep repeating the sentences, even if you weren’t meditating. Mine hung for a long time next to the front door; so day in and day out, I saw those sentences and read them.
Another idea could be that you put a note in your wallet or in your phone case and check it regularly.
Hi, my name is Jolinda, and I work as a holistic health practitioner. I provide yoga and meditation classes and massage and Reiki treatments, mindfulness training and happiness coaching,.
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