Activating Reiki

by Colleen Benelli
First Published – Reiki News Magazine, Spring 2011.
Artwork by Gaia Orion.

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“Do I have to draw all the Reiki symbols before I start giving Reiki?” is a common question my Reiki II students often ask. Students and practitioners sometimes talk of feeling impatient about drawing the Reiki symbols in order to activate them. Especially the Distance Symbol since it is long and takes a while to learn. After years of asking the same question myself, I have found that Reiki activates when it is asked. Whether we invite Reiki through silent intention or draw all the symbols one by one, Reiki works by invitation. All ways are equal depending on the needs of the moment.

The method we use to activate Reiki is individual and according to our preference. I find that each of the methods I use to invite Reiki work; however, they can create a different experience for me. When giving a Reiki treatment for clients, I find that the more intent-full that I am, the more quickly I become focused. I love the experience I have when I am deeply focused in activating Reiki. I begin with drawing the symbols in my hands and the room around me. I draw the Power Symbol over my body and all of my chakras. I invite my spiritual guides, the enlightened ones, to be present. My mind goes into a state of active listening. I can hear with a higher consciousness and connection with enlightened beings. I can hear the client’s body and higher self with my intuition. I receive perceptions of the original cause of the person’s injuries whether they are spiritual, mental, emotional, or physical, and whether the injury is from this lifetime or another. Another great benefit is that I experience myself receiving Reiki while I give it.

When I activate Reiki for myself and I use the methods above to give myself Reiki, I go into deep meditation and stillness. I often receive clear insights for the issues in my life. I feel steady, stable, and calm. Other times, I activate Reiki on the fly. My day is busy, starting at 4:30 a.m. and going full speed until late at night. When I invite Reiki quickly, I still receive healing, but usually I am too busy to experience the feeling of it. This is alright with me as well. The feeling is just different because even though I am busy, I continue to listen to Reiki. Reiki awakens my heightened perceptions so that I can notice serendipity in the moments. Reiki can help me feel calm when I am extremely busy and overwhelmed. It gives me the ability to stay focused and present and to see the blessings in the busyness. Right now, my life is extremely busy and challenging. One of my lifetime friends is in his final days of life, the farm we have lived on for 20 years has sold after two and a half years and we have to move within two weeks, and my mom broke her pelvis in three places, so my husband and I have had to move in with her to take care of her. And these are just a few of the issues. It’s all really over the top right now. I am truly so grateful to have Reiki to help manage it all. But, I don’t have a lot of extra time for meditation and stillness, so I have to find the stillness in the middle of my busyness. Right now, I find that I often activate Reiki with my mind and intention. I draw the symbols when I think of it, but just as often I simply think of them and invite them. I do self Reiki with my thoughts. Reiki responds with the same powerful life force energy as if I spent an hour activating it and meditating. It just feels different. All of the ways I experience Reiki are beneficial and are equal and I have learned not to have preferences about how I interact with it. I just invite Reiki into my day in the way that is just right for me at any given moment.

Reiki will come when it is invited; it only needs a quick thought for it to respond to us. However, getting our mind settled and responsive to Reiki and spirit can take time. That is why it benefits us to create techniques and habits that are designed to still our thoughts and focus our attention on our connection with Reiki. When we repeat the same technique when activating Reiki, it creates a body memory. The body memory then increases each time the technique is used. Soon, the stillness and focus occur more quickly because the body remembers that drawing symbols on the hands means “connect with Reiki.” Stillness, focus, heightened senses, and connection with divine energies follow, and repeated over time, become an automatic response that can be felt by the body and mind. The more a particular method is practiced the more quickly and easily it is felt.

William Rand describes the stimulus/response to Reiki in his article in Reiki News Magazine (Fall 2007) “What Makes Reiki Symbols Work.” He writes, “Whenever the student intends to use a symbols(s), such as when they draw it, visualize it, or speak its name, (stimulus) their energy field automatically responds (response) by opening up to and bringing in the higher frequency spiritual energies that the symbol represents.”

How we connect to Reiki is often dictated by the situation we are in. It is not always appropriate to draw the symbols. Sometimes we are in public, at work, or in a family situation where we need to activate Reiki in silence. In the volunteer training for cancer clinics through the Northwest Reiki Association here in Portland, we are taught not to draw the symbols in front of the patients in the cancer clinics. This is out of respect for the varieties of beliefs of the patients. They may not understand the practice of drawing symbols on our hands and may incorrectly associate it with something else. I usually activate the symbols on the way to the clinic, and I send it ahead with long distance Reiki. My husband, Robin, is a finish contractor and places Reiki in every building and home he works on. There are lots of construction workers around at all times. It would be awkward for him and others if he walked around drawing symbols on the walls. He simply intends Reiki to be present and uses his eyes to beam it into the room. He feels it activate and has created a body memory using this style of inviting Reiki. Recently, I was in the airport security line and the woman in front of me was having a severe panic attack. I asked her if I could place my hands on her and give her Reiki. To my surprise, she exclaimed, “Oh, thank God!” and I silently invited Reiki to fill her, and inconspicuously placed my hands on her shoulders. We had about five minutes and by the time we were finished she thanked me and said she would be able to fly. Other times, we can be in a room full of family members with varieties of beliefs and it may be best to silently invite Reiki to ourselves and the room. Some of my family and friends prefer to stay very alert during their Reiki treatments. My mother doesn’t like the deep relaxation and altered state a full Reiki treatment provides most people. I have several friends like that, too. A lot of times we just sit on the coach with my hands on their feet in my lap, I invite Reiki silently, and we chat or watch TV. It depends on the circumstance and the desired experience.

Last week I hiked up on the butte close to my house at sunrise. I activated Reiki by singing the sun up. I called to the Reiki symbols by name, drew them on my hands and all around me, and chanted their names as I watched the sun rise. I sang an Apache song to the earth. I spent several hours inviting Reiki into my day and into my life. Through the Apache song, I asked the morning sun to take my pain, to the earth, to the cool waters down below. I felt the tension of the past six months drain from my back and stomach, and drain through my feet into the earth. I was inspired by the beauty around me and suddenly my life challenges became easier. I felt blessed to have the time that day to spend hours in active meditation in nature. The view was spectacular as the sun shone through the clouds over Mt. Hood. Reiki filled my hands and body and I noticed all of my perspectives changing to include the joy of the moment.

Yesterday I activated the Reiki symbols by singing them through the house while I cleaned. I loved the echo of the sounds filling the room. At times I stopped and drew the symbols into the room. This morning I woke up and invited the Reiki symbols into my day before I got out of bed. I just asked them to be with me.

I did self-Reiki this morning and took the time to say my meditation to myself and used all the hand positions. I drew the Reiki symbols into the room and all around me. I asked to be healed of my feeling of overwhelm and to be empowered in my ability to complete the work I have ahead of me with grace and ease; just saying my intention into the Reiki flowing through me changed how I felt. By the time the session was finished, I felt much calmer and more peaceful. It was nice to give myself time. Other times, I have done self-Reiki as I was eating breakfast, or even watching TV. I do self-Reiki every morning as I wake up. In those times, I mostly just invite Reiki in my mind. I call it and ask it to come. I feel reduced stress and more clarity using these methods of self-Reiki too.

Because of my personality type, I have always had to have flexibility in my Reiki practices. One of the areas I have to constantly be aware of and heal is my resistance to rules. As soon as I am told that there is one right way to do something and that I am required to live by those rules, I resist. I think it is one of the reasons that Reiki is such a match for me; it works according to each person’s own style and needs. I like to have disciplines that I can follow, but I also like to create my own. And I need lots of variety. Another person may love to have a particular style of activating Reiki that she always uses and that is just right for her. But Reiki itself does not require that we invite it in any particular way. It just needs to be invited, in all the ways we can imagine. Otherwise, if Reiki came to us without our asking, it would violate our free will to live in the world the way we choose—because once Reiki is included in a situation, it will naturally align us with higher thought and perceptions and not all people are looking for higher awareness at all times. Reiki will never impose itself on us. It will always help us in just the way we ask (although it doesn’t always look the way we thought it would!).

When I am working with Reiki clients and in my Reiki classes, I find that I almost always use the same ritual when I activate and invite Reiki. I feel more confident that I am fully engaged in Reiki in the most powerful way possible. Since I use the same routine every time, my body remembers and activates quickly to receive Reiki. The Byosen awareness activates in me, my active listening engages, my hands are awake, and my intuition is increased. The room around me is activated, and my helping Reiki guides are present. Before my clients arrive or my students get to my class, I activate the room with Reiki. I often use the music called Reiki Chants by Jonathon Goldman, Laurelle Gaia, and Michael Baird to fill the room with Reiki and music. The chants are imbued with Reiki and they support me and help me to build the Reiki power in the room where I am working. I draw the symbols in my hands, all around the room, and over my body. I Invite my enlightened spiritual helpers and Reiki guides and create a Reiki container in the space. This is just for me. When I start working on my client, I draw the Reiki symbols on my hands, over my body, in the room, and over my client again. I invite my spiritual guides and Reiki guides to listen to the client and to assist in her healing and understanding through the session. I also say my meditation and invocation as I begin the session.

The same is true for my Reiki students. I activate Reiki as above before and after they arrive. The meditation I have created fills the students and the room with Reiki. It speaks of the symbols by describing their attributes rather than using their names. As the students listen to the meditation, Reiki activates within them. This is particularly helpful for Reiki I & II students who don’t know the names of the symbols or how to activate them yet. The meditation helps Reiki flow within them, and they begin to understand the feeling of Reiki right away. It also helps to build a safe container in the room, which makes it easier for them to relax and learn. I have this meditation on my website, It is free and you are welcome to use it. In my last Reiki Master class, I had a lot of fun activating Reiki by singing the symbols into the room before my students arrived, and then I had the students dance the symbols into the room, too. We had great fun! The Reiki was powerful and the room was charged with energy and song!

When I teach Reiki, I teach and encourage my students to activate Reiki by drawing the symbols on their hands. It is beneficial for them to begin with a routine that helps them create a relationship with Reiki so they can feel Reiki activate within their body. It helps them to understand how Reiki works. I also teach them to use Reiji-ho. This is a method of placing their hands in Gassho (prayer position) over their heart, connecting the hands and heart. Then they lift their thumbs to their third eye chakra, and back to their heart. This method works great and is helpful as a routine to invite spiritual guidance into the session. I also instruct them in activating the room with Reiki by drawing a CHK on the walls, ceiling, and floor, then drawing each symbol they are attuned to in the center of the room.

The preparations for activating Reiki are written in the Reiki class manuals written by William Rand. However, I also want my students to have the same sense of freedom I feel with Reiki, and I let them know that Reiki works by invitation, not necessarily by the method used for activation. I tell them of my story that when I first received my Reiki attunements, I was very undisciplined about my activation practices. Again, my resistance to rules and impatience got in my way. However, the more experienced I became, the more I loved taking the time to invite Reiki through drawing the symbols on myself and around me. Today, because I love activating Reiki in so many different ways, I know that each student will have to decide for herself. Some will love discipline and routine and others will love creating the way that is just right for them; Reiki responds in every way that we invite it.

Reiki fascinates me in so many ways. I love that it works for each person in the way that is just right. There are many reasons to activate Reiki in a variety of ways. And we can see from the results that Reiki works however it is invited. It all depends on the experience we want to have, and what is just right for each moment in our lives.

Colleen Benelli can be reached by email at, by phone at 503.912.0664, on her website at, or on her Facebook page, Reiki Lifestyle-Colleen Benelli. Join Colleen’s monthly ReikiChat™ conversation,

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