There is a common misconception in the West that Reiki is about healing others more than anything else but this is not how it started.

Mikao Usui told us, “Every morning and every night, sit in the Gassho position and speak these words (the Five Reiki Precepts) out loud in your heart. For the evolution of body and soul, Usui Reiki Ryoko”. Reiki as first taught was about self-improvement, not just about physical health.

As a philosophy it offers many of the concepts we now see put forward by life coaches and new-age thinkers. Needless to say, it was not the first such discipline but it is unfortunate that this element of Reiki seems to be widely ignored by modern practitioners.

The words, “out loud in your heart” are paradoxical but I believe their real meaning has literally been lost in translation. Usui Sensei was not telling us just to sit and run through the precepts, saying the words. He was telling us to meditate on them – “out loud in our heart”.

Repeating a few phrases, no matter how worthy, will do little to help one evolve. Meditating on them, however, will do a great deal but it can be (and often is) hard work.

A Level 1 student contacted me about doing her Level 2. We spoke at length on the telephone and I discovered she had never meditated on the precepts. I told her to do her Gassho twice a day, for at least five minutes and keep a daily note of anything that came to her. A month later, we met to discuss things. I asked about her meditation and how it had progressed. She told me that if it was a nice day and she was walking the dog, she might sit and meditate a while. Doing the Gassho twice a day was not for her. We never met again.

For me, meditation on the Five Precepts is the starting point of all Reiki. Some who take it up may never progress to an attunement but still find their lives changed and enriched. For those who are attuned, I think it’s an essential link in understanding what they do.

Before contemplating taking Level 1, I advise potential students to start with 30 days of meditation and keep a daily diary. Find a chair, or even sit up in bed which is easy if you do the meditation before sleep and after you wake. Then just close your eyes and repeat the Precepts several times in your mind. If you’ve been angry, worried or gone against the principles of the Precepts during the day, this is the perfect time to contemplate that.

The morning meditation is often a perfect way of clearing our mind of dreams, unsettling thoughts or worries we have about the day ahead.

Repeating the Precepts lets us take control of our mind and steer our thoughts to what we want; or clear our mind of any conscious thought. To begin with, clearing our mind of thought is a daunting task but relatively quickly we can achieve it for short periods and with time that can build.

When you first start to get periods where your meditation reaches that quiet, still, empty place it’s not uncommon for your mind to plant seeds of doubt. You’re not really meditating, you haven’t reached stillness. You’ve just filled your mind with an empty thought! If you get that, you’re winning the battle.

The purpose of meditation is to take control of your mind, not let your mind control you. So, when thoughts do arise (and they will), give them a moment’s consideration. If it’s trivial or negative just let it go. If it’s positive, deal with it in the same way. With time, it’s possible to clear the constant chattering of our minds and get to a point where we can listen to our subconscious self, free at last to express itself.

I have frequently had things come to mind in meditation about my life and my Reiki that I would never have consciously thought of. Meditation reunites us with our inner self. It strips away the facades we all adopt at home or work and allows us to be truthful with ourself.

It allows us to listen to our heart tell us what we want; what we need – and often how to get that.