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The Five Reiki Principles

The Five Reiki Principles are a simple route to a happier life.

Even a short daily meditation on the Five Principles can have a profound outcome on your day-to-day wellbeing and mindfulness and are viewed by some as the first secular mindfulness program known.

A Brief History of the Reiki Principles

Reiki is a worldwide phenomenon and the Reiki as we know it is approaching its 100th anniversary since it’s inception in 1922.

The Five Principles of Reiki as we know them date back to the founding of ‘Usui Shiki Ryoho’, the Usui System of Natural Healing.

At the time, in Japan, there were four schools of Reiki (Reiki means ‘universal energy’) with the first book on Reiki being published in 1914.

Mikao Usui was born in 1865 and traveled widely, studying history, medicine, Buddhism, Christianity, psychology and Taoism before settling back in Japan.

Here he worked as a teacher, guide, healer, and spiritualist. In March 1922, Usui took part in a 21-day meditation retreat on Mount Kurama near Kyoto where the Principles of Reiki and the Reiki Symbols were revealed to him.

Usui was keen for everyone to be able to access Reiki and so he made the process a secular, practical, and mindful one.

Despite clear roots in Buddhism, Reiki has been claimed by many other faiths and non-religious groups and can now be found in a bewildering range of forms. Fortunately, all rely on the Five Reiki Principles.

Usui recommended a practice known as Hatsurei-Ho, which is a meditation on the Five Principles and how they can be applied in one’s life.

The Five Reiki Principles

All of the Reiki Principles begin with the words “Just for today…”.

This is mindfulness in its purest form, existing in the present moment, focusing on what can be done now and only now.

This is also incredibly freeing because it allows you to make mistakes – if you don’t make it today, you have tomorrow. 

The Five Reiki Principles don’t require you to sign up to a lifelong improvement program, they don’t expect you to get it right all the time and they allow for slips and trips along the path.

You can start each day with just one of the Five Principles, or all of them and your ability to live within them increases with practice.

So, what are the Five Reiki Principles?

Principle #1: Just for today do not worry

‘Worry’ in this context is covering a lot of ground for us. Anxiety, stress, fear, concern, nerves – all are covered by this first Principle.

Crucially, it is not telling us not to care, but for us to not dwell on the things we cannot affect. 

The modern world is full of daily hassles and life events that affect us negatively – some of which are outside of our control – and it is these that the First Principle is telling us to let go of.

Stress and anxiety are now known to raise the levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, in the body, which has a negative effect on health and wellbeing. 

By ‘not worrying’, we release ourselves from the stresses and strains of daily life, freeing us to be present in our lives without fearing for the future or obsessing over the past we cannot change.

Principle #2: Just for today do not anger

Anger is what happens when we take out worries from the First Principle and turn them outwards.

Another negative emotion, anger can have its place in the world when used constructively, but all too often, anger is a force for harm, physical, mental, or emotional.

Physically, anger also increases the levels of cortisol in the bloodstream, releases adrenaline to trigger our ‘fight or flight’ response, and leads to a range of health problems to do with the heart, digestive system, and bloodstream.

Acknowledge your anger when it arises, but release it with calm. Do not dwell in your anger or you will carry it into all your interactions and sour your relationships with others.

Principle #3: Just for today be grateful

Gratefulness is an often-overlooked emotion, particularly when we are told to be grateful. All gratefulness is, is an ability to reflect on our privilege and what we have and acknowledge the role it plays in our lives.

Reflecting on gratefulness can be as simple as recognizing the advantages that we have.

Being able to take the time to read this article on a device makes us better off than almost any human in the whole of recorded history, but it is easy to forget how much we have when compared to some of the high-profile individuals who are viewed as ‘successful’.

Just for today, be grateful for what you have instead of envious of what you don’t have and you will realize that the richness of life comes from celebrating our successes, not desiring the success of others.

Principle #4: Just for today do your work honestly

Principle number 4 might seem like a bit of a no-brainer, of course, we do our work honestly, otherwise, we wouldn’t be doing it, right?

This principle speaks to a high level of integrity and professionalism and doesn’t only refer to work in the job sense. In this context ‘work’ is more ‘the-things-you-do’ than just your profession or job.

It includes hobbies, journeys, chores, and any tasks we engage in.

To ‘do your work honestly’, means to act with integrity in all things.

To be an example of trust and professionalism. When you engage in a task, whether it be filing a report or cooking a meal for your family, commit to it with your whole self. Be present and mindful in the task as you complete it.

Principle #5: Just for today be kind to every living thing

Principle number five is another seemingly obvious one, with a deeper level of meaning to it.

Being kind to every living thing doesn’t just mean refraining from causing harm, it means being thankful and projecting positivity to all living things as well. 

Sending out into the world your best wishes for all living things means taking the time to be mindful of all the life that surrounds you.

Whether you live in a city, a small town, or out in the country, you are always surrounded by life and living things, some of which are easier to love than others!

Remember as well that you are a living thing and need to be kind to yourself as well.

Working in concert with the other Principles, this one means being able to forgive yourself for the times you don’t always make it.

Add Power to the Reiki Principles & Use Them for a Happier Life

To take these Principles and apply them in your life can lead to a happier, healthier and more fulfilling way of being.

Each one can be explored individually, or in concert with others. It’s worth starting out with just one and adding others as you go along, but this doesn’t need to be a speedy process! 

Take the time you need to fully realize each of the Principles in your life. Start the day with one or more as an affirmation, write them down or save them onto your phone to refer to in times of need, or just meditate on a different one each day to help you fully understand it.

Below are some ways to add power to the Principles as you use them in your life:

Applying Principle #1: Just For Today Do Not Worry

State the Principle aloud to yourself. Put a note on the bathroom mirror to remind you!

Every time you start to feel stress or anxiety creeping into your thoughts, acknowledge them mindfully and banish them by repeating this Principle.

Try to practice Principle #1 early in the week.

If you can make it through the start of your week without worrying, carry it over to the next day. Use this Principle as your meditation for the day and help ground yourself in calm.

Applying Principle #2: Just For Today Do Not Anger

As before, state the Principle aloud.

Whenever you run into a situation that would annoy, irritate or vex you, take a deep breath, hold it for a few seconds and breathe out while repeating the Principle.

Let your feelings of annoyance and irritation rise and let them go on your out-breath.

Principle #2 is best used in the mid-week period when things are starting to pile up and the weekend still seems

Ideally, you will be able to use it every day, but to start, focus on times when you know you are more likely to become angry, such as during a commute or when working with a difficult colleague!

Applying Principle #3: Just for today be grateful

Principle #3 is a bit more subtle than the first two. By all means, use it as an affirmation to start your day, but try to internalise it more than the others.

‘Not worrying’ and ‘Not being angry’ are things you can do with specific triggers, but maintaining a state of gratitude is much more of a way of being.

Instead, each time you engage with an aspect of your life, reflect on what you might have to be grateful for. Are you grateful for [this thing]? If so, why? If not, why not?

This will help you move your priorities around so that you can focus more on the things you are grateful for and less on the things you are not. 

This can be a very powerful meditation if you can be reflective enough to consider all that you have.

Applying Principle #4: Just For Today Do Your Work Honestly

Once you have practiced Principles #1, #2 and #3 and begun integrating them into your life, Principle #4 is a natural outgrowth of that practice.

However, if you want to practice in isolation, that’s fine too!

To add power to Principle #4, be present in all you do. Shift your mindful approach from the short term to the long term and begin applying it to all aspects of your life.

Sometimes it can feel very easy to just ‘phone it in’, to do the bare minimum necessary to complete a task and then move it on, but if you are being mindful about what you do in all things, you will give it your full attention, complete it to the best of your ability and have more to show for it. 

This can be very powerful – food you cook may taste better, tasks you complete may be more detailed or professional and chores you do maybe more thorough. Principle #4 can affect big changes in your life!

Applying Principle #5: Just For Today Be Kind To Every Living Thing

Principle #5 can be undertaken as a single-day affirmation or meditation focus but is most powerful when applied alongside the others as a daily practice.

Choosing to be kind to all living things can mean a lot of different things – some find it difficult to recognize that it is possible to be kind to living things and still eat meat, but ethically sourced foods are important for all types of diet and kindness doesn’t have to mean avoidance.

To get the most out of this Principle, a kind of ‘militant kindness’ can be applied, even to those people and things that might cause you harm.

Treat all living things as you would wish to be treated were your situations reversed. Be thankful for your food, courteous to strangers, and gentle with your family.

The Five Principles of Reiki are a map to a better life. Applying them to your daily routine will lead to a happier life and one overflowing in positivity.

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