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Attunements, placements, experiences, ignitions... what's the difference?

In Usui Holy Fire® III Reiki, we have a lot of Reiki practices that feel somewhat similar. You relax and listen to a guided visualization and Reiki takes over to facilitate healing, relaxation, inspiration, and insight. Sometimes these moments also awaken new skills and abilities.

But they have different names. So what's the difference between these types of practices? And what do they all do?


Attunements are that magical moment where you personally connect with Reiki for the first time. Or if you're in Reiki 2, Advanced Reiki (which is usually taught in conjunction with Reiki Master), or Reiki Master classes, the attunements upgrade your energy and connect you to new symbols.

A little history

The original attunement given by Mikao Usui was to hold the practitioner's hand until the ability to channel Reiki was transferred to them. Obviously, that was rather time-consuming and couldn't be done with more than one person at a time.

So after the great Kanto earthquake in 1923, Usui created a new system that was quicker and more duplicatable. He wanted more people to be able to give Reiki as quickly as possible to help those who were affected by the earthquake.

The new attunement involved standing on different sides of the practitioner, blowing on them, drawing the symbols in their hands, and more secretive stuff. Usui taught this technique to other Reiki Masters to spread the ability to attune others.


Placements are the type of attunement we use today in Usui Holy Fire® III Reiki. When the internet age came, William Lee Rand adapted the attunement again and created the Placement.

Practitioners lay down or sit comfortably and the Reiki Master leads a partially guided visualization and then turns the rest of the placement over to Reiki to take charge. The visualization simply places practitioners in a relaxed, receptive state and Reiki does the rest! This type of attunement can be done from afar and can be done asynchronously.

Some of my students feel disappointed when they find out that this is the type of attunement they'll receive. They feel cheated that I won't be facilitating any reactions within them or making motions near them to invite Reiki in.

However, Placements are actually considered to be stronger and more effective. In the old way, Reiki must travel through the Master and this means the Master's energy is part of the new practitioner's experience. With a placement, Reiki comes directly to the new practitioner and cannot be tainted or dimmed. "The less the teacher is involved, the more powerful and effective the experience becomes" (-WLR in the Reiki the Healing Touch manual). Reiki comes in full force straight to the recipient and makes the necessary adjustments to accommodate the new connection to Reiki or the new level of Reiki energy.

So placements connect you to Reiki and in higher levels, connect you to Reiki symbols. And in both cases, placements heal you and increase the frequency of the Reiki you call in.

[Interested in receiving a placement to ignite your connection to Reiki? Check out my Virtual Reiki 1 class HERE]


Experiences have a few different functions, but they are mostly for enjoyment. They call Reiki in for a guided meditation, but they do not instill Reiki within their recipients or connect them to symbols.

They can be used as a one-off Reiki interaction for those who are not attuned, for example in a Reiki talk. They allow non-practitioners and practitioners alike a taste of Reiki in a new way.

Experiences are also used in Reiki classes. They help set the tone before placements or ignitions. In the Master class, the River of Life Experience gives Master students the ability to give Placements for Reiki I & II practitioners and empowers the Usui Master Symbol.

In general though, Reiki experiences are for relaxation, healing, and a unique interaction with Reiki.


Ignitions are only used in Reiki Master classes. A set of four ignitions ignites the Holy Fire® symbol in Reiki Masters and allows them to channel Holy Fire® energy. The ignitions also give Reiki masters the ability to give placements and ignitions. You'll only encounter Ignitions in Reiki Master classes.

Now You Know

So now you know placements are a kind of attunement. Experiences are usually just for Reiki fun. And iginitions are just for Reiki Masters.

Want to know my favorite thing about all of these kinds of Reiki meditative practices? You can do them again and again for more healing, relaxation, and increased connection to Reiki.

[Want to do it on your own from home? Check out my virtual courses, especially Reiki. 1& the 30-day Reiki practice course!]

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Image by Yeshi Kangrang
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