By Roberta Barnes
In answering, the first thing to do is to break the question down into parts.
The word attunement became a popular way to refer to the act of opening another's pathway to universal energy around the 1980s. The dictionary meaning for attunement is being or bringing into harmony, or a feeling of being at one with another being. Being in harmony with anything requires balance within and being in a state able to receive.
Herbalists, forest rangers, farmers, and many people have an attunement to nature. Nature has its own form of energy, and each life form within nature has its own energy. Anyone drawn to a plant, animal, or bird for no logical reason, and is aware of receiving a gift from that connection knows nature's form of energy.
Energy can neither be created nor destroyed, and there are trillions of forms of energy. The spiritual practice of Usui Reiki Ryoho uses one unique form of universal energy. The life force energy within each living being is another form, and throughout history different people have used still other forms. Many forms of energy are within and around us 24/7. Regardless of how many forms of energy one has experienced, each new energy feels different, if he or she is open to receiving.
Each initiation or empowerment (attunement) received from a Reiki Shihan (teacher) opens up your pathway a bit wider to allow more universal energy to flow through you. To completely open up to be one with the universe, which is beyond human comprehension, would takes years of study, discipline, and practice. For Mikao Usui to reach his first awakening it took years of gathering knowledge of all kinds and then he did not connect to universal energy until his second awakening following three years of disciplined Zen practice.
As popular a phrase as Reiki attunement has become sometimes the knowledge that Usui Reiki Ryoho is a spiritual practices becomes lost. I first experienced Reiki in the 1980s. I explored other energy practices, met a few Reiki Masters, and then in the late 1990s I connected with a gifted Canadian Usui Reiki Ryoho teacher who taught me the spiritual practice of Usui Reiki Ryoho is not complicated, but has a depth that requires time to understand and guidance in how to embrace the energy.
While I often say just the word "Reiki", I know "Reiki" alone does not necessarily represent the spiritual practice that Mikao Usui founded in the early 1920s. As you read on, you will see why I say this.
I completed the teacher's level in Western styles of Usui Reiki Ryoho and then went on to complete the teacher's level in Gendai Reiki-ho and Komyo Reiki, commonly called Japanese Reiki. The research conducted and close lineage to Mikao Usui of three of my Usui Reiki Ryoho Shihans (teachers) gave me a wonderful beginning in my practice of Usui Reiki Ryoho. I feel honored at what they shared with me, and have continued to listen and read words of other Reiki teachers, even if some things I disregard. There are no secrets to be revealed about Usui Reiki Ryoho, but the hours of guidance from the right teacher can help a person to gain the understanding to grow spiritually and enhance all areas of his or her life. Healing is a byproduct of Usui Reiki Ryoho, it balances and surrounds with harmony so that one can live with health and happiness.
Reading an interview Paul Mitchell, a Usui Shiki Ryoho teacher (a style of Usui Reiki Ryoho), gave in October 2003 I saw an appropriate way of expressing how a teacher invites another into the spiritual practice of Usui Reiki Ryoho. He said. "Initiation is the sacred ritual passed on from master to master, which allows Dr. Usui's gift to be available to us. It is spiritual transmission." I disagree with Dr. placed in front of Mikao Usui's name and with the usage of master, but that does not take from the appreciation I have for the wisdom in his words.
Mikao Usui never received a doctorate. He was a very intelligent and insightful man, traveling a different path then formal education. I often include master/teacher after Shihan, but I have come to feel I would be a bit full of myself to think I could master the universe or any form that comes directly from it. When you visit my website http://www.naturalhealinglearning.com/ you will see master on my certificates, but I am most comfortable referring to myself as a Reiki teacher and practitioner.
No style of Usui Reiki Ryoho is better then any other style and each person should connect with the Reiki Shihan (teacher) that feels right to him or her. I would not suggest however if you want to learn a spiritual practice, that you study 5239 Reiki. I would also not suggest that your first choice of a Reiki teacher be Reiki Kushida. Then again, even though Reiki Kushida is a Japanese astronomer who co-discovered the asteroid 4875 Ingallis, discovered at least 14 supernovas in other galaxies, and who the asteroid 5239 Reiki is named after, she still might have studied with members of the Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai.
Even if Reiki Kushida did not study Usui Reiki Ryoho, she still may have mentally connected with a part of herself that was a very strong energy when she was looking through her telescope. In the 1980s I experienced altered states of mind through meditation, which might be described as the same feeling as an attunement by someone not having been connected to universal energy by a qualified Reiki Shihan. Experimenting with certain audio tones, what some call toning, during meditation not Usui Reiki Ryoho, I would go into that space where time and worry simply do not exist. Brain waves operate at many levels, so with guidance and practice you can experience many energies simply within yourself. I have experienced many energies, but none has the same feel as the unique form of universal energy called Usui Reiki. Unless a person has experienced the different energies, he or she cannot know if two energies have any similarities.
Following studies of other forms of energy I attended a festival of energy practices. I opened myself up to receive all the positive energies around me. It certainly sat me down, but it was not the same energy as Usui Reiki. The world is full of mysteries and many different forms of energy. Each time we experience a new energy it is foreign to our whole self and feels different then what we have experienced before, but that does not mean it is universal energy.
You do not have to be looking for energy to experience it. Love is energy and people often find that without looking for it. Mikao Usui was not looking to connect to the vibrations of love and harmony of universal energy, it just happened while he was in deep disciplined focused meditation. I say connected because for centuries people have known that universal energy has been, and is always all around us, so he did not discover or rediscover anything.
I have received what is commonly called attunements in many styles of Usui Reiki Ryoho. The vibrations of love and harmony of universal energy are always the same, but the life force energy of the person through which it flows can change the way the energy feels, looks, and smells. Think of universal energy as the pure water coming from a spring in an untouched natural forest. The water drunk from a paper cup will taste different then that from a glass or a tin cup, different again depending upon what other beverage was first in the cup or glass, and different depending upon how well the cup or glass was cleaned. It is the same with universal energy flowing through body, mind, and spirit.
An attunement is only the beginning and is best received from a qualified Reiki Shihan in a style you decide is best for you. There are no odd rituals practiced if the style follows the tradition of Usui Reiki Ryoho. No hidden secrets and no way anyone can skip the time needed for the shifts to happen at all levels. Each person assimilates in her or his own reality and what appears new to him or her might be viewed as a secret.
There are many others energies and energy practices in the world. Usui Reiki Ryoho is the connection to a unique form of energy and stems from living the Gokai.
It is each person's choice what he or she wishes to study, but not all paths lead to the same destination. Words have many meanings and when translated from another language that multiplies. Do you know the meaning of Japan? The kanji for Japan literally means, "The origin of the sun", or less literally, "Land of the Rising sun". On my website I show my lineage to Mikao Usui and explain more about the spiritual practice of Usui Reiki Ryoho.
Roberta R. Barnes a Gendai Reiki-ho and Komyo Reiki Shihan (teacher) in Maine is also an Herbalist. She teaches meditation, raising awareness of life by connecting with nature and offers healing esssions and guided journeys into a person's past for helaing and discovery. Her healing room, Natural Healing & Learning Center is nestled in a wildlife habitat certified by the National Wildlife Federation. Her website http://www.naturalhealinglearning.com is filled with information and a calaendar for some of the classes she offers. Roberta Barnes also enjooying giving talks on usi Reiki Ryoho and Herbs; she will also travel to teach and do Reiki healing sessions in hosptials and other healing institutions.