Which Reiki Hand Positions Are Best?

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reiki hand positionsThere's been a lot of fuss made about the reiki hand positions, which is pretty weird since Dr Usui's reiki treatments were based on intuition, more than rigid structure.

He only had five hand positions that he used routinely, on the head and neck regions. For the rest, Mikao Usui  followed his inner guidance.

So Where Did All The Hand Positions Come From?

Dr Chujiro Hayashi, one of Mikao Usui's students, is credited with being the first to create a complex set of hand positions, for giving reiki to others. This had the benefit of structuring the reiki treatments for those reiki channels who were less intuitive than Dr Usui. Dr Hayashi passed on this complicated routine  to his students, including his Hawaiian student, Mrs Takata.

Hawayo Takata then modified them for ease of use; creating the  three, 'basic areas' sytem of hand placement that many western reiki students learn today.

Are The Same  Reiki Hand Positions Taught
To Everyone?


Until recently, I assumed that everyone was being taught the same approach that my reiki master showed me in 1992, but this isn't the case. There's quite a variety of hand positions used now, although most of them include a set of twelve principal hand placements.

Here are THREE DIFFERENT WAYS to place your hands for a reiki treatment.

Example 1. The Three-Basic-Areas System

BASIC I  – THE FRONT OF THE BODY from the lower ribs to the pelvis. It includes four standard positions with the hands placed 'across the body'.  These are done for every full session, if there is time.

  • Position 1:  Lower ribs (liver and spleen)
  • Position 2:  Upper abdomen (lower lobe of the liver, gall bladder, pancreas and stomach)
  • Position 3:  Middle abdomen, referred to as your 'emotional radio' (small intestine)
  • Position 4:  Lower abdomen; upper pelvis (ovaries, uterus, large intestine and bladder) Hands are placed in a 'V' shape.
  • Extras:  Hips (creases at the top of the legs), knees, ankles and feet, chest (lungs, heart, thymus gland), breasts, shoulders, elbows, wrists and hands.


  • Position 1:  Over the eyes (eyes, sinuses, brain cavity, pituitary gland, pineal gland)
  • Position 2:  Temples (sides of head – eyes, sinuses, brain cavity)
  • Position 3:  Ears and jaw
  • Position 4:  Back of the head
  • Extras:  Back of the neck, mouth, jaw, throat (thyroid, parathyroid and tonsils)

BASIC III – THE ENTIRE BACK. Use as many hand positions as required to cover the length of the whole back

  • Position 1:  Upper back (lungs, spine)
  • Position 2:  Shoulder blades (lungs, spine and heart)
  • Position 3:  Mid thoracic – about bra strap level (lungs,spine and heart)
  • Position 4:  Lower ribcage (spine, kidneys and adrenal glands)
  • Position 5:  Lumbar region – lower back (spine, intestines)
  • Extras:  Sacrum, coccyx, and sacroiliac joints (diagonally across the buttocks)

Examples 2 and 3
Other Reiki Masters Teach Twelve Hand Positions

Position Example 2 Example 3
1 Over the Eyes Over the Eyes
2 Temples Top of the head
3 Back of the head, base of skull Back of the head
4 Throat Chin and jawline
5 Heart – centre of chest Neck, collarbone and heart
6 Solar plexus Ribs and ribcage (front)
7 Middle of abdomen abdomen
8 Lower abdomen and groin Pelvic area
9 Top of the shoulders Shoulder blades
10 Shoulder blades Mid back
11 Kidneys Lower back
12 Base of spine, coccyx Sacrum

As you can see there are significant differences in these three approaches. Interestingly the version I was taught considers the heart to be an extra whereas the other two examples both include it routinely. None of them seem to place any emphasis on the lungs and yet the health of the lungs is a clear indicator of our overall well-being.

Another difference is the starting point for the routine. Some people teach a reiki hand position routine that starts with the head, whereas the 'basic areas' system starts with the abdomen.

These types of variations have created confusion, leading people to wonder…

Which Reiki Hand Positions Should Be Used?

The answer is quite simple.

If you trust your reiki master, then the hand positions that they taught you are the best ones for you to use… at least until you've gained enough experience, intuition and confidence, to follow your own 'inner guidance'.


It's interesting to look at what some of the options are, especially if you're looking at treating other people, as well as yourself.

Five Options With Reiki Hand Positions

1. Hands Across The Body Versus Hands Side By Side

For the basic area positions on the abdomen and back, hands are placed across the body, doing left and right sides together. For other systems of hand positioning, they tend to be placed on the torso, side by side, either centrally or doing one side of the body at a time.

  • reiki hand position choicesThe benefit of doing left and right sides together is that you balance the energy of the two sides of the body, blending 'masculine' and 'feminine' energy issues, and logic with intuition.
  • The benefit of doing one side at a time is that you can (with many of the hand positions) target a specific organ more strongly. This is particularly useful for large organs that are mostly on one side of the body, like the liver and heart, or one of the lungs.  Another benefit is that you don't have to reach as far across your client, which might be more comfortable for your neck, shoulders and back.

2. Avoiding Gaps Between The Positions Versus A More Open Coverage

Unlike the others, the basic areas format, places emphasis on having the hand positions butting up against each other, and fingers close together, so it usually takes more than four positions to cover the whole of the back. A practitioner with large hands, working on a short person, could do the full length of the back with four placements, but most clients will need more.

  • The benefit of keeping the hand positions so close together is that you make sure you cover as much of the area being treated, as possible. It's a logical, left-brained, and slightly perfectionist approach.
  • The benefit of allowing a few gaps is that the treatment is quicker. It also acknowledges the fact that reiki is smart, and will go to wherever it's most needed regardless of where you have your hands.  NOTE: Leaving gaps is not so good when you're treating a large bruise. Any parts of the bruise not covered by your hands will be darker at the end of the treatment than the parts you touched.  

3. Touching The Body Versus No Contact

reiki hands | healing touchUnfortunately, there is so much phobia about touching now, that simple hands-on healing has been ruled as innapropriate in some parts of the world. Who would have believed it possible?

If you're treating others with reiki as a profession, I expect that you will have to abide by your local government's rulings. This is such a pity, because the right touch can be incredibly healing.

  • The benefits of hands-on  It's far less tiring to lightly rest your hands on your client, than having to hold them just above the body, especially for a full reiki session. It reduces tension in your neck, arm and shoulder muscles which allows the reiki energy to flow more freely, thus giving your client a better treatment. Also, you can feel their energy response to the treatment more clearly, and your client can feel the reiki energy more clearly. Your client gets the loving (appropriate) touch that they may be craving.
  • The benefits of the no touch technique or hands-off. You don't have to worry about your every movement being felt by your client. Sweaty hands are no longer a problem. There's no risk of inadvertedly touching some body part that you shouldn't, and making your client angry or embarrassed… continued on page 2

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4 Responses to “Which Reiki Hand Positions Are Best?”

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  1. KANDARP MEHTA says:


    You covered many burning points, specially we facing in INDIA. We are using common sense during treatment so that he or she could maintain faith on us. Thanks for very good light on such issues.


    • Hi Kandarp Mehta. Sorry I missed your comment. Thank you so much for your kind thoughts and gratitude. Commonsense is a good place to start, and then follow your heart and intuition. Only you know what’s best for you.
      In joy and synergy.
      Jenny Smagala

  2. Yvonne says:

    Thank you so much! <3 :-)

This is for genuine human interaction, not spam and SEO bots. Thanks for playing nice!!