The Reiki Principles: ‘Just for Today….’

Just for today I will not worry
Just for today I will not be angry
Just for today I will do my work honestly
Just for today I will give thanks for my many blessings
Just for today I will be kind to my neighbour and every living thing

These simple lines of text represent the 5 Reiki Principles (or ‘Precepts’ as they are sometimes called). Unlike other moral codes these are not prescriptive, telling you what you can or can’t do. Rather, they are offering us guidance on living a balanced life; guidance which promotes harmony and peace, both in our internal world and within the world in general.

Each principle begins with the same three words, ‘Just for today’. Within these words is an understanding that we are all imperfect and very likely to slip up. If it goes wrong for us today, we can always begin again tomorrow. Without pressure, or fear of divine punishment, we can therefore work on improving ourselves daily in the certain knowledge that the more we work with the principles, the more we will condition ourselves to adopt them as a way of life.

Equally, the Five Reiki principles may mean something slightly different to each one of us depending on our own spiritual development and understanding. By focusing on each one in turn, it is possible to unlock the true message they have for us and incorporate them fully into our life.

The important thing is to keep them in the forefront of our mind at all times. Acting almost like a computer virus-checker, the events of the day are filtered through the precepts allowing us to remain balanced and peaceful, no matter what is happening around us. It is a good idea to recite the principles every morning to set focus for the day and then review every evening to see how we have lived up to them in the heat of battle!

If you are on any form of healing journey, either a personal one or as teacher, you need to find a calm and peaceful place within yourself. From this place, you can more easily connect with Universal Energy and effectively channel it to where it is needed. You can’t do this if you’re a jangling bag of nerves. To be able to channel energy effectively, you have to remain balanced and keep your own energy channels open.

What follows are some thoughts on each of the Reiki principles. They are offered as guidance to your own thinking.

Just For Today I Will Not Worry

I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened – Mark Twain

Isn’t this so true? Don’t we all spend far too much time and energy worrying about things that will probably never happen? All this emotional energy causes us stress and anxiety, which in turn often leads to problems with our health.

(c) Can Stock Photo / monkeybusiness

In its balanced state the human body is a most remarkable self-correcting mechanism. It is always seeking wellness and vitality as universal energy (Ki, Chi) flows freely around it. Stress and anxiety affect this circulation of energy causing blockages that inhibit the body’s natural ability to heal itself. When this happens we soon start to experience the symptoms of ill health and, if this is left unchecked, it can eventually lead to serious illness or disease.

Worry tends to be primal in nature. When we are focused on our worries we fear for our very survival, either at a physical level or in our sense of who we are as an individual.

In one way worry does carry with it an evolutionary advantage:

  • Is that shadow a sabre tooth tiger or just a rock?
  • Will the branch hold me if I climb the tree to pick fruit?
  • Is this stranger friend or foe?

Successfully identifying these situations would have helped our distant ancestors to survive. A certain amount of concern about situations you are involved with might therefore be considered healthy.

The problem is that worry has now become endemic for most humans and our brain is constantly bombarding us with worrying thoughts about ……… well, pretty much everything! My martial arts instructor used to speak of ‘Captain Paranoia’ who sits on our shoulder whispering nagging thoughts in our ear, exaggerating every situation and presenting us with the very worst possible outcome.

This constant and excessive worry preoccupies our mind and eventually leads to confusion and stagnation in our thought processes. Have you ever been so worried about something that your very being seems to freeze solid?

The best way to overcome our worrying thoughts is to acknowledge them as nothing more than the random activity of our brain, just some amongst the tens of thousand of thoughts we receive each day. The key is not to fixate on them. John Lennon once famously said: ‘What if they throw a war and no one came’. This is exactly what we have to do with our worrying thoughts, not turn up for the battle. It is only when we give them credence that they start to worm their way into our mind and gain strength and power over us.

One of the downsides of the social media world in which we all live is that everyone else’s life starts to look pretty perfect and ours, of course, has its ups and downs. This can lead to a distortion of what life is really like; we need to accept that all of us are faced with difficulties and setbacks. No one escapes this and it is how we respond to these situations that determines how we ultimately lead our lives. We can choose to respond negatively and get upset and anxious about these setbacks, or we can respond positively by accepting it as life giving us an opportunity to learn and grow.

The realisation that the obstacles in our way are actually ‘The Way’, is the secret to living a happier and more fulfilling life. Overcoming the difficulties that we experience throughout our life is a crucial part of our development. The sword of the Samurai was forged in heat and folded many times. It was this constant stressing of the metal that eventually gave it the edge that made it one of the most famous blades in history. In many ways we are similar to the sword; the events of our lives have forged us into the person we have become.

Beyond these mental tricks is a deeper, spiritual, understanding of our existence. The truth is that we are all connected to universal energy which is, at its source, pure love. The more we allow this energy to flow through us the more we become open to experience ourselves as part of this love. Nothing that happens to us can ultimately harm us because this intrinsic energy cannot be destroyed. There is an old saying that ‘The man who doesn’t fear death, doesn’t fear anything’ and, when we recognise our true essence, this can become our truth too.

Why not try this precept and see how it fits with your life? At the very least it will help you to catch all the times Captain Paranoia whispers into your ear. Just recognising his voice and choosing not to be drawn into his war will go a long way to reducing your levels of stress and increase your well being.

Just For Today I Will Not Be Angry

(c) Can Stock Photo / Perkmeup

Of all our emotions, anger is probably the most destructive to both our physical health and our relationships. It is an extremely powerful emotion, one that tends to hijack our normal control mechanisms; put simply, when we are angry we are not in control of our thinking or the situation. We do things and say things that we later come to regret. The damage is done, both in our internal and external world.

In order to live by the principle we must learn to recognise what triggers our anger so we can choose a different response. It is all about who has control. In every instance the person or thing pushing your anger button has taken power and control from you.

Reiki is all about energy. It is helpful to think of our emotions in terms of energy transfers; every time you meet someone there is an exchange of energy. If you are both happy and find the meeting to be enjoyable then the energy exchange is neutral. When you become angry, the other person is stealing your energy and with it has taken control from you. Likewise, if someone gets angry at you then, at an energetic level, you are stealing their energy!

If you have ever wondered why some people seem to constantly create strong emotional responses in those around them, you should now understand why. Either knowingly or otherwise, they are effectively acting as energy vampires, feeding off the emotional energy they are able to generate. Watch carefully how the situations in your life unfold and you will soon begin to recognise these energy exchanges taking place.

Once you recognise what is going on, you can take back control of your emotions and choose how you will respond. With this simple concept you can easily counter the endless situations or people that have triggered your anger in the past and caused you to react in an unhealthy manner.

Just imagine how much better you will feel when you choose not to react to negative people or situations. How many times in the past have you shouted abuse at another car driver and still felt the anger in your stomach an hour or so later? That person stole your energy. You allowed them to cause you stress, anger and probably indigestion. Only one person came out of this confrontation with their energy intact and it wasn’t you!

Anger is undoubtedly a difficult emotion to process but learning to take a step back from the situation and recognising it as an attempt to rob you of your energy will definitely give you the edge. Remember, anger is a choice. This precept reminds you not to allow your energy to be stolen from you by negative people or situations. Keep it close to you and work with it on a daily basis. It is very powerful.

Just For Today I Will Do My Work Honestly

What does this principle mean to you?

For instance, many people might feel it OK to take home a few pens or some paper from their work; after all, the company can afford to lose a few items of stationery without it really mattering. Another person will judge the same incident as an act of theft and believe that anyone found stealing stationery should face instant dismissal or even criminal charges.

(c) Can Stock Photo / eenevski

What about those people who coast through the day and do the bare minimum to get by? They show very little interest in their work and happily throw ‘sickies’ whenever they want another day off. Are they doing their work honestly? Clearly not.

There is however, an expanded understanding of this principle that is closer to its true meaning. Your role here on earth is extremely important. What you do and how you live makes a difference because ultimately, everything matters. Doing your work honestly is therefore not just job related. It is a call to live with integrity in every area of your life and make the best of your specific talents and aptitudes. Leading a life where you are not honouring your dreams and talents is fundamentally dishonest. Remaining true to your heart and soul in this way gives you a sense of spiritual wholeness.

In your heart, you know when you are being honest. In your life, feelings of dissatisfaction can be your body’s way of showing you that you are not being honest with yourself. So, ask yourself ‘What is the impact I am here to make?’  Make sure you are honouring yourself by following your dreams; remember these are a reflection of what the universe really wants for you. This precept is not really about your job but it is about the Job you are here to do. Be honest with yourself on this.

Just For Today I Will Give Thanks For My Many Blessings

At a human level we tend to see the events of our lives as either good or bad. We gravitate towards towards those that make us happy and away from those that cause suffering.

Life however tends to give us what we need, not necessarily what we want. At a spiritual level we receive what we need to grow and learn; if we grasp these lessons and grow accordingly we become more enlightened beings. So, instead of wasting time complaining about all the things that have happened and all the problems we face, we should realise that everything serves us and acts for our highest good. Our soul recognises every event as an opportunity to strengthen and learn.

“Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.“ – Lao Tzu

This gives us the true power of this precept and represents a level of understanding way beyond a simple appreciation for the many good ‘things’ that we have in our lives. When we learn to say ‘Thank You’ for whatever happens we are demonstrating absolute trust in the universe and an acceptance of our place in it. To repeat: nothing that happens can harm us. Once we realise this, we are completely free to live our life with insight and wisdom.

Just For Today I Will Be Kind to My Neighbour and Every Living Thing

There is a fundamental understanding behind all our work, one that is key to unlocking this particular precept. Contrary to the generally held belief that we are separate from the world around us, modern quantum science seems to be painting a very different picture of reality. It seems that we are all part of a vast interconnected web of energy and it impossible to separate ourselves from the rest of this existence. There is no separation and this awareness means that whatever we do to others we are actually doing to ourselves.

This is the true meaning of karma; whatever we put out into life will come back to us because there is only one life. When we send out love we will receive love back in return. When we send out kindness we will receive kindness. Send out healing and we receive healing. Karma is a two edge sword though, so the opposite is also true: if we send out negativity we will get back negative results.

It therefore makes showing kindness and compassion for all life essentially an act of self-love and the only sensible approach to take. Living within this precept will lead to a happier and less stressful life, one full of joy, peace and love.

(c) Can Stock Photo / eenevski

Living The Precepts

The simplicity of these precepts should not be confused with their efficacy. Each of these principle builds on the others and the collective effect can be life changing. When we are not worrying or being angry and are grateful for our life and work, we will naturally be a kind person.

Nobody expects that you’ll follow these principles 24/7; the repeated call of ‘Just For Today’ reminds us to live in the present, but equally recognises that we are all human and will fail at times. The important thing is to remember that the slate starts clean again tomorrow!

Ultimately, we have a choice. We can choose to live a life of peace and satisfaction or we can choose the opposite. The Reiki Five Principles give us a valuable framework around which we can build a happy, enlightened and spiritually satisfying life.

Thanks for stopping by. If you are interested in finding out more about how our healing practices work please sign up to our monthly newsletter ‘Confessions of a Misguided Monk‘ or email me directly at  Please, keep in touch. Share a comment or questions and I will get back to you. Click here to read The Big Idea – it may help you to understand more about our healing philosophy.

8 thoughts on “The Reiki Principles: ‘Just for Today….’

  1. Have you read the book “The Obstacle is the Way” by Ryan Holiday? Part of your post reminded me of that. He talks about turning obstacles into opportunities. Good read.

    I really like these 5 “reminders” we can tell ourselves and the fact that it is one day at a time. You can really do anything for just one day, right? I can see myself using “Just for today…” on other things as well. I may need to make a poster or something with these statements!

    • Many thanks for your comment Marlena. I have that book too – it is loosely based on the work of Marcus Aurelius – the Roman Emperor. It is a very good read and one I would certainly recommend. I’m glad you liked the 5 Principles. I always recommend that people try them on for size and see how they fit in their own lives. With practise they can become a very helpful tool in living a more balanced life.

  2. Are you the kind of person that has all the situations that could possibly happen run through your head? Usually all the situations that could never possibly happen but yet some how creep into your mind? If you do how do you handle that?

    • Really good question Curtis. I believe the key to stopping this constant background chatter is twofold. Firstly, it is accepting that the vast majority of these thoughts are nothing more than background noise and shouldn’t be taken too seriously. It is only when we lock on them they they start to gain a hold in our mind. On this I find the simple technique of acknowledging the thought is often enough. Thank that part of yourself responsible for sending you the warning and then let it go.

      The second approach is at a higher level and involves learning to accept whatever happens in your life. This acceptance is driven by a realisation that every event contributes to our spiritual development. Our job is to learn the lessons and bring balance to our existence.

  3. Hello Steve, a very sobering post. On the surface, these 5 principles seem simple but really they are profound if you look at them seriously. Just for today. I thought what if I was to take one principle and work with it for a full month every day. Then repeat the process the next month with another one. At the end of 5 months I could be a different person. For the 6th month I could repeat the one I felt I got the most out of. For the other 6 months I could simply repeat the whole process.

    I cannot help but think what a transformation that would make in one year. My entire attitude to life could change. Imagine, no complaining, just being thankful daily for a full month.

    Life is based on principles and these are some powerful one. Thanks Steve.

    • Thank you for your comment EJ. Yes, they are simple but as we know, simple isn’t always easy. Imagine the effect on society if everyone lived by this code! The world would change overnight.

  4. Great post Steve,

    Offers powerful reminders to practice things that are essential to a healthy, balanced life but that seem to so often get lost in today’s society.

    • That is entirely the worry Jeff – they are so lost in today’s society. It is surprising the difference that they can make to our life though!

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