Reiki and Brennan Healing Science

Similarities and differences

I practice and teach both of these modalities and therefore often get the question from clients and colleagues as to how these two modalities compare. While I do not like to make comparisons between healings modalities, sometimes it is necessary. I have therefore decided to share my thoughts and experience in this article so people can be better informed.

When a client is drawn to a practitioner I trust that the healing relationship between the two will yield what is needed in the moment. Healing is the result of inner work, aided by tools, the healing container and the healing relationship between the client and the therapist or practitioner.

The therapist or practitioner brings all of him or her self to this relationship, including all prior experiences and modalities learned, whether they are applied or not, they are part of his or her presence and personhood.

The client brings all of him or herself to the relationship, including all life experiences that organize the present moment experience and including the willingness and/or resistance to heal.

So, while we can compare modalities, we cannot be the judge or predict the outcome of a healing session and the results of the healing.


Similarities between Reiki and Brennan Healing Science

Both Reiki and Brennan Healing Science (BHS) work with universal energy or Chi as it is commonly referred to. It has also been called Ki, Prana, Source, etc.

Both modalities are hands-on healing techniques using this universal energy. The hand placements and sequence are different, but both use the major joints and chakras as positions for laying the hands.

Following is a more detailed description of each modality’s origin, course content, work methods and the personal development of the practitioner.



Reiki was created by Mikao Usui, a Japanese monk, who, in the late 1800’s, “rediscovered” this ancient healing art that has its origins in Tibet.

Reiki has no prerequisites and it is very simple. The fact that it is learned in short courses and is easily accessible to everyone has greatly contributed to its widespread popularity and use.

Usui taught this healing art in Japan for many years and one of his disciples, Dr. Hayashi, taught it to Hawayo Takata, a feisty Japanese-American woman who lived on the big island of Hawaii and later moved to California. Hawayo Takata trained 21 Masters from the 1950’s to the 1980’s and these 21 Masters eventually spread this healing art to the rest of the world.

Hawayo Takata condensed the original lengthy training consisting of 7 initiations into 3 levels, probably to make it more palatable and accessible to the Western culture and also to make this needed healing art available in the rapidly evolving consciousness of the times.

Takata’s 3rd level was the Master/Teacher Level, at which one could then teach and pass on the initiations to others. The Reiki Alliance still maintains these three levels of training.

Dr. Arthur Robertson, a student of Iris Ishikuro who was a friend of Takata, decided to divide Level 3 into two levels and add an attunement, a ceremony and an additional symbol. He formed the American Reiki Master Association and under his lineage there are 4 levels to reach the Master/Teacher level.

Guiding principles

As Usui integrated and developed this new modality, he formulated 5 basic guiding principles for this new healing art. These founding principles are:

Just for today, I will not worry
Just for today, I will not anger
Just for today, I will honour and respect all living things, my elders and my teachers
Just for today, I will earn my living in an honest way
Just for today, I will live the Attitude of Gratitude

After noticing that many of the people he treated without charge went back to their previous state of being, Usui came to the conclusion that in order for the clients to take part in and take responsibility for their healing process, it would be advisable for them to give something in exchange for receiving a healing session. Usui subsequently included this principle of exchange in his teaching of the method.

Course content

While there are many Reiki associations and organizations, there is no single governing body or a single protocol for teaching. The teachings are handed down from Master to student, as faithfully as each Master is able to do so. This inherently brings inconsistency and variations to the teaching, but generally in my experience, the course content of the traditional system is fairly consistent. What I find varies more is the way in which it is taught. Some teach it superficially and others with great respect and sacredness.

During Reiki training, sacred initiation rituals are transmitted to the student. These initiations or attunements increase a person’s vibratory level and open up the energy field which helps to channel the energy more easily. These initiations are a very powerful catalyst for personal growth.

The approach to all dis-ease and disease is the same; no specific techniques are taught to treat specific conditions. The student may be briefly introduced to the human energy field, depending on the teaching Reiki Master’s knowledge and background. Some Masters, but not all, will teach the students to ground down while giving treatments.

Level 1 is usually taught in 1 or 2 days and includes:

what Reiki is and what it can be used for
method of self-treatment
method of treatment for another person
4 attunements

Level 2 is usually taught in 1 day and includes:

sacred symbols
method of distant treatment
method for mental Reiki
2 attunements

Level 3 in both traditions is usually taught in 1 day and includes:

the Master symbol
the Master attunement (called the 3rd level attunement in the 4-level system)
in the 3-level system, the student becomes a Reiki Master and is taught to teach at all levels
at the discretion of the teaching Reiki Master in the 4-level system, the student is sometimes taught to teach levels 1 and 2, but not the 3rd and 4th levels

Level 4 includes:

an additional symbol
a sacred water ceremony and an initiation ritual
most Reiki Masters in the 4-level system choose to wait until the student has completed level 4 before teaching the student to teach levels 1-4

Total course hours vary between 32-50 hours, plus any additional homework and process work that may be assigned at the discretion of the Reiki Master.

Personal development of the Reiki Practitioner

While there are no formal guidelines or requirements for the student’s personal development work, the Reiki initiations, self-treatments and the Reiki Master’s guidance allow the practitioner to grow in consciousness and self-awareness as well as do some clearing of his or her energy field. This helps the practitioner to become a clearer channel for the energy and to improve his or her presence with the client as the student integrates the different levels.

How it works

With Reiki, the practitioner channels universal energy through his or her crown chakra and makes it available to the client through the palm chakras. This is done by laying the hands on positions that closely parallel the endocrine system, the chakras and the major articulations as well as any other part of the body that is in need of healing. The traditional positions go from the head to the feet and then the back.

Emphasis is placed on “getting one’s self out of the way” and letting the client’s energy field draw whatever is needed. The energy goes where it needs to go to do the work that is needed and ready to happen. The Reiki practitioner simply allows the energy to move through him or her and does not direct the energy or “pull” things out of the field. No specific techniques are taught; the energy simply does the work. The sacred symbols are used to connect more deeply to the client, to increase the power of the energy flow, and to connect at a distance for distance treatments.

The energy of Universal Love and Divine Consciousness that is transmitted helps to balance the energy field, helps to release energetic, emotional, mental, physical and spiritual blocks, thus enhancing the client’s well-being. The treatment is usually very relaxing for the client.

Variations and Expansions of Reiki

The system taught by the Reiki Alliance and the American Reiki Master’s Association teach what is normally referred to as the traditional Usui Reiki system. There have been many variations that have since developed by Reiki Masters who have decided to expand on the theme and add rituals, initiations and symbols that they have received. Some of the names include Karuna Reiki, Reiki Plus, Lightarian Reiki. A search on the internet will reveal many more variations.

Brennan Healing Science


Brennan Healing Science was created by Dr. Barbara Ann Brennan, a former NASA physicist. At a very young age Barbara was gifted with High Sense Perception (HSP). As her consciousness awakened through personal development work, she began to receive much information from her spirit guide Heyoan and started to work with clients. She eventually wrote her first book “Hands of Light” which has become a classic in the field. Her background in science has given the work a scientific basis. Barbara is very keen in bridging the gap between traditional and complimentary healing modalities so the two can work in concert.

In 1982, Barbara started the Barbara Brennan School of Healing in New York State. In the year 2000, the state of Florida recognized the school as an educational institution and so she moved the school to Florida.

Course content

BHS is taught in a 4-year course which is recognized by the State of Florida as a Bachelor in Healing Science. The school is currently working toward obtaining national accreditation.

BHS can only be learned at the school where the learning and teaching is consistent, rigorous and structured. The only thing that is taught outside the school is the introductory workshop where one can get an overview of the healing science and can experience about 10 of the techniques that are taught at the school, including giving and receiving a chelation (healing).

The BHS course is a comprehensive program which includes about 2,000 hours of courses and personal development work with both in-residence and distance learning modules.

Course content includes:

20 intensive weeks in residence, 5 in each of the 4 years
20 modules of distance learning (homework) and required reading
Approximately 80 to 100 practice healing sessions
Approximately 60 techniques to work in and with the energy field
Integration of 16 psych-development self-awareness and relational skills
A minimum of 18 personal therapy sessions during each of the 4 years
Specific techniques to work with specific diseases, such as diabetes and cancer
Development of personal High Sense Perception skills
Interpersonal energy dynamics
Creative arts
Professional Ethics and Practice
Anatomy and Physiology
Complimentary and Alternative Medicine
Yearly creative arts project
Case study and presentation
Senior project to help the student explore how he or she will bring out his or her healership to the world

Personal development of the Brennan Practitioner

This comprehensive course content and intensive personal work requires a huge personal commitment from the student. The student learns about personal wounding and dynamics in relationship with the self and others. Much emphasis is placed on awakening the consciousness which creates deep awareness and contact with the self. This awakening and the intense personal work done in therapy have the effect of opening up and deeply clearing the energy field, allowing the practitioner to increase his or her ability to channel the energy and to have deep contact and presence with the client.

In addition to this, specific techniques are learned to ground deeply into the earth, to regularly clear and charge the practitioner’s energy field, to manage one’s own energy field and to prepare for a session with a client.

How it works

In BHS, universal energy is channelled through the crown chakra and also drawn up from the earth to make it available to the client through the palm chakras. Thus, a wider spectrum (frequency) of energy is made available to the client than is available in Reiki. The energy is made available by the laying the hands (called a chelation) on positions (usually on the front of the body) that closely parallel the endocrine system, the chakras and the major articulations as well as any other part of the body that is in need of healing.

BBSH practitioners learn techniques to work with the seven levels of the field, to dissolve the energy blocks in the field (aura), restructure lines of light which are the template for the physical body, and repair the energy field of organs and chakras so that they can metabolize universal energy to nourish the human body and return it to a healthy functionality. Many other techniques are also available to the BHS practitioner, including past life healing, relational cords and spiritual surgery assisted by spirit guides.

BBSH practitioners can also access and work in the dimensions of intention (Hara) and essence (Core Star).

In summary

Both Reiki and BHS healing modalities channel universal energy through the practitioner’s energy field to make it available to the client through the laying on of hands on the body joints and chakras. This energy of Divine Consciousness is one that promotes healing and relaxation for the client.

Reiki is learned in 3 or 4 short courses (32 to 50 hours) while BHS is learned in an intensive 4 year program (2,000 hours).

Reiki teaches the basic healing modality within a sacred container and with some encouragement for the practitioner to do personal healing work while Brennan Healing Science teaches a more global approach to healing and the healing practice, also within a sacred container, with specific rigorous requirements for the healer’s personal healing work.

The depth of personal work and energy techniques learned at the school give the BHS practitioner tools to work deeply within the energy field, clear and charge the energy field along with an awareness of the client’s individual and relational dynamics. The BHS practitioner can more readily recognize when therapy might be an appropriate path for the client in conjunction with the energy work.

Therefore, because of the above, Brennan Healing Science will usually result in deeper work than Reiki with faster healing results.

With all of this said, each client has different needs and the doorway to healing can come from many different healing modalities. The client’s disposition is crucial to healing; healing comes from within, often assisted from the outside by way of traditional or complimentary healing modalities.

What the client brings to the healing and the personhood of the healing practitioner create the healing relationship in which the healing process can happen.

Roland Bérard
Reiki Master
Registered Teacher
Canadian Reiki Association

Brennan Healing Science Practitioner
Graduate of BBSH Teacher Training Program

Reiki Brennan Healing Science
Origin Ancient Tibetan art of healing, rediscovered in Japan by Mikao Usui, during the late 19th century Created by Barbara Ann Brennan, through personal abilities and guidance
Energy used Universal chi, transmitted by laying on of hands, on or off the body, using positions on chakras and major articulations

Frequency associated with violet light


Energy channelled through chakras 7 (crown) to 4th (heart) then through hands. Some teachers, but not all, teach grounding so that Earth energy is also tapped into

Universal chi, transmitted by laying on of hands, on or off the body, using positions on chakras and major articulations

Full spectrum of healing energy used, including drawing energy up from the Earth.

Energy channelled through all chakras 7 (crown) to 1st (root) then through hands while the practitioner is deeply grounded

Training 3 or 4 levels, 1 to 2 days in each level, total of about 32-50 hours of training, depending on the teacher.

Some teachers give homework and follow up.

4 years – about 2000 hrs

5 intensive weeks per year, extensive curriculum including creative arts, ethics, healing science and techniques, development of High Sense Perception (HSP), complimentary medicine, personal process work, homework, reading, case study, graduate project

Initiations A total of 8 initiations over the 4 levels (7 if learned in 3 levels) that are powerful catalysts for opening energy channel and personal transformation No initiations.

4 years of intensive work on self and learning energy techniques leads to deep contact with self and other and opening of energy channel

Symbols Symbols are used to intensify the treatment and do distance healing No symbols
Distance Healing Yes Yes
Work in the energy field Mostly on the first 4 levels of the energy field Cellular awareness on the physical level

Work on the 7 levels of the energy field

Work in Hara (intention) and Essence dimensions

Modality of energy flow Simply allow energy to flow where it needs to Various modes of energy transfer, as required