When attending a Reiki course the participant gets attuned/initiated by a Reiki master through a simple process, this opens him/her to receive and utilize more of the Universal Life Energy. The attunements have in themselves a very powerful balancing and healing effect. Since energy spins at different levels Reiki is normally split into 3 levels: Reiki 1, Reiki 2 and Master level. Today many Reiki masters give Reiki 1 and Reiki 2 initiations in one weekend course. Personally I find that this method gives a more powerful attunement.
During the attunement/initiation process the Reiki master acts as a mirror to help the student adjust to the Reiki energy. This energy creates an open "channel" for the cosmic or universal life energy. From the top of the persons head and through this "channel" the energy flows down through the body and back out through the hands when Reiki is "given". The Reiki attunement is almost always a very special spiritual experience for the receiver and sometimes also for the Master.
Reiki 1 - benefits physical body
The Reiki 1 attunement seems to mainly benefit the physical body in opening it up to channel more Reiki energy. Once attuned one will never lose the ability to use Reiki. In Reiki 1 the history of Reiki and the hand positions are taught. There are normally 4 initiations for Reiki 1 (depending on system there might be less initiations). A Reiki attunement takes about 20-30 minutes and is a very relaxing and beneficial experience.
Reiki 2 - benefits subtile body
The Reiki 2 attunement gives an even higher possible level of energy vibrations in the student. Here one also learns 3 Reiki symbols: The Power Symbol, The Mental Symbol and The Distance Symbol these can be used to help focus energy for specific purposes. For Reiki 2 there is normally only one initiation. The Reiki 2 attunement seems to have the greatest effect on the subtile body also known in the western world as the Aura.
This initiation is given to attune persons who have Reiki 2 and wish to be able to teach and initiate others into Reiki. In this process the vibration level of energy is once again raised and the Master symbol is taught. To become Reiki Master one does not have to dedicate oneself to teaching others, the Reiki Master level can be taken for your own pleasure or benefit.