The final Reiki principle is “Just for today do your work honestly”. This one often causes confusion or misunderstanding as there are various translations for it and we have various ideas of what “work” is!

Some of the other translations are “Do your work diligently” or “Work hard”. Was Usui telling us to be slaves to the grind? I don’t believe so.

When you hear the word “work” – what springs to mind for you? Is it your paid employment? Perhaps it is your everyday tasks or chores? Do you have a positive mental picture of “work” or is it something that fills you with dread?

In today’s Western society, we are working long hours and stress is a massive problem. In the UK we have the work/life balance all out of sync! People are tending to work longer and longer hours and as a result their health is suffering.

Health & Safety Executive Statistics show that stress affects one in five of the working population from the newest recruit in the post room to the board of directors. It is now the single biggest cause of sickness in the UK. Over 105 million days are lost to stress each year – costing UK employers £1.24 billion.

So is Usui telling us that this is the way to live when he says “Just for today work hard”? No I believe we are being told to work in a way that is in alignment with our integrity and to work hard on ourselves. I’ll come back to this in a moment – let’s look at the stress we face in our working lives first of all.

It is important to remember that a certain amount of stress is a good thing. It helps you perform better and spurs you on to take action when it is needed.

The main thing, with stress management, is to learn how to turn your stress to your advantage rather than to let it overwhelm you.

Some people find they thrive with a little bit of stress – it pushes them forward and helps them climb to new heights. These people have a coping mechanism whereby they are able to manage their stress.

Other people don’t find it so easy. They become overwhelmed and start to display the signs and symptoms of stress. They begin to sink rather than swim and this is when it is obviously a problem.

There is a stress line – those who stay above the line are less affected by stress than those who fall beneath it. Those who are visionaries, self-motivated and dynamic are said to be above the stress line while those who are stressed out, survival orientated and bureaucratic are beneath the line. Where would you put yourself?

Your attitude is the key to this question. Do you work willingly and with a good heart or are you a reluctant worker who feels they “have to” do the work as they have no choice?

Do you value your work? How do you feel about what you do? What is your role? What drives and motivates you? What are your ambitions or dreams?

When you start to dig into these questions you begin to question your life purpose and this is what I feel Usui was getting at with this principle. Reiki sparks change – it always does. Change is good – it helps us to grow and develop and that is really what Reiki is all about – making mindful changes towards healing our lives and living on purpose.

When Usui stated “Just for today do your work honestly” he wasn’t insinuating that you are dishonest. He wasn’t asking you not to steal supplies from the office or to use the printer for personal use! He was asking you to be honest with yourself. To accept yourself for who you are and for you to really know who you are.

We often confuse who we are with what we do. How many times has someone met you and asked “So what do you do then?” It seems we allow our job role to define us as a person. We must remember that we are human beings not human doings!

Usui was asking us to take a long look at ourselves and to work hard on ourselves with honesty and integrity. You are your life’s work so you should work hard at it every day.

As you work with Reiki healing energy you may find that your 9 to 5 no longer feels right for you and is no longer in alignment with who you are. This is what happened to me.

I always got stuck with this principle. I was working in a relatively stressful IT job as a manager for a local company and the stress and pressure felt really out of alignment with who I was becoming. I had opened up to Reiki healing energy and was on a journey of self-discovery and being stressed every day and fuelling up with coffee and red bull to get through the day simply wasn’t right for me anymore.

It was more than just work though, it was my home life too. Your work, in the context of this principle, is everything – your life, your day to day tasks, your thoughts, your personal development and your paid work. I began to take a long and honest look at my life and where it was going and I decided that changes needed to be made.

I moved from the stressful manager’s job to a less stressful environment. I knew that I wouldn’t stay in that job forever but it was a stepping stone for me – I began to see the bigger picture and I realised that I wanted to be my own boss and work for the good of others, not for the good of some nameless multi-national company!

I began to put plans in place for my move to self-employment. I set goals and targets for myself and I trained up and learned new skills. I began to run my business outside of normal working hours and I started to save a bit of cash to help me through the first year of self-employment.

Outside of work I also took a look at my relationships – friendships and marriage. I had to make changes and I made the decision to follow my heart and end my marriage. That wasn’t easy but I knew it was right and honest for me. It was me “doing my work honestly”. I had to work hard on myself and move through the barriers and walls I had put up. I had to break down the facade of living a lie and be honest.

Often we find ourselves desperately trying to fill a void within ourselves. Something feels empty and we need to fill it so we look around externally. We accumulate more stuff and more things but that doesn’t work. We perhaps turn to alcohol or other destructive behaviours and that doesn’t work either. Reiki helps us to see that the answer lies within ourselves and this is what I feel Usui was getting at.

Your “work” is your personal journey through life. You are a spiritual being having a human experience. Your journey is unique to you and Usui was asking that you work hard on yourself.

How do you work hard on yourself? Well perhaps you may decide to start by learning Reiki for yourself – the Reiki principles and meditations certainly help you to start the process of self development and healing!

You can also read inspirational books – there are a multitude of them available nowadays. The secret is, though, to put into practice what you read and not just read about it!

Perhaps taking up a mindful or meditative practice like yoga, t’ai chi or qi gong would be helpful. I know that personally I have grown and improved since attending regular qi gong and t’ai chi classes alongside my Reiki practice.

Simply getting out in nature really helps with your personal and spiritual development too. Being in tune with nature and working with our Mother Earth really helps you connect and feel grounded in this life.

Study and learning are also important ways of developing. When was the last time you learned something new? It helps to keep the mind active and gives you new avenues to explore – there are so many free online resources out there that there is no excuse not to keep learning new things. I love it – I am a perpetual student of life!

Usui was asking us to get spiritually fit! This requires effort and commitment in much the same way as getting physically fit does. For physical fitness you are expected to be mindful of your diet and to carry out certain exercise regimes. For spiritual fitness you need to live consciously and mindfully. You need to be grounded, clear and compassionate. You need to learn to see the bigger picture ad to find your joy.

The Dalai Lama is quoted as saying “The purpose of life is to be happy!” How wonderful! That is all we want and need in life – happiness. Write down 10 things that make you happy – for example my list may be: –

  1. Spending quality time with my partner and children.
  2. Having time to paint and create art.
  3. Writing and sharing my experiences.
  4. Practising Reiki.
  5. Travelling to new places.
  6. Soaking up the sunshine.
  7. Walking in nature.
  8. Listening to music and singing (badly) at the top of my voice.
  9. Being organised and tidy.
  10. Laughing with my friends.

What are your 10 things? Make a note of them and then commit to integrating them into your life. By doing this you will begin to find your joy and in turn this helps you with your spiritual development.

Usui tells us this in the principles – he calls them “The secret art of inviting happiness …”

Find your joy, be happy, live well and be Reiki.


If you have enjoyed this series of podcasts and blogs please check out “The Reiki Solution“, available via Amazon.