I've heard a lot of Reiki people say that when you've been Reiki for awhile, you don't really need to add symbols into the mix anymore, that the energy will just "take care of business" or something to that effect. If you don't know what I'm alluding to, in the Reiki World, there are three traditional "symbols" given at the second level of training called Reiki Level II or Reiki Second Degree. These symbols effect the energy in several ways, have a purpose and are really rather remarkable and necessary.
The first one is the "Power" symbol, which is said to amp up the power of the energy (like stepping on the gas). The second one is the "Mental/Emotional" symbol which is good to use for issues like anxiety, depression, ADD, ADHD, over thinking, monkey mind, anything involving the mind. The third one is the "Distant" symbol which is all about being able to send Reiki to any person, place or thing, past, present or future, sort of a like a portal. We can use them on our clients or ourselves to help to facilitate deeper healing or we can use them to send Distant Reiki to people, pets, and all kinds of other things (kind of like praying).
I've been Reiki, meaning I took the training and have been attuned (connected) to the energy since 2004. In my lineage, which is how we trace our connection back to the original creator of the system Dr. Mikao Usui, we are given 5 symbols at Level II. One is for issues of the heart like grief, and the other is for karmic and interdimensional issues, and for those who were abused in any way as a child. We are also given another one at Level IIIa (Master Practitioner) which magnifies the karmic one and takes the healing much deeper. The additional symbols are called non-traditional symbols meaning we know that Dr. Usui did not use them but somehow they ended up being a part of our lineage.
Ways we can use them are we can draw them over the body in the energy field of our clients or ourselves and send Reiki through them, or we can draw them on our palms and pat them in before we put our hands on others or ourselves to channel Reiki, or we can visualize our "etheric" or energetic hand drawing them inside the body of ourselves or others and more, and use them to send Distant Reiki Healing.
Yesterday morning, I woke up with pain in my left SI joint, so I put my hands in the area and began giving it Reiki, but not much was going on. Then I tried adding the Power Symbol and the Mental/Emotional symbol, still not much going on. Then I put in two non-traditional symbols, (the one for karmic issues and the one that magnifies that one) and then things cranked up! I've had this kind of experience many times, not only on myself but on clients and when sending Distant Reiki. So I definitely do not agree that at any point we can just let go of the need to use the symbols, maybe we just need to be doing more experimenting with them.