A day doesn't pass where I am not asked: What is Reiki? And the day also arrived where a dance colleague of mine admitted,, face to face, that she does not agree with the practice of Reiki. I think that Reiki as a practice is largely contestable for many reasons, including that it is spiritual in nature and yet not connected to a specific faith or group of people. Christians have re-appropriated the practice of yoga to fit the paradigm of their faith to co-opt the benefits of the Practice. Reiki has managed to stand apart from this commodification process, laying underground. The community does not associate with a specific creed. It is essentially love. In a pure way without expectation, no frills, just practice.
I take this person's opinion to heart because she is a massage therapist by trade, and works in the field of alleviating suffering in the world through touch. Reiki, although it can be practiced fully with hands off the body, most often the practice is a full on body contact treatment. I look forward to speaking with this colleague about her concerns involving this long tradition of treating illness and malaise with Reiki.
Touch can be precarious in the world we live in. Amid abuse scandals, and distrust that has developed in holistic circles between student and teacher, there is a prayer or mantra (above) that is specific to this very dynamic. It asks that there be no quarrel, no animosity between us as we work, it prays for peace. May we be protected, nourished and work together with great energy. Three Shantis are for three parts, for oneself, for nature, for divine forces. For a long time I lived in fear of this unearthing, same as with the #metoo movement gaining traction. That if it is true for some to have abused their power then I have to be very careful in my work. I have dismantled the layers of fear in me in working closely with people for their health and betterment. I made very clear my intentions and values for myself as a teacher and healer; and in that way the ethos of my work is indestructible.
I don't advertise the service of Reiki a part from my website and occasional newsletter. When I teach Yoga and work hands-on with people they remark about how my touch feels markedly different. As I was in the hospital this week visiting a friend, he kept asking for my magic hands. To participate in a practice where it is imbued with quiet sacred qualities or feelings of "coming home," of finding meditative spaces within and total relaxation, it is a privilege to work with people. We are brought to the attention of the preciousness of life through the practice.
I think it can be hard to believe in oneself as a "healer or shaman" this day in age, when there is scrutiny on every side, looking for proof or a way to insinuate some lack of virtue. A friend recently reminded me how powerful a healer I am, something that I do not speak about out loud even to myself! Hearing it from an outside source, especially a source that I respect and admire was reassuring. I encourage you to find people who you can exchange this kind of encouragement with as you continue on this journey of healing and exploration. I recently returned from a Zegg Forum Facilitation Training weekend. The purpose of this community gathering is to create a space for people to openly express and navigate the internal mechanisms that sometimes get stuck in the wheels or cogs of consciousness (by way of fear or complex, etc). We learned over the weekend how to emote and share in ways that are not variably possible in our day to day interactions. Feeling open to receive feedback is a gift. I look forward to finding ways to dialogue about the infinitely personal and idiosyncratic relationship between facilitators of healing and those on the receiving end.
As I always remind people and even as I told my father recently, the Reiki practitioner acts as an "activation code" to speak in more technically-minded terms, allowing the receiver in their own body to do the work of bringing balance with only the facilitation of practitioner's hands or presence as valves to turn on Light Energy. The receiver is not taking in the energetic value of the practitioner, but is interacting with a much larger universal force.
I've been doing a lot of spring cleaning in my life as of late. Clearing out old things that have been sitting in rooms, in boxes and in places in my heart. Reiki has provided me the solace to know that I am my own medicine, and that I am undefended love*. I have been living in a space of unknowns for sometime, of great instability at others. The practice of teaching yoga and treating people with Reiki has provided me a groundedness amid the chaos that I am ever grateful for. If you are curious about Reiki, I invite you to find local resources, it doesn't take very much to scratch underneath the service to find people who serve with Reiki. Amber and I co-host a monthly Reiki Share in Lancaster which is open to newbies and longtime practitioners both on the second Tuesday evening of the month.
*This is a book that was introduced to me by Zegg Forum facilitators of New Culture, Debby Sugarman and Indigo Dawn.
I could go on a gregarious tirade about how I came to Reiki and why, but I’d rather focus my attention on the enlightening aspects of the practice that may not be readily seen by an observer. I am writing this entirely also for myself as I share with you.
The pressure to be hard.
Reiki teaches us to soften. All of everything, our proclivities, our need to rush, our ardent sense of self.
The pressure to be open.
Boundaries and an ability to sit with oneself can actually be very moving and telling. Avoidance of our deepest wells of pain, even through divulging it over and over again and constantly keeping our focus upon it, can debilitate us further.
The pressure to rush to greatness.
Most good, lasting things that veritably bring about longevity take time.
The pressure to stay with what is not working.
Wandering away from what is familiar is often a great catalyst. And it is possible to do this without revoking your own heart.
The pressure to acquiesce to injustice with anger and aggression.
In speech, in thought, in action, in our heart of hearts— This is not a way to find or bring peace, nor is it a way to understand our closest enemies. Nor is it a way to bring about a change of heart. Facing our fear, facing ourselves is a sure-fire way to not acquiesce with all the compassion and love we can muster.
The pressure to do it alone.
The process of self-study and self-inquiry is necessary. The encouragement and sustenance that comes from sharing your practice is monumental. Asking for help can be the release that allows the greatest hurdles to be overcome.
The work of healing ourselves is a reckoning that is ongoing, no matter where we have been and no matter where we are headed. The practice of Reiki is a preventive medicine that moves mountains that you may not even have the conscious effort to see. I give thanks for my teacher Julia in L.A. for guiding me through this process of coming back home to oneself.
We all come to Reiki in different ways, for different reasons. I’d like to share a poem written by Yo’el Erez, who at six-year-old came to the practice of Reiki and wrote:
God is willing
Give me the face
I cannot reiterate enough the exigent need for strong, trusting relationships between your teachers and yourself. If you have suffered trauma or abuse in your life, it can be hard to re-connect to the space of a trusting relationship. Material for this short piece is drawn from Reiki, a Comprehensive Guide by Pamela Miles, she says, "Don’t cheat yourself, Keep practicing."
On a similar note, I had Functional Integration session with a Feldenkrais teacher named Deborah in Brooklyn this weekend and what stuck out to me most is that there was hardly any pressure utilized. It was all observance and re-setting the body through gentle movement and pressure to bring the alleviation of pain.
Offerings involving Reiki at your disposal as a practitioner and/or as a student:
You are invited to a regular Reiki Share for practitioners and a monthly Bhajan to take time for your self, treat your self.
Simply and forwardly translated, reiki means light energy. Ki- Qi- energy, Rei- Light.
What is it to recieve a reiki treatment?
Reiki is known to be, as taught by Dr. Usui from Japan, all that is around us, the simple breath upholding life, a hand held, a smile, a kind word. All these things comprise the essence of Reiki. You can learn reiki for yourself— to treat yourself and bring about more fastidious healing. Truth is, from my point of view, we heal individually and collectively in different ways. I always remind whomever I am treating the reiki treatment is also beneficial for me. I am glad to treat others with this modality of bringing balance, harmony and expeditious wellness to the whole system.
It is a non-manipulative form of hands-on work. So, comparatively, with massage as modality which is hyper-awesome for lymph nodes (clearing them) and tension in muscular networks as well as breaking up old neuronal patterns in the body on a Fascial level (as a teacher called it recently, one's skin suit), Reiki as modality is much more subtle. I can't tell you how many people I meet in my life who do not or cannot prioritize massage as a doctor's medicine. Either it is far too intimate or it is too much to ask for help in this regard. Or the idea… "I don't know, I should be able to work out the kinks for myself by myself…" Truth is, in my point of view again, this is a narrow scope, when the body comes to a receptive place, when the body allows one to recieve benefit facilitated by another, the return is enormous, unfathomable even.
Reiki is even more subtle or elusive in my own mind to that of 'more' traditional types of massage. I love thai massage, as well as, other strategies (breath work, posture work) for bringing relief and blood flow and equanimity, simultaneous.
For something less tangible like Reiki often brings more question to the fore. I recommend it highly for the restless, for the wounded, for those who believe they cannot be healed. Some say you have to understand Reiki to allow it to work, or you must believe it works in order for its subterraneanous contingency to be relevant to those being served.
I feel this is unnecessary because even though I have been practicing Reiki for five plus years on myself and others, I still find it mysterious and elusive. Yes, I have built up a sense of trust to the process. Yes, I realize it is as intimate as massage, and/or even the simplicity of holding a dear one’s hand, but it is our society that has imbued touch with taboo and sensuality. There is nothing sensual about reiki. Although it may be close physically in proximity to another sentient being, I cannot stress enough, what a person or practitioner looks to heal is personal and unique, our stories may converge here and there, an interaction that threads our suffering to a unanimous voice of woe and compassion. But I do pray, that nothing will barr you from recieving healing supplements such as bodywork or Reiki. No, the East cannot miraculously bring wellness to the emergent medical care systems of the 21st century, but it can be most complementary and often
I find what Western medicine can't solve, eastern modalities, refreshingly, make up for in spades.
Kyo dake wa | For today only
Ikaru na | Do not get angry
Shinpai suna | Do not worry
Kansha shite | Express gratitude, be humble
Gyo wo hage me | Be honest in your work, work with diligence on meditation and spiritual development
Hito ni shinsetsu ni | Be compassionate to yourself and others