Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Legitimacy of Reiki

Fifteen years ago I found myself sitting on a yoga mat for the first time.  I remember that day clearly because the teacher came up to me and sandwiched my heart between her hands.  I almost broke down right then and there before the class had even begun, as I felt a wave of unconditional love and compassion wash over me like a tidal wave.  At the time, I was emerging from a painful period in my life and in that moment I could recognize everything was going to be okay.  I remember Elena declaring at the beginning of each class that we are all perfect and complete in this moment, just as we are.  I had never heard such words before let alone contemplated being perfect, whole and complete at any given moment because the inner critic voice of my ego was always drowning out such a concept.  Little did I know that this brief moment of compassion offered to me was a flash of what was yet to come as I began to heal my life and eventually become a Reiki teacher in order to help others.

The other day a young man in college reached out to me regarding a paper he was writing on PTSD.  He was researching alternative therapies and knows that I am a Reiki teacher.  He asked me what I would say to those critics who claim that Reiki is illegitimate.  I was so grateful for the question because I am surrounded by clients and students who are transforming their lives for the better and sometimes forget that there is still controversy over what I do. 

When Reiki was introduced to the west some important aspects of the practice’s purpose and meaning were lost in cultural translation.  The practice of Reiki in Japan began as a series of tools to assist the everyday person in experiencing greater happiness and inner peace which would in turn generate greater health and wellbeing.  While some of the tools taught to students in the west involved meditation and breathing exercises, the real focus of attention was with the hands on healing techniques.  As a result, Reiki healing is what people often times think of when they hear of Reiki.  They envision someone placing their hands on another and “doing the healing” to them which is an outside-in versus an inside-out approach.  It also does not allow the recipient the opportunity to take responsibility for their healing process which can be disempowering.

In reality, the role of a Reiki “healer” is to be a compassionate presence for the recipient to be able to discover the whole, complete and healed self within.  Whenever I finish a session with a client, I always say to them “Good work today!”  They will sometimes say to me, “But you did the work.”  I remind them that my job is to hold space for their own innate healing process to unfold and their job is to remain open and relaxed in order to allow this to happen.  While it may then sound like a simple and easy task for a Reiki practitioner, it is not.  A Reiki practitioner who is most effective  has made a commitment to stay true to their own healing process in order to remain a clear and open channel for both the flow of energy and to support the relaxed state of the client.  When this happens, there is an ego detachment on the part of the Reiki practitioner regarding the results so that the healing can naturally transpire for the client’s highest good. 

Reiki is not a replacement to therapy or medical care.  Reiki is a practice that holds up a mirror to remind a person that there is a part of the self that is indeed already whole, healed and complete no matter the state of their mind and body.  When they can recognize and relate to that whole and healed part of the self, they can then begin to experience the possibilities of its expression on other layers of their being. 

In quantum physics they have discovered that subatomic particles exist simultaneously in every potential state until they are observed.  Once they are observed, they behave in alignment with the observer.  What Reiki practitioners or teachers do for themselves and others is observe the whole and healed self within that is in alignment with their most authentic and true nature.  The more that part of the self is honored and observed, the more the healing process can fully manifest.  This is why we hear of examples of spontaneous miracles that science cannot explain.  BUT it is also why we can on the other hand experience profound wisdom and wholeness even when a person does not fully recover from a health challenge. 

Unfortunately energy healing practices such as Reiki are critically analyzed from the perspective of linear thinking and energy does not operate on that plane.  It instead transcends it, reaching into the layers of life that one cannot necessarily experience on a tangible level.  Those that choose to experience life from the mind alone will never understand the legitimacy of a practice such as Reiki.  But for someone who is even mildly curious and open to the possibility that there is a transcendent energy source that connects all of life, Reiki holds unlimited potential to transform a person’s state of being.

The human journey is one that is filled with both joy and pain.  When there is pain there is an opportunity to allow a part of the ego to shed its layers, letting go of its hold over us and our emotional attachments in life.  It is through this process that we discover the depths of human compassion that relieve us of our suffering.  When we bridge the human self to the complete self we are reminded that our pain and suffering are not who we are.  This in turn allows us to discover the gifts held within the challenges we face, and find out that underneath it all we have strengths we never knew we had and new perspectives on life we would have never attained otherwise.

What happens in our lives is much more out of our control than we’d ever like to admit to ourselves, and so there is a human tendency to insist on proof or a guaranty that everything is going to be okay.  When we begin to recognize the part of us that is complete and whole, the ego that insists on those guaranties in life fades into the background, allowing for a more powerful experience of life because we are free of any attachment to the outcome.  When this freedom takes place, the greatest potential for happiness and healing can then transpire.

So for those who refuse to validate the practice of Reiki, I challenge them to ever so slightly crack open the door to possibility.  My students and clients who are undergoing chemotherapy, psychotherapy and other medical treatments are not looking to me to “fix” them.  They are becoming active participants in the dance of life and recognizing that while they have challenges, their challenges do not define who they truly are.