Do your best and leave the rest to the Universe: When healing does not equate cure


“We are only there to love the spirit on its journey” ~ Doug McConnell

Healing does not always equal cureFrequently, I am amazed at Reiki’s amazing ability to facilitate healing, to tap into the body’s innate healing capacity and optimize results. Take wound healing for example: In my experience, using the Jikiden first aid method can seem like watching the healing process under a time lapse camera. You’ve cut your finger, it’s bleeding a lot, the cut is deep and feels throbbing and stingy. Giving first aid treatment doesn’t of course make the injury just go away. But the bleeding stops so much more quickly and the blood begins to congeal faster than you’d expect it to. The cut perhaps heals up in three or four days when, unaided, it would have taken a week or so.

I remember my daughter falling off her bicycle onto gravel and sustaining the kind of deep grazes along her spine that you know would turn green and seeping if you covered them up with a plaster, and would take at least a week, probably longer to begin to heal. Giving first aid Reiki treatment immediately, which may hurt as it accelerates the healing process, a crust had formed within half an hour. That’s all we did. In fact she then put on her T-shirt (no plasters needed), and went back out on her bike. The grazes were gone without a trace within the space of a week.

Treating cuts, scrapes and small burns in this way is not the only way Reiki facilitates healing. I have simply chosen this as an example because most of us have clear expectations based on experience as to how long such injuries take to get better. Using Reiki, we can observe with our own eyes that healing tends to happen faster than we would expect on average. Overall, seeing clients in my clinic in Galashiels, my treatment experience includes a wide variety of physical and emotional problems that have improved with Reiki, even in cases when doctors have had only pain medication to offer without addressing the underlying problem.

So I have come to expect good results from Reiki treatment. Yet this post has been prompted by the heartbreaking story of a boy who has just lost his leg in spite of lots of Reiki support to help prevent this. And by my own recent experience of giving Reiki to a pony suffering from grass sickness. Equine dysautonomia affects the central, peripheral and enteric nervous systems. With the condition usually leading to paralysis within the digestive tract, although nerve damage occurs throughout the body. Statistics keep any hope of recovery firmly in check. Only around 5% of horses affected by the condition make a recovery, while most pass away within the first two days. If they survive the 7day mark and therefore fall into neither of the two lethal categories of acute and sub-acute grass sickness, there is a small chance of survival following a period of intensive nursing.

Nursing a horse with grass sicknessI was called in on day 8 or 9, and sensing such a strong spirit in this very sick animal, I felt compelled to do what I could. In cases of serious illness, a Reiki treatment or two is not going to make enough of a difference, so I came out every day, sometimes late in the evening after work. Knowing full well that chances were slim, yet encouraged by the fact that the horse seemed to defy her prognosis at each step. Critically ill and with a prolonged and dangerously elevated heart rate. But still eating, still swallowing, still digesting and, with great difficulty, still peeing and pooing. We were told that horses who survive for 21 days sometimes recover. On day 20, the pony’s heart rate was more reasonable for the first time, the fever gone, and the constant tremors seemed to have lessened. I couldn’t help but feel hopeful. Wishing I could speak to a vet to discuss treatment priorities. Feeling byosen strongly in certain areas, I had prioritised treatment at the top of the head (poll), where the neck meets the shoulders and in between the front legs, and I was curious to know if this tallied in any way with the condition.

When I did meet the vet it was under different circumstances. In the morning of day 21 the pony had seemed fine, only to fall down a couple of hours later. Her hind legs without strength and almost paralysed, she was unable to get up again and was put down later that night. We don’t always get the result we want, yet my heart knows that this is how it had to end. Heart-breaking, but the right decision, the compassionate decision.

I ask myself futile questions. What if I had been called in earlier, what if I’d given her daily treatments instead of six days out of seven. What if I’d been there in the morning on the 21st day. Confronted with a lot of suffering and wanting to make a difference, I had noticed before that I had become too involved, and it is then that Reiki practice can become a little tiring. Giving Reiki itself is never tiring and replenishes the giver, too. On occasion, my mistake is to identify too much, which doesn’t help the receiver and it doesn’t help me. All we can ever do is the best that we can without expectation.  In the words of a colleague commenting on the young boy who miraculously survived his critical illness, but lost his leg: “I trust that when we do our best, the best result will come. It might not be the result that we are hoping for.” Another colleague reflects: I’ve often thought and meditated about “HEALING”. First I treated D. to save his life and then later I treated him to save his leg… someday I’ll give him a hug.” As I know first hand from accompanying my friend Ian through his journey with cancer, healing does not always  equate cure or the outcome that we would like, and yet, where there is love, healing still happens in other ways.

Photo credit: Ian Mackenzie, with kind permission from Talitha Mackenzie
A special thank you to the owner of the pony for permission to share this experience. 

Related reading: Why Healing is different from Cure

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27 thoughts on “Do your best and leave the rest to the Universe: When healing does not equate cure

  1. Thank you for sharing this with us Giesla. Remembering when I too have felt/got too involved … afterall caring for others is natural to many of us. I now chant the Gokai in my head or out loud during a treatment, to remind me we are the channel through which Reiki flows, and not to worry… just for today. The outcome is not mine to determine … no matter how much this human may wish for anothers well being.

    • Hi Debbie-Ann , I was very clear, too, that I was actually getting in the way when I so wanted Reiki to help, and the Gokai helped me also in pulling myself back. Normally, this is not so much of an issue for me, but when confronted with a lot of suffering it can be.

      We had an interesting conversation about this at our last Reiki share at Traquair. There is a difference between empathy and compassion. Identifying with another’s pain doesn’t help anyone, holding a loving space on the other hand benefits everyone, no matter what the outcome will be.

  2. ‎’Clarity in your Mind, Love in your Heart, Reiki in your Hands’.
    ~ Frank Arjava Petter

    I wish I’d taken this approach when providing Reiki treatments for a relative on his death bed a few years ago. Instead of focusing on the ups and downs of the readings from the medical equipment, I should have been focusing on maintaining a loving and open presence during our Reiki sessions.

    Nowadays, Frank Arjava Petter’s wise words quickly bring me back into the right place when faced with the suffering of others, and my own 🙂

    • Wise words, compassionate man. At a recent workshop with Frank Arjava Petter in Edinburgh, I was struck by his ability to hold others in a compassionate space without judgement, and in this way, demonstrating by personal example the transformative power of Reiki, the ‘secret method to invite health and happiness’.

      Not only have participants learned so much more (without realising that they were learning, as the atmosphere was so relaxed), a number of students have come back to me after the course saying that they had ‘healed’ in different ways.

  3. Another nugget of wisdom from Frank Arjava Petter on this matter:

    He talks about the importance of living in the tanden, not too much in the head or in the heart. Living in this way, you can become strong and calm, you can see other people sad but it doesn’t break your heart.

  4. Who knows what healing might be for that being at that time? I try and give Reiki without an opinion on what needs to change. I found working in a hospice helped with developing that sort of attitude – everyone in there knows they are dying and so healing means something different.

    • I agree with you Chris, although on occasion this can be a little difficult.

      I also feel (and have seen this in action more than once) that dying can bring incredible last-minute opportunities for resolving difficult things and finally letting go of burdens that may have persisted a life-time, or even life-times. Making ones transition peacefully is a form of healing, too, at least in my book.

  5. Gisela,

    Beautiful, compassionate post! The issues you describe are similar to ones I expressed in a post about a year or so ago, on the difference between healing and curing: http://dragonflyreiki.net/2011/02/healing-versus-curing-the-role-of-reiki/

    Our compassionate presence and the deepened connection to Reiki can be healing, even if it doesn’t cure the person or animal. I learned this immediately in my professional practice. I was asked by my chiropractor (whose integrative healing practice I know work in) if I would do some pro bono work for a patient of hers with lymphoma.

    The patient was scheduled to undergo a bone marrow transplant the following month, but was receptive to trying Reiki treatment and wanted to prepare herself for the transplant, since it can be very risky. This patient was also an ordained minister and ICU chaplain, someone who was deeply connected to spiritual life and had helped comfort people and families in times of need. She immediately connected with the spiritual aspect of Reiki practice, and our treatments were another way she felt she was able to accept the unknown outcome of her upcoming transplant, and as she told me, “make friends with her cancer.”

    Interestingly, during the time she was receiving Reiki treatment (and no other medical treatments such as chemo or radiation) her doctor did a scan of the tumor. For the first time in over a year, the tumor had shrunk. But she was too far along with the plans to receive the bone marrow transplant to hold off and see if Reiki treatment was the catalyst for this change. She eventually did have the bone marrow transplant, developed bleeding in the brain, and after fighting very hard even after being taken off life support, she passed away. I understood at that moment that although she was, of course, always hopeful for a cure, what had really occurred during our treatments was healing that helped her prepare to make the transition to the other side in a state of emotional and spiritual wholeness.

    For a while, I had the same thoughts about her prognosis that you experienced with the horse – what if she had come for treatments earlier with me, etc? But that is really our small mind working, trying to make sense of the divine order of things of which we rarely have direct insight. I realized that this was her path – and it was also mine – to teach me very early on that although I help facilitate the process, the outcome is not in my hands. All that matters is that I hold sacred space with compassion.

    I was reminded of this again yesterday when I received news that a friend’s nearly 3 year old daughter died of brain cancer. Her mother wrote a beautiful, heart-wrenching note about losing her daughter, and reminded us that she is healed and in a state of wholeness, just not in the physical form we know. As a mother, I connected deeply with her loss, but as a practitioner (she is a chiropractor who incorporates energy work) I knew she was right.

    • Dana, thank you so much for sharing your experiences. I agree about ‘the small mind working’ and that our role is to humbly assist someone’s process, but that the outcome is not in our hands. And that we may not always understand (which doesn’t matter). As you say, wholeness is already and always there.

      Holding space with compassion can create so much freedom for others to experience their process without fear.

      And funnily enough, Dana, I had read your blog post when you published it and remembered it (wanting to link to the article), but not able to find it anywhere or remember who had written it. Thanks for the reminder. I have now put in a link.

  6. Hi Gisela, I can understand your thoughts and feelings very well. I’ve had similar experiences, with my cat. She got tumors and with reiki i help her very much (and she loved reiki, I know it :-)) but the sickness was not stopped and after 6 or 7 months she died.
    Was it really enough? I could have helped her still more? and so on, all these thoughts circled in my head. But the intense half year with my cat would be the best time with her. In those months I’ve learned more about cats than the last 30 years 🙂 Sometimes i think, she teach me because she helped me to understand. The beloved people and animals they i have lost, really to let go. So my heart would be healed also.The love she gave me was so indescribably beautiful, I thank my cat for this wonderful time and experience. Thank you for your post. I wish you the best time and with lovely greetings, Dagmar

    • Thank you so much for your lovely response, Dagmar. We all find different ways of coming to terms with loss and finding peace, and it’s lovely that your cat gave you this wonderful gift being able to help you in this way. Viele herzliche Gruesse auch an Dich! Gisela

  7. What a great story to share, and an even greater reminder to be the vessel through which Reiki moves. No intention, no attachment to outcome – just being mindfully present to the experience.

  8. Sorry, Gisela my post wasn’t clear. By being the clear vessel there is no attachment to outcome (hoped for or expected) therefore no lessons to be learned about (identifying too closely with our clients). Having compassion is the only way to be. 🙂
    Thanks again.

  9. One of the many, many things I have learned from 20+ years of practicing and teaching Reiki is that sometimes a “cure” involves death or even in young D’s case amputation that preserves life. When we treat with Reiki we all have intention, hope, compassion and sometimes empathy (if that is our gift). These are generic to Reiki and to being the human beings we are who give hands-on and distant treatment. Post-mortems or guilt or regret about too much attachment or too much involvement or what if I got there sooner and the other assortment of what ifs are the waste of our energy not intention, hope, compassion or empathy.

  10. May I please ask, is D the young boy from Canada we were doing distant Reiki for? I ask because if it is, I would love to share this blog with he & his family to show them how extended his situation was in the world. He is my family relative. Thank you, Maureen.

      • Thank you and how wonderful….I simply found your blog minutes ago…I can’t even remember how…lol, guess it was guided! I shall Share :).

        He is really coming along nicely, his prosthetic will enable him to continue to play football (American style) competitively. He is a highly athletic young man so this is ideal. Also, he has obtained his learners permit and is driving!!!!

  11. My name is Elena and I am D’s mother. There are no words to express the gratitude i feel to all the people who did distant Reiki on my son. I know from the bottom of my heart that it help tremendously. Blessing and love to everyone who helped. Thank you
    PS Maureen thank you for the blog.

  12. Oh, I love, love, love what just occurred…a gap has closed, and your hug for D is so much closer…..my head is full of tingles :))))) I can’t type fast enough….

  13. Hi Gisela,
    Further update for Dylan has been shared on the Jikiden world Facebook page. The city has published his story in our Province’s newspaper. Have a read of it when you have time!
    Maureen.

  14. Pingback: 10 Reasons Why Learning Jikiden Reiki Is So Incredibly Empowering:   | Simply Jikiden Reiki

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