A guest blog by Elaine Rainey
When Mikao Usui founded the method of Reiki Ryoho in the 1920s, he was determined not to keep it for his own benefit but to share it with society. He believed that Reiki should be made accessible to everyone, to help people improve their physical wellbeing, peace of mind and happiness*. This was an unusual position to hold in a culture where keeping such things within the family (in order to protect the wealth that could be generated from it) was common.
If we are to carry on the legacy of Mikao Usui, what are our options for bringing Reiki to society at large, so that all can benefit? What steps can we take to avoid the pitfalls that might discourage the general population from giving Reiki a try?
If we consider the mindfulness movement, pioneers such as Jon Kabat-Zinn have integrated mindfulness into the mainstream with so much success that it is now widely used in a variety of settings, from hospitals to prisons to staff wellness programmes within large multi-national companies. It has taken decades to achieve such success, but if we look back to the formative years, it becomes clear that the mindfulness pioneers had developed a winning formula from which to work.
The Editorial within the latest edition of Buddhist journal Shambhala Sun contains a useful insight into how the pioneers of the Western mindfulness movement presented their practice in the early days, in order to remove potential barriers that would prevent it from filtering into the mainstream. They focused on communicating the following three principles that they hoped would make the practice as accepted, universal and helpful as possible:
1. It is secular (available to all, regardless of belief).
2. It is evidence-based (validated by personal experience and sound science).
3. It is beneficial to our lives right now (to our health, happiness, families, society etc.).
If we consider these three principles in the context of Reiki, it becomes clear that our goal is arguably very much the same and that we have much to learn from how the mindfulness movement has approached the task that we as a community now have ahead of us.
1. Reiki is secular: Mikao Usui stated in the Kokai Denju that “all living things possess this incredible ability”. Once trained, anyone can practice Reiki, regardless of their belief system.
2. Reiki is evidence-based: Small but reputable studies on the benefits of Reiki are emerging (see http://reikiinmedicine.org/medical-papers/) but we have yet to see good quality, large scale studies demonstrating its efficacy. However, this should not leave us disheartened. As a community, we have many success stories to tell. Such testimonies may not be appropriate for convincing the medical community of the efficacy of Reiki but for the general population, a well-articulated testimony from someone they trust can have much more impact than a piece of published research ever could. Numerous testimonials have been published showing the different ways in which Reiki has helped people. For example, you can read about Reiki for stress management at http://on.fb.me/VlvfB8, Reiki with Autism at http://bit.ly/11f5s4z or Reiki in acute trauma at http://on.fb.me/WMDc3z.
3. Reiki is beneficial to our lives right now: Once we learn Reiki, we can use it right away to support ourselves, our friends, families and communities. The energy is the same whether we have been practicing for years or for just a few days. Being a beginner should not be seen as a barrier to efficacy. Once we have Reiki in our lives, it will always be at hand when we need it, helping us to cope with whatever challenges life throws at us.
In continuing the legacy of Mikao Usui, we all have an important part to play. Whether Reiki stays exclusively within our hearts, shining out towards others and speaking to them without words; whether the impact stays exclusively within our families or whether it extends to the setting up of research projects within our local communities or further afield; we are all contributing to positive change, to the changing of hearts and minds in such a way that Reiki will one day be considered as truly integrated into society at large.
* Taken from the Kokai Denju, a rare interview with Mikao Usui (the founder of Reiki practice) about the system of Reiki.
Elaine has been a Jikiden Reiki practitioner for a number of years and has recently become a Jikiden Reiki teacher (Shihan Kaku).
You can connect with her on her facebook pages ‘Jikiden Reiki Treatments’ and ‘Song of Reiki’
I’m amazed what even just three or four Reiki treatments can sometimes achieve. A month ago I saw a client three times in quick succession, who had been frequently ill for over two years and despite regular check-ups with her doctor and repeat medication, unable to get to the root cause of her problem. Tired of being ill almost constantly, she was willing to commit to the three sessions in quick succession that I had recommended.
We were going to reassess the situation after the initial boost, but it turned out that this was all the help she needed. Usually, chronic scenarios require a little more patience and commitment. However, this lady left feeling better after just three sessions. I am convinced that she would not have had the same results with the same number of treatments if given at weekly or fortnightly intervals. In my experience, to maximise chances of improving long-standing conditions, consecutive treatments are key.
In Jikiden Reiki seminars, when talking about the history of Reiki, we teach that Chiyoko Yamaguchi and her sister Katsue went out into the community for treatment on consecutive days, and working in this way fits well with the concept of byosen, a way of observing the body’s response to Reiki treatment that is a corner stone of Jikiden Reiki practice. While byosen is strong, get back to the problem area as soon as possible (not a week later, as is the common expectation). It seems (from a discussion I followed on LinkedIn), that one of Mrs Takata’s students, Virginia Samdahl, also encouraged working in consecutive sessions. While substantial commitment is required from both practitioner and client, experience shows that using Reiki in this way is more likely to get the desired results.
On the related subject of chronic pain, internationally respected author and champion of integrative healthcare, Pamela Miles, recently refused to be impressed with a 40% improvement after Reiki treatment, suspecting that even better results might have been achievable with a few more sessions. In my opinion, based on treatment experience and my understanding of Jikiden Reiki, people who commit to an initial program of consecutive sessions or sessions scheduled in quick succession, can sometimes improve considerably. Learning Reiki themselves at this point, they can then self-treat for maintenance. If only there were a way of funding blocks of let’s say four to six sessions in quick succession, perhaps to be repeated once or twice (as required), so that more people suffering from chronic conditions could experience this type of shift.
You may also like to read:
Why the one-hour-a-week treatment model may not always be what you need
Check here for opportunities to learn Jikiden Reiki in Scotland in 2013
How Reiki can help with the current unrest in the world
Amanda Jayne’s article was first published on her website LearnJikidenReiki in October 2011. Anticipating presidential elections in the US, and in the wake of hurricane Sandy causing untold suffering and uncertainty, her subject seems as pertinent now as it did a year ago.
“There are huge movements rising up all over the world at the moment in what looks like ever-increasing chaos. Dissatisfaction with political systems, corporations, economies, worry over environment and nuclear leaks, and vast differences in opinions on the way the world should look and what is ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. My guess is that there is more to come during this period of change and I find myself speaking to a number of people who are concerned about the future and what it may hold.
There may be more chaotic energy in the coming times – or there may simply be a period of quiet change. Whichever it is, it is clear that change is happening right now and that we are all a part of it, perhaps more than we know. What is also clear, is that each and every one of us can and will contribute to what takes place in the world. Some will protest and march for change, some have already taken to the streets, some will write, discuss and argue in the virtual world of the internet and some will find themselves caught up in the fiery energy of violence or disruption in communities. There will be people who sit back and watch the changing world, thinking it has nothing to do with them, while others still may feel helpless or ignore what is happening around them.
All are contributing to what takes place in the world. It is simply the way of things. Our wants, attitudes, fears, joys, actions, connections, emotions and thoughts are contributing right now, whether we are aware of it or not. Fear and hate breed fear and hate, contributing to chaos; while moving into greater awareness and greater peace contribute to just that. As one of my teachers, Ron Hulnick says, “Every time one person resolves one issue, the whole of humanity moves forward.”
It’s good news that everyone plays a part because all we have to do is decide if the way we are currently being in our lives is what we want to contribute to the world or not. This doesn’t mean we have to sell our houses and build an eco hobbit house in the wilds of Scotland (though I would love to!), neither does it mean we must chastise ourselves over every negative thought or fear that passes through our lives. What it does mean, is that we can begin to bring awareness around our reactions, how we are feeling and what we are allowing ourselves to think into our lives. It means that we can remind ourselves when we are feeling off-centre, or find ourselves in worry or panic over the news, that our greatest decisions and ability to discern truth comes only when we are heart centred and calm. There are many practices to help us come back to centredness and Reiki is just one of them, but I highly recommend it.
Usui sensei’s intention when creating his Reiki method ‘Shin shin kaizen Usui Reiki Ryoho – Usui Reiki Treatment Method for the Improvement of Body and Mind’, was to help people to peel off the layers of ‘stuff’ we all accumulate during life, physically and mentally, so that we are no longer led by ego and come into alignment with our true selves – with Source.
For this he created and used three things:
a) Physical treatments to assist the body in eliminating toxins that build up and cause illness, to help with pain and skeletal misalignment and to calm, soothe and release emotion.
b) Psychological treatments that help the mind to let go of issues, beliefs, unhelpful thoughts and negative associations or habits it has been holding on to.
c) The gokai – the five simple principles that point us towards living well in each moment of now.
You can download an updated copy of my simple practical guide to living the gokai here.
In short, Reiki can be used simply as an everyday tool to help us stay well when we are healthy and get well when we are not, but it can also be used to help us awaken, to move into greater peace and bring us to calm centredness in the midst of what appears to be chaos.
Usui sensei saw that the world reflects the people in it, and therefore the greatest change can be brought about not by sending Reiki to a situation or an environment, but by giving Reiki to people. As each individual changes, the world changes.
No matter how complicated a situation looks, the only energy that can positively contribute and transform chaos is love. Love does not mean I won’t take action or speak out, neither does it ignore what is before me. Whether I am faced with an everyday family situation, news of a disaster or a decision about my involvement in a movement in the world I give myself Reiki, feel the energy in my body and I ask myself these simple questions:
– Is this thought coming from love or fear?
– Is this decision based on love or fear?
It brings amazing clarity.”
Dare I admit it? (I’m shy about this ): After a week of becoming fluent at hearing Japanese (but not understanding much unless translated), I have started teaching myself Japanese with the help of an Oxford University language course I got for Christmas two years ago. Will I stick with it? I hope so. In an already busy and committed life, and with my memory letting me down left right and centre, this has proven too hard before. Perhaps the effort of memorising a new language will offer a cure to my memory problems? (Thinking neuroplasticity here, and forever the optimist!)
Anyway, my language course tells me (and I’ve heard this before) that “you won’t hear Japanese people use first names often, except within the family or between close friends.” How generous of Tadao sensei (and formerly Chiyoko sensei) to treat their students as family. I love the community building aspect of Jikiden Reiki. From each Jikiden Reiki seminar I have attended (and that’s quite a few since I first discovered Jikiden in 2006), I have come home having made new wonderful and lasting friendships. I also love the humility of a teacher who keeps pointing his students to the potential within themselves and knows that this can be realised with the help of reiju and a little dedicated effort.
Anyone can do Reiki
This is what Tadao Yamaguchi sees as Mikao Usui‘s legacy. Even beginners can use Reiki successfully. Tadao sensei’s mother, Chiyoko Yamaguchi, who had learned Reiki from Chujiro Hayashi at the tender age of 17 and had practised on a daily basis for over 65 years, used to stress that the Reiki coming from her and the Reiki coming from you and me is the same energy, and that perhaps the only advantage an experienced practitioner has is that they may feel the body’s healing response a little more easily. At the recent training in Edinburgh, Mr Yamaguchi emphasized that with lots of practice, any practitioner can get to this level within half a year or so. To me, this feels both humbling and incredibly matter of fact, the reality of someone who deeply appreciates Reiki, having grown up nurtured by it from before birth, but to whom energy healing is also as natural as water and air. No need to make a fuss or be all mysterious. Since in essence, Reiki is completely natural, in harmony with nature, and everyone’s birthright. Therefore, from a purely Reiki point of view, there are also no reasons not to give Reiki. The ability to do so is completely natural, too, and part of being human. Most of us simply need a gentle reminder of what is already there.
One of my students commented that training with Tadao Yamaguchi to her felt much more ‘serious’ than attending a seminar with Amanda Jayne or myself (the content of Jikiden Reiki seminars always being the same of course, regardless of who is teaching). It’s true, Tadao sensei definitely has gravitas. But also so much lightness and humour. Attending training with Tadao Yamaguchi and Rika Tanaka, in my experience, is always highly instructive, and also so much fun.
I also like the fact that Tadao sensei is so dedicated to transporting the
Japanese values and attitudes behind Reiki practice
In Japan, the student teacher relationship lasts a life-time, and in 1930s Japan, students would meet up with their teachers once a month if they could. They also repeated the seminars several times, to consolidate their understanding of the content and to receive further reiju. (Tadao Yamaguchi has many photographs of the early seminars with Chujiro Hayashi which prove this). The concept of repeating the same training can at first seem strange to students from Western countries. However, practitioners who have done so invariably comment how much they had missed first time round and how their understanding has deepened.
As the feedback from the Jikiden training with Tadao Yamaguchi keeps coming in, I find myself thinking about what it takes to be a student of Reiki. The founder of the practice, Mikao Usui, deliberately placed himself on the second rung of the achievement ladder, there always being more room for growth and development. And really, how could one ever be anything other than a student of Reiki? Nonetheless, I have a lot of respect for teachers and practitioners of long standing experience with westernised Reiki (sometimes 20 years or more) who have the humility to go back to the Japanese roots of the practice, and it’s always nice for me to hear when they find the experience rewarding.
Tadao Yamaguchi will be a guest speaker at the Mindful Peace Forum in Dundee on Friday.
” Wonderful, thorough, clear, transparent training/teachings withTadaoYamaguchi.”
“Thank you again for arranging the seminar with Tadao. It was very well run and I felt I learnt a tremendous amount. However I think there was so much to take in I also lost a lot. When he next comes I think I need to repeat so that I can catch up on what I missed so please keep me posted when you arrange another visit.“
“Thank you for a marvellous seminar. I was fizzing with Reiki, thank you Mr. Yamaguchi.”
“Had a wonderful 4 days Gisela…..thanks very much for organising it all very much appreciated. Hopefully Tadao will teach again in Scotland???“
Photo credits: Thank you to Katrin Brauer for kind permission to use some of her lovely photographs taken at the end of this year’s Jikiden Reiki training with Tadao Yamaguchi in Edinburgh
As a Reiki practitioner I find that my clients often come with unspoken expectations about their sessions with me. Showing up for treatments at weekly intervals is one of them, and at times this appears to be a rule set in stone. Yet working in this way does not always get the best results.
A toxin free body is in a better position to take care of its own healing needs
As Jikiden Reiki practitioners, we are guided by the sensations we feel in our hands when placing them on a client. This body feedback helps the practitioner to locate the areas in the client’s body where toxins have accumulated. Carefully observing how these sensations change over time helps us to assess how long to treat a specific area and when to expect improvement. We refer to this skill as sensing byosen (pronounced: bjoh sen).
Our treatment decisions, in Jikiden Reiki, are based on this concept of byosen, tuning into and following the body’s natural healing response. As we focus energy on an area with high accumulations of toxins, Reiki helps to break these down more effectively. The sensations we are looking for can be felt at their most intense when this happens. Often, the toxins are deeply buried within the tissues, though, so Reiki is needed to first bring them to the surface. During these periods we may not feel so much. So careful observation over a period of time is indicated!
We suggest an individually tailored program based on what’s going on in your body
From a Jikiden point of view, there are no standard hand positions nor a standard length of treatment. Of course we would not keep you on the treamtment table beyond your endurance limit. But for severe cases, a 70 to 90 minute treatment might be quite in order. Chiyoko Yamaguchi, my teacher’s mother, and herself trained by one of the original Reiki teachers, often gave Reiki for an hour and a half, and then asked her client to be back next day or as soon a possible, when she was working with severely ill clients. And this she would keep up for a period of two or three months, if necessary, until the sensations in her hands (and the client’s health of course!) indicated improvement.
Why you may want to learn Reiki for self-care
Of course, seeing a practitioner this frequently would be difficult to afford for most people. This is why Tadao Yamaguchi, the head of the Jikiden Reiki Institute in Kyoto, often recommends that someone who is seriously ill, learn Reiki and also receive frequent Reiki treatments from a family member or someone who is able to make this level of commitment to them.
Even with comparatively more minor health problems, the weekly treatment model may not always be best. While byosen is strong, perhaps two or three treatments in one week may help the client to return to full health much more quickly by comparison to the alternative of making weekly appointments by default.
Related reading: On the benefits of Reiki for cancer patients
“We are only there to love the spirit on its journey” ~ Doug McConnell
Frequently, 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.
I 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