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
"Reiki will conquer the world and heal its inhabitants as well as the Earth itself." Mikao Usui
A lesson in limits for Jikiden Reiki practitioners
Guest blog by Elaine Rainey
At a recent UN High Level Meeting on Wellbeing and Happiness, discussion turned to how the concept of Gross National Happiness (an innovative economic model originally developed in Bhutan, a Buddhist country with a longstanding tradition of mindfulness) could be applied to the rest of the world. Discussion inevitably turned to the difficulties faced by undertaking such a task on such a grand scale.
At this point, famous environmentalist Hunter Lovins took to the stage and addressed the audience with a parable about a humble hummingbird. She said:
When the forest was on fire and all of the animals were fleeing around her, the hummingbird was ferrying droplets of water in her tiny beak, one by one, to try and staunch the flames. “What are you doing?” her distinguished animal colleagues asked. “The best I can”, replied the hummingbird.
As Reiki practitioners, we are armed with such a wonderful healing resource in the palm of our hands. By nature, we tend to be a compassionate bunch who are sensitive to the suffering of others. The desire to help and to ease the suffering of others is often strong. Starting out with the best of intentions, we can soon find ourselves overwhelmed and burnt out. An image of a stressed out Reiki practitioner providing distant treatments to many people simultaneously at the end of a long day springs to mind.
So, what can we do to avoid this and to deliver a sustained and healthy level of service to others through our Reiki practice?
The answer, from a Jikiden Reiki perspective, is one step at a time, one person at a time. We are taught to start with ourselves, our family and friends, then moving out into the community around us. We are not taught methods for sending distant Reiki to many people simultaneously, or to specific areas or disaster situations. Just one person at a time.
I remember, at a Jikiden Reiki seminar, a Reiki practitioner asked Tadao Yamaguchi, the Head of the Jikiden Reiki Institute in Japan, for advice on someone they were treating distantly for a serious illness. This person lived many, many miles away and the practitioner did not know them personally. This practitioner was actually asking about specifics of the treatment approach, but Tadao Yamaguchi politely asked “Why are you treating this person so far away?
A fruitful discussion developed between the participating practitioners, resulting in a contact being made with a Jikiden Reiki practioner who lived locally to the person needing help.The point was not about never sending distant Reiki to people we do not know, or to those far afield. It was about keeping things simple, being practical and drawing on the resources of others if required.
This is something I personally value very much about Jikiden Reiki. The approach is very humble, straightforward, simple, grounded and manageable. One person at a time, being relaxed, doing the ‘best we can’.
You can follow the progress of the UN High Level Meeting on Wellbeing and Happiness, and the thoughful write-ups by Claudia Chender MacLellan, at http://www.shambhalasun.com/sunspace
Connect with Elaine on facebook: @Jikiden Reiki Treatments
Photo credit: Zlatica Retzler (many thanks!)
And what would an Usui Reiki Master get from taking this class? How often have I been asked this question in person or by email. This time, though, I have been asked in a public way, so I thought I had perhaps best answer in public, too. First of all: Jikiden Reiki is Usui Reiki, as this simple hand-healing method started with Mikao Usui in Japan in 1922. ‘Jikiden’ means directly transmitted, and in the Japanese language and culture, is a term that refers to a traditional art form, passed on carefully from teacher to student without changes.
Chiyoko Yamaguchi, who had learned Reiki from one of the teachers trained by Usui Sensei, Dr. Chujiro Hayashi, and her son Tadao decided to pass on what they had learned from Dr. Hayashi after they had met with many Western Reiki practitioners and realised how much the practice had changed, with so many new elements having come in that orginally had nothing to do with Reiki practice, and with notions that they considered fundamental to Reiki practice either not known at all or marginalised.
What would a Usui Reiki master get from taking Jikiden Reiki training? I have taught a number of Reiki masters, who have hugely appreciated what we teach and who found that it has clarified many questions for them and deepened their understanding and their practice. I have also met one or two who were happier with their own way of doing things.
So, I will answer your question from my personal experience, as ultimately we choose what’s right for us, and that’s individually different isn’t it. Having trained in Western Reiki to master level first (which in itself was a wonderful experience, and Reiki as a healing practice ‘caught’ me straight away), I could nonetheless sense the inconsistencies and felt uncomfortable at being given tools with applications that I knew from experience, worked just fine, but didn’t know where they were coming from. Incidentally, I have heard Phylllis Furomoto express what seems to me a very similar frustration at her experience of learning Reiki from her grandmother, Hawayo Takata, in two interviews.
I want to make it very clear that we have no criticism of Mrs Takata and are deeply grateful to her for having found a universal format (i.e. devoid of it’s original (Japanese) cultural and spiritual context) that allowed Reiki practice to successfully spread in many countries around the world. But in different historic circumstances from those Takata sensei found herself in in Hawaii and America just after the World War II, we can now gain access to the specific Japanese cultural and spiritual roots of Reiki practice, and for me that is important, as it makes the practice intelligible and trustworthy, and allows for deeper understanding.
Just for the record, I’m not saying that only Jikiden Reiki training allows for understanding of Reiki practice, and I have seen many practitioners grow deep roots and insight into the nature of Reiki simply from consistent practice (the path that Takata sensei recommended). I had also realised a thing or two about Reiki practice and Reiki treatment in this intuitive way that weren’t being taught in Western Reiki. (My first Reiki Master had learned in the 1980s, just a few steps away from Mrs Takata). You can imagine my delight when I found these confirmed, explained and elaborated upon in the Jikiden Reiki teachings. In my opinion though it was perhaps the fact that Reiki was passed on without its Japanese roots that has also opened the door widely to misunderstandings and to Reiki becoming amalgamated and confused with so many other ways of thinking about energy work. Instead of blending everything with everything else until we end up with grey, why not simply accept that there are many paths to healing, and different windows to truth (and keep our window clean)?
Again, don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that combining Reiki practice with other healing modalities or other thought systems is necessarily wrong and must never happen. But we are now in a situation where Reiki has become amorphous and personally, I can understand why anyone with their critical faculties intact might dismiss this wonderfully simple and accessible healing modality after a 20 minute browse on the internet. Jikiden Reiki is very much about keeping the practice as much as possible to how it was conceived of by its founder, and there’s a rigour and discipline in Jikiden Reiki that I see as a mark of respect to the original teachers. Reiki was born out of an experience of enlightenment and crafted as a healing method from a broad knowledge base of different traditions. Mikao Usui prided himself in the simplicity of the method he had created, and to me this is one if its incredible strengths.
Asked why he hasn’t founded his own school of Reiki, internationally respected Reiki teacher, researcher and author Frank Arjava Petter gave the following answer in a recent newsletter: “Personally I don’t see the point in adding another new form of Reiki to the confusion because I think that trying to improve upon “soul energy”- Reiki- is quite inappropriate. Let’s be respectful instead to what we have been given by Usui Sensei and those who carried the torch after him.”
So without being able to reveal the details of Jikiden Reiki practice (you will appreciate that these are being passed on directly from teacher to student), what are some of the aspects that I most appreciate about Jikiden Reiki?
I value the conceptual framework for how Reiki energy interacts with the diseased body and think that it has great practical value. In Jikiden Reiki, we don’t work with set hand positions, but instead focus treatment on the areas where there are accumulations of toxins (byosen), using Reiki to help the body break them down and eliminate them more effectively. From a jikiden point of view, a toxin free body tends to naturally show a quick healing response and is quite capable of looking after itself. Yet, living in the 21st century it’s almost impossible not to experience toxin overload. Training practitioners to develop sensitivity in their hands so they can find the problem areas in my opinion is an invaluable asset, as working directly on the problem areas tends to get faster results when illness is already manifest and is also a skill of great value in preventative health care. Using Reiki early on, perhaps we never need to experience the more serious conditions that may develop if we don’t regularly clear the build up of toxins. And what a blessing to have the means to do this in our own hands!
While the concept of byosen can easily be taught in a week-end workshop, you will appreciate that the skill of effectively reading a client’s body comes with time. This most useful perception skill is subtle at first and really begins to unfold with practice, ideally on others, not just oneself. Once fully developed, the ability to sense byosen gives useful insight into the natural healing process, and helps the practitioner make important treatment decisions: where to focus treatment and for how long. Are we dealing with a chronic problem or is it acute? How long to stay in the same area during a session, and how many sessions will be needed? Don’t get me wrong: We are not medically trained and cannot diagnose the nature of the problem or name your disease. We simply decide where focusing Reiki treatment is most useful, and can assess healing progress and frequency of treatments needed for best results based on the changing sensations in our hands. On a number of occasions, the ability to sense byosen has also helped me to find areas where emotional trauma was stored in the body, and for this then to be safely released with Reiki treatment.
Going back to why adding more isn’t always a good idea and may create clutter where there once was clarity, I really admire the simplicity of the healing system created by Mikao Usui. Once the original context and intentions have been re-inserted into Reiki practice, we simply don’t need to worry about many of the complicated debates found in Western Reiki (on issues such as grounding or protection for example) as we realize that the answer has already been built right into the core of Reiki practice. “In the Western mind everything seems so complicated”, Chiyoko sensei once said. I love the elegance of a system that takes care of complexity in the simplest possible way.
Personally, I also like that spirituality in Jikiden Reiki is implied in everything, as natural as water or air, and therefore need not be shouted from the roof-tops. (My colleague, Amanda Jayne has written a wonderful blog post on this, which I would encourage you to read). Instead we focus on becoming compassionate by working on ourselves. For this we have the Gokai, or 5 Reiki principles, which Arjava Petter describes not only as a road-map to enlightenment, but also as a reliable compass of our progress, indicating where we still need to work on ourselves. And this, at least in my case, is very much work in progress, and helps me to keep humble and real.
I had already mentioned how grateful I am for the insight Jikiden Reiki allows into the tools that we use in Reiki practice. This is a far different experience from being given shapes and words and their application. Learning about the context from which these tools were taken and their inherent meaning and function not only makes sense of the treatment methods we use (physical, psychological and distant) but also allows for a unique insight into the philosophy behind Reiki practice and the world view underlying it. It is also here that we find the answers to issues that have become very complicated and involved in Western thinking about Reiki. Again, everything fits so elegantly and addresses the task at hand in such a straightforward way. Sei Heki treatment for example accomplishes incredible results, even with long-term mental or emotional patterns, and knowing the background to this treatment method it becomes clear how this can be achieved in such a simple way. I am of course not saying that you will find scientific explanations here, and you probably don’t expect this. I find Jikiden Reiki spiritually trustworthy and offering a coherent system though.
Ultimately, everything we do in Reiki practice is designed to bring us back, gently and at our own pace, to our original state of perfection and oneness, and Jikiden Reiki offers simple and effective tools along this way.
Panic Attacks: Going round the bend at 25 miles per hour
Life has been a little intense recently. When one family member after another picked up what seemed like a particularly virulent type of ‘flu, I have truly been thankful for Reiki practice, not only to nurse our sick children through fever broken nights and ease their cough-rattled chests, but also to help me keep on my legs despite being slightly ill, too. We also had, it seems to me, more than our fair share of uncertainty and the type of emergency circumstances that require you to constantly think on your feet in order to come up with ever new ideas how you can manage, even though your normal ways of doing things are not available right now. Quietly, I notice just how much Reiki practice has changed me, as I deal with one situation after another relatively calmly and constructively. It brings back to mind a fellow Mum who commented that I made raising three kids look easy, as I hardly ever seemed to get my feathers ruffled. (Not true by the way, no one can get under my skin like my own, very lovely, kids). (more…)
People often ask if Jikiden Reiki is a physical or a spiritual treatment. My answer is that it is primarily a physical treatment, used on the body to enrich and empower the body’s innate natural healing wisdom. However, as with all things in life, it cannot be separated from the whole. When practicing Jikiden Reiki, each person places his or her hands on and energy flows into the body, enhancing healing by helping the body to eliminate the build up of toxins – usually quite fast. The primary emphasis is on practical physical treatment, though there is also an effective psychological treatment – Sei Heki – used to help with fears, habits or anxieties that people want to let go of. (more…)