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.