Taoist and Buddhist embodied practice, such as QiGong, or the art of working with the vital force Qi, cultivate integral connection: connection with one’s own body, with the Earth, the elements, the seasons, the Heavens or Spirit or Source of inspiration, and connection with each other.
Reiki is a body of practice coming to the West through a lineage leading to a Buddhist monk, Mikao Usui, who integrated this practice in his healing services. Usui taught his method for healing to his apprentices in a Buddhist context informed by Japanese culture; as it arrived in the West, the Reiki method underwent transformations to adapt to the Western mind and lifestyle and took the shape of the informal transmission from teacher (Reiki Master) to student that we are now familiar with for a century.
The Reiki philosophy is rooted in Ancient Wisdom Tradition, and while its validity claims do not fall under the rigours of science, its benefits are proven through direct experience. The physical body is seen as an external manifestation or representation of the mind, or soul, and the mind is an emanation of spirit - the ground of being, the transcendent realm of emptiness where suffering ceases and all things exist as a possibility.
The mind is a bridge between body and spirit; Qi is the Vital Force, Élan Vital, or Life Force Energy, the invisible current that animates the body and whose flow through pathways of energy called meridians or nadis, must be maintained free and balanced. Any disruption in the flow of vitality leads to imbalance - either deficit or excess, and left unattended, the imbalances find expression in the body as discomfort, pain and disease.
You may recall a time when you were sick with a cold or flu, and your head was hot, sinuses congested, and face red and hot, while your hands and feet were cold.
The efforts of the energy healer is to remove any blockage in the flow of Qi, and re-establish proper balance and the free flow of energy. The Vital Force alone is said to be enough and all that it takes for optimal health to be restored in many cases of disease.
Unlike healing arts where the student learns to map the body - biology and energy -, and uses methods to move the energy from points of excess and towards points of deficiency, the Reiki method informs the facilitator’s mind through intuition and is sourced in the wisdom which is deeper than the intellect.
Thanks to the life force being guided by the infinite wisdom of spirit or Rei, learning Reiki is accessible to a wide spectrum of abilities and require no prerequisite other than a deep desire to be of service, alleviate suffering in self and others, and contribute to greater love, life and happiness in oneself and in the world.
Yes, healing is an art that requires empathy, compassion and sensitivity, and these, and more such noble qualities are being awakened and cultivated with the extensive use and practice of Reiki.
In twenty-two years of laying on my hands-on or towards people’s bodies (and animals too, as Reiki has been part of my palliative care for my aging and sick dogs), I have seen people’s faces and bodies opening up and softening up, jaws unclenching, eyelids softening over the eyeballs, the breath slowing down its pace and softening, and moods going up to calm and even cheerfulness and exuberance, right after a session.
At the same time, during my years of practice as a Reiki Teaching Master and facilitator, I have seen people’s attitudes change, hearts open to become more compassionate (beginning with my own heart and ability to love when I first learned Reiki), choices made with greater self-care, from choices of food to choices of occupation and work, and the overall life changes that occur when one’s mind is illuminated with the presence of the Divine Love as it flows through one’s own body.
I have seen people seeking and achieving greater meaning in their endeavours; relationships sorted out and weeded to allow for greater nurturing, support and care; greater intuition and creativity - artists that had repressed their talent who turned towards art as their vocation; greater meaning through adversity which makes life’s battles worth battling, and so forth.
My own life has moved from unconscious chaos towards intentional, meaningful, purposeful living since my own Reiki training: I quit a stressful banking job to pursue the healing arts; I quit smoking (after my first Reiki class I felt disgusted by cigarettes, after years of smoking); I stopped drinking coffee after body awareness made it clear that caffeine causes me to be jittery and anxious; and I experienced unconditional love and compassion like never before, which awakened my commitment to be of service towards people’s well-being and happiness.
Reiki has its own limitations: as with most spiritual practices from the East, Reiki leads to a spiritual awakening, the transcendence of the separate self; but it doesn’t lead to greater depth of psychological sophistication. Western psychology brings to the table the human development through taking on more and more perspective beyond one’s own; we only care about that which we know, and we know others by putting ourselves in their own shoes so-to-speak, and this is accomplished through the cultivation of taking on perspectives, and practices such as compassionate inquiry. Without psychological development, spiritual awakening alone can cause imbalance and a variety of problems from health to money to relationships. We need to wake up to our transcendent nature; we need to grow up to psychological maturity; and we also need to clear up, integrate our Shadow elements or disowned split-off parts of the psyche and clear any introjections, any internalized voices belonging to others (like the very critical adults in our childhood, for example).
Tana practicing distance Reiki
The Shadow work is so important that I include an integration protocol with the Reiki Level II training. The more light you shine, the darker the Shadow appears - like switching on a light dimmer which brings more bright light but also enhances the contrast between light and dark, and makes the dark even darker.
If you embark on any kind of spiritual practice journey, mindfulness meditation, Reiki or other, your best practice is to integrate it with Shadow work and developmental practices. An integral Reiki teacher and coach can help you navigate your awakening and growth in the ways conducive to balance.