In my woo circles, I’m the Reiki Master that no one knows is a Reiki Master. It isn’t because I don’t use or teach it, or because it’s become the Catalina Dressing of the holistic healing world. Rather, it’s a quiet thing for me, or should I say a very internal thing. Indeed it plays second fiddle to my shamanic focus, though I still consider it a very useful feather to have in my cap.
I also have to add that I just don’t resonate with a lot of the culture that has sprung up around Reiki, the arguing about who’s doing it right, what Usui really meant, what hand positions or visionary experiences create a departure from Reiki and segué into some totally new modality. The thing that mostly drives me away from the Reiki community is the lack of people who actually do it.
There. I said it, and here’s why.
I meet a lot of people who have completed the first two levels, even Masters, who say it works great on other people but it doesn’t work so great on themselves. They get miraculous responses, wonderful results, when they do Reiki on their clients; however, they get nadda when they do it on themselves. I’ve listened to an internationally known Reiki Master assert that true energy healing requires three presences (channel, Source and client), that two just doesn’t work, so self-healing can’t occur. I’ve even heard one say that it isn’t a good system for self-healing, that other systems are required for such, or healing from another Master is needed. I hear this, and I can’t help but wonder if we’re talking about the same modality. I also wonder about our definitions of healing–but that’s another post.
I firmly believe that the bickering about ownership and accuracy has created problems in the way that Reiki is taught in the west. There is more emphasis on whether it’s okay to sit in metal chairs for a Reiki session than there is on the kotodama. I hear more discussion about the sin of revealing the symbols than on how they actually work. Even better, there’s more emphasis on it being a healing system than on the fact that it was intended to be a self-awareness system.
That’s right. My understanding of Usui’s work is that Reiki was created to be a method for so deeply embodying the self through the synergy of kotodama and symbols–that is, sacred sound, focus, and action–that a connection to All Things, Source, The Great Spirit, the Multiverse, whatever we want to call it–was created. Within that state of awareness, things in and around us can’t help but feel better.
In other words, healing is an indirect result, not the focus, of Reiki.
So when people say to me that Reiki works really well on other people but not so well on themselves, what I’m hearing is their projection of the outcome of healing, rather than intending and experiencing self-awareness. It isn’t that practitioners aren’t doing Reiki sessions for self and others, they aren’t embodying full self-awareness in order to be effective in that work. The key to any true healing modality is embodiment. That’s true of any self practice or healing approach, not just Reiki. If you can’t become the practice, you can’t do it well.
“When I say ‘practice’ I don’t mean repeating an act until you get it right. In this use, it means to instill regular discipline to accomplish a specific task, ritual without which we feel incomplete, or that our experience of each day is less.” Teen Spirit Guide to Modern Shamanism
Without the first step of coming into self-awareness, which is embodying the self completely, which is embodying the awareness of All Things in the moment, nothing beyond can happen. The reason it works better with other people than on self in this setting is because clients have no projection into that outcome. Master is the channel of the life force, client is the receiver. Clients’ expectations don’t knowingly rest on the Master achieving that state of awareness; in fact, they’re oblivious to what the Master is doing. Clients lie down and enter the zone; that’s their part of the work, receiving as is intended.
When practitioners perform Reiki for themselves, they become the channel and the client. This recursive channel dynamic is what most of us were taught in Reiki classes, and therein lies the rub. It isn’t possible to subscribe to either of those roles and achieve and sustain connection with All. Roles must be dropped in order to reach that state. Self-lightness is required. It is easier to attain that boundlessness for a client than it is for ourselves. That fact is true of any kind of caregiver work. It’s always easier to do when it’s not personal. There’s no shame in that. Without that total embodiment, self never becomes the bridge to draw down interconnectedness. Without that bond, it can’t work. If it doesn’t work, we’re not allowing Reiki on ourselves.
The beautiful thing about Reiki is that it provides the means to manifest exactly that. It’s broken down in steps, levels, that if delivered carefully and with attention to our unique ability to merge with the overall process, serves keen self-awareness. For this reason Usui didn’t rush it. There were no weekend classes to mastery. It took time to train the brain and heart to let go and let gather.
To gain that self-awareness, go back to the teachings of Shoden and re-iterate the hand positions until awareness can be directed to them, until they can be awakened with mere thought. Return to Okuden and integrate the life force of the kotodama and symbols into the form. Experience how it feels to unite with them, beyond them. If you’re an animistic sort, call in their souls and communicate with them. Form a relationship with them. Diligent practice of doing so makes it easier to achieve a state of interconnectedness on demand. Again, such discipline is true of any mindfulness practice. The more it is performed, the more readily the brain seats into trance. When this state is accomplished, healing manifests, alone or in grand company.
It isn’t about the inability to heal oneself or the presence needed, but the need to situate more deeply into self, period. The more we come into our awareness, specifically in this context, using the tools Usui provided via Reiki, healing just happens. It’s simplistic, elegant, and absolutely functioning as intended.