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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Reiki Digest for April 18, 2007: Up close and personal

How would you describe the experience of eating chocolate to someone who's never had it? You could show them a picture of chocolate, but that wouldn't really do it. Neither would a video of chocolate. To experience chocolate, you and the chocolate need to be in the same place at the same time -- there's no other way. And so it is with Reiki -- the only way to "get it" is to get it, because descriptions just fall short. Sure, you can buy a "Reiki attunement" on video or online, but you really need to be in the presence of a teacher in order to share the same energetic space and truly feel the energy.

I've just spent three days in close proximity to one of the world's foremost Reiki teachers, along with 20 eager Reiki students in the first (but not last) Shinpiden (Level 3) class with Frans Stiene in New York City. Some of the students traveled for hundreds of miles to be there, and Frans himself traveled all the way from Australia, by way of San Francisco, along with his wife and co-author, Bronwen, and their lovely daughter Bella. In their latest book, Your Reiki Treatment, Bronwen and Frans have come closer than anyone to finding a way to describe Reiki to those who haven't experienced it. They also do a lot of traveling, circling the globe teaching those of us who practice Reiki how to explore the energy more deeply. And in their spare time, they produce even more Reiki resources with their weekly Reiki Show podcast, as well as their blog, their MySpace page, and their interactive web site.

The class was also the first (but not last) class sponsored by The Reiki Digest. In the coming months we'll be offering more courses in Reiki and related practices. Stay tuned for details in the coming weeks.

After those three days, all participants and the room itself were buzzing with Reiki energy. I'm coming in for a landing now that the class is over and plan to take an actual day off just as soon as I publish this week's edition of the Digest. I hope some of the other participants will add their comments to this post on The Reiki Digest web site -- same for any other reader with a question or comment. It would be so nice to get a conversation going.

Everyone in the class had already learned Western-style Reiki, in the lineage of Hawayo Takata, who brought Reiki from Japan to the West. Some have been practicing for as long as 25 years. Among us we had, in addition to full-time Reiki practitioners, a doctor, a psychologist, a couple of massage therapists, a medium, some animal communicators, a dental hygienist and a former wrestling champion. It was, in effect, a roomful of teachers as well as students. All were blown away by the techniques Frans taught and the experience of working with energy in new ways.

We had such a good time there that I quickly arranged to return to that same Reiki-filled room soon for regular practice evenings. Stay tuned for details next week about The Reiki Digest's new Reiki Dojo in New York. If you can't wait until next week for details, email me at with the word DOJO in the subject line, and I'll send you the announcement directly.

Frans and Bronwen Stiene at East West Books in New York

Last Thursday, before the Shinpiden class began, Bronwen and Frans spoke at a special NYC Reiki Meetup at the East West Books yoga studio. Bronwen began the presentation with a brief talk about their Reiki journey, and then Frans spoke and took questions. The Stienes -- he's from Holland, she's Australian -- first studied Reiki in Nepal, then moved on to Darjeeling, India, where they set up a Reiki center. Back in Australia, they established the International House of Reiki, and then decided to seek out the roots of Reiki in Japan. Their extensive study and research led to their first book, The Reiki Sourcebook, the most comprehensive book ever about Reiki. Their second, The Japanese Art of Reiki, focuses on self-care from the traditional Japanese perspective. They followed those with a handy pocket guide, the A-Z of Reiki, The Reiki Techniques Card Deck, and now Your Reiki Treatment.

The system of Reiki has five elements, Frans explained: the Reiki precepts (gokai), breathing techniques (kokyu ho), hands-on healing (tenohira), symbols and mantras (shirushi and jumon), and attunements (reiju).

"Are attunements necessary?" one person asked.

"We can do healing without attunements," Frans said, "But that's not Reiki."

Attunements are not necessary to connect to Reiki energy, however. "Reiki is universal energy, right?" Frans said. "How can I connect someone to universal energy if they already are universal energy. We are all universal energy -- otherwise we'd be dead.

"I'm everything, you're everything...ultimately there's only one flavor of universal energy," he said.

Frans said he prefers the term used in French for attunements: initiation. "It's an initial experience. "As soon as I say, I can do this on you, there's a separation. It's a tool to help the student connect with this space."

Frans led the group in a brief meditation, and then both Bronwen and Frans autographed copies of their books: The Reiki Sourcebook, The Japanese Art of Reiki, The Reiki Techniques Card Deck, The A-Z of Reiki, and Your Reiki Treatment. Fans were still lined up for autographs from these very special Celeb-Reiki's when the place closed for the night.

Frans will be back in October to teach another Shinpiden class, also sponsored by The Reiki Digest. If you're interested, just email with the word SHINPIDEN in the subject line and we'll send you the details as soon as we have them.

As you probably know, The Reiki Digest has two full-time reporters, full-time as in 24/7. Their names are Google and Yahoo! and they constantly scour the Internet for news about Reiki. This week in addition to our electronic ace reporters, we have numerous citizen journalists who've notified us about an obscure U.S. government document that might lead to stricter regulation of the practice of Reiki and other natural modalities. The document has been the subject of numerous emails forwarded around the natural-health community, and we've received at least a dozen of those here. Here's an example:

"PLEASE ACT NOW…AND SEND THIS TO EVERYONE YOU KNOW!!! We have the fundamental right…IT IS OUR BIRTHRIGHT…to make our own decisions about what we choose for health & alternative healing modalities…please speak up so that we can stop the tail from wagging the dog!!!! THIS is the TIME to collectively bring our power together…our health & freedom depends on it!!!

There is a crisis in health freedom of choice. On April 30, 2007 the FDA [U.S. Food and Drug Administration] will close the public comment period on a "Guidance" which will classify every alternative practice as medicine so that only licensed physicians can carry out the procedure AND vitamins, minerals, herbs, etc., will suddenly become "untested drugs" which will be forbidden.

Bad? Real Bad! WAKE UP…public outcry can stop this assault on your health and your freedom!

Spread the word! Tell everyone in your Circle of Influence, professionals, alternative practitioners, nutrient and herb companies, everyone! Let them know how important their participation is to make sure the FDA backs off from this repressive course."

I took a look at the document itself, and it doesn't seem nearly as bad as the description. Take a look yourself -- especially if you're a Reiki practitioner in the U.S. -- and let us know what you think. Am I missing something here? The proposed "guidance" doesn't seem necessary, but it doesn't seem to be forbidding anything, either. If you have an opinion about it, the FDA is still accepting comments until April 30. If you've read the document and want to comment, click here to submit your comments to the FDA. If you haven't read it, wait until you have before commenting. Many of the emails going around include the phrase, "this only takes a minute," which is true if you don't take the time to read what you might be commenting upon.

In order to give you more time for that reading, we'll save the Reiki Roundup until next week. See you then!


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