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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Looking out for Number 1: Reiki self-care

A gentleman called my office the other day to ask about a Reiki session. He has a chronic disease, he told the office manager, and is therefore on disability and unable to work. He'd had Reiki previously and found it helpful with his condition, but since he's on disability, he wanted to know if we accepted Medicaid (the federal subsidized health insurance program for low-income Americans) for Reiki.

Unfortunately, neither Medicaid nor any other health insurance currently covers Reiki in the United States. It's not a question of whether Reiki practitioners accept Medicaid -- we'd be glad to, but Medicaid doesn't accept us. I told the man that, and then began offering him suggestions on where he might be able to receive Reiki for a reduced fee, or even for free: Reiki circles, student clinics, and other events, for example.

He told me he knew all about such events, because he is a Reiki Master himself.

"So you're doing regular self-care, then?" I asked him.

"No," he replied. He seemed surprised at the suggestion, but he quickly returned to his original request. "I just need somebody to give me Reiki but I can't pay for it because I'm disabled."

I couldn't believe it.

"You're a Reiki Master, and you don't do self-care?

"No, not really."

"But you learned self-care in your Reiki training?"

"It was part of the class but we didn't spend much time on it," he said. "I'd like to be able to pay for Reiki, but I can't, so I need somebody to accept Medicaid or give me Reiki free because I can't pay for it."

I urged the man to take advantage of his Reiki training and start doing regular self-care sessions at least once a day, or even more often. "Since you're not able to work, you have a lot of free time, right?"

"Oh, yeah, I have a lot of time."

"Then can you find time to give yourself Reiki?"

"Well, I don't know. I'm hoping to find someone to give it to me."

I suggested he might consider finding other practitioners with whom he could do an exchange, but that didn't go over any better than my recommendation on self-care. No matter what I suggested, he stuck to his original request for free Reiki. It seemed to me that he wasn't really looking for a solution; he seemed to be seeking rejection so that he could cling to his resentment at not being able to get it.

I know that self-care isn't quite the same as receiving Reiki from someone else, but that's no reason not to do it, especially if you have a chronic health problem. In my opinion, Reiki practitioners -- no matter what level of training or experience -- are only practitioners if they practice. Most of the people in the world who practice Reiki don't do so professionally. And even those with a professional practice need to maintain a personal practice as well. If you aren't practicing self-care, then you're not a practitioner, no matter how many certificates you have.

Then there are the practitioners who don't do a full self-care session -- they simply put their hands in the western Reiki tradition's "universal position" -- one hand on the abdomen, the other on the chest, and go to sleep. That's better than nothing, but it's no substitute for a real self-care session.

Ideally, you should do your self-care session at a time and place when you can be alone undisturbed for at least 15 minutes. I do my self-care sitting in seiza position in the same place where I do my daily meditations. Being self-employed, I have more control over my schedule most of the time than people who work for regular salaries, but then when things get busy I can't just clock out at 5 p.m. and leave everything, and everyone waiting. So I find ways to work a little self-care into my day here and there. I take a few moments for myself between appointments. I do Reiki in the shower, on the bus, waiting in line at the post office. I practice breathing and meditating on the subway. If I'm alone in an elevator, I have time for a kenyoku-ho dry bath.

I remember a Reiki 1 student who dropped out midway through the class because she couldn't complete the first homework assignment: giving herself a self-care session. She tried, but her husband made fun of her, so she just gave up. A sad story, all the more so because she probably could have done her self-care assignment in the shower or some other private space without her husband even noticing.

A lot of people who study Reiki do so because they are caregivers themselves, either by nature or circumstances. We tend to put others first, and ourselves last. But we all need to keep in mind the fifth and last of the Reiki Precepts: "Be compassionate to yourself and others." Notice that the word "yourself" comes before the word "others."

Last week we launched our "What does Reiki look like?" contest and the entries started coming in within hours. There's still plenty of time to submit your own answer to that question, so check out the details here. We look forward to seeing your illustration of Reiki.

I just got back from the mailbox, and am happy to report that there was Reiki inside, in the August 2007 issue of Body + Soul magazine, part of the Martha Stewart Omnimedia empire. Writer Frances Lefkowitz describes her introduction to Reiki after she fractured two vertebrae in her neck in a surfing accident. The article includes a photo of a Reiki session, captioned: "HANDS-ON HEALING -- a long way from massage, reiki is said to tap into the 'most subtle level of reality.' " Not bad.

Now that Reiki has been discovered by two of the most powerful media empresses in the United States, Oprah Winfrey and Martha Stewart, maybe someday the health-insurance industry might find it of value as well. Until then, I guess, the man who wants Reiki from Medicaid will just have to wait.

Our Special Correspondent Michelle Shinagawa has posted another report from her recent trip to Mt. Kurama, the birthplace of Reiki. This one is titled, "Waterfall & Temple for the Warriors."

This week our Celeb-Reiki comes to us straight from the gossip column in the New York Post: Reiki Master, socialite, and rock-star wife Ann Dexter-Jones (her husband is Foreigner guitarist Mick Jones). Ms. Dexter-Jones was honored for her Reiki work in the pediatric intensive care ward, a no-photographers-allowed event featuring such famous names as Joss Stone, Sean Lennon, Matt Dillon, Matthew Broderick and wife Sarah Jessica Parker, Christie Brinkley, Roseanne Cash and Isaac Hayes.

Other than those headlines, there's not much to report for this week's Reiki Roundup, so we'll save that feature for next week.

This week's edition of The Reiki Show podcast from Bronwen and Frans Stiene of the International House of Reiki is the first of two parts featuring author H.E. Davey on the topic of "Japanese Arts and Ways."

The October Shinpiden (Master/Teacher level) course with Frans Stiene in New York City, sponsored by The Reiki Digest, is filling up, but there are still spaces available. For more information, contact

For some of our readers, today is the longest day of the year, and for others, it's the shortest, but wherever you are in any of the 51 countries where The Reiki Digest is read, happy solstice!


Blogger Ariel said...

I can't imagine NOT doing self-treatment. I make time for it every day - both for hatsurei-ho meditation and for a hands-on Reiki session. In fact, I don't feel right unless I've made the time to do something, even if it's just a little bit. Occasionally I will treat myself to a professional Reiki session.

I originally learned Reiki to be able to give myself energy healing. I sometimes work on others, and in the future plan to do more of that, but for the time being it's mostly just me.

I'm not sure how somebody can claim to be a "master" and yet seem to know very little about this critical aspect of Reiki.

4:58 PM  
Blogger Janet said...

Thanks for your comment, Ariel. I couldn't agree more. We tend to put too much emphasis on Reiki for others, and in doing so we forget the importance of maintaining our own energetic balance with regular self-care.

Even if we do keep the emphasis on helping others, we need to remember that if we are balanced ourselves, we'll be clearer channels for the Reiki energy -- and everyone benefits from that.

7:09 AM  

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