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Thursday, November 06, 2008

A day devoted to the Reiki precepts

A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I were scheduled to go on vacation -- but circumstances changed and we weren't able to take time off as planned. Fortunately, during that time I was able to take a whole day off for a very important reason: to focus on the Reiki precepts at a daylong retreat led by Reiki Masters Pamela Miles and Susan Mitchell. That one day wasn't exactly a substitute for a vacation, but it was the next best thing. I came home that evening relaxed, refreshed, and even more dedicated to living according to the simple but powerful principles that Reiki founder Mikao Usui developed.

There are many different translations of the Reiki precepts, but for the purpose of the retreat we worked with Reiki teacher Hyakuten Inamoto's translations of the precepts written on Usui's memorial stone:

Today only 
Do not anger
Do not worry 
With thankfulness 
Work diligently
Be kind to others

I was already familiar with the precepts, of course, having worked with them for several years now, through three different master programs, my personal and professional Reiki practice, and in ordinary daily life. I recite them to myself every morning before getting out of bed and every evening before going to sleep. I like every translation I've ever seen, and there are many, but I also learned to say them in Japanese in an attempt to get even closer to the source. So the precepts retreat, titled "Inviting Happiness," was exactly what I needed. 

In keeping with the idea of a retreat -- i.e., a day off -- we weren't allowed to take notes, which left me at a slight disadvantage since that has been my habit for decades. But it wasn't really a problem, because it was good for me to shake up my routine and experience the retreat in the moment without trying to record the details for later. Instead, I summed it up in 31 syllables with this week's waka. 

There are many techniques to learn in Reiki: hand positions, breathing techniques, meditations. But the precepts are the foundation of it all, and the more I study and practice Reiki, the more the precepts are woven into every aspect of my life, and the more I value them. 

My only regret was that I wasn't able to bring all of you with me, but fortunately there's a way to make up for that. Pamela and Susan will be doing a reprise of "Inviting Happiness" -- this time as a teleclass taking place on five Monday evenings beginning November 17. I recommend it to anyone who's serious about practicing Reiki, whether personally or professionally.

A week or so after the precepts retreat, I found myself intensely focusing on those simple, powerful principles again during a particularly difficult day. I'm in the process of migrating from my old desktop computer to a laptop with a different operating system, and as I make the transition, I'm using both machines. During my difficult day, the desktop computer's mouse stopped working, and the graphic design program I was using for a project on deadline started going haywire, with words on top of words, misplaced images -- it was a nightmare. 

I sat down to take a break with some tea and give myself a reboot, only to spill the tea all over the rug and myself. Then I decided to go buy a new mouse in hopes that would solve the problem. I put on my raincoat and boots and stepped outside, only to discover that I had a hole in my boot. As I schlepped along through the rain, with one wet foot and one dry one, I repeated the precepts to myself. And though I admit to getting a bit frustrated, the precepts, and my habit of using them, helped me avoid making the situation worse with anger and worry. 

Funny thing was, I kept thinking that all those things going wrong were keeping me from putting together my article about the precepts retreat. By the time I gave up on mouse shopping, came back home and took off my wet boots, I realized that all those frustrations weren't a distraction from the precepts: they were yet another lesson, another type of day focused on living in the moment, not giving in to anger or worry, working diligently and being compassionate. Before going back to the computers to try once again to debug the problem, I sat down to repeat the precepts to myself once more. At that moment, I glanced at the back of my old computer and saw immediately what was causing the problem. 

I can't claim that using the precepts can help you fix what's wrong with your computer (or your car, your boss, your co-workers, or any other frustrations in your life). But I can tell you that they can help you maintain the presence of mind to deal with those frustrations better, and that can help you find a solution faster. 

For more information on the Inviting Happiness teleclass, click here.

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