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Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Reiki on wheels!

Reiki practitioner competes in 2009 Tour de France


The Cervelo Test Team speeds through the French countryside in the 2009 Tour de France team time trials. One team member, Olympic medalist Hayden Roulston, is a Reiki practitioner.

"You're always afraid you're going to fall off" -- Lance Armstrong

It's time once again for another Reiki sports report. We'd be the first to admit that our sports coverage is sporadic and hardly comprehensive, because we only turn our attention to sporting news when it involves Reiki. We've been following the story of cyclist Hayden Roulston of New Zealand for years now, because he discovered Reiki about the time this publication began back in 2006.

Roulston, now 28, was forced to retire from the sport three years ago due to a rare, life-threatening heart condition that can be particularly lethal to young athletes. Shortly after he gave up his career, however, he discovered Reiki, and he now credits it with helping him recover as well as turning his life around. "Reiki is the the be-all and end-all for me ... it's pretty amazing stuff," he told a reporter last year as he headed for the Beijing Olympics. (Disclaimer: while Reiki has apparently helped Roulston, Reiki is not a substitute for professional medical care and responsible Reiki practitioners make no claims that it can cure anything.) 

He won Silver and Bronze medals in the 2008 Olympics, and after a stopover back home in New Zealand (where airline employees greeted him in the traditional Maori manner by performing a haka), Roulston traveled on to Europe to join the Cervelo Test Team. He's now riding with them in the 2009 Tour de France -- his first time on the tour.

Since the tour is being shown on television here, we've finally had a chance to watch Roulston in action. He finished the first stage in 111th place, a performance he found less than satisfactory. But he began moving up in the standings and is now in 41st place -- with most of France as well as parts of Spain and Andorra to go over the next few weeks. 

Although the staff of The Reiki Digest does know how to ride a bicycle in a more leisurely manner, we didn't know much about competitive cycling before this week, except that Lance Armstrong had a habit of winning the Tour de France, and that the winner of each stage gets to wear the coveted yellow jersey on the next stage. So we've had a crash course in cycling-watching over the past few days, and since it was Reiki that got us interested in the sport, we've also been thinking of how Reiki might be helpful not only to cyclists with heart conditions, but anyone working toward a goal, especially in competitive circumstances. Or in other words: any of us dealing with plain old everyday life, whether or not we're on wheels.

Speaking of wheels, we all know that bicycles have two of them, plus a bunch of other wheels (gears) that allow the cyclist to control those wheels. And a wheel may seem like the most ordinary of things -- until we remember that until about the time Usui was born in 1865, wheels were not common in Japan. Travel was allowed only by foot, horseback, or palanquin. So our lesson from that simple fact is that even if something is so ubiquitous it might seem like part of the background, we can't take it for granted.

Bicycle riding, professional or not, requires two important things: balance, and forward motion. That's not just our observation, it's Albert Einstein's: “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.”

Riders race in teams in the Tour de France, so even as individuals compete, they also have to function as part of a community. And the larger community made up of all those teams requires cooperation as well, because for most of every stage of every race, all but a few riders are all together in that large pack called the peloton, like birds flying in formation. They have to cooperate or they would all crash in a heap -- and some of them do crash in a heap anyway, which is one of the biggest dangers of the sport. We've seen a few relatively minor crashes so far, and heard from the commentators that riders are taught to keep going and looking forward (NOT down!) when another cyclist falls, lest they get drawn into the crash themselves.

The Tour de France lasts 21 days, and while there can be only one overall winner, there are many other victories. As they strive toward the big goal, the riders must remain in the moment. Today the winner of the fifth stage doesn't appear to have a chance of winning the Tour itself, but he got to stand on a podium and be recognized, and tomorrow he'll wear the yellow jersey as a reward. Most riders spend their whole careers just hoping to win one stage sometime, and even then they focus more on helping their teammates (as any coach can tell you, there is no "I" in teamwork). And most of the participants never make it to the winners' podium even once, but they feel lucky just to be in the race.

The Cervelo team is led by last year's Tour de France winner, Carlos Sastre, who may have learned some of the Reiki precepts from Roulston, as he told reporters the team would be taking a "happy, relaxed approach" to the race. We love the headline on that story: "Sastre Mellow about the Yellow."

And as if we needed any reminders about the importance of daily personal practice, these pro cyclists demonstrate that, too. They ride on stationary bikes for hours to warm up for riding on the road -- they even keep pedaling while being interviewed. We imagine that Roulston is keeping up with his personal Reiki practice, too. Sure, we've all heard the old saying that once you learn to ride a bicycle, you never forget how, and that's true of Reiki to some extent as well. But without practice, riding a bike can get pretty wobbly, and so can our Reiki practice. 

Someday, we hope to talk with Roulston about Reiki, but for now, we'll keep following his progress on the Tour de France. 

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