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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Reiki Digest for November 29, 2006: Routine pleasures

After 9 days and more than 2,000 miles on the road, I'm finally back home and getting back into my regular routine. That in itself seems like a vacation right now. As I enjoy the relaxing warmth of my first cup of tea in the morning or the familiar view from my window as I do my daily qigong exercises, I am reminded of how important routine is to the practice of Reiki. Of course, I didn't stop practicing Reiki while I was away from home, but I wasn't able to take as much time or attention for it as usual.

By the time I discovered Reiki, I already had a regular daily routine of qigong, yoga, and other exercises. The most important part of that isn't any particular practice, but the commitment itself. I have a standing appointment with myself every single day for at least a little exercise and Reiki practice.

I used to avoid routines; I didn't want to have a boring, predictable life (and I succeeded in that!) Now I thrive on them, and I've learned that a routine practice of anything, whether it's exercise or meditation or household chores, provides a framework that makes everything else more manageable.

Of course, The Reiki Digest is now part of my regular routine, and yours, too, I hope.

Part of that routine is our regular Celeb-Reiki feature, which we skipped last week due to the Thanksgiving holiday. This week we make up for that with some big-name Celeb-Reikies.

First up, Celeb-Reiki philanthropists Christy and John Mack, heralded by Forbes for their multimillion-dollar support of alternative medicine, or as Mrs. Mack prefers to call it, integrative medicine. Mrs. Mack is a Reiki practitioner herself, as well as the daughter of a doctor; Mr. Mack is chairman of Morgan Stanley. Not only have the Macks given generously to the cause themselves, but they also organized with other philanthropists to form the Bravewell Collaborative, an innovative group of business leaders who have contributed more than $21 million so far toward getting integrative medicine training included in university programs.

Our next Celeb-Reiki is author Diana Amadeo, who credits Reiki with her spontaneous recovery from multiple sclerosis in an interview with the Boston Globe.

This week's other Celeb-Reiki may or may not be a Reiki practitioner, but he's definitely a celebrity: cancer survivor and retired cyclist Lance Armstrong. The Lance Armstrong Foundation offers all kinds of resources for people with cancer and supports numerous programs that include Reiki. The recent Livestrong Summit was just one example, as illustrated by a story in the Daily Tribune of Hibbing, Minnesota, which featured a local Reiki practitioner who attended.

Armstrong isn't mentioned in the first article of this week's Reiki Roundup, but you might notice the yellow "Livestrong" bracelet in the photo accompanying a piece about a local healing circle in the News-Post of Frederick, Maryland.

In Andover, Massachusetts, Reiki gets a mention in a well-timed article in the Eagle-Tribune headlined "Don't forget to nurture yourself as holidays approach" -- good advice for all of us.

Nearly every week we find a first-person article from a reporter who received a Reiki session, and this week it's a reporter for the Daily Record in Scotland.

The Comox Valley Record in Courtenay, British Columbia, Canada, features a brief but nicely done article about a local Reiki practitioner that might inspire practitioners elsewhere to send a press release to their local press.

Our penultimate stop this week: Clarksville, Tennessee, where the local Leaf-
Chronicle features not one but two articles about Reiki, complete with a nice photo.
One is headlined, "Reiki promotes healing, relaxation"; the other is "Learn about reiki through treatment."

Finally, we travel to Australia for this year's final podcast of The Reiki Show from the International House of Reiki, this week featuring shakuhachi flute master Bronwyn Kirkpatrick. Reiki Show hosts Bronwen and Frans Stiene will be taking some well-deserved time off for the holidays and have assured us they'll be back with more podcasts beginning in January.

Reviewing Reiki Online Project update: We've received a few reviews so far, but not many, so if you'd like to review one or more sites, please add your comments using our review form.

Next week, our first annual holiday shopping edition, featuring book reviews, new Reiki products, and suggestions for Reiki-related gifts for all the practitioners on your list. If you'd like to recommend a book, a CD, or other Reiki-related product, simply reply to this message (if you're reading this by e-mail) or post a comment (if you're reading this on the web site).

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Reiki Digest for November 22, 2006: Thanksliving

It's Thanksgiving season here in the United States -- although the actual holiday is Thursday, we've been celebrating for more than a week as we travel to visit family in Ohio and Tennessee, passing through New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia and Kentucky along the way. Along with cartoon turkeys and cardboard pilgrims, we've noticed lots of thanksgiving messages on businesses, homes, and churches in every town we've passed through. My favorite so far, on a sign outside a church in Kentucky: "It's not just Thanksgiving, it's Thanksliving."

Although the word "gratitude" shows up only in some translations of the Reiki gokai, it is implied in all versions, so giving thanks is more than a once-a-year activity for Reiki practitioners.

This year I have many new reasons to offer thanks, and new people to thank as well. Today, instead of the usual edition of The Reiki Digest, I offer my heartfelt thanks to you, the reader, for the time and attention you have given this fledgling publication this year, as well as thanks in advance for your continued readership. I thank my Reiki teachers, Margaret Ann Case, and Bronwen and Frans Stiene; my classmates for their support; my family; and especially Mom (who just became a Reiki practitioner herself) for her support and for letting me use her computer to post this message.

Of course, only the United States pauses this week for a Thanksgiving holiday, which means it's business as usual for the rest of the world. That means there's a new edition of the weekly Reiki Show podcast from the International House of Reiki, this week featuring an interview with Sister Eileen, a Canadian poet, author, teacher, Catholic nun, and Reiki practitioner. I won't have a chance to listen to it myself until I get home to my broadband connection, but I look forward to it.

Whether or not it's a holiday where you are, I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving, and a lifetime of happy thanksliving!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Reiki Digest for November 15, 2006: Ready, set, review!

The Reiki Digest is on a quest. We're looking for the Top Ten Reiki Sites online, and we're asking for your help in choosing them. Quite a few of our readers have volunteered to review Reiki sites, and others have suggested their favorite sites, in some cases their own, for review. If you'd like to participate and you haven't spoken up yet, don't worry: you're still welcome to join the project.

We'll be rating sites for:

Accuracy and completeness of information about Reiki
Focus: Is Reiki the primary subject of the site?
Overall Quality

So far, we have 20 sites for review, half of them representing the top results on a typical Google search for the word "Reiki", the other half nominated by our readers. There is still time to add more sites if you'd like to suggest one (or more). Yes, you can offer your own site for review.

Here's the list so far:

Top 10 sites from a Google search on the word "Reiki":











Sites nominated for review by readers of The Reiki Digest:











To be continued...

The official online review form can be found here.

Thanks in advance for your participation.

This week's Reiki Roundup begins in Australia, where actress and Reiki recipient Belinda Emmett has died after an 8-year battle with cancer. Emmett had been receiving Reiki regularly since her diagnosis in 1998, according to an article in the Herald-Sun. She was 32, and, sadly, is our first Celeb-Reiki to receive the distinction posthumously.

Next stop: Ohio, where the Cincinnati Post features an article about a group of Christian Reiki practitioners who learned Reiki from a Catholic nun and liken their practice to the healings of Jesus.

On to Charleston, West Virginia, USA, where a couple of Reiki practitioners interviewed by the Charleston Gazette point out that psychic readings and advice for the lovelorn are not part of Reiki.

In Concord, New Hampshire, we meet a globetrotting retired couple who have a room in their lakefront home set aside for Reiki.

In Northampton, Massachusetts, the Cancer Connection, an agency
that has been providing Reiki and other services for cancer patients, is facing serious financial shortages and seeking donations
to continue its services.

And in Maine, an eloquent letter to the editor of the Bangor Daily News recommends the use of Reiki and other natural therapies as an alternative to addictive pain medications.

In Connecticut, we discover that nursing students at Yale University will now have the opportunity to study Reiki there as part of the program.

Reiki turns up at another American university this week, at East Carolina University, where the recent Wellness Japan event included a Reiki demonstration.

Not to be outdone, Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, also offers Reiki for students.

In Denver, Colorado, we find a mention of Reiki an article with the intriguing headline, "Partnering with Horses to Help Humans Heal."

From there, we move on to Germany, where the roleplaying game Sacred: Underworld has been updated to allow players to give each other Reiki when playing over a Local Area Network. We haven't played the game ourselves, so if you do, let us know how it goes and whether you get any Reiki from other players.

Finally, this week's edition of The Reiki Show podcast takes us from Reiki Show headquarters at the International House of Reiki in Australia to Chicago for an interview with Rick Vrenios of The Reiki Council about journeying to some of the earth's most sacred sites.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Reiki Digest for November 8, 2006: Symbols and Mantras

It's a dark and rainy Wednesday in November as I write this here in New Jersey, but where you are it might be sunny, midnight, or the dawn of a new day somewhere on the other side of the globe. You might be reading these words as soon as I publish them, or you might run across them days, weeks, or months afterward, which means that I'm communicating with you across space and time, thanks to the handy tool we call symbols. In this case, the symbols are the 26 characters of the English alphabet, along with some other symbols: punctuation.

In order to send you these symbols, I used some other symbols -- my username and password -- to log into Then I used other symbols, including mouse clicks, to tell Blogger that I wanted to begin a new post. Blogger, meanwhile, is on the other side of the continent from me, in California. The symbols I put into the computer via the keyboard (a bunch of buttons to push, each of which represents a symbol) travel from me to Blogger, and from there to you, over the Internet. One American politician once famously, and laughably, described the Internet as "a series of tubes." I prefer to think of it as being made of symbols. Every computer runs on electricity, and in order to get electricity we must pay our bills. Paying our bills requires symbols, either the numbers of our bank accounts or more tangible symbols such as cash. Blogger has an electric bill, too, and the same is true for all the computers in between us. Whether we have dial-up, broadband, satellite or wi-fi connections, we all have to connect to the Internet: that, too, requires symbols. The computers we use were symbols before they were objects, because in order to be made, they had to be designed. And the software that enables them to do anything meaningful is also made of symbols. Ultimately, those symbols must be broken down into the most basic symbols: ones and zeroes, on and off, in order to be written onto a disk or transmitted.

I've been thinking a lot about the power of symbols the past few days because I had the privilege of re-experiencing a Reiki 2 class, in which students learn three Reiki symbols and the sounds associated with them, in order to send Reiki across space and time. The symbols are traditionally not revealed except from teacher to student, but in recent years they've been published in books and online. They're easy to find with any search engine, but finding them and reading about them doesn't quite make them usable for the reader. Similarly, I could do a search for dollar signs and find thousands of images, but that wouldn't add a penny to my accounts.

Many people are skeptical when they hear about the use of symbols in Reiki; some even scoff. Those people always use symbols to express those opinions. Without symbols, we would have no language.

Language is not only written, but spoken. In western Reiki, the names of the symbols are called mantras; in Japanese Reiki they are known as jumon. We all have mantras of some kind, whether or not we've ever studied Reiki, yoga, or meditation. I got my first mantra before I started school, from one of my favorite books at that age, The Little Engine that Could: "I think I can I think I can I think I can...."

All that seems so obvious, so simple, yet many people unfamiliar with Reiki or the traditions from which it sprang find the use of symbols hard to fathom. The best way to understand is to study Reiki and learn to use the symbols and mantras yourself.

As I was leaving yesterday after the class, one of the students came up to me on the street and asked, "If you're already a Reiki Master, why were you in a Reiki 2 class?" I explained that our teacher requires the Masters she teaches to observe one Reiki 1 and one Reiki 2 class, and I was fulfilling that requirement. Since one of the students couldn't make it at the last minute, we had an odd number of students, and that meant I got to participate more fully in the class, working with students for chair and table sessions, and even re-experiencing the Reiki 2 attunements.

I also got a chance to revisit the Reiki 2, or Okuden, level in the Shinpiden, Level 3, class I took last month in traditional Japanese Reiki. I am now working with a familiar name, but a new mantra: the jumon usually associated with Symbol 1. Every day, I sit on my meditation bench, hands in gassho, and repeat that jumon for at least five minutes. That's the way Mikao Usui's original students learned, working with a jumon for six months or more before adding the symbol associated with it or moving on to the next one. I find it adds a lot to my daily Reiki practice.

Having completed the Shinpiden Level, I am also allowed to take the Reiki 1 and 2 levels in the Japanese tradition at the International House of Reiki at no charge, not counting the cost of getting from here to Australia and back. Maybe if I keep working on those symbols and mantras, I'll build up enough Reiki energy to send myself....

A quick update on the Reviewing Reiki Online Project: the reviewing form still isn't quite ready, but we hope to post it by next week. Meanwhile, you're still welcome to volunteer to review Reiki-related sites or recommend a Reiki site for review. Reviews will be collected and compiled in December, and in January we'll announce the Top 10 Reiki Sites.

On to this week's Reiki Roundup. First, we return to Baytown, Texas, USA, where the jury has reached a verdict in the so-called Reiki trial, which really wasn't about Reiki at all. A woman had claimed Reiki was a "new-age religion" and that she was fired for objecting to it.

This week's edition of The Reiki Show podcast features British Reiki Practitioner Graham King on Reiki for children.

Reiki turns up in the Des Moines Register in Iowa, USA, in an article headlined "Hands Down, Reiki Wins Over Skeptics," featuring a practitioner who's not only a Reiki Master, but a military veteran.

Britain's Cambs Times also features Reiki this week, as does the Star-Ledger in Newark, New Jersey, which includes Reiki in a list of suggestions for avoiding colds this winter.

"Reiki: Can it heal what ails you?" asks the web site

Finally, this week's Celeb-Reiki: actress Sam Grey, who stars in the BBC television drama series Casualty.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Reiki Digest for November 1, 2006: Would you like a cookie?

Between last week's edition and this one, The Reiki Digest staff (that's me!) has been on the road, traveling to Chicago for a three-day intensive Shinpiden (Level III) class at The Reiki Council with Frans Stiene of the International House of Reiki. As a result, I am now a Reiki Master in the traditional Japanese practice as well as Western Reiki.

As I have often confessed, I am a Reiki addict: I just can't get enough. But even if you don't crave Reiki as much as I do, if you're serious about Reiki as either a personal practice or professional one, I highly recommend that you consider training in more than one lineage. In the class I just finished, I learned not only from our teacher, but also from my classmates, most of whom were already Reiki Masters, licensed massage therapists, or other natural health practitioners.

The class was a wonderful, life-changing experience and I recommend it, just as I recommend the year-long Reiki Master program I did with Reiki Arts Continuum in New York City.

But recommending, however emphatically, is one thing; insisting is another. That's a lesson repeated so many times, in so many ways, in our class this weekend that it became a running joke. With permission from Frans, I'm sharing it with all of you.

When you give someone Reiki, you're offering it to them, not stuffing it into them.

"It's like a plate of biscuits," he told us. "You offer it. If people want one, they take it. If not, they don't. Some may take two or three. Some may take the whole plate. It's not up to you -- you're just offering it."

Frans is originally from Holland, and now lives in Australia, so what he normally calls a biscuit is what we in the United States would call a cookie. On subsequent references, he switched to the local lingo and started saying "cookie" -- although the point is just as valid for the baked delicacies we call "biscuits" here as well. (I'm working up an appetite writing this, and would welcome either a biscuit or a cookie at this point!)

At lunch on the first day of class, we went to a local chain restaurant where employees were going around to the tables with an actual plate of cookies, offering them to all the customers, but not insisting. I gratefully accepted one myself, fresh, warm shortbread, and it reminded me of the lesson we'd just had. Yum.

At lunch on the second day, we were once again exploring the concept of offering, but not pushing, Reiki energy, when a visitor walked in with two large plates loaded with individual servings of fresh chocolate cake. There's a church across the hall from our classroom, it was the pastor's birthday and there was more cake than the congregation could finish, so the church secretary decided to share. We eagerly helped them take care of the excess cake and enjoyed having another delicious chance to digest the lesson we were learning.

Sure enough, on the third day, we were offered cookies at lunch once again, chocolate chip this time, and again we gratefully accepted the tangible, chewable illustrations of our teacher's words, now inscribed not only in our minds but our stomachs as well.

On the plane ride home, I had a chance to keep the energy flowing. As our evening flight was delayed for an extra hour of sitting on the tarmac, my seatmate complained that he hadn't had time to eat dinner before boarding. I didn't have either cookies or biscuits with me, but I did have an extra fruit and nut bar, so I offered it and he accepted with thanks. Turns out he was familiar with Reiki, as his late mother in New Delhi, India, was a Reiki practitioner.

The cookie lesson came to my mind again as I was researching this week's edition of The Reiki Digest, because of a strange legal case in Texas that tangentially involves Reiki. It's a case that might not even have happened if the Reiki enthusiast involved had learned to think of Reiki as cookies.

In Baytown, Texas, a former employee of the Exxon Mobil Baytown Olefins Plant has filed suit claiming that her former supervisor and other employees insisted that she go to a natural health practitioner who practices Reiki, among other modalities. If I understand the story correctly from reading the newspaper articles about it, the supervisor and colleagues were so eager for the woman to go to the practitioner that they bought her "a day of pampering" with the practitioner. That was in 1998. Four years later, in 2002, the woman was fired for "authorizing incorrect data on a product sample." She claimed the real reason for her termination was that as a devout Christian, she objected to Reiki because it was a religion.

The first court to consider the case issued a summary judgment in favor of the employer, but the woman appealed and the case is now going to trial.

They say you can sue anybody for anything, and the fact that this case has gone so far certainly illustrates that. Five minutes of research online would have informed all parties involved that Reiki is not a religion. Many Reiki practitioners are Christians who find no conflict at all between Reiki and their faith. Many Reiki practitioners watch television, or drive SUVs, but that doesn't mean Reiki is a television or a car. Sometimes Reiki is practiced in churches, but then, so is bingo, and bingo isn't a religion, either.

Unfortunately, the case is now being referred to as the "Reiki trial," even though it isn't really about Reiki.

This week's Reiki Roundup finds numerous examples of Reiki practitioners of another faith, since today is the beginning of the Pagan new year. That means reporters looking for a different angle on the annual Halloween story have turned their attention to Pagans, much as they pay attention to people of African descent during Black History Month each February. (Pagans do have other holidays, but reporters tend to notice them only around Halloween.) Some of the Pagans interviewed this year are also Reiki practitioners, but again, that doesn't mean that Reiki is a Pagan practice.

In New Jersey, a story in the Asbury Park Press brings together martial arts and Reiki, as martial-arts students raise money to provide services, including Reiki, for hospice patients.

And in England, Reiki made the news because the 34,000 employees of the city of Leeds were offered numerous healing modalities, including Reiki, as part of the city's annual Well-Being Week. So far, not one of them has complained about the opportunity, let alone filed a lawsuit.

This week's edition of The Reiki Show podcast features Dr. Jeri Mills, a physician who also practices Reiki, talking about "coming out" as a Reiki practitioner in the hospital.

Our Celeb-Reiki this week is Scottish footballer Michael Stewart, a regular Reiki recipient who hopes it will help him have a long and healthy career.

Next week, our Reviewing Reiki Online Project will take shape with a standardized form for site reviews. Meanwhile, there's still time: if you're willing to review Reiki-related web sites, or if you would like to offer your site for review, post a comment (if you're reading this on the web site) or reply to this e-mail (if you're reading this in your inbox).

And if you're a Reiki Master Teacher and you'd be willing to answer some questions from our readers, please volunteer for our Ask the Masters feature. Or, if you have a question, post it here and we'll Ask the Masters for an answer.