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Thursday, June 28, 2007

Instant hands-free Reiki self-care

After last week's post on Reiki self-care, I heard from a few readers who protested that they just don't have time for self-care every day, or they don't always have a private place to practice hands-on. I'll agree that most of us are way too busy these days, with packed schedules, hectic commutes, and obligations in all directions. But every one of us has time for a little self-care now and then during our busy days. Here are 10 ways to give yourself an instant energy shift with Reiki in complete privacy even in public.

1) Use a precept. When you notice yourself feeling stressed, choose whichever Reiki precept seems most appropriate to your situation and say it to yourself, once or many times. For example, if you're driving and another driver cuts in front of you, almost causing an accident, you might react with anger. You might also notice that your heart is pounding. The precipitating event is over, but your body is still in alarm mode. Tell yourself, "Do not anger." Repeat as necessary. The other Reiki precepts can be used in much the same way.

2) Ground yourself with earth energy. Stand with your feet flat on the floor, pointed straight ahead, about shoulder width apart. Imagine yourself sending your energetic roots down through your feet, through the floor, and deep into the earth. Breathe into your lower abdomen (lower hara, tanden). If you're on your way to an important meeting, and feeling apprehensive about it, try this as you wait for the elevator or before you go into the room.

3) Reach to the skies. Focus on the crown of your head. Imagine you are being pulled upward from that spot, by a string reaching up into the heavens. Feel your chin drop, your jaw relax, and your spine straighten. Try this early in the morning, or during a boring afternoon meeting.

4) Feel the connection. Combine the two previous methods and feel yourself stretching energetically in both directions.

5) Visualize yourself. Imagine yourself standing or sitting in front of yourself. Focus on sending Reiki energy with your eyes to whichever part of your visualized self seems to need it most. Can be done with eyes closed or open, and should not be done while driving.

6) Breathe. Use one or more Reiki breathing techniques to rebalance yourself without anyone around you even noticing. Try it next time you're waiting in line at the post office or supermarket.

7) Have a ball: This is usually done with the hands, but if you exercise your imagination you can do it without. Visualize a small ball of energy, about the size of a baseball, in front of you. As you inhale, visualize that energy ball getting larger and more diffuse. As you exhale, imagine it getting smaller again. Let it get as big as a basketball, small as a ping-pong ball, as big as a beach ball or as tiny as a marble. Also not recommended while driving.

8) Inhale the energy. Can be done anywhere, anytime. As you breathe in, imagine that Reiki energy is being drawn into your body along with the air going into your lungs. Now imagine that energy traveling to whatever part of you needs it: if your left knee is sore, for example, feel the energy going there. Don't forget to exhale, and as you do, let the pain, stiffness, and stale energy go out with your breath. Repeat as desired.

9) Use a symbol (Reiki 2 and above). Visualize it, or draw it in your mind or with your eyes or nose. Repeat until you feel an energy shift. Not recommended while driving.

10) Use a jumon (mantra) (Reiki 2 and above). Even if you can't safely draw or visualize a symbol when you're driving or otherwise need to keep your eyes on your task, you can use what Western Reiki traditions consider the names of the symbols without the visual component.

Even if you don't have time for a full self-care session, try one or more of these (or other Reiki techniques) now and then throughout the day. I do.

Speaking of energy practices, I'm happy to bring you some exciting news. Beginning July 11, I'll be teaching an early-morning Qigong class, Easy Energy Exercises for Everyone, at Moonheart Healing Arts Center, 59 W. 19th St., New York, New York, every Wednesday beginning July 11. Class starts at 8 a.m. and the cost is $10. What does that have to do with Reiki? Mikao Usui, the founder of Reiki, practiced qigong himself (called kiko in Japanese) from boyhood.

After telling us about her visit to Reiki birthplace Mt. Kurama in Japan and following up with some advice about etiquette for visiting temples, this week Special Correspondent Michelle Shinagawa introduces us to an 800-year-old tree, and a 21st-century webcam where you can monitor temple visits from anywhere in the world.

Reiki turns up on the London stage this week: one of the characters in the play "The Five Wives of Maurice Pinder" is a Reiki practitioner. Otherwise, however, the play seems to have very little to do with Reiki.

This week's Celeb-Reiki is British television and radio personality Fearne Cotton, who recently scored a big "get" when she interviewed Princes William and Harry about the 10th anniversary of the death of their mother, Princess Diana. Cotton told a reporter for The Independent that her mother "loves alternative therapy and Reiki but is by no means a hippie, in fact she's uber-glam" -- so does that make Reiki "uber-glam" too?

In Chapel Hill, North Carolina, a Reiki Master introduces a group of cancer survivors to chanting and dancing.

This week's edition of The Reiki Show podcast from Bronwen and Frans Stiene of the International House of Reiki is part two of "Japanese Arts and Ways."

There are still spaces available in the October Shinpiden (Master/Teacher level) course with Frans Stiene in New York City, sponsored by The Reiki Digest. For more information, contact:

Rest in peace

Reiki Master Heidi Jo Zinda, 42, Sedona, Arizona

Reiki practitioner Sheila F. Goldstein, 60, of Upper Southampton, Pennsylvania

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!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

What does Reiki look like?

Everyone who practices or receives Reiki knows what it feels like -- but how do you convey that to someone who's never experienced this subtle yet powerful energy? What does Reiki look like to you?

That's our challenge to you as The Reiki Digest approaches our first anniversary in a few weeks. Send us a photo, drawing, painting, or any other visual depiction of Reiki, and you could win a valuable prize.

It isn't easy to illustrate Reiki energy, though many practitioners have tried, most often using images of glowing hands or human forms, mysterious temples, or intricate patterns that don't always seem connected to either the practice or the energy.

If you're reading this, chances are you already know something about Reiki. Maybe you've even tried to explain it to someone, maybe you've even used an image or two in the process.

So here's the deal: send your image of Reiki to or mail it to:

The Reiki Digest
Healing Movement LLC
P.O. Box 3146
Hoboken, NJ 07030

If your image is chosen as the best visual representation of Reiki energy, we'll turn it into a Reiki greeting card, T-shirt, mug, poster, or other product of your choice at our new Healing Movement Gifte Shoppe at You'll receive that product, plus a royalty for each product sold through our store.

The fine print: The image you submit must be your own intellectual property to which you own all rights. Do not send originals, and be sure to retain a copy for yourself. The Reiki Digest and Healing Movement LLC take no responsibility for lost or damaged photos, artwork, or other images. Your submission will not be returned. By submitting your image, you grant Healing Movement LLC the nonexclusive right to use your image on all products, for which you will be paid a royalty of 13 percent of the sale price for each item sold, if yours is the winning image. Royalties will be paid annually. Digital images should be 200 dpi resolution. All entries must be submitted by August 1, 2007. Winner will be announced by Sept. 1, 2007. All submissions must include the owner's full name, address, telephone and e-mail.

Good luck!

Although The Reiki Digest staff isn't eligible, we've created some examples in our CafePress shoppe's first custom products: Reiki-filled greeting cards, postcards, and even a teddy bear. Among practitioners, it's fairly common to send someone Reiki from a distance. We don't need cards, flowers, or other physical objects to do that. But if you're sending Reiki to someone who may not be familiar with the energy or the practice, sending an object infused with Reiki can make it a bit more tangible, maybe even more understandable.

For example, here's the front of our new Reiki postcard:

Speaking of Reiki and photography, our Special Correspondent Michelle Shinagawa has published another post on her Reiki Photography blog about her recent trip to Japan, this one headlined, "Etiquette for paying respect at temples."

This week's Reiki Roundup begins with the breaking news that we now have readers in 51 countries (welcome, Hungary!).

Our first stop is Ottumwa, Iowa, in the American heartland, where the Ottumwa Courier wins kudos for reporting that Reiki is "sometimes confused with massage therapy." Congratulations on getting that part right. The interviewee, practitioner Daryl Stangl, not only opened up to the reporter, he also opened a book containing symbols (some Reiki, some not) for a photographer.

Next stop, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, where we meet Dr. Mark Sherman, a medical doctor and Reiki practitioner featured in a National Review of Medicine article on natural healing.

On to Pasadena, California, for some unhappy news: the Mystic Sisters bookstore, a longtime home to, among other things, Reiki hands-on healing, has closed.

We move on to Cumbria, United Kingdom, where a group of young carers are not only getting a week off from looking after their family members, but also getting free Reiki and other treatments. You may be a carer yourself without realizing it. To find out if you are, check out this fact sheet from the Carlisle Carers Association.

This week's Celeb-Reiki is motivational speaker and Reiki practitioner Anuj Khare, who's currently featured in the Hindu Business Line newspaper.

And in this week's podcast of The Reiki Show, hosts Bronwen and Frans Stiene of the International House of Reiki discuss Reiki and yoga with New York City Reiki and yoga teacher Dayna Rittenburg.

Frans and Bronwen will be back in New York in October for another 3-day Shinpiden (Master/Teacher level) workshop sponsored by The Reiki Digest, followed by a special one-day advanced workshop for Shinpiden graduates.

That's it for this week. Thanks for reading, and we look forward to reviewing your entries in our "What does Reiki look like?" competition.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Secrets that aren't secret

Pssssssst! Do you want to know a secret? One of the world's biggest secrets is this: many so-called secrets aren't secret at all. In this issue we'll be looking at some of the best-known secrets in and around Reiki.

The Reiki symbols, for example. Reiki students in the lineage of Hawayo Takata (the Japanese-American who brought Reiki to the world outside Japan) have traditionally been taught that the symbols are secret and must remain that way. That practice continues to this day, 12 years after self-attuned Reiki Master Diane Stein published versions of them in her still-controversial 1995 book Essential Reiki. Today the Reiki symbols can easily be found on the Internet, in some cases available for sale as jewelry and other products.

In Japan, or China for that matter, two of the four symbols are simply part of the language -- they are kanji, traditional Chinese characters also used in Japanese. To say that those symbols are secret would be like saying that certain letters of the English alphabet were secret. And the two symbols that aren't kanji can also be found all over Japan, so they aren't secret, either, except in Western Reiki lineages.

Last week's edition of The Reiki Digest included a typical example of non-secret Reiki symbols in this photo from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden:

But a symbol by itself, secret or not, is not necessarily the equivalent of what it represents. For example, if I include a dollar sign ($) in this article, that doesn't mean I'm giving you money. If I use the dollar sign in certain ways, combined with letters, numbers, and other symbols, the software I'm using to publish this might become confused and change the formatting accordingly.

Then there are the other symbols that have been added to some non-Japanese Reiki lineages -- some borrowed from other cultures, some created (or channeled) by teachers in those lineages. People who use those symbols along with the four traditional Reiki symbols generally tend to keep them secret as well -- or as secret as anything is these days. And they sometimes object when those additional symbols don't get the same respect from practitioners who use only the four symbols taught by Reiki founder Mikao Usui.

I am not in Japan, and I've never been there, but the other day I decided to take a look around and see how many supposedly secret Reiki symbols I could find in the world around me. Right here in my own home I found some of the kanji on a Chinese newspaper wrapped around a ceramic item we bought to send as a gift to a family member. I found them on the packaging of some of the food in our kitchen. I found them in some of the spam in my e-mail inbox. I turned on the television and happened to find a movie set in Japan -- Lost in Translation, starring Bill Murray -- and I saw the kanji that make up some of the Reiki symbols in glowing lights on Tokyo buildings and on animated highway signs. I changed the channel and there they were again in Memoirs of a Geisha. I met a friend for lunch at a sushi restaurant and saw parts of Reiki symbols everywhere. I bought a bottle of jasmine tea with kanji, including some used in the Reiki symbols, right on the label. Secret? Hardly.

The very word "secret" these days has even become a brand name, that is if you put a "the" in front of it. "The Secret" -- a 2006 movie and subsequent book -- has been a phenomenal success for Australian producer and author Rhonda Byrne, who claims to have found "The Secret" in a 100-year-old book. But she doesn't say what that book is -- she keeps that secret to herself. (If it was published in a book, whether 100 years ago or last week, then it isn't exactly a secret, is it?) I started hearing about "The Secret" last summer from friends who had seen or heard about the movie and felt it was life-changing. Some of them even held "Secret" parties, inviting guests to watch the DVD with them. A few months ago, Oprah herself recommended it, and predictably sales went through the roof. It was even advertised on The Reiki Digest web site for awhile, complete with a free video preview.

I finally got around to watching "The Secret" on DVD and reading the book a few weeks ago, and I have to admit I was disappointed. Maybe I'm just not one of those people who needs to hear a "whoooosssh" from the sound effects department every time someone says something profound. Maybe I was a bit too distracted at hearing the words of Martin Luther King whispered in an Australian accent (followed by yet another "whoooosssh"). But mostly, I didn't find much new in either the DVD or the book. Perhaps that's because I'd already read that "100-year-old book." Or maybe it was because I was already familiar with the work of Esther and Jerry Hicks on the Law of Attraction.

But those, too, seemed familiar to me, because I learned about the non-secret phenomenon in "The Secret" not from metaphysics but from quantum physics, in the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, which tells us that the observer affects what is being observed. Werner Heisenberg won the Nobel Prize in 1932 for that discovery, so it's not exactly breaking news, either. Maybe if I add a "whoooosssh," it might seem more like a 21st-Century discovery....

Let's move on to this week's Reiki Roundup.

First stop: Jamaica, where the subject is something most travelers go to Jamaica to avoid: stress. In the Jamaica Gleaner, Dr. Tony Vendryes writes that stress is the most debilitating condition in the United States (not exactly a secret, either), and tells us that Reiki is one of the "highly recommended" ways of dealing with it.

On to Chicago, where the Daily Herald addresses the use of Reiki and other palliative modalities for the pain and stress of dying.

Next stop: Jerusalem, where a Reiki teacher is interviewed for an article about the 40th anniversary of the Six-Day War.

In India, the Mangalorean calls Reiki a "famous clinical method of traditional India."

And in London, we find this week's Celeb-Reiki, Agyness Deyn, whom The Daily Mail calls "Britain's brightest fashion hope." Deyn's mother, Lorraine, is a Reiki Master who chose both the model's original name (Laura Hollins) as well as her new professional name.

In other news, this week's podcast of The Reiki Show from the International House of Reiki focuses on Reiki for families dealing with cancer.

Speaking of the International House of Reiki, The Reiki Digest is once again sponsoring a three-day Shinpiden (Master/Teacher level) class with Frans Stiene in New York in October.

If you're interested in studying with the International House of Reiki but not quite ready to commit to a Shinpiden course, you might consider their new online courses, the 21-Day Program and The Remembering.

Finally, we're proud to announce that The Reiki Digest has hit the big 5-0 -- we now have readers in 50 of the world's 193 countries. (Thanks, Latvia, for putting us over that milestone!)

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

New schedule

The Reiki Digest is now published every Thursday. Subscribe free and you'll get each week's edition delivered right to your inbox.

The Reiki Dojo has moved to 8 p.m. every Monday evening at Chelsea Studios, 155 W. 26th St., New York, New York.