The Reiki Digest is a free publication - You can help keep it that way (and enjoy great discounts) by patronizing our carefully selected advertisers! Thanks for your support!

Heal Your Life 468x60

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Tap dancing and training wheels

It was an odd juxtaposition: an advanced Reiki class in one room, a children's tap-dancing class in the next. As the organizer of the Reiki class, I knew I'd learned a lesson when I heard the first tap-tap-tapping sound come through the wall behind me. I made a quick mental note to book a quieter space next time, but later I realized there were some larger lessons involved as well.

When the instructor, visiting teacher Frans Stiene of the International House of Reiki in Australia, told the Shinpiden class that the distractions actually were helpful in what we were learning, I assumed he was simply being gracious. But over and over, he made the point that we have to do our practice in the real world. New York City is notoriously noisy, but there are distractions anywhere, even in a quiet forest. Indeed, I recalled that when I first took the class in a Chicago massage school, I found myself distracted by the sound of ticking clocks.

Later, it dawned on me that despite our differences, both those classes had something in common: we both were being taught to practice, practice, practice, and repeat, repeat, repeat. There is no other way to learn either Reiki or tap dancing -- or most anything else for that matter.

Frans is the co-author, with his wife Bronwen, of four acclaimed books: The Reiki Sourcebook, The Japanese Art of Reiki, The A-Z of Reiki, and Your Reiki Treatment, as well as the Reiki Techniques Card Deck. The Stienes also co-host The Reiki Show podcast.

This was my third time in the Shinpiden class, as I've sponsored it twice since I first took it, and I have been working with the traditional Japanese Reiki meditative practices Frans teaches every day for a year now. Even so, in experiencing the class again, I learned from another perspective the value of practice, practice, practice, and repetition, repetition, repetition.

I wrote a little piece here last year after my first time in the class, called, "Would you like a cookie?" about the importance of simply offering Reiki to our clients, rather than trying to stuff it into them.

Most Reiki practitioners outside Japan, and many within Japan, have been trained only in the Western branch of the tradition, which passed from founder Mikao Usui to Dr. Chujiro Hayashi to Hawayo Takata. The International House of Reiki training goes back to some of Usui's other students, and gives us a different -- but not new -- way of looking at, and practicing, the system of Reiki, stripped of many of the barnacles that became attached as the practice got farther and farther from its origin. Not that there's anything wrong with the Ayurvedic, Native American and other practices that are often taught as Reiki today -- they're just not part of traditional Japanese Reiki. Although that's the style of practice that "resonates" (as they say) for me, I realize I'm in the minority of Reiki practitioners worldwide, so I am not saying that what I prefer is better in general. It's just what I prefer to practice and teach.

Another point Frans made repeatedly during the class -- and this applies to all branches of Reiki as well as many other practices -- is that some of the tools we learn in Reiki are like training wheels on a bicycle. Once we get to the point where we're pedaling and balancing on our own, we can ride without them. If we keep depending on them, we might never move past needing them.

Lessons learned, I booked a quieter space not only for future classes but for the New York Reiki Dojo's weekly practice sessions. The first Monday evening practice session in our new space will be November 5, and the first Shoden (Level 1) class will be November 10 and 11, followed by an Okuden (Level 2) class December 8. On Sunday, December 9, we'll open the doors of the dojo to visitors, and if you're in the area you're invited to drop by.

Speaking of practice, a couple of weeks ago I told you about my own personal Reiki practice. I asked you to respond by telling us about yours, and Reiki Master Kim Fleisher of The Reiki School and Clinic in Philadelphia was the first to reply:

My Daily Practice

~7am daily - reiki self care and meditation
Each day brings a new surprise as to what will come up in my session with myself.
Sometimes I begin with a particular intention, symbol, etc. Sometimes I just flow with the reiki without a particular intention in mind, just the greatest healing good.

I try to be mindful of the 5 precepts throughout the day, using them to guide my actions. When I am not doing the hands-on reiki practice, I do my best to embody reiki in all that I do- going with the flow of the universe, being present, kind, loving, and flexible in all that I say and do.

I also have other things I do on a regular basis, like yoga and meditation, but it seemed appropriate to just stick with discussing the reiki for this post.

Thanks, Kim. Who's next? Tell us about your personal Reiki practice by adding a comment to this post on our web site, or by emailing

Moving from the subject of personal practice to professional practice, every professional practitioner needs insurance. I get mine through the International Association of Reiki Professionals, and readers of The Reiki Digest can get $10 off on an IARP membership by using Promo Code TRD63. Insurance plans are available for the United States and Canada, and will soon be available in Australia and the United Kingdom.

The IARP has also just opened up its monthly publication, The Reiki Times, to anyone who wants to subscribe -- previously it was available only to members. Subscriptions begin at $49 a year for the online version, $99 a year for a print version.

Let's move on to this week's Reiki Roundup, which begins back on Japan's Mt. Kurama -- the legendary birthplace of Reiki. Special Correspondent Michelle Shinagawa has been telling us about her visit there this past spring, and this week she tells us about the mandala called Kon Gou Shou in front of the main temple there.

In other Reiki-related news this week, Reiki is seen as a sign of gentrification in an article in the UK's New Statesman.

Can Reiki help students deal with the stress of exams? An article in Canada's McGill Tribune says maybe so.

Reiki gets a mention in an online op-ed piece titled, "Single Payer Health Care Works in Italy."

In Lancashire in the UK, we find a farmer turned Reiki practitioner.

And just in time for Halloween, we meet a Reiki practitioner who lives in a haunted house in Asbury Park, New Jersey, USA.

In Bangalore, India, 4,000 taxi drivers have been trained in Reiki so far in a program sponsored by technology firms such as Infosys, Hewlett-Packard, and others, in an effort to help them reduce stress.

This week we have two Celeb-Reikies, one living, one dead. Our living Celeb-Reiki is medium and Reiki practitioner Lisa Williams, star of the Lifetime TV series Lisa Williams, Life Among the Dead.

Williams was discovered by this week's other Celeb-Reiki, the late Merv Griffin.

That's it for this week. Wherever you are, whatever style of Reiki you practice, keep practicing!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Time with teachers

It's a good thing I told you about my typical day's Reiki practice last week, since this week has been anything but typical, because I'm hosting some important guests. Globally acclaimed Reiki authors Bronwen and Frans Stiene and their lovely daughter Bella are in New York for, among other things, a three-day Shinpiden (Master/Teacher level) workshop with Frans that begins tomorrow, followed by an advanced workshop for Shinpiden graduates on Monday, October 22. As host of the class, I have the opportunity to spend quite a bit of time with these teachers, though I've tried to give them plenty of time to relax and enjoy the city on their own as well as chances to get together with other students also eager for time with them. On Monday night, Frans attended The Reiki Dojo and led us in some Reiki meditative practices. He'll be there again next Monday, and if you're in the New York City you're welcome to join us there from 8 to 9 p.m. ($10 donation requested)

Tonight Frans is giving a talk to the New York Reiki Meetup, which is already full (unless some of those who RSVPed don't show up).

Getting to spend time with these respected teachers reminds me that sadly, there are some who believe it isn't necessary to learn Reiki directly from a teacher. Some things can be learned online or from books or videos, but Reiki isn't one of them. You can learn a lot about Reiki without a live, in-person teacher -- but you can't become a Reiki practitioner that way.

And beginning tomorrow morning, I'll find myself in a room full of Reiki teachers, since most of the Shinpiden students are already at the Master level in other lineages. That's also one of the benefits: being in a room for 3 days with people from diverse backgrounds who have in common only an intense interest in Reiki, even if they don't agree on exactly what that is or how it is practiced.

Tomorrow night, another example: The New York Reiki Meetup will hold one its monthly practitioners' exchange.

Next February there will be another opportunity to get together and hobnob with Reiki teachers and practitioners at the second annual Reiki Symposium at the New York Open Center.

With Reiki Digest readers in 68 countries and counting, I know this isn't a local publication. I'm just using the events in my area as examples -- chances are there is a Reiki get-together somewhere near you, and if not, then you might want to host one yourself.

This week's Celeb-Reiki is Australian pop star and cancer survivor Kylie Minogue, who reportedly received some Reiki treatments during her battle with breast cancer.

And this week we have not one but two posts from Special Correspondent Michelle Shinagawa. First, she tells us about the two tiger statues that guard the main temple at Mt. Kurama, the legendary birthplace of Reiki. Second, she has good news: her Reiki greeting cards are now on sale at the New York Open Center Bookstore.

There don't seem to be many new articles about Reiki out there this week, so we'll save the Reiki Roundup for later.

Update: So far, nobody has responded to our request to tell us about your personal Reiki practice. We'll keep hoping to hear from you.

Thursday, October 11, 2007


Last weekend I attended a Reiki-related class that not only lasted all day Saturday and Sunday, it included a Saturday night homework assignment. I like to think of myself as a good student and I try to keep up with deadlines, but I confess I only did one of the two assignments -- a description of Reiki in 25 words or less, aimed at a specific audience.

The other assignment was to write a description of my daily Reiki practice. Fortunately, the instructor did not ask us to turn in our homework, so nobody noticed -- lucky indeed since I don't have a dog I might have blamed for eating my homework. But just to keep myself honest, I'm presenting it here.

We'll return to the subject of the class in another edition soon, but for now I'll just say that while the instructor and I don't agree 100 percent about Reiki (who does?), we do have one strong point of agreement: every Reiki practitioner needs a personal daily Reiki practice.

I'm telling you about mine mostly because I'd like to hear about yours, even if it's very different. Reiki has many lineages, and is practiced in a variety of ways. I've studied in two lineages so far, and my daily practice draws on both of them. Here's how it goes on a typical day:

Around 4:30 a.m. -- I wake up and become aware that I have been granted the gift of another day in this world. I remind myself of the Reiki precepts, to set the tone for the day. I use this translation:

For today only:

Do not anger
Do not worry
Be humble
Be honest in your work
Be compassionate to yourself and others

I visit the bathroom and climb back into bed to sleep for about an hour. As I doze back off again, I do hands-on Reiki self-care, placing my hands at various places but not following a set protocol. I have some of my most vivid and fascinating dreams during this time.

5:30 a.m. or so: I wake up again and once again recite the precepts to myself. I reach for my glasses -- like the precepts, they help me see the world with greater clarity. I do some qigong warmup exercises, a little yoga, and I make some tea, with the assistance of Reiki.

Around 6:30 a.m., I begin my morning meditations with the wai khru (you can read it here and hear it here) from Thai yoga, another modality I practice. In Thailand it is recited every morning at every hospital, doctor's office, and other healing-related establishment, so I honor my teachers by continuing that practice here.

The wai khru is traditionally done in seiza position, but with the toes turned under, and the hands in a position familiar to every Reiki practitioner as gassho. You can see a famous character with his hands in gassho here, and that makes him a Celeb-Reiki. After I finish the wai khru, I relax my feet and sit on a seiza bench for the formal portion of my daily Reiki practice, performing the kenyoku-ho dry bath and then returning my hands to gassho.

I spend at least 20 minutes meditating with the symbols and mantras familiar to all who've studied Reiki 2 and above. Some days, I also do my daily hands-on Reiki self-care at this point, but most days I save that until after lunch. I finish with another dry bath.

After Reiki comes qigong, also for at least 20 minutes, and then I spend at least that long doing either yoga, aerobics, more qigong, or other exercises. Eventually I finish my exercises and and breakfast before I begin my workday.

After lunch is my favorite time for Reiki self-care. I return to my seiza bench, do another kenyoku-ho and then do some hands-on Reiki, again not following a fixed protocol, for about 20 minutes. I am fortunate in being self-employed and doing much of my work from home, so I have more control over my schedule than many people. If I know that I will be at my office in Manhattan or elsewhere during the day, I do my seated self-care with my morning exercises.

I don't usually do any more hands-on self-care until I go to bed at night, but I find myself practicing Reiki all day long. When I make a phone call, wait for the bus, do the laundry, go to the post office, or post another edition of this publication, I am practicing Reiki. I practice Reiki, Qigong, and yoga all day long, and my goal is to do so with every breath, thought, and movement. I don't know if I will reach it in this lifetime, but I work toward it every day (some days more than others). There is more to each of my meditative practices than what can be seen from the outside, and for me they all work well together. Your mileage may vary, of course.

Thanks. I feel better now that I've done my homework, even if I didn't finish it on time.

Speaking of lineages and teachers, today New York City welcomes, from Sydney, Australia, by way of Thailand and Europe, Reiki authors and teachers Bronwen and Frans Stiene, authors of The Reiki Sourcebook, The Japanese Art of Reiki, The Reiki Techniques Card Deck, the A-Z of Reiki, and Your Reiki Treatment. They'll be in town through October 22 not only for the Shinpiden (Master/Teacher level) course October 19, 20, and 21 plus a One-Day Advanced Workshop for Shinpiden graduates, but also visits to The Reiki Dojo October 15 and October 22 as well as a talk at the New York Reiki Meetup October 18. At press time there are still a few spaces left in the Shinpiden class, none at the Meetup, and all are welcome at the Reiki Dojo meetings from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. ($10 donation). Both The Reiki Dojo and the Shinpiden class are sponsored by The Reiki Digest. New York is the last stop on the Stienes' 2007 teaching schedule, and the next New York City Shinpiden class is scheduled for October 2008.

If you'd like more information on the Shinpiden class, contact

I found someone I know in this week's Reiki Roundup: she was a Thai Yoga classmate of mine several years ago, and she was the person who introduced me to Reiki. After our turn to work as partners in the Thai class, we finished a few minutes early and she asked me if I wanted some Reiki. Sure, I said, though I had no idea what it was, and five minutes later I was hooked. I haven't seen her since then, but I was happy to find her in The Baltimore Sun this week in an article about Reiki in one of the most hectic, intense parts of a hospital: the trauma center. The otherwise excellent article is not well served by the headline, "From a Curiosity to a Cure," which attributes more power to Reiki than its practitioners do -- Reiki is not a cure. Newspaper headlines are written some time after the articles, and by a different person who probably doesn't discuss it with the writer.

A Bloomberg News story headlined "Talk about Reiki for Dogs for 7 Minutes" isn't about Reiki, dogs, or Reiki for Dogs, but it's still interesting. This UK newspaper article on Reiki for dogs, however, is on topic.

Also in the United Kingdom, a Reiki practitioner is seeking clients willing to part of clinical trials on Reiki.

Reiki gets a mention -- but no explanation -- in an article about a Wisconsin aromatherapist who also practices Reiki.

Can Reiki literally help you find your way safely through turbulent waters? In a CounterPunch series on an outdoor adventure, we discover "a genuine Reiki master" -- as the writer put it.

You might need to keep a tissue a handy as you read about this week's featured Celeb-Reiki, Eliot Lubar, whose life was changed irreversibly in an instant when someone ran into him in a crowd. I saw his mention of Reiki first in a chat he did with Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel readers, and then I read the article that led to the chat. After that I went back and read the chat again, this time with a better understanding of the context. Once I finished all that, I had to step away from the computer for awhile. You might feel like doing the same, so that's it for this week's edition.

You can tell us about your personal Reiki practice either by posting a comment to this post on our web site, or by emailing

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Deprivation and Abundance

I found a notice on my door the other day, with the words "Water System Shut Down" across the top in large, ominous type, announcing that today, the water would be shut off to our entire building for "necessary repairs" from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Since I'm on a deadline and I'd already arranged to be here awaiting a delivery, I couldn't exactly move my office elsewhere, so I'm making do as best I can.

I've got the bathtub, a pitcher and several pots and pans filled with water just in case I need any for cleaning, not to mention other containers of drinking water, including one emergency bottle of seltzer. It's a bit inconvenient, but when I think of all the people in the world who don't have access to clean water, it seems shameful to complain about my faucets going dry for a few hours.

Over the past few weeks, life has been offering me gentle, and not-so-gentle, lessons in deprivation and abundance. When I traveled across the Atlantic last month, I did without at least one night's sleep, and while away from home I also had to get by without other aspects of my daily routine, such as meals, exercise, time to myself, and the freedom to come and go as I chose. Although I'd made arrangements in advance to get online to keep up with email and other business obligations, I found myself without Internet access and cut off from most other media and communications links as well (on the flip side, there was an abundance of email and other work waiting for me when I got home).

Each taste of deprivation reminded me of the abundance of my ordinary everyday life, and how much I take it for granted. I would love to say that I took each of those deprivations graciously as they occurred, but that wouldn't be honest. I'd be glad to report that through it all I kept up with my regular Reiki self-care, but it didn't happen that way (some days I only managed a minute or two). I did keep the Reiki precepts in mind the whole time, although there were periods when I found them impossible to follow. I worried, for example, even as I told myself not to, about leaving my business unattended, especially since I had expected otherwise and didn't even leave an "out of office' message on either phone or email. But even though I couldn't stick with the precepts 100 percent of the time (who can?), I still found them a helpful beacon in the fog of emotions.

Each and every one of us experiences some kind of deprivation every single day. If it rains, we are deprived of sunshine, but too many sunny days in a row can leave us deprived as well. Every choice we make is both positive and negative, just as choosing one item from a menu means not choosing all the other options. Whatever we don't have reminds us of what we do have, or at least it should, even if we don't always see it that way at the time.

So today, each time I go to the tap and am reminded that the flow has been interrupted, I promise myself that on subsequent days I will make note of the things I have that I didn't a day or a week or a decade ago, and be grateful for the days I do have them. And whatever I have in abundance each day, I vow to express my gratitude, and remind myself that it might not be there tomorrow.

Our regular Reiki Roundup has also been scarce in recent weeks, so this week we offer an abundance of stories in a catch-up Roundup.

We begin at the main temple on Mt. Kurama in Japan, the legendary birthplace of Reiki, as our Special Correspondent Michelle Shinagawa has posted another dispatch from her trip there earlier this year. Michelle, too, has experienced a bit of deprivation in recent weeks, as her computer crashed and for awhile it seemed she might have lost all her photos from the trip. Fortunately, she was able to get it repaired and she tells us it now works better than ever.

Next stop, New Haven, Connecticut, USA, where we find this week's Celeb-Reiki, Reiki practitioner Craig Gilbert. An intern-turned-freelancer for the New Haven Advocate, Gilbert got the rare distinction of being featured in a sendoff article as he moved on to a full-time job at a competing publication.

We remain in Connecticut for our next story, in which the 10,000 employees of Electric Boat in Groton have access to a fitness program that includes not only Reiki but self-defense training.

On to South Africa, where this week's reporter-gets-a-session article features a practitioner who combines Reiki with crystal work, a practitioner who must have felt some frustration when the crystal-covered reporter/client had to get up for a bathroom break in mid-session, as soon as all the stones were in place.

We move on to suburban Denver, Colorado, USA, where a successful Reiki practitioner is profiled in a business article, demonstrating that she's not just good at business, but also public relations.

In Beaver County, Pennsylvania, USA, we meet Mark Pappas, Reiki practitioner and blind golfer.

From there we travel to Naples, Florida, USA, where Reiki Master and columnist Silvia Casabianca recommends Reiki and meditation in a column headlined, "No Need to Take a Pill to Chill."

Our journey continues to Egypt, by way of a Canadian newspaper, where Reiki undergoes the scrutiny of security officials but seems to pass the test, even though it is unfortunately referred to as "New Age."

Next stop, the United Kingdom, where we are reminded that next Wednesday (October 10) is World Mental Health Day, and Reiki can be good for your mental health.

It's also Back Care Awareness Week in the UK, where Reiki gets a mention in an article about dealing with back pain.

On to Chicago, USA, where cardiologist Stephen Devries, M.D., author of the new book What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Cholesterol, tells us that Reiki can help reduce the stress that leads to heart disease. Note that he does not say that Reiki can solve that problem all by itself.

Our final stop is literally a last stop for its patients: a hospice in Scotland where Reiki is part of a multidisciplinary approach to making the best of people's last days.

It's almost time for the Shinpiden (Master/Teacher level) Class with Reiki author Frans Stiene of the International House of Reiki in New York October 19, 20, and 21, sponsored by The Reiki Digest, and since a couple of people who had planned to take the class won't be able to join us after all, we do still have a few spaces available. Contact for more information.

The Reiki Dojo is back in action after a monthlong hiatus. Sessions open to the public at 8 p.m. each Monday at Chelsea Studios, 151 W. 26th St. in New York City. For more information, contact