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Thursday, February 26, 2009

To the rescue

"You're a rescuer," a family counselor told me one afternoon a few decades ago.

"That's right," I replied.

"So you're aware of that?"

"I'd better be," I told her, glancing out the window at my car, equipped with red light and siren, my firefighter's boots and coat in the trunk, just in case. "I serve two shifts a week with the local fire department." Being young and proud, I began rattling off my various certifications in firefighting and emergency care.

"That's being a rescuer, all right, but it's not what I'm talking about," she explained. My being a rescuer wasn't just my work as a volunteer firefighter and emergency medical technician: it was a personality trait. As such it was both a strength and a weakness, the counselor told me, and I needed to be aware of it so that I could rescue only where appropriate. Otherwise, she warned, I would not only be less effective as a rescuer, but I might well need rescuing myself.

You may not have your own red light, siren, and fire boots -- I don't, anymore -- but if you're a Reiki practitioner, chances are you have a more-than-average inclination to help others. Am I right, or am I right?

Back then I had never heard of Reiki -- very few people had in those days. I didn't know then that in order to help others, you have to take care of yourself. Many years later, I was fortunate to study with a teacher who emphasized not only the importance of a daily Reiki self-care practice, but of boundaries: our own as well as our clients'.

I was reminded of my rescue squad days last week, when I renewed my professional rescuer certification  in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) for the first time in years. Much has changed with that basic lifesaving technique since I last learned it. Back in my firefighter days, we were instructed to pinch the victim's nose closed while we blew directly into the mouth. Nowadays we're issued a mask and rubber gloves along with our certificates. Cardiac defibrillators were a rarity back then; now they're available in airports, banks, restaurants, and many other public places. And as of last week, I know how to use one.

CPR and defibrillation are desperate measures, used only when the victim has no pulse. I hope I never need to use that training in an emergency. But I'm glad I know how.

Speaking of rescuing, the day I spent trying to save training dummies in that American Red Cross classroom last week was one of the few days this past month that I didn't have to spend looking after my chronically ill loved one. It almost seemed like a day off.

As the ink dries on my CPR recertification, I have a renewed appreciation of what a miracle CPR is. And I urge all Reiki practitioners who are physically capable to get CPR training themselves. For one thing, you might save a life. For another -- the more likely scenario -- learning CPR and thus becoming part of the emergency medical system -- can help you learn to function as a part of that team, can teach you some basics about how to function in a medical situation, and can come in handy if you ever find yourself practicing Reiki in a hospital or other mainstream medical situation. 

Unfortunately, in many Reiki lineages, it is taught that Reiki is not appropriate in an emergency. But Reiki author Pamela Miles emphatically disagrees: give Reiki with one hand, she says, and call 911 with the other.

I agree emphatically. And having studied emergency techniques such as CPR before and after I learned Reiki, I know now that the most important thing in an emergency is to remain calm, or at least postpone your panic for a more appropriate occasion. Practicing Reiki at those crucial moments can make a key difference: don't gasp in panic -- breathe into your tanden. Ground yourself: Then extend yourself to those in need. And if you train, train, train, then that will come naturally. Don't waste precious time with rituals that may be appropriate in less urgent situations. Just breathe. And then do what you've been trained to do. 

I am confident that if I ever again have to use my emergency training, I will be using it along with Reiki -- because I use Reiki all day, every day, no matter what else I'm doing. 

Coincidentally, Pamela's training on practicing Reiki in a medical environment is one of the other types of training I recommend to any Reiki practitioner who might ever use Reiki in a hospital or other medical situation (i.e., if a client or anyone you care about might ever be in a hospital). She has a new round of classes coming up, and we hope to have her back at The Reiki Dojo later this year for more medical Reiki training. 

Anyway, there are many things Reiki practitioners can learn from CPR training. With CPR we learn to step in, anytime, anywhere, and become part of a team in a situation where seconds count. Standardization is absolutely necessary in those situations. In experiencing CPR training first in the 1970s and then in the 21st century, I find myself in in awe of the evolution of the emergency medical system. I know that if I came upon a situation anywhere in the world where one or more rescuers were already giving CPR, I could jump in and seamlessly become part of that team. I wouldn't be able to jump in nearly as quickly as one of a group of Reiki practitioners -- fortunately, I wouldn't need to move quite so swiftly with a client who still had a pulse. But in any case, to work with medical professionals, we need to learn to be part of a team.

To practice CPR, you need to be able to kneel, lock your arms, and compress the victim's chest up to 2 inches by literally bending their ribcage. Not all Reiki practitioners are physically able to do that -- all the more reason for those of us who can to learn how.

If there are any other Reiki practitioner/first responders out there, we'd love to hear from you, and we'd especially love to hear how you use Reiki in emergencies. You can join in our ongoing discussion by adding a comment to this post on our web site, or emailing your thoughts to 

12-year-old Reiki practitioner gets his wish

This week's Celeb-Reiki is cancer survivor and Reiki practitioner Tommy Forsythe, 12, of Pasadena, Maryland, whose wish for a Japanese-themed bedroom came true thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. His cancer is now in remission, and we wish him continued good health and all the best in his quest to become a Reiki master. Tommy and his mother both learned Reiki while he was being treated for leukemia.

Reiki Roundup

Dubai, United Arab Emirates: Reporters are usually skeptical or even cynical when they subject themselves to Reiki for the sake of their readers, but this guy seems almost hostile, partly because of his inclination to blame all natural healing practitioners for the faults of a few -- that is until he experiences Reiki for himself in a dramatic reversal

That article, and the next one, both repeat the all-too-common untruths that Reiki is from ancient Tibet (it's not ancient, and from Japan, not Tibet) and "rediscovered" (nope) by "Dr." Mikao Usui (he wasn't a doctor, contrary to what many Reiki practitioners were taught).

Clarksville, Tennessee: This writer not only gets a Reiki treatment, she seeks one out after injuring her hand. And it's clearly not her first Reiki experience. (Of course, once you've experienced it, you're not as likely to be skeptical.)

San Francisco, California: We know of lots of nurses who've added Reiki to their healing-arts repertoire -- this story on the growing demand for nurses (and nursing school positions) includes a comment from a Reiki practitioner on her way to becoming a nurse. 

Honolulu, Hawaii: A spirituality columnist writes about his Reiki journey, from turning down the chance to study with the person who brought Reiki from Japan to the rest of the world to an Internet "attunement" to studying with live teachers.

St. Petersburg, Florida: An animal Reiki specialist gets a nice writeup in the local newspaper, complete with a very nice photo of a dog getting a treatment.

Dublin, Ireland: The global economic downturn has begun to affect the demand for training in Reiki and other alternative healing modalities, reports The Irish Times.

Reading, Berkshire, United Kingdom: Need a reason to clean out that closet? Take your old clothing to the March 7 charity frock swap and exchange it for a Reiki treatment or other indulgence all for the benefit of the Sue Ryder Care Nettlebed Hospice.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The weekly waka


After accidents
The injured victims depend
On knowledge and skill,
Carried like tribal fire
In the hands of rescuers.
(By Michael Dagley)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Ask Jenn: starting a second career as a healer

By Jenn Givler, The Reiki Digest advice columnist

Dear Jenn,

My name is rajan. I am from Mumbai city, India. I was working as an accountant for more then 28 years and now I have a voluntarily retired person.

Some years back I had done diploma in Naturopathy, Acupressure, Swedish Massage, Reiki, Pranic healing, Pyramid Therapy, Tarot, Sujok, Magnet Therapy, etc.

Now I am practising treatment services to keep myself busy. I can treat people suffering from Neck Stiffness, Frozen shoulder, Lumbar pain, Arthritis, etc.

In spite of my talent and publicity I am [un]able to draw patients.

Please give your advice as to what am I supposed to do, to get success in therapeutic services.


Dear Rajan,

Without knowing everything you’re doing currently to market your new practice, let me start by saying that you’ll need a good mix of active and passive marketing activities to really get your name out there and build a steady client flow.

Passive activities are things like advertising, putting fliers around town, dropping business cards at like-businesses, etc. . . . Passive activities are things that are fairly hands off.

On the other hand, active marketing activities are things that heavily involve you – things that get you out in the community and out in front of people. These are things like attending networking events, attending lectures and seminars, giving free talks, etc. . . .

You must have a good balance of active and passive strategies to get your name out there in front of enough people so that your clientele begins to build and become steady.

Active activities are very important and they are sometimes overlooked by practitioners.

People want to get to know you before they rely on you for your service. With any healing practitioner, there is a level of trust and safety that potential clients need from us – a level of trust and safety that can’t be achieved through advertising, fliering and word-of-mouth alone.

It’s wonderful that you have so many credentials, and I have no doubt you’re a talented practitioner. But nothing beats getting out in front of people face-to-face so that they can meet you, get a sense of who you are, and feel a physical resonance with you.

Other things that will help you build a steady practice:

-- Choosing a dedicated niche of ideal clients. Who is it that you love to work with, and what specific challenges do you help them with? Deciding on this will help your marketing efforts tremendously.

-- Once you’ve chosen a niche, it’s easy to determine where groups of those people might congregate. Get involved with those groups, get to know people. For example, if you love to work with people going through a recovery program, call local groups and see if you can volunteer your services.

-- Speaking of volunteering, check out local shelters, holistic centers, or even senior centers or hospitals and see if they could use you on a volunteer basis. This is a great way to get your work out in the world and start creating a network of people who have experienced your service.

-- Have a web presence. These days, it’s essential to have an online presence. People use the internet to search for practitioners in their local area. Having a web site allows people to easily find you.

Rajan, I wish you the best of luck, and I hope that if you have any follow-up questions, you’ll post them here – I’m happy to help!


If you have a question for Jenn Givler, send it to
or post it as a comment at the bottom of any post on our web site.

More comments on Reiki, oneness, etc.

Our discussion continues on the subject of Reiki, oneness, and related topics

This week we hear from Robert Fueston, a Reiki Master and acupuncturist in Lexington, Kentucky, whose curiosity led him seek out several of the master students of Hawayo Takata. 

"I just was thinking more about the discussion. . . And wouldn't you know I came across a quote from Virginia Samdahl, in the 1982, 1st edition, book The Reiki Handbook (page 12).

..."And my head wasn't ready for this...and I don't know if yours is. I kept asking, 'What happened to this idea that I'm just a channel? Because how can I be a channel when I'm not doing anything to be a channel?' So I did a lot of meditation. And it came to me that we are more than a channel...."[once the student receives the power transfers] "We are Reiki. We are universal life energy. We're more than just a conduit, a sewer that the stuff runs through. It's the God within us that does the powerful works. Not the ego I Am, but the God I Am; the Reiki, the universal life energy. And that's what we are made of. So without us the healing could not take place. So you're more than a channel. You're a channel, yes, but you are more than that."

Thanks, Robert. We appreciate your contribution to the discussion, and your extensive Reiki research.

Scotto-san emailed his comments, beginning with the lyrics to John Lennon's song "Imagine," -- we can't republish them here without violating copyright, however. He adds:

"On Takata:

It is my belief that Takata's main obstacle was her face when it comes to acceptance, she was obviously Japanese. I think that most people who were willing to learn this strange thing of healing with hands would be open to learning about non-duality and oneness. Like the example you gave about your Japanese car, I believe the people objected to the hood ornament proclaiming it was a Japanese car, they didn't consider what was under the hood, that it got better gas mileage and was more reliable then the American counterparts. The people willing to learn hands on
healing from her already got past her Japanese heritage and looked under the hood.

But what Takata did or did not do is neither here nor there. It doesn't matter, what matters is what we do today....... For today only! ............."

Thanks, Scotto-san.

To contribute your thoughts to this or any other discussion on The Reiki Digest, just click on the word "comments" at the bottom of any post on our web site, or email your comments to Several readers have written to say the comments feature is a bit confusing, so we should explain that when the comments window pops up, you don't have to create an account or even identify yourself. Just scroll past all the stuff at the top and look for the blank white space. Write you comment there, and as long as it's on-topic and civil, it should go through even if you comment anonymously.

Norman Aniston doesn't like his owner's boyfriend

Our Celeb-Reiki this week is Norman, beloved dog of actress Jennifer Aniston. He's a regular recipient of Reiki and other therapies, courtesy of his owner, who reportedly spends about $250 a week on Reiki, massage, and acupuncture for him. This Times of India article doesn't say whether he likes the Reiki, but it does say he dislikes Aniston's boyfriend, John Mayer. Maybe if Mayer learned to give Norman Reiki, everybody would get along and Aniston could save some money. Only with Norman's permission, of course.

Reiki Roundup

Flintshire, Wales, United Kingdom: Connah Broome's parents turned to alternative healing methods, including Reiki, for their five-year-old son after doctors told them there was nothing more they could do to treat the 11 neuroblastoma tumors attacking his body. Now all but one of those tumors are shrinking.

His family physician, Dr. Eamon Jessop, told a Western Mail reporter, “There are still many things in medicine we don’t yet know or understand. Looking at Connah and seeing the healthy, lively boy he is now, is something we can’t explain. With the extent of tumours he has, we would not expect him to be doing this well.

“When it was decided two years ago that his tumours were inoperable, we would have expected just a short time before he became very ill. But sometimes unexplainable things can happen that we have to call a miracle.”

Salt Lake City, Utah: The word "Reiki," but not the practice, makes the police beat again -- the owner of a massage parlor called "The Reiki Specialist" has been arrested and charged with running a prostitution ring, only four months after the manager of the business was charged with rape. For the record, neither sex nor violence has anything to do with the practice of Reiki.

Watertown, New York: Under the headline "Reiki is 'very comforting,' " the local Daily Times interviews a Reiki master who works with animals as well as people.

Rest in peace

Reiki Master Teacher Michael Thomas Spencer, 18, of Quincy, Massachusetts, January 31, 2009.

Reiki Master Deborah Kay Gordon, 44, of Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, January 29, 2009.

Reiki Master Susan D. Jansey, 48, of Winchester, Virginia, January 29, 2009.

Reiki Master Todd Edward Jones, 46, of Santa Cruz, California, January 4, 2009.

Reiki Master Pennie Parker, 61, of Sebago, Oregon, December 18, 2009.

Reiki Master Patricia E Miller, 65, of Reinholds, Pennsylvania, January 30, 2009.

Reiki practitioner Hans Templeman, 55, of San Carlos, California, January 24, 2009.

Reiki Master Sister Mary Leona Zetah, RSM, 93, of Oakland, California, February 3, 2009.

Reiki practitioner Marla Susan Williams Columbro, 53, of Placerville, California, February 13, 2009.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The weekly waka

A grammatical notion

Let go of the nouns
in your life and verbs will move
in to take their place.
And that will make everything
so much more interesting.
(By Janet Dagley Dagley)

Friday, February 13, 2009


Dear readers,

This week's edition of The Reiki Digest was delayed by 24 hours and does not include several of our regular features, including the Celeb-Reiki report and the Reiki Roundup, since I've had to spend most of this week caring for a sick relative. While it may not have as many parts as usual, there's still plenty of substance in this week's issue. Thanks for your understanding, and if you're including us in your Reiki meditations, please continue to do so.

Oneness and differences

Is there room for all of us, and all of our differences, in the oneness space?

Is there only one entrance to the oneness space?

What is the oneness space, anyway, and what does it have to do with the practice of Reiki?

Is it the same thing as

And why is everybody talking about nonduality anyway?

Is it even possible to convey the concept with mere words? And when we try, aren't we simply re-enacting
the old tale about the blind monks describing the elephant?

(Ukiyo-e print by Hanabusa Itchō, 1888, from
Wikimedia Commons

You may well know the story already, but just in case, here's a brief summary. A group of blind men touch different parts of an elephant, and with that information, each tries to describe the whole elephant. But the one touching the trunk has a different description than the one touching the ear, the tusk, the leg, or the tail. Each description is perfectly accurate, so none of them is wrong -- except in assuming they can describe the whole elephant with such limited information.

Over the past few weeks, we've had a lively discussion here on the subject of oneness and more, all sparked by Heather Alexander's article on her New Year's resolution,
Personal Responsibility and Being Reiki. From there we went on to a winding thread of topics. As the host of this conversation, I have the privilege and responsibility of trying to sum it all up, answer a few points, and put forth some conclusions. I begin by admitting that, like anyone else, all I can offer is my own little piece of the elephant.

Heather started things off by saying (if I may paraphrase) that since Reiki is not something outside us, in this era of bailout after bailout, she wants to focus on simply being Reiki, looking within, and drawing on her own inner resources. I'm sure Heather realized, as I do, that many Reiki practitioners were taught that we channel Reiki from somewhere else through ourselves to our clients. So to them, the idea that the Reiki energy is within us as well as outside us might seem a bit strange. That reminds me of a somewhat heated discussion I had last spring with a Reiki master who insisted that teachers who claim that universal energy is, well, universal, are thereby also claiming that anybody can practice Reiki, with or without attunements. 

Reiki author 
Pamela Miles was the first to reply, writing, "The critical piece that we are Reiki is usually lost in translation. Although the essentially non-dual interconnectedness of all reality is implicit in Japanese culture, this understanding does not exist in mainstream European-based culture. Reiki initiations and practice do not give us something that is outside us; rather, they open our awareness to our own essential being. . . ." Pamela also stated (again, I'm paraphrasing) that when we practice regular Reiki self-care, we become familiar with that concept on a deep level that goes beyond words. She also pointed out that when Hawayo Takata brought Reiki from Japan to Hawaii, anti-Japanese sentiment in the United States was at its peak, so it would have been unwise to emphasize the Japanese cultural context of Reiki during that time. 

In response, Reiki authors
Bronwen and Frans Stiene agreed with many of the points made by Heather and Pamela, but they also asked, ". . . Did Takata, then, teach the concept of non-duality or even understand it's implicitness within the system? There are no known records of Takata talking or writing specifically about non-duality. As Pamela stated last week, a major reason for Takata to have simplified the teachings may have been that she felt constrained by the negative cultural sentiments that existed in her lifetime due to the Second World War. This may have initially posed an issue, yet this reasoning loses weight when faced with the records of other spiritual teachers in the West during the mid 1900s teaching Asian oriented concepts such as non-duality. These were popular teachers like Thomas Merton (1915-1968) and the French philosopher Omraam Mikhael Aivanhov (1900-1986). Even Zen master Shunryu Suzuki was teaching in the USA from 1959 till 1971. So there was definitely interest in non-duality and meditation during this era."

Pamir Kiciman joined the conversation the following week, citing numerous examples of Eastern thought in the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and expressing his frustration over the untruths in Takata's teachings. Pamir has since posted several thoughtful pieces on this subject on his Reiki Help Blog. David Bandas followed with a spirited defense of Takata, and this week, it's my turn to weigh in on all this.

I don't think Pamela was saying that Takata taught the concept of nonduality per se. Everything I've heard about the way Takata taught is that she did it experientially, not intellectually, much the same way my first tai chi teacher did. "Just do, do, do, and you will know," Takata is said to have said. Frankly, I wish she had not used some of the words she used, particularly the false claims that Reiki founder Mikao Usui was a doctor and a Christian minister, but there's not much any of us can do about that except try to correct the record. 

Speaking of experiential, I have found from my own experience that hands-on self-care can be an entrance to "the oneness space" or the perception of nonduality, just as non-hands-on meditation can be. After all, if a shopping mall or even a house can have more than one entrance, wouldn't you think that "the oneness space" -- which contains everything in the universe -- might have more than one entrance as well? 

I also am reminded of other experiences I had, as a child and later as a newspaper reporter in the late 1970s and the 1980s. I interviewed Americans of Japanese descent who had been rounded up, forced to sleep in horse stalls and then detained in a "camp" surrounded by barbed wire and armed guards in the Arizona desert during World War II simply because of their ethnicity. Many of them, including Hawaii's current senior senator, Sen. Daniel Inouye, volunteered for military service and fought for the United States, even while their families were still locked up in the desert and other remote locations. Sen. Inouye lost his right arm in battle. In the 1960s, when Sen. Inouye's niece was one of my elementary school classmates, there was still plenty of anti-Japanese sentiment in the United States, especially in the hills of Appalachia where I grew up. Many of my parents' generation who fought in the war, especially in the Pacific, suffered what later came to be known as post-traumatic stress disorder. I remember one of my father's friends vividly describing the day he survived a kamikaze attack on his ship, and my grandfather's insisting he would never, ever buy anything made in Japan because of the war.

And I remember spending a day with Hiroshima survivor and peace activist
Rev. Kiyoshi Tanimoto and his wife in a hard-hit rust-belt city in 1982. He and Mrs. Tanimoto had security guards with them, since a few weeks earlier a Chinese-American man had been beaten to death with a baseball bat in Detroit by disgruntled auto workers who mistook him for Japanese. I drove a Japanese car then, as an increasing number of Americans did. My grandfather complained whenever I parked it in his driveway. Just my own little part of the elephant, but I can attest that there was still plenty of anti-Japanese sentiment in the United States decades after the war ended. And while there were certainly teachers of nonduality and other concepts from Asian culture in the United States in the 19th and 20th centuries, my grandfather wouldn't have wanted them parked in his driveway, either. Even today, some prominent evangelical Christian preachers insist that meditation is evil, even as they talk about "spending time with God."

Every Reiki teacher I've had has guided me and my classmates into "the oneness space," each in their own way, and each taught the concept differently.
Margaret Ann Case, my first Reiki teacher, had us read a book from outside the world of Reiki, the Kybalion. Frans Stiene, my second Reiki teacher, taught us meditation techniques that can serve as an express elevator into "that space." Hyakuten Inamoto, my third Reiki teacher, taught us to find the universe of nonduality in a teacup. And Pamela Miles and Susan Mitchell kept a group of us students in the oneness space much of the day during their retreat on the Reiki precepts. So I can personally attest to those parts of the elephant -- to me, each is as real as the other, even though they aren't identical. 

To me, this is the paradox of the Reiki community: we all work with universal energy, yet we are unfortunately prone to devolve into bickering factions, arguing over the details of the trees while forgetting the forest. And I am concerned that as long as we focus on the trees rather than the forest, people who might be helped by receiving and/or studying Reiki may become so confused about what Reiki is, and isn't, where it came from or where it's going, that they decide not to bother. I hope that we can keep them in mind even as we respectfully agree to disagree.

Cyberspace is itself a version of the oneness space, a place where we are all connected, where space and time don't matter. I hope that we can continue this discussion indefinitely with comments added to this post or others in this series on our web site.

Meanwhile, I'm going to take that image of the blind monks and the elephant and hang it in
The Reiki Dojo as a reminder.

More eye-opening comments

We're happy to report that this week we continued to get some great comments from our readers, and as usual we're pulling them out as separate posts on the web site and in our email edition so that they don't get overlooked.

And we thank all of you who have joined in the discussion here -- that's what puts the "community" in this publication for the global Reiki community.

We invite everyone to join in our ongoing Reiki conversations. Here's how:

Add a comment: to this or any other item by clicking on the word "comments" at the bottom of any post. You don't have to create an account or sign in if you'd rather not -- you can even post anonymously. Comments are moderated to ensure that they are on topic.

On the subject of whether we should practice Reiki with our eyes open or closed, Scott Schumacher had this to say:

I have always done a combination of both eyes open and eyes closed. Recently, I've become very interested in the realm of quantum physics. And from this, I've learned that there is a lot to be said for the influence of "the observer."

Our brain is capable of processing some 40,000 bits of information per second, but we can only observe 3,000. There have also been experiments about electrons "acting up" when placing an observation device in their path. The very act of "observing" can change the result of the experiment.

So, a few times ago, I decided to give Reiki to my partner, to close my eyes, and to try as much as I could to "take out the observer" from my awareness.

When I brought back my "observer" with my eyes still closed, I felt the energy shift in ways I've never felt before. It seemed like electrical waves were traveling atop my skin - bouncing along to meet my partner. I felt the energy not only in my hands, but in my fingers and toes, and in my very energy field.

Then I realized I was "observing" and decided to stop that again, and be completely detached. It was as if my hands disappeared from my awareness, and new possibilities crept in that I don't even think I can describe with words.

My partner on the table told me that the energy felt very strong, but different this time. He felt more of a pulsing energy, and said that throughout the session, he felt as if four or five hands were constantly touching him.

Thanks, Scott. And Robert Fueston wrote:

The technique for sending Reiki out from the eyes is called Gyoshi-ho. Usui states in his Usui Reiki Hikkei - The Usui Reiki Handbook -that Reiki especially emanates from eyes, mouth and hands. I use Gyoshi-ho to treat one part of the body while my hands are simultaneously treating another part. This speeds up the treatment time and is quite effective.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The weekly waka


We all live with pain,
For it is the warning cry
Of the physical,
Without which we would perish
And miss its vital lessons.
(By Michael Dagley)

Thursday, February 05, 2009

The eyes have it

Last week, our Korea correspondent Michael Swerdloff made the case for keeping our eyes open while practicing Reiki on others.

This week, more comments on that subject from our readers, and from me.

Sandra wrote:


Thank you. My mind is famous for wandering off. I will definitely take your advice and shift to eyes open. I am a former family therapist...eyes were open then and I could easily witness when a session was helping. Thanks for the "eye opener."


Thanks, Sandra.

Beth wrote:

I practice on animals and I've always left my eyes open without thinking about it. My experience has been that I have always (or just about always) felt Reiki in my hands. As my practice progressed, I felt Reiki flowing from my lips. Next, my feet (during a long distance treatment when I was sitting with my legs over the arm of a chair) and lastly, from my eyes. I don't always feel it coming from places other than my hands, but it's always a fun surprise when it does.

Thanks, Beth.

Jo Morgan wrote:

Thanks to Michael for sharing his insights. I took a wonderful class in intuitive guidance this past year, and the instructor insisted that we keep our eyes open and on the client to be fully present for and respectful of them. It was important learning for me and has proven pretty effective. I loved Michael's question, "Why limit Reiki?". When my ego and I are out of the way, Reiki travels into unlimited territories. The possibilites are endless. I had never considered Reiki flowing from my eyes, but "know" that it often flows my my heart and other body parts. So why not the eyes? Thanks again, Michael.


Thanks, Jo.

And now, a few words from the editor. When I first read Michael's post, I was reminded of my first experience giving Reiki in my initial Level One class, as our teacher called out to a roomful of novice practitioners, "Don't get lost in the energy!" To this day, I remember those words every time I give someone Reiki.

But even more, it reminded me of a very important Reiki session I gave my husband during my first few months of practice. He is plagued by terrible migraines, and one reason I pursued the study of Reiki in the first place was that it seemed to help him with that. One morning when he woke up with a migraine, I set up my brand-new massage table and put him on it. As I began his hands-on treatment, I instinctively did something I had learned in another healing modality, Thai yoga bodywork. "Always coordinate your breath with your client's," my Thai yoga instructor taught, but as I observed my husband/client and tried to coordinate my breathing with his, I realized I couldn't. His breathing was not only irregular, but it stopped entirely from time to time. Of course, the diagnosis wasn't official until he'd spent the night in a sleep lab, but it was indeed sleep apnea, a life-threatening condition that might also have been contributing to the migraines. Since that day I have made sure to observe my client's breathing, and that helps guide my treatments. And my husband now sleeps with a CPAP machine to keep him breathing during the night.

Another reason I keep my eyes open while giving Reiki is simply a matter of balance. I usually stand during the whole treatment, and if I were to close my eyes while standing for a long time I might lose my balance.

But what surprised me in Michael's post was that it seems some teachers advise their students to close their eyes. That can be an interesting experience -- my Thai Yoga teacher had us do a complete 2-and-a-half-hour session blindfolded during an advanced class -- but I wouldn't recommend it as an everyday thing. 

We look forward to further discussion on this topic. Add your thoughts as a comment to this post on our web site, or email them to

The Reiki music resource list: a work in progress

Note: This post will be continually expanded and updated with more recommendations from our readers and staff. To add your recommendations, just add a comment to this post on our web site, or email

Most Reiki practitioners and recipients find that relaxing music and other soothing sounds can enhance the experience (although I did have one Reiki classmate who insisted on no music). Last week reader Lilia Marquez submitted her list of favorite Reiki music CDs, and other readers have quickly followed. We'll keep adding to this list and make a permanent, prominent link to it on our web site. Here's our list so far, now with convenient links to listen to samples or purchase (We receive a small percentage on each purchase, which helps us cover some of our costs in publishing The Reiki Digest. The first link in each listing is for the CD, and the second is for the mp3 download and sample songs (if available).

Lilia's list:
Reiki Offering by Shastro and Nadama, MP3 and samples
Sound Healing by Dean Evenson and Soundings Ensemble  
The Heart of Reiki, by Merlin's Magic
Reiki Forest, by Sambodhi Prem
Angel Symphony of Love & Light, by Merlin's Magic
The Healing Touch, by Shajah (no link available)
Reiki: Space of Peace and Love, by Merlin's Magic

Thanks, Lilia.

From the UK, Amanda wrote:

Oh I love having music in the background when using Reiki - it always helps to calm my mind and help me focus. My favourites are:

The Journey, by Bliss
Journey to the Faeries, by Llewellyn MP3 and samples
Reiki, by Llewellyn
The Celts, by Enya

I sometimes also use:

Solstice, by Phil Thornton

I'll use pretty much any Llewellyn, Medwyn Goodall or other instrumental music if I don't have any of the above to hand but those listed are my favourites for Reiki.

Thanks, Amanda. 

Beth wrote:

I listen to 'Spiritus', music composed with the intention of healing the human-animal bond. I look forward to checking out some of these other selections, as well!

This is the closest match we could find on Amazon. If it's not the Spiritus you're talking about, it seems like it might be good for Reiki in any case: 

Thanks, Beth.

Francine Hershkowitz wrote:

Thanks for this topic. I am a Reiki practitioner and here are some of my favorites:

Music for Zen Meditation, by Tony Scott
Harmonic Meditations, by David Hykes
Perelandra, by Keven Braheny
all of Nawang Khechog music and Spirit Wind

Thanks, Francine. We weren't sure which Spirit Wind you meant, so the link here is to all the CDs that turned up in a search on those words. If you don't mind taking a look at them, please let us know which Spirit Wind you're recommending.

Next, a few of my own favorites. At home, I can simply flip the TV to Music Choice's Soundscape channel, which is a constant stream of relaxing music. That's how I discovered the music of Jiang Xiao-QingShao Rong, and other artists. That led me to the compilation Graces of Asia, where I found Missa Johnouichi. So far I have never heard anything featuring the pipa (Chinese lute) that I didn't love. And of course I'm very fond of the Japanese shakuhachi flute as well.

We look forward to adding other readers' recommendations. Add them as comments to this post on our web site, or email them to This resource list will be a permanent, and continuously updated, fixture on our web site.

. . . and a little vinegar

What a great discussion we've had so far on the topic of personal responsibility and being Reiki, nonduality, Reiki history, and more -- in fact, we've strayed a bit from the topic of Heather Alexander's article that started it all

Next week, we'll wrap this one up with a summary and some reflections on our differences over nonduality. But first, David Bandas found last week's comments from Pamir Kiciman a bit provocative.

David wrote:

I find all of these discussions, particularly this last one by Pamir, puzzling and vexing. If it's "high time to stop being a Takata apologist," it's high time to stop being a Takata basher.

The teachings of Mikao Usui are closely guarded by the Usui Reiki Gakkai in Japan. It is a closed society, and very little information seems to come forth from that source. Why not please address this secrecy and stubbornness where it is held?

The implication that Takata somehow purposefully withheld the truth from her students regarding "nonduality" or whether Hayashi was *really* a doctor seems ludicrous to me.

I just observed a Reiki I class which was attended by six students under the age of 14. They were very excited to learn the practice taught by Hawayo Takata. Perhaps they have been initiated into a practice which they may find not only physically comforting, but which may lead them more deeply into themselves and a more esoteric personal practice. Or not. Hands on Reiki may very well be the stepping stone for "true personal evolution." This has most definitely been true for me.

If it weren't for Takata, teaching the Reiki she practiced with an amazing amount of energy and dedication, and left up to the holders of Usui's teachings in Japan, the Usui Reiki Gakkai, I would not have this beautiful practice I cherish so highly today.

Trying to retrofit what is slowly emerging in bits and pieces about the way Usui practiced Reiki into what Takata taught and practiced, and then implying that she somehow withheld the truth is disingenuous.

I would never dare apologize on her behalf for anything!

Thanks, David. 

We also thank David for these follow-up comments he added the next day:

P.S. I truly appreciate the thoughtfulness and clarity of this thread, and the generous contributions by the writers. Upon further reflection, it is so wonderful to see the discussion of Reiki explore its more spiritual aspects.

Unfortunately, it pushed some of my buttons generally unrelated to the subject at hand. I apologize for my harsh tone.

More discussions seem to end with questions about what Takata knew, or with what she decided to teach. For me, the elephant in the room is what is known and practiced by the Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai, and why their secrecy isn't questioned more.

Yes, we are Reiki. Apparently, I personally am Reiki mixed with a little vinegar!

You're not alone there, David. There's a little vinegar in all of us.

If you'd like to join this discussion (preferably before next week's concluding remarks), add a comment to this post on our web site or email 

A newborn Celeb-Reiki

Welcome to the world, Mars Merkaba, daughter of singer (and Reiki Master) Erykah Badu and rapper Jay Electronica, whose parents Twittered her Feb. 1 birth to thousands of their followers, beginning with a tweet from Badu announcing: "Morning, I'm in labor." Electronica kept up the tweets even after Badu got too busy to post, and then Badu followed up afterward, concluding, "I can't believe it's over. Home birth, no painkillers, about five hours, she was a little past due date, but I didn't mind waiting. Breath." The happy parents also tweeted their daughter's name to followers, but after that, Badu closed public access to her Twitter site, so we'll have to look elsewhere to follow the new arrival's progress from now on.

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Wednesday, February 04, 2009

The weekly waka


Without constant change —
Day and Night, Passion and Calm,
Even simple Laughter —
All would be static, frozen,
Without Life or Love or Time.
(By Michael Dagley)