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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

'That's not part of Reiki'

I recently read Beth Lowell’s article on Reiki By-Products. It was an interesting and well-written piece from a writer and Reiki Practitioner I respect, and appreciate her commitment to Reiki. It got me thinking about Reiki and how things have changed since I was first introduced to Reiki in the early nineties. I remember that Reiki was then considered occult, then it was New Age, then healing, then came the period when some folks wanted to get a copyright and trademark on Reiki, then we were all introduced to a more accurate history of Reiki and its beginnings. During this time Reiki has spread from continent to continent and now is labeled complimentary and alternative medicine. It is interesting how quickly it shifted from “faith healing” to “faith-free healing” (no judgment attached on my part). Reiki does what it does and where we are at today will be discussed in fifty years the way we do with Takata’s reinvention of the Usui story today.

Before I reflect on my experiences with what is and isn’t part of Reiki, I would like to step back and actually take a look at what is Reiki literally. I have been told by several Japanese friends that the word Reiki is and has been part of Japanese culture for thousands of years before Sensei Usui and is a general term for something similar to ‘spiritually-guided Universal life force energy”. This term includes what we typically refer to as Reiki but also hundreds of other practices that have nothing to do what we call Reiki. Sensei Usui called what he practiced and taught The Usui System of Natural Healing but we seem to like the name Reiki, so it has stuck throughout the Western world. So, saying something is not part of Reiki would be a mistake unless one has studied all of those other methods and systems that are separate from the Usui system. Meaning, Reiki is a somewhat generic term for many systems of energetic arts, The Usui System Of Natural Healing just being one of them. Of course, I am not an idiot and know that is not what Beth was referring to, but feel the need to share that for clarity.

One of the things I have appreciated most about the Usui System is its adaptability to the situation, time, people, animals or culture. It finds a way to meet the needs of those receiving and sharing the system regardless of anything else. It frightens me to think that there are people may have a desire to make Reiki ‘an exact thing’. How sad that would be. I am not completely certain about the next set of statement as factual claims but I will do so knowing I may be working with some incorrect information. If I remember, at one point they did not want Takata to receive the teaching since she was female, living in Japan and not pure Japanese. I am glad that what they thought “may not be part if Reiki” was transformed into her being the lineage carrier to the West. I am so grateful they did not let their small vision of what Reiki is or isn’t get in the way of Reiki. I may be wrong, but I think Usui did not let animals or plants in his clinic to receive treatments. I am glad that we have evolved to include others besides humans and Japanese natives. Otherwise I would not be writing this and there would be no Reiki Digest for me to have read Beth’s article because we would not yet have heard of Reiki.

I have heard that Takata often would bring a fresh made batch of vegetable juice to the folks she worked with to support the healing process. I would have trouble including this as part of Reiki but why not? I remember that receiving Reiki Teaching Master Training in the nineties cost about $10,000, now you can become a Reiki Master from your home for free online. Is this not part of Reiki? Are the Reiki police coming to ban all those who include practices that do not fit into the medical model for fear of creating barriers from the medical community? Has marketing, politics, economy and personal ambition infiltrated the Reiki community to the point that we are a just a few years away from being like the medical profession that has one-size-fits-all remedies that have no room for intuition, common sense and willingness to accept we are not experts and should not be? I hope that I will never be labeled a Reiki expert, or anybody else for that matter.

I have watched the medical profession become homogenized in my lifetime. I remember when I was a kid in the sixties and my family doctor came to visit me bedside when I was sick and hold my hand while he took my temperature. He was such a kind man and everybody always talked about Dr. Ralston’s “Golden Touch”. Now we are fortunate if a doctor actually makes eye contact with their patients, forget about home visits and Golden Touches. I have seen the mental health and social work communities that I am a participant change in the last fifteen years to become almost as homogenized as the medical profession. Is Reiki next? Since Usui didn’t blog, are blogs not part of Reiki? Is accepting payment not part if Reiki? Is advertising not part of Reiki? Is public speaking not part of Reiki?

If so, is it time that I change the name of what I practice to something else to avoid being part of a homogenized system? I am not looking to offend or push anybody’s buttons. I have watched and read much lately in the Reiki community and I am concerned, very concerned. I thought we avoided making Reiki ‘a thing’ back in the late nineties; do we need to go through this again? Is this part of the growing process? What would Usui, Hayashi and Takata think of what we do and how we do it today?

I am certain what I practice most folks would not consider part of Reiki. I am OK with that since I have been guided to walk a somewhat different path with Reiki than most. I trust the Usui lineage to guide each one of us how we can best serve. I accepted that then and still do today. None of this affects my practice in any way, shape or form. I have no stake in any of this but personally since I have experienced and witnessed stuff that is unimaginable through Reiki, I am scared and concerned, deeply. If Reiki is starting to be a system that has ‘a way’; I feel for those who practice Reiki Counseling, Distance Reiki, House Clearings, Creative Arts Therapy through Reiki, Intuitive Bodywork, Spiritual Teaching and all the varied and amazing ways Reiki expresses itself though each Practitioner, culture, situation and time in history. I want to say that I understand the need to make Reiki information truthful and accurate but at what cost to those of us who do not choose to work in the public sector and have no desire to make ‘them’ think we are credible and legit? I practice Reiki for service and Karmic reasons only, I have no personal, financial and social ambitions through Reiki.

I hope that those of you who read this accept this in the sprit it was written in, that of a genuine concern about the social and political implications of the need to make Reiki something specific and placing all else as ‘not part of Reiki’. This may seem like an attack or criticism of Beth’s piece but is not in any way. She is what facilitated me getting the courage to write what I have felt for a while and just didn’t want to come out of the closet. I try to stay neutral within the Reiki community since we are a diverse group and do not like to make anybody with a sincere commitment to practicing Reiki feel excluded or separate. If I have done that to anyone, please accept my apology. Reiki has been such an incredible gift, teacher, friend and source of love and inspiration for me I am not able to accurately express my gratitude. Thank you for letting me share my experiences and concerns with the community through The Reiki Digest.


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Anonymous Beth Lowell said...

This was a thought-provoking article on many levels. Of course, for me, it brought up more questions.

I’ve been thinking more about Reiki by-products myself and I think that any kind meditative practice is going to result in heightened awareness, intuition and other phenomena, so it’s practically impossible to separate the two.

It was really interesting to hear about practices like Reiki house clearing and Reiki counseling, neither of which I’d heard of before. I’d like to find out more about them. I also wondered what it is that you do that is so off the beaten path of Reiki.

I’m interested in practicing Reiki for animals. For me, it’s extremely important to have credibility, even for non-paying, volunteer work, for instance, with people like the police K-9 unit, or the Seeing Eye, which trains service dogs.

I once heard a Reiki practitioner speak about a practice I’d never heard of. When I asked about it, she was only too happy to send me reams of information about it, including its history. This practice could be performed only be Reiki Masters, and was affiliated with a Reiki association with a very official sounding name. The history of the practice involved a sighting of little green men. Gnomes, in fact. I stopped reading the material at this point. I have nothing against anyone who believes in gnomes. But, if I plan to approach my local county police department, or an organization like the Seeing Eye, I’d prefer it, I admit, for purely selfish reasons, if their first perception of Reiki did not include gnomes.

Maybe for those who do not seek to practice Reiki in the public sector there’s a lot less at stake when it comes to credibility.

There’s no such thing as the Reiki police, and I don’t think that people are going to stop doing what they’re doing, and I think people are going to be attracted to what they’re going to be attracted to.

So, my next question is, do gnomes exist and how do people handle them in their practice?

2:39 PM  

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