By Lisanne Elkins, MA, LMT, Reiki Master
Kerry climbs onto my massage table fully clothed and makes herself comfortable. The table is warm from a fleece-lined heating pad; the room is dimly lit by a Moroccan-style lamp and the air is fragrant with essential oils. Calming Japanese flute plays in the background. She has chosen to come for these sessions weekly, as part of her decision to improve general selfcare and relieve stress from a rather challenging job situation.
Kerry subsides more deeply into a state of relaxation as the session begins. I ground myself and lay my hands gently on the top of her head. I linger there for perhaps five minutes today, (each time is different,) until I feel it is the right time to move to her shoulders. It is in this way that Kerry and I connect in a healing energy session and we help Kerry’s healing process wherever she may need it on that day.
60-minutes later, the session ends and Kerry arises from the table looking radiant and feeling relaxed and grounded. The chronic pain in her knee has ceased and she softly comments on the heat and vibration she feels throughout her body: “First it is a tingling sensation, then the energy feels like it moves through me and opens up the flow in my entire body,” she says. Days later, Kerry recalls a sense of wellbeing that permeates the experiences in her daily life.
This abbreviated story illustrates the gentle yet powerful abilities of the Japanese art of Reiki, an energetic healing method that can be used by anyone, anytime. With further study and strengthening of one’s own awareness, combined with specific symbols to “amp up” the work, Reiki can be used for self-healing and the healing of others and, more comprehensively, the world in which we live.
Reiki is also an exceptionally effective tool for bodyworkers, massage therapists and other types of therapists and it can also be administered to one’s own person. In fact, an intrinsic part of Reiki is healing the Self through guided meditations, allowing the flow of universal energy, learning mindfulness and following five simple, non-religious but infinitely wise precepts.
I could discuss the many ways in which Reiki has benefited me personally and those around me over time and how, when I experienced a healing crisis two years ago, it was Reiki that I turned to, administered by my teacher and Reiki Master. As a result, my journey back to health took less time and was infinitely more profound. I would add that at that time, I was not a Reiki Master; I had studied the first two levels of Reiki and saw how effective it was for my clients and for myself. My original intention was to strengthen my intuition and energetic boundaries for my clients, but it ended up being so much more than that.
Let us return to the definition of Reiki. It is perhaps more constructive to begin by saying what it is ‘not’. It is not magic by a conventional definition, it is not supernatural, nor religious. It has its origins in Japan, discovered and founded by Sensei Mikao Usui, a Japanese man of possible Buddhist origins. It has been said that he climbed Japan’s Mount Kurama and meditated until he felt the healing power of Reiki within him. He then went on to teach others what he had identified and created a lifestyle for his students to follow. Reiki has since changed in its travels from East to West. There are some who claim to have expanded on Usui’s teachings and reinvented them for their own purposes. It is important to realize the true origin of Reiki and be aware of ways in which it has been modified for marketing or ego-centered purposes.
Overall, it is a simple technique that doesn’t require all the bells and whistles of our Western consumer culture. In fact, I believe that the academic subjects of spirituality and physics are converging, as we learn more about our mysterious universe and as we use the term, ’energy’ more in the context of our daily conversations. The word, “Reiki” literally means, “Life Energy:” ‘Rei’ as in Life force and ‘Ki’ for energy, known also as “Chi” or “Qi” in Chinese medicine and “Prana” in India.
There are many other words for this life force energy: source, divine source, or energy from the universal energy field, which surrounds every living thing and interacts with the physical body as well as all living things collectively. This is the Holistic aspect of Reiki—the idea that it is part of a greater whole.
Simply put, using Reiki in one’s daily life or on others for healing purposes involves being a conduit of sorts to draw energy from Source inward through one’s body. The best technique for doing Reiki is visualizing being rooted in the earth, while drawing light or heat in from the top of the head, or the Crown Chakra. Administering Reiki essentially helps increase the flow of energy, addressing energetic blockages that may exist, which are of emotional, spiritual or karmic and physical origins.
Those who come for a Reiki treatment have their own personal needs or reasons for doing so, but the end result of a Reiki treatment has almost always been unanimous: people feel more centered, less uncomfortable and have a greater sense of well-being. The choice to receive Reiki or to study it and integrate it into one’s daily life is certainly individual. Either way, it has its benefits.
Eastern Vs. Western Reiki:
Original Japanese Usui Reiki differs greatly from the way it is used in the West. “In Usui’s time [at the turn of the century,] the emphasis was very much on personal responsibility and commitment,” says Reiki Master and beloved Teacher, Ginny Mackles, who has practiced Reiki for over 30 years and has a direct lineage to its original teachers. “Students were expected to work hard to develop their abilities, and they were given practical tools for using it. For us, [as practitioners] Reiki is first and foremost a self-healing and spiritual development method, though it is something that you can also use to help others. The course is thus rooted in personal energy work, though we cover the treatment of others in depth too.”
Kerry and many of my clients continue to come weekly or bi-weekly for Reiki. Their issues vary from serious, life-threatening illnesses to emotional struggles, to daily challenges. I am struck by the way almost all of them marvel at how much better they feel after a session. I continue to be amazed and humbled by the power of Reiki.
Whether you are a healing practitioner or client of the healing arts, Reiki is a powerful gift for everyone’s healing journey.