These days most people have heard of “Reiki” but not many know what it is actually is. They often assume it is a form of religion or a form of massage and they often wonder if it dangerous. No, is the answer to all these assumptions. It is neither a belief system nor a physically manipulative technique and it is completely safe. Essentially it is a way of being true to yourself so that you do things consciously, with awareness, sincerity and intention.
I must admit when that when I went for my first Reiki session, I had no idea what was really involved. I recall lying on the treatment couch wondering what on earth was going to happen to me. Relaxing music played in the background and candles enhanced the natural light of the room. The practitioner talked about angels and fairies and when my stomach started to gurgle she told me that was a sign they were in the room. I couldn’t quite relax, any moment I was expecting to see apparitions and have a strange out-of-body-type experience.
In my ‘out-of-balance, want-to-be-balanced’ kind of way back then I suspect I was looking for a miracle cure that day. But of course it didn’t happen. After the session, I still felt like the same old me, a little out of sorts, a little unhappy. The only difference being the fact that I knew a little bit more about angels. The practitioner had told me that every time she drives into town she asks her angels to find her a parking space, and every time she goes to park the car there is a space waiting for her. This stuck in my mind and I started doing this myself and I must admit it certainly works – you have to believe however!
Regardless of whether I felt the effects of the Reiki during that first session, the seed had been sown. I was clearly drawn to Reiki for a reason and it was only a matter of time before it presented itself to me again – and the second time around, I had not gone searching. You see, quite unbeknown to me at the time, I started to attend a meditation class which was led by a Reiki Master teacher. Most of the meditation attendees were Reiki attuned and there was often much chatter about Reiki and the Reiki courses led by the teacher. I would listen to them talking about metaphysical energy, auras, crystals and Chakras and wonder what on earth it was all about – it was a different world to the one I lived in at that time.
But times change and only a matter of weeks later I came across an advertisement pinned to the notice board at work advertising Reiki treatment sessions with – coincidentally (and this is something that becomes more prevalent in the Reiki world (coincidences that is) - the same lady who was leading the meditation classes. I was fascinated as I read the advertisement; it mentioned how Reiki can encourage and support positive personal changes, helping to balance the emotions and free us from restrictive mental attitudes and behaviour patterns. It explained how Reiki can help to improve the quality of our relationships, help us to de-stress, reduce our need for alcohol and tobacco, improve our diet and help us to respond more calmly to situations and events in our lives.
This resonated with me immediately and while I still knew very little about the ‘how’, I was at a point in my life where I was willing to give anything a go. This is often the nature of Reiki – you may not be aware of it at the time, but it tends to come into your life when you need it the most; you just simply have to be open to receiving it. Of course, this is the other thing with Reiki, it cannot be forced upon you, you are either willing to go there or you aren’t and no amount of pressure from family or friends will change that – all they can do is plant the seed by making you aware that it exists in the first place.
From my own experience I know that Reiki offers a great many benefits. Essentially it is a holistic relaxation therapy that focuses on the root cause of conditions rather than merely on the symptoms. Thus not only can Reiki be used to induce a sense of deep physical relaxation but it can also be used to promote the healing of a wide range of ailments. These include everything from stress related complaints such as insomnia to joint aches and pains (such as arthritis), headaches, stomach aches, depression, backache, menstrual problems, anxiety, asthma, colds and flu etc.
The Japanese word Reiki (pronounced Ray-key) means ‘Universal Energy’ and is based on the free flow of this energy in a person. Eastern medicine has always recognised and worked with this energy, which flows through all living things and is vital to well-being. It refers to an ancient hands-on healing art developed by Dr Mikao Usui in Japan in the early 1900’s for personal development and the passing of healing energy onto others. Dr Usui believed that by clearing the body energetically it was possible to feel more connected to life, more relaxed, physically healthier and less unbalanced emotionally.
The second Reiki treatment provided a very different experience to the one I had experienced only a few months earlier. Practising Reiki tends to enhance the intuition of the Reiki practitioner and this Reiki practitioner was certainly intuitive – not only that but I felt more of a connection. She was able to feel what was going on for me, beyond the ego and the conscious thought patterns, and articulate these feelings to me in such a way that I could not have said them better myself. It was a liberating and enlightening experience as I finally started to acknowledge a few of those things I had pushed down and tried to push away.
After the session I felt quite emotional and the practitioner assured me that this is not unusual. The practitioner explained to me that it is a little like peeling an onion – the more you receive Reiki, the more you remove the layers, and the closer you come to your core, your true self – I guess it is a little like discarding the baggage, step by step, a fantastic form of personal development. Of course it is different for everyone - some people may only want one session to merely relax while others will want more sessions to continue peeling away the layers.
Reiki treatments tend to last anywhere between 40 minutes and an hour and are carried out with you lying in a comfortable and peaceful environment. There is no need to remove any clothing and you are often given the opportunity to cover yourself with a blanket to encourage relaxation and make you feel a little more comfortable. The practitioner may gently lay their hands on different parts of the body corresponding with the Chakras or energy centres, working from the head to the toes. You may be asked to turn over so the practitioner can work on the other side of your body too.
Reiki has its own intelligence and the practitioner will be drawn intuitively to those parts of the body where the Reiki needs to go. The body automatically draws in only as much Reiki as is needed using it in whatever way is most appropriate at that time. The Reiki energy may be felt as a flow of energy, mild tingling, warmth, heat, coolness, other sensations, or nothing at all. It is common to drift off to sleep and you are often encouraged to do so as it promotes a deeply relaxing experience, calming the mind as much as the body.
As for the ability to practise Reiki, well it does not take years of training, nor is it dependent upon intellectual capacity; it is simply passed from a teacher to the student. As soon as this happens, one has the ability to channel Reiki for the whole of one’s life and can be learned by anyone. The attunement is a powerful spiritual experience and can increase psychic sensitivity. However, like most situations in life, people respond differently and the Reiki attunement is no exception.
There are three levels of study and they are all independent of each other. The first level teaches you how to use Reiki for your own personal self-development, self healing and also the healing of others. The second provides you with additional tools to work with Reiki and enables you to become a registered professional practitioner. The third level, where you become a Reiki Master, teaches you how to further your own interest in Reiki, where you simply ‘be Reiki’. You can then go one step further and train to become a teacher yourself.
The attunement process starts a cleansing process that can affect you on all levels as many of the toxins that have been stored in the body are released along with feelings and thought patterns that are no longer required. Each level of attunement tends to increase the strength of the energy, encouraging personal development, self -healing, greater clarity of mind, increased intuition and potential increase in levels of consciousness.
Over two years I undertook each level of training and I have been a Reiki Master teacher for some time offering Reiki treatments and attunement sessions. Each level brought with it new insights and it has been an empowering experience, which has not only increased my awareness of the world around me but changed the way I perceive so many aspects of life. I have a far greater understanding and appreciation of healing, health and wellbeing, metaphysics, the Chakra system and the flow of energy within the body.
Furthermore Reiki has profoundly helped me on a personal level so that it has literally been life changing, incredibly empowering and transformative and helped me (and continues to help me) to find the strength, clarity, self-belief and faith to make significant life changes more in tune with my true self. I have since changed occupations and am far happier, healthier, positive and balanced than I was before I discovered Reiki. I have become far more in touch with my intuition and truth plus much more sensitive to energy – both my own and other people’s - plus of course nature and the natural flow of things.
Needless to say there is absolutely nothing special about me. People often assume I must tire from channelling Reiki to others, but this is merely a misconception of what Reiki is all about – I am not a healer in the “laying on of hands” type way, I am simply a channel for the Reiki energy. In fact treating others is as relaxing and meditative for me as it is for the client and independent research has actually shown that during a treatment the brain wave patterns of practitioner and client become synchronised in the alpha state, characteristic of deep sleep and meditation.
Of course life still continues to present its many challenges and its fears, but I believe Reiki helps us to have a greater connection with our sense of self. Feeling more strongly connected to yourself means that you are less likely to feel so overwhelmed by these stresses and you are more likely to see them for what they truly are. Furthermore Reiki can help you to realise what it is you need in your life (which is not always the same as what you think you want) and as a consequence, it encourages you to take control by letting go of all those things you no longer need.
Simply put Reiki – as both a personal development and energy healing technique -can be a life changing experience that helps to enhance your experience of life and make you feel more connected somehow.
Photography by my gifted cousin Nick - see www.nickdespres.com for more images