How Taking a Reiki Class Can Help to Heal Your Mind

             Quite often people think that Reiki is a hands-on healing practice for others, but in truth, it is a practice to rediscover what we already are - spiritual energy.  It’s a journey to find the True Self, or that inner light that innately shines within us.  That light is often hidden and covered up by the hurt, pain and false beliefs we accumulate and carry with us.  The beauty of the practice of Reiki is that during a Reiki class, the student will learn how to work on peeling away those layers by practicing the meditations and techniques learned within the system.  It isn’t something magical – it does takes work.  However, when you put forth the intention and effort, every aspect of your life has the potential to become easier and lighter.  You will be able to shine your light and facilitate the healing of others, just by being you.    

            Reiki is based on Precepts which the student learns to use in their daily meditation practice.  They begin with:

            For Today Onlywhich refers to being in the present moment.  So, if we are able to hold this space of the Precepts for even a short time, it will help us to begin to heal our minds.  

           Do not anger.  This first Precept does not mean that you won’t ever be angry again. However, it does mean that we can explore where our anger is coming from.  What are the triggers and how can we best work through them.  What deep place does this feeling come from and how can we explore ways to release our hurt and disappointment?  When we are quick to anger, we also cause our bodies to become incredibly stressed.  Stress leads to a multitude of physical problems, including high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes.  

            Do not worry.  As you are reading this blog, think about the things that you have already worried about today.  The world challenges us every day with this Precept.  We are usually worried about things that haven’t happened yet and quite frequently, the things we worry about don’t come to fruition.  Learning to let go of worry means working on staying in the present moment and releasing the fear of the future.  The system of Reiki gives us the meditation tools to help with this.

            Be humble.  Reiki embraces the concept of oneness or non-duality.  Recognizing that we are all in this together creates a feeling of “being right mind” and releasing the ego.  When we release our own agenda, we can focus more on kindness and understanding. Being humble also keeps us in a mindset of gratitude.

            Be honest in your work.  This Precept can also be interpreted as being true to your way and your being.  The way in which we do that is by being diligent with our Reiki self-practice routine and meditation practices.  

            Be compassionate to yourself and others.  We can’t begin to show compassion to others unless we are compassionate to ourselves first.  This means having a strong self-care routine and nurturing yourself.  We can do that best when we are aware and mindful of everything around us.  Take some time today to pause, be aware of your breath, let your shoulders relax and practice a few moments of gratitude.

            The main focus of the system of Reiki is about embracing the Precepts in all we do.  During a Reiki class we delve deeper into these concepts and much more.  If we embrace this way of being we can help to heal our minds, which will help us become more grounded and focused practitioners. This, in turn, will help us to facilitate holding the space of healing for others.

Turning Sadness into Gratitude - How Reiki Can Help

            Although we often think that the winter blues manifest during the holiday season, quite frequently emotions can be even more heightened after the festivities are over.  Thoughts and feelings can be incredibly volatile during this time of year, especially if we have been unable to process the unrealistic expectations the holiday season may sometimes bring. Additionally, the onset of shorter days with less sunshine may lead to an increase in stress, anxiety and an overwhelming sense of sadness.

           Last year’s post-holiday season was especially challenging for me.  In an effort to help others who may also be experiencing a sense unhappiness and melancholy, I felt moved to share my story and how I was able to turn a very difficult and distressing time into embracing adeep sense of gratitude.  In my despair, I saw myself as having two choices.  I could go into that dark place where my soul sometimes wants to hide and stay forever.  Or, I could fully envelope my personal Reiki practice, which includes self-Reiki, journaling and meditation.  Don’t get me wrong, last year I was in that dark place for almost a week.  Even after diligently practicing Reiki for over ten years, I am still human and metaphorically “fall off the wagon” at times.  Life is full of circuitous routes and there are highs and lows.  Unwittingly, sometimes I still decide to slide on the old jacket of hurt that I wore for so many years.  It feels oddly familiar, but incredibly painful.  The key for me was in recognizing old patterns and choosing to let go of the layers that sometimes decide to resurface. 

            Knowing that I needed to release and rebalance myself both energetically and spiritually, I opened my journal and began to write.  Several years ago, I began to study and write a form of Japanese poetry referred to as waka or tanka, which is similar to haiku.   Waka is arranged in a specific pattern of five lines each containing  5-7-5-7-7  syllables.  The founder of Reiki, Mikao Usui, frequently recited waka written by the Japanese Meiji Emperor who ruled in Japan from 1867-1912, as a form of respect and contemplation (Stiene, 2016).  One of my first poems was written after sitting quietly outside in the early autumn and watching the leaves begin to fall.

Cicadas strong voice

Signals the end of summer

It ends so quickly

Leaves begin to dry and fall

Autumn breezes fill my soul

            However, the waka that I put onto the pages of my journal during the time my heart was heavy and despondent was exceedingly different.  My soul was filled with heartache and despair.

Where do they come from

These deep wails of intense pain?

Pent up anger moans

Anguish as intense as death

Strangles my inner being

            These words were the beginning of my healing process and the beginning of an emotional and spiritual release.  It was also a signal for me to get down to the “work” of my Reiki practice. As I have written before, Reiki is not something magical; it is a diligent practice of working on the self.  It requires embracing and embodying the Reiki Precepts.  They read as follows: For today only, do not anger, do not worry, be humble/grateful, be honest/diligent in your work, and be compassionate to yourself and others.   My soul-searching and healing process had to begin with an opening within me; I was able to begin to do this with writing waka. 

            In my darkness, I had stopped using my meditation bench.  I ignored it.  It just seemed too overwhelming to sit down and do the work.  There is a beautiful quote by the Native American Elder Sa’k’ej Henderson that reads, “To truly listen is to risk being changed forever.” Change can be terrifying and taking time to listen to the heart requires intentional presence. It is often much easier to look the other way.  However, I knew I had to begin.  After I began to chip away at my sadness with writing poetry, I was able to start “sitting” again and contemplating the Precepts.  I started to deeply examine the origin of my anger using my meditation practice.  Where did this anger come from?  How can it be healed and how can I peel away those curtains of sadness and find a place of joy again?  I continued to write.

Emotional wounds

Cut deeply into my soul

How can they be healed?

Only with an open heart

And the power to forgive.

            Forgiveness sometimes seems unreachable and can be extraordinarily difficult.  In forgiving someone else, we often need to forgive ourselves first.  I returned to the Reiki Precepts and began to ponder self-compassion and gratitude.  I was born in the late 1950’s and self-compassion was definitely not something that was nurtured or even discussed; it was much more about helping others, sometimes to the point of exhaustion.  That self-compassion piece is one that continues to challenge me at times and can be elusive for my mind to grasp.  However, one way that I can readily tap into it is with my Reiki self-practice.  Gently placing my hands on my heart and allowing the loving energetic flow of peace to enter my being helps to bring me in harmony with my body, mind and spirit.  As my hands touch my heart, I remember that my heart is also touching my hands; it is a compassionate practice of oneness of all that is. It also helps me to connect with my True Self, which is the spiritual energy of who I am.  This spiritual energy is the definition of Reiki; the divine and loving energy of the universe.

            Using these tools, gratitude began to speak to me.  I have two hands to hold my heart.  I have two feet that I use to walk upon the earth, which help to keep me grounded and centered.  I recognize that I have the ability to breathe deeply and release my worry and fear with each exhalation.  I can hold onto anger or I can choose peace.   All of these things I learned from the practice of Reiki.  It is an empowering tool for self-development, self-compassion and cultivating a deep sense inner peace.  The gratitude is in knowing that Reiki is a practice where there is no giver, no receiver and no gift.  It is the energy of sharing compassion with the self and all sentient beings.

            Although Reiki is often thought of as a hands-on healing practice for others, it is so much more.  It is a tool that we can use to help us during times when we may feel sadness and despair.  It can assist us in releasing false beliefs that we may have about ourselves and gently nudge us towards self-kindness and self-love.  Working with the tools used in the system of Reiki can bring about monumental changes in how we see ourselves and the world around us, bringing with it a deep sense of gratitude.  It is a simple and loving practice that anyone can learn and continues to help inspire me to promote mindfulness, presence and compassion.

Originally published in Therapeutic Thymes magazine, Winter 2017.

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