I think the first time I heard about Reiki was from my sister roughly 25 years ago.
If you’d asked me then, I’d have said, “It sounds pretty stupid.”
I was a very different person in those days; a suburban punk i.e; a classically sulky and self involved teen. In college, I sort of joined the main stream, by which I mean I stopped smearing on black eyeliner and espousing my atheism to every Tom, Dick and Harry who asked to borrow my notes.
After I graduated I moved to New York, where my attachments to “self” and “the past” were painfully evident. I was lonely and frustrated—a person with no discernible purpose other than getting a medium rare steak to the customer on table 41 in ten minutes or less so I could turn the table.
In this decidedly un-spiritual state, I fell in with an equally un-spiritual man. Together, we toyed with the margins of reality, eventually ending up homeless, penniless and friendless.
I was a cliche’. A spoiled American “rich” kid who was too stupid to value the advantages she’d been given and ended up throwing it all away on drugs and their unsavory accoutrements.
Somehow, in the big mess I’d made of my life, a tiny ray of me still beamed out. From that beam, a whole new life arose. I didn’t find God—I found something easier to relate to: myself.
It was not an instantaneous transformation. In fact, I was a lot like a turtle trudging through a honey-filled bog. (Slow, I’m saying.) First, I learned how to feel. Then I learned self care. And, somehow, I reclaimed my humanity.
As the fledgling human that I was, hatched by being truly loved by a good man, and by being entrusted with the care of his children, and then with our child, I was ready to open myself to new ideas.
Yoga came first. It slid quickly and steadfastly into my life and became a place to heal and expand. I hardly understood the magic it was working, and it didn’t matter in the least. It was working, and I kept going back.
I cleaned up my diet, becoming vegetarian and then vegan (ish), and as I did, I learned how to cook new beautiful food.
After almost 10 years, I was ready for yoga teacher training. I was initiated into the mysterious world in which I had trusted but which was essentially unknown to me. Learning and believing in yogic philosophy—that all things are one—finally let me release the idea that I was alone. I was—and still am—filled to the brim with the love this idea allowed me to feel.
Then recently, that strange old word—Reiki—popped up again. This time, I was ready to listen.
Reiki is the Japanese art of healing touch. It is believed that the Reiki practitioner is a conduit for energy, and that by directing that energy with intention, deep physical and spiritual healing can occur.
After a few false starts, I found a Reiki program (or a program found me) which happened to be on the only days and times I could attend. A few strikes on my keyboard later and I was signed up.
I met with my teacher and two other students in my teacher’s bright, sunny living room on a cold winter day. As we began discussing the basic principles of Reiki, my teacher said something that jumped right out at me.
“You don’t have to believe in it (Reiki) for it to work.”
It is enough that the practitioner believes and practices with all sincerity and good intention. If she does, healing will occur.
I have found that the older I get, my analytic mind prevents me from comprehending deeper truths. The more I work beneath my thoughts, the more good seems to arise. I have long since abandoned the need to explain why yoga is so important, I just let the results speak for themselves. Somewhere along the line, I came to believe in all sorts of related practices and ideas; reincarnation, chakras, auras and so on. Now I can add Reiki to the list.
Reiki training was a profound yet simple process, which gave me permission to claim the innate power I already had. It showed me that I can call upon this power anytime I need to, that I can wrap my arms around it, and totally immerse myself in its essence.
I learned that Reiki is really just another word for “love”, and that by operating from a place of love, all things are possible.
When my training was complete, I got on the plane and flew to our little house down in Florida. I sat on the beach and held up my newly attuned palms to feel the energy of the ocean surging through my body. I realized that energy has been there all the moments of my life, and that the only difference now is that I’m open to receive it.
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Editor: Rachel Nussbaum
Photo: elephant archives