Friday, 6 April 2018

Home Again



Landing at Birmingham airport from Madrid last month I noticed a feeling of arriving  home.  I had spent 10 days with other Reiki masters who have all completed a 3 year course called 'Responding with Compassion' with Phyllis Furumoto.  Reflecting on the time away I realised that I had experienced a similar feeling of coming home when I arrived - except that in that case 'home' was not a place, but the energy of a group of people.  I felt I could be myself there, knowing I would be welcomed and accepted.   Some people in the group have been friends for many years, others I didn't know.  However I felt a connection with everyone and this deepened as we explored authentic communication together on our shared Reiki path.  Some of this communication happened without words: each afternoon we exchanged Reiki treatments, sharing our common practice, at home with each other.

I experienced a similar feeling of being at home during my pilgrimage in Japan last year.  When we visited Mount Kurama, where Mikao Usui meditated, Phyllis suggested we made our first visit the mountain alone.  We had plenty of time to climb to the top and either return the same way or go down the other side, returning a different way.  The way up the mountain has well built paths, shrines and temples, surrounded by trees.  Above the large Buddhist temple near the top of the mountain is a wilder area, with a small shrine and spring among trees.   The path down from there is rough and less well built.  You feel much more as if you are in the wild place where bears and deer live!  I chose to return by this route and enjoyed the feeling of being connected with nature. 

When I arrived back at the hotel at dusk, Phyllis greeted me with the words "Welcome home!".  I responded immediately " thank you - but I've been home all day!".  After these words jumped out of my mouth I realised their truth: walking on the mountain, being present to everything around me, I had indeed had a feeling of being at home.  Even though I was in a land very far from my own, among people who spoke a language I didn't understand, I felt the same connection with nature and Reiki as I experience at home in Shropshire. 

Many people have described a feeling of coming home when they receive the initiations during the 1st degree Reiki class.  Similar feelings are also experienced  through Reiki practice and when people who have learned Reiki come together.

I believe it is a sign of coming home to our essence - the deepest part of ourselves that is connected with our fullest potential and connects us with all that surrounds us.   My experience is that the most important aspect of this is to welcome this part of myself, let go of self judgement and to trust my intuition.

My friend and fellow Reiki master Elaine Andres put it beautifully in her poem "Home" when she said:
"Home is a place of welcome
a place where I am received
just as I am without judgment.
Where I am loved
without any need to be different
a place where I am trusted to find my own way
to create my own path in my own time."

(Read the rest of the poem at the bottom of the page here: http://reikihome.org/)

Friday, 2 March 2018

More People Benefiting from Reiki



When I learned Reiki I was inspired by the stories I heard about the life and practice of Hawayo Takata, the Reiki master who brought Reiki from Japan to the West.   I attended the Takata Archives event organised by The Reiki Association in February and was once again inspired by Takata's absolute faith in the effectiveness of Reiki treatment.   She was often called in when other treatments weren't working.  We listened to a recording of her describing how she treated a man with severe tonsillitis who was too weak to have an operation.  As she treated him a lot of pus was released after which he began to be able to take liquids and then more solid food, after which his recovery was rapid.  She treated hundreds of people in her life time, but was only one person, so the numbers she could reach were limited.  She, of course, taught many others who also gave treatments to those in their communities.  Those Reiki students have helped Reiki to spread all over the world so that, while in the early 1990s when I became a Reiki master it was still relatively unknown, it is now beginning to attract the attention of the medical profession so that many more people can experience what Mrs Takata taught.

I was therefore very interested when one of my students sent me a video about a study carried out by Harvard Medical School (USA) to find out if Reiki really benefits people.  The study showed, according to recognised tests, that the 1,500 people who received Reiki treatment in the study showed "highly statistically significant" reduction in anxiety, depression, pain and fatigue.  It is wonderful to hear that these effects, which I often see in those I treat, have been demonstrated in such a large study. 

One of the other participants at the Takata Archives event told me about her involvement over the past 6 years with a project to give Reiki treatments to children at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Brighton. She has recorded responses to over 3000 Reiki treatments, many of which were unexpectedly positive.  For example some of the babies were constipated due to the medication they were receiving.  It was frequently been reported that these babies were found to have "filled their nappies" after Reiki treatment - one often reported benefit of Reiki being that it stimulates the bowels!

There is also a project at St George's hospital in London which is likely to contribute to Reiki
being more widely available in hospitals.  Through a charity called Full Circle two Reiki practitioners have received an intensive induction so that they can work in critical care at St George's.  They are accepted  on the ward and medical staff have been able to see first hand how Reiki benefits very sick patients.  More Reiki practitioners are being trained and it is hoped to run a research project and that this model can be shared with other hospitals.

It is exciting to see how the number of people benefiting from this wonderful healing art is growing, to such an extent that it is becoming more accepted by medical profession so that more people will be able to receive Reiki treatment alongside conventional health care.

Monday, 5 February 2018

Meaning of the word 'Reiki'



When I was introduced to people in Japan as a 'reiki person' I detected a certain puzzlement about this.  However when I mentioned 'Usui Shiki Reiki Ryoho' it was clear that this phrase was more easily understood (unlike here in the UK where people struggle with these words!).  It means 'Usui's method of reiki healing'.  This brought home to me a difference about how we use the word Reiki in the West to it's original meaning in Japan.

The first definition of the word reiki I encountered was 'Universal Life Energy'.  At the time I didn't really know what that meant on a conscious level, but somehow intuitively recognised what it was referring to.  Over the years as I have practiced and taught Reiki my intuitive understanding of this simple little word has deepened through experience. 

River at Kurama, Japan
I was therefore interested when the meaning of the word 'reiki' was discussed in a recent webinar with Phyllis Furumoto and a Japanese Reiki master Hyakuten Inamoto.  He  explained the energy of reiki in a way that resonated with my understanding and experience of this energy.  He described how a Japanese person walking in the forest  feeling the energy of nature there would call that 'reiki'. 

When I give a Reiki treatment or teach Reiki I have an experience of energy that is very similar to what I experience when walking in the woods, or by the sea or other places where nature is undisturbed.  The results of being in this energy are similar too: both being in nature and receiving Reiki calm me and re-connect me with that inner place of quiet stillness where I have a feeling of peace and that all is well. I experience a sense of connectedness with all that surrounds me.  Hyakuten went on to say that the meaning of  'reiki' recognises the oneness of all things.

I was also interested to hear Hyakuten say that Usui was not unique in being able to tap into this energy.  There were other healers in Japan who also developed a connection to reiki that they were then able to channel for the healing of others.   This is similar to spiritual healers, pranic healers and other sorts of healers who also connect with this 'life energy' and have it flow through their hands for healing.  So to the Japanese the word 'reiki' doesn't mean a healing system.  What is unusual about Mikao Usui is that not only did he become a healer himself, but also devised a way to pass on this gift simply and easily from one person to another and a way of being with that energy that supports ongoing practice. 

So those of us who are not Japanese also use the word 'Reiki' to refer to this practice of healing using reiki energy as devised by Mikao Usui.   So when I was introduced as 'a reiki person' to my Japanese friends it is understandable that they were somewhat puzzled about how or why I would be connecting with the life energy.  Describing it as Usui shiki reiki ryoho gives a clearer picture of what we do - connecting with reiki energy using the system devised by Dr Usui.   

So I'm grateful for the further understanding of the different meanings of the word 'reiki' through my experiences in Japan and the explanation of Hyakuten.  I'm also grateful to Mikao Usui for devising such a beautiful way for us to connect so simply with the wonders of reiki energy!

You can watch the webinar with Hyakuten here: https://youtu.be/7V32gcDvAS4

Saturday, 6 January 2018

Kimono Raincoat

The red kimono I'm wearing in the happy new year picture is actually a kimono raincoat.  I didn't know such things existed until I was taken by our guide to a shop selling second hand kimono and many wonderful accessories.  I was looking at what I thought were just ordinary kimono when the shop assistant and our guide told me that they were raincoats!

I had not come across this idea before and as I loved the colour and design of the one I was looking at decided to try it on.  It fitted beautifully and was not very expensive so, to cut a long story short, I brought it home.

Then just before Christmas we had a lot of snow on Clee Hill and I had the idea of taking some photos in the snow wearing the red kimono raincoat.  My husband was behind the camera and we went out first of all on the day it was actually snowing.  Conditions were quite arctic, but it was fun being out in the snow.  I found that the kimono raincoat did actually keep me dry!

The next day the sun came out and we went out again to take some more pictures in the snow and sunshine.  It's one of those that we used for the happy new year picture.

So I hope this bit of fun brings some brightness to your day during the dark winter months!

Wishing you a joyful and playful year in 2018.

A Principle of Kindness



Last January, reflecting on where my Reiki work would be going in the year ahead, I decided I would like a short phrase to express what I hope to offer the world through this work.  I had attended a workshop called "Reiki for a Better World" which had got me thinking: what would make the world a better place that Reiki can offer?  What I came up with was: kindness.  I therefore decided to try to write all my newsletter articles for 2017 with the underlying focus of "Reiki for a Kinder World".

I found that it was not difficult to find many aspects of kindness that come through the practice of Reiki, from the kindness we offer ourselves as we self treat (hopefully every day) to the kindness of giving healing to family and friends.  I have also found that the self treatment helps me to be in a calmer state, so that I also move through the world in a kinder way: being less stressful means that I am less irritable.  It also allows me to be more sensitive to the needs of others.

I was therefore very interested to read, in the recent Office of the Grandmaster newsletter, articles from both Phyllis Furumoto and Paul Mitchell about a Reiki principle of kindness. 

Phyllis, writing during her stay in Japan, talked about how her grandmother had not specifically listed the Five Reiki Principles that we are familiar with, but that each had been mentioned with a story during her teaching.  After Takata's death her masters met and acknowledged the 5 principles or Precepts as follows:

Just for today do not worry
Just for today do not anger
Honour your parents teachers and elders
Earn your living honestly
Show gratitude to every living thing

What Phyllis commented on was that in the direct translation of these principles from the Japanese there is also a sentence about being kind to others.  Phyllis and Paul both remember this being included in Takata's teachings but somehow this was not specifically included in the Reiki Principles in English.  As Phyllis comments, Takata translated not just the words, but also some of the underlying qualities that in Japanese culture do not need to be spoken because they are so fundamental: that of respecting elders and Nature.

So I find it interesting that I had found my way to including this quality of kindness even though it was unspoken, through many years of holding the Reiki Principles as we receive them in English and also my Reiki treatment and teaching practice.  I have often observed the kindness of people who meet to treat each other at Reiki Shares.  It's easy to take this for granted and forget how in many other groups there isn't this level of trust and consideration.  Something about the grace of Reiki helps people to let go of judgement while giving each other Reiki.

So I am interested to hear that this quality of being - of showing kindness to others - seems to have surfaced for more conscious discussion in the Reiki community.   I intend to continue to hold it as a focus for the coming year.  Our world can benefit from more kindness, even in the smallest act of offering Reiki to another person who is in pain.  Will you join me?

If you would like to read more about this you can read the articles from Phyllis and Paul here.  You can also sign up for to receive the newsletter here.

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Kimono Gifts

In the picture you can see me giving Reiki to a Japanese lady who is the friend of my host for a few days in Osaka, during my recent visit.  The haori (Japanese jacket) you can see me wearing I found at an outlet store close to the hotel where I stayed the first night.  There were other jackets in the store, but they were cut down kimono with rough edges and obvious stitching - the shop was called Raw Edge which may explain that!  However I discovered this particular one on the rack of half price jackets and recognized it as an original haori, probably quite old.  I bought it with much delight.

I have bought other haori and know that they should have two little ties, but they were missing on this one.  I have also never known how to tie them properly.  If you just do an ordinary knot you end up with one end sticking up and the other down, which didn't seem right!

I showed it to my host and she mentioned it to her friend when she called in the next day.  I was told that this lady was a 'kimono expert' - by which I understood she helped people with how to wear kimono properly.  I put the haori on to show her and she confirmed that it is made of silk.  I pointed out that it did not have the little ties.  She immediately said (through my host, as she didn't speak much English) that she would bring me some next morning.

I was delighted therefore to see her again the next day and she brought the two little ties in a colour that perfectly matched the haori.  I asked her to show me how to tie them, which she was happy to do.  We made a little video, so that I could remember after I got home.  Later I was able to share the video with another of my friends who bought a haori and wanted to know how to tie them correctly.

I wasn't sure if I was to pay for them or if they were a gift, so asked my host.  I was assured they were indeed a gift and what's more she had another gift for me: a decoration worn with kimono, made by a kimono master!  This is a little glass bead on a thick thread, designed to be hung from the obi (belt).

I was really thrilled with this whole exchange as I had learned how to tie the haori ties and received a wonderful little kimono gift.  In thanks I offered an experience of Reiki treatment (which she had not encountered before) and my host took the picture.

Opening Gifts



Do you enjoy opening presents at Christmas?  But do you sometimes feel awkward opening a gift with the giver?  Maybe you won't like the contents, but still have to say you do?  In Japanese culture they have a solution for this...

In preparation for the trip to Japan we were asked to bring some small gifts with a connection to where we live.  I also took presents for my host for the few days before the tour.  With other gifts I took on behalf of someone who had been on the tour with Phyllis previously, my suitcase was quite full of things to give away!  It also contained  sellotape and wrapping paper because I learned before I left that the wrapping is almost as important as the gift in Japan. But would the Japanese people appreciate what I had chosen? 

Reading a guide book on the flight, I learned that it is a Japanese custom that gifts are not opened in front of the giver.  I love to see people's reaction when they open a gift I have chosen for them, but of course this does create potential embarrassment if someone doesn't like what I've given them.

With the Japanese tradition the recipient can open the gift in private, with no awkwardness if the gift has no meaning for them.  This doesn't mean a carefully chosen gift isn't appreciated: I found that while I was thanked when the gift was given, there were also thanks once it had been opened.  This felt kinder than someone saying 'Oh it's lovely' if it wasn't what the person wanted!

The class form and initiations are like the carefully prepared gift wrap when I teach Reiki.  I have no expectation that the receiver will really know what the is gift until later.  It's only after the class, when the student goes away and starts practising, that they begin to unpack the mysterious contents and experience the wonder that Reiki offers.  I remember thinking what a wonderful I had given myself when I first felt Reiki coming from my own hands into my body after the 1st degree class.  One of my students, who has been practicing for many years, describes Reiki as "the gift that goes on giving".  I would agree: the more Reiki I have given over the years (including self treatment), the more benefit I have received.

I'm grateful to my Reiki master for this amazing gift she gave me when she initiated me.  I'm also grateful that she encouraged me to discover for myself the true gift through practice.  Like the game of pass the parcel, with a small gift in each later, I have unwrapped layer after layer, releasing  discovering the gifts of grace, joy and good health to name but a few.   Sometimes a layer is challenging to open, but there is always a happy reward.

My pilgrimage to Japan was one such gift  and I received many physical presents and spiritual insights to bring home.  Thank you to everyone who helped me to receive it.

Wishing you a happy time of opening your gifts over Christmas and in the New Year.