Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Letting Kindness In

Before I learned Reiki I was not good at letting kindness in.  I had developed a belief that I needed to be totally self reliant and didn't deserve compassion from others.  On the other hand I craved support and this neediness turned into negative thoughts. I was unkind to myself, deaf to positive comments and heard only heard criticism, which supported my pessimistic beliefs about myself and the world.  This caused me to be unable to notice any kindness that was offered to me.

However practicing Reiki invited me to consider an alternative way of being from the start.  Walking to my 1st degree class I found a wallet on the path and took it to the nearby police station.
 The next day there was a knock at my door.  I opened it to find an elderly man - he was the owner of the wallet and had come to thank me.  He gave me some money and said: "Buy yourself some flowers".  As I had little money at the time I didn't normally buy flowers for myself, but perhaps because I was in the middle of my Reiki course I decided that's exactly what I would do.  So I allowed myself to receive his kindness and the flowers gave me much joy over the next weeks.

I found that Reiki gave me a way to offer kindness that I found enjoyable - giving Reiki treatments.  I had learned that part of Usui Shiki Ryoho tradition is that when Reiki is given, some energetic exchange needs to be received.  So I began to practice receiving kindness in return for the Reiki I gave.  The first thing I received in return for a Reiki treatment was "The Sun In My Heart" by Thich Nath Hanh - a spiritual teacher I have come to admire greatly and who has helped me on my spiritual path.

It was only once I embraced another of Reiki's practices - regular self treatment - that I achieved the next step of releasing the old negative beliefs.  I found that self treating is a way to offer kindness to myself and that as a result of daily self Reiki I've become more balanced mentally, emotionally and physically.  This, I discovered,  benefits those around me too as I felt more kindly towards the world.

Initially I also resisted receiving treatment from others: I can see myself at Reiki Association gatherings saying I had far too much to do as administrator to take part in the Reiki exchanges.  I now see that people wanted to offer the kindness of Reiki to help my stressfulness, but I would not allow it!

Being kinder to myself has resulted in putting less pressure on myself, slowing down and allowing time to listen more.  This enabled me to hear the positive messages and to notice the kindness I was being offered.  I learned to be more appreciative of these gifts of kindness and that gratitude is a key to greater contentment.  I now see that people enjoy offering kindness, especially when it is gratefully received, so I have even learned how to let people know what I need!

I'm grateful to Reiki for teaching me about the balance of giving and receiving so that I now find it easier to let kindness in.   I'm also grateful to everyone who has offered me kindness, whether I was aware of it or not!

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Reiki for Goldfish

During a First Degree Reiki class in a student's home some years ago the students were exchanging treatments next to a fish tank that contained two goldfish.  We noticed that as we started to do Reiki the fish swam up to the end of the tank closest to the treatment couch.  When we stopped doing the treatments they swam around the whole of the tank.  What was interesting was that this happened each time we began to do Reiki.  The owner of the goldfish later told us that one of the fish was unwell.

So when a student asked in a recent class about whether I thought Reiki could help her sick goldfish I said yes.  I have on other occasions put my hands to the glass of fish tanks and found that the fish swam up to the hand and stayed there for a while, as if they could feel the Reiki.

Of course when giving Reiki to fish it isn't necessary (or a good idea) to take them out of the water.  Reiki will transmit through the water (and glass if they are in a tank).  I have experienced Reiki through water myself when I burned my hand and held a bag of iced water against the injury and gave the area Reiki through the water at the same time.  It was just the same feeling as when I have hands on directly.

So I was delighted when my student shared the following story of giving Reiki to her goldfish:

"I am already feeling the benefits of self-treating myself daily and have given Reiki healing to a very sick goldfish who was suffering from swim bladder disease and had lost all his buoyancy, as well as his appetite, and barely moved. After isolating him for 7 weeks and giving him 3 courses of medication with no sign of improvement, I had all but given up on him.

However, at the end of my first day of the Reiki First Degree course, I placed my hands on his tank and gave him 5 minutes of Reiki energy and he started moving. At the end of a week of doing the same thing every day, he had regained his buoyancy completely and his appetite, was swimming normally and I was able to release him back into the pond.

I have never had a goldfish recover from swim bladder disease and I am still amazed at his recovery – I am convinced he was healed by the Reiki energy as there really is no other explanation."

There are many other people offering Reiki to animals.  When I attended the Reiki Council meeting recently I heard that there are plans to create National Occupational Standards for practitioners who want to work specifically with animals.  This doesn't mean that anyone with their own animals will be subject to any rules, but will ensure that those who offer animal treatments as a profession will be expected to meet agreed standards.  I think is a positive move for animal treatments and the good reputation of Reiki in general.

Thursday, 1 June 2017

"Just for Today do not Anger"

I found myself weeping into my lunch as I listened to the news about the bombing of a pop concert in Manchester that had killed and injured many people, including children.  I think it was the injury to those young people and the lasting effects it would have on the lives of many children that particularly affected me.

Over the ensuing days as I heard more reports of how people responded to this event I was further moved by the kindness shown: the people at the scene just after the explosion who offered first aid, the taxi drivers helping people to get home.  One story I heard was of a taxi driver who had been booked to take two children home but he couldn't park near the arena.  He walked to find them, took them back to his cab then drove them safely home.  I heard of other taxi drivers taking people home without charge and of hotels and restaurants offering food and shelter to those who had been affected.  I found this outpouring of human kindness a wonderful response to this awful situation.

When something so terrible happens it is human to react with anger.  The Reiki principles encourage us 'Just for today do not anger', but anger is a normal part of grief, so are we being told not to allow these feelings?  I don't think this is what is meant: I think we are being encouraged to let go of the anger and look at what is beneath it.  My father (a psychiatrist) taught me that beneath any anger is pain.  Reiki has taught me that in grief it can be very difficult to accept that the loss has happened and this denial leads to the pain and anger.  I have learned, through Reiki treatments, to allow the feelings - so my tears when I heard of the bombing were the beginning of healing.

In Reiki healing we understand that the true cause of illness lies at the mental, emotional and spiritual levels.  The young man who carried out the bombing was clearly ill because no balanced and healthy person could kill in that way.  The underlying causes may have been anger that, instead of being healed, was fostered and encouraged by others.  So if I am angry with him and seek revenge in some way I am falling ill, infected with the same sickness.  The Reiki principle 'Just for today do not anger' is the antidote.  Allowing the feelings of pain and sadness under the anger enables me to move through this moment towards healing.

So I have been very impressed with the people of Manchester and beyond whose response in general has not been to hate those responsible for this atrocity, but to offer loving kindness as an antidote.   Perhaps if more love had been offered to the bomber, instead of fostering of his anger and hatred, he might still be alive today with a life to benefit others ahead of him.  As it is he was infected with a terrible illness caused by anger that took his life and that of too many other young people.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Sharing the Wonder

Receiving Reiki treatments after my father's death inspired in me a desire to offer the same experience to other people.  I had never thought of being a practitioner of any kind: at the time I was running a theatre company, directing and secretly still wishing to be an actor!  However there was something about Reiki that touched me deeply and I wanted to share it.

So I was delighted to be giving my first full Reiki treatment to someone outside my immediate circle of family and friends just a couple of weeks after taking the 1st degree class and  I have been giving Reiki treatments ever since.  In those early days I didn't know how much I didn't know!  I naively thought that having completed 2nd degree I was fully prepared for working with the public.  Now, after over 25 years of experience, I have a different perspective.  However my fundamental wish to share the wonder of Reiki with others hasn't changed.

Reiki Master Kate Jones giving Reiki treatment
Giving Reiki treatments, I have found, can bring much joy.  I have recently been reading "The Book of Joy" which is based on conversations between His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Bishop Desmond Tutu.  They express the belief that humans are fundamentally good and that showing our compassion for others is the best way to a happy life.  Seeing Reiki treatments as a way to offer service, one of the fundamentals of a spiritual life in many traditions, has taken my practice deeper and brought more happiness and satisfaction to my life.

Treating family and friends can offer this sort of practice, but I have found that offering Reiki treatments to people I don't know is even more profound.  In the early days, treating strangers for the first time, I discovered that although I didn't like everyone who came for Reiki, something happened during the Reiki treatment that resulted in me having compassion for them no matter who they were.  I believe that Reiki creates a field of grace, in which there is no judgement and where connection in our essential humanity is natural.  This grace creates a space for their physical, mental and spiritual healing.  To be a part of this miracle still moves me.

I have been involved for many years in helping to set standards for Reiki practitioners who wish to offer public treatments.  I am interested in seeing other practitioners be successful in offering Reiki treatments, so that more people can benefit from Reiki.  This means ensuring that those receiving Reiki treatment are honoured and respected, that practitioners maintain their integrity and can offer Reiki in a supportive and comforting way.  Although this may seem to impose restrictions, I see this as a way for practitioners to explore their practice more deeply, because challenges can inspire personal and spiritual growth.

So if you have learned Reiki and would like to deepen your Reiki practice I would suggest that there is nothing better than becoming a public practitioner.  Sharing the wonder of Reiki in a way that will be recognised by wider society as being responsible and ideally professional can benefit you and those you treat.  It can be a wonderful way to give service in the world that can enhance our quality of life: offering comfort and kindness to strangers can bring joy to the giver as well as the recipient.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Needing To Pause

Life can be constantly busy and this can become overwhelming.  One of the beautiful gifts I have received from my Reiki practice is a way to pause.

I have learned that pauses are necessary for my well being.  For example last month 3 lovely Reiki friends died, all kind generous people, none of whom were old.  Reiki has taught me that when faced with loss like
Gwen, one of my lovely friends who died recently
this I move through the grief more easily when I pause and allow time to feel the sadness and ponder the memories.

There is a well known saying "Keep calm and carry on" which is a typically English approach to challenging situations.  Perhaps this is why so many of us ignore things that are difficult in our lives and, rather than give ourselves time to allow the feelings, 'carry on regardless'.  However what Reiki teaches me is that those feelings don't disappear because I ignore them.  They are still there and if I don't deal with them may become overwhelming at an inappropriate moment or cause imbalance that results in physical illness.

I know that when I used to go down with the flu it was usually because there was something I was ignoring.  Keeping something out of mind is stressful, which depletes the immune system and makes me more vulnerable to illness.  The resulting flu is nature's way of giving me an enforced pause!

What I try to do these days is to avoid this sort of collapse by making space for pauses in my life, dealing with the causes of difficult feelings if there's something that needs to change, or simply allowing things to be as they are if it isn't.  Pauses are also important for the integration of something new I'm learning.  When I learn a new song I know it will work it's way into my memory after I stop singing it.

Reiki practice offers several ways of having a pause.  For those initiated into Reiki the self treatment can be a daily pause: at the start of the day it can be a useful way of not rushing headlong into everything that I need to do.  Instead I pause, reflect and tune in to my body.  During this time I can become aware of intuitions about what nutritional needs my body has.  A self treatment during the working day is a good way to pause and become calm before carrying on!  As Leonardo De Vinci said: "Every now and then go away and have a little relaxation. For when you come back to your work your judgement will be surer."

Receiving a Reiki treatment from someone else (whether or not you are initiated into Reiki) is also a wonderful way to pause for a while from a busy life.  Like the Japanese Tea Ceremony - where "participants withdraw from the stresses of daily life to the peaceful setting of a special tea room" - a Reiki treatment offers time out where the recipient can experience a state of peaceful relaxation.   In the gentle hands of a good practitioner, you are held in a time of non-doing, a pause from responsibilities, a time to see what is really going on and to let go of what is not helpful.

As the Easter holiday approaches I wish you time for a pause, for reflection and for re-connection with yourself and those closest to you.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

"Kindly and gently place the hands"*

When those we love are ill or in trouble we can feel helpless and upset.  Whether it’s a temporary illness like the flu, an accidental injury like a cut hand or a more chronic illness like arthritis, there’s a natural human desire to offer kindness.   When friends suffer serious illness like cancer or a bereavement, we often yearn to help, but don't know the right words to give comfort.  When children are ill or injured it can be particularly heart-rending.  What can we do?

Those of us fortunate enough to have learned Reiki can 'kindly and gently apply our hands' and offer this wonderful healing of life energy.  No words are needed to give and receive comfort.   

In the Reiki story we learn that, after discovering that he could heal himself, founder Mikao Usui was presented with the opportunity to give help young woman suffering with a tooth abscess.  Kindly and gently placing his hands on her face he found that the healing energy that filled those hands was
also beneficial for others, as her pain quickly eased.  So began the healing art of Reiki treatments for other people.    

Shortly after this he was able to treat his friend the abbot of the monastery where he had been studying.  The abbot had arthritis and this time the healing took longer, but was still effective.  Thus Dr Usui learned the difference between treating acute and chronic conditions.

In a similar way my first experiences of how Reiki works was with friends.  The first people I treated were those in the same Reiki class as me.  We met up every Sunday for several months to practice with each other, sharing experiences and reminding each other of the hand positions.  This was my first experience of Reiki community.

I also began to offer Reiki to my family, some of whom were not interested in receiving treatment.  This was disappointing, but a good lesson in the need to respect people's individual choices and not be pushy about what I think is best for them!  Other family members were more open to offer of treatment and I have a particularly vivid memory of the first time I treated my mother.

I didn't have a treatment couch yet, so treated her sitting on her bed.  It wasn't very comfortable, but I was keen to share my new skill with her.  She had a surprising experience because she hadn't told me about her back ache, but felt sensations in her body, after which the pain was gone.  Of course I was delighted that the Reiki treatment helped her feel better.

Simply giving kind attention and placing hands gently where it hurts can bring comfort, but Reiki healing does more than this as we connect that person to an infinite source of life energy through us.  The treatment ritual is also a way of accepting what is, of acknowledging this person in whatever state of being they are in at this moment.  This is a wonderful message to offer, especially if a relationship is strained, as can happen in families. It is also a comfort for us to see the person we care about relax as their suffering eases and possibly drifting off into a healing sleep.

So it is a comfort to me that I have Reiki in my hands so I can place them kindly and gently on family and friends to ease their pain.

*I believe these are words Hawayo Takata used about giving Reiki treatment