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:

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.

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Reiki and the Japanese Tea Ceremony

Earlier this year on a visit to the Ashmolean museum in Oxford, I saw an information panel about the Japanese Tea Ceremony.  I was struck by the description of the ceremony as a way to withdraw from the stresses of the life for a time and to be served with grace and politeness, without expectation of conversation.  I felt that this is very similar to what happens when I give Reiki treatments.  Those receiving the treatment are like honoured guests, taking time out from their daily lives to relax and be served with grace and no expectation of talking.  People often tell me how refreshed in body and soul they feel after their Reiki.

I was therefore excited when I heard that we would be experiencing a tea ceremony during my recent visit to Japan.  The experience supported my feelings of a similarity between a Reiki treatment and the Japanese Tea Ceremony. 

We went to the tea house in the late afternoon, after a busy day visiting Ninjo castle, Niji-Jinya house and the imperial palace.  By the time we were heading for the tea master's home I was hot, tired and in need of a rest!  On arrival we removed our shoes and were made welcome in a lovely room, where there was a tokonoma (alcove) where a  calligraphy scroll that said "harmony, respect, purity and tranquility" and beautiful flower arrangement were displayed.   With the beautiful Zen garden outside the window it was a restful space.

Like Reiki treatment, the tea ceremony has a defined form.  Traditional dress of kimono and hakama
are usually worn.   Guests are first served  some tasty seasonal delicacy, on this occasion a small bean paste cake.  The wife of the tea master then prepared the tea: carefully and mindfully placing the tea powder in the bowl, adding the hot water with a ladle, whisking the tea and then presenting it with a bow to the person she was serving.    Their 11 year old grandson also helped to serve the tea, dressed in hakama and bowing beautifully to each person he served.  There was a palpable atmosphere of kindness in the room.  We were also taught about the different ways to bow, according to the status of the person you are bowing to.  We also learned that to make a slurping sound as we finished the last sip of tea was a sign of grateful enjoyment!

Like Reiki, the Tea Ceremony has its origins in Zen Buddhism.  Tea was drunk by the monks in China to keep them awake during long hours of sitting meditation.  Tea was brought to Japan along with the meditation practice and from this developed into the Tea Ceremony. 

When the ceremony was over and we went to put on our shoes I noticed that I no longer felt tired.  The kindness of tea ceremony had brought a sense of calm and peace.  Just like Reiki it had indeed been a refreshing break from the stress of life, bringing ease in body and soul.

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

A Visionary Hospital

During Phyllis Furumoto's professional Reiki practice seminar that I attended last weekend one of the participants shared her experience of a recent hospital stay in Oregon USA.   Elizabeth is a Reiki master and found that there was a culture of kindness in the hospital.  She observed that the staff  relationships were supportive and relaxed.  She also received this kindness in her treatment and care. 

She complimented them on this culture of kindness, saying they must have a good human resources department.  She was told that it was not down to the HR, but came right from the management at the top.

One evening she needed to have some intravenous treatment, but the nurses were having difficulty finding a vein.  Her nurse said she would have two more attempts, which were also unsuccessful.

"Time to call Amber" she said.  Amber, it turned out, is the Hospital Supervison and, Elizabeth discovered in conversation with her, a Reiki master.  She is also a midwife and the person who is called when there is a difficult birth.  She duly arrived and rather than begin to try finding a vein right away, she first gave 10 minutes of Reiki to the arm where she wished to insert the needle.  She then inserted it with no problem.

I have been thinking about how Reiki could help our beleaguered NHS in the UK - I can see many possibilities, but to hear this story about a hospital in the USA where Reiki and  culture of kindness are already happening and benefiting patients was very inspiring. 

I would love to see more NHS staff receiving Reiki, to help them deal with the stress levels many of them currently suffer.  It would also be wonderful if an understanding that people do better when there is a culture of kindness could reach management levels and could be acted on. 

It would also be wonderful to see Reiki integrated in the care setting, to support the allopathic treatment with the relaxing and calming effects of Reiki.  Doctors already know that patients who have a positive outlook and are relaxed about their treatment do better - and are often easier to treat!  If Reiki could be available for more patients alongside the intrusive treatments sometimes necessary, it could help those treatments to be more effective.

I also know of several Reiki students and practitioners who have had to have surgery who have needed little or no pain relief (they used Reiki instead) and who were up and about quickly and therefore able to vacate their hospital bed sooner.  One case I heard of recently (a man whose sister was treating him) needed his intensive care bed for only 1 night when it had been booked for him for 3 weeks!

However in order to be accepted in such settings practitioners need to be properly prepared, which means doing further training after 2nd degree.  Those who have been attending my Professional Practitioner Foundation Course in Ludlow are making those first steps and I hope that others will follow their lead in the future.