Reiki? Where’s the proof?


energy

I recently published an interview with Tadao Yamaguchi and introduced it to the Reiki community by promising rare insight into traditional Japanese Reiki. One of the readers found themselves disappointed, as, like so many articles on Reiki, we had offered no proof or supporting evidence of what Reiki is. The following is my attempt at an answer to this reader’s questions:

 

So what is Reiki, and where is the evidence?

To answer simply, Reiki is a natural healing system using touch created by Mikao Usui in 1920s Japan after he had achieved an experience of enlightenment, and crafted from extensive, deep knowledge of various traditions. Priding himself in the simplicity of his healing system, Usui sensei deliberately chose elements that would result in a healing modality easy to learn by anyone (and not forcing them to adopt elaborate spiritual systems or beliefs).

As to proof of what Reiki really is, we cannot offer it, as to date there is none. As Mr Yamaguchi says, “if the power of Reiki were to be scientifically proven, Reiki would spread a lot more rapidly.”

 

So is Reiki a belief system?

Not in my eyes. Experience shows that belief is not necessary for Reiki to have an effect, and probably very few people believe that Reiki will help them in any way until they experience various effects for themselves. While it is true that we can’t currently measure or explain Reiki energy in scientific terms, I am convinced that it would be possible to measure some of the effects of Reiki treatment in a scientific way. For example, many people experience deep states of relaxation and, often for the first time, tune into a deep part of themselves as a result of Reiki treatment. I am sure that these Reiki induced altered states of consciousness would show up on brain monitors (as has been done for meditation). At the moment, we perhaps just lack the institutional and financial muscle to instigate research of this type.

Reiki research

For an overview of credible research available on the efficacy of Reiki (no research has been done yet specifically on Jikiden Reiki) I would recommend a look at the medical papers listed on  Pamela Miles’ website . One of the studies she often cites is on patients who have suffered a heart attack. Giving Reiki treatment in this scenario has been shown to improve heart rate variability (which indicates a state of improved resilience and makes further problems less likely).

Is Reiki spiritual or physical?

“Is the system of Reiki spiritual and if so why is an attunement necessary?” Yes, it is a spiritual healing system, and it is mostly a physical treatment method. This is me paraphrasing Mikao Usui’s answer (the founder of Reiki practice) when he was asked the same question. To me, one of the big attractions of the Reiki healing system is that it works for anyone, regardless of whether you think of yourself as a spiritual person or not. And, really, spirituality and reality are inseparable, indivisible. You may like to read  Amanda Jayne’s blog post on the subject, too.

Underlying Reiki is a Shinto world view, based on the understanding that the original creative energy that resulted in the physical universe still permeates every aspect of it. I’m not particularly knowledgeable about quantum physics, and don’t always like how some of us in the healing world latch onto it perhaps without really understanding much.  I also have a feeling that the circle is closing, and that cutting edge science is not a million miles away from what the Reiki healing system conceptualises as a spiritual world view. I’ll leave this to the people who understand science to articulate! (If there’s anything in it).

Are attunements necessary?

Now the second part of your question, “Why is an attunement necessary?” Mikao Usui discovered that he had developed the ability to heal himself and others by touch, as an unexpected by-product of an experience of enlightenment. This happened for him after years of hard ascetic practices (and perhaps lifetimes worth of preparation, who knows).

The same path is open to anyone. And highly unlikely to be successful for you and me!! (At least in the short term). The beauty of the Reiki healing system is that Mikao Usui managed to create a method that reliably enables anyone to bring enough energy through their body to benefit themselves and others. That’s why we need ‘reiju‘, the slightly inadequate English translation of which would be attunement.

How does reiju work in scientific terms? I don’t know. Does it work? Absolutely! The energy that, for example QiGong practitioners can feel build up between their hands (sometimes after years of practice) can be felt immediately after three attunements.

Are Chakras part of Reiki?

Your last question “If in reality Reiki is a holistic system using vibration to raise the vibrations of chakras, why the secret? So this is hard to answer, as I’m not sure I entirely understand your question. First of all let’s clear up a misunderstanding. The chakra system comes from India, and has nothing to do with the original Reiki system. It’s not that it’s necessarily wrong to find similarities and compatibilities with other healing systems. They were simply not part of Japanese Reiki. The conceptual framework in Jikiden Reiki is a different one, based on applying high frequency energy (Reiki) on diseased parts of the body, or those areas that have accumulated excess toxicity, and using it to stimulate the body’s innate healing and cleansing ability.

Is Reiki a secret healing method?

“Why the secret?” So here I’m not sure what secret you are referring to. Why don’t we put out everything that we teach on the internet, as has happened with the Reiki system that’s come to the West through Mrs Takata? The answer, in essence, is respect toward the teachings and the original teachers. In spiritual traditions such as Esoteric Buddhism, you probably would have had to prove yourself by scrubbing temple floors for twenty years before you would be trusted with anything of equivalent value to what you are being taught in the Reiki healing system. Does it help, putting all that we know out there on the internet? Not in my view, as it simply cheapens everything and exposes form without understanding, leading to more and more mis-understanding.

Can we preserve the integrity of Reiki practice?

Are there any guarantees that we avoid misunderstanding when passing on the teachings directly (as the original teachers did)? I guess there can never be any absolute guarantees. We simply make the very best effort that we can to offer the teachings in their integrity, with their background understanding intact as much as is possible, by qualified teachers, who have had to demonstrate their understanding before becoming teachers. Does this offer a complete safeguard towards preserving the integrity of the teachings? No. Not always. People still filter what they are being taught through previously encountered concepts, misremember, misunderstand or apply their own ideas.  In Jikiden Reiki, this inevitable situation is counterbalanced by a worldwide supportive community including many practitioners and teachers inside and outside of Japan who are familiar with the Japanese language and culture. There is also a standard curriculum that is being taught by all Jikiden Reiki teachers.Committed to passing on Reiki in its original simplicity and clarity, we take collective custodianship of the practice and gently point out to each other when we think that we’re getting something wrong.

What’s with the Baby Buddha? (What’s Reiki got to do with marketing)


Meeting a friend for coffee at lunch time, and feeling tired and frustrated from a morning spent dealing with technical and practical hiccups, the conversation seemed to suddenly become fiery when we touched on the subject of ‘branding’. What’s branding got to do with Reiki, you may wonder? Bear with me.

I had only just finished developing a strong new brand identity for ‘Complete Health Borders’, the wellness centre in the Central Borders that is home to my Simply Jikiden Treatment and Training Centre in Galashiels.

Complete Health BordersThe Maori concept of ‘koru’, the unfurling fern, seems to me the perfect embodiment for Complete Health Borders’ vision and aspiration: to offer a (near) complete range of tools and methods for unfolding personal potential: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual (if that’s what you want). A truly holistic approach to health.

At the risk of being immodest; I LOVE the visual identity that our designer has developed for us from the spark provided by my idea (the ‘koru’ representing unfolding health and the expression of life). My friend confirmed that even though not everyone may instantly pick up on the full depth of the concept, its essence: harmony with nature, unexpressed potential ready to spring to life, energy and vitality instantly communicate on a gut level. That’s what you want from a brand, and having a taste for the elegance of simplicity, I expressed a slight feeling of jealousy (as I’ve developed the koru brand identity for someone else’s business, although the day-to-day running is my job).

When I first found my vocation in life; Reiki practice, I didn’t have a clue about either marketing or business. In fact both were alien to me, as I would never want to sell anything that I didn’t truly believe in, and I have never been motivated primarily by money. It took the realisation that I can only express my purpose and contribute my gift, if I can also feed my family, to prompt me to brush up on those particular skills.  How fortunate then that I do truly appreciate the value of Jikiden Reiki.

“No need to feel jealous”, my friend says. “Your Buddha is an amazing brand ambassador, it’s so solid (made of stone), yet gentle and radiating peace. Also humorous and a bit quirky.” Now, that dear friend, made my day! If ‘brand’ is the visual signifier of an essence, of embodied values and aspiration, then my Baby Buddha IS perfect for SimplyJikiden:

blogbuddhaThere’s nothing ‘fluffy’ in Jikiden Reiki, it’s solid, practical, down-to-earth and backed up by experience and deep roots: rock solid. My friend comments that I don’t talk much about the spiritual nature of Reiki practice. That’s because I don’t need to: a sense of peace and spirituality embodied in every-day life is its very nature. Compassion in action.

(The humorous bit, that’s a part that my students and clients sometimes appreciate about me, and the quirky, well, I’ve always felt like a bit of  a one-off-kind-of-animal: I’ll choose to take it as a compliment).

Postscript:

My friend and I made an agreement that we would both blog from the moments of inspiration that we struck in our conversation. My blog post was to tell the story of the Baby Buddha, and how the image came to me.  As that part of the deal remains to be delivered, keep your eyes peeled for part 2!

Flying by my own colours


shadow

Recently I stumbled into something precious. Synchronistically. Attracted by unqualified, instinctive resonance.

Do you sometimes feel drawn to something without consciously knowing why …but feeling the pull and trusting it?

Finding Reiki was like that for me. I had never even heard of it, and as a young adult, that is, before a traumatic and life-changing experience in my life, I would have been certain to run a mile. Ten miles in fact. But aged 33, it was Reiki that stood out in a pile of 10 books on complementary therapies, and synchronicity quickly lead me on my way. (I have never looked back).

Bon Buddhism. I know nothing about it. Each time it is mentioned I prick up my being. I have to pay attention.

So, the only time and place that I can catch the Tibetan Buddhist Lama on his tour of Scotland is in Edinburgh, for a talk on clearing negative karma. The history of Yungdrung Bon Buddhism is mentioned, and again I feel this inexplicable resonance, a sense of recognition.

The gifts I receive are immense, immeasurable. Practically speaking, this takes the shape of being initiated into a mantra to clear negative karma. Experientially , energetically, personally it means more clearing of traumatic impressions left behind on my soul.

I’m a kinaesthetic learner, and if you give me a mantra in Tibetan, even if perfectly phonetically transcribed, it’s going to take me time and effort (and a lot of repetition) to learn. One evening is clearly not going to be enough.

So I respond to the call to practice coming in via email from the organiser next day. Expecting to attend the first day of a three-day-training event in Glasgow in order to practise the mantra that I had been given.

Instead, I am given the foundation teachings of Yungdrung Bon Buddhism and I take refuge. This is big, and I know it. The Lama points out how lucky we are: 90 percent of Tibetans (or some high percentage like that) have never had access to these powerful esoteric practices.

During the empowerment (or before, I can’t now be sure), Rinpoche points out that if received with a pure, devotional mind, one particular part of the initiation has the power to clear at least 50% of one’s negative karma. The aim of the path and these practices is Enlightenment, and human life is precious, he explains. (So let’s not waste it)

Devotion comes naturally to me, it is part of who I am. Perhaps a residue from my native Catholicism, or more deeply woven into the fabric of who I am. Or both.

And I do feel lighter.

Embodying Mindfulness

I have always had reservations about spiritual names. When my friend, after years of committing to Buddhist practice, came back from retreat with shorn hair, requesting I no longer call her Bernadette, I felt compelled to adjust; out of respect. And I got it: that this practice of taking on a new name can be both powerful and meaningful. But to me, when encountered more casually, it can also sometimes have a whiff of vanity about it.

So, I have never sought the opportunity to have a book signed (no need to put each other on a pedestal), and I have never wanted a spiritual name.

I am given one. It is the antithesis of where I am and where I have been for the last two or three years. An invitation to embody mindfulness. A tall order.

When I have been chronically overwhelmed, both with practical commitments, and with the experience of diving deep into my shadow. On a journey to becoming lighter, letting go of what no longer serves, the hidden stuff. At times barely conscious of what day-to-day everyday life requires of me, running most of my duties on auto-pilot (or also not, as the case may be).

Samten Lhamo. A challenge. Another gift.

Commitment

So what do I do with these gifts? They ask for commitment and practice in return.

An invitation to practice the foundation teachings arrived in my inbox this morning. (And practice I need, if I am ever going to learn anything in Tibetan!). What I am going to do?

My gut already knows the answer. I have been asking myself this question ever since, by life’s divine intervention, I accidentally (re)discovered Bon, a few weeks ago.

I accept the gifts I have been given with a deep sense of gratitude and I appreciate the help I have received on my way.

I honour and respect the teachings I received by committing more deeply , and yet again, to the path I am already on: Jikiden Reiki.

I see the value and beauty and truth of what I have been given, and return to where I am best aligned now: the simplicity of authentic reiki practice.

Is Reiki physical or spiritual? Guest blog by Amanda Jayne


Shinto spiritualityPeople often ask if Jikiden Reiki is a physical or a spiritual treatment. My answer is that it is primarily a physical treatment, used on the body to enrich and empower the body’s innate natural healing wisdom. However, as with all things in life, it cannot be separated from the whole. When practicing Jikiden Reiki, each person places his or her hands on and energy flows into the body, enhancing healing by helping the body to eliminate the build up of toxins – usually quite fast. The primary emphasis is on practical physical treatment, though there is also an effective psychological treatment – Sei Heki – used to help with fears, habits or anxieties that people want to let go of. Continue reading

Why we really don’t need a Guru


relaxing after the Jikiden Reiki seminar

Once in a while, quite often actually to be honest, I ask myself what it is that I value so much about Jikiden Reiki. There are many answers to this question. Today I want to focus on the power of being ordinary. Of simply being yourself. Continue reading