Updated: Oct 6
When I teach a Reiki class, I am at great pains to emphasise the need to engage in a good solid mindfulness meditation practice as a part of any engagement with Reiki as a simple energy healing discipline, whether for oneself or others.
Personally, I am much more interested in the meditation aspects of the system than I am in hands-on healing, though it must be said that both facets of the system are equally important.
Not so long ago, there was nary a mention of mindfulness in the context of Reiki. Even today, when you do a Google search on mindfulness and Reiki, you come up with a few vague references to how the Reiki Precepts are based in the practice of mindfulness or some basic guidance on how to use Reiki alongside mindfulness in a therapeutic setting.
But mindfulness is much more deeply embedded in the system of Reiki than that.
As Reiki Master, Taggart King noted on his website: “According to Usui Sensei’s surviving students, Mikao Usui introduced his students to the practice of mindfulness at First Degree level and emphasised this more at Second Degree level.” For those who don’t know, Mikao Usui was the founder of the system of Reiki.
We can see therefore that mindfulness has always been an intrinsic part of the practice of Reiki from the very beginning of a student's training. Sadly, in the West, this is mostly absent in the teaching of the system.
Mindfulness, in fact, is the foundation on which Reiki sits, and without it, Reiki as either a spiritual practice or as a simple hands-on energy discipline is significantly diminished. It goes much further than a relationship with the Reiki Precepts or as an adjunct in a therapeutic setting. It is this deep relationship between mindfulness meditation and the practice of Reiki that I have explored in my new book, Mindfulness Meditation and The Art of Reiki (out next year from Ayni Books).
Importantly, if your relationship to Reiki is as a healing therapy, mindfulness brings an intense engagement with the discipline that not only enhances your client's experience but also blurs the boundaries between the hands-on healing aspects of the system and the spiritual dimensions of the practice.
Using Mindfulness in the Context of Hands-On Healing
I routinely see and hear of Reiki practitioners, often out of an intense feeling of compassion, intending to fix this or that or trying to make something happen when they lay their hands on a client who is suffering. As counterintuitive as this might seem, this approach to Reiki healing is not a good thing and reveals a lack of understanding of how Reiki and energy healing in general, at its most sophisticated level, should work.
In practicing Reiki as therapy we can assume that when someone is suffering, let’s say, from a pain in the stomach or persistent, recurring headaches that the solution is to remove the offending problem and so, balance will naturally be restored. An effort is therefore made to direct the energy or bring the energetic force of the practitioner’s intention into the healing equation. The objective of the exercise is to make the energy do what we think it should do to bring about the healing response that we think the client needs (and certainly wants). I talked about why this is not a sensible approach to Reiki in a healing context in a previous post.
What has this got to do with mindfulness meditation?
When we practice mindfulness at the same time as giving a Reiki treatment, we remove our mind from the healing process. Stepping our minds out of the way of the treatment through a meditation practice also encourages a greater flow of energy for the client, enhancing their healing experience. In bringing stillness to the mind rather than having it worry over whether the treatment is working, feeling tense if the problem isn’t resolved the way we think it should be, or planning what we are going to have for lunch once the client is gone, is not conducive in any way to the practice of Reiki. In Reiki, we need to learn to be still. We need to develop the ability to get into Being Mode and out of Doing Mode. Reiki doesn’t need us to do anything other than putting our hands on the client and get out of the way. As I say to my students, once your hands are on, the healing process is nothing to do with you: it’s really none of your business. Just allow the energy to do whatever it needs to do, which will always be for the highest good of the client even though it may run counter to what you or your client is seeking.
The ‘Doing Mode’ is the mind’s ability to solve problems: getting us from where we are now, to where we want to be; breaking down information, and analysing it to see if it can find a solution. We use this mode for everything from designing new skyscrapers to creating work schedules. We need Doing Mode, obviously, but we also need Being Mode. Being Mode helps us develop our wisdom mind (insight), alongside our hearts of compassion. This is critical in the use of Reiki as a healing discipline. As Frank Petter noted in his book, This is Reiki:
“Human consciousness becomes more powerful when it is empty of thoughts… you don’t need an effort to give Reiki; it flows through you without your doing. Stop thinking while giving Reiki and become your hands. In this way, several things happen: First: more energy flows through you. Second: you don’t get tired. Third, you are not tempted to have egoistic thoughts. Fourth, you discipline your mind while giving Reiki, and the treatment becomes a meditative experience of emptiness.”
It is this meditative experience of emptiness that is the true gift of Reiki and of Reiki healing. In a sense, every treatment that we give is an opportunity for further personal development. It is a chance to experience the Absolute, the emptiness of form, the unborn, unoriginated mind that is our birthright. It’s an opportunity to be still in every engagement with Reiki and discover the universe within.
We can say that the twin qualities of compassion and wisdom that arise as a consequence of practicing mindfulness meditation and which are enhanced through integration with hands-on healing are the natural attributes of the fully awakened mind. The realisation of this blissful state of pure awareness spontaneously gives rise to the desire for the liberation of all beings from the realms of suffering. When we practice Reiki, we can be very aware of the transformative nature of the practice, which is to say the transformative nature of the energy that we are working with.
Through mindfulness, we can start to understand and experience the underlying subtle energy that pervades every aspect of our being. In a sense, we could say that all levels of being are simply different qualities or vibrations of consciousness which we can perceive in terms of various qualities or vibrations of subtle energy.
As I noted in Mindfulness Meditation and the Art of Reiki, in realising that consciousness is no more than a movement of subtle energy as an aspect of the universal energy field, we still need to acknowledge that:
“… standing behind and deeply embedded within our experience is the notion that there is an independent ‘I’. This ‘I’ is constantly declaring “Here I am, this is me thinking”. But when we contemplate this and bring our awareness to the notion that there is such a thing as an independent ‘I’, we can perhaps start to see that this is nothing more than a label for a collection of different aspects or vibrational qualities that when brought together seem to constitute this thing called ‘me’ or ‘I’. Neuroscientists will tell you that there is in fact no trace of a ‘self’ in the physical brain.”
As we more fully engage in our meditation activity, we can start to realise the truth of form is emptiness, emptiness is form, that there is nothing that inherently exists, including this thing that we call ‘self’.
When we can engage with Reiki in a therapeutic context through the mediating activity of mindfulness meditation, extraordinary things can happen. Not only can the concept of self be thrown into radical doubt, but it can disappear altogether.
About three years ago I gave a Reiki treatment to one of my students. At the time she was in a highly stressful job that placed many demands on her physically, intellectually, and emotionally. When I saw her, she was about to fly off to New York for a business meeting, leaving behind a plethora of urgent deadlines with no chance of meeting them. She was a wreck.
She lay on the treatment bed, and I placed my hands on her head, dropping into a practice called the Six Point Meditation, which is a mindfulness practice focused on the flow of subtle energy through the body that takes place as a consequence of the Reiki initiations (the process by which someone gains the ability to practice Reiki). One of the benefits of this practice is that having the Reiki energy as a focus for meditation actively encourages a greater flow of energy for the benefit of the client. About one minute into my meditation as the energy at my hands intensified, I felt my mind fully merge with the mind of my student. There was only one mind, infinite and utterly still. There was nothing in this mind, yet it seemed as if it was the whole universe and everything in it. It was a moment of utter and extreme bliss that lasted a moment but seemed to go on forever.
When the moment ended, so did the treatment, less than five minutes after it started. When my student got up from the treatment bed, she told me that her mind was empty, like a glassy pool with no ripples on it. There was no thought, just deep stillness. A profound sense of calm and utter serenity seemed to emanate from her. This is the place that meditation can take you to when practiced during a Reiki treatment. The self dissolves into the infinite. There is no practitioner and client, just a deep sense of merging as the ‘I’ melts away.
If you are serious about developing your ability as a Reiki therapist, start practicing mindfulness whilst giving treatments. Reiki is so much more than just a hands-on therapy. It’s a journey of profound discovery.
If you want to try the Six Point Meditation yourself, here it is:
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