There has been quite a lot of discussion in the Facebook group recently about just how difficult it is to explain Reiki to others.
People who have never experienced Reiki can be quite skeptical or disbelieving. Sometimes those who have heard of Reiki might not be clear about what it really is. It cropped up in conversation for me recently with one lady who said she knew all about Reiki, although she actually thought it was more to do with Tarot reading.
Explaining can be a minefield. Partly because it is based on Eastern traditions and values, which don't immediately translate well in a Western culture, and partly because Reiki practice is so diverse – what one person understands as Reiki may have nothing to do with how you or I might understand it. We are all different.
I was sad to hear in the group that one lady had experienced people being rude to her. Actually, on reflection, I have too. It can be hurtful and dis-empowering.
So it is timely this month that I share with you my recent experience of some training in this area.
I had the very great pleasure of attending a workshop in Edinburgh with Pamela Miles, of Reiki in Medicine.
I don't live too near Edinburgh, but since I am in the UK and Pamela is based in New York I felt I had to take the opportunity to go and see her speak live. It was just a shame that I had a very trying few days just prior to the workshop and arrived there feeling like a wet rag and far too tired to chat! But never mind.
For those who don't know Pamela's work yet, she is a Reiki Master of international standing who has worked with, and introduced Reiki into medical settings in New York. She has also written peer reviewed Reiki papers and been involved in Reiki research. What a pioneer!
The workshop covered Pamela's Four Step Balance System for Communicating Reiki to Anyone. Of course, having worked alongside medics throughout her career and having therefore encouraged some of the most skeptical people around to work with Reiki, she has a lot to say about this which is really well worth hearing.
I can't share the whole of Pamela's workshop here, it is not mine to share, but I am happy to share some tips which resonated with me and which support, perhaps in different words, some of the suggestions I made in my blog post in June where we looked at my Top 5 Strategies for explaining Reiki.
Perhaps one of the key things when sharing Reiki is to remember that it is an Eastern spiritual practice, rather than simply a treatment modality (which of course is one aspect of it).
People uninitiated with the system, or spiritual matters in general perhaps might not need to be given a lot of information, up front, about Reiki energy or distance healing or anything else that can seem so far out to our rational Western minds.
James Deacon suggests the same, that we perhaps might think about avoiding describing Reiki as an energy healing method with new people and see how this works for us. After all, science cannot yet see or measure the subtle energy field. Our experience tells us that there is one of course, and we make sense of this experience by describing it in the best way we can.
We can however free ourselves of the need to explain Reiki. We can simply say that Reiki is, to use Pamela's words, a “transformational spiritual practice”.
Another way of describing it might be that it is a Japanese self care and wellness practice which one can use or learn as a way of taking care of ourselves, much like one might learn meditation or yoga.
This is a particularly useful one if we are also teachers of Reiki. It reminds us that in order to master Reiki, it is something that we ourselves should be making use of and practicing daily in our own lives. It also starts new clients off with an understanding that Reiki is not a magic bullet for the treatment of specific illnesses in isolation, but rather a lifetime practice which they too can learn.
We can do this by:
We can journal our experiences. That way, we have a record of just how far we are moving and growing. This can be illuminating to look back on.
We can also:
In addition to the huge personal benefits that this will provide, it also allows us to anchor our treatments and teaching in personal practice, a deep personal experience and conviction. As well as embodying Reiki, we will also find it a much easier topic to share, when we can speak from our own authentic experience.
Then, when asked how Reiki works, we are free to say perhaps that science does not yet know. Science can't yet explain it. It is experiential rather than scientific. It can be experienced and the best way to understand it is to experience a treatment. A treatment brings a deep state of relaxation, which is facilitated through light touch.
If asked, we can then go on to explain that a treatment is therefore balancing to our mind, body and spirit. It is our quiet time where we can re-set our internal regulatory mechanisms and begin to steer ourselves towards balance.
We can also reassure our potential clients that Reiki is safe. Clinical trials to date have not shown there to be any ill effects.
There is a small, but growing body of evidence which does suggest that Reiki has beneficial physical and psychological effects.
If you are interested in knowing more about research into the benefits of Reiki check out some of the posts below.
You can watch a recording of Pamela's training here.
I also have a free guide to explaining Reiki to others. It's available below. Some people have found it handy to keep on their phone as an aide memoir.
Angela established the Reiki Incentive for Reiki practitioners who want to see Reiki more widely accepted and to see it reach new people. She enjoys sharing her passion for authentic practice as well as research into the benefits of this wonderful therapy.