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Reiki: Nothing New Age About It

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Over the years the only time I ever seem to beat the odds are those moments when the chances of things going wrong in a medical procedure are a thousand to one against. Due to such phenomenal luck I had to deal with sympathetic dystrophy in my left leg that got so bad I almost lost the limb.

They say that every cloud has a silver lining, and mine was that through sheer desperation I turned to complementary medicine for a solution to my problem. When I entered the acupuncturist’s office for the first time I could barely walk. Three years later I no longer needed a cane.

Having once had my eyes opened I have never shut them. When my wife and I got together she was just beginning her training in Therapeutic Touch. This was a system of non contact massage developed by two nurses who were seeking a means of bringing comfort to patients who for one reason or another could not tolerate physical touch.

The practitioner gently manipulates the energy field around the patient in order to try and smooth areas of agitation. While it may sound far fetched and somewhat preposterous the results are remarkable. Hospitals have found that patients who have received therapy have had their levels of anxiety decreased dramatically. More and more health care facilities have taken to having Therapeutic Touch practitioners on staff.

The more she learned, and taught me, the more fascinated we both became with the idea of these types of healing modalities. When a friend offered us the opportunity to begin the process of learning Reiki we jumped at the chance.

Reiki was originally designed to help people with developing their own self awareness. A serious of symbols acting as a means of focusing intent, assisting in meditation on the universal flow of energy. Gradually it was expanded into a modality that could be used for treatments to help others.

A facilitator and client would agree upon an intent, and then the former would utilize the symbols to focus energy, and work with the client to fulfill their goal. There is nothing magical or mystical about it, no divine intervention was promised that would change your life or make you a new person. It is simply a means of helping people focus on and perhaps solve their problems.

My wife and I are now both what is known as Masters of two types of Reiki; the traditional Usui Tibetan and it’s modern offshoot Karuna Reiki. All this means is that we are able to teach other people the modality. It is not a designation of rank. We have both received certification through the only regulatory body in North America, The International Centre for Reiki in the United States

The process of becoming a Reiki Master is a matter of being “Attuned” to an increasing number of symbols. These serve the purpose of aiding in focusing and channelling,(I don’t mean talking for some star being or dolphins or any such garbage, but the original meaning of the word: acting as a means of passage) with an ever increasing ability, universal energy. There is no religion involved with the practice as each individual is free to draw upon their own faith to help them in any way necessary.

The four levels of Usui-Tibetan Reiki: One, Two, Advanced Reiki Training, and Master, require a learning process involving a minimum of two years of study and practice. Like any of the meditative arts it was considered essential that a student spend time with each level of study, learning and assimilating, before continuing.

In order to become a Master a student must be willing to undergo changes that free themselves to be more open receptacles of universal energy. Ideally they will learn to be nothing more then a transmitter, allowing a unadulterated flow to pass through them to who ever they are helping. Ego and any other motivations ulterior to this purpose have to be set aside to successfully obtain this goal.

The simple process of learning the various levels of Reiki precipitates self awareness. Hopefully at the end of a student’s education not only will they have the tools and ability to help others they will have helped themselves.

Karuna Reiki is a more recent evolution of the older form. It was developed by the International centre for Reiki under the leadership of William Rand. This organization has been dedicated to the preservation and teaching of Dr. Usui’s original teachings for over twenty years and William Rand is one of the few people in North America who was taught directly by Dr. Usui’s wife.

The hardest thing about being a practitioner of any of the complimentary methods of treatment are the associations people have with them. The most difficult image to overcome is the New Age association. Nothing makes it harder to be taken seriously then people lumping you in with scarf draped, bangle wearing, nonsense spewing, air heads.

Unfortunately there is far too much truth in that assumption for it to be lightly dismissed. It’s gotten to the point that I’ve become embarrassed to admit that I have anything to do with these modalities. While my opinion of their validity hasn’t changed, I’m finding it harder and harder to associate myself with others who are practitioners and teachers.

Maybe at heart I’m a conservative when it comes to certain matters, but it seems to me that when you are given a present as potent as Reiki to work with a certain amount of humility should accompany the gift. Instead too many are beginning to believe in themselves as on some sort of divine mission to heal the world.

It has come to the point that numerous brands of Reiki are springing up all over the place. Be attuned to the angels; feel the divine ray of purple light; ascended masters are with us and so on. The original concept of what it was all about has been forgotten, its become more important for too many people to become attuned to the latest fad brand then to actually due anything with their education.

Than there are those who feel they have to impose religion onto the practice. The reason for the practice being set up in the way it was originally was to ensure maximum comfort and ease for the client. But if your sitting trying to relax, how comfortable are you going to be if you hear some yahoo invoking angles, spirits, ascended masters, and whatever else is the spiritual flavour of the week. I’d run away as if my ass were on fire.

Of course it’s also become a nice little business for some people. Teach ten people in a weekend Reiki Level 1 at $150.00 a pop and you make yourself a cool $1500.00. The competition for the Reiki dollar is pretty intense. There’s nothing funnier than “spiritual” people playing “ I’m more in tune with the universe then you are” games in an effort to corner the market.

My wife and I have pretty much gotten to the point where we’ve stopped teaching. Or at least charging for the service. The only time we teach now is if we meet someone whom we think will be able to put it to practical use, for their own benefit or others. Than all we ask is they cover the costs of their manuals and registration.

The international Reiki Centre is doing it’s best to regulate the practice, trying to ensure the integrity of the modality. I have to admit that I had some doubts about them initially because of their development of Karuna Reiki. I assumed it was an attempt to cash in like so many others. But it is a legitimate effort to deal with the traumas specific to twentieth century western culture.

Part of their ability to regulate comes from their control over Karuna. The Reiki Centre will only allow people who are proven Usui-Tibetan Masters to learn Karuna Reiki, and they carefully monitor the certification of all teachers and practitioners, ensuring the integrity of the modality. Once you are certified you are entered into their database and given a numbered certificate.

Not only can people than ensure their teacher is valid, they can also easily report transgressions in behaviour or any questionable practices. The only people who seem bothered by this are those people who the system is designed to prevent from teaching and exploiting the knowledge.

Like me, The Reiki Centre, has become increasingly disturbed by the dilution of Reiki’s character through the birth of so many bizarre hybrids. By strictly controlling the issuing of licenses I think they are hoping to distinguish themselves from a host of pretenders, and not lose the respect the modality has earned with other fields through the actions of flakes. With Reiki being accepted by hospitals as legitimate therapy, some even having practitioners on staff, the last thing needed is to have its credibility strained through association with the worst sort of new age Babel speak.

Reiki is not a religion, it won’t change your life unless your already working on changing it, and its not going to save the world. What it can do is help you focus your mind, attune you to the universal energy that flows through all live, thus strengthening your own abilities to aid yourself and others through the same process. But remember, there is no such thing as a quick fix no matter who or what anyone claims to be channelling.

Author’s note: I have tried to use the Amazon.com links to illustrate some of the points that I have made in the article. Please take them with how ever much salt is needed

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About Richard Marcus

Richard Marcus is the author of two books commissioned by Ulysses Press, "What Will Happen In Eragon IV?" (2009) and "The Unofficial Heroes Of Olympus Companion". Aside from Blogcritics his work has appeared around the world in publications like the German edition of Rolling Stone Magazine and the multilingual web site Qantara.de. He has been writing for Blogcritics.org since 2005 and has published around 1900 articles at the site.