When I started massage school, I was a complete and utter stressed out mess. I was working roughly 70 hours a week at a job that no longer held any satisfaction for me. I had been so stressed for most of my life that the incredible amount of stress I was experiencing seemed normal. Oh yes, I also had an auto-immune disease, gall stones, a repetitive use injury, and several pinched nerves. Like I said, I was a mess.
I first learned about reiki in massage school when 2 of my fellow students did a presentation about it as part of a class assignment. From the get go I was pretty dubious of this “miraculous” healing modality in which the client was never actually touched. The secret symbols cemented its status as a form of snake oil in my mind. Yes, I thought it was a big ole load of horse pucky.
But several classes later, something extraordinary happened. I experienced an amazing healing from Reiki when I had absolutely no expectations… less than zero expectations if that’s possible.
Here’s what happened: I had horrific back pain the night before we were to have a guest speaker in class to talk about energy work and do a Reiki demonstration. The pain was so bad that I’d had to take pain medication, which left me groggy the next morning, which made me late to class. Yes, this was a regular enough problem that I had a bottle of pain meds for it. (Didn’t I tell you I was messed up?) Being a responsible adult, I called the school to let them know and they informed the guest speaker. I arrived just as she was starting her talk, and took a seat in the back of the class.
The chair was uncomfortable, my back was still aching, and I had no interest in listening to anyone talk about something as airy fairy and useless as energy work. Still, as a responsible adult I did my best to at least look like I was paying attention. When she got ready to do her demonstration, she looked right at me and said, “Would you like to be the demo body, Michelle. I know you’ve had some back pain recently and it looks like it’s still bothering you.” I was ready to decline when it occurred to me that I would be lying face down on the massage table so I wouldn’t have to pretend to pay attention. I also realized that my sleep deprived body and brain may get a nap out of the whole thing. So, up I went to the front of the class to be the guinea pig.
I climbed onto the massage table and settled in face down. She told the class what she was going to do, and then started drawing the secret symbols in the air above me. She would be drawing them too fast, she said, for anyone not trained in Reiki to be able to follow along. The whole time, I was lying there getting more relaxed and starting to feel like I might fall asleep soon. She hadn’t laid a hand on me, when suddenly, I felt the vertebrae in my lower back start to move. Holy Hell, I thought, maybe there is something to this Reiki BS after all. I never did get that nap. And my back was completely pain free when I got up off the table.
I can’t chalk it up to placebo effect, because the only thing I expected was to not have to pay attention to her, and the only hope I had was for a nap. I did not expect to feel anything whatsoever. This eventually led me to study reiki. Eventually. I can be a tad stubborn, and even though my experience was pretty mind-blowing, I still didn’t like the secrecy thing.
When I walked into my first Reiki class, I had no idea what to expect. We started with a meditation, which was one of my first forays into that form of centering and grounding. I have to admit, I liked the meditation part and it was very useful later in the class when we were practicing reiki on each other. Through the mediation, we learned to be quietly focused rather than intensely focused. I hadn’t even known that was possible. What an extraordinary shift in thinking and working. It’s much more effective to work with a quiet focus, and less stressful, too.
It’s not uncommon to talk about personal growth in a Reiki class. In a good reiki class you learn to quiet your mind and gaze inward, which allows you to have insights into yourself that you’re normally either too busy to notice or are actively trying to ignore. It also allows you to have a more realistic vision of your strengths and weaknesses. Both are a necessary pre-requisite to growth. That said, it’s also not uncommon to have a powerful, spontaneous insight (or several insights) while receiving the Reiki attunement. (It’s also not uncommon to not to have this type experience.) However it occurs, most people experience some level of personal growth while studying Reiki
Reiki also provides a simple, ethical, nonjudgmental framework for living life known as the Reiki Ideals. The ideals are:
The simplicity of the ideals was appealing then but it seems downright brilliant now. Back then I was a perfectionist, which is an exhausting and impossible way to live. Those simple ideals brought some level of sanity to my life.
Here’s the biggest sanity saver the Ideals has to offer: Just for today. It’s so important, so brilliant, and so helpful that I call it THE Reiki Ideal. What comes after, doesn’t really matter. It could be “Just for today, I will be present to the possibilities that today is offering.” Or “Just for today, I will not worry about what tomorrow will bring.” It can also take on a more practical use like: “Just for today, I will not eat carbs.” That’s doable, right? It’s certainly way more doable than telling yourself you can never eat carbs again. Ever. How daunting. How depressing.
Every efficiency and productivity guru will tell you to break down the big projects or goals into smaller chunks so you know not only where to start and where to finish, you also get to cross the smaller chunk off your to do list a lot quicker. Actually, by breaking down projects and goals into smaller, more doable pieces, you get to cross lots of things off your to do list. Yipee. I can get behind crossing lots of things off my to do list. What about you?
It was in this vein that my Reiki teacher told us that if we were having a bad day, we could break down the Reiki ideals into smaller, more manageable chunks: Just for this morning, I will be devoted to my work. Just for this afternoon, I will not visualize strangling my boss. Just for this evening, I will not drink the entire bottle of wine.
You can take it even farther, if you need to; Just for this hour, I will be kind to my boss. Just for this hour, I will not be angry with my [lazy] coworkers. Just for this hour, I will not worry about things that don’t concern me [like my neighbor’s new car].
The ultimate tweak is this: Just for this moment. No pressure. Just for this one moment… then the next… and the next.
After using this Ideal for more than a decade, I still have days where I need to say to myself “Just for this moment, I will not freak out,” or “Just for this moment, I will take a deep breath.” No matter how far I have to break it down, it’s always useful and always helps to keep my stress level in check.
So… What do you think? Can THE Reiki ideal make a positive difference in your life? Try it, and then tell me about it in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you.