What Reiki Is, and What It Isn’t
Let me tell you a story.
Once upon a time, there was a struggling stay-at-home mom who wanted to feel better. Her mind, emotions and even her body were ravaged by deep depression. Most days she felt like a terrible mother, and sometimes like a monster. Her future looked like 5 more dark, hard years of wiping noses and being sleepy all the time, and then…. what? She didn’t know. Probably more darkness. She had no solid career prior to children, no job to return to, and very few marketable skills.
She had heard of a healing modality called Reiki and thought it could be a viable career. She took to reading books about Reiki and finding a mentor. From the outside, Reiki sounded like a magic bullet that was going to cure her depression and solve all of her problems. It was going to give her a job, and also literally and figuratively fill all the holes in her psyche and turn her from a monster into a kind and gentle mother. Maybe it would even create a beautiful energetic space around her, strong enough to bend other people’s energy into better patterns so they wouldn’t annoy her anymore. Hallelujah! She couldn’t wait to get started.
In case you haven’t figured it out, gentle reader, this person was me. Energetically, I was like swiss cheese, and not even the fresh, yummy kind. I was dried-up, moldy swiss cheese. All the holes were leaking energy, and also trying desperately to grasp something, anything outside myself to fill the holes. If we equate energy with personal power and contentment, I was severely lacking.
Reiki sounded like some kind of magical, invisible elixir that was going to pour into me and fill all of those holes. I jumped into my training with a voracious appetite – I couldn’t wait to be cured and then learn how to cure others. On the first day of class my mentor gave me my first attunement, a ritual meant to expand a person’s ability to feel and conduct Universal energy, and I considered myself fixed. Done. Cured. Now I would never have a bad day, never yell at my children again. I was no longer a monster, because I had this magic stuff inside me. Again, hallelujah!
Imagine my surprise when the very next day, I had a bad day. I yelled at my kids. I felt like a monster. I’d been cheated! I was supposed to be different now! How dare Reiki not cure me! I worried I was beyond fixing, that Reiki just couldn’t fix someone as bad off as me. I spiraled into an even deeper depression, getting dangerously close to self-harm. But deep down, I started to realize that maybe the problems I was having didn’t belong to Reiki to fix, but to me.
That is what Reiki, at its core, is meant to do. Rather than stepping in and filling all of our holes, curing us of all of our defects and absolving us of any responsibility or accountability to ourselves, Reiki energy strips away the barriers we have created to self-awareness. We all have ways in which we justify or rationalize our own unhappiness, illness or poor choices. Whether it’s placing blame on outside forces, ignoring our emotions, or just throwing up our hands and saying, “I can’t ever change,” we block ourselves from truly and deeply becoming aware of ourselves.
Reiki is incredible in that it relaxes people while simultaneously holding up a mirror to what is causing them stress. Reiki helps us to be better listeners, both to our own intuition and to other people. Reiki creates space in our energy for more compassion, towards self and others. It helps us see very clearly which behavior patterns and thought patterns are not serving us, so we can take charge of changing them. It gently but firmly places responsibility for growth and change in our laps, rather than stepping in to cure or save us from anything. It makes it harder and harder to ignore our own B.S.
Reiki can do the same for physical pain as well. All physical pain has a mental/emotional component, and Reiki can open doors to understanding the links between the two as it lessens pain.
Looking back, I marvel at how ridiculous and backwards my thinking was when I began my Reiki training. Desperately seeking a simple answer, I found a wellspring of hard questions. However, by using Reiki as it is meant to be used – to strip away the barriers to self-awareness – I was able to finally help myself, which in my case meant being open to therapy and medication for the depression. I’m no longer on meds or seeing a therapist, but they saved my life at the time. I still use Reiki for self-care, especially when I’m stressed out and exploring different reasons why – rather than blaming the situation, I can usually find the source and the solution to my stress in my own thought patterns.
If you are interested in learning more about how Reiki can help you break through barriers and strip away energetic patterns that are no longer serving your true self, please get in touch! You can also check out my Reiki for Self-Care workshops.