Thursday, 3 December 2015

Peace at Christmas

Christmas is a time when many people in the world pray for peace.  With all the violence happening in the world, this can seem like a prayer that can never be answered.  And yet...

A comment Caroline Myss made some years ago resonated with me: "The gods work in divine paradox: what you think is a small choice is always a big one, what you think is a big one is always a small one".  She went on to illustrate this with the way Jesus came into the world: not in a palace, or with a fanfare, but in a humble stable, among the animals without even a proper bed.  

This particular comment resonates with me because I have seen the truth of it in my Reiki
practice.  Treatments and initiations, given in silence and mostly in stillness, can look as if nothing is happening.  However I've seen amazing transformation as a result of some-one's simple choice to receive Reiki.  In the stillness and calm insights arise, understanding deepens, change and healing takes place.  Peace of mind is a very commonly reported outcome of Reiki treatments, but there are no clever tricks or great effort that bring this about: just the simple fact of one human being acting as a connection for another human being with the greater whole.

Making a choice to become more peaceful does make a difference to other people.  The recent attacks in Paris and elsewhere invite anger, hatred and violence in response.  There are often situations in our own lives that are the same and Christmas can often be a time when conflicts arise.  To react with anger or resentment only continues the disharmony and pushes peace and happiness away.  To respond in a different way may seem like a small choice and can be difficult, but can bring about a transformation that improves the situation for everyone.  When I encounter someone in my life who is angry and unkind towards me  I have a choice: fight back or forgive and move on.  The message of the great teacher Jesus was that we should do just this.  

The Reiki Principles encourage us to live in peace: not worrying (letting go of fear), not being in a state of anger (letting go of hurt feelings), honouring our elders (those we often want to dismiss), being honest in how we live our lives and being grateful for all the blessings we receive.  

You may say how can this make a difference to terrorists?  How can I change their minds to see that the violence they create is bad for humanity?  I think the only way to change the world to make it a more peaceful place is to follow Gandhi's advice: "Be the change you want to see".   I know there is only person whose mind and actions I can change: mine.  I also know that when I feel calm and peaceful it affects other people.  I would rather make that small choice and change what I can than worry about what I cannot alter.  It reminds me of the Chinese saying: "It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness". 
May you be a candle and shine your light, no matter what.  A small choice that can have big consequences! 

Wishing you Peace at Christmas and for the year ahead.  
What small choices are you making? 

Monday, 2 November 2015

Do you want to be a Reiki master?

Each November I reflect on being a Reiki master, because this was the month I was initiated.  I was invited to become a Reiki master by my master Martha Sylvester after just a couple of years as an enthusiastic Reiki practitioner - I had also given some talks
Kate and Martha just after Kate's initiation as a master in 1991
and organised Reiki classes for Martha.  When I gave treatments I saw that people need Reiki every day in their lives for real healing to take place and had wondered about becoming a Reiki master.  So when Martha asked if I wanted to be a Reiki master I said yes.

After a few years as a master I began to wonder about when I would initiate a master myself.  I had some students who were enthusiastic and had organised classes. At this time I met Phyllis Furumoto, lineage bearer of Usui Shiki Ryoho, who was beginning to define this Reiki system.  She recommended that a master should wait 3 years before initiating another master, so I waited.  Then just as I came up to 3 years she changed this recommendation to 5 years, then 7 years.  I must admit I heaved a sigh of relief each time: I didn't feel ready to train someone as a master. 

A few years later the guidelines were changed to 10 years. This guideline hasn't changed and as my 10th Reiki master birthday came and went I now see that by this time I was wise enough to know that I was still not ready!

This November is my 24th Reiki master birthday and in recent months I have been differently about taking on  a master candidate.  I feel I understand what being a Reiki master means enough to begin assisting someone else on this path.  A master candidate is a person who works with a master to become the master they already have the potential to be, over a period of time which may be several years.   The relationship between the master and the initiating master has also been referred to as a 'spiritual marriage' - a relationship that lasts a lifetime.

When I heard Phyllis recently say: "Initiation is not what makes a master, it's just the recognition of the master energy in the student" this touched a deep chord in me.  Becoming an Usui Shiki Ryoho master is therefore a very different choice from those who choose the more rapid (and cheaper) options now available.  Other Reiki systems seem to see becoming a master as being like switching on a switch: one moment you are 'just' a 2nd degree student then through the initiation (or more commonly called 'attunement') you become an instant Reiki master.  However in my experience Reiki doesn't really work like that!

In Usui Shiki Ryoho we recognise that Reiki is the teacher, so my role as a master in preparing a master candidate is to guide and provide opportunities for them to learn from Reiki.  Being a Reiki master is not only about teaching Reiki classes, it is also about bringing Reiki into the centre of your life.  In receiving the fee (which may seem absurdly high) I am acting on behalf of Reiki to assist that potential master to show their commitment.  The fee is sometimes seen as a block, but in reality it is an opportunity to surrender to what Reiki is asking of them, even if it seems to be the impossible!

So now, after all these years of experience and a deepening understanding of what it means to be a master and my role as initiating master, I know that I'm ready to take on a master candidate

Would you like to be a Reiki master?  Then let's begin the journey together....

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Gratitude to a tick?

Tick, image courtesy of
Tick, image courtesy of
While on holiday in the Hebrides in a few years ago I discovered a large tick on my neck.  After getting some help to remove it, I gave the area of the bite Reiki as much as I could for the rest of the day.  I had none of the warning symptoms of a rash or feverishness, but I did wonder whether I might have caught Lymes Disease!

Over the next months I continued to wonder about this, especially when I experienced lack of energy and aches in my muscles and joints.  Eventually I went online and found a self diagnosis questionnaire, which told me that my symptoms were possibly caused by Lymes disease.  So as the Reiki Principles suggest not worrying, I decided to ask my doctor for a blood test to find out.

She was happy to oblige and suggested a range of other blood tests to check other possible causes for my tiredness.  Happily the test for Lymes disease was negative.  However my blood sugar levels seemed a bit high, so a fasting blood test was arranged.   As soon as this concern was raised I began to think that sugar could indeed be the problem, so immediately began to change my diet (having already cut out dairy and gluten).  My husband had bought me a book "Fat Around the Middle" by Marilyn Glenville which I now started to read with more interest!

The evening before my blood test I was giving a talk about Reiki.  I had to fast after a certain time, but thought drinking the J2O I was offered by my hosts would be OK.  I then managed to starve until after the blood test.  What I hadn't realised was how much sugar there was in that drink - not just fruit sugar but added sugar.  This ignorance was typical of what got me into trouble!

The result of that test was that my blood glucose levels were indicative of type 2 diabetes.  It was a shock and initially I did not want to believe it - I told myself that I was only borderline and if I could just change my diet for a while and loose a bit of weight I would be a non-diabetic again.  Again the Reiki Principle of not worrying came in very helpful!

A discussion with the diabetes nurse a few weeks later dispelled my illusions.  However I was determined to manage the condition without drugs.  I found the diet and advice in Dr Glenville's book very helpful and also bought another book that had just been published about reversing type 2 diabetes.

3 months later I went back for a further blood test to check on my progress.  I'd already managed to loose some weight and knew from self testing that things were improving.  However the nurse was delighted with my progress in such a short time.  My initial HbA1c result had been 66, the target was 48 and the result this time was 49.  My latest result, 17 months after initial diagnosis was 40 which is below the level indicative of diabetes!  I've managed this entirely with diet exercise and Reiki.

So the Reiki principle 'show gratitude to every living thing' applies to that tick for me: without it's bite I would not have gone for the blood tests that showed up my diabetes just in time!  Thank you tick!

I plan to share more about how I have achieved this in my new blog:

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

When is a good time to receive Reiki treatment?

One of the things I discuss with my students is what time of day is the best time to do self Reiki treatment.  I have found for myself that it's a great way to start the day.  I'm not a morning
Reiki self treatment: a great way to start the day
person - or at least I used not to be.  Now that I start my day with a Reiki self treatment before I get up, I find I'm able to get up more easily!  Treating myself while I'm are still in bed helps to set the tone for the day: I begin in a calm and centred space instead of leaping out of bed into the maelstrom of the day unprepared and flustered!

However some people find that another time of day is better for them: to unwind after work or at the end of the day to help them sleep.  Several of my Reiki students who had sleep problems before learning Reiki  found self treatment very helpful.  It's great being able to give yourself Reiki if you are wakeful in the middle of the night.  Instead of lying there worrying about not being asleep you can relax and heal and many people find they fall asleep without trying.  In fact most of the students who do their Reiki treatment when they go to bed at the end of the day never finish the sequence of hand positions because they fall asleep after just a few positions!

The most important thing, I tell my students, is that you practice self treatment at some time during the day.

There's also the question of when is a good time to recieve a Reiki treatment from someone else.  Often people come for Reiki when there's a crisis of some kind in their life, whether it's health related or emotional.  Certainly I first recieved Reiki after the sudden death of my father and found it a very good time to receive it.  It brought great comfort and peace of mind.  So when there's an acute problem is a good time to receive Reiki.

However I continued to receive Reiki after the initial crisis had passed.   When you have a chronic problem that you want to change is another good time to receive Reiki.  Many people are very stoical and put up with things for a long time. However it's also possible that if you don't ignore it, you and Reiki can change what you are suffering with.  It can't necesarily cure a health problem, but can bring comfort, peace and a sense of acceptance that relieves the suffering. 

I'm often asked how often to receive treatment too.  Mrs Takata (who brought us Reiki from Japan) would treat people daily.  Few Reiki practitioners offer this these days, but certainly when I've received Reiki treatments daily for a period of days it has  been wonderful and often transformative.  Most people receive treatment weekly, fortnightly or monthly, which is fine.  What Takata also taught is that "a little Reiki is alway s better than none", so no matter what the frequency (or infrequency) of receiving Reiki it is beneficial. 

So in my experience any time is a good time to receive Reiki: whether it's you're daily practice or something that you receive occasionally.  The important thing is to receive Reiki sometimes!

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Happy Birthday Mikao Usui

Mikao Usui Sensei

All over the world this month there are people celebrating the birth 150 years ago of a Japanese man named Mikao Usui.  I am constantly grateful for the miracle of his discovery of this wonderful healing method we call Reiki.   He developed a simple, accessible way for any human being to have healing in their own hands by connecting with Universal Life Energy that surrounds us, no matter where we are on the planet.  All we need is the willingness and commitment to learn his method or receive treatment.

Having spent many years traveling and searching for the answers to deep questions of faith, he finally made his discovery late in life.  He overcame many difficulties: we are fortunate that he didn't give up!  He taught a few hundred students, all of them Japanese.  One of those students, Chujiro Hayashi, agreed to teach a Japanese American woman from Hawaii.  Her name was Hawayo Takata and through her teaching Reiki is now practiced on every continent of the world.

It's interesting to think about how different the world is today than it was 150 years ago.  Mikao Usui was born into a Samauri family just after the Meiji emperor was enthroned.  At that time the emperor was seen as a deity rather than a political leader.  During Usui's lifetime Christianity was re-introduced to Japan, having been outlawed for centuries.  We are told that Usui was inspired by the stories of the healing miracles performed by Jesus, prompting his long search that resulted in the discovery of the Reiki healing method.   When he travelled to America he wasn't able to catch a plane, but would have sailed there.   The telephone wasn't even invented until he was 11 years old.

Usui, we are told on his memorial stone in Tokyo, "wanted to make it possible for many people in the world to be able to experience this joy of healing".  I often feel when I look at his picture that he is very pleased with how Reiki has spread around the world and is now practiced by millions of people of many different nationalities, colours and beliefs. 

I'm very grateful for Usui Sensei's dedication, because his commitment has resulted in a healing method that is very easy for us to learn and use.  In other hands-on healing methods it is often the student themselves who has to go through many challenges to be able to heal.  Usui Sensei offered us a clear path: all we need to do is decide to practice and learn from Reiki itself. 

I'll be celebrating Usui Sensei's birth with self treatment, thinking of how we are told he discovered he could heal himself after injuring his toe.  I'll also be teaching a Reiki class in Birmingham and sharing Reiki with other Reiki students.  In a corner of Shropshire we will be practising a healing art that would not have existed were it not for the life of a man from Japan that we would otherwise have had no connection with: awesome!

What is even more awesome is the potential Reiki has for making this a better world.  If it can spread and grow so much in less than 100 years, what will happen in another 100?  Could Reiki bring to the world more of the kindness and compassion we crave?  Could it change how families and communities relate to each other?  I believe this is possible with Reiki practice. 

Thank you, thank you, thank you Mikao Usui for bringing Reiki healing to our planet!

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Why Self Care is Important for World Peace!

One of the most important gifts I've received from Reiki is learning about self care. 

My favourite quote from the Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh is "If we are peaceful, if we are happy, we can blossom like a flower, and everyone in our family, our entire society will benefit from our peace."

Many of us long for greater peace, especially when there is violence like the recent attack in Tunisia.  In my experience the best way to achive this peace is through better self care.

When I'm not taking care of myself I'm more irritable and less tolerant, due to stress and tiredness.  Most of all I judge myself.  This has a negative impact on those around me and I then react to their negativity, creating a downward spiral that is far from peaceful.  If you have small children exhaustion may be unavoidable, but many of us tolerate a level of stress and ill health that simply isn't good for us or our community.  The Reiki Principles advise "Just for today do not anger" which could be interpreted to point towards self care, so that irritation and anger are less likely to arise.  Could there be a link between the amount of anger in the world and the lack of self care - the terrorist suicide bombers being the extreme example? 
Feeling more positive!

Over the years Reiki practice has helped me to judge myself less harshly, achieve better health and greater happiness.   I'm aware that being more peaceful benefits others, because I have seen the results in my family, friends and others I'm connected with.   Instead of being fearful, angry and resentful I bring more positive feelings of kindness and tolerance (not all the time, I'm still human!) which encourages more positive feelings in others.

So how does Reiki help with this? While filming the Reiki Council film introducing Reiki, I was fortunate to meet Dr Rosie Daniel of the Bristol Cancer Centre.  In her interview about Reiki she talked about how when your energy is low, your thoughts are often more negative and you can be less good at caring for yourself.  If you then judge yourself for not doing what you know you ought to, such as taking more exercise, this further depletes your energy. By receiving the energy of Reiki, your energy levels can be raised enough to begin to make some better self care decisions.  I'd also say that the effect of Reiki that many people experience (myself included) is a reduction in stress levels, better sleep and peace of mind, resulting in more positive thoughts and better self care decisions.

Self care also means having greater awareness and taking action, which isn't easy when you're exhausted and stressed.  However when you have a little more energy, or space in your head, it can be easier.  Making one small decision - to receive Reiki - can be a catalyst for improved self care in many forms.

The ability to serve others is greater when you have more vitality.  Taking care of yourself can therefore bring greater peace and well being to your family and community.  So instead of blaming yourself for a lack of self care, do something to improve the situation: get more sleep, change your diet or simply receive Reiki!