Tuesday, 24 January 2017

An Experiment in Reciprocal Exchange

When human beings lived in tribal communities reciprocal exchange was normal: if someone had a need another person would serve to meet that need and in return they would be supported in their own needs to live.  The good of the whole group was served by this kind of exchange.

For example if someone was sick and a member of the group had special knowledge about herbs, or other ways to make them well, they would go to that person and offer healing.  In return the group would ensure that the healer had what they needed to live - food, shelter and warmth.  My father, as a GP, often received gifts from Asian patients because this way of exchanging was so familiar to them and they did not feel they had honoured his expertise without giving something themselves to acknowledge it (including a Labrador puppy my first dog!)

As human society developed, the way we made exchanges changed - money was invented to facilitate exchange because sometimes the service or goods offered were not what the other person needed (my mother was not at all sure about having the dog!).  This has evolved into a more 'transactiona'l exchange - based on expectations of a certain value in return for the money given: "if I give you this much you must give me that in return" and now there's a common desire to get as much as possible by giving as little as possible in return.  This has not been so good at supporting life.

It was therefore normal for me to set a 'fee' for the Reiki Shares, based on what it cost me to offer them and something for my time, balanced with what I thought people would be willing to pay.  In Usui Shiki Ryoho Reiki the element of money is here to teach us about the relationship we have with money and exchange, so when I noticed that I was experiencing discomfort about the money aspect of Reiki Shares i decided I should explore this further.  I found that sometimes I felt resentful about the amount of time I was giving in return for little to support for my living.  It's quite a commitment to do the two shares every month and for Birmingham this involves a lot of traveling time as well as the time holding the circle.   Should I charge more?  Would  more people come if I charged less?  Should I give it up and find another way to earn money?

When I went to the OGM Retreat in Kazakhstan one of the topics of discussion was Reiki and money and we had a very rich exploration of the concept of reciprocal exchange.  I received many gifts from the Russian speaking participants - their way of showing their appreciation for my having traveled so far to be with them (I also gave them gifts in appreciation for the opportunity to be with them!).  I have experienced a few times being invited to 'give what my heart feels' which is one aspect of this.  It always feels challenging but good and I am excited about what it represents as a potential in our world.

I have therefore decided to try an experiment: to offer the Reiki Shares on the basis of reciprocal exchange.  What this means in practice is that you are invited to decide for yourself what you wish to give in return for the Shares.  You are invited to be mindful of the costs and commitment involved and offer something that supports this (if you wish the Shares to continue).  For example in Birmingham the cost of the room is £25, my travel costs £30 and I devote about 6 hours of my time to attend the Share (including travel time). 

So taking this into consideration, as well as your own financial situation you are invited to give an amount of money that you feel in your heart honours what you are receiving and is also in integrity with your own financial situation.   This may not be the same as what you feel you can 'afford' or the fee I have set in the past. 

We are so used transactional exchange and  less familiar with reciprocal exchange, so I'm aware that this is not a comfortable request for either of us: questions like 'will there be enough to pay for the room and my petrol?'  'will I feel valued by what I'm given' circle my head.  You may be thinking 'how do I decide how much is an appropriate amount?  What if I give too little?  What if I give too much?'  So this is an exploration of trusting in reciprocity: that if you value what I am offering the support I need to receive will be there and that whatever you give will be exactly right!

I look forward to you joining me on this adventure!

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