Monday, 2 December 2019

Reiki Principles at Christmas

Dr Usui, founder Reiki, offered us some principles to assist living a happy, healthy life.  I find them especially useful at Christmas!

Just for today do not worry   There can be lots of worries at Christmas: who to spend the Christmas holiday with, what presents to buy, what food to eat, if the weather will be OK for travelling.  All this at a time of year when what I feel most like doing is hibernating!  So how do I not worry about all these things?  I have found the solution is in my Reiki practice.  Treating myself or receiving treatment reduces the stressful feelings and in a more relaxed state of mind I am able to find creative solutions to the apparent problems more easily.  With a calm mind I can think of the perfect gift for my loved ones.  Self-treatment also helps me to tune into the needs of my body, helping to make food decisions.

Just for today do not anger – While it is often lovely to spend time with people at Christmas it can also be frustrating and irritating.   It can also be a time when we confront our history.  Each family has its own culture, with unspoken assumptions and rituals.  These Christmas rituals can be comforting but they can also be difficult when they do not fit with the person I have become.  My Reiki practice has helped me to become more conscious and aware of my responses and rather than behave according to unconscious programming I have a choice about how I respond.    So when someone makes a comment that angers me, I take a deep breath, give myself Reiki and look for the underlying causes of my pain.  More peaceful relationships are often the result!  

Honour your parents, teachers and elders Putting the needs of others first to show respect to elders is imbued in Japanese culture.  Takata saw that this was not a cultural understanding when she started teaching Westerners, so added this principle.  As I come together with older people in my family this principle reminds me to show them respect – and also to be deserving of the respect of those who are younger by respecting them too!

Earn your living honestly has been useful around the question of money.  Buying Christmas gifts, I have often gone into of debt because I wanted to buy more than my financial situation could really support.  I have realised that this was a kind of dishonesty – pretending to myself that I had more income than I had because I didn’t want to look bad in front of others.  However, some of the most appreciated gifts I have given were not the most expensive, but the ones that were the result of recognising the need of another and finding something that would address that.  

Show gratitude to every living thing is a particularly relevant principle at a time of growing consciousness about the effect we are having on our planet.  I spend a moment before eating the Christmas feast being grateful for the living things that provided the meal.   I am also grateful for the living things that surround me: the people who are important in my life.  

Thank you for being connected with me through Reiki.  I wish you a happy, healthy and peaceful time at Christmas and for the year to come.

Friday, 1 November 2019

Integrative health Convention

I was grateful for the invitation to accompany Feona Gray, founder of Connecting Reiki with Medicine, to attend the Integrative Health Convention in London last month.  This convention is an   
opportunity for doctors and other NHS professionals to meet with a variety of complementary health practitioners.

I share Feona’s vision that Reiki could play an important part in healthcare:  I would love to see Reiki as a choice for patients alongside conventional care in the NHS, which is struggling to cope with the rising need and diminishing funding and staffing.  Reiki has the potential to be part of the solution. However when Feona first explored bringing Reiki into St George’s she learned that there was a very negative view of it, in fact it was banned in many hospitals.  In many situations Reiki is not trusted as a complementary therapy, so practitioners are not welcome.

I found that this convention gave me hope that my dreams of this changing, so that Reiki gains the respect needed for it to become integrated, could come true.  I met doctors who are not only open to complementary therapies including Reiki, but positively see the benefit.  Margaret Coats, from the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council, commented to me at the end of the weekend that there had been a lot of talk about Reiki!

The keynote speaker was Dr Michael Dixon – a GP well known for his work in integrative health care.   He was one of the instigators of Social Prescribing, which may be one way that Reiki practitioners can receive referrals.  Dr Dixon noticed a 20% reduction in GP appointments once Social Prescribing was introduced in his area.  

He talked about conditions he and most GPs see frequently and often have nothing to offer to help: tiredness, back pain, IBS and stress.  11% of the population, he reported, are on medication for pain, depression stress or sleep problems. These are all things that complementary therapies, including Reiki, can help with.  He spoke strongly about the need for doctors to work together with complementary therapists.  He dismissed the assertion from some doctors that complementary therapies are not safe, giving the example that 2000 people die annually from anti-inflammatory drugs.  He also noted that GPs with an interest in complementary therapies prescribe 25% less antibiotics.  Given that 1 million people each year die from antibiotic resistant infections this is a significant difference.  Compered to this, complementary therapies are safe – and with no known contra indications of course Reiki is one of the safest – and will become even more so, he said, if doctors and complementary therapists communicate better with each other.  

What particularly excited me was his report that NHS England has recognised that “The future needs to be a future that empowers the patient”.  Taking responsibility for our own health and well being is a core value of Reiki practice, so fits perfectly with this approach.  I hope to see more professional Reiki practitioners, adequately prepared work alongside doctors and other health professionals, sharing the work of caring for those in our community who doctors struggle to help.  Connecting Reiki with Medicine’s project at St George’s Hospital, London is demonstrating how beneficial a professional team of Reiki practitioners can be, to patients and staff.  For this sort of project to be repeated around the country we need more practitioners who are willing to prepare for this work.

I would also like to see Social Prescribing include teaching people Reiki so that they can care for their health and have some useful tools to assist them towards a healthier and happier life.

Saturday, 12 October 2019

Thank You Wanja Twan

Last month Wanja Twan, who initated my Reiki master Martha Sylvester, died peacefully, surrounded by family and pets, after a long life dedicated to the teaching and practice of Reiki.  Wanja was born   This is how I heard the story of how she came to learn Reiki:
Kate and Wanja at Reiki Alliance Conference 2006
in Sweden in 1934 and emigrated to Canada in her 20s, settling in British Columbia.

Wanja heard about the 1st degree reiki class, at a difficult time in her life.  Her second husband had unexpectedly left her (he said he was “too happy”!), leaving her with 6 children to raise and a farm to run on her own.  Searching for something to help her, she opened a book called “We Are All Healers” at random.  There she read about a woman named Hawayo Takata, who said she could teach people how to become healers.  Shortly after this Wanja heard that Takata was coming to the local area to teach 1st degree Reiki.  

She wanted to attend the class, but there were various issues restraining her from making the decision to go.  Being able to afford the fee of 150 US dollars was one. However, when she went to the drawer where she kept the deposits for the weaving workshops she ran in her barn, she discovered that someone had sent her $150 in US dollars – exactly what she needed for the Reiki class.

She was still concerned about leaving the younger children, but one of the older children volunteered to care for them and encouraged her to go.  So at the last minute Wanja made up her mind and went.  As she entered the house where the class was being held, a small Japanese-looking lady dressed in a bright Hawaiian dress was coming down the stairs opposite the door.  She looked at Wanja and said “Aha, I knew you would come!”.  This lady was Hawayo Takata, who initiated Wanja into Reiki in 1978 and as a master in 1979. 

Wanja’s practice was often informal and completely integrated with daily life.  Reiki treatments might happen on the kitchen table, with the children and animals all around.  Reiki was also used for improving bread that was being baked and many other daily uses (including dispersing clouds on a dull day!).  Wanja had a deep connection with the unseen world and Nature.  She had an understanding of the spirituality implicit in Reiki.

Kate, Wanja and Martha in Leamington Spa!
I was fortunate to meet Wanja on a few occasions when the was in the UK and at a Reiki Alliance conference in the USA (she was a founder member of the Reiki Alliance).  We first met in London when I was a very young master full of questions.  I would ask her a question and she would respond: “Well I don’t know, but…” and then give a profound answer.  

One of her teachings was that Takata encouraged her students to be grateful for the healing gift of Reiki.  Wanja developed a ritual for the end of treatments to honour this.  She would encourage us to place our hands on our heart and repeat 3 times “Thank you for this healing”.  It is not part of the official Usui Shiki Ryoho form, but it is a something I maintain to this day in my own practice.

I am grateful to Wanja, without whom I might not have Reiki in my life!  Thank you Thank you Thank you Wanja, my Reiki ‘grandmother!