During my Level 1 Reiki training, I spent the majority of the time poker-faced, going through the motions and having no clue what anyone was talking about. Does this stuff actually work? Or is it a placebo kind of thing where it doesn’t work unless you “believe” in it? My teacher encouraged us to “focus on your hands” and “feel the energy”… noticing if the sensation in our hands had changed. I felt nothing. She encouraged us to “go through the motions” and told us if we practiced enough, we would eventually feel the flow of Reiki energy in our hands. “Trust that it’s working even if you can’t feel it”, she said. So, I started to practice.
“Reiki” is a Japanese word, which roughly translates as “life energy”. Reiki is commonly administered as a deeply relaxing healing technique. It is designed to bring about physical, emotional and spiritual balance to its recipient. During a Reiki treatment, the goal of the practitioner is to use his/her hands as “energy antennae”, to sense the energetic body of the client and to direct the flow of energy to encourage optimal balance. The “flow” of Reiki is not something I could feel at the time. Waving my hands around someone’s body felt comical and slightly entertaining, if not a little crazy. I struggled with the idea that placing my hands on someone without manipulating bones, muscles, etc. would make any sort of difference in his/her physical, emotional or spiritual well being. “Trust that it’s working” was a hard sell for something I couldn’t see or sense.
Despite my hesitations about Reiki, I began practicing as soon as I returned home to Colorado. I went through the motions. My first client was my sister. I felt vulnerable and feared that I would do the whole treatment and nothing would happen. The first time I placed my hands on her to give Reiki, tears streamed down her cheeks immediately. I was a bit surprised and I chalked it up to the fact that she had been given devastating news that her dog had been diagnosed with cancer. And I use the term “dog” loosely… Clyde was as close to a human child as any animal could possibly get. Case in point: I once told my coworkers that I was going to my “nephew’s birthday party”. Oh, he had a party. Homemade (delicious) dog-friendly carrot cake, lots of friends and plenty of toys made this birthday boy very happy. He was most certainly my nephew, Clyde dog-- but he was so much more than “a dog”.
Something definitely “happened” during our Reiki session. I don’t remember if I felt any sensation in my hands, but my sister’s feedback was surprising and unforgettable. At the end of her treatment all she said to me with a look tranquil curiosity was, “where did you send me? I was flying through the air over the most beautiful landscapes”. She had felt at peace. I didn’t have an answer for her. I was just as taken back as she was. Did this Reiki stuff actually work? Was it all in my head? Still, I wasn’t completely convinced. Regardless of my nagging skepticism, I felt so honored to have had the opportunity to provide a place for her to start to unwind grief’s grip on her heart… I felt honored to create and share in a space for her healing.
Clyde lived for another four months, post-diagnosis. You better believe that all stops were pulled to try everything to save this sweet boy. I was starting to trust that Reiki worked by observing his subtle reactions; at the same time, my “belief” in Reiki didn’t matter. Luckily for me, Reiki “works” regardless of ego. If there was any possibility whatsoever that putting my hands on him could help him, you’re absolutely right that I would be there. I would have done far more ridiculous things just to humor him. He was our baby. We went through the motions. During his last week or so, I would stop by for our Reiki sessions just about every day. He would climb as much of his 110-pound body as he could get on top of me and we would lie on the floor together for as long as he would sit still, which in most cases was the full 60-minutes, sometimes longer. I will never forget the sweet connection that we had during his last days. I am eternally grateful for the quality time I got to spend with my sweet nephew dog while he was here in physical form. He taught us a lot in just over seven years. Clyde’s openness to Reiki allowed me to start to soften my judgments about it as well. With his passing I was able to recognize once again that the energy that surrounds us is also within each of us. And that was only the beginning. My relationship and practice of Reiki has evolved into an experience of re-learning to trust my body as an intuitive vessel and to get still enough to hear its messages more clearly. Sometimes a leap of faith is what it takes to learn to trust again.