You may be more familiar with Reiki than I am. My only experience before today was at a health fair at my college reunion about 20 years ago. What I remember is that none of my college friends were willing to try it – they went off for chair massages, I think. But I was curious. I had been exploring reflexology, which is using pressure points in the feet to affect energies throughout the body, so the idea of healing energy was not bizarre for me, as it seemed for my friends.
What I also remember is that when I entered the Reiki practitioner’s tent all those years ago, he took a step back and explained that he had never experienced an aura as strong as mine. I thought it was a gimmick, but it still made me feel good. People are always commenting on my energy and enthusiasm, so it was neat to think someone could “see” it in the air around me too.
I do not remember much of that nearly 20 year old experience. But I remember liking it. That was back in a time of my life before yoga and centering prayer. I had no idea how to relax, and didn’t really think I wanted to know. After all, I was known for my energy. But my first experience with Reiki may have started a new flow of energy into the contemplative spiritual path I’ve been on since around that time.
So this year at a Shalem Institute Spiritual Guidance Program residency, when I had the chance once more to experience Reiki, I decided it was time to take the plunge. Now my Reiki Master, Rita, did not jump back and exclaim about my aura. This may have been 20 years of drawdown on that natural energy flow or simply Rita’s different personality – both are likely. But either way, I thought I’d see how it felt.
We’re doing a silent Sabbath and I have felt some blockages and resistances in my communication with God; Reiki seemed to be an opportunity to try something new. If nothing else it was 30 minutes lying in contemplation and relaxation. Maybe I would get a nap out of the deal. Rita assured me that falling asleep would be just fine.
Before I went down for my appointment, I had to read up on what Reiki is so I knew what to expect. The International Center for Reiki Training defines it as “spiritually guided life force energy” and “a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing. It is administered by ‘laying on hands’ and is based on the idea that an unseen “life force energy” flows through us and is what causes us to be alive.” I just call it wonderful!
I am not a person who generally sees or feels energies. Auras and chakras are not a part of my spiritual work. But I have also experienced enough of the mystery of the Divine Presence to not rule out anything. And indeed as Rita gently placed her hands on my head, heart, stomach, feet, I could very well have felt energy blockages being released.
At one point, I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude for Rita and sent love and appreciation in my own meditation her way. I felt her hands gently resting on my head move as if in response. Another time, as she laid her hands on my belly, which has been a little upset since a minor stomach bug a week ago, I felt a jolt of what could only be called energy pulse from my center down my right leg. I do feel better this afternoon, both physically and mentally.
Rita gave me a sheet from Reike Master Sabrina DeVaney in Lansing Michigan that explains many of the healing applications for Reiki, but one quote stands out: “Reiki heightens relaxation, which itself has been shown to help restore immune function and improve circulation, enhancing healing throughout the body.”
I have another reason I am going to explore Reiki options in Savannah when I return home: the power of other people’s prayers. All week at this residency we have been praying as a group and in pairs for one another and I have several times noted the power of these prayers in strengthening my own prayer life.
Rita’s gentle touch probably did unlock blockages in my spiritual life force, because in that half hour with her I felt as though someone was in very special prayer over my body and my soul. I could feel caring through her touch and I could clearly feel the touch of God’s hands through her hands. The connection we made together with the Divine Presence is ultimately far more healing than if my tummy troubles evaporate or I manage to not catch a cold after getting caught in a chilly rain on my walk this morning.
I am a big fan of “laying on hands” in worship services where we commission disciples to service or offer healing prayers. My experience today with Reiki confirms that there is something special in that touch that reminds us of the power of other people’s prayers.
Do you know anything about Reiki? Have you experienced that or other spiritual energy work? Does it resonate with you? Studies show that babies and young children need safe loving touch from the adults in their lives. Anecdotal evidence tells me that many older or single people feel they do not get enough human touch in their lives and they experience great joy when they receive a hug from a friend. Other people really struggle with touch because of abuse or personality. Do you feel like you get enough “touch” in your life? Is there a difference in how we are touched spiritually by God? Can human touch help with God’s spiritual touch on your life? What is your experience when other people pray for you? Is it powerful? Does exploring that make you feel differently about ow you pray for others?
I cannot help you with Reiki at Openings: Let the Spirit In, though this experience is making me wonder what a healing retreat might look like in Savannah. If you have ideas, feel free to comment on this post. And I can offer prayers for you or help you with your prayers for others. Contact me here with your prayer requests!
The Shalem Institute residencies are always so important for my spiritual life. Here’s what I wrote last year – and I have seen a lovely deer in the woods this year too!