Wednesday, April 15, 2009


And therefore as a stranger give it welcome.
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
--Hamlet, Act 1, scene 5

Several weeks ago, my friend Shifa taught me reiki level 1. Taught is a bit of a misnomer. In fact, the word that reiki practitioners use is attunement, which evokes tuning in, as to a radio station, or a frequency that is already out there. This is a closer approximation of my experience, although to me it seemed more like-- well, like being handed magic powers.

According to the text Shifa gave me, "reiki is the laying on of hands with positive healing intent," and "the traditional modality of reiki practiced today is transferred through a series of energetic attunements that open the receiver to become a channel for reiki energy." (from "reiki scroll" by Anna Dorian.)

So you may be wondering what this all means. When I have been on the receiving end of reiki, the giver simply has simply laid her hands gently on different spots on my body. I usually experience a warmth and tingling in the place of contact, and I become extremely relaxed throughout my body. The hands of practitioner can also feel hot to me, but I have been told that is the heat from my own body, or that it is the reiki energy that I am feeling.

Afterwards an overall sense of well being and blissfulness can remain with me for hours, and I sleep very well.

By undergoig the attunement, I was becoming a novice reiki practitioner, so that I would be able to do reiki on myself and others.

On the day of my reiki attunement, I was excited. I had a little more energy than usual, despite not having a good night's sleep in several weeks. I cleaned and tidied the apartment so that when Shifa got there it was looking its best, and I cooked food for us to eat afterwards.

We placed a chair in the middle of the living room, facing the picture window, for my attunement. Shifa instructed me to hold my hands in prayer position in front of my forehead ("my third eye") while she stood behind me and drew symbols in the air over my head. She then came around to face me and blew air in a vertical line from my heart up to my forehead. She repeated these steps three more times, and the attunement was complete.

I had expected that if I were to experience anything unusual, it would be during the attunement, but up until this point I felt nothing in particular. I couldn't even see the symbols Shifa was making over my head, so as far as I was concerned it had really only been sitting in a chair for a few minutes, holding my palms together above my face.

I was not inclined to get up from the chair, however, and within a few minutes a heavy sensation filled my feet and progressed slowly up my body. Then I felt very light, and felt laughter surging up in my chest. A moment later there was a comforting warmth between my shoulder blades, in the spot where I carry perpetual knots of tension. A moment later tingling filled my lower legs and feet, and a prickling seared the place on my heel where I'd had tendonitis for the past three months.

At last I got up and we both drank water. Shifa then showed me where to place my hands on myself or on another person to give a treatment, and we talked a little about the experience. She told me to practice by giving myself a reiki treatment each night as I went to sleep.

I felt slow and heavy after Shifa left, so I got into bed early. I tried the reiki on myself and was happy to feel a tingling spreading throughout my body. I was indeed able to channel the reiki energy, and I slept better than I had slept in a month.

All this raises the question: what energy?

There are several answers to this: 1) the energy that is out there (duh!)
2) universal life force 3) divinity 4) I don't know.

Personally, I prefer the last one. This is one of those questions, along with "do people have souls?" and "does god exist?" that most of us have gone back and forth on more than once and have even stayed up late into the night discussing with our college roommates. These questions are, ultimately, unanswerable. It is impossible to prove definitively that god does or does not exist.

Most of the time I don't believe in god, but I also recognize this comes down to a matter of belief; two of the people whose hearts and intellects I hold most dear do believe in some kind of divinity, and I respect that.

So much for god, what about the energy that I have absolutely, unquestionably felt when receiving a reiki treatment and after the attunement? The same energy that I am now able to channel?

I know it exists because I have felt it. For me the encounters with this gentle force have been, on the whole, positive. As to what the energy is, where it comes from, or where it is going, I can only say I haven't a clue. As usual, no has said it better than Shakespeare: There are more things on heaven and earth... Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

The energy is there, I am glad of it, and I am humbled by it.

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