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Blog - The Art of Reiki

Just a Name

My friend who was busy coordinating a weekend event, published a schedule with someone elses name incorrectly in the space for a segment on Reiki which I was to present.

He was profusely apologetic and was unexpectedly surprised when I told him it was OK, it wasn’t a big deal.

He was quiet a moment as he wrote in the correct name on his copy of the schedule, and then he remarked “So how come it’s no big deal for you and this other guy went ballistic because his name had been typed with two letters transposed".

I smiled and said “The name on the piece of paper is not who I am”.

“So who are you then?” my friend said thinking he still didn’t have my name correctly.

“That’s a really great question!” was my answer.

Then he got it, and laughed.


From some eminently forgettable action movie in years gone by, I remember a scene where a warlord general of an all powerful army had captured an assassin, the daughter of a king that had been defeated and killed by the warlord. The daughter had vowed vengeance, to kill this warlord with her own hand.

What stuck with me was the warlord’s words to her which went something like: “The day that I came to your city and destroyed the world that you knew, was the single most significant, most momentous day in your life. But for me, it was a Wednesday”.

When I talk to people who have taken Reiki and don’t “do it” anymore, I usually ask about their first degree experience. Often for them it was “a Wednesday” type day. I don’t know precisely what makes the difference (I have thoughts!), but for me first degree was one of the more significant experiences of my life, a life changer.

The world  that I thought I knew changed in the space of minutes, and the change was in myself. The people who knew me best all responded to that something that was different. I was asked “What happened? What did you do? You are not the same one that went away”. I didn’t have an adequate answer for those questions at the time.

With hindsight it wasn’t anything I was taught. There was no new information imparted by the teacher, just a story and a daily practice that was to become part of my life. The “what happened” was the initiations, an opening to conscious awareness of some core part of my being, an omni max in my mind type thing.

My mind could have made much of it, but the experience was of the nature of a change of heart, and it was that to which people were responding. That change of heart was real and not imagination. It didn’t slip away, was there to stay.

There are those who will say their experience was different, and it is.

My response is that is that it was the conscious experience that was different. Initiation is only ever a starting point, an opening to a deeper experience of Self.

The deepening in that experience, the healing of the self separated from Self, is held in the daily self treatment practice and the natural initiations that are every day life experience. Love is the healer. Healing in turn reveals love. That’s win-win, all round, but the choice is ours.


In any class there is what is taught and what is learnt, what is presented and what is received. These dynamics are different for each person in the class, filtered through a web of beliefs and understandings.

What I remember being taught in my first degree class, was a simple form of a hands on practice that could be used on others but would primarily be used on myself. What I received was an experience of initiation that was a catalyst for change and an opening to the mystery of who and what I am.

The very nature of experience is that one can never again be the person who didn’t have that experience. Our only choice is what we do with the experience; whether - due to the degree it impacts our senses - it becomes a significant part of our life story, or not.

What I had expected to be using on others turned out to be for myself. I was naively unaware at the time how much I was the one person in my life who was so much in need of healing.

That’s what began almost immediately, not a process of physical healing (which would come later) but of healing the separated aspects of my life. Not only self healing but SELF healing, a process of returning to a wholeness of being, that seemingly had always existed, but that was somehow hidden behind the myriad details of my life.

The hands on self healing practice became my mainstay, a gentle self discipline of stillness and being present. It brought a sense of peace and ease into my life that had been absent for a long time, and continues to do so all these many years later.

Initiation proved to be not a connection to something outside my self, but a door cracked open to the great mystery of life: the essence of who we are, the yearnings of heart that lie within each one of us.


The statement has been made that my writings about initiation are very different from the version that is commonly expressed about being tuned into Reiki energy, and channelling it through your body during a healing treatment, to balance the energy of the person receiving the treatment.

My response is that it is indeed different, and also that it’s neither right nor wrong: I accepted that explanation for a time at the very beginnings of my Reiki practice …and then I was no longer able to do that. My experience of being in the Reiki practice, being willing to question everything I believed, healing my places of separation, unravelled the world in which the old beliefs existed.

Mrs Takata is quoted as saying that Reiki was like a radio wave, invisible until you tune into it. She was using the word “like” in the sense of “sort of, like”, an unscientific word picture for people who lived in an era when the idea of invisible radio waves in the air around them was still somewhat novel and magical. For some, it is remains that way even today.

People interpreted her words, a normal human response when the mind has need of an explanation for something unknown. In the groupings that formed around the practice in its early days of rapid growth, “sort of, like” dropped out of the word picture and the concept that Reiki *is* a wave/energy out there, to which you have to be tuned into to have access, gained traction. When added to the sense of a flow of energy felt in the hands, it became an idea with a physical experience as “proof”. Initiation became a “tuning” process.

While I understand the origin of the concept, my personal experience of the practice led to a different model, not surprisingly one that would have been familiar to Mikao Usui, one that is still in use, developed over 2500 years of Buddhist exploration of the nature of mind.

When Mikao Ususi went in search of how the great healers performed their healing works, he began an exploration into the nature of healing, which inevitably becomes an exploration of the nature of mind.

But that’s a story for another day.


“The Master gives the student nothing he or she does not already have, nor does the Master take away anything that is not already absent”.

~ Phyllis Lei Furumoto.

The Reiki initiations are of a specialised or functional kind. They differ from the natural kind by nature of intent and purpose, and by nature of the conscious choice to enter into them. But in other aspects they are quite similar, not an end point, only the beginning of a process, the unfolding awareness of the outer and inner dimensions of our lives.

Initiation is not the ceremony (although a ceremony is involved). Initiation is no more and no less than an opening to an experience of the unknown self, the possibility of an awakening to the reality of who and what we really are.

The personal experience of initiation is a variable, dependent on the nature of one’s preparation, commitment and surrender. However phenomenal or ordinary that experience may be in the moment, the process that is initiated requires nurturing for its continuance, hence the precepts as a guide and the hands-on practice to support it long term.

The purpose in this process is to lead into the experience of what it is to become whole, to heal the illusions and separations that keep us from living our human existence to its fullness, to awaken to the beauty and the wonder of our beingness, to be truly present in the natural initiations that grace our lives.

Natural Experience

There are different kinds of initiation.  One kind is natural initiation, the everyday kind that is intrinsic to the experience of being human, a natural unfoldment or opening of awareness with no conscious effort or outward intent required to experience it.

This kind of initiation is held within seemingly ordinary life events, the birth of a child, or the experience of death, serious illness, deep pain, or suffering. Experiences of these kinds hold the possibility of an opening to a larger, perhaps richer perspective on life.

These are moments in which the world may seem to be transformed. But it is not that the world has changed. It is the person that is changed, aware of subtleties in the experience of life in a way that is not possible without the experience. 

More importantly the experience and the awareness is a new beginning. One may begin to think, feel, perceive and act differently. In embracing the experience it can be said that one truly begins to live and to love.

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