I have a confession to make. I was a Reiki skeptic. I am the last person anyone would have imagined to discover and embrace the practice of Reiki. I had neither background nor experience in spirituality or healing. Yet, a series of synchronicities propelled me inexorably in that very direction. Looking back, I know there was a guiding hand, gently, but persistently, directing me to this new horizon; to the spiritual healing practice of Reiki. However, at the time of my initial step onto this path, I was, I confess, a skeptic, with no conscious awareness of a guiding hand or of what was in store for me with the practice of Reiki.
My Level 1 Reiki initiation and training was analogous to a car going from 0 to 100 mph in two seconds. Since I had no background in spirituality or healing, I was starting at 0. Maybe I was even starting in the negative numbers since I was skeptical! It is a tribute to the sacred collaboration between Reiki teacher and Reiki student that a skeptic like me could embrace, and be embraced by, Reiki practice.
I was not completely honest when I wrote that I had neither background nor experience in spirituality or healing. I had, in fact, an intellectual knowledge of both. As an anthropologist, as an observer, I had studied and researched systems of spirituality and healing. My life was a life of study, of the intellect, of the rational mind. That was how I approached pretty much all phenomena. In fact, after my level 1 Reiki class, I embarked on this very process again. I read as many books and articles, blogs and Facebook posts, as I possibly could. I learned and learned and learned about…what other people experienced with Reiki.
Now, all of this time, I was diligently practicing daily self-Reiki. In fact, I was experiencing very positive benefits with my self-Reiki practice. On the physical level, all of the symptoms of a vestibular disorder, from which I had suffered for two decades, simply ceased. This condition includes debilitating vertigo, dizziness, and nausea. Many people with vestibular disorders are unable to carry on routine activities when the symptoms are severe. But even with this first-hand experience of amazing benefit from Reiki, I was skeptical. We all know the cartoon of a person with the voice of a devil on one shoulder and the voice of an angel on the other. Well, for me it was the voice of trust-in-Reiki-practice on one shoulder and the voice of the-rational-skeptic on the other shoulder. The voices went something like this:
The voice of trust-in-Reiki in me: ‘You, know it must be the Reiki that has resulted in the cessation of your symptoms.’
The voice of the-rational-skeptic in me: ‘What? It can’t be the Reiki. It is just a coincidence of timing that your symptoms have stopped. Where’s the proof?’
So there it was. My rational, intellectual mind fighting the trusting Reiki self. It took several years for me to overcome any lingering nagging doubts about the efficacy of Reiki practice. I did not will my way into developing confidence in Reiki practice. I did not read my way into developing confidence in Reiki practice. Instead, I allowed the process to unfold through my own direct experience, and the evidence of the benefits of Reiki was revealed to me on a daily basis. I was more patient, I was quieter, I listened more, I toned down my pushing and rushing, I accepted more and judged less, I spoke kinder words, my blood pressure improved (to the point where my physician directed me to stop taking a diuretic he had prescribed for me), I did not catch a cold every semester alongside my college students. Providing Reiki treatments for others offered me further evidence that Reiki brings relief and comfort physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
I now realize that all of my over-thinking and over-reading impeded the kind of true knowledge that is based in direct experience. Of course our intellects can provide us with wondrous inspiration and understanding, but the intellect may also obstruct the gift of absolute, perfect experience. For a couple of years I kept my reading about Reiki to a minimum as I endeavored to cultivate and savor my own pure experience of Reiki practice on myself and others. And with that came a deep confidence and trust in Reiki practice that bypassed the intellect and lived in my heart. My motto, however, is “Skeptics welcome!”
Elise Brenner, Ph.D, Reiki Master Teacher, is a strong advocate for Reiki outreach, education, and empowerment. The owner of Brenner Reiki Healing in Newton, Massachusetts, Elise teaches Reiki classes, provides in-depth mentoring for Reiki professionals, operates a monthly low-cost Reiki Clinic, and is Chair of the annual Celebration of Reiki Conference in Massachusetts. Elise considers herself a Reiki community builder, providing Reiki at veterans retreats, community wellness fairs, in hospitals and hospice. As an anthropologist, Elise Brenner has researched cross-cultural healing practices, thereby enriching the scope and depth of her Reiki practice. Reach Elise at www.BrennerReikiHealing.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, and at Brenner Reiki Healing on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Brenner-Reiki-Healing/234700054121?fref=ts).