Article by Phillip Hawkins
There have been numerous books and articles written about the origins of Reiki how it works, the symbolism involved and techniques used to gain the optimum effect, all of which are interesting and informative and provide the reader with a wealth of information, if not necessarily a greater level of knowledge and understanding.
At the risk of alienating oneself from mainstream Reiki ideology it has to be said that Reiki is universal and as such is first and foremost a subjective personal experience and in the ‘great out there’ beyond the limitations of our physical senses we can’t really know for sure, or say with any degree of certainty what Reiki is. We think that if we put a name or label on something it automatically conforms to our definition but this isn’t always the case. This was pointed out to me by a friend and Reiki student who was a research scientist at Newcastle University at the time. He went on to explain that what we perceive as Reiki sensations and effects be they heat, cold tingling, elation or euphoria are simply expressions of our physical senses in response to an ‘external’ stimulation whatever that may be.
The above comments are in no way meant to dismisses or devalue the origins and purpose of Reiki, it simply refers to the working relationship between our brain and its physical senses that define and determine the nature of our perceived reality, and Reiki may be nothing like we think it is beyond the accepted limitations of our five physical senses. Given our limited knowledge understanding may be prudent to acknowledge how little we do know and proceed from this point with an open mind.
Leaving generic definitions aside for a moment and accepting the above premise for the sake of a healthy discussion and debate, let us turn our attention to the often overlooked but ‘very real’ power that helps create and unify what we may describe as a Reiki experience, whatever you believe the source of that experience to be. In the process we may get answers to some of our questions and in the process be sign posted to some the knowledge and understanding we may have been searching for.
So what is this mysterious and magical ingredient that makes things possible? You; or more precisely your attention and intention are the catalytic power that makes change possible in your physical world, without it nothing happens and on an energy level the creative force that some describe as Reiki remains undisturbed.
There are three things in life that determine the depth and breadth of our experiences; what we focus on (attention) what it means to us, and what we choose to do about it (intention). In short how much time we invest in thinking about something, the value we place on it and the action this stimulates. The outcome of this simple three step equation is an experience; the quality of that experience is defined by the quality of the inspiration and processes involved, if the components are faulty (negative) then ultimately the end product or the experience will be flawed. Some may call this Karma, but Karma is the chain reaction of cause and effect by another name.
Put simply energy follows intent; thought is the architect of creation and attention and intention are building blocks it uses. If you don’t believe me put it to the test and prove to yourself the power of truth demonstrated. Look around the room you are sitting in reading this article, now focus on an object you would like to physically move from its present location if only for the duration of this little exercise. If you focus on it, get up and move it before sitting back down you have completed the above three step process and created a new experience/result/outcome. If on reading this you make a comparison between this and say the complexities of Reiki or using symbols to send distant healing and feel the above example is too simplistic, you may not yet fully understand the principle of energy following our intent.
Firstly let me state very clearly that Reiki whatever it may be does not require our approval or acknowledgement for it to exist; our failure or inability to embrace it merely restricts its effects in our life and our belief or disbelief has no real bearing on its existence. As such it requires neither symbols techniques nor mantras for it to work, our attention and intention merely works with what already exists in this case Reiki energy and our physical reality (the present moment) to create a new outcome/result/experience. Hopefully one free from the limitation of our own expectation and conditions as to what we want to happen.
One of the greatest handicaps we place upon ourselves is the belief in the ‘Reiki must do’s’ and that their use in some way improves the quality of the Reiki a person receives. If we accept for the sake of this discussion that Reiki is a creative consciousness expressed in our minds and our actions as unconditional love then we must also accept that it’s infinite in its presence, power and jurisdiction and its quality can’t be strained or enhanced by our actions. This last comment will be much to the disgust of the negative ego that would have us believe that it alone is the centre of our personal universe.
You may say that distance healing requires the use of the Reiki distance healing symbol because that’s what we have been taught, but in reality this precept couldn’t be further from the truth. Through our knowledge and understanding of Quantum Physics it is now an accepted fact that we are energy beings inseparable from the energetic fabric of the universe we are a part of. Most of that fabric is invisible to the naked eye and any idea of separation is an illusion again created through the limitation of our physical senses that provides our brain with neurological data that it requires to define what it perceives as real in a ‘physical’ world. Even the most solid of objects is in reality 98% ‘empty space’, what we call physical matter is nothing more than solidified energy defined and designed by its vibrational frequency, increase that frequency and the visible will become invisible as its molecular structure changes. ‘Solid matter’ is infinitesimal compared to this invisible energy that makes up who and what we are and the universe we are a part of. What we see as distance or empty space between solid objects is the fabric or matrix that provides the backdrop against which all solid objects are both illuminated and animated.
Once we are able to grasp this concept the sending Reiki to another person is as simple as giving it to ourselves because we are one and the same and coincidently this is one of the reasons why when we give Reiki to others we automatically treat ourselves in the process. All we require to send Reiki to another person no matter how far away they are is our attention and intention. Attention provides the focus and our intention provides the impetus. In thinking it it’s done, as energy of our attention is directed by the power of our intention. Again this may be far too simple for those who believe that something as complex as sending Reiki to the other side of the world navigating all manner of barriers and time zones requires complex strategies to achieve the desired outcome.
If we look at this problem from a purely physical perspective I would have to agree but once we let go of this limiting viewpoint and begin to see things as an energy continuum without breaks, barriers or limitations we literally come full circle and return to the point of attention and intention.
One of the major precepts of Reiki is that it goes where it’s needed and not where we or the recipient may want it to go to; this shows an infinite consciousness beyond our limited understanding of the cause and effect of illness and disease, so we must ask the question which came first the precept or the teaching practice because they appear to be at odds with one another. Symbols, hand positions and Reiki techniques all work; they do so because they are underwritten by the use of our attention and intention within the energy matrix we call the universe, it’s impossible to separate attention and intention from the Reiki experience or any creative process. Everything man made exists because it was initially instigated by the creative duo of attention and intention. As a Reiki teacher I believe its part of my responsibility to help my students learn how to think, but not what to think so I teach all of the above in addition to both the Western and Eastern version of the Reiki story. From that point on I encourage the student to think for themselves as they put what they have learned to the test and develop their own Reiki practice based on the theory and their own experiences. It all works but each student must find their own path and if necessary break new ground and old beliefs in equal measure.
Hand positions generate much interest and discussion. When I was taught first degree Reiki I was shown hand positions for the head and body but only down to the waist, my teacher hadn’t been taught full body hand positions so she chose to teach her students only what she had been taught no matter how illogical it appeared from a teaching perspective. From my own personal experience the most powerful hand position I have ever used on a regular basis isn’t to be found in a Reiki manual, it’s simply holding the persons hand. Even if the person knows nothing of Reiki ask any parent, lover or care giver the power of gently getting hold someone’s hand, its simplicity belies its power to calm, comfort and reassure, all of which are elements in the healing process. Holding another person’s hand is one of the most natural and instinctive actions we can take, it’s unobtrusive and can be far more appropriate in an everyday real life situation that calls for a Reiki treatment away from a treatment room with its treatment table, candles and soothing music.
All of these are cosmetic; they work but we should remember that it’s we that need them and not Reiki. Being universal means that it must be applicable in all situations and as Reiki practitioners we must be able to adapt to any situation life presents us with. Imagine if you will you are sitting having a coffee in a busy shopping mall when you notice someone distressed and in your opinion in need of some Reiki. Using discretion, discernment, caution and common sense in equal measure you have to assess how to achieve that without being obtrusive, insensitive or getting arrested for being a public nuisance. Even if the person appears to be approachable they still may not appreciate any kind of physical contact from a total stranger and even holding their hand may not be an option, so we require a plan B in order to help them and that’s where your attention and intention comes into its own. Attention and intention without exception are our plan B in every situation.
Reiki through touch is a beautiful thing, but it’s only one option and should never be considered the be all and end all, the greatest tool in our Reiki toolbox is our imagination and the way we use it. Reiki can be given in any way we choose and the only limits are those formed by the boundaries of our imagination. If we return to the above shopping mall with its noisy music, confusion and claustrophobic throng of busy shoppers rushing by, you may be able to approach the person to ask if they are ok and offer some assistance but not everyone is comfortable with physical contact or being approached by a total stranger and they could find it intimidating and threatening. If it’s a sweet old lady we may be overcome by compassion and the desire to help, but what if it’s someone who is dirty and unkempt and appears to be living on the streets and under the influence of drink or drugs. Maybe they are the ones who look threatening and intimidating and trigger some of our own deep seated negative beliefs, values and fears. With the best will in the world we can be faced with a multitude of obstacles that could get in the way of our desire to help another person so we must be able to call on other means to achieve our goal.
We can give Reiki with our eyes as our attention and intention will automatically follow our line of sight and our train of thought, simply by looking at the person we can direct Reiki to them. Our breath in the form of spoken words as we express our desire (another term for attention and intention) silently to ourselves or quietly out loud for that person to receive the help they need. However caution is required in any situation for if we stipulate how we want that person to be helped we are trying to restrict the infinite by setting limitations on what’s available to the person.
We are also inadvertently taking responsibility for that person’s current state and saying that we with our very limited knowledge and understanding know what’s best for them. Better that we simply ask that they receive the help they need if they are willing to accept it. This then presents us with another apparent contradiction in as much as we are told that we must always ask the person for permission to give them Reiki. I would never dream of getting hold of anyone to give them Reiki without first discussing it with them and only if it was appropriate to do so, but we have to be able to differentiate between clients receiving Reiki treatments with the accepted protocols and what I define as a real life scenario that calls for emergency Reiki first aid intervention.
I was taught that I must always get the persons permission before giving Reiki, while at the same time we should always send Reiki to the people who are victims of natural disasters. Again this felt like a contradiction to me that required applied common sense to resolve the apparent confusion. If it’s ok to give Reiki to 2,000 victims of a natural disaster without their individual or collective permission then it must be ok to give it to one person who is in need of it, and our inability to gain permission won’t negate its effects or call for divine retribution on our part. What we must be able to do is think on our feet and where appropriate let go of the ‘must do’s’ and use our imagination and common sense in equal measure to achieve our goal which is to help those in need, if they are willing to accept the help that’s available to them.
Reiki is neither intrusive nor dictatorial; it never forces itself upon us or overrides our free will and freedom of choice. For those who say ‘Reiki changed my life’ no it didn’t, if your life has changed for the better it’s because you changed. In many ways Reiki is like the help we get from spirit in the form of requested advice and guidance, it is given freely but the choice is always ours as to whether we take the advice and guidance or not. If we want it in our lives we must be willing to actively invite it in or at least be receptive to it on one level or another. Even if we send Reiki to someone who doesn’t want it, it isn’t wasted for it will either go to someone close by who is open to it or it will simply return to the source (not us) from which it originally came thus completing a full circle.
Going back to Quantum Physics for a moment; all of the energy that has existed or will ever exist does so in the here and now it’s neither created or destroyed by our actions, in birth as in life and death it simply changes from one state of being or form, to another. When we send Reiki to someone we wish to help it may be accepted with gratitude or it may not, but it’s never wasted for as we use our attention and intention for the benefit of others we help heal ourselves in the process for we are simply a part of the whole of creation.
The secret of Reiki empowerments or Reiki treatments lies within the attention and intention of the Reiki teacher or practitioner, it can be as complex as you want it to be, or it can be as simple as it is meant to be. All forms of elaboration comes from the self; and it’s the self that looks for the three “R’s” of result, reaction, and response, the greater the response the greater the satisfaction and sense of personal achievement and a job well done. The power of Reiki comes directly from the source whatever we believe that to be, the I come’s from the self that believes it is separated from the source, the teacher knows that the thought of separation is an illusion created by an illusion of me, myself, or I. We can never be separated from the source or the power it creates, and the teacher’s empowerment is a demonstration of their knowledge and understanding of this fact. We do what we know, if we say we know but don’t do, we neither know nor understand.
The created can never be separated from the creator; nor can the created be greater than its creator, even the most complex and wondrous creation is no more than a reflection of the power that created it, it comes from the source but it’s not the source itself. In the same way the teacher knows that the words and thoughts they use are not the power of their intent, they are merely a projection of that power made physical. The goal is to move beyond the simplest of empowerments and go directly to the source, to move beyond the words, beyond the thoughts, and even beyond the need for conscious intent. The secret of empowerments lies in not just doing less, but also understanding more of our connection to the power that created us. In the moment we realise that it’s not about making something happen, it’s about being one with that power and allowing what needs to happen to come about. The more we understand the less we need to consciously do; until we reach the point where we stop trying, stop doing, and simply connect with the power that created us. We become still and from that stillness all that needs to be, will be.
A teacher uses their attention and intention via the empowerments as a means of awakening the student to their own connection with the source, the connection already exists but the student must be made aware of it in order for them to be able to develop and grow. This energy continuously flows through the teacher, through the student before returning to the source, thus completing a continuing circuit of creation and recreation. In this way the teacher demonstrates a way; firstly through the spoken word, then through the application of techniques, that lead to the attention/intention based empowerments and beyond, where knowledge and understanding raise us above the need to do, and allow us to just be and relax into that symbiotic relationship between the creator and the created an expression of the source whatever it may be It’s in this state of being, this stillness of acceptance that we discover the true nature and secret of attention and intent.
A Reiki practitioner since 1999, Phillip started teaching Reiki in 2000 and using those skills and abilities he has spent the majority of the last seventeen years working with a wide range of social and educational needs including Autism and ADHD. Working with addicts dependent on alcohol and drugs, people whose lives were extremely violent and abusive, and others who had to deal with severe mental health issues. This has enabled him to work extensively in the private sector, schools, colleges, education and care in the community, the prison service and psychiatric units.
In 2016, Phillip decided to semi-retire from full-time employment to concentrate on developing his career as a published author and the setting up of his Reiki personal development programme at the Chilton Community College.