Article by Phillip Hawkins
A major precept of Reiki is that the only person we can heal is ourselves. This is achieved through a change in perception and through the acquisition and application of knowledge and understanding. Without it there can be no healing, be it of mind, body or spirit. In healing oneself we are given the opportunity to learn the lessons necessary that enable us to help others heal themselves. In truth every Reiki practitioner is a facilitator of knowledge and understanding regardless of the degree of expertise they have achieved, for self healing is much more about changing our perception than changing a physical condition, for one is a prerequisite for the other. As co-creators we give meaning to the experiences we live through this is why there is no standard response to any given situation or experience, people feel and deal with things differently and a change in perception leads to a change of values and a growing understanding of what’s happening and why.
The healing process may still be physically or emotionally painful but it becomes a pain with purpose and meaning as through this change in perspective we recognise it for what it is, working through it in order that it can be released and let go. On this personal journey fear and regret are often our travelling companions. Regret is the one who is always lagging behind; it tries to get us to turn back, to turn around and focus on the past. It constantly reminds us of whom and what we once were, regret like a scornful parent is ever dismissive of what we have achieved, how far we have travelled, the changes we have made and the person we have become. Regret tells us that the success and happiness we seek have to be earned and we do not deserve it because of who we are and the mistakes we have made. Fear unrestrained runs ahead of us, it lays in wait ready to jump out and sabotage our progress when we least expect it. Fear creates the illusion of barriers where none exist and leads us to believe that our path is fraught with hazards and pitfalls, with every shadow concealing dangers ready to bring any progress to a premature end.
Happiness can only be experienced in the moment; the present moment, for this is all the time we have, but if we continually focus on the past or the future we deny ourselves the opportunity to create the happiness we desire in the here and now. Problems arise when we link our happiness to the achievement of goals instead of focusing on the creation of happiness itself. In doing so we convince ourselves that happiness is the result or by-product of an external experience instead of an internal creative process. Happiness is a state of mind; a thought process that elicits an emotional response which then creates a physical sensation and ultimately an external experience. Through the power of our thoughts our psychology becomes our biology and directly affects our health and well being. Every thought will find a way to express itself; thoughts that if sustained will go on to create our beliefs and eventually the reality we must experience.
When happiness is linked to attainment we are sending out the message that we can’t be happy in the here and now, in the present moment because our happiness has to be earned and will only be achievable if we are talented, able gifted or worthy enough to receive it. All of these thoughts are negative based self judgements that promote the idea that happiness is ‘out there’ somewhere waiting to be discovered, instead of an internal experience waiting to be created. By attaching happiness to the acquisition of things or the achievement of goals we are saying that our happiness has to be put on hold until the achievement of those goals brings about the happiness and sense of achievement we desire. Any delay or even failure to achieve those goals can result in disappointment and a sense of failure which can then trigger feelings of inadequacy low self esteem and in some extreme cases the onset of depression, and over time illness and disease through the suppression of our immune system.
Many people already know from personal experience that getting upset or angry can raise their blood pressure and some have found to their cost that if anger or aggression has become their ‘default response’ their immune system is suppressed to such an extent it can over time, result in the onset of ill health, heart disease and strokes. If negative thoughts and emotions have an adverse affect on our health and wellbeing then positive thoughts and emotions such as joy and happiness can provide a measurable antidote that effectively boosts our immune system, lowers our blood pressure and drastically reduces the risk for cardiovascular disease. Our thoughts and the emotions they create have far reaching consequences; our gene pool, our DNA the very fabric of our being is influenced, enhanced or adversely affected when our psychology becomes our biology through the quality of our thoughts and the attitudes and beliefs they create.
While the adverse effects of negative thoughts and emotions are well documented there are a growing number of studies that now confirm that success doesn’t lead to happiness, happiness actually leads to success and has measurable benefits to our health and wellbeing. Pioneering work in this field of medicine provides growing evidence that when people who are in a distressed state of mind are able to create or induce a feeling of, contentment, joy or happiness it has a positive and measurable effect to their health and wellbeing and leads to amongst other things a quicker recovery of normal heart function. It is also noted that the simple act of smiling also has the power to lower blood pressure and induce a more rapid heart rate recovery.
So while some say there is no evidence to show that Reiki works other studies have shown that something as simple as a compassionate or loving touch has a measureable positive life affirming effect, so maybe it’s now time to re-evaluate the evidence available to us or simply change our perception of what Reiki is and the way it works.
When we say that Reiki helps us to heal ourselves we are using a very broad brushstroke generalisation that does little to explain the ‘healing’ processes involved. Knowledge and understanding of the benefits of happiness and other positive based thoughts can change our perceptions and take healing out the realms of the mystical and miraculous and help make it a technology that can be understood and then used by everyone to enhance their health and wellbeing. Happiness and positive induced emotions not only boost our immune system but also undo the effects of stress and anxiety, therefore not only improving quality of life but also protecting our health and wellbeing, they enhance nearly every facet of our being, including work performance, health, marriage, friendship, creativity, confidence and energy.
It has to be said that happiness is no magic bullet, but it’s clear that it lengthens the odds of getting disease or dying young and while happiness might not by itself prevent or cure disease there is no doubt that positive emotions and enjoyment of life contribute to better health and a longer lifespan. Current health advice and guidance focuses on avoiding obesity, eating a balanced healthy diet, not smoking and getting plenty of exercise. With the change in our perception of what contributes to a healthy lifestyle may be its time to add being happy and avoiding chronic anger to this list.
Martin Seligman, the father of Positive Psychology wrote in his book Authentic Happiness ‘The best therapists do not merely heal damage; they help people identify and build their strengths and their virtues, the strengths and virtues which function to buffer against misfortune and against the psychological disorders, that may be the key to building resilience’ and ultimately maintaining long term health and wellbeing.
As Reiki practitioners we have a responsibility and a duty of care to empower people to take responsibility for their own health and wellbeing when it’s right and appropriate for them to do so and healing should never be shrouded in mystery or hidden by rituals and tradition. Healing is more about education than it is about changing a physical condition for without knowledge and understanding there is nothing to stop illness manifesting as fear and ignorance provides the ideal conditions for all manner of ailments, illnesses and diseases to take root and grow. Healing like any concept spiritual or otherwise, must transcend theoretical discussion and become a real life experience to be lived and learnt from. Positive thoughts and the emotions they create have the power to transform, happiness as part of that process has the ability to improve our quality of life, protect our health and wellbeing and enhance many aspects of our lives including work, health, relationships, creativity, and self confidence, whilst generally raising our energy levels. All of which is available to us without prescription, and it falls squarely within the realms of healing one self, which is after all what Reiki is asking us to do.
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.