Article by Deb Karpek
I live near Sedona, Arizona and there’s a new guru in town. It seems everywhere I go people are talking about him; he’s really causing quite a stir! My initial response was judgment – of him and of the people that follow him. Then I recognized my judgment and where it came from. This guru talk was a huge trigger for me and I began thinking about teachers I’ve had and my role as a teacher, ego, and how I sometimes look for things outside of myself to fill me up.
In the last year I’ve had some healing opportunities in this area. I spent a good deal of this time frustrated and confused. I felt like there was something I was missing; yet I didn’t know what that was. So as is my habit, I sat with it. And I asked Reiki to help me. And over time (longer than I would have liked!) the answers came. They led me down a rabbit hole of sorts, helping me to examine not only my beliefs about teachers and teaching, but showed me my behaviors and some work I needed to do in this area. I love this about Reiki. I started out angry and wanting to blame and I ended up looking inward and taking responsibly for myself. Reiki always leads us back to ourselves if we allow it.
Below I would like to share some stories of what bubbled up for me during this time.
I used to think my Reiki teacher was a perfect human being. I worked with many teachers before I met her but they were nothing like her. She was way up high on the pedestal and it took me years before I realized that I placed her there.
The first time I met her I walked across the room and gave her a hug. In my mind I thought “Mother”, even though she is only a few years older than me. And in that moment I unconsciously transferred to her all of the unmet needs from my mother. And again, it took me years to realize I did this.
How embarrassing, but what a wonderful opportunity for personal growth!
I adored and worshiped my teacher. I sat in her classroom many, many times. I was, and still am an eager student. This particular teacher teaches in a way that makes sense to me. After studying with a few different teachers as I worked my way through the levels of Reiki, I found one that I felt I could really connect with. She uses personal experiences to illustrate points and I like that. It helped to make some of the more unexplainable concepts of Reiki easier for me to understand.
She weaved Reiki magic for me. I became a more serious student of Reiki because of her. She is an excellent role model and I wanted to be just like her. There was no place I would rather be than in her classroom, learning, practicing, feeling the Reiki, and the love she exudes. The beauty of Sedona only added to this feeling of intoxication with her and Reiki.
Yes, intoxication. When I am in the classroom or the Reiki haze, as I like to call it, I can mistake the source of those feelings. Like those people following the guru, I thought this feeling came from her.
Those first few years I felt obsessed with her. I wanted her to like me, to be my friend, to take a special interest in me. I wanted to be the teacher’s pet. She was kind and patient with me, but she had boundaries. I took this personally. I hadn’t yet gotten a handle on my own boundaries.
Why didn’t she like me? Why didn’t she see how special I was? I’m such a good student! Is she ignoring me? Me, Me, Me!
It took a while, but I began to realize what I was doing. Not just my behavior, but also the underlying energy of it all. I started to see my patterns, with my mom, my teachers, people I admired. My feelings of being left out or not being loved came screaming out. I was looking to others to help fill me up.
This is Reiki at its best. It provides healing opportunities for us and this is an area I needed healing in. It took me a very long time to see this. Reiki is patient. It waits for us to catch up, for us to wake up to our healing. It brings us back to ourselves in a loving and gentle way.
This lesson really hit home when it began happening to me.
I had been teaching for a while and I began noticing students treating me like I had treated my teacher: wanting to hang out, desiring special attention, and taking things personally. These students were powerful mirrors for me.
One day I needed a ride somewhere and asked one of my students if she could drop me off after a session. She agreed and suggested we get a bite to eat. As we were sitting in the restaurant waiting for our food she blurted out “I can’t believe I’m sitting here with you! I’m not sure I’m going to be able to eat!”
In that moment I saw myself with my teacher. I was so embarrassed but grateful for this opportunity. I tried to tell this woman that I was not special, to not think of me like this, to please do not worship me. I was so uncomfortable! And I wondered if this is how I made my teacher feel when I did this?
Do you do this? Have you had this done to you? Do you put your teachers on a pedestal? Do you recognize this behavior from your students?
We have such a responsibility as teachers! Not just knowing our material, and passing it on, but also how we interact with our students. When I first started teaching I was very insecure in that role and I wanted everyone to like me. I over did it. I tried too hard and it sometimes got in the way of my teaching. I wanted to be just like my teacher, and didn’t allow my true self to shine through. I took things personally and/or students triggered me. A Reiki class can be a great opportunity for us to learn about ourselves.
Eventually I saw this but I think it took a much longer time for me to realize the enormity of my responsibility as a teacher.
It can be so confusing, when we begin to wake up. The new feelings we have can be transferred so easily to those that brought us these new ways, thoughts, and feelings. We don’t realize that they are waking things up that are already inside of us and that it is our job to sow those seeds of awakening.
I think I wanted my teacher to do it for me. Instead, she taught me how to do this myself. And in turn, I try to teach my students to sow their own seeds. Some of them still want me to do it for them, and I have to remember that I did this as well, and to be patient.
So far, so good. I was finally in a place where I could recognize the gifts my teacher gave me. I took her off the pedestal and had a greater awareness of my behavior. I saw her as the beautiful human being that she is and continued to model my practice after what she taught me. We became friends and colleagues and I lost my hero worship of her. It’s so much better now that I can relate to her as a human being.
A few years went by and I thought I had learned to discern the difference between someone showing me the way and leading me. I knew I had it all inside and just needed a bit of help in mining it. I thought I knew that a teacher’s role was to help open me up and I would take it from there. I thought I could trust that they would have good intentions and strong boundaries. And most of them did.
But not all. Below is a story of how I once again got lost, looking for something outside of myself. I had been a Reiki Master for many years and I felt comfortable in that role. I began reading books on enlightenment and wondered could I have this? Am I on my way? I became blinded in my hunger for Ascension.
I met two individuals who would become teachers for me, but not in the way I envisioned. They came to a Reiki Level 1 class I was teaching, a referral from their niece, who had been a client of mine. They seemed like a nice couple, and I remember nothing remarkable from that class, or the Level Two class they took from me.
A year later, in a Level Three Master Practitioner class, during a discussion the man began channeling. He said he was channeling Jesus, as his eyes rolled back in his head and began giving messages to me and the other students in the room. Besides me, and this couple there was a female Episcopalian Priest and another woman, a nurse.
I quickly looked at these two students to see how they were receiving these messages. Their postures, leaning forward, seemed to indicate they were interested, but when there was a break in the channeling I asked them if they were ok with it. They said they were and this man continued on and off for the rest of the class.
I was fascinated. Except for a teacher I had worked with remotely I had never been exposed to channeling. I believed it to be real, as the messages he had seemed personal and true.
They continued to take the higher-level Reiki classes with me, every year or so and we got to know each other. Once, after a class they asked if they could work on me and I agreed, thinking it would be a good way for them to practice their Reiki and me to receive it. It felt ok.
They called me every few weeks to check in and in the time right before I moved to Arizona they would stop by often. I didn’t think it was odd, just that we were becoming friends. I found them interesting, as they knew about things I didn’t. And while I was their Reiki teacher, they became teachers of sorts to me. I liked what I was learning. Even though I had been involved with Reiki for about 10 years at this point, I wasn’t familiar with a lot of other metaphysical teachings and I welcomed this new information. Like his channeling I found it fascinating.
I moved to Arizona and lost track of them. I had a bumpy first year, one I like to call The Year of Shattered Illusions. Even though I’d been visiting Sedona a few times of year for 18 years I wasn’t prepared for living there. Nothing was as I had thought it would be. I took a job that wasn’t a good fit for me, had a falling out with some close friends who had also moved there and was so homesick for my Wisconsin roots, clients, and family. I thought I had made a terrible mistake. I was lost and depressed.
I also really missed doing Reiki every day and teaching most weekends. Initially when I moved I thought I was going to retire from my Reiki practice and spend my time working “easy” jobs and writing. I no longer had Reiki in my daily life, as a guiding light and because of that I felt I was slipping away from my source. I hadn’t realized how grounded and focused it had kept me for the last ten years. It had been such an important part of my life and now it wasn’t. I missed it yet I didn’t know that yet.
Driving home from work one rainy Saturday afternoon I received a phone call from the woman. I pulled over into the parking lot of the local health food store, eager to talk to someone from back home.
“It’s time you started working with us. You are ready,” she said. I immediately agreed. Anything to get me out of this sad and lonely place. I was told there would be no charge, initially and they would call me a couple of times a month, when they received the signal. I was so excited about learning new things!
I have always been a seeker. I love having a teacher, or mentor, as I called it in the corporate world. I liked following the path of someone who had walked it before me. It felt safer that way. I loved the support and the sense of teamwork. It’s something I missed terribly once I left the corporate world and began my Reiki practice.
I had no mentors or teachers that took me under their wing while I was learning Reiki and developing my practice. I pretty much had to figure this out by myself and at times it could be a lonely and confusing place. In retrospect, I see that it was the best way for me to learn, but at the time I just felt sorry for myself. And while I did have teachers that helped me from time to time I felt they were slightly out of reach. I was intimidated by their “status” and shied away from really asking them for help.
This couple seemed accessible and eager to share their experiences with me. I looked forward to each phone call where I would learn new things. And for about a year it was all good. Until it wasn’t.
It seemed once we moved from the phone calls to the weekly Skype sessions something felt off, but I didn’t know what it was; it was just an intuitive feeling I had.
Each time we would talk they would compare my “progress” with climbing Everest. “You’re almost there! You’ve reached the summit! You are working your way down! Good job!” When I’d ask where I was going they had sly smiles, and said “nowhere!” What was this elusive place? Where were we going? Why were we doing this work if it led to nowhere? What was this work? Did it even have a name? I thought this often and sometimes I’d ask these questions and they’d tell me to be patient and just accept what we were doing. But I didn’t know what we were doing. I wanted answers and was told that was bad. That was ego.
Ego. All of a sudden everything was ego. Thinking I was far along on my journey (to nowhere) I heard I wasn’t, that I had a big ego that was ruining everything. They didn’t like my participation in our talks. The man wanted the floor, to teach me. On occasion he became verbally abusive, saying mean things, calling me names. Once I hung up and many times I told him he couldn’t talk to me like that. He would counter with “I’m killing your ego, that is my job”. I thought of other teachers I had worked with and how different they were. I thought of my Reiki teacher who always said, “Teach only Love”.
Recently I was in a meditation class and the teacher said, “When someone I meet tells me they are enlightened I run”. We all laughed but I remembered this man and the many times he told me he was enlightened. Soon his partner became enlightened and they were both working with me so I could be too. This was serious work, they said!
So I would ask, “Is that the point of these talks? To become enlightened?” Again, with the sly smiles. They knew something I didn’t and if I kept working with them I would know it also. As long as I didn’t ask too many questions.
Before things turned bad, in the glory days of our talks, I spoke of them to many of my clients and friends. I was excited for everyone to meet these gifted folks, to learn new things. Many of them became their clients and their business began to grow. For this, I received many months of free teachings.
When I would complain to my husband about my frustration with them he would ask why I was still working with them. Because it’s free I’d answer. But that was only part of the truth.
The truth was that I was afraid to not work with them. Little by little, week-by-week I had given up my power to them. And to tell the truth, initially it felt good. I’d been searching for years and was tired. I wanted to be led. So I let them lead me. I gave them my power. I emptied myself out.
They knew my weak spots and those of their other clients and would dangle them in front of us like a carrot, at just the right times. When I first began asking questions and doubting them they would talk about my ego, my need to know. Frustrated, I’d tell them that I felt like I had hit a wall and I was thinking of not working with them any longer.
This is when they’d pull out the big guns. If you quit working with us, you will no longer be protected. You will no longer be guided. You will go back to sleep, they told me.
No, I couldn’t have that. All of this time they had been telling me that they were giving me special protection, for myself, my loved ones and my home. Because I was such a bright light, they had put an armor around it all and I was protected from any dark energies. I had to keep working with them or otherwise they would take this protection away and I would go back to the land of the sleepers.
I believed them. They had me. I was terrified of losing that protection. It hadn’t yet occurred to me that they might be the dark energies or that I had my own protection. I had forgotten this. Giving away my power gave me amnesia. So I endured, against my better judgment.
I rarely talked about them with anyone else. They told me not to, that what we were doing was very special and it would taint it if I talked about them. I think my not talking about them had more to do with my shame than anything else. I was embarrassed about our weekly meetings. I knew I was sucked in and felt powerless to break away. I didn’t feel strong enough and there was just enough doubt to keep me in the game. What if they are the real things? What if they have what it takes to get me there? Where? Nowhere? Is that enlightenment? I didn’t know what I didn’t know.
In my hunger for enlightenment I gave them all my power. What embarrassed me most is that I knew this on some level and kept going. I was a rat caught in a maze.
They told me that Reiki wasn’t real, that it was old energy, a lower vibration. This is something I never believed. I used the distant symbol a lot, for my loved ones and myself. They said it was a form of control, that it didn’t work, that I was being manipulative and expecting an outcome. They were persistent about this. I continued to use my symbols. I thought about talking to one of my teachers, but felt too embarrassed, so I kept it to myself.
Occasionally I would talk to some of the others who worked with them and we all had wild stories. We’d laugh and share our frustrations, and our discussions seemed fraught with fear, yet we never admitted it. We kept them on the pedestals they built for themselves.
They told me they were the only ones that could help me. They had the special gift that I needed. They were sent to me. I believed them. Sort of. I was too afraid not to.
One day I asked them why they of all the people in the world were the only ones who could help me. The sly smiles. Trust us they said. So I did. Sort of.
But I never trusted them as much as I trusted Reiki. I have always trusted Reiki, even when I didn’t always understand it. It is one of the reasons I kept at it. I knew Reiki was being guided by the divine and it had nothing to do with me. That thought has always comforted me. I never questioned it. I may have forgotten to use it, or not always realized how powerful it was, but I’ve always trusted it. I love how it waits for me to remember it, to catch up.
I started not trusting these people and I felt Reiki working its way back into my life. Just like the example with my Reiki teacher, it took a while. I began to realize that this was another healing opportunity and I started asking Reiki for help. I was still under their spell, but I could feel it breaking. Reiki was helping me get myself back in balance.
On a road trip to my part of the county, they asked if they could stop in. By this time I really didn’t want to see them and had planned to tell them I would no longer be working with them. I asked for a sign, to let me know for sure what I should do.
They came over and we sat in my living room. The man got up and said some derogatory things to me, and began thrusting out his pelvis, mimicking having sex, saying some disgusting things about men, and in particular, my husband. He looked crazed, humping around my living room by himself, repeating filthy things. I looked over at his partner and she smiled.
I had my sign.
I couldn’t wait for them to leave. All of the frustration I felt was rising to the surface and I was afraid I’d blow. I thought of him as a clown and she as his accomplice and realized that I’d been had. I was done.
They left and went to another friend’s house to visit her. They stayed there a week. She fed them and housed them and “worked” with them. They said she needed a lot of healing and so she let them stay as long as they wanted, to help her.
After they left I met my friend for lunch and she told me about their visit. I was incredulous that she let them stay as long as she did. She said she felt powerless. I knew that feeling. We talked about that for a while and then I told her that on my next scheduled meeting with them I was going to end it. I was done and I was sure about this decision. It felt good to say it out loud.
She started to cry and said she was done working with them as well. We had similar feelings of relief and fear, but we knew it was time. I left that lunch feeling better than I had in a while. I trusted what I was feeling.
I had a phone visit looming and worried I wouldn’t be able to keep my promise to myself to not work with them. I was afraid to say it yet I knew I had to. I could barely look at them on Skype. The man was acting aggressive, most likely sensing my energy. I began to tell them and they pulled out all of their ammo – if I stop working with them I’ll fall back asleep. Everyone that quits does. They will take away my protection. They are the only ones that can help me. My ego is calling the shots. I don’t know what I am talking about. I just sat there mute, observing their threats. They no longer held the power they once did. I quit.
The week after this happened I watched a CNN documentary called Holy Hell, about cults. It scared me how much I could relate to and understand the feelings told by the cult members. The leader of this cult exhibited many of the same behaviors as this man I had worked with. It never occurred to me that this was cult-like behavior.
I can’t believe this happened. I don’t get easily sucked in and I have pretty good radar about whom to trust, but I did and they had me for quite some time. Little by little, week-by-week they worked on me until I felt I couldn’t leave, even though I knew I should.
I had a session with a therapist to sort out my feelings of anger, frustration – at them, at myself – and the guilt. I mentioned how scared I was to lose their protection and he asked me, what about my own guides, my own protection? That blew my mind. It never occurred to me to call on my guides, something I have done most of my life. I let myself believe, all those months, that their guides were better for me.
I allowed it.
And while allowing this, I forgot about Reiki. It was always there, waiting to help me, but I had free will and I was listening to them. Until I began doubting them, I had put Reiki on the back burner. Why?
Because I’m human. Because I forget. Because initially it seemed like a good idea, a good way to learn something new, a step on the road to enlightenment. My intentions were good, if misguided.
I wasn’t going to write this, for many reasons. Initially it was shame. Shame that I was duped, and letting others see my confusion, mistakes, and insecurities. This started out as an article about putting teachers on pedestals and then took on a life of its own and went much deeper. Yet, the energy is the same. It is healing that I needed and as always in my life, Reiki was a catalyst for that healing.
Reiki brought these teachers to me and Reiki helped me to realize certain energies that I had that needed to be healed. I had thought that I had healed many of these behaviors, and I had, but this was at a much deeper level. Something was still there that needed attention. They found me at a time I was vulnerable and I let them in. I didn’t know I was losing myself; I thought I was gaining new knowledge.
I was, but not in the way I envisioned! On some level, I realized what I was doing, but I kept going, looking for an easier way out. I was tired of doing the work.
And now I realize that no one can do the work for me. It is all inside. Reiki is inside. If I stay in the flow I hear it speaking to me. I always have. It has always helped me and never led me astray.
But it does respect free will. I have a strong will and at times, when I “heard” to let go and back away, I did not. I let fear take over, a constant thread in my life. It seemed easier. It wasn’t.
I still think it’s ok to be a seeker and to work with teachers. People come to me, seeking and I teach them. Initially, I was going to quit teaching, something I love dearly, until I realized that this experience could make me a better teacher. I can share what I know, talk about my experiences and allow my students to find their own way. It has really freed my up as a teacher, to be able to ask and allow Reiki to take over. I’ve always done this but it feels deeper and more authentic now. As a result I love teaching even more and I feel that sense of responsibility as a teacher even stronger. Having been on both sides of the experience I can remember these lessons when I teach, as I work with new teachers, and teach new students.
My healing has occurred in layers. Each time it seems to go a bit deeper. It comes when I am ready to face certain truths about myself. This is never easy and something I’d rather not do, but once I face these truths I am liberated and can move forward with more light inside of me. That’s what a true teacher does – helps us find our light. Not to be worshiped or to do as they say, rather to mine our depths to find what we need, in the time that we need it. And we shouldn’t expect them to do any more than that.
Wrapping this all up I have to say that I am grateful for all of these experiences and teachers. My Reiki teacher has taught me the value of leading by example, setting boundaries, being myself and really walking the talk. Reiki is not just something she teachers; it’s deep inside her and she shares it freely. I am now able to do this. The other teachers taught me the value of my light, and that I don’t need to hide in the shadows of others. I can shine my own light, and trust my guidance and intuition. I no longer blame them, as I went to them willingly. I am grateful for their teachings as it revealed all of my blind spots.
Let this be an inspiration as well as a cautionary tale. If you feel something is not right, it probably isn’t. Sit with it. Ask Reiki to help you along the way. Remember it’s always there, waiting, inside, ready to help us wake up and remember who we are.
And don’t forget, Reiki is the teacher. It’s all inside.
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Deb is a Reiki Master Teacher and the owner of Peaceful World Reiki located near Sedona, Arizona. She's been studying Reiki since 2001, practicing since 2003 and began teaching Reiki in 2006. She is an Usui and Karuna Holy Fire II Reiki Master/Teacher, receiving her Reiki Certifications from the International Center for Reiki Training. Deb received her Master of Spiritual Psychology from the School of Integrated Psychology in Glendale, Wisconsin. She is certified as a Level I breathwork practitioner, is a Reiki Crystal healer, Reiki drum practitioner and performs Reiki and sound healing with tuning forks. Deb is one of our featured guests on our Reiki Rays - Reiki Age of Light video which can be found on YouTube. Deb is also the author of a book about the nuts and bolts of starting a Reiki practice, including the emotional highs and lows that go along with that. Her book is called “The Reluctant Reiki Master’s Step-by-Step Guide to Creating and Sustaining a Thriving Reiki Practice” and can be found on Amazon.
Having experienced profound life changes as a result of Reiki, Deb continues to study and practice the various modalities of energy medicine. She devotes her life to walking the Reiki path and helping others discover the benefits of Reiki. Deb can be reached via her website at www.debkarpek.com or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/debkarpekreiki.