Healing Opportunities in Teaching


Article by Deb Karpek

I’ve been teaching Reiki since 2006. I never planned on being a teacher; I was more of a behind the scenes type of worker. When I took my Reiki Master/Teacher class in the spring of 2006 it was to sit in my teacher’s classroom one more time. I loved the energy of that classroom and craved another Reiki attunement. It was not my intention to ever teach. I was too afraid.

When my teacher handed me my certificate at the end of the class I told her that. She said, “You are a teacher! You are going to teach!” While I was flattered by her faith in me, I didn’t believe her. One month to that day I taught my first Level One Reiki class.

It just happened! When I got home from Sedona, where I took the class, people began asking me to teach them Reiki. I remember my teacher telling me that if people asked me to teach, it meant it was time. At first I demurred, said I wasn’t ready, but people kept asking. In the first two weeks of me being a new Master/Teacher five people asked me. It was time.

I was terrified that first day. While I was confident with the most of the material, and the ritual of passing the attunements, I wasn’t self assured enough in my abilities as a teacher. I just couldn’t see myself in this role. I was also worried about the different personalities, and whether or not the students would understand the material. That was very important to me. I needed them to get it! My lack of faith in myself as a teacher manifested in this way, with me thinking I wouldn’t be able to adequately tell them what Reiki was. I wasn’t even sure I knew!

All my fears can to a head that first day. I was a nervous wreck! I believe the students picked up on this and the energy of the room felt off to me. A few of the students had a really difficult time and I felt responsible for it. My ego was engaged and I was all over the place as a teacher. I felt like I lost control of the class about halfway through. The class ran long and after it ended, I went to bed. I was exhausted. The next day I felt like I had a hangover and was filled with shame.

It took me a while to unwind from this and I learned many, many lessons that day. I saw that I had allowed my ego and fear to take over and how it spread like fire to the others. I saw how I thought I could control the class, instead of asking Reiki to help me and to be in the flow, meeting my students where they were. I saw how much pressure I put on myself.

It took some time but I eventually became more comfortable teaching. I pushed ahead, doing it afraid. I became better at letting go, and more comfortable in my role as a teacher. I also began to understand that every student and class is a mirror and many healing opportunities are present when we teach, if we allow ourselves to see them.

My Reiki teaching career has been an enjoyable and fulfilling experience. I love introducing students to Reiki and watching them open up like beautiful Lotus flowers. Many of my students have continued on to all of the levels with me and we have watched each other grow and expand with the Reiki. We teach each other.

Healing opportunities
Image by PixxlTeufel

Every so often I have one of those classes that takes me back to that first class. It can happen when a student is triggered and has a hard time in the class. I used to want to fix it for them, to make them feel better, help them get out of their pain. I discovered that oftentimes this made the situation worse, so I’ve learned to let go of that need to fix and allow them their healing, by holding the space. This has been a huge shift for me and I am grateful to Reiki for this.

Sometimes a student has to step outside, to take a break from the class. The energy or the memory that is presenting itself is too much and they need to leave. I understand this as years ago I had to leave a Karuna® class when a repressed memory came flooding back to me during some table work. Eventually the student returns. Sometimes they want to talk about it and other times not so much. I respect their choice and the class resumes.

I have had a few classes where students have triggered each other. I can usually see this coming, but I’ve been blindsided as well. This always makes me uncomfortable. It is my wish that the students will recognize the healing opportunity and work it out. Sometimes that happens, but when it does not, I’ve had to pull students aside and speak to them.

And sometimes a student or a discussion triggers me. I was much more reactive in my early teaching days. I remember once I had a student who I felt was picking on me and I lashed out at the beginning of the class. In retrospect, I see we were both nervous, with our emotions running high. Now we laugh about it but at the time I felt horrible and full of shame. I’ve gotten better at recognizing my triggers. Sometimes I will use my reaction as a teaching tool, talking about what is going on with me, other times I take a break. It depends on the situation and how emotional I am.

A Reiki class can be a highly charged atmosphere, for both teacher and student. So much can be released when doing this work. Reiki is always there to help us if we recognize and allow it.

I’ve been teaching a lot this past month and felt really in the flow. One class ended up being a one on one class due to the other student falling sick. I was eager to work with this new student of Reiki, introducing her to Levels 1 and 2 over the weekend.

I didn’t know this student; we’d only had one session together, so I had no expectations. The first day went well and she returned on day two eager to meet the symbols. In the afternoon, we did an exercise that used the distant symbol to help us heal something from our past. I love doing this exercise as it had really helped me to heal some past issues that had been stuck in me for years. I want the students to know that this powerful healing is available to them and so we do a number of different exercises around this, using the distant symbol. While we cannot change our past, I believe this symbol helps us to release the emotional scar tissue that surrounds it, freeing us up.

This can be a highly charged exercise depending on what the student chooses to heal. In this particular class, the student sent distant Reiki to a deeply imbedded issue that caused her much pain.

Reiki is so powerful. When we combine that with our intention and we are ready to heal, it meets us where we are. I have had some mind-blowing aha moments as a result of this and also some gentle, deep healing. I’ve witnessed this in my students as well. I’m never sure where it’s going to go but I trust we will always be safe. After all, Reiki does no harm.

For the distant exercise my student chose a deep-seated issue from her childhood. Her past came roaring back to her and she went into quite a healing crisis. She began to cry and talk about this experience. The walls came down and she was split wide open.

I sat there, listening to her, holding the space. It was very intense and at one point I got scared and wondered if I should stop her or redirect. I “heard” to let her continue, to get it out. I also heard to make a suggestion, which took her deeper into her grief, not the reaction I had hoped for. She became very angry, and directed some of that anger at me. I understood what was happening; yet I was quite uncomfortable. Again, I wondered if I should ask her to stop but again I heard to allow her to continue with her healing.

This went on for quite a while until I heard that she needed to get on the table and receive some Reiki. I hoped this would calm her, and it did a bit. She stopped crying, but continued to talk, mining deeper into her past, retrieving old memories, emotions, and feelings. She was going very deep.

I trust the saying “Reiki finds us when we need it and it gives us what we need”. I sensed this woman was ready to go back to this place in her past and receive the deep healing Reiki can provide. She felt safe and she was ready. However, I’m not sure she knew that. She was scared and angry and wondered why this was happening.

Even though we discussed the healing opportunities and detox that can result from an attunement, I’m not sure she understood the depth of the possibilities and I made a note to delve deeper into this subject when teaching. I don’t always know where the students are, mentally and emotionally, or what might come up. Afterwards she asked me why I didn’t tell her this would happen to her and I honestly told her, I didn’t know it would. But I do trust that it wouldn’t have happened if she hadn’t been ready.

After the session, the class ended and she went home. By the time she left, she was calm again, and I trusted she would be fine.

Unfortunately, she wasn’t. She spent a couple of very emotional days, blaming Reiki, blaming me, not understanding what had happened to her. She was very fortunate to be in the company of other healers during this time, to talk to her, to listen, and to give her energy work. This helped her to integrate the new light she had received and to let go of her past. Sometimes when we are releasing old, stuck energy it can feel like it’s never going to end. We feel worse before we feel better. I have experienced this and have helped many of my students through these “detoxes” over the years.

Eventually she felt better, more balanced and was ready to move forward with Reiki in her life. I was told she gave her husband a Reiki session and really enjoyed it. I’m glad she was able to recognize the healing that had occurred and is able to now use Reiki to further that healing.

This situation reminded how powerful Reiki is and just how deep it can go. It had been a while since I have seen a student go that deep into their process. Initially, it triggered me and I saw how I wanted to help her, to fix this situation, to take away her pain. But I didn’t. That would have hijacked her healing and she needed to have this experience.

I discovered that I was able to hold the space for her, with compassion and grace. I could meet her where she was, and allow her to do her own healing, no matter how uncomfortable it made me. It wasn’t about me, and as a teacher that was important for me to see that. It also showed me how far I have come in my role as a Reiki teacher.

This was one of the hardest classes I have ever taught, but it was so profoundly healing, for both of us. I am so grateful for the gift of Reiki, to be able to do this for a living, for my healing, and for the ability to facilitate healing for others and to recognize the gifts that it always brings, if we let it. Thank you, Reiki.

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Deb Karpek

Deb Karpek

Deb Karpek is the owner of Peaceful World Reiki located near Sedona, Arizona. She has been studying Reiki since 2001, practicing since 2003, and teaching since 2006. She is a Usui and Karuna Holy Fire 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 Integrative Psychology in Glendale, WI and is certified as a Level 1 Breathwork Practitioner. She is a Reiki Crystal Healer, a Reiki Drum Practitioner, and performs Reiki and Sound Healing with Tuning Forks. Deb is approved by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) as a continuing education Approved Provider. 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.


  1. Thank you for sharing! May your example and experience of Reiki; helping you, to help her, to help herself and you, be an example for all… As long as we are fully present with Reiki, listening to the promptings provided, aligning with what is best for all, then we are all Being Reiki… Namaste…

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