Talking Reiki

Reiki has been a significant part of my life for just over two and a half years. Which is not that long, ultimately — there are practitioners out there who have been practicing for decades. My Reiki journey has just started.

As much as I practice and think about Reiki, and occasionally discuss it with other practitioners, I still find Reiki difficult to describe in words. I know how Reiki feels to me when I experience it: usually relaxing, often “lightening,” and sometimes more energizing than a power nap + espresso. I’ve watched others fall into states of deep relaxation, emerging dreamy and calm, or bright-eyed and energetic. Often people will sleep deeply the night of their treatment, feeling rejuvenated the next day.

Practically, Reiki is a safe, gentle, method of supporting relaxation and the body’s intrinsic ability to restore itself to balance. A Reiki practitioner has been empowered into their practice by a Reiki Master; I find it helpful to think of Reiki as a gentle martial art, wherein the student is guided and encouraged by a mentor. The student is taught the skills to practice on themselves, other people, animals, or plants. The student learns, but then they must practice, practice, practice.

But this “factual” description doesn’t capture the poetic essence of Reiki, which somehow evokes our deepest vitality and unfolds in mysterious ways.

I have long been a fan of Stephen Mitchell’s translation of Lao Tzu’s Tao te Ching, especially the audio book version. A few months after I started practicing Reiki, I realized how much my understanding of the Tao is similar to my understanding, and experience of, Reiki. Yep, we’re talking two totally different cultures, separated by 2500 years (give or take) — but something resonates there.

As Lao Tzu wrote:

The Tao is like a bellows:
it is empty yet infinitely capable.
The more you use it, the more it produces;
the more you talk of it, the less you understand.
(Chapter 5)