No Agenda, Just Reiki

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Marcel Duchamp, Portrait of Dr. Dumouchel (detail) from the Philadelphia Museum of Art

“Touching is a very old way of healing and so we try to touch people with the same tenderness that a mother would touch a child with, because what a mother is saying to a child in that touch is: Live.”

Rachel Naomi Remen, in Bill Moyers’ Healing and the Mind
Episode 5, “Wounded Healers”

One of my favorite things about Reiki practice is that there is no agenda. Beyond childhood, it’s rare to have another person’s hands on our body with no preconceived notion of what they’re trying to accomplish. A massage therapist is loosening tight muscles; a chiropractor is adjusting bones; a doctor is feeling for tenderness or lumps. Even a loving partner touches to reaffirm connection through comfort or pleasure, a wordless way to say: you and me.

But in Reiki, we just place our hands and let Reiki do the rest. When I share Reiki, I am not seeking to fix a problem, or to diagnose a condition—I am simply asking Reiki to flow where it is needed. I follow the traditional hand placements as taught to me by my teacher, in the tradition of Reiki Master Hawayo Takata: I gently place my hands on the head, torso and then the back, spending a few minutes in each area.

Do I have an intention when I begin a session?

No, other than for Reiki to flow, which I respectfully request of Reiki before placing my hands. Before we start, I usually ask the person, “How can Reiki help you today?” But sometimes we don’t yet have words for what we need, and that’s where Reiki can really surprise us. It goes right to the place that hungers for life force, attention, juice. It may be physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual; Reiki nourishes that place gently, with no expectations. And things shift, perhaps subtly, sometimes notably. Either way, everything around that initial shift moves a bit, too. A process has begun.

“Open yourself to the Tao,
then trust your natural responses;
and everything will fall into place.”

Tao te Ching,  Ch. 23

How does Reiki work? I don’t know. I know how to practice; I know how I feel after a session; I know how others have described their experiences. But how Reiki works, or maybe I mean why, is a mystery. Since my very first session, this is what intrigued me about the practice. It seems too easy, but a few minutes and Reiki hands are all one needs. A quiet place is helpful, but Reiki can happen anywhere. In our busy, info-packed world, it’s choosing to go agenda-free–for even 15 minutes!–that might be the most challenging task of all.

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