The intersection of Christianity and Reiki has gotten a lot of press, starting in response to the American bishops’ pronouncement, and taking an unexpected turn when, contrary to the debunking by historians in recent years, the Reiki Digest unearthed evidence that Usui may have been involved with Christianity after all.
How does all this controversy play out in clinical practice? Case by case.
A hospital Reiki practitioner, a professional of many years, recently asked my advice after receiving a request for Reiki treatment that came with an unusual condition. The prospective client—we’ll call her Agnes—wanted a Reiki treatment done “in the name of Jesus.”
Reiki practitioners are sometimes put off by such a request, but not me. I liked that Agnes was giving deep thought to her healing choices. Agnes’s concern could be used as common ground from which to help her explore whether this would be a meaningful and safe healing connection—for her.
In this case, I knew that both the practitioner and the clinic were safe and nurturing. I also knew that even a stellar situation will not be the best match for everyone at any given time.
Reiki and fundamentalism
When we receive a request with a religious component, it’s wise to keep in mind that the person asking this question might be a diehard religious fundamentalist. In that case, an appropriate response would be either “Yes, that’s how I practice,” or “No, it’s not.” A fundamentalist is not interested in our interpretations.
But as practitioners, we want to avoid jumping to conclusions and preemptively closing the door to care, even while remaining mindful that Agnes might have a black-and-white perspective. Our responsibility to take care of our clients starts long before we place our Reiki hands.
People often seek Reiki treatment because they are not feeling well. People who aren’t feeling well are often anxious, and anxiety is expressed obliquely at times. As practitioners, our job is to give prospective clients the facts while compassionately reaching out so they know that we care about their well-being, whether or not they choose to work with us.
Here’s what I wrote back:
Why don’t you have a conversation with Agnes, either on the phone or when she comes, to learn specifically what she has in mind. If you consider yourself a Christian, that may be all she needs. Perhaps she’s been told that asking for Reiki in the name of Jesus is how to make sure you’re not doing “devil” Reiki. But be very careful to let Agnes explain herself, and express how you practice honestly, so that Agnes can make her own informed choice. If you reconfigure your approach in any way to make Reiki more appealing to Agnes, it could backfire.
What was the outcome?
In a follow-up conversation, the practitioner said that although she was originally uncomfortable with Agnes’s request, she felt very different once they met.
Are Reiki and Christianity in opposition?
Agnes was not opposed to Reiki. What Agnes wanted was reassurance that the practitioner was not opposed to Christianity. She requested a few minutes to pray before and after the treatment, but showed no interest in having the practitioner join her in prayer. After speaking with the practitioner, Agnes felt that she could “accept Reiki from the practitioner and heal with Jesus.”
In the month since her initial request, Agnes has been returning for weekly Reiki treatment. She does not discuss her experiences with the practitioner, but her calm demeanor after each treatment speaks volumes.
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