Reiki master Susan Mitchell learned Reiki practice from Hawayo Takata, who brought the practice from Japan to the U. S. with her Reiki master, Chujiro Hayashi, a Reiki master trained by lineage founder Mikao Usui.
One question is asked in nearly every Reiki First Degree class is: how we can protect ourselves when we offer Reiki treatment to other people?
Behind that question is the concern that we might absorb or somehow take on the illness or emotional state of the person we’re treating. This issue becomes more pressing as we start treating a variety of people, some of whom are addressing serious medical conditions.
Therapists of all stripes know the feeling of being depleted. Traditional healing practices usually include techniques for protecting or rebuilding the practitioner’s energy before and after sessions.
Reiki practice does not.
In fact, Hawayo Takata made it a point in every class to tell her students that you do not pick up anything from other people when you practice Reiki.
That statement was the sole reason I signed up for the First Degree training.
Until that time, feeling depleted by other people had been a big issue for me. I worked in a psychiatric halfway house after graduating from college, and quickly learned that I had no idea how to maintain my boundaries. I was a sponge and paid a painful price.
After leaving that job, I wanted nothing to do with helping people.
Trust in Reiki practice confirmed
At least not until my husband came home from hearing Hawayo Takata speak about Reiki at San Francisco State University. Paul had been deeply impressed by the healing stories she told, the integrity she radiated, and her statement that anyone could learn to practice Reiki.
I listened as he shared every story she told. When he quoted her saying you don’t pick up things from other people when you practice Reiki, I had a powerful, visceral recognition of the truth of that statement. And that’s when I decided to learn to practice Reiki.
Thirty-five years of Reiki practice experience have confirmed my initial trust.
The mirror of Reiki practice
Reiki practice is transformative. Nonetheless, we still have personalities, limitations, and blind spots. Through daily self-treatment and receiving treatments from others, our Reiki practice helps us to see ourselves much more clearly.
And we see ourselves more clearly when we let go of assumptions or ideas about what we “should” be able to do. Each of us is different, and each one of us needs to respect and care for ourselves.
I’ve learned, for example, that I cannot treat unlimited numbers of people. I’m happiest when I see three or four clients a day, three or four days a week. Being an introvert, I need time away from people in order to be consistently present.
Occasionally we may feel disturbed after giving a treatment. If that happens, look to see how detached you were during the treatment. Instead of passively placing hands, were you trying to do something, to make something happen, or were you attached to a particular outcome?
Another possibility is that the client is mirroring something about you, perhaps your own personal issue. It may be something in his condition or her personality that resonates with you.
It’s critical for us each to engage in our own inner work.
That said, occasionally we encounter a person we are not comfortable treating, and we may not know why. In those moments, respect your needs and honor your intuition. You are not required to treat everyone. You can always refer a person you are not comfortable with to someone else.
I’ve found Hawayo Takata’s teaching has withstood the test of time: we don’t pick up things from other people.
And as we treat ourselves daily, take care of ourselves, and respect our needs, we experience the wisdom of her prescription: “Reiki practice is first of all for yourself, then your family and friends.”
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