We’re living in times of great uncertainty and people are reaching for clear information in a sea of conflicting perspectives. People who expect science to have answers it just doesn’t have are especially stressed and confused. The New York Times put it in perspective, quoting epidemiologist Michael Osterholm, PhD, MPH of the University of Minnesota as saying, “We still are really in the cave ages in terms of understanding how viruses emerge, how they spread, how they start and stop, why they do what they do.”
At times of uncertainty, it’s especially hard to stay steady. Given that anxiety compromises our immunity, steadiness is needed now more than ever. Reiki practice helps immeasurably, yet it can be challenging to convey that information to the mainstream public.
Besides the urgency for clear information brought by the pandemic, some states are moving towards licensing Reiki, which in some presentations can look very sketchy. The need for credible Reiki information has never been greater than it is now.
Reiki Master Susan Mitchell well understands the challenge of communicating Reiki and the need to do it well. Trained by Hawayo Takata, Susan became the first director of The Reiki Alliance and an editor of the Dutch Reiki Magazine International. Susan helped curate the Hawayo Takata archives now housed at the University of California, Santa Barbara. In 2019, Susan edited In Her Own Voice, A Tribute to Phyllis Lei Furumoto, 1948-2019, and this year, she’ll begin editing Hawayo Takata’s memoir. Susan is a founder of Reiki Unified, a nationwide effort to oppose regulation of Reiki practice in the United States.
When Susan spoke in my last Reiki & Medicine Intensive, the participants were so inspired that I asked her to share her presentation as an article, including her 5 Principles for Reiki Communication.
Improving my Reiki Communication
by Susan Mitchell
In 2008, I attended the Reiki & Medicine Intensive Pamela Miles gave in Seattle. Knowing she’s constantly updating her content, I recently attended another.
Pamela communicates Reiki in a unique way, bringing together Reiki practice, science, and spirituality. I find it intriguing and practical.
While I’m not practicing Reiki in health care, and don’t aspire to, I do a lot of speaking and writing about Reiki practice, and I’ve become very involved in the legislative threats to our freedom to practice Reiki as we choose. As a co-founder of the non-profit Reiki Unified, I’m looking for clear ways to communicate Reiki practice to politicians and legislators.
If I can credibly communicate Reiki practice in a medical setting, I’m confident I’ll have the skills to communicate with anyone, regardless of what they know or think about Reiki practice, regardless the misinformation they’ve been exposed to.
I’m acutely aware it’s not the responsibility of the person I’m speaking to, to understand me – it’s my responsibility to speak to them in a way they can understand and that interests them. Since the intensive, I’ve been integrating Pamela’s guidance on how best to do that.
Honing My Reiki Words
I learned Reiki in 1978. Perhaps like you, I’ve always thought of Reiki in terms of energy, and so that’s how I spoke. Sometimes when I spoke of Reiki energy, it landed well; other times, I’ve internally winced, seeing my listener’s eyes glaze over with disinterest. Now as the need for my Reiki communication to be effective is getting greater, I’ve realized how the Reiki-energy language has limited my audience.
When I talk about the way our physiology constantly influences, and is influenced by, our day-to-day experience, I find my Reiki communication becomes more grounded.
While I’m very aware of the mind, body, spirit connection, I had little knowledge of the actual processes that take place in the body. The Reiki & Medicine Intensive significantly increased my knowledge so I not only understand what happens in my body, but I can also identify the experience.
Pamela explained how every human experience elicits physiological responses that reverberate throughout the body, affecting not only the body, but also the mind and spirit. That cascade of simultaneous interactions can be helpful or harmful.
Extensive medical research on stress and stress-induced illness shows how prolonged physiologic interactions to stress lead to imbalance and illness.
When I speak from a physiologic perspective, I find people relate to the description of chronic stress, acknowledging their experiences of hopelessness, inadequate sleep, depression, or poor choices. They want relief.
The connectedness of body, mind and spirit no longer sounds airy-fairy when linked to someone’s physiologic response to Reiki practice; the biological element becomes clear. Not only do we feel better after Reiki practice, there can be measurable physiologic changes — improvements in heart rate, respiration, blood pressure, and heart rate variability.
It’s a challenge for me to shift my Reiki communication style from talking about energy, which people either believe in or dismiss, to speaking about the responses to Reiki practice people really feel, differences they notice in their bodies and their minds, and how the details of their lives play out.
Integrating this perspective into my Reiki communication is requiring study and practice. I’m not there yet. And, I’m finding it’s worth my time. I put together 5 principles to improve my Reiki communication.
5 Principles for Improving my Reiki Communication
Needing ways to integrate the material in the intensive, I wrote five communication principles based on Pamela’s work.
- Avoid language that separates people from what I’m saying by expressing opinions or beliefs as if they were facts.
- Develop self-discipline: be aware of what I say and especially of what I don’t say. Communicate with respect, patience, and restraint. No persuading. Share information and let people make their own decisions.
- Connect with people’s needs: listening more deeply for the person’s spoken or unspoken question. Most often that question revolves around, “How can Reiki help me?” When I respond to that, they hear me and recognize the possibilities for themselves.
- No matter with whom I’m communicating — practitioners from this Reiki style or that, people who practice Reiki or don’t — emphasize what we share and focus on collaboration.
- Describe the benefits of Reiki practice as bringing balance, based on self-healing and grounded in science.
Sharing a Language
What if we developed a common language, instead of assuming people understand our Reiki dialect? This would enable more people to connect with Reiki practice and to us as practitioners. In turn, we would support more people to embrace their own self-care.
At one point in the intensive, I heard Pamela say, “Reiki as spiritual practice means that if we practice consistently, we get to carry the depths, subtlety, nuance and centeredness that daily self-practice brings. We get to carry that into environments where it may be lacking.”
How privileged we are to have opportunities to communicate that can bring Reiki practice into places where it’s not often found. This is a work in progress — and it is taking work — but I’m also seeing real progress in the improved response to my Reiki communication.
Please share this article widely. Regardless your Reiki lineage or practice style, offering more credible Reiki presentations to the mainstream public and health care is critical to protecting the future of our practice. Susan’s principles also empower Reiki practitioners to express themselves effectively as more states consider bills that would require licensing to practice Reiki. It’s important that we can convey what we do, how people benefit, and the lack of risk in clear, straightforward language, regardless our personal beliefs.
Learn more about Hawayo Takata in Reiki Changes.
See when the next Reiki & Medicine Intensive is scheduled here.
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