Reiki Boundaries

Boundaries help us know what’s really real, and what’s really a mere reflection. That’s an important distinction in life, and especially helpful when navigating the sea of Reiki practice approaches and (mis)information.

Whether you practice Reiki or not, you can’t be truly happy and grow spiritually without clear boundaries. Decades of spiritual practice taught me that, and that’s why I created the Blessed Boundaries program and the recorded training, How to Hold Professional Boundaries.

Reiki boundaries & practice

Skill with Reiki boundaries, or any boundaries, is a mix of self-awareness, intuition, and critical thinking. Daily self Reiki practice helps enormously. You quickly start feeling better about yourself, more empowered, and more loving. You’re able to hear others, without losing yourself. You become less frenetic, more willing to simply be, and to be yourself.

With consistent, daily self Reiki practice, you live with a better sense of yourself and more awareness of your boundaries. That’s very different from setting arbitrary boundaries because you know they’re a good idea but you can’t see what’s really happening in the moment, boundaries you can’t hold because they don’t really make sense to you. Boundaries you thought of rather than experienced.

When you’re present, you feel your boundaries rather than setting them. That felt experience makes it easier to communicate your boundaries with heart, with respect, and without feeling threatened or threatening others.

Reiki boundaries & Reiki diversity

Being self aware, present in your body, enables you to be comfortable holding healthy, compassionate boundaries. That’s useful in every part of your life. Is there a detail of your life that doesn’t somehow involve boundaries?

Being comfortable with boundaries makes it possible to deeply appreciate diversity and be enriched by it.  Knowing who we are as individuals helps us respect ourselves and others, and not get caught up in other people’s agendas.

Stand for nothing, fall for anything. True in life, and true in Reiki practice. Our boundaries are where we stand in ourselves.

Finding yourself in the global Reiki community

The global Reiki community is diverse beyond what most people realize. Did you know, for example, that there are Reiki practices that don’t trace back to Mikao Usui, the founder of the Reiki initiation lineage?

Many Reiki teachers, or their teachers, felt they could make changes to Usui’s practice and still call it Usui Reiki. Perhaps they didn’t consider the ramifications of what they were doing, how confusing that would become as public awareness of Reiki practice grew. Perhaps they were taking advantage of “brand recognition” and the public’s penchant for the next shiny new thing.

There’s no way to know other people’s motivations — it’s challenging enough to recognize our own! — but we do know that the often unannounced changes made to Reiki practice and the invention of products and services marketed as “Reiki” have left the public with many, and often conflicting, versions of what the term Reiki really means and what Reiki practice is.

Authentic Reiki

People looking for authenticity in Reiki practice will find only frustration if they keep looking outside. The authenticity of your Reiki practice can be found only through actual practice. On yourself. Every day.

How could it be otherwise? And why does that seem so difficult to some?

That continuing daily self Reiki practice — for life, not just 21 days — is the foundation and the most important way we continue growing as Reiki practitioners might not be a popular perspective, but it’s true nonetheless.

People who practice daily self Reiki consistently get more benefit and become deeper, more aware Reiki practitioners and happier, more fulfilled, authentic human beings than those who practice sporadically, whether they practice at home only, or they’re professionals.

Authenticity doesn’t come wrapped in a certificate. Authenticity is attained through dedicated effort. Reiki practice helps you discover the authenticity of your own being. That’s the only authenticity we can know.

Reiki as a commodity

The commodification of Reiki practice has long concerned me. I hope it concerns you too, especially if you’re a Reiki professional. It’s up to each of us to hold ourselves accountable. There’s no external authority, at least not yet.

Those of us who are paid for our knowledge and services walk a fine line. Being a full time Reiki professional means I can devote myself full time to Reiki practice and to promoting this practice so more people can be helped. I do my best to serve the practice rather than commercializing a Reiki product, saying it’s more powerful, bigger, better, etc. to pad my bank account. My emphasis is always on Reiki practice, not collecting attunements or certificates. To me, there is no “more powerful” Reiki; we either practice, or we don’t. That’s the Reiki boundary that really matters, and that’s a good place to start holding ourselves accountable.

In surveying Reiki offerings, remember that on websites, podcasts and summits, presenters can say whatever they want without being fact-checked. For example, someone can say Usui-sensei said this or that, and can even misrepresent the quote as coming from a reliable source. You might be a critical thinker (YAY!), yet not know that Usui didn’t leave us any written treatise. Or if a quote comes from a name you’ve seen before, you might be too trusting. You might not realize there are no precise translations from the Japanese language into English, especially of spiritual content which is by definition nuanced. Any interpretation from Japanese can be easily colored by the presenter’s bias and/or commercial interest.

Put on your critical thinking cap

If anything sounds like a claim, and especially if it’s a statement that can’t be easily verified — such as citing a third party who doesn’t speak English, so you can’t contact that person directly, and who hasn’t documented the statement — please put on your critical thinking cap. If it sounds like American commercialism, it might be just that. In academic papers such as the peer-reviewed medical papers I’ve published, statements are documented. If you don’t meet the threshold for documentation, you don’t get published. The threshold for documentation and publishing varies enormously among academic publications, so you have to know the field to evaluate the content.

You’re always welcome to express your opinion or share your clinical experience, but if you want to be seen as credible, be mindful to present your Reiki opinions and experience as what they are. Phrases such as “In my clinical experience,” or “We don’t have facts about that, but in my opinion” put your comments in an accurate context and demonstrate your credibility. If you present your opinions or share your experience as if they were facts, you lose your credibility, and the credibility of Reiki practice takes a hit.

As it does when Reiki “facts” are manufactured and dressed up to look legitimate to people who trust us, people who aren’t thinking critically, or don’t have the background to recognize what’s happening, and who will take them at face value. To me, that’s a violation of public trust.

A guideline for exploring Reiki diversity

If you already practice Reiki, and you decide to explore the diversity of Reiki approaches now available, I suggest the following:

First, clarify your motivations. What are you looking for?

Second, if at any time during your exploration, you become upset, stop reading/watching and practice self Reiki, either briefly or a full session, as you feel the need. When your state has settled, ask yourself, “What do I know to be true?”, and let understanding arise into your awareness from your deepest heart. Look to your heart for wisdom, not your mind, and always contemplate to let your understanding ripen.

For more discussion of why critical thinking is so critically important in honoring the diversity of Reiki, check out this recording from a recent Free Global Self Practice Session.

If you feel we as a community would benefit from more discussion on Reiki boundaries, please share this widely and/or leave a respectful comment below. If your Reiki practice is to remain available in the future in the form you practice, it’s critical that our diverse community comes together as Team Reiki. Otherwise Reiki practice will be defined by state governments or by the medical and health insurance industries (as we discuss in my Reiki & Medicine Intensive). None of those options will preserve the essence of this spiritual practice.

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6 thoughts on “Reiki Boundaries”

  1. Also a thank you, Pamela. Boundaries, or perhaps lack of boundaries, have been at the front of my own awareness over the past few years. Your statement: “Look to your heart for wisdom, not your mind, and always contemplate to let your understanding ripen,” is a great description of how daily self-Reiki can ripen your own sense of inner boundaries, not only inter-personal or professional ones. Daily practice has truly saved my ability to choose my soul-spirit-self and allow sensing to grow. What a relief!

    1. Agreed, Wanda. We can’t know our outer boundaries without experiencing our inner being, and that takes consistent spiritual practice, daily self Reiki practice.

  2. Pamela, this is the most helpful writing I have encountered on exploring the notion of boundaries. Your reflection invites us to feel our boundaries rather than set them, invites us to become present to our bodies enough to be able to notice when we are feeling overwhelmed or confused, and if so, to then place our hands on our body and listen when we ask ourselves what do I know to be true. This act of apprenticeship to stillness made possible through our reiki hands is an example of serving the practice, and a first needsary step in honoring our boundaries. Thank you.

  3. Thank you for addressing so many of the issues that have concerned me over many years – particularly the commodification of Reiki. I spend a great deal of time explaining to students that obtaining levels upon levels of certifications and variations on Reiki with spectacular sounding, promising names isn’t going to make “their Reiki” more powerful. Reiki is cultivated from the inside-out. And, this takes self-practice.
    You taught me well, Pamela. Reiki truly comes down to your practice and your dedication to your practice. It’s a humble gift to be able to practice with others. To me, it’s the icing on the cake. Yet, the true gift is a dedicated and continued self-practice, creating greater awareness of self and other.

    1. “It’s a humble gift to be able to practice with others.” Beautifully expressed, Jo Ann!

      One of the masters trained by Hawayo Takata told her students we gain the right to practice on others by practicing on ourselves. That sounds about right to me.

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