Reiki is a spiritual practice, not a religion. How is spirituality different than religion? And why should we care?
Because, as the New York Times announced recently: We are spiritual beings.
We are spiritual beings
While I’m very aware we humans are spiritual beings, I wasn’t expecting it to be featured news. But how wonderful that the Times brought it to our attention. Likely most Times readers aren’t thinking about their spirituality.
The article continues, “But for many of us, malnutrition of the soul is a plague of modern life.”
Looking around, I know what the writer means. You do, too.
And I’m grateful to have a practice that is spiritually nourishing (and so simple I can practice it every day, but we’ll come back to that).
Even people who have strong religious affiliations might need spiritual nourishment.
We’re not all religious
Religion is about belief; those in a particular religion share specific dogma. They have the same chosen deity, calling the One they worship by the same name.
Spirituality, however, is about direct experience rather than belief. That’s why after Reiki practice, I ask my clients and students a simple question, “How do you feel?”
I know their response will be some version of, “I feel better.” But I’m not the one who matters; they need to recognize they feel better, and to start understanding just how much feeling better means.
How do you feel?
The simple statement, “I feel better,” is an indication of spiritual healing. Your direct experience of yourself–and perhaps of life–has shifted in a way that might be subtle, but is nonetheless palpable.
You don’t “believe” you are better; you feel it, you know it.
If you have a serious ailment, you’re not suddenly cured of your malady. Of course not. But you feel better. You feel a sense of relief or improvement, of being nourished. Your spirits are lifted. You feel spaciousness and possibility where before there was a wall.
You sense your innate wholeness, even if you’re undergoing medical treatment. You feel motivated to do what you’ve been wanting to do, but haven’t had the oomph to do.
Feeling better makes a very real difference
Feeling better matters whether or not you’re addressing a serious diagnosis.
Feeling better means you’ve stopped flooding your bloodstream with stress hormones. That means your body is able to self-heal.
When you feel better, you have more resilience; you’re more inclined to take care of yourself in other important ways. As I tell my students (often), “When you feel better, you function better, and you make better choices.”
How can you stay connected to that feeling of “better?” Well, that takes practice. Spiritual practice. Consistent spiritual practice.
What is spiritual practice?
Spiritual practice is how you turn your awareness within to engage your spirituality. It’s something you do to uplift yourself.
Spiritual practice is how you find your best Self, how you reach inside for the highest, how you transform your understanding of who you are and discover your values, what life is about, and particularly, what your life is about.
Spiritual practice is how you discover what’s possible, how you can grow into the person you know in your heart you can be. It’s how you experience yourself beyond your thinking mind, where creativity resides.
All of that can happen with any spiritual practice. In my 50+ years of spiritual practice experience, it happens fastest with Reiki practice. And when you’re spiritually starving, feeling nourished and uplifted fast can make all the difference in the world.
Feeling spiritually nourished fast helps keep you from hurting yourself by neutralizing the cascade of stress hormones. That’s valuable on its own, but it also means you’re less likely to take actions that can hurt yourself and others.
You’ll feel uplifted any time you practice Reiki, and that’s good. Even better is practicing self Reiki consistently, every day.
Like all spiritual practice, Reiki practice gently redirects your awareness towards your timeless core, the source of spiritual nourishment. Daily self Reiki does that every day. Don’t you need that every day, at least once a day?
Once you’re Reiki-trained, Reiki practice is always available. It’s carried in your hands, right there at the end of your arms. No matter where you are or what a mess your mind is, just place your hand(s) and give yourself a little time to start feeling better.
How little? Often as little as a few moments, especially if you practice your full self-protocol every day.
Reiki spiritual practice, not just stress reduction
If you already practice Reiki, do you refer to it as a stress reduction technique? If so, are you willing to revisit that?
Don’t get me wrong. Stress reduction is a valuable by-product of Reiki and all spiritual practice. Stress reduction is important; most of us could do with a bit less stress. But that doesn’t mean Reiki practice is a stress reduction technique.
Think about it. After practicing a stress reduction technique, you (might) feel less stressed (depending on your skill). But do you feel uplifted? Do you feel empowered?
After you practice self Reiki, you feel lighter, often a bit happier, and life feels more doable. You feel a bit brighter, more yourself, your true Self.
Reiki and religion
People often ask, “Can you combine Reiki practice with religion?”
Why not? Like other spiritual practices, Reiki practice is non-dogmatic; it’s belief-neutral. You don’t have to believe anything to practice Reiki; you simply practice.
Religions generally make use of spiritual practices such as prayer, meditation and self-inquiry, placing these spiritual practices within the context of their belief system. Perhaps you’ve seen mentions of Christian Reiki. It seems Christian Reiki practitioners started using the term to reassure fundamentalist Christians that Reiki practice does not counter to Christian beliefs.
Does the dogma of your religion expressly forbid Reiki practice, or other spiritual practices such as meditation, yoga or tai chi? I’ve never come across that, but it’s your religion, so it’s up to you to find out from your religious authority, or decide for yourself (which would be a spiritually-based/inwardly-sourced decision).
Reiki practice brings its own rewards
The reward for Reiki practice is feeling better about yourself and your life and the people around you, even the ones you find it hard to interact with peacefully, from a loving place.
As a Reiki professional since 1986, it’s been such a source of joy to see people discover they didn’t need to change their jobs or their marital state to be happy; they needed to improve their experience of themselves and of life. That’s what Reiki practice does.
And you don’t have to believe anything to practice Reiki; you simply practice.
We are spiritual beings living in spiritually-bereft times. Feeling better might seem like such a little thing, but don’t be fooled. Feeling better is the cornerstone of your happiness and all you bring to the world.
What are you waiting for? Practice now so you can feel better and do better. Who knows what good that will lead to. Hands-on!
REIKI: Pratica spirituale o religione? is an Italian translation of this article you can print and share as is, without copying or changing the content or presentation in any way
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5 thoughts on “Reiki: Spiritual Practice or Religion?”
Dear Pamela, thank you as always for your concise and profound thinking.
Pamela, you have such a gift for expressing depth in a straightforward manner-thank you for the article!
A really well expressed article. Thank you.
Since a marital breakdown 4 years ago with 2 children aged 7 yrs and 12yrs with challenging issues. Enduring significant financial loss and legal battle til this day.
Approached a good friend who has been practicing healing and reiki for many years – healing session attended. Completed Level Reiki and then Level 2 Reiki 12 months later now working on Level 3
Practicing Reiki now for 3 years.
I thought it would improve the environmental and personal challenges I was facing during that time.
However, my situation didn’t change I changed on a spiritual level within myself. It was me that needed to change spiritually.
There is no expiry or completion date on this practice ……..
I share the practice with immediate family and have been given positive feedback.
My personal goal is to extend this practice into wider circles such as the workplace and community. Attend sessions and conferences interstate and international to network with other individuals and share experiences
Looking forward to hearing from you and any advise you may have to offer during my journey
Thank you ?
Jo, please take a look around my website (scroll down to the footer) and blog, as there are many free and paid resources to help you achieve your goals. Best of luck!