Reiki and Starfish

Last week New York Times columnist and social activist Nicholas Kristof gave a presentation across the hall from our monthly JCC Reiki Clinic. As the clinic wound down, I ducked into the balcony for a few minutes.

Someone had just asked Kristof — who frequents places of profound suffering such as Darfur — how he holds it together in the face of so much suffering. He spoke about focusing on the good, on the people that are helped, and referred to the old starfish story, the one about how one person can make a difference.

The old starfish story? I hadn’t heard it either —

After a storm in Hawaii, the beach is littered with starfish.

A boy picks up the starfish, one by one, and throws them back into the ocean. An adult strolling on the beach sees futility in the boy’s efforts, and pauses to ask why he bothers. “When there are so many starfish, how can one person make a difference?”

The boy picks up another starfish, throws it in the ocean, looks the adult in the eye, and says, “It sure made a difference to that one.”

Every time we practice Reiki, it makes a difference.

And we make the greatest difference in this world when we practice daily self-treatment, and practice consistently.

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Related reading:
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6 thoughts on “Reiki and Starfish”

  1. I had heard the starfish story some time ago and find it both gives comfort and encouragment in the face of seemingly overwhelming odds AND is the perfect reminder that self practice is the foundation from which all our “outer” actions spring from. Thank you for sharing the story – every time i see or hear it it is a gentle reminder.


  2. Hi Pamela,
    I will follow your advice. Thanks so much and please write more… I am definitely a fan! 🙂

  3. Why don’t you commit to practicing every day for 3 days, a week, 3 weeks–any period of time that you feel you will honor–and then see the difference it’s made in what it’s like to be you? You might want to take the support of the free Usui Virtual Retreat.

  4. Imagine if many people joined the little boy… How much more of a difference it would make? That is why I love group reiki and group meditations. I love the sacred feeling of seeing a room full of reiki practitioners working on people. I feel like I have been in the same room in a past life… Thanks for the starfish analogy. It was lovely and the little boy is absolutely right.

    I honestly have been neglecting my meditation and reiki practice but I definitely want to get back to doing it again. Allison and Pamela, you have encouraged me to start practicing again (even if I am alone).

  5. Thank you for your comment, Allison, and for modeling the possibility of being respectful of other perspectives.

    I respect Kristof’s intense commitment and participation. His level of engagement in global well-being is more important to me than whether I agree with all of his views.

    Actually, I can’t think of anyone whose views I agree with across the board. I think agreement is highly over-rated. I’m much more interested in a stimulating, respectful debate that challenges me to deepen my understanding and sharpen my ability to communicate.

  6. I fully agree with you Pamela. While I don’t always agree with Mr. Kristof’s views certain issues, I do believe his intentions are good and I agree with his support of the starfish method. I am a huge advocate of the starfish method in terms of improving various aspects of society.

    I especially love how you associated the starfish method with Reiki and the difference we all make by practicing it individually. I practice the elements of Reiki on a daily basis and through daily meditations I incorporate the precepts and philosophy of Reiki into – as far as I am aware – everything that I do (at least, that is, I attempt to and I will go as far as to say that thanks to my daily practice I often don’t even need to attempt it, it just comes naturally as a part of me) and I have noticed recently how my attitude and philosophy towards certain things in life have begun to influence others… Lately, I have been asked by several people, how I manage to “keep it together”, I say, matter-of-factly, “I practice Reiki every day”…. some say, “You do what?”

    But all have been open and eager to learn more and I have a few friends waiting for me to “attune” them so they too can begin their Reiki journey.

    While I am a Shinpiden student, I do not currently teach or offer Reiki as a professional practitioner, I share the Reiki teachings, precepts and methods with friends and whomever is interested and little by little… try to help others in this regard. I have even sent emails to friends (who have expressed how lost or stressed they are) with meditative exercises to do, created recordings in Spanish for them to follow guided meditations (as I’m in Spain and few of my friends speak English) and I have even guided group meditations for my friends when we go away (to the point now that they often ask when our next Reiki gals getaway will be… I call them my Reiki-monsters 🙂

    I was just discussing this with my Reiki teacher, Frans Stiene, last week over email, and I mentioned that I think the best gift I can share with my friends and loved ones, is the calmness and serenity – in the face of daily chaos and stress – that Reiki provides me… and, in turn, that Reiki provides to those around me, whether they have received Reiju or not.

    So – one starfish at a time – one Reiki practitoner at a time – indeed can make a difference.

    Thanks a lot for this post.

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