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An unexpected blessing. April 23, 2014

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When I began writing The Reiki Blog, I had no idea what would happen. I had a respectable (by my standards) number of views per post on my general-interest blog, Poor Richard’s Almanac, ranging from 200-300 a day to upwards of 900 on my busiest day, Thanksgiving (go figure). This may sound pitiful to those familiar with the blogosphere, but I was an unknown writing with no photos or illustrations about whatever I felt like talking about. I thought it was great that that many people wanted to read what I had to say.

The Reiki Blog, by contrast, would be topic-specific. But it would still have no photos or illustrations, and wouldn’t be written by the founder of some big Reiki organization or the creator of a “new, improved, exclusive” style of Reiki. Would anybody care? Would anybody want to read my Reiki ruminations and inspirations?

The startup was a lot slower than I’d expected, but the buildup has been steady. I now have more than 125 followers, and my posts typically draw between 35 and 95 readers. Thank you all!!! I am so grateful for your interest and your loyalty.

Yesterday, however, something amazing happened. Suddenly, The Reiki Blog had over 1,100 views, mostly for a post I’d written the previous Thursday called “Reiki: Fast or slow?” Where did all these readers come from?! If someone referred their own readers to my site, I am grateful. If anyone has another possible explanation, I’d be grateful to hear it. If any of these readers return to The Reiki Blog, I’ll be grateful.

Just for today, be grateful for unexpected blessings.

Our Mother needs us. April 22, 2014

Posted by ourfriendben in Reiki, Reiki exercise, Reiki wisdom.
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Today is Earth Day, and I urge everyone who follows the Reiki Way to send our beautiful world some Reiki. I find this easiest to do by simply holding an earth marble between my hands and, after making the symbols over it, cradling it and letting the Reiki flow. But you can easily do this after taking Reiki I, simply skipping the symbols and holding the marble in your hands.

What’s an earth marble, you ask? Just a marble that depicts our world, in more or less realistic detail, depending on the marble. I’m fortunate enough to own a beautiful “Inhabited Planet” marble by the super-talented glassblower and marble-maker Josh Simpson, and that’s what I use. But those have become pricey now and are hard to find.

Instead, I suggest that you go to a website called Land of Marbles (http://www.landofmarbles.com/) and click on “Earth Marbles” in the “Hot” section on their home page. They have a nice variety, and some cost as little as a couple of dollars. (In fact, you can get a small bag of earth marbles, including a large “shooter” and several smaller marbles, for $2.99.) With your earth marble in hand, you can easily carry it with you and hold it whenever you get a chance, such as when you’re at a stoplight or standing in line at checkout or in a business meeting. I think an earth marble is a wonderful gift for a graduating Reiki student, don’t you?

Just for today, love your Mother.

Hurry sickness. April 21, 2014

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“By now, most of us are aware that compulsive speed—’hurry sickness’—can be a direct threat to our physical health. But hurry has another alarming repercussion: It cripples patience. When we lack patience, even a few moments’ delay, a trivial disappointment, an unexpected obstacle, makes us explode in anger. We are not hostile people, we are just in such a hurry that keeping the mind calm is impossible.”

—Sri Eknath Easwaran, Words to Live By

Just for today, try to live by the Reiki Principles.

How can you know joy? April 20, 2014

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“When you know no peace, how can you know joy?”

—Bhagavad Gita

Usui Founder’s Five Reiki Principles (aka Precepts, Ideals) are specifically designed to bring us peace. When, just for today, we don’t worry, don’t get angry, are grateful, work hard, and are kind, we build a strong, supportive framework for peace of mind that allows joy to flood us with its unlimited potential for happiness. This is why Usui Founder called the Principles “the secret to inviting happiness.”

Just for today, practice the Principles.

Reiki and resurrection. April 18, 2014

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This Easter weekend, Christians the world over will be contemplating the Lord Jesus’s crucifixion, death and resurrection. Gardeners in temperate climates the world over will anxiously be looking for signs that each of their beloved plants has survived the winter and is showing signs of rebirth.

Both miraculous events—the return of Our Lord from the dead, and the annual return of seemingly lifeless plants from the dead—are cause for great joy. But what does this have to do with Reiki?

Well, think about it. Spring, the season of rebirth and resurrection, is a wonderful time to take a good hard look at your own Reiki practice. Has your practice become stale? Do you go through the motions, but without the inner fire that used to illuminate your practice? Have you dropped a lot of Reiki exercises, meditations, even basic practices like reciting and trying to live by Usui Founder’s Five Reiki Principles (aka Precepts, Ideals)? Have you lost touch with teachers and classmates? How long has it been since you’ve re-read your class manuals, listened to Reiki CDs, read a Reiki book, drawn the Reiki symbols?

How long has it been since you’ve heard about a catastrophe and immediately sent Reiki to those involved? Just this week, there were news articles about the South Korean ferry that capsized with all those students aboard; girls from a school in Nigeria captured and hauled off by an ultra-violent, ultra-draconian Islamist extremist group; a woman hauled from her garage by a bear; newborn kittens accidentally sent 160 miles in an industrial carton; a man who kidnapped a girl with Down Syndrome, then taunted her parents; a woman who gave birth to and then killed six babies and buried them in her yard; residents in Idaho and Acapulco terrorized by earthquakes; Russian soldiers in the newly annexed Crimea telling Ukrainian Jews they had to be “registered” in a grisly echo of the Holocaust. And I’m sure this is just scraping the surface.

Let’s all use this spring, this season of rebirth, to revitalize our Reiki practice, to relight the Reiki fire in our own hearts. Perhaps resitting an old class or taking a new class will spark a flame, or attending a Reiki retreat or joining (or hosting) a Reiki share. Or simply making Reiki, once again, an integral part of our everyday lives, whether we’re putting our hands on or drawing the first symbol over our bottle of vitamins, or making sure we give Reiki to every person, animal, and plant in our homes every day, including ourselves, or reciting aloud (preferably in Japanese and English, if you’re an English speaker) the Five Principles morning and evening, hands in gassho (prayer position), as Usui Founder directed.

Just for today, let Reiki grow and bloom in your heart.

Reiki: Fast or slow? April 17, 2014

Posted by ourfriendben in Reiki, Reiki wisdom.
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This morning, I read an interesting article on the greatest fast-food innovations. My mother thought all fast food was trash, so I may be the only person in America who’s never actually eaten a Big Mac. As a vegetarian, the only fast-food chain I’ll set foot in is Saladworks, a Chipotle Mexican Grill/Subway-style assembly line where you can choose the ingredients for your own really fresh, luscious salad. And, since there’s no Saladworks anywhere near here, that means eating there once or twice a year en route to distant Reiki gatherings.

All of which brought me to think about teaching Reiki. Having been trained in Traditional Reiki, Gendai Reiki, and Komyo Reiki, among others, I’ve had plenty of opportunities to see the difference between a one-day, two-day, weekend, or continuing class on a student’s Reiki progress. And, in my considered view, the longer the training, the better.

“Fast food” Reiki—where someone gathers as many people as they can in an auditorium and churns out instant Reiki “Masters” by teaching all three levels in a single day—does a great disservice not just to the students but to Usui Founder and to Reiki itself. Like a giant bucket of Buffalo wings with massive bowls of popcorn and a few cases of beer, it may look great, especially for the price. But once it’s all over, all you have left is sticky fingers and a vaguely sick feeling. Hey, weren’t you watching a game? Where’d all the buddies you were watching it with go? Where’d all these dirty dishes come from?!

Reiki is about community. It’s about practices that help you understand, build, and deepen your practice. There’s no way a one-day workshop can do that, no way it can give you time to build relationships with your classmates and teacher. A teacher who lets you resit classes as often as you like for free, who sets up a Reiki share to make sure everyone s/he teaches can get together regularly to enjoy Reiki and the Reiki community (one of my teachers holds a Reiki share every month with plenty of wholesome treats afterwards, so we can all sit and talk over tea and snacks), who gives refresher courses: This is a teacher you want to find.

I know of one teacher who has taught his class for a year, meeting weekly, and these are Reiki I and II students, not Reiki IIIs. I honor him so much!!! I wish I lived closer to him; I’d love to attend his classes and contribute what I could. (Oh, and he asks for contributions at the end of his classes rather than setting fees.)

It’s so much easier for Reiki to sink in when the lessons are repeated and expanded on rather than simply tossed off. It’s the difference between having Julia Child teach you how to cook and going through the Dunkin’ Donuts drive-thru. Usui Founder taught his students for life, not for a day. Surely we could do the same.

Just for today, make the commitment.

Becoming grounded. April 14, 2014

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“The foot feels the foot when it feels the ground.”

—The Buddha

This is one of my favorite quotes. To me, it says that the foot does not know itself—does not even realize it is there—until it touches the ground. Just as those of us who follow the Reiki Way don’t truly know who we are until, in our practice, we touch the Ground of Being, the All, the union with all things at the most primordial and most cosmic level. Then we realize that separation is the great delusion, “the greatest trick the Devil ever played,” to quote Kaiser Soze in “The Usual Suspects.”

I love going barefoot so my feet can feel the grass or the rug or the wood or the cool stone floor. The sheer physical pleasure of the contact with these surfaces reminds me of this quote, reminds me to carry on with my daily Reiki practices, to continue to try to follow Usui Founder’s Five Reiki Principles (aka Precepts, Ideals) “just for today.”

As I dig my toes into the plush carpet or slide them over the smooth tiles, I think about how we don’t find enlightenment, satori, by floating isolated in our little bubbles, but by engaging with the world. It is when our Reiki toes come in contact with the rest of the world and feel the connection that we move forward.

Just for today, take your shoes off.

Resentment. April 10, 2014

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“Resentment is nothing more than compulsive attachment to a set of memories. If you could peek through the window of the mind when you feel resentful, you would see a production line turning out the same emotion-charged memory over and over: ‘He did that to me in 1993, he did that to me in 1993…’ …When you keep pumping attention into an event this way, a limp little memory gets blown up into a big balloon of hostility.”

—Sri Eknath Easwaran, Words to Live By

Just for today, puncture the balloon.

Let in the light, let the light out. April 9, 2014

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“Nirvana is not the extinguishing of a candle. It is the extinguishing of the flame because day is come.”

—Rabindranath Tagore

“Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.”

—The Buddha

I love these two quotes about candles, and how they guide us on our Reiki Way. The first reminds me of Usui Founder’s description of Reiki as “a torch in daylight.” Who needs a torch when the light is already here? How much brighter a torch burns in the darkness! In the daylight, it’s hardly visible. And yet, it still burns. Usui Founder reminds us that our work in the world, on ourselves and others, is important, even if it’s barely seen, and that it will remain important until, in the beautiful Christmas prayer of Fra Giovanni, “the day breaks and the shadows flee away.” Then, when the true light breaks fully in our hearts, we can embrace nirvana (enlightenment, satori) and blow our candles out.

The Buddha’s quote about happiness brings to mind Usui Founder’s Five Reiki Principles (aka Precepts, Ideals), which he described as “the secret method for inviting happiness.” The Buddha sums this up by urging us to share, not hoard, our joy. Lord Jesus said much the same when he told the parable about hiding one’s light (candle) under a bushel (basket). The Buddha points out that sharing happiness with others will not diminish our own happiness in any way, even if we share it with thousands, with everyone we meet. It is when we try to store happiness that it slips away.

Just for today, remember that happiness is meant to be shared.

Stop burning yourself. April 5, 2014

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“In a controversy, the instant we feel anger we have ceased striving for the truth, and have begun striving for ourselves.”

“You will not be punished for your anger, you will be punished by your anger.”

“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”

—The Buddha

These three observations about anger from the Buddha are among my favorites. Those of us who walk the Reiki path know how strongly Usui Founder felt about anger, since he included “Just for today, don’t get angry” as one of his Five Reiki Principles (aka Precepts, Ideals). And yet, it seems that every day we encounter more of it.

I think impatience has been the contributing factor to our anger epidemic. We’re all in such a rush, we simply don’t have time—or so we think—to tolerate delays, be it an elderly person slowly crossing a parking lot or a server taking “too long” to bring our order. Road rage is endemic, whether we’re gunning down the person who gave us the finger in the other lane or honking our heads off at someone because he or she was driving at the speed limit.

We’d probably be just as bad in the checkout line if we were allowed to bring our guns inside the stores. Instead, we use our tongues as weapons, as we say nasty things to the poor exhausted cashiers or mutter imprecations against the person three in front of us in line who’s stopped to chat with one for a minute. Keep the line moving!

This doesn’t even touch on resentment, the Buddha’s “hot coal.” Nursing our anger, keeping it alive, is like being the fire carrier in a primitive society. Before ancient people knew how to make fire, they captured burning coals from lightning-struck trees and kept them alive. It was the job of one person to carry the coals and tend to them so they could be reignited into flame at the end of a day’s march. This task occupied the fire carrier constantly, for woe betide if the coals grew cool and the fire went out. If we nurse the coals of our resentments, they will eventually drive out all nobler aspirations. This is the opposite of Usui Founder’s path.

Just for today, don’t get angry.

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