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Taking Reiki to the Next Level

by Eileen Dey, M.A., LMHC


Reiki (pronounced RAY-kee) is a Japanese form of hands-on healing. It was rediscovered as a healing art in the nineteenth century by a man named Mikao Usui, who, through passing the tradition down through his students, enabled them to bring Reiki to the United States in the last part of the twentieth century.

Reiki comes from “rei,” meaning universal, and “ki,” meaning energy, and together means Universal Energy. In practicing Reiki on oneself or in receiving a Reiki treatment, one is basking in the healing light in a safe and healing manner, permitting the release of any debris or blocks (physical, mental, or emotional) that might be occurring in the body.

Reiki stimulates the immune system response, similar to acupuncture in that it flows through the meridians, which are energy pathways that traverse the whole body. It soothes the nerves and calms the mind.

As a licensed mental health counselor myself, I have seen the immediate relaxation response myself in conducting treatments. One client had come to me in a desperate state of anxiety. Within ten minutes of lying on the treatment table, I could visibly see her breathing slowing down and her body sinking further into the table. After the session ended an hour later she physically looked like a different person and commented she ‘had never felt so grounded in her life’.

When I began working as a counselor, I noticed that clients avoided addressing many parts of a session. I got the feeling that what clients didn’t say or show told you the most about them. I couldn’t ignore the fact that much more was going on in the session than the dialogue we were exchanging. I began to sense problems lurking behind polite smiles. Sometimes I even saw what I later learned were energy fields around them, which would fluctuate in color, depending on the client’s mood.

As I pursued Reiki studies, energy techniques began to ease their way into the environment of my sessions, and the basis for the technique I have named Insight Reiki was born.

As a client would talk about his or her emotional reactions after getting fired or left by a spouse or some other troubling event, I would begin to send Reiki to them. I would intuitively begin to sense what parts of their energetic body were holding on out of scarcity and fear. I “asked” Reiki to continue to flow during each session, and on several occasions, I was called to place my hands gently over a client’s shoulders or forehead. I would ask them if they were OK to have me practice this stress reducing method I had learned.

I found presenting the Reiki and counseling techniques this way so simple and invigorating that I began to teach some of the methods to my clients. I witnessed incredible changes in their personal lives. Clients who were previously unable to achieve any true insight or direction were now able to connect with their own passions for career and life changes they needed to make for living more fully.

Insight Reiki encourages an individual to get in touch with the feelings surrounding trauma, confusion, or pain that he or she is holding within the body. Balance is initiated through Reiki, which serves as the foundation of the practice. As one gets in touch with these feelings, emotions are released, which brings additional insight and clarity to the situation/issue at hand. The method can also be used on oneself to provide additional insight on current issues or problems.

Over the last thirty years, other professional organizations, such as the European Association of Body Psychotherapy and the United States Association of Body Psychotherapy have provided support for the integration of bodywork and counseling approaches.

I've found that Reiki students having a background in which they’ve offered help to others—volunteering, professionally doing social work, nursing, or at least an equivalent amount of their own self-help work—assists the process of learning Insight Reiki because they’ve already encountered the necessity of having bodicitta, or loving kindness, when working to help someone. If they’ve never had this opportunity, then before they go out and see clients, I recommend at least a year or more of working with people in this capacity, giving Reiki at Reiki circles, volunteering through hospice or nursing homes, and/or doing their own therapy.

I used Insight Reiki with my client, Paul, who was feeling a lot of anger towards being laid off, the unfairness of the seemingly unrelated circumstances affecting his life, and the out-of-control aspect to them. I asked him how the anger felt in his body, and he said like a thick dense cloud. I asked if the cloud had a sound. He made a low grumble. I had my drum and began to gently play a drumbeat behind him and encouraged him to let out that groan a little bit more. A louder groan was heard. I played the drum louder. His groans began to turn into growls.

After several minutes, I slowed down the drumbeat and asked Paul to take a few minutes to breathe into his body and check in with what had occurred. He had released some tears along with his yells, too, and giving him some tissues and some water helped him come back into his center. A few moments later, he told me he was ready to lie on the table and allow me to place my hands on his back and head so he could go into the “real” issue of his breathing difficulties that had plagued him all his life. I encouraged him to take this process slowly. He did and went “into” his nasal passages and felt that some of the blockages there, even while he as on his side, which often caused him to feel the breathing problems even more, were dissipating. I put my hand over the middle of his upper back, or the back of the heart chakra. He said he felt as if he was coming into a place of nurturing and acceptance, and at that point, I encouraged him to become quiet in that place while the soft music in the background played on.

I remained present within him in that place for several more minutes before we concluded, did a brief check–in, and ended the session. Paul later told me that he slept very well that evening and was able to go on a retreat where he was required to sleep in bunk beds and was able actually to sleep through the night. In the past, sleeping in this arrangement would bring on an element of claustrophobia for him and cause him great difficulty in breathing and sleeping.

With Insight Reiki, a presenting symptom often obscures other, deeper issues. In this case, Paul’s difficulty in breathing masked his anger about the lay-off and his anger related to other areas of his life. It also indicated his difficulty in breathing in life for himself. The session was profoundly moving, and I felt honored to be in the presence of such an awakening.

Over the last ten years I have established the only certified school of Reiki in my state of Washington. We have taught over one thousand students from at least 20 countries. Our programs integrate traditional Usui Reiki and Insight Reiki. We do outreach to our local veteran’s center, working with many who still suffer from PTSD (Post-traumatic stress disorder) from their previous experience in combat.

I have heard first-hand from vets that after receiving Reiki and Insight Reiki that they often feel ‘clearer in the mind’ and more at peace.

PTSD studies are still forthcoming. There are two army bases, Fort Bliss and Fort Hood, both in Texas that have alternative care programs for returning veterans. My hope is that in the near future, more research will be conducted and published on the effects of Reiki, trauma and memory.

My mission in my own Reiki work as a teacher and counselor is to continue assisting this valuable tool for self-healing into Western society, standardizing training and taking Reiki to the next level of its development as it finds its place in complementary care.

Eileen Dey, M.A., LMHC, author of Touching the World Through Reiki, founded and directs the only state certified vocational school of Reiki. Over the last ten years, she has taught over a thousand students from over 20 countries and has founded Reiki programs for uniting Reiki community to work with veterans, the environment and bringing Reiki to the mainstream. www.reikitrainingprogram.com  and www.reikifellowship.com


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