It's easy to become obsessed with hand positions.
What we should remember, though, is that they work best when seen as a step towards intuitive healing. They are like training wheels: once we have more experience we should let them go.
Of course, the basic hand positions are useful, there is no denying that. They help us to re-charge and re-balance all of the main energy centres of the body; they work together to create a unified effect that is often very different from one achieved if we just randomly - and out of order - do all of the positions.
But since each person is different; since each person has his or her own needs; it makes little sense to give everyone the same treatment. It's like saying we all need shoes, so we all have to have wear size 12.
I will talk in more detail about the use of the hand positions in a subsequent article; but as a rule it is better to be flexible and let your intuition guide the placement of your hands.
Reach out with your feelings and locate any spots that needs healing (energy) rather than simply moving blindly through positions 1-12.
If this sounds vague or hard, here are two techniques:
1) Sweep over the body of your patient with either one or two hands, trying to detect areas that 'suck' more energy (or simply respond more in one way or another). When you find one, Reiki it until the energy levels being sucked diminish.
After you have finished one spot, keep sweeping over the body ('scanning') until you find a second spot. Keep doing this until no other spots attract your attention.
2) Put your hands in prayer position and lightly touch your forehead. Then try to feel the next spot you need to Reiki. Let your intuition guide you.
After you have worked on the area you have been guided to, either a) move onto another spot if you feel that is right, or repeat the process of putting your hands in prayer position up against your forehead and waiting for your intuition to guide you to the next spot.
You repeat this process until the end of the Reiki session.
It seems that every year more and more Reiki symbols are being discovered and used.
This can be exciting – especially for the person who ‘channels’ them – but care must be taken. It is easy to miss the substance for the form.
Symbols help you focus and maybe even tap into a certain energetic vibration; but they are not the energy itself. They are a passageway to the energy – nothing more, nothing less.
It would therefore be a mistake to grow obsessed by them, because when we examine things closely, universal energy (rei – ki) is always the same. And it is this universal energy that does the healing, not the symbol.
One potential pitfall for those obsessed by symbols is that they end up working very hard during their Reiki treatments. They keep focusing on the symbols, they keep trying to force more and more energy through them, and in the process they forget to empty themselves and become a clear channel.
Think of it like a garden hose: when it is untangled with nothing inside (stones and junk etc.), then the water flows thick and fast. This is akin to opening yourself up and letting whatever may be, be.
When we try to force the issue, however, when we put a lot of ourselves into the healing, then it’s as if there are rocks and pebbles and other such things stuck in the hose. All of these things impede the flow of water (or, in our case, energy).
So let’s not get carried away by our symbols. If we need to use them, focus on them for a few moments and then let them go. That way you can derive benefit from them while still remaining an open channel.
Otherwise you will be straining hard, but getting meagre results.
For a lot of Reiki practitioners, the Reiki precepts are something to read once and then shove under the carpet. Who really wants to 'obey' rules, after all?
This common approach is the one I initially took. I didn't want to be told what to do and I was pretty confident I could work things out for myself.
With a bit more experience and practice, however, I soon understood that the precepts need not be some big Freudian super-ego waiting to beat you with a stick every time you commit a less than saintly action.
Instead, they are a powerful tool for clearing energetic blockages and removing emotional hang-ups. The trick, however, is not to work with them only on an intellectual level; but rather to meditate on them and experience their truth on a deeper more 'physical / emotional / spiritual' level.
Let me explain.
When we encounter precepts of any kind, the general approach is to mentally dissect them. We read the first Reiki precept ('Just for today, do not anger'), for instance, and we rationally conclude that it must be bad to be angry. 'Better try harder not to be pee'd off with my colleague at work,' we tell ourselves.
The problem with the 'mental' approach is that even if we do come to some 'great intellectual understanding', it generally doesn't change our action that much. The ancient Greeks had a word for this: 'akrasia'. It means knowing you should act in a certain way, but still not doing so. Being inconsistent, in other words.
If you think about it, most of us are inconsistent a good deal of the time, despite having a reasonably good understanding of how we should act.
The moral, therefore, is that it is not enough just to understand something intellectually. True understanding - understanding that changes our actions - needs to come from a deeper place.
And that is why we need to take a new approach to the Reiki precepts. We need a way to integrate them into our daily life, live their wisdom.
If you want the Reiki precepts to reveal their wisdom to you, then you need to meditate on them. That means entering into a meditative state - with whatever method you choose - repeating a precept in your mind or out loud (it's better to work with them one at a time), and 'feeling' whatever sensations arise in your body.
This might seem vague, but in practice you will almost always feel a sensation (perhaps tingling, perhaps pain, perhaps heat...) in some part of your body.
Once you locate a sensation, the key is to allow yourself to fully feel it without pushing it away.
Normally if we experience an unpleasant thought, feeling or sensation we repress it. We push it away, hoping we can forget about it.
The problem with this is that even if we do indeed forget about our repressed feeling, it doesn't forget about us. As such, it lurks in the unconscious part of our mind waiting to strike us again when the opportunity presents itself.
Worse still, it doesn't even need to strike us on a conscious level. Its mere energetic presence will always affect our entire being until we get rid of it.
Admittedly, the effect might be small. But it will persist until we confront it. As the saying goes, 'what you resist, persists'.
So you're meditating on a Reiki precept, you've located a sensation in your body, you haven't repressed it and you've allowed yourself to fully feel it: what next?
The next trick is stay with the feeling until it dissolves. Just move deeper and deeper into the feeling - experience it as fully as possible.
If you do that, you will find that the 'uncomfortable' feeling is actually just energy - and not even particularly unpleasant energy!
Better still, by meditating on the five Reiki precepts and working through the energetic sensations that arise, you will find that much old conditioning falls away. Things that previously troubled you will no longer find a target. Old scars will heal.
In this way, the Reiki precepts will have a very real impact on you. Sure, you may need to spend a good deal of time sitting with them, but if you are persistent you will be rewarded.
You're very being will be touched, and with that the problems that cause energetic blockages will simply melt away.
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