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Copyright 2011 James Deacon


The Reiki Learning Lounge forum uses a set of stock questions to interview various Reiki Teachers.
I was very pleased to be invited to be interviewed. These are the responses I gave.

James, can you tell us a bit about yourself, your background with Reiki, who you trained with and what service you provide now?

In my early teens a brief interest in Judo evolved into interest in Karate, then Jiu Jutsu, then Ving Tsun, also Tiger Style Gung Fu, and much later, a passing interest in Kempo, on the way to studying a form of Dragon-style Qi Gong.

Early on, one of the special phrases I learnt to say repeatedly - a phrase common to the practice of all these arts - was:

“Ow (or words to that effect), that REALLY hurts!”
and in tandem with learning this phrase, I learnt to appreciate the skill of my instructors in utilising a range of remedial treatment practices: massage, manipulation, acupuncture needles, herbs and lotions, and 'vital energy' healing techniques, in treating the various accidental injuries which occasionally occur during the course of martial arts training.

Needless to say, of all the practices, it was the 'energy work' which really intrigued me; and so began my journey into the world of energy-based healing arts.

In time, I came to focus on a small number of modalities, namely: Magnetic Healing, Therapeutic Touch, Shen Therapy, a particular form of Qi Gong healing, and practices based around the Japanese concept of Seiki (Vital Life Force).

Somewhere, I heard the term Reiki. Then I heard it again; then someone said it was a form of healing – and simply because the name sounded like Seiki, I thought I'd check it out.

After what might be considered a 'false start', I eventually received a series of 5 or 6 treatments, and I was hooked. A few weeks later I took the level 1 training in Tera Mai Reiki (& Seichem). Back then I had no understanding of the differences between the various 'schools' of Reiki.

Though, like many folk, in time, as part of my journey with Reiki I felt drawn to take initiations (attunements) and training in as many styles as possible, so I studied a great many different styles – several of which, I believe, are no longer being taught.

Then, gradually I realised the need to get rid of the clutter and junk which constituted the greater part of these many different styles....

People often contact me, asking when and where I will be teaching the next Reiki course, and are usually somewhat surprised when I explain that the need to teach in this way is an affliction I currently do not suffer from.

I now prefer to take a mentoring-based approach when engaging with Reiki students.

However, my primary focus is on my own practical application of Reiki Ryoho as a therapeutic art.

And, as the spirit moves me - I share information and understandings from a personal perspective (and occasionally attempt to incite others to step beyond their 'Reiki comfort zone') on a small number of Reiki fora, and via my website. - www. something-or-other …

[I feel it would be remiss of me not to use this interview to advertise and promote something, yet rather than something of my own – I thought I'd go for: the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International
www.gorillafund.org – a very worthy cause close to my heart]

How would you interpret the word 'Reiki'?

With some difficulty :)

I'm pleased you say 'Interpret' as opposed to 'translate'.

IMO it is all too easy for someone to pick up a Japanese-English dictionary and discover the isolated meanings of each of the two kanji used to write the single word Reiki; or, as some choose to do, to break each kanji up into its component elements and look at the additional different isolated meanings of these elements. Yet if anything, I sometimes feel that attempting to translate the single word Reiki in terms of the meanings of the individual words rei and ki (or their elements) only serves to take us further from the essence of the whole, single, word itself.

For a little word, it encompasses so much.

Its something I keep coming back to over the years, and each time, I find new depth of meaning.

Currently, I am content with the interpretation:  “The influence and effect of Spirit in action”.

What do you think is happening in a Reiki session?

At a simple level, we, as therapists “hold a healing space” in which the phenomenon that is 'Reiki' enables and assists the client to relax in a very focussed and profound way, allowing their body-mind-spirit to access and activate its own, powerful, inherent, self healing mechanisms.

All healing is Self-healing.

What do you think is happening, at a basic level, in a Reiki attunement/initiation/reiju?

Who can really say for sure?

Some people seek to understand what's happening in terms of: chakras being 'aligned', or opening the student's aura up to the cosmos, or to spirit; or the stimulating energy meridians; or creating a' vibrational shift'; or opening a pathway to the student's Higher Self, or to their 'guides', etc, etc.

Some people talk poetically of the implanting of 'energetic seeds'.

The term: 'reiju', speaks specifically of 'the giving/receiving (sharing) of spirit' – i.e. the 'spirit' of a thing - the sharing / imparting of the very essence or experience of a thing. Yet some folks - in what I tend to view as an “Emperor's New Clothes” type scenario - claim that during the reiju ritual, the teacher passes nothing on to the student, does nothing to the student?

Probably the most common perception is based on the use of the term 'attunement' and the associated implication that the student is 'tuned in' to an 'energy' - yet interestingly, this is a post-Takata (i.e. post 1980) modification within Reiki Ryoho.

Takata-sensei didn't speak about the concept of 'attunement' - rather she spoke of 'initiation' (in Japanese: 'denju') - a very different concept, and a very different understanding about what was taking place.

On a deeper level, both denju and reiju can be understood as being about transmitting an ability (in the form of a 'memory' of experience) from one person to another.

So, could we perhaps see it that, in the case of the Reiki Ryoho, the teacher is somehow passing on to the student a 'memory' (albeit an unconscious one) of Usui-sensei's initial experience on Kurama Yama.?

A sharing of the memory of Usui-sensei's first encounter with the wondrous phenomenon that is Reiki, and with it, a sharing of the 'unconscious competence' that is the actual ability to interact with the Reiki Phenomenon, to Therapeutic and Spiritual effect.

IMO, in a deeper analysis, Reiki is not so much 'energy' as an initiatorially-received 'ability to interact with energy' - a skill, a 'program', an ability - imparted by a ritual act of touch and breath, from someone already in possession of this skill/program/ability - this person in turn having received it from another, and so on, back to Usui-sensei, who spontaneously received the skill/program/ability as a result of his mystical experience on Kurama Yama.

Do you think Reiki can be used to help situations and inanimate objects as well as living things?

Well, concerning inanimate objects, I swear at my computer from time to time when its playing up, and THAT seems to have an effect, so ….

Reiki is now becoming popular within the medical system. What role do you believe Reiki plays in the traditional medical system?

I think it is gradually being accepted as a relaxation-based practice which can be demonstrated to help with pain management and – in some situations – reduce post-operative recovery times.

However I feel there is a long way to go before it gains widespread acceptance as a valid form of direct therapeutic intervention in its own right.

Distant Reiki and permission has always been a topic with many pros & cons what's your view on this given the earthquake disasters in Haiti and Chile?

The whole permission issue is indeed a complex one. However, for now (and I reserve the right to change my mind in the future) this is my in-a-nutshell view on the subject:

"Permission 101"

In asking for permission, the practitioner honours and validates the spiritual essence of the individual.
In making the conscious decision to accept the practitioner's assistance, the individual opens themself to the transformational process.

If you ask for (and most importantly, receive) someone's permission before doing distant Reiki treatment for them, then they are empowered to take ownership of the effects of that treatment.

If you do not get their permission, then you as initiator of that change must accept full responsibility for the outcome/effects of that treatment (which may not necessarily be as expected).

We are responsible for our own actions. Period.

And specifically in relation to a situation like the ones mentioned, IMO, if Reiki is an 'energy', then I feel there is quite enough unfocussed 'energy' raging about in such disaster-zones without practitioners throwing more into the mix from a distance (however 'helpful' we believe it might be).

IMO, one Reiki Practitioner, working hands-on at the scene, may do far more good than a thousand sending “Reiki wishes” from the comfort of their own homes.

I sometimes feel that the concept of 'sending' Reiki to a situation (which to me always seems somehow vague and unfocussed) has more to do with helping the Practitioner feel good about themself than actually helping the situation. Does this sound harsh?

Yes, of course Reiki engenders a sense of heart-felt compassion. However, such situations may be best helped by financially supporting the rescue and relief teams on the ground at the scene, donating, food, clothing, vital equipment, etc.

But this is just my opinion.

Many Reiki practitioners say you can go back into the past and heal it. What's your take on this issue?

IMO, no we do not go back into the past, we do not actually send Reiki into the past.

Rather, I, understand what we are doing in terms of healing the PRESENT – healing how we, in the
here-and-now, cope with and process the influences, thoughts, feelings, emotions, etc. generated around past experiences.

Have you had any notable experiences concerning Reiki that you could tell us about?

Yes. My first experience of receiving a Reiki treatment was a most unpleasant one. It was a short (30 min), seated treatment, carried out in the stale, centrally-heated, claustrophobic atmosphere of a depressing consultation room in a NHS medical centre [Brownie Points at least to the centre in that it rented out a couple of rooms to Complementary Therapists].

The 'energy' sensations arising in response to the practitioners touch were heavy and oppressive compared to my experience of other energy therapies.

I decided not to go back for a second treatment.

A little while later, something inspired me to seek out a different practitioner.

Had I not done so, I would not be doing this interview.

Can you describe your relationship with Reiki, and how it's affected you?

Some people might find this strange, but in thinking how I would describe the relationship, a word that jumped into consciousness was:


When its good, its very good, but ….

I know in some places you can now even divorce your parents.
Sometimes – just sometimes - I begin to wonder, can you divorce Reiki?

Do you feel that Reiki needs standard guidelines across the board for practitioners to obtain certification?

Yes. With there now being so many different Reiki Ryoho
styles, and different approaches to practice, I feel we do need to look closely at the issue of standard guidelines in terms of both practice and training.

After all, in Reiki Ryoho we have an ethical duty of care - not just to those who come to us for treatment, but also, to those who come to us for training.

Instances of poor standards of training not only dishonour those receiving that training, they also impact on the perception of the overall professionalism of the Reiki Community as a whole, in the eyes of the very people we need to be reassuring.

In my opinion, the setting of 'benchmark' or 'baseline' minimum standards, is perhaps essential in order to guard against various degrees of failure in relation to the above-mentioned duty of care; and by extension, to ensure that Reiki Ryoho receives the professional recognition it so richly deserves as a highly effective therapeutic practice.

What are your hopes & aspirations for the future of Reiki?

I would like to see Reiki Ryoho hopefully gaining ever greater levels of acceptance - by both the public at large and the medical professions - as a valid complementary therapy.

Is there anything that I/we have not asked that you find is important when talking about Reiki?

At core Reiki Ryoho is simple.

When it comes to the ongoing development of our relationship with Reiki, I think Takata-sensei said it all in four words:

“Let Reiki teach you”.

And when it comes to the therapeutic application of Reiki – again Takata-sensei cut straight to its essence:

“Hands on [the body], Reiki on; Hands off [the body], Reiki off

It is that simple – IF we want to let it be.

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