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Copyright © 2005 James Deacon (and Jiro Kozuki)

"How do you go about explaining what Reiki is to a potential client, without scaring them off with terms like 'Cosmic Energy' or 'Spiritual Energy', 'Channeling the ki', etc?

Whenever anyone asks a question along these lines, I recall something that Jiro Kozuki - a Japanese Reiki Master friend said:

"Why is it that Reiki-ka (Reiki practitioners) always seem to focus in on the ki - the 'energy' - when trying to explain Reiki to others for the first time?"

[Personally, what he said next also made me wonder if, perhaps, we focus too much on the ki aspect generally.]

"Reiki is like driving," Jiro said.
When you're driving somewhere, your 'here-and-now' focus should always be on the driving - on:
your driving ability
the road
what you encounter along the way
and the intended destination
- not on the fuel.

In Jiro's analogy:
for 'driving ability' read 'Reiki ability'
the road is the client
what you encounter - the clients dis-ease / therapeutic needs
your intended destination - to facilitate the client's relaxation and eventual return to a state of 'equilibrium'
'fuel' is Reiki 'energy' (once you're attuned, you know you have an adequate fuel-supply!)

So, now, when trying to explain Reiki to others for the first time without scaring them off, I tend to opt for something along the lines of:

Reiki is a set of 'received skills' which permit the therapist to assist individuals to relax in a very particular way, enabling their body (/mind/spirit) to access and activate its own, powerful, inherent, self healing mechanisms.
Oh yeah, and a Reiki treatment feels good too!

Also, I believe, expressing the idea that the therapist is simply assisting the client to heal themselves, is very important.

Medical studies have shown that patients (read: clients) who feel they are taking an active role in their own healing - and feel that they have the support of a competent practitioner - have a far higher rate of recovery than those who feel their role is purely a passive one.

The best way, I feel, to attempt to explain the ki - the Reiki 'energy' - to a client is to wait until after they have experienced it for themselves.
- and only then - I might begin to talk about the "vital energy that is everywhere around us" or in some other way attempt to tailor an explanation in keeping with their personal focus.

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Disclaimer: The contents of this site is for general information only. James Deacon does not necessarily endorse the methodology, techniques or philosophy of individual modalities detailed herein, and accepts no liability for the use or misuse of any practice or exercise on this site, or ones linked to this site.