Just for today, I will be free from anger.
Just for today, I will be free from worry.
I will be filled with gratitude.
I will dedicate myself to my work.
And I will be kind to others.
-adaptation of the Reiki principles, originally written by Dr. Mikao Usui
I was introduced to the power of Reiki many years ago. Its basis lies in the channeling of the universal (Re) life force energy (Ki) to effect healing on physical, spiritual, and emotional levels. Its use, among other things, is said to promote relaxation and release of anxiety and stress. What appealed to me was that it appeared to require very little from the user. As a practitioner, you are the vessel through which the energy flows. It does not require you to expend your own. As an only parent with three active, angry, anxious, and emotionally resistant children, I had very little of my own energy to spare. The idea of something that might help me, help them, deal with the issues we were facing together seemed like a Godsend. I set out to learn what I could and ended up with my level 2 attunement, meaning I could open and connect with the Reiki energy for healing purposes. This allowed me to begin exploring its use with my children. One of the basic foundations of Reiki is intent. The user has to have the intent to allow it to flow through them, and the receiver has to have the intent to open themselves up to facilitate the healing. We struggled with this. Putting aside the swirl of my own emotions and opening myself up to allow the energy to flow was often difficult when I was so overwhelmed. It was even harder to get my children to be open to the process when they were angry or upset. Sometimes when I would try to use it, in an attempt to covertly diffuse a volatile situation, our intents would clash, and we would get nowhere. I suppose you could say I have had mixed results. I have no doubt it is powerful, but, in my desperation, I misjudged the simplicity of it. Or perhaps it’s that I misjudged how much healing I needed. Still, I am grateful for its presence in my life. It has become an unexpected bonding tool for my children and me. While they still shy away from it as something to help them with their stress and anxiety, they will often ask me to do Reiki on their upset tummies, or aching heads, or sore muscles. The feeling I get when I can be with them in that manner, to cuddle and comfort them, is immeasurable. But I still have much to learn.
One of the areas I try to focus my learning on is the Reiki principles. Their intent is to invite happiness into your life. From what I have read and understood, living and working with them encourages us to see that improving ourselves helps with healing. It has become my habit to recite these principles to myself when I know I am facing a challenging day. Most often, this is when I am on my way to work. I am sure it goes against what they actually stand for, but I have to admit there is part of me that gets a perverse pleasure out of calling on a spiritually energy-based belief to help get me through my scientifically based day, but that topic is a blog for another time! Perhaps though as I think of it, it may explain why I often forget to include the principle about gratitude. I am so focused on letting go of the stress, the anger, and the worry that doing my job entails that I forget to be grateful. My job is so tightly interwoven with my grief and trauma that it is hard to invite gratitude into its midst as I struggle to keep my head above the rising waters of anxiety and panic. The same can actually be said generally about life in grief. It takes intention to acknowledge gratitude, and it takes energy and clarity. So, when I forget to recite the gratitude portion of my principles, I always have to stop and take a moment and figure out why. I know that it is not that I am not grateful- granted, there have been many times on this journey when I was not- but rather that I have lost that as my focus. I have allowed the other pressures in my life to overshadow it. I have chosen to address the negatives in the challenges in my life rather than opening myself up to understand the positives about what they can teach me, and, in so doing, I further close myself off from recognising all that I do have to be grateful for. Perhaps if I learn to make Reiki part of my daily routine rather than using it as a defense against a stressful situation, its ideals will flow more easily.
What I love, though, about the principles is that they are inherently compassionate. There are many variations and interpretations, but they all encourage us to be forgiving, not just of each other but of ourselves. And maybe most importantly, they deal in the here and the now. They talk only about today. There is no regret for yesterday and no pressure for tomorrow. As a widow, I often find the concept of looking forward causes me anxiety, and conversely, I am prone to spending too much time looking back with regretful reflection. So, something that asks me “just for today” seems manageable. I can get a fresh start every time I embrace them. I try now to begin the process with an attitude of thankfulness by acknowledging where I am in my life, good or challenging, and all that comes with it. I ask for the continued connection of head and heart as I recite the principles and go into my day. Sometimes I am more successful than others. Sometimes, when that anger or worry starts to show itself, I will look at the clock to see just how far into “today” I managed to get. I do it in jest of myself but, actually, it is a good way to reground myself and to remember that “just for today” in my world can actually mean “just for this moment,” and that understanding does indeed come from a place of intentional gratitude.