Reiki and the Power of Ritual
Now we have finished Level 2 Reiki, and by the time you read this, will already be well into the Advanced level. We’re both enjoying the class — it’s the same students (and teacher, of course), all moving through the course together. It’s a nice friendly group and a pleasant way to spend a Monday evening. Has it rocked my world? Not particularly.
I still don’t believe there’s anything especially mystical about it (or about the special symbols or “incantations” we use). I’ve just read of another similar program called “Healing Touch” which does not use any signs or words, requires no initiation, and seems to be equally as effective. But Reiki is older and has that air of eastern mysticism to it which I imagine is a big part of its appeal.
Hubby and I have been “Reiki-izing” each other’s minor aches and pains, and it does seem to help. I can’t say, however, whether the laying on of hands is having a genuine physiological effect or whether it’s purely the placebo effect. But in the end, does it matter?
I’ve also found a new meditative tool. Years ago, in Istanbul, we bought a beautiful hand-painted illumination encircling some Islamic calligraphy. (We bought it from the artist, herself. She did the painting and a friend did the interior calligraphy.) She explained that there are many names for God/Allah., and this particular one meant “Love.” It was a gift for my mother-in-law, and when she passed away last year, it came back to us. It’s now in the “yoga corner” of our living room, and I’ve been using it as my drishti (focal point), especially for the balancing asanas. But recently, as I’ve been looking at it, I’ve started to perceive it as a cross section of a Reiki conduit, through which the energy flows. The white part in the center is a channel filled with love. As I focus on it, I visualize this channel running through me; I am empty of everything except love and positive energy.
Truthfully, I feel kind of silly and woo-woo even admitting this, but really it’s just a way for me to focus my intention; a way of blanking my mind to everything except this loving energy.
Doing this has given me new perspectives on the power of ritual in people’s lives.
As regular readers know, I consider myself a skeptic. (I know, I know. “Quite the assertion coming from someone who claims to channel dead people!”) I don’t believe in anyone’s idea of a traditional God. I believe there is something greater than us out there, but I have no idea what it is. (I do, however, have strong feelings about what it is NOT. For example, an entity that hates LGBTQ people.) I have never had use for formalized, organized religion, not even as a kid. (For me, the search for answers is my own personal religion.) I admit, I’ve been known to look askance at those to adhere to ritual and rules, mainly because it’s always seemed to me a form of magical thinking (and I certainly do not believe in that!)
I try to consider everything with an open mind, without automatically accepting standard explanations Sometimes science can “explain away” spiritual phenomena (such as this interesting theory of the Passover story.) Sometimes the spiritual explains things that science cannot (i.e. placebo effect, meditation, the proven efficacy of prayer over distance.) And sometimes, they seem to give credence and weight to each other (i.e. quantum entanglement, double slit experiment, “gut” feelings.)
I have come to understand, however, that ritual as a meditative process can be very effective. I don’t believe that praying, lighting candles, reciting the rosary, davvening, prostrating oneself several times a day, etc. is going to put anyone into a nonexistent God’s good graces. However, if done in the right frame of mind, it’s a form of self-hypnosis or meditation, helpful for putting the pray-er more deeply in touch with their own subconscious; perhaps even with the collective unconscious. If one seeks answers or guidance in such a state, answers will often appear. From where do they come?
Is God talking to them? Is it their own unconscious responding? Are they tapping in to the collective unconscious? Or, really, are they all one and the same?