Like all practices rooted in ancient spirituality, Reiki is both never-changing and ever-new.
I have practiced this gentle healing tradition since the 1990s, but every time I teach or share it, I learn something new. Today, I am preparing materials for a Level 2 class I am co-teaching this coming weekend. For several weeks now, I’ve been diligently practicing what Reiki’s founder Mikao Usui urged his followers to do, which was to meditate on the 5 founding precepts of Reiki every morning and night.
The 5 Precepts of Reiki Are:
- Just for today: No anger.
- Just for today: No anxiety.
- Rather, gratitude for all just as it is.
- Do your work with integrity.
- Show kindness to all living things.
Note: Some of this phrasing is my own personal take on the meaning. There are numerous translations from the original Japanese. The precepts themselves are the same, but the exact wording may vary. Feel free to use whatever interpretation resonates for you.)
In my future blogs, I will dive into each of the five Reiki precepts, one by one. For this initial post, I want to focus on the core principle – the one which stands at the center of them all… Gratitude.
Gratitude is all about the human heart, and Reiki is a heart-centered practice.
Gratitude softens and opens the heart. It is as natural as hugging your best friend. It arises spontaneously in response to any happy, hoped-for, or welcome experience. It brings us immediately and joyously into the Now.
It also can feel next to impossible when we’re dealing with pain or loss or any of the other (as my 91-year-old mother would say) “vicissitudes of life.” Because let’s face it, life can be hard. So hard at times, that giving thanks feels more like giving up. When saying, “Thank You” is far less therapeutic than shouting, “EFF YOU!” in the general direction of the universe.
In my honest opinion, it’s all well and good for healthy, vibrant visionaries like Phil Good or Preston Smiles to go around manifesting joy, love, and abundance. Mind you, I’m a huge fan of both of those young men, and not just because they are key-droppingly beautiful. But all the positive affirmations and kombucha in the world cannot change a few basic realities like illness, aging, or disability. And death… Oh yeah, that. Not to mention, doing the Downward Dog and noticing you have developed what you once had assumed was physiologically impossible, wrinkled kneecaps. That’s where the “grace” in gratitude comes in. Because it’s more about acceptance than celebration. Perhaps a better word is appreciation. Appreciation is fully experiencing whatever is going on, in all of its what is-ness.
Appreciating means you get it. It doesn’t have to mean you like it.
I absolutely adore Pema Chodron, and not just because she bears an uncanny resemblance to my Camel-smokin’, hard drinkin’ Grandma. She has a salty way of demystifying the mystical. In her book, When Things Fall Apart, Pema suggests that when we’re going through hard times, “Rather than letting our negativity get the better of us, we could acknowledge that right now we feel like a piece of shit and not be squeamish about taking a good look.”
I just love that because sometimes I just feel crappy, and there’s no way around it. But once I stop fighting or feeling guilty about being miserable, once I give over cross-examining myself or trying to pull myself up by my bra straps, once I stop and just appreciate whatever I am feeling without wallowing in it, it gives me just a bit of breathing room.
And sometimes that’s all it takes.
As Eckhardt Tolle observes: “Whenever you deeply accept this moment as it is – no matter what form it takes – you are still, you are at peace.”
So, here’s to putting appreciation at the heart of our spiritual discipline, whatever form that takes for you.
And here’s to Reiki; the old-new healing practice that puts gratitude right at the core of its founding principles.
- https://twitter.com/EckhartTolle (Jan 28, 2019)
- Gassho (Namaste in yoga) is the hands-to-heart bow.
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I am a published poet and a Certified Medical Reiki Master. I’ve practiced Reiki since the mid-1990s when I was a massage therapist (now retired). I serve on the Board of Advisors for the Center for Reiki Research and teach and practice Reiki in the Washington, DC area.