Reiki and Qigong

In thinking about how Qigong practice permits the exploration of the transitions between formless to form, I found it helpful to remember the Taoist image of Yin/Yang.  Each aspect of that symbol, whether dark or light flows into and out of each other, yet it seems they are separated by some sort of boundary or threshold.  Yet, in my own practice, I have learned that approaching that threshold between the two polarities permits access to a connection into the vast formless space that is most of the universe. The concept of form dissolves into the formless. The form can be the perception of anything that seems ‘solid’.  For instance, the ego often seems so permanent.  Yet, in my practice, I surrender to not being controlled by what the ego wants.  In my body awareness of no ego, after my mind has made the switch to not be in charge, it feels as if I release engagement to what I perceive my body and mind on a cellular level.  In doing this switch, I am permitting my existence to become a conduit for universal energy in lieu of being an egocentric body and mind.  In doing so, a connection to a sense of luminous abundance, like the vast cosmic ocean, seems to occur.  Doing so permits access to unlimited potential for healing.  Likewise, Qigong wisdom healing is connecting to “the body as the expression of the formless, we reconnect the power of pure energy to consciousness” (Mingtong, 2011, p. 28).  Healing is achieved through engaging with the mind and body to cultivate positive and affirming attitudes, beliefs, and lifestyles.  As a demonstration, participating in the embryonic breathing exercises by Yang (2003), I sensed how using the breath can enhance the abundance of qi that circulates within my body.  In doing so, a sense of harmony and balance emerged which seems to reinforce the beliefs and practices that comprise Taoist Qigong (Coakley, 1997).

Resources

Coakley, S. (1997). Religion & Body. Cambridge UP, Paperback(2000).

Mingtong, G. (2011). Wisdom Healing (Zhineng) Qigong: Cultivating Wisdom and Energy for Health, Healing and Happiness (Teachings by Master Mingtong Gu based on the work of Dr. Pang Ming).

Yang, J. (2003). Qigong Meditation Embryonic Breathing 2nd. ed.: The Foundation of Internal Elixir Cultivation (Qigong Foundation) (2nd ed.). YMAA Publication Center.

Copyright Eileen Dey Wurst 2022

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Reiki and Kampo Pt. 1

The 5-element system and yin/yang theory imported to Japan from China provided a view of the body interacting with the greater world both around and within it (Picone,1989). Maintaining the balance of each element in the system and the equilibrium of yin and yang, is both a responsibility of the individual self and of the larger community.  Influences from the cosmos, as well as the earthly environment also contribute to health or wellness on physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual levels which developed into Kampo, the Japanese version of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).  This legacy, of comprehensively viewing the body connected and operating from a global and celestial perspective, could explain why according to Picone (1989), there are few psychological practitioners in modern Japan, as the investigation of mental and emotional health might be considered surgically removed from the 5-element system that influences the individual.   

The Reiki system which serves as the foundation for both my praxis and therapeutic practice is composed of this inclusive Kampo model of viewing the body along with the application of ki.  According to Kukubo (2001), ki has many meanings, including the seemingly different concepts of ‘feeling’ and ‘weather’. Yet, as mentioned above, the Japanese Kampo concept of the interconnectivity of the body and the environment would validate a force such as ki being able to influence both internal and external conditions.  There are various kinds of ki depending upon circumstance and application such as living ki, illness ki, etc. as well as ki residing in different body systems (Picone, 1989).  Reiki is a form of ki from the universe, it is a life force that can bring and maintain balance to the individual and the community they are a part of.

In my own experience, the application of Reiki by a practitioner to individual influences the entirety of their system.  This may explain the findings discovered by Picone (1989) when she interviewed the healer Osumi who stated “the whole body is a tsubo (acupuncture point)” (p.475).  Instead of specifically placing a needle in a tsubo, a Reiki practitioner places their hands over or above the body. All the structures; body, energy field, environment, are impacted by the intention and application of the Reiki practitioner.

Resources

Kokubo, H. (2001, December). Concept of‗ Qi ‘or‗ Ki ‘in Japanese qigong research. In Proceedings of Present Papers of the 44th Annual Convention of the Parapsyhcological Association (pp. 147-154).

Picone, M. (1989). The ghost in the machine: Religious healing and representations of the body in Japan. Fragmented History of the Human Body1.

YAMASHITA, K. (1993). Pain Management and Scientific Acupuncture Especially about Ryodoraku Therapy. The Japanese Journal of Ryodoraku Medicine38(10), 269-280.

Reiki and Yogic Philosophy pt. 1

Taking the dive into Hinduism and Ayurveda studies this week rekindled my own multiple decades of practice in the energetic bodywork methods of Polarity therapy and Reiki.  In Asad & Coakley (1997), I was reminded of the innate balance in the composition all bodies have: satva, rajas and tamas. Polarity therapy emphasizes balance between these doshas through bodywork, diet, exercise and movement. 

The practice of Reiki does not work with these elements, but instead, a significant correlation is that in the practice of Reiki, the beginning student is offered an attunement or blessing that is a counterclockwise spiral, rotated three and a half rotations, identical to the symbol of the serpent in the kundalini.  Instead of bringing the energy up from the spine to the top of the head, in Reiki, the spiral is offered to the crown and sent downwards toward the grounding root of the practitioner to assist them in making connection with their own cosmic consciousness and awareness of Universal energy.

Choudhury (2016) described the image of this Universal energy as infinitely flowing through the human body as Shiva.  The main pathway is called sushumna with the left channel ida, representing the moon and pingala on the right, representing the sun.  Again, a similar correlation in Reiki with another symbol used by practitioners called Dai Kyo Myo, represents the inherent potential for an individual to connect to the brilliant light of the sun and moon through the practice of connecting to the great light flowing through the central channel.

Through yoga, according to Eliade (1990), the aim is to dissolve normal consciousness.  In doing so, awareness can be perceived.  In both my clinical psychotherapeutic work and research, the transliminal state of consciousness seems to be the realm where answers, insights, and connection to one’s expanded sense of self.  One focus of my research has been to explore the studies connecting embodiment.

Resources

Asad, T., & Coakley, S. (1997). Religion and the Body. Cambridge: Cambridge.

Kundalini: Awakening the Shakti Within with Raja Choudhury. (2016, March 30). YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nSLq04QI9UY

Eliade, M. (1990). Yoga: Immortality and Freedom. 1969.

Copyright Eileen Dey Wurst 2022

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Somatic Sufi

In the sema, the whirling motion permits a Sufi to use their body as a way in which to connect with the cosmos, to enter an altered state and to both symbolically and somatically become one with all that is spinning, the planets, the cosmos and the cells within the body (Sabra, 2013). As this movement continues, Silow (2010) has stated that such “ascending development toward unity” results in a coalescence of the self and physical body (p.80). As a consequence, the sema permits the dissolving of dualism and promotes the all-encompassing experience of unification.

The sema is part of the larger dhikr ceremony, which uses the breath in connection with various aspects of the heart to repetitively chant and recite the name of the divine to such an extent that an ecstatic state is achieved (Eliade, 1990).

During my own lived experiences in the participation of many dhikrs, both in Konya, Turkey, and in Seattle, WA, the intercorporeality between the members of the group and myself all chanting and whirling permitted the emergence of an interoceptive expansive feeling of rapture emanating from within my heart.  The embodied insight that emerged was that the whole cosmos resides within the heart.   This deep understanding would repeat with reliable frequency during each dhikr and permit an exteroceptive feeling of interconnectedness of humanity and subsequent Universe.  I would leave the group practice with a sense of peace and harmony within my own essence.

Whirling again, in writing this post, I am reminded of the initial proprioceptive awareness when first spinning of the sense of my body taking its time to open up to the space it is being contained in.  As the whirling continued, that dualistic awareness of my body and the space began to dissolve and soon there was just a greater sense of be-ing.  Because the whirling was a solo exercise and not part of the larger dhikr group experience, the sense of intercorporeal connection was absent and deeper levels of realization did not occur.  Nonetheless, there was a sense of liberation in having permission to return to a familiar method of pursuing a respite from the experience of duality.

This is part 2 of several posts in the development of Somatic Reiki as I continue my Integral and Transpersonal studies through CIIS.

Resources

Eliade, M. (1990). Dhikr

Sabra, A. (2013). Sufi Bodies: Religion and Society in Medieval Islam by Shahzad Bashir. Journal of World history24(2), 424-425. DOI: 10.1353/jwh.2013.0057.


Silow, T. (2010). Embodiment as ascending and descending development. In S. Esbjoern-Hargens, Integral theory in action (Chapter 3, pp. 79-98). New York: State University of New York Press.  https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/ciis-ebooks/detail.action?docID=3407260.

Copyright 2022 Eileen Dey Wurst

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Somatic Reiki: The Notochord

The central energic channel, or sushumna in the yogic/Ayurvedic tradition, is what a Reiki practitioner utilizes when working with healing Reiki energy.

In our earliest development as embryos, we have the forerunner of this channel. It is called the notochord.

The notochord is an embryonic structure that serves as a central column by which other cells begin to attach and extend out from. It is our first embodied experience of having a ‘center’. It is the place from which the rest of our form grows. As our embryonic development continues, the notochord is eventually absorbed into the discs of the spine.

Take a moment and imagine the sacred evolution of this channel.

The essence of this early structure is still there, waiting for us to find our way back to it. In the learning of Reiki, a practitioner begins to work with the idea of being a ‘channel’ for healing energy. As they progress in their studies, they will reconnect with the energetic alignment of the inner echo of the notochord. As they do, this alignment permits a reclamation of being embodied, united in body and mind with access to the infinite pool of Universal consciousness.

Therein resides wisdom, guidance, and insight. It is a place of knowing and a place of being one with body and mind.

Through the engagement with this central channel, this reconnection permits the dissolution of dualism and the all-encompassing experience of unity.

Because this channel has its origins in the physical matter of the body, it is considered somatic (soma=body). Hence, “Somatic Reiki”.

This is part 1 of several posts in the development of Somatic Reiki as I continue my Integral and Transpersonal studies through CIIS.

Copyright 2022 Eileen Dey Wurst

Addressing spiritual bypass in clinical practice for insecure attachment

Welwood (1984) defined spiritual bypassing as the tendency to try to avoid or prematurely transcend basic human needs, feelings, and developmental tasks through the use of spiritual practices and beliefs to ameliorate the suffering from past wounds.  Sheridan (2017) concluded that “From a psychological perspective, such bypassing cuts off the opportunity to address and resolve important intra- and interpersonal issues” (p. 359).  In adults who have had a history of insecure attachment, the potential exists to ‘bypass’ the involvement of psychotherapeutic work by pursuing the practice of altered states of consciousness within New Age spirituality. 

Since the connection between insecure adult attachment and spiritual bypassing in psychotherapy has scarce research, there are many gaps in the study of this phenomenon.  Studies explored in this review have shown that there are limited amounts of psychotherapeutic clinicians exploring the religiosity and spiritual domain within their practices.  This is a significant issue considering the findings by Shafranske & Malony (1990) that found that one in six psychotherapy clients present clinical issues involving religion or spirituality.

The available empirical research has been focused upon the compensatory role that religion or spirituality provides clients who are adults with insecure attachment issues.  This body of literature has seemingly not been concerned with how those religious or spiritual compensations may actually be stunting the psychological development and growth of these clients.  This lack of concern indicates the importance of these topics as developing into a field of study.

One way to further the research is by drawing upon the existing work of psychotherapists studying adults with insecure attachment histories in collaboration with scholars studying New Age spiritual practices to explore the development of spiritual bypassing assessment tools and treatment interventions for more comprehensive and beneficial treatment outcomes.

In learning more about the phenomena of spiritual bypass, its connection to New Age spirituality practices and possible underlying insecure attachment histories in clients, implementation of standards of care can be initiated to provide more comprehensive assessment and treatment protocols for the greater psychotherapeutic community.

Full article this conclusion was based upon located here

References

Shafranske, E. P., & Malony, H. N. (1990). Clinical psychologists’ religious and spiritual

orientations and their practice of psychotherapy. Psychotherapy, 27(1), 72–78.

DOI: 10.1037/0033-3204.27.1.72.

Sheridan, M. J. (2017). Addressing spiritual bypassing: Issues and guidelines for spiritually

sensitive practice. In The Routledge handbook of religion, spirituality and social work (pp. 358-367). Routledge.

Welwood, J. (1984). Principles of inner work: Psychological and spiritual. Journal of

Transpersonal Psychology, 16(1), 63–73.

Copyright 2022 Eileen Dey Wurst

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Connecting to the Integrated Self

Excerpt from my own personal story of cultivating an embodied life:

The practitioner begins the Insight Reiki process with curious inquiry. The first observation in beginning the practice is in attention.  What is occurring right now.  What’s the state of mind like?  What’s the physical body doing?  Is there a sense of urgency, lethargy, or something in-between?  The practitioner is encouraged to be specific with a word to define the qualities, sensations, thoughts, or perceptions that they feel as they continue through the Insight Reiki practice (Dey, 2010).

Spurred on by such a profound yet simple practice, Insight Reiki became a daily regimen for me.  As I experimented on myself with various phrases and techniques I began to create a system of healing that I felt comfortable sharing with my advanced Reiki colleagues.  As they learned the process and incorporated the technique in their own practice and with each other, they provided me with feedback that then went into the further development of the method itself.

Eventually, with several hundreds of hours of practice, I felt confident enough to teach Insight Reiki to trademark the technique and teach it to other students.

Johnson (2013) discussed how master teachers during Feldenkrais training used specific language during the bodywork session to assist the recipient in reconnecting body, mind, and spirit into an integrated self.  Instead of using the command ‘move your hand’, the master teachers would state ‘move the hand’.  In doing so, it changed the focus of the direction from passive to an engaged and active process.

That active process is empowering.  It permits a recipient to transcend the limitations of their own ego-based self.  It allows a greater spectrum of movement to occur instead of habitual or patterned responses based upon the ego.

In my own self-Insight Reiki practice, I offer my mind the instruction, ‘let the intuitive mind yield to the analytical mind’ and I breathe that statement into my being like the prayer on the flag wafting in the wind..  In doing so, that command taps into the greater sense of my beingness that exists beyond my ego, persona, or presentation of self.   As Levin (1984) stated, “When our breathing breathes away egos’ boundaries, counterpoise prevails and the will is neutralized” (p.144).

Resources

Dey, E. (2010). Touching the World Through Reiki.. Book Publishers Network.

Johnson, D.H. (2013). Moving into Vastness. In Introduction to somatics, dance, and

spirituality: Sacred narratives. Intellect: Bristol, UK.

Levin, D. M. (1984). Logos and psyche: A hermeneutics of breathing. Research in

Phenomenology14, 121-147.

Copyright 2021 Eileen Dey Wurst

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Healing Transmissions

It feels to me as if I have been ‘surfing’ on the waves of my past experiences this week and standing up tall and not falling off and being able to give concise, meaningful and even provocative thoughts and comments on how I relate to the idea of language as a mirror through which one sees the animacy of the world.

I realize I have had over two decades worth of animistic practice through my Reiki work.  Universal energy flows through everything, humans, flora, fauna, etc., connecting and communicating to us if we give ourselves permission.  At each weekly practice circle, we often send healing to some part of nature and ‘give space’ for receiving any information to be shared.  Both individually and collectively we can intuit where and on what level of the world we feel called to send healing to.

I was reminded of the accomplishments of my group, the Reiki Fellowship achieved while participating in monthly blessings of Seattle’s polluted industrial Duwamish river.   This river, like the tribe, has been ignored, abused, and taken advantage of for capitalist gains.  Each month a group of Reiki, sound healing, and shamanic practitioners would perform rituals and offer healing energy to the ecosystem and consciousness of the river.  Coincidentally, within the first months of our outreach, several million dollars were granted toward a cleanup of the river from one of the companies that had contributed to past pollution.  Both the river and our group gave a loud cheer!  In addition, there were many individual animistic experiences that each practitioner had with this forgotten river.  As one of the participants told me, the Reiki we performed on the river brought the Duwamish back into consciousness.  

Perhaps these recollections are an intercoropoeal meeting of my past and present worlds.  Both are informing me of who I am.  In that place I feel whole.  The words ‘whole’ and ‘heal’ come from the same Old English root, so then it isn’t a surprise that there also seems to be some degree of healing that has occurred within my body and mind with each writing and subsequent posting uniting my past and present knowledge.  I know this because my inner experience has been that of being continually held.  Even when there have been frustrations, there has been buoyancy.  It feels like all my molecules are receiving a hug of support.  I am grateful and express optimism and curiosity for the evolution of this next level in my personal development.

Copyright 2021 Eileen Dey Wurst

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Reiki Principles for Collective Change

Over the last decades, each time I offered myself Reiki, I also incorporated what is known as the Reiki principles or precepts.  They could be considered a point of view and have permitted me to achieve both personal and collective change.  

The Reiki principles all begin with “Just for today…”  The first one is “Just for today, do not worry”.  This begins to assist the practitioner in rooting into the present.  Worry is a preoccupation with something in the future.  If I worry, I am not affecting the future, I’m simply stuck there.  The guidance of “Just for today” offers an alternative.  How about I don’t worry today?  What might that be like?

Likewise, the second Reiki principle is “Just for today, do not anger”.  Instead of projecting the mind into the future, in anger, we get stuck in the past.  Maybe it’s the recent past, as in it just happened, maybe it’s many years ago and we haven’t resolved the issue.  Again, what might it be like if I didn’t get angry today?  How might that affect me and my world?

The way to becoming present is suggested in the third Reiki principle, “Just for today, be filled with gratitude”.  When you practice gratitude, you are being with what is real and what is right in front of you.  It makes you focus on your blessings.  It’s almost impossible to be worried and angry when you are in gratitude!

With the third principle beginning to shift the mind, now a practitioner is encouraged to shift in body and begin to move in a more conscious way in the world.  The fourth principle is “Just for today, I will do my work honestly.”  What does it mean to be honest?  Transparent?  Present in how you carry yourself and how you show up.  How does that concept change you?

Then lastly, in the fifth principle, “Just for today, I will be kind to others”.  This is movement in action that takes gratitude out of the personal and into the global.  The last two principles together begin to shift a practitioner’s mind off themselves and into the service of others, which is really the greater calling of what Reiki practice is. 

As I set aside my own ego during the decades of doing this practice, I was able to be a channel and be of service to thousands of students over many years who have taken these concepts and in their own way, spread out across the state and the country to bring energy healing and wisdom to their own communities.  It’s humbling to think how this practice transformed so many people I had the honor to work with.

Copyright 2021 Eileen Dey Wurst

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What is the process by which things change?

In my adulthood, the process I undertook was more internal through my personal experience and evolution during many hundreds of individual bodywork sessions I experienced as part of my own self-care and self-discovery.   Each session was both transportive and transformational.  Some sessions were purely for pain and stress relief, but most were to facilitate further understanding of who I was, how I had been shaped by the upbringing and legacy of trauma in my family and gave room the evolution of new forms in both body and mind.

These sessions cumulatively changed and shifted my perspective on life and facilitated movement for my own life goals.

I established many pioneering and creative systems, created healing environments and communities, and recorded my work in books, articles and guided meditations over the twenty years of my Reiki career.  Each achievement had it’s own movement and development process. 

All of those achievements started with a thought.  Actually, before the thought, perhaps, was the very subtle proprioceptive movement of something wanting to emerge. 

Julia Cameron in her Artist’s Way book says “As you move toward a dream, the dream moves toward you.”  As I would receive inspirations in those subtle movements that were emerging, I would jot them down in my ‘idea file’.  As I researched the idea I would begin to move toward the dream as it moved to me.  Eventually, a project, product or process would gain shape and I would have my area to focus on.  I would find the resources to assist in making those ideas reality and one began to build upon the other.  That was my way of operating during this latter part of my career.

Becoming open to this new direction I’ve been on in beginning the PhD program, has been another type of process of movement.  As my professor Don Hanlon Johnson has said, there can also be “movement in stillness”.

As the pandemic brought the world and the Reiki work I was doing to a near standstill, I went deep within my own self, at first to grieve.

It was a very quiet, desolate, barren space of grief for the world I once knew.  The only movement I sensed was of any last pieces of the familiar falling away in a cast-off manner, like leaves on an autumn tree nonchalantly falling to the ground.  I felt called back to nature as the pandemic intensified.

I literally engaged in raking and mulching those leaves during much of the pandemic, dedicating the hours of time I now had not running a Reiki school into the pursuit of native plant restoration in my community and backyard.  As I moved my body to bend and flex in cultivating the land, I was creating a new path forward for myself.  I couldn’t see it at first, but the more I cleared away, the more it was revealed.  That is the same process now as I engage in readings, research and writing.  As I get my thoughts and words down at first I don’t have any idea on how it’s all going to make sense.  But I keep writing and editing and cutting and pasting and eventually, something sensible and coherent begins to form.  A new process, different than the one I relied upon decades before.  I am open to receive this new movement!

Copyright 2021 Eileen Dey Wurst

Photo credit: © Juergen Roth. All Rights Reserved.

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