I would attempt to explain that “Reiki is a gentle method of stress reduction that involves light touch”. That seemed simple enough. But then, they wanted to know why the energy felt so strong? Where did it come from? How come it seemed to be healing not only their immediate headaches, but also granting a sense of peace? Aah, now, how was I going to explain this?
And so began the process of learning to become an effective speaker and teacher of Reiki.
I’ve found it helpful to have a collection of short statements to explain Reiki, for those times when you are in an elevator or at the checkout counter or speaking to your bank teller and they ask the ubiquitous question, “What is Reiki?”
Having a 30 second answer
A very simple, straightforward answer to assist with that question I have found is: “Reiki is like acupuncture without needles”. Most people know what acupuncture is, and that statement seems to either give the inquirer enough to satisfy their curiosity or can be a segue into a whole discussion about the Reiki system itself. You can use the basis of acupuncture as a starting point, because the needles inserted into various points along the meridian channels stimulate the flow of chi, which assists the body and mind to coming into balance, just as Reiki does, hence, without needles.
I like the acupuncture statement better than one aligning Reiki with massage, because although a client may lay on a massage table in receiving a Reiki treatment, there is no physical manipulation of the fascia. And clients remain clothed. The massage analogy can end up complicating your own conversation, so I’d recommend steering clear of that analogy.
Another short statement can be “It is a hands-on-healing technique that facilitates stress reduction through a calming of the nervous system”. That is a pretty straight-forward and concrete answer and might be used in conjunction with the other listed above.
Longer answers: preparation and practice
You begin to discern who your audience is and what their needs are when they ask you questions. Being prepared with opening statements, like the ones mentioned above, begins to facilitate dialogue.
Next, I would recommend writing down several of your own personal or client stories and practice telling them to yourself or your friends. You might even want to record yourself so you hear what you sound like. In a way, you are doing your own “Reiki rehearsal” just as an actor would in getting comfortable with the lines of their play.
I’ve had several professional videos recorded of me explaining Reiki on YouTube. It’s a great way of getting your message out there as well as critiquing your own presentation style. When I look back at those videos, I realize what I needed to have done in several of them was have more of an outline of what I was going to talk about and being a bit more specific in tailoring my talk to a general audience.
I learned from that ‘rehearsal’ and began to customize several of the ways in which I discuss Reiki. For instance, talking about Reiki to professionals of a certain field, such as doctors or nurses, it’s important to back up your talk with scientific research and specific case studies. Talking to a group of seniors or to veterans, they might also want research and specific applications to help their own concerns like chronic pain or disease.
I would advise a review of the studies that have been done on Reiki. A great resource is http://www.centerforreikiresearch.org.
Presenting to a group of individuals who are already familiar with Reiki, such as at holistic and new age bookstores and centers, the audience might want to know how Reiki is different than Healing Touch, or Shiatsu.
I found during my Reiki book tour which logged over 10,000 miles and 20 book stores, that each group I presented to had unique questions. I would review my book as well as make a list of various talking points before presenting at each store.
My group, Reiki Fellowship, also participated in monthly Reiki blessings of the Duwamish River in Seattle over 6 months. Each time we met, I would give an introduction on Reiki, the work we are doing as well as answer any questions related to environmental Reiki.
Just like the system of Reiki itself, an effective speaker becomes a master through constant practice.