The non-Woo-Woo way to explain Reiki

In preparation for talking to the staff, volunteers and families at the Ronald McDonald House next week, it’s important to not present Reiki in woo-woo terms.  In fact, for any Reiki practitioner going into a mainstream setting, it’s important to use discernment in your description.

So here are some ways I have talked about it to the NASW (National Assoc. of Social Workers), the Seattle Veteran’s Center, in nursing homes and in corporate America:

“Reiki is a Japanese stress-reducing technique that calms the nervous system and brings the body and mind into balance.  A Reiki practitioner creates a supportive environment for the person or client receiving, so that they can relax and feel nourished and at ease.  Reiki means ‘Universal Energy’, which is similar to the oxygen that is all around us.  In Asian traditions, this is also called ‘prana’, ‘chi’ or ‘ki’.  This subtle substance flows through everything, just like oxygen, along what are called meridian channels in the human body.  Acupuncturists work with these channels also.  But a Reiki practitioner, instead of using needles, uses light touch to help promote the flow of ‘ki’.  A practitioner can work on or off the body because this ‘ki’ also flows around the body in what is called the ‘electromagnetic field’.”

At this point, I usually ask if anyone has any questions about the above statement.  And if there are questions, I keep the answers as scientific and to-the-point as possible.  Having some knowledge of existing Reiki research and studies as well as practical applications (use in wound-healing, management of PTSD, etc.) is helpful.  The Center for Reiki Research has free studies available online.

Then, I have individuals perform a ‘chi ball’ exercise in their hands, sensing this subtle substance.  Next, I have them work with another person to see if they can perceive another person’s chi or electromagnetic field.

Discussing Reiki in a non-Woo-woo way involves a delicate balance of discussion and experiential exercises.

Too much dialogue and Reiki becomes almost meaningless, like talking about oxygen and what it can do for one’s body without actually going through the experience of taking a breath.

Be prepared for people hearing about Reiki for the first time to give you questioning and doubting looks.  Don’t be thrown off by it.  But realize, for many people, this is a very new concept.  Take yourself back to beginner’s mind.

Use discernment with the group you are speaking to.  Have respect for their culture and beliefs.  If one way of describing Reiki doesn’t work, try another.  For those with strong Christian beliefs, http://www.christianreiki.org provides some biblical text to help explain.

Remember, you can’t force an understanding of Reiki.  It’s not a religion, it’s not even a philosophy.  It’s a practice.  Like meditation, like yoga, like breathwork.   With patience, and active listening of your audience, eventually they will come to have their own understanding.

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