As I gathered my thoughts together to begin writing about the Healing Prayer Mission at our church last February, I realized that to tell that story I had to go back to October 2008. Without the events of October 2008, we would not have had the Healing Prayer Mission this year. Back in 2008, I crossed paths with a fellow parishioner and friend, Guy, and he told me about a conference that was to take place in Jacksonville, Florida in a couple of weeks.
He knew that I was a Reiki Practitioner and that I referred to myself as a “healer”. The conference was a joint effort of the International Catholic Charismatic Movement and Christian Healing Prayer Ministries and was focused on today’s need for Christians to recognize that Jesus invited us, the church, to continue his work. “Those who follow Me will do not only the works I do but greater works.” (John 14:12-14) After speaking with, Guy I realized that the conference was a week long and would cost quite a bit of money. However, he gave me a name and number to call and invited me to trust.
The next day I called the number and told the gentleman on the other end of the phone that Guy had told me to call. He said, “Ah yes, you need a scholarship; I’ll see you at the conference”. I was blown away. This was no two cent deal. So a week later I attended my first day. I remember feeling a little cautious as I wasn’t quite sure whether I could handle this “charismatic” stuff. By lunch time I was raising my hands to the heavens and praising along side hundreds of strangers from countries all over the globe.
I thoroughly enjoyed the next few days. The people were joyous and worshipped God joyously. The presentations were both informative and interesting. I loved the informal music group and it was easy to begin to feel free and unrestrained as I learned to worship God in another way, no holds barred. Every evening at the end of all the presentations and teaching, Mass was said at 5pm by a different priest. Their were priests from all over the world in attendance and it was beautiful to experience the Mass celebrated by priests from different countries.
On the Thursday evening I had already planned to leave at the end of the presentations because there was an activity that I normally participated in with my Yoga group, and I didn’t want to miss it. However as 5pm rolled on I felt compelled to stay for Mass. I sat quietly waiting and the music group began playing the entrance hymn. People began singing and clapping. Suddenly I was aware of a wave of energy coming from behind me. I turned around and I’m sure my mouth must have gaped open.
There was a large colorful group of people coming down the center aisle. Men and women of different nationalities dressed in their native costumes swung down the aisle smiling, clapping their hands, and singing joyously. Bringing up the rear and rocking and rolling down the aisle was this tall priest who had an energy, a charisma about him that I have rarely experienced in a member of the clergy. As I watched the procession make its way down the aisle I was aware of one strong thought in my head: I have to get this priest to our church; we need this priest at our church.
By the end of Mass and after experiencing his wonderful homily, I was more than determined to make this my goal. My friend Guy was helping behind the scenes at the conference, so before leaving after Mass I sought him out and gave him my “mandate”: whatever you do please get contact information for this priest. And so it came about that Fr. Jim Curtin from St. Dennis’ Parish in Wisconsin came in 2010 to give us our first Lenten Healing Prayer Mission and returned again in Lent this year. My church has never been the same since and we now have our own blossoming Healing Prayer Ministry. Alleluia!!
About six weeks ago in my posting Going Raw- Part One, I wrote about the process I am going through to change from eating cooked foods to eating raw foods. This is all part of a bigger process that I have embarked upon in order to get as healthy as I can. The food area of my life is probably the last major bastion that I am attempting to overcome and, because it has its roots in my childhood, it is proving to be the most difficult.
However, there is another area of my life that I am addressing right now that is having a major impact on my health. This is in the area of exercise. Yes, I know, that’s a four letter word in my vocabulary too!!! I have been struggling with exercise for many years. Which is really annoying to have to admit when I remember being the athletic person that I was in school.
I played on my High School’s netball team (UK equivalent of basketball) in each year of school. In several of those years I was the team captain. I was fanatical about netball and just remembering it, I can feel my adrenaline level soaring. We played netball during the winter season, September through March, which meant we played twice a week as part of our class PE program and then the team would also practice once or twice a week after school. Matches were played on Saturdays.
After graduating from school I went on to a teacher’s training college, and sports and gymnastics continued to be part of the regular curriculum. During my second year of college I “went off the rails” and left to get married. A baby came along quickly and my new lifestyle was very alien to anything I had known up until then. Physical activities disappeared from my life.
Many years and a divorce later I attempted to return to some form of exercise. But I only hiccupped along in fits and starts. I tried aerobics but felt very clumsy and because I am not good at multi-tasking I simply did not have the coordination necessary. I tried working with a personal trainer but it proved to be too expensive, so I just gave up.
By now I had remarried and had another baby at age forty and had not been able to rid my body of the baby weight as I had when I was in my twenties. I think this was when I pretty much gave up on myself for a while and simply indulged in eating what I wanted. The weight slowly crept up. I remember pledging with myself that I would never allow myself to go over two hundred pounds. I sat at two hundred for a few years.
About fifteen years ago, while living in Naples, Italy, I met a wonderful yoga instructor and started practicing yoga with her. I loved the asana’s and working with the breathe. Moving slowly into and maintaining the poses under Meredith’s compassionate instruction, I began to feel somewhat reconnected with my body. “Sun salutations” became my passion along with the “fish” pose. My weight diminished some and I felt healthy for the first time in a long time.
Then in 2004 I moved to Jacksonville, Florida and, in hindsight, I realize that it took me about two to three years to make the big transition from my European culture to the American culture. My exercise pattern got lost in the shuffle for quite a while. Every once in a while I would make a half-hearted effort to implement a walking regime. I love being outside and walking puts me close to God’s creation which allows me to exercise my body and my soul. I also found a good Yoga studio and began going regularly again.
Then I had a shoulder problem. Had to quit yoga while I dealt with that and exercise got away from me again. Once the shoulder healed I finally pushed myself back into yoga but shortly after that I had a knee problem. Six months later I tried to get back into yoga again but found that it re-awakened the knee issue so quit. I tried walking again but the knee was just too much of a problem and, again, I found myself at that quitting-on-me stage.
One day at the beginning of this year I got on the scales and realized that my weight had bloomed to two hundred and sixteen pounds. I felt defeated and at an all-time low with myself. I made the decision to try and go raw – again (I had been dabbling with raw for a few years), or at least vegetarian. But underneath I knew that if I didn’t start exercising I would get nowhere fast. However, I simply could not get myself motivated to do it.
I think God took pity on me – again. He has a habit of doing that from time to time and when I get to the end of my rope, he offers me the beginning of His! But, as usual, He has a funny way of doing it. My husband was hospitalized toward the end of February with chest pains. Long story short: no heart problems but he was finally forced to look at high blood pressure and cholesterol issues and the doctors were serious when they told him to make lifestyle changes. Our diet swung drastically to mainly salads, lots of veggies and fruit, and we cut out most of the carbs.
Within a month or two we both lost weight dramatically. Then I hit a plateau and stayed there and got depressed. Underneath I knew the answer was exercise but I just didn’t want to have to deal with it. Again God came to my rescue in His usual round about way, and in July I was introduced to Wendy, a personal Pilates instructor. I wasn’t sure that I wanted to do Pilates because my only knowledge of this form of exercise was a memory of a friend who used to do it (a much fitter, younger woman!!!), and she would say things like “We were massacred at Pilates class tonight” or “I didn’t think I’d make it through the whole class today.”
I am grateful for the God-incidental way that I got to Wendy, for I’m sure I’d never have taken the leap otherwise. She is a compassionate but relentless instructor with a grand sense of humor. I told her where I was at and she said something like “I guess I’ll have to work you”. I have been doing Pilates twice a week with Wendy since about mid-July. I have pushed below my plateau, not a lot but enough. However what has happened to my body is nothing short of a miracle.
I have a level of sustained energy that I did not have before. My body is so much more flexible and feels very alive. There has been a shift in shape; I cannot explain it any clearer than that. The first major change that I noticed was one day when I went to do up the strap on a pair of shoes and realized I did not have to get into a certain position to “accommodate my stomach” as I leaned down! My tummy has definitely toned and my legs are so much more flexible. I can climb a flight of stairs without feeling breathless.
This week Richard and I are enjoying our traditional week of Thanksgiving in our time share in Orlando. Yesterday afternoon we went to Universal to watch the new Harry Potter movie (which was great by the way!). We walked around for a while before the movie and I noticed that I had no problem keeping up with Richard (he’s over six foot and has a long stride). Nor did I find myself getting breathless keeping up with him and, in fact, I felt quite invigorated. Today we went to Sea World and the same thing happened.
As I sit here typing this post I have to make a confession. I have been wanting to walk on a regular basis for about a month now. The reason I have not is because I did not want to feel tired and breathless or realize that I couldn’t keep a decent pace for long. Yesterday and today have shown me that I can get out there, keep a good pace, and feel really good. I know that this is partly because of the diet changes I have made as well as the regular exercising with Pilates. It is a total change of lifestyle that is allowing me to feel good about myself and to feel so much more healthy. This is what self nurturing is truly about.
Back in March in my posting Self Nurturing- More About Reiki I shared a few of the opening segments of my Simple Handbook about Reiki. In todays posting I would like to share a couple more of the segments. These specifically include a short outline of the history of Reiki and some information about Reiki today.
“THE HISTORY OF REIKI
If we want to go back to the true origins of Reiki, or healing touch, we should delve far back into history. There exist ancient Greek bass-relief wall sculptures that picture people practicing hands-on healing. Jesus Christ touched and healed during His three years of public ministry. And in ancient Tibet the Lamas (priests or monks) would meditate on healing symbols.
Coming forward to more modern times we have the history of what I choose to call the “rediscovery or resurgence of Reiki”. Dr. Mikao Usui (1862-1926) a Japanese gentleman is credited with this rebirth into Reiki. Although he was not a doctor by modern definition, he was given the title “Dr.” because he dedicated his life to healing.
Dr, Usui was married and had one child, and it is known that his business efforts created debt and disappointment. In an attempt to find peace of mind and heart Dr. Usui took a spiritual path in search of something greater. He regularly practiced meditation and in 1921 his dedicated spiritual search led him to make a 21-day retreat at Mt. Kumara.
It is said that during this retreat Dr. Usui experienced satori, a state of enlightenment. It was during this satori that he received the sacred symbols that are used in Reiki today. He was also given instructions on how to use them and encouraged to pass them on. During the rest of his life it is estimated that Dr. Usui taught Reiki to over 2,000 people and attuned a number of Reiki Masters/Teachers.
Reiki was introduced into the United States by Mrs.Takata who travelled from Hawaii to a Reiki clinic in Japan for physical healing. She had such a profound healing experience that she asked one of the Reiki Masters to teach her the healing art of Reiki. She was attuned as a Master in 1938 by Dr. Chiyiro Hayashi, returning to Hawaii shortly after and eventually bringing Reiki to America in the 1950’s.
Modern-day Reiki came out of Japan at a time when relations between America and Japan were strained to say the least. It is thought that Mrs. Takata was concerned that mainly Christian Americans would disdain/not believe in Reiki. Therefore many people think that Mrs. Takata created the story of Dr. Usui being Dean of a Christian University in Japan so that Reiki would be more acceptable to Americans.
Mrs. Takata was also said to be very concerned that Westerners would not respect and honor the discipline of Reiki as a great spiritual gift that should not be taken for granted. She realized that in the American culture if something did not have a price, it probably would not have a value. Mrs. Takata decided therefore to charge $10,000 to become a Reiki Master, $175 for Reiki I attunement, and $500 for Reiki II attunement. This created the understanding that Reiki is highly prized and valuable, and would also ensure that only those very serious about Reiki and its proper use would choose to pay that much.
Some Reiki Masters continue this tradition to today. However, most Reiki Masters/Teachers charge a much lower rate more in keeping with the everyday person’s financial possibility.
Reiki has branched into many different directions today and is taught in many different ways. I think the only caution that I would place before anyone wishing to be taught Reiki is to be wary of anyone who offers the student to go from zero to Master in a very short space of time. As the student learns about Reiki there has to be time to practice Reiki, to respect the Reiki energy, to become familiar with working with it before going to the next level. Most important of all there has to be time to cultivate great humility.
Why humility? As mentioned earlier in this Handbook, Reiki is a universal life energy or God energy. It is present and available to everyone who wishes to tap into it. A Reiki practitioner is someone who knows or intuits that they have a connection to energy, a propensity to work with the energy. That is usually why someone learns to do Reiki and is willing to become a channel for the energy to reach others in a healing process.
However, during a Reiki treatment the practitioner does not actually“do” anything. He or she is not the healer. The practitioner is someone who has chosen to make themselves available as a conduit that a Higher Source/God may use to channel the energy through to the person seeking healing. Ego needs to stay out of the way. This is another reason for living by the Reiki principles; so that we may work at being the purest channel we can become for the energy to flow through.
When looking for a Reiki Master/Teacher I think it is important to find someone who obviously lives out these Reiki principles in their daily lives. Some other qualities to look for would be sincerity, genuineness, respect in their interactions with others, and of course humility (not to be confused with submissiveness). And, obviously, it needs to be a person with whom you feel in tune, that you can relate to.
There are, unfortunately, some people who seek to become “experts”in any discipline via “weekend warrior” courses. One example that speaks to this with which I am familiar relates to Yoga. I know that a true Yoga teacher is someone who has immersed him- or herself into the practice and discipline of Yoga for several years. Only then does the individual have the necessary knowledge and experience of Yoga to be able to receive training as a teacher.
However, I know that some people have “jumped on the bandwagon” because of the explosive interest in Yoga in the last ten to fifteen years. I have had experience of people who teach aerobic classes in a gymnasium, for instance, who go off and do a “Yoga Teacher Weekend” and come away as “certified Yoga teachers”. This is usually tied up with money-making and greed (on the part of the people offering these weekend certifications), and is influenced by the “supply and demand”category of our Western culture.
Sadly this has also happened in the world of Reiki. The best advice I can offer is to talk at length with someone you are considering working with as your Reiki Master. Be alert and open to your own intuition. If you are on a focused, dedicated spiritual path your intuition will not deceive you. Sincerity, genuineness, respect, and humility will shine through a person who is on their own path of truth. And of course a positive recommendation from someone who you trust is always a plus.”
If you are seeking or questing on the spiritual highway of life, I hope you find these simple explanations about Reiki useful. Working with the energy is a beautiful experience and is also a gift and a privilege.