My first brush with Reiki happened in the shape of a small miracle. My mother was laid up in bed with severe damage to the sciatic nerve which starts in the small of the back and goes all the way down to the feet. She had been lying in bed – 24 hours a day – for more than a month. She could not even sit up in bed. We had been told she needed surgery and, if the surgery were successful, she might be able to move around in a wheelchair. We were also told that it was delicate surgery and, if it went wrong, she might be paralyzed.
While we were waiting for the surgery, my cousin suggested Reiki. We had never heard of this, but my mother said she would like to try it. So my cousin contacted a Reiki healer she knew who began to do distance Reiki. Once or twice a day my mother would tell us she could feel energy moving along her legs and feet. My father and I assumed it was "all in her mind." We were happy she was more cheerful, even though we were sure it was false hope.
Were we ever in for a shock! In just over a week, Mum was walking around on her own two feet – no surgery, no wheelchair, no walker, no nothing. Just her two feet. The orthopaedic surgeon, who like us had never heard of Reiki, said he had never seen anything like it and had no explanation for it.
What is this energy?
This incident aroused an intense curiousity in me and I determined to find out all I could about Reiki. This was not easy as Reiki was not as popular in Asia then as it is now. And some of my reading raised more questions than it answered. But slowly, I began to understand: it is an energy, accessible to all, that heals and removes blockages to growth. It clears one's mind and lifts one's spirits. It helps us to be calm and peaceful, restoring our natural balance and bringing us into harmony with ourselves.
I discovered that the Reiki lineage goes back to Dr. Mikao Usui, who meditated on a mountain near Kyoto for 21 days before he found the energy he called Reiki, a Japanese word that can be translated as Universal Life Energy. I found out that anyone can access this energy with the help of a Reiki practitioner and that anyone can become a practitioner after a brief initiation and training by a Reiki Master. There are three levels of Reiki learning, with Reiki Master as the highest level.
It would be several years before I myself would become a Reiki Master. Along the way, I would engage in spiritual studies, both formal and informal, develop an interest in Sufi poetry, read Zen teaching stories, meet the Dalai Lama, and suffer great personal loss.
When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.
In late 1998, I moved from Jakarta, Indonesia, to Manila, Philippines. One day, in casual conversation, one of my new Filipina friends told me about a massage centre where one could also learn yoga. "Do they also teach Reiki?" I blurted out. My friend, of course, had never heard of Reiki. Nevertheless, she gave me the number of this centre and the next day I was talking to possibly the only Reiki Master in the Philippines at that time! And so it was that I received my Levels 1 and 2 Reiki initiations in Manila and did Reiki for several years for family and friends.
Once I started Reiki, I found myself more interested in spiritual matters too. My reading habits changed drastically at this time, with a growing emphasis on spirituality, mysticism, and alternative therapies. I read about Buddhism, Sufism, the Bhakti movement of India, about near-death experiences and past life hypnosis. I studied pranic healing in the Philippines and attended a seminar in New York that was addressed by world-famous past life therapist Brian Weiss and the equally renowned medium James Van Praagh, among others. I seized an opportunity to meet the Dalai Lama.
Not all the learning came through happy or easy experiences. I suffered great personal loss when my nephew died suddenly at 20. This was undoubtedly the most difficult time of my life – and yet it brought amazing experiences. I had personal experience to show me that the soul lives on after the body dies. I felt the presence of my nephew several times in very real ways, often as an energy inside me that would cheer me up in the midst of tears so that I would be crying and laughing at the same time. I had the most vivid dreams in which he expressed his love and let me see that he was fine. He referred to incidents in his life that I had not been aware of, but which my sister was able to confirm.
To help other members of the family heal, I frequently channelled Reiki energy to them. They reported that my hands would feel warm, even hot, to them and they would really feel themselves start to heal. Sometimes they would feel a black cloud lift from them. Reiki was one of the things that sustained us through this period, along with our closeness as a family.
As life moved back to a more even keel, I returned to work and everyday pursuits. I kept up my Reiki, for myself and others. I started to feel more confident of my ability to open myself to this energy so that I could channel it to myself and others. I also started to feel myself get more in tune with my intuition.
Finding my path
Once again I moved cities, this time to Singapore. Life was chugging along, I was doing more and more Reiki for friends and friends of friends, but still informally. Then one day a friend phoned me to say she had booked a place for herself for a presentation on energy healing (not Reiki), but she had to go out of town. Since I was interested in energy healing, would I like to go in her place?
I did. And that's how I met my second Reiki teacher, the one who would teach me the highest, Reiki Master's level, and who would vastly expand my understanding of Reiki, of holistic healing principles in general, and their connection with spiritual growth. Reiki Master Sally Forrest (http://www.soulcentre.org/) taught me along with spiritual master Vikas Malkani for several months before Sally initiated me as a Reiki Master.
Having met Vikas through Sally, I realized he had much more to teach me. I began to study the Bhagavad Gita with Vikas. The Gita, an ancient Indian text filled with spiritual insight and wisdom, opened my eyes to new possibilities and new ways of looking at life and at myself. With Vikas as my guide, the study of the Gita brought a new depth and understanding to my spiritual practice.
As the old saying goes: when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.
A Growing Commitment to Reiki
Although I had been eager to learn the deeper teachings of the Reiki Master's course, I had not expected it to change the nature of my Reiki practice very much. Since I planned to return to a full-tiime job almost as soon as I had finished the course, I assumed I would continue to limit my practice to family and friends in the foreseeable future.
I did, indeed, return to full-time work, once again in Manila. The job kept me busy as did some family responsibilities. Yet there was something missing in my life. At the same time, I found myself talking often about Reiki to people I met at work or at social gatherings. It felt as if every other person I met could do with an energy boost – and many of these people seemed ready to try Reiki.
So it was that six months after I had finished my course, I found myself starting a "week-end" Reiki practice so that I could bring this energy to those outside my circle of family and friends. The response was amazing.
People came for Reiki energy to counter stress and illness, to help them make better decisions, to accelerate their spiritual development. When they learnt that I worked through the week as well as doing Reiki at the week-end, many asked how I coped – did I not feel tired and low on energy myself?
The amazing thing was that the more Reiki I did, the more energy I seemed to have. The first time I did a full day of Reiki, I was so energized I could not sleep that night. I started making sure I centered myself before and after healing so that my own energies stayed grounded.
I realized that the only thing I really needed to do was to open myself up as a channel for the flow of Higher energies. Over time, I learnt to be more open and more observant. Quite often now I would feel energy flowing in through the top of my head. I sensed issues that my clients needed to address, I felt my hands being guided to particular spots on the client's body. Sometimes I heard, or sensed, messages. My week-ends were full of adventure, with new experiences – new ways of feeling energy, of helping people, of being open to messages that helped them and me.
Coming full circle
I could no longer imagine my life without Reiki. And I felt that I could not keep the knowledge of this wonderful Reiki energy to myself. Drawing on my previous experience as a journalist, I began to write about Reiki and I accepted invitations to speak about it at public gatherings. Soon I began teaching Reiki, initially at Levels 1 and 2, and eventually also at Reiki Master's level.
Two years after I had started my "week-end Reiki practice" I resigned from my "regular job" so I could do Reiki full-time. I added meditation classes and sessions, and counselling, to my now full-time practice.
After years of channelling Reiki energy to my parents, I offered to teach them to do it for themselves. They accepted and I initiated them into Level 1 Reiki. I felt honoured to teach my parents, who had taught me so much when I was younger. They, I suspect, were proud to have me teach them.
Whenever I saw my mother doing Reiki, I would remember how I started down this path which has brought so much joy and satisfaction to me over the years. I would give thanks to my mother, to the practioner who first sent her Reiki energy, and to the Source of this beautiful, nurturing, loving energy.