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  • Writer's pictureAntonia Higgins

Reiki and being person-centred

Reiki heart and hands

Reiki seems to be quite in vogue at the moment. Or perhaps I've just become more open to hearing about it. Either way I've been aware that several people that I know (friends, colleagues, others) mention it and talk about the healing benefits they feel from it, both emotionally and physically. So today I had my first experience of it - both receiving and giving - by doing Reiki 1.

I have to say, I am a sceptic, but the opportunity came to me and I decided to face it with an open mind and an open heart and just see where today led me. It was an interesting journey. Reiki 1 is an initiation into the therapy by a Reiki Master carrying out a series of attunements that include using sacred symbols. These are meant to open channels of healing energy in you that you can then pass on to others through chakras or energy centres. The rational part of me (which is pretty big!) even finds the mystical notions and language associated with reiki difficult to believe in. So this was a pretty big test of my open-mindedness!

Part of my journey today was curiosity about whether I could get some of the healing benefits other people report for myself. Another part was about just having the experience of reiki so that I understand it from my own point of view to help me understand the draw of it for other people. And yet another was to think about it in relation to the person-centred approach and whether there are any connections for me between the two; anything I might take from it and add to my internal toolkit that could be of help in my client work and group facilitation.

Being honest, I genuinely didn't expect to feel much at all today. How can hands hovering over an area of the body create any kind of sensation; effect any kind of change? But, as it turned out, today held some surprises. The first attunement brought strong sensations in my hands - feeling stuck together and like electric currents were running through my fingertips, followed by a pulsing like a 'heartbeat'. The second brought bright white light to my closed eyelids, and then visualisations of bright colours. And the third brought a flush of intense heat right through my body so strong that it was quite uncomfortable.

The reiki treatment I had myself was very relaxing. I felt some heat over a couple of areas (chakras) but nothing intense. The biggest benefit of it for me was the relaxation. And it seemed that the treatment I gave had the same effect. I've really taken to the idea of using the symbol we learned as a way of giving myself, my space and other people positivity. This is one part I've been able to accept easily.

And as for connections between person-centredness and reiki? I can make some. Before offering reiki you ground yourself and state your positive intention (to yourself). This reminds me of my ethical intention as a counsellor to put my client's needs at the centre of the process and to work for their good always. In the counselling room I am very aware of my gut feelings and how strong they can be. One of the areas that I felt heat during my treatment was in the Sacral Chakra are which relates to gut feelings and creativity. That could be coincidence, or it could have meaning. I'm choosing to keep my mind open on that front and might explore that for myself a bit more. Physical barriers of crossing hands/limbs are discouraged in reiki because it disturbs the flow of energy, and this feels similar to the importance of the absence of physical barriers in counselling rooms that can be perceived as a barrier to communication. And then there are some of the perceived benefits of reiki which are similar to some the benefits of counselling: release of stresses and emotions, better sleep, development of a more positive attitude and enhancement of personal growth.

I ended my reiki experience feeling relaxed and still curious. I'm not sure whether I will take my reiki journey any further and I certainly believe it has limitations, like all things. Some of its aspects and philosophy may end up as part of me, and some probably won't. But I've definitely learned that there's value in setting scepticism to one side to broaden my experience. Every day's a school day!

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