“And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

So, why is there a piece about Reiki on a psychotherapy website?

Let’s set out some background. Whatever particular skills and theoretical enthusiasms the therapist has, the helping relationship in therapy becomes a vehicle in which clients can encounter themselves, progressively becoming free of intrusions, introjects and limiting self-attributions which have resulted from discouraging experiences. Fundamental to therapy is a therapist’s attunement to the client. Attunement is greater the more the therapist is prepared to openly encounter him/herself.

“You can’t lead anyone else further than you have gone yourself,” opined Gene Mauch. To stick to the letter of that statement would disqualify those in the helping professions from attempting to help whole swathes of people (and we might raise an eyebrow at “lead”), but the spirit of the statement is important. It is to me self-evident that we can not help someone to go further than we are prepared to go ourselves: we have to be prepared to encounter ourselves as fully as any client might do in therapy. It would follow that a therapist who is not prepared to encounter their own physicality, and not prepared to work with their own difficulties on a visceral level, as our clients do when therapy is powerful, is an inadequate therapist.

There are many different routes to encountering one’s own physicality beyond body orientated therapies. Yoga in all its variants, martial arts (hard/soft, external/internal), body-based meditative experiences are all useful in and of themselves and in the project of being a body aware therapist. That short list of potential activities is far from exhaustive.

One body-based activity which can offer profound experiences in itself and which I have found invaluable in exploring different levels of self is Reiki.

To paraphrase the First Degree Reiki Training Manual of Manawa Ora, Reiki means universal life force energy. It flows through all living beings and is present in some form in everything that exists. It goes by various names: Ki, Chi/Qi, Prana, Light/Spirit. The Reiki practitioner is a channel for the healing energy and not the source: the client absorbs the Reiki in ways which his/her system needs in order to heal.

Reiki encourages a suspension of self in being a conduit for healing of others. The suspension of self, however, is not a loss of self-awareness but a shedding of the belief that the therapist is the fount of all healing. Self-awareness is enhanced as the practitioner encounters processes of change which are both within the client and beyond the therapist. Those processes of change are given time and space in which to work in the encounter, and change occurs as directed by the recipient’s deep mind/body system. It’s interesting that psychotherapeutic systems, particularly those categorised (sometimes perjoratively) under “Energy Psychology,” have been drifting more evidently in this direction.

“There is more wisdom in your body than in your deepest philosophy.” Friedrich Nietzsche.


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