The Reiki Principles encourage us to let go of worry and trust in the flow of life. This isn’t easy when we are in periods of significant change. Its in these difficult times that holding on to our spiritual practice – whether Reiki or meditation, can be our life raft.
Sometimes that bank of fog comes out of nowhere to rudely fracture our complacency. To shatter our illusions of certainty, of permanence and everything else we hold dear.
Once lost from sight there’s no way of knowing when or even if, our world will reappear again as before, or if we are entering an alien landscape from which there is no return to what was.
Sometimes we see the fog ahead of us and yet we keep right on walking till it engulfs us – obscuring our perspective, erasing all our reference points, until we lose sight of not only where we are but also, if it’s deep enough, of who we are. Somehow in that mist the memory of who we were is not enough to hang the flesh of who we are becoming, it’s too flimsy and ethereal, it’s substance eludes us.
Nor is there even an ‘ahead’ to aim for, to give some hope of a continuance of sorts. There is only the mist. The swirling, living mist. The unknown, the unknowable, the fumbling, the stumbling, the fear of the next step forward and the pain it could engender, the growing panic of the impossibility of going back, ever. Back no longer exists, other than in our memory, no matter how much we may long for it. We are lost. Alone and unreachable in the mist.
We know we must let go of one shore before we can reach the next.
We may cast off with confidence and set out for new horizons. But as the land behind us recedes and shrinks into the distance, eventually disappearing as if it never was, with still nothing ahead of us, we are in a no mans land of emptiness.
We are painfully present in the space between.
With nothing familiar to cling to, to comfort, to distract, to reassure. Nothing solid to go back to, nothing visible to head for, in a cocoon of potent being.
When the caterpillar gets heavy, tired, full and yet still unsatisfied by its eating, it slows down.
What previously motivated it no longer holds light. It may fight this state for a while before becoming exhausted, when it finally gives in and gives up. No longer able to struggle, it stops and surrenders to the beckoning oblivion, welcoming it at last, wrapping itself in a cocoon from the outside world, it lets go. It becomes a gelatinous mass.
When it succumbs to the darkness, the caterpillar can’t know that there is anything beyond. It can’t know that in that darkness, its molecules will be rearranged, reformed and realigned. It can’t know that the sadness of its own end heralds the beginning of the emergence of its wings. Sometimes it is the most difficult experiences that bring people to Reiki. At such times, Reiki can be a lifeline.
“grief is a house
where the chairs
have forgotten how to hold us
the mirrors how to reflect us
the walls how to contain us
grief is a house that disappears
each time someone knocks at the door
or rings the bell
a house that blows into the air
at the slightest gust
that buries itself deep in the ground
while everyone is sleeping
grief is a house where no one can protect you
where the younger sister
will grow older than the older one
where the doors
no longer let you in
― Jandy Nelson, The Sky Is Everywhere
We are mammals. All mammals’ brains have a ‘map’ of our territory. This map keeps us safe and secure. If you think of a mouse, it knows where all the likely sources of food are. It knows where to get water, where to go for companionship. It knows where the danger might lie and also has practiced escape routes to escape. That is why recent research showed that ‘humane’ traps don’t work as well as we might hope – relocating animals to a strange territory is totally disorienting and often results in their demise as they don’t know where to get their needs met or how to avoid predators.
We humans are the same. That’s why we are so disoriented in periods of significant loss. Our map is inaccurate. We literally need to update our brain to reflect our new circumstances. I noticed a while back that although I had moved my cupboard weeks before, I often still put my hand out to lean on it. If this is the case for something as insignificant as furniture, how much more affecting is the loss of a job, home, beloved pet or human? Even the positive changes can be challenging for this reason. We need to be very gentle with ourselves in such times. Have you ever tried to work on your laptop as it is updating? It is maddeningly slow and clunky. This is the same for our brains as they ‘update’ and adapt to our new circumstances. We literally need to build new neural networks. This process can’t be hurried and the more we resist and push ourselves, the longer it will take.
Reiki can help in 2 ways. I have found it to accelerate the process of rewiring the brain, but more importantly it can help us become aware of, accept and express our emotions. What we suppress remains. It is only in expressing how we feel, even just to ourselves, that we can move forward.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the lungs hold the energy of grief. I can’t count the number of times clients have presented with long term chest infections, only to tell me about a significant loss in their lives. Or sometimes in a session people will suddenly sit up and cough as if their lungs will fall out. The cough seems to come from nowhere, however, it is invariably deep grief being released.
According to the Buddha, Life is Suffering. We cannot avoid it. And suppressing it doesn’t make it disappear. But I have found Reiki to be an excellent companion on the journey of life. And I’ve always taken comfort in the quote from Kahlil Gibran; “The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.” Grief changes us. But while it may be the most painful experience we can have as a human, it can also free us to be who we never thought possible.