In this article I want to talk about Mindfulness and Compassion, which I believe are two essential components of Reiki practice. Whether we are treating others, working on ourselves, empowering others or living our lives with Reiki, we should grow to embody those two states, the essence of the Reiki precepts.
According to Usui Sensei’s surviving students, Mikao Usui introduced his students to the practice of mindfulness at First Degree level, and emphasised this more at Second Degree level. According to the Concise Oxford Dictionary (9th Edition), to be mindful is to take heed or care, to be conscious. Mindfulness or being mindful is being aware of your present moment. You are not judging, reflecting or thinking. You are simply observing the moment in which you find yourself, fully aware. Moments are like a breath. Each breath is replaced by the next breath. You are there with no other purpose than being awake and aware of that moment.
So mindfulness is a state of living in the moment, of being relaxed, calm and fully engaged in what we are doing. Mindfulness is being fully aware of what is happening right now and giving ourselves completely to our task without distraction. By learning how to enjoy and be in the present moment we can find peace within ourselves.
Like precepts, mindfulness is largely associated with Buddhism and it is a meditative practice that is not reserved for special meditation sessions: it is a practice that you can embrace as part of your daily life and when carrying out routine and mundane tasks.
The best guide that I have found to the use of mindfulness as part of your daily life is the following book, written by Thich Nhat Hanh: “The Miracle of Mindfulness” and I recommend that all Reiki practitioners and teachers obtain a copy and practise being mindful during their daily activities.
I believe that Mikao Usui’s precepts are all about mindfulness, and that when we are exhorted by the precepts to “just for today” release anger and worry, we are being guided to exist as far as we can in a mindful state. Anger and worry are distractions, you see, and if we can exist in the moment by being mindful then we will not dwell on the past and beat ourselves up for things that did not go the way we wanted, and we will not dwell on the future, perhaps worrying about things that have not yet happened. We can learn to release our attachments to the past and the future and just “be” now, content and accepting in the moment, by learning to be mindful.
The final precept, that of being “compassionate towards ourselves and others” is for me an exhortation to be gentle with ourselves, to be patient, to be light-hearted, to not take ourselves quite so seriously and above all to be forgiving – first of all of ourselves but also of others. By accepting and forgiving ourselves we start to release our anger and our worry, and move towards a state of contentment in the moment.
The original system was a spiritual path, a path to enlightenment, and the precepts were what Usui Sensei’s system was all about. These principles are a foundation for everything we do with Reiki: the states of mindfulness and compassion arise from following the precepts and from working with Reiki.
For example, how do we feel when we carry out a Reiki treatment? Treating someone with Reiki is a special, special gift. We feel a closeness, an intimacy, a merging with the recipient; we receive trust and we experience compassion. Ideally we should just be there in the moment, with the energy, with the recipient, with no expectations. We do not treat someone with the intention to resolve their health problem or eliminate their headache. We just merge with the energy and allow Reiki to do its work; we create a sacred space for healing to occur. If our mind wanders, as it may do, then we notice this and gently but firmly bring our attention back to the present and what we are doing. We become one with the energy as it flows through us, we become one with the recipient, and we experience that blissful contentment in the moment. When we treat we are mindful: we are an observer, not a participant.
Though some are taught that you can hold a conversation with someone as you treat, or watch television at the same time, this really will not lead to the best being given to the recipient. To be the most effective channel we can be, we need to be there with the energy, fully and gently engaged in our work, giving ourselves fully to the task without distraction.
Those same principles apply when working on ourselves, whether carrying out Hatsurei ho or self-treating. The state we should seek to achieve is that of being fully engaged in the endeavour, of being with the energy without distraction, merged, aware and simply existing in the moment, with a gentle feeling of forgiveness, love and compassion towards ourselves.
So both Mindfulness and Compassion are fundamental to our life with Reiki, fundamental to the Reiki precepts, to working on others and working on ourselves. Not surprisingly they are also an essential component of the transmission of Reiki to another person through carrying out Reiju empowerments. Reiju is the ‘connection ritual’ that Usui Sensei used, and taught to his surviving students. It is simple, elegant and powerful, free from the clutter and detail that surrounds most Western attunement styles. When we perform Reiju we have no expectations: we are there in the moment with the energy, following the prescribed movements. We are relaxed and fully engaged in what we are doing, aware of what is happening right now, and we give ourselves completely to our task without distraction. That is the essence of Reiju, the essence of treatments, the essence of the precepts, and the essence of our life with Reiki.