Chiyoko Yamaguchi and Byosen
Updated: May 21, 2022
My memories of Chiyoko sensei’s enthusiasm and gratitude for Reiki continue to inspire me as I give treatments and pass on the wonderful things she taught. One thing that has stuck with me so strongly is her clarity around the importance of byosen and I’d like to explain a little about it here and how she learned that it was a vital part of giving Reiki treatments.
The word ‘byosen’ comes from two Japanese kanji characters Usui sensei used to describe the build up of toxins in the body. ‘Byo’ can mean several things depending on the context. Usui used it because it can mean ‘ill’ or ‘toxic’. He used ‘sen’ because it means ‘lump’ or ‘gland’. In creating the word, ‘byosen’, he wanted to describe the toxins or stiffness that can gather in any part of the body creating blockages. Byosen blocks flow in the body - this can be blood flow, lymphatic flow and of course as a result, energetic flow.
I remember Chiyoko sensei describing her first Reiki seminar with Dr Chujiro Hayashi in 1938. Her eyes would shine with awe when she spoke about it. She recounted how humble she felt and how inexperienced she was compared to the others, who were all much older than her. Some had already taken the seminar once or twice before, so they were much more confident than her but she had some family members there which helped her feel a little more comfortable. Her aunt was one of the helpers giving instructions to the participants and her sister was there repeating the seminars. She spoke of Hayashi sensei giving lectures in the mornings and then having treatment practice with him in the afternoons. During these sessions with people, who had health issues, she and the other participants would concentrate intently in an effort to feel the byosen sensations that Hayashi sensei had described.
Hayashi sensei taught that when a Reiki practitioner puts their hand on a part of the body that has byosen, they feel certain sensations in their hands. These sensations - for example, tingling or fizzing, throbbing and even aches and pains that can stay in the hand or be felt further up the arm - are a vitally important source of information for the Reiki practitioner. They indicate where the blockages are and their peaks and troughs tell us how quickly these toxins or blocks are breaking down,thereby letting the practitioner know where to place their hands and how long to keep them there. If the level of byosen remained high for the whole treatment, the practitioner knew he or she must come back to that area again straight away in the following treatment. Chujiro Hayashi had a Reiki centre in Tokyo where people could often receive treatments from two practitioners at a time and they worked according to the byosen sensations they felt in their hands. Chiyoko sensei learned that when two people worked together one person would have their hands on the head throughout the treatment because it is such an important area (most people have a lot of byosen in the head) while the other person found the most prevalent areas of byosen in the body and worked there.
Hayashi sensei was very clear about the importance of learning to feel the sensations associated with byosen. His students were encouraged to practice until they could feel byosen with confidence.Chiyoko sensei was strict with us when she taught too. She stressed that it was difficult to give a proper treatment without using the information byosen sensations give us because they are such a strong indication of how quickly an illness or problem is moving from the body. Once the levels of byosen have gone right down and stay down, the body is coming back into balance and returning to a healthful state. I found it difficult to feel the sensations at first, I wasn’t tuned into my body and I certainly wasn’t used to being still enough to focus on subtle sensations in my hands. Nevertheless, she calmly encouraged me as I struggled and sweated over the fact that I couldn’t feel anything other than a little heat and slight tingling sometimes. Most people can feel the byosen sensations a little after their first workshop, then with practice, they get more confidence and it eventually it becomes second nature.Some people I have taught find they feel it easily even after the first day! However, a few of us - I’m in this group - take longer. It was a good few months before I got what Chiyoko sensei was trying to help me understand. I had to stop trying so hard, struggling to make something happen. Finally, something changed in me. I relaxed, lay my hands on and ‘listened’ to them - and there it was. The subtle sensations fizzing in my palms that over time, became more obvious to me until I could easily tell if an area needed more treatment or not.
A woman from Kent, UK who recently came to learn Jikiden Reiki with me, wrote about her experience with byosen just one week after learning:
“I had lots of tingling and heat over her kidneys for nearly the whole hour and then at the bottom of her spine my hand felt so numb with pins and needles that went up my arm to my elbow! When I said this to her, she said she had been born with a hole in the bottom of her spine that has never closed up. Its quite rare and causes spasms sometimes! How weird that I could feel that.”
It does feel weird to start with, yet after just a short while, it becomes the mainstay of Reiki practice. Chiyoko Yamaguchi treated people with Reiki for more than 60 years, she had a wealth of experience and nothing seemed to phase her. It can feel quite strange treating someone with a serious condition and feeling pain that reaches up your arm, but she knew that it wasn’t a problem and taught, as Hayashi sensei did, that you are not receiving anything bad, it is simply a sensation. And a valuable source of information!