One hundred years ago this year, Mikao Usui, who had a wide variety of jobs behind him, and a business that had failed, fasted and meditated on Mt Kurama with An Jin Ryu Mei as his purpose. He was willing to die in order to achieve this state of complete peace we often call enlightenment. This level of surrender brought him An Jin Ryu Mei and the gift to recognise that the energy running so abundantly through him ran through all living things.. Reiki.
When he returned to Tokyo and experimented with using this energy to help people heal, he found the effects could be astounding. He discovered a way to teach others how to increase the flow and use this energy for themselves and others. When I look at the photo of him and his 20 male teachers, taken in 1926 (found in the books, This is Reiki and Light on the Origins of Reiki, it's not so easy to relate. They are all male, dressed in traditional Japanese kimono, and have lives so far away from us today. Some were high ranking Navy officers, others were educators, politicians or held other high-status professions. Their lives, in appearance, culture and circumstance were very far from most of ours in 2022.
What's important to remember is that though lives in former times and other countries may look different on the outside, the challenges we face are often very similar. We all at some point face the pain and turmoil of loved ones in ill health, or we face our own health challenges. While we, certainly in Europe, face a winter with increased bills, possible energy shortages and rising food prices, we can relate to those in Japan who practiced Reiki during the war and faced such shortages, sometimes to the point of starvation.
We see increasing division among people today, most apparent right now in the USA, and I wonder whether the men in the photo I mentioned were facing similar division. Certainly there were very different opinions about Japan's increasing militaristic approach in the world and we know what happened to Hayashi, who chose to end his life rather than help his country to attack Pearl Harbor. It is possible that some of his fellow naval companions in the Usui Gakkai quietly supported his decision, while others may have felt quite differently. The polarisation we experience now would have been present back then, whether to a greater or lesser extent. I wonder what they did with this and if they found unity within it?
What is quite different now, is the increasing ferocity of the effects of climate change worldwide. There is certainly change and challenge almost everywhere I look these days, on a personal, societal, national and global level. Change on this scale, even when faced with an open heart and a positive attitude, is challenging.
So, how can we use Reiki to help us face the challenges of our time?
Just keep using it, every day. Give yourself Reiki. Give those around you Reiki. I can't stress enough how much it will help you and your loved ones to cope with whatever changes and challenges are happening. Whether you are giving or receiving, it helps centre you, calms you down and enables you to take those much needed deep breaths as you move your focus to the present moment and look at what is needed right now. Even when we know this, we often forget to do it! Make it part of your everyday life. Just put your hands on whenever you can, for as long as you can. Head, chest, solar plexus and tanden (energy centre) are very good for centering and calming you.
Remember, it is worth giving to people who are very sick. It's easy to forget to do Reiki in the midst of things, or to feel so overwhelmed that it doesn't seem worth it when faced with a serious health issue. But even a little will help the person in so many ways. Giving more than a little - as much as you can - will not only be used by the person's body to help it come back into balance, but it will help their nervous system to relax, calm pain and soothe them emotionally, which is vital when anyone is dealing with illness. My mum has been very sick recently and I experienced this feeling of overwhelm, even though I have great trust in Reiki. I may not be able to use Reiki to cure her, but when I give her Reiki she has less pain, she sleeps better and feels less down. It's huge when someone is facing such a difficult time.
Take it day by day, moment by moment, as the gokai says. When life becomes stormy, inside or out, it is easy to feel lost in the deluge. The only way to get through relatively unscathed is to bring everything into the moment, mind and body (Kyo o dake wa - Just for Today). Whatever is happening, bring your whole focus into the present and deal with things one by one. Rather than getting lost in things you have no control over (shin pai suna - do not worry), look at what is possible and what you can or need to do right now (Gyo o hageme - do your duties). Day by day, hour by hour or moment by moment.
Connect with your body while giving yourself Reiki. One great way to bring yourself into presence is by 'feeling' your body from the inside. Put your awareness in each part of your body - feet, lower legs, knees, thighs, pelvis and so on - holding your focus until you begin to feel a tingling or aliveness in each area. Some are more difficult to feel than others at first, but over time you can really gain a great connection with your body and bring yourself into greater presence at the same time. I found after doing this for a while, I could begin to feel into each organ as well. Even doing this for a short time brings a great sense of lightness, awareness rejuevenation and presence. It has health benefits too.
Get together with others, we will only move forward together. We need to come together to support each other and get through the challenges we are all facing. This could mean making a small Reiki share with friends to give and receive each week, or you could get together to offer free or low-cost treatments to vulnerable people in your community. We are starting this in Kent, UK at the moment. Find the good news to be inspired by, the people already getting together to help each other and the world. These days, it seems we have to search this out as mainstream media rarely focuses on the incredible ways people are helping each other. I heard about a great sea-healing project in Cornwall, UK recently set up by one man. I find reading sites like this really help me to remember there are lots of people doing great things for each other and the planet. If you'd like to learn more about the simplicity of sitting together and supporting each other in these times, this man is one of the best teachers I know.
What if everything is happening FOR you, rather then TO you? Part of Usui's purpose in creating his Reiki method was to help us grow and connect to our spirituality. He was showing us one way to come into alignment with life, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Part of that alignment is the total acceptance of 'what is', which requires trust in life and the understanding that no matter how demanding things are, they are there for all of us, for us rather than against us. This is something many of us know about, but few people can fully embrace - understandably - because it's not easy in the midst of your most harrowing or challenging times to stop and consider such a thing! But, what if you were to stop and ask yourself the question... If X is happening for me rather than to me, how does that change things? It brings us right into the mindset that can set us free. In everything lies the possibility of awakening, so if I focus on my response to what is, rather than what I think about the situation, it suddenly has a whole different purpose. In this way, even the most terrible things in our lives can lead us forward.
We are in this together, and together is how we will get through.