Monday, March 3, 2014

Day 295 - Reiki

I have never experienced Reiki. Admittedly, the absence of Reiki in my life has largely been a result of my skepticism of the practice since I first learned of it in my teenage years. The idea of healing ailments and anguish through the control and application of an unseen force simply seemed too unrealistic to me. In my mind, any positive results of the practice were attributable to nothing more than a placebo effect caused by the patient’s belief the process would work. Stated plainly, there was no evidence a practice like Reiki could work in my mind, and I had no reason to pursue giving it a try.

Like many things I have experienced over the course of my “I have never...” year, I ultimately decided to put my reluctance surrounding Reiki aside when I learned of a primer and demonstration of the skill in Madison several weeks ago. Although I was a bit doubtful about what I could gain from the experience, I ultimately settled on the idea that something could be gained or learned from taking the time to sit through the course. As a result, I sifted through the dates of the class offerings until I found one that would fit in my “I have never...” calendar. With that, I scheduled my first experience with Reiki for this evening, and I headed to the meeting tonight wondering what I was getting myself into.

Finding the place
When I arrived for tonight’s event, I promptly made my way inside the dated office building to track down the location of the meeting. Inside, a small paper sign directed me up a flight of stairs and past a custodian working away at the vacant offices lining the hallway. Eventually, my path guided me to a dimly lit conference room near the front of the building. As I passed through the doorway, a young, brunette woman turned in her chair near the front of a table. In response to my presence, she smiled brightly at me, rose to her feet, and stretched out her hand. “Hi, I’m Sarah Barlow,” she said, gently shaking my hand, “and you must be Caleb.”

I confirmed that was the case as I moved toward the table and laid claim to a chair. To my surprise, there was no other sign of other attendees at that point, which made me somewhat wary the night’s event may end of being canceled. Noticing my assessment of the space around us, Sarah promptly spoke up. “I’m expecting one or two more,” She said as she checked her notes, “Regardless, we’ll have the meeting so you can learn more about the process. Relieved, I settled into my chair and sifted through some of the materials for the night’s event, doing my best to keep an open mind as we waited for the remaining attendees to arrive.

Sure, why not?
Several minutes later, a woman slowly walked into the conference room door and cautiously confirmed she was in the correct location for the meeting. Sarah was quick to confirm the case before welcoming the woman in and offering her a chair opposite my side of the table. “Is it just you?” Sarah asked the woman as she took her seat. The woman responded with a simple nod, which spurred Sarah to action. “Well, it’s a small group then. That’s ok, though. We’ll get started and help the two of you get to know Reiki better, ok?” I smiled in response to Sarah’s comments and directed my attention toward her location. Doing my best to stave off my uncertainty about what was about to come, I focused intently and prepared to learn about the art of Reiki.

To start, Sarah walked us through the history of the practice of Reiki and its traditional form of generational learning. She spoke of the origins of Reiki practice in the concept of Chi, and the mastery of taming that force for healing purposes that took root in Japan at the beginning of the practice. Explaining the lineage of her teachers leading into her ascension to a Reiki master, Sarah continued with a background of variations in practice that have refined techniques over the decades. As I listened, the history of the practice made it seem slightly more real in a way, but I was far from convinced it offered anything real for me to take away from the experience.

Some background on the practice
Acknowledging that might be the case, Sarah offered some Reiki demonstrations to the two of us in attendance. Unaware of what the process would entail, I deferred to the woman across the table who happily accepted the first of Sarah’s demonstrations. Over the next few minutes I watched as Sarah gently guided her hands just off the surface of the woman’s head and shoulders. Her eyes gently closed, Sarah moved from one point to the next, keeping her hands steady and her movements quiet. The woman did much the same, sitting still with her eyes held closed, breathing slowly as Sarah worked. I didn’t know quite what to make of what I was observing, but I did my best to understand the deliberation in each pass Sarah made over the woman’s body until the silence broke with Sarah’s conclusion of the demonstration.

I sat for a few moments as the woman across the table stirred back to an alert state. Curious about her thoughts on the experience, I leaned in slightly and waited for her to speak. “I saw colors,” the woman said quietly, “When your hands were over my head, I saw white and blue.” Sarah nodded slowly in response and explained such an experience is not uncommon for some people. As the woman spoke, I remained skeptical of the description she provided, but it quickly dawned on me that her awareness of Sarah’s hand movements through the air would have been next to impossible for her to determine during the course of the demonstration. Curious, I turned to Sarah with a puzzled look. “Would you like to try it?” Sarah asked me, smiling.

I paused for a moment, still trying to gauge the woman’s reaction to the experience. “Sure... I guess. I mean, what do I have to lose?” The women chuckled at my response before Sarah moved to my side of the table and took position behind me. “OK. Now, do you have any areas that need focus?” I shook my head at Sarah’s question and looked back at her. “Alright, look forward and close your eyes. I’ll see what I can pick up.” Following her direction, I turned my head back toward the woman across the table and slowly closed my eyes. Behind me, I heard slight sounds of fabric moving as Sarah began performing Reiki on my upper body. As I expected, initially I didn’t feel anything from her actions other than the relaxation that tends to come from closing one’s eyes in a quiet space.

For several minutes I simply sat still, doing my best to monitor if I could feel any change in the air around me with no success. The experience led me to begin disconnecting from my effort to find any credence to the idea of Reiki. With the lack of any feeling driving toward that swift conclusion, I took a deep breath and waited. Moments passed with no change until I heard Sarah move slowly behind me and reposition her hands over my body. Without explanation, a sudden wave of intense warmth consumed the crown of my head and persisted for some time. I didn’t feel a change internally, but the heat was greater than that of normal body temperature and it created a stemming toward my face. From it came an odd sense of clarity that was entirely unexpected. It was strange and unexplainable, and it left me in a state of wonder as Sarah brought my session to a close.

Reiki Master, Sarah Barlow and Me
Stepping away from my body, Sarah checked to see how I was. Somewhat reluctantly, I explained I was feeling normal, but that I noticed an increase in the temperature on the crown of my head toward the end of her task. Sarah simply nodded at my remarks. “I felt it too,” she said smiling, “There was a lot coming out of there. That usually indicates an active mind seeking to connect with higher consciousness.” I raised an eyebrow at her remarks. “It’s a good thing,” she said, continuing, “It means you are linked in to whatever is up there.”

The comments were interesting, but I still struggled to find truth in reasoning through the experience. As our meeting drew to a close I found myself puzzling over exactly what had happened in that moment and if Sarah words were to be believed. I knew I couldn’t explain exactly what had caused the sensation I had felt, but I wasn’t about to shed myself of skepticism over an energy healing practice. That stated, something happened in that room tonight, and it opened my eyes to the possibility Reiki might just have some merit.

Reeling from the unexplainable aspects of the night’s experience, I listened as Sarah thanked us for our attendance and drew the event to a close. In turn, I said my goodbyes and found my way back to my car, where I promptly set my body in the front seat. I sat for a few moments, curious about what the experience meant and doing my best to make sense of that brief moment I felt something I couldn’t explain. The cold starting to sink in, I finally decided I wasn’t going to be able to make sense of what had happened and I started my car. “Some things probably aren’t meant to be explained,” I said to the open air in an effort to reach some point of conclusion. That’s an unfamiliar feeling to me, but there is probably something great to be learned in that outcome.

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