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Reiki practice quadrupled in a decade? Maybe more!

When I first started to actively market my Reiki practice, 11 years ago, maybe 1 in 20 – 30 people had even heard of it.  Now, most people I meet at least know of someone who does, and likely has a relative or family member who has learned it.

Back then, I joined a great online community — the Reiki Cafe, people all over the world sharing their experiences, questions and opinions.  We were very excited when the number of members reached 7,000.  Now, Pamela Miles’ Facebook page “Reiki, Medicine and Self-Care” has 38,000-plus followers, while the “Reiki” page has 24,000.

If you did a Google search on “Reiki” back then, you’d get a little over a million hits — pretty respectable.  Now, it’s over 37 million.

Mrs. Takata, the teacher who brought Reiki to the West, had a vision that it would become “as common as aspirin”.  I used to predict it would become a household word like yoga was becoming early in the last decade.  It appears we were both right.

What accounts for the incredible growth of this healing art?

Here are my speculations:

– It is quick and low-cost to learn.

– It helps people feel better, sometimes profoundly.

– To learn to teach it to others, is relatively quick and low-cost, compared to other healing modalities.

– In medical settings, it has no known contraindications.

– You can do self-treatment as easily as treating others.

– In a touch-starved world, it gives a way to receive gentle hands-on comfort, without hidden agendas.

– It does not require any complex or dogmatic belief system, to practice.

– Anyone can do it, from children to frail elders, from athletes to wheelchair-bound or bed-restricted.

These are all powerful reasons for Reiki’s continued popularity and explosive growth.

If I had to pick one that matters the most, both for its growth, and as a reason for learning Reiki, I would have to say the self-treatment ability.  I spend a lot of time and words, teaching and promoting Reiki self-treatment.  It is the core of the practice.  You take time out, every day, to put your hands gently on yourself, and simply take care of yourself.  That, all by itself, is a powerful example to set for yourself and others.  More on self-treatment in future posts.

Now, I can see this has become a rah-rah “it’s all good” kind of puff piece.  And there is a lot to rah-rah about.  One future musing may have to do with “why is Reiki practice coming to the fore now?”.  On the other side, I may also write about some of the challenges that come with its popularity, such as permission issues, extravagant claims, and opposition to Reiki from various quarters.

But for now, I’ll just pause and contemplate the above, and take heart.


Tommy’s Heart Tap

A gift for you, if you’re not trained in Reiki (yet).  Originally published in the Community Leader from Falmouth, Maine in 2006.

Tommy’s Heart Tap – Pain Relief at your Fingertips

               Working late at the office one day, in my former career, I wandered by my friend Tom Hopkins’ cubicle and found him also working late.

“How are you doing, Tommy?”  I asked him.

“Oh, man, not so good – my teeth are killing me!”  He held his jaw with one hand and keyed his computer with the other.  “Can you do that Reiki thing on them?”

If I did Reiki for him, that would help for a while, but what if the pain returned later?  I wanted to give him something he could use to help himself.  I had been using Reiki instead of novacaine at the dentist for a couple of years, and had been amazed and gratified by my heart’s ability to bathe my teeth in loving warmth while they were being drilled (many thanks to Dr. Alex Hutcheon in Yarmouth for letting me experiment with this – he is a kind and gentle dentist who does not like to see his patients in pain).   No time to teach Reiki right now, but what if – ?

“Tommy, try this as an experiment.  Just tap with your fingertips over your heart, right on your sternum.  While you’re tapping, ask your heart to give you relief from the pain.  Ask your heart, out loud, as if it’s a separate person, to do this for you.  Keep tapping and asking, and I’ll come back around in a little while to see how you’re doing.”

I left Tommy tapping his heart, went upstairs to file some paperwork, then swung by his desk as promised.

“That was amazing!” he said as soon as he saw me.  “After I tapped for a while, I could feel my heart beating in my teeth, and then after that, the pain went away completely.”

I stared at him, stunned.  I had thought he might a get a little relief, but to have the pain go away completely, that was indeed amazing.

Thus was born Tommy’s Heart Tap, a simple, straightforward technique to relieve your own pain.  Tommy used it some weeks later to help with shoulder pain.  Another friend at the office went to her dentist appointment, tried it there, and told me afterwards, “that was amazing!”.

We all have pain from time to time.  Many of us have chronic physical or emotional pain.  We try to relieve our pain any way we can, whether with traditional medical approaches, exercise, meditation, legal or illegal drugs, alcohol, even lashing out to give our pain to others.  Some approaches work better than others, some are counter-productive.  Tommy’s Heart Tap is quick and simple, and it’s worth a try before you use more risky methods.

Here are the instructions.  Do this in a spirit of exploration and curiosity – everyone’s experience will be different.  Caution:  if you’re under a doctor’s care, follow his/her instructions.  If you have unexplained pain, you need to see your doctor.  Tommy’s Heart Tap does not replace qualified medical care.  You use Tommy’s Heart Tap at your own risk.

  1. Make sure you’re not driving, operating hazardous machinery, or otherwise distracted.  This is the time to focus totally on yourself and your own well-being.
  2. Decide what you are going to ask for, specifically.  Example:  “I ask my heart for relief of my knee pain.”
  3. Say it out loud, while gently tapping over your heart.  If you don’t want others to hear, just whisper your request.  If you have physical limits that prevent you from tapping, just imagine it.
  4. Keep tapping and asking.
  5. If nothing happens after a few minutes, then say “oh, well”, and chalk it up to experience.  If something good happens, enjoy the wonderment of it, then remember to thank your heart for its miraculous help.  Gratitude increases our daily gifts.

Let me know what happens, whether it’s something or nothing.   Are you skeptical?  Try it anyway, if only to show yourself it won’t work and have the pleasure of telling me so.

I thank Tommy Hopkins from the bottom of my heart – it was his timely request that brought the heart tap into being.  It is a divine Gift to all of us – our heart’s wisdom.

Choosing a Reiki Teacher or Practitioner

Much has been written about how to do this.  Intuition and serendipity play a big part.

A good teacher or practitioner will want to know your motivations and expectations for learning Reiki or receiving Reiki treatment.

Here’s what you ask her/him:

1.  How much self-treatment do you do?

2.  What are your ideas about getting permission to send Reiki?

My answers are:

1.  As much as possible, at least a half hour a day, and ideally a total of hours throughout the day.

2.  Conscious, informed consent is a moral and ethical imperative for giving Reiki to another person.  Giving Reiki without permission is an assault.

I’ll elaborate in future blog posts.

Master Duan: no ill energy

“There is no such thing as ‘ill energy'”.

– Master Duan Zhi Liang, Qiqong workshop, Portland, Maine, circa 2002


About 10 years ago, somehow I got wind of a 96-year-old Qiqong master from China who was visiting Maine and giving workshops.  Since every new Qiqong exercise I learn adds a year to my life, starting with the one that helped me quit smoking, I resolutely tracked down where Master Duan was next teaching, and implored the host to let me in on it.

The day of the workshop, we all gathered in a large exercise room in downtown Portland.  After some time waiting, his interpreter entered, set up one bench on top of another, then gingerly stepped onto the top bench, wobbling precariously, and spoke to us, laying out the program to come.

When she finished speaking, a few minutes later, accompanied solicitously by a woman I assumed was his wife, entered a hunched-over old man, missing teeth, in heavy coat and Russian-style fur hat, long wisps of white hair sticking out.

Then, he opened his coat wide, doffed it, his hat, and handed both off to his wife, stood tall and strode briskly over to the stacked benches.  Without hesitation, he leaped in the air and landed on one foot atop the highest bench, arms outstretched, no wobbling, the picture of strength and balance.

For the next four hours, he taught us through his interpreter, leading us through Qi-generating exercises for health and longevity.  Imagine a large room full of 40-something men and women, all huffing and puffing, while their leader atop the benches doesn’t even break a sweat.

I don’t know about you, but I tend to pay close attention to what a vigorous old man is telling and showing me about how to move my body, and how to think about how I’m moving it.  I still do what he taught me today, though not nearly often enough.

Late in the workshop, there was time for Q&A.  One woman asked the perennial question:  how to protect oneself from other people’s negative energy?

Bypassing his interpreter, he spoke directly, emphatically, and in English.

“There is no such thing as ‘ill’ energy”.

That was that, no elaboration or explanation; he simply moved on to the next question, next exercise.  This was the only time he spoke in English, the only time he bypassed his interpreter.

When a vigorous, strong and mentally alert 96-year-old says something like that, so clearly and definitively, one has to wonder why it might  be true.  There certainly was going to be no argument or debate in the workshop about it, and it was clear he wasn’t going to explain himself.  Just do the exercises, and you will know, was his unspoken directive.

So, what do you think?

There is no “Spiritual Protection”

“There is no such thing as ‘ill energy'”.

– Master Duan Xiliang, Qiqong workshop, Portland, Maine, circa 2002

“There is no evil in the world.”

– David Lonebear Sanipass, Mi’kmaq Sagen, Portland, Maine, July 2012

Students learning Reiki often ask their teacher about protecting themselves from someone else’s “negative energy.”

I answer that schemes of spiritual protection are not necessary.  Do these things instead:

Go naked.

Connect with the Earth.

Self-treat with Reiki as much as you can.

More later.

9-11 Reiki, looking back from today

Today, September 10, I do not focus on tasks.  Though ready to respond to rescue calls in town, for my weekend ambulance duty, I am otherwise feeling deep memories and the imminent full moon.  Thinking of loved ones lost, loved ones traumatized — those I honor privately, for now.  Tomorrow I may attend a service; it all depends on how quiet the town is tonight.

For now, I want to honor, and thank from the bottom of my heart, my friends at Spark — — who welcomed me with open arms and hearts, back then in 2003.  They gave me something priceless.

Standing over a massage table, under the gingko tree at the south entrance to Washington Square Park, exactly in the path of the first plane that attacked the North Tower, I held my hands still on the person on the table, letting Reiki do what it does.  It was September 9, or 10th, 2004, 2005 or one of those years that we worked in that park.  They are all the same moment.

It was always beautiful weather for the Spark events — except the last one I attended, when it rained in Chinatown.  Fortunately, our open air venue there had a roof.  Every other year, the sky was clear, sunny and perfect temperature, just as on the day the planes came.  “Out of a clear blue sky…”

Under a clear blue sky, doing Reiki with many others, inviting love up from the Earth and down from the sky, felt like pure joy.  Before the renovation mid-decade, Washington Square Park was a three-ring circus around its central fountain.  There were magic shows, bands on stage, street theater, hacky sack and soccer balls flying, tourists, students, denizens and New Yorkers of all kinds.  In our little corner, under the gingko tree (now gone with the renovations), grew an oasis of deep peace.  As the day passed, crowds would gather three and four deep at the reception table, and would be expertly queued up for their free energy sessions.  The massage tables moved with the sun, following the shade of the gingko, so our clients would not be baked off their tables.  Overflow clients might find a practitioner free to treat them sitting in a chair.  The world rushed by on all sides around our calm pool.  Clients climbed on our tables, put their shoes and valuables under the table, and trusted the healer and the world around them to protect them in all ways.

This park was where my sister saw the first plane fly low overhead and hit the North Tower, where it doomed a long-ago friend on the top floor.  The plane flew south right over Fifth Avenue, no doubt using it as a guide to the tower.  Here I stood, right in line with Fifth Avenue, Reiki hands on twenty to thirty people in two days.  The whole group of us gave deeply relaxing treatments to hundreds of people each year, most of whom had never tried it before.  All of them were grateful for this gift, on this day, in this place.

This was my answer to Bin Laden’s act:  where he chose Death, I chose Love.

This year, 2011, the tenth anniversary of 9-11, Spark could not get a permit to do their work in the parks, I speculate due to the security clampdown.  I have been sad to miss it, this year of all years, but not bitter.  We did a lot of great work for almost a decade.  Thousands felt peace at an anxious time of year.  Spark continues, doing Reiki in many other venues throughout the year.  I continue working on EldersBloom —  many projects for healing are ahead of us.

I think it will be many more years, before I realize the full meaning of the gift they gave me, of healing hands under the gingko tree.

9-11 healing, in the parks of Manhattan

Below is an article I wrote in 2003, after returning from my first volunteer service in New York, doing Reiki in the parks of Manhattan with a dedicated bunch of loving compassionate healers.

Only editing was to update the links to what they are today.

— article follows —

A 9-11 Gift:  Reiki for New Yorkers

Two years ago, I feared for my sister’s life.  She lives in the East Village of Manhattan, and works near there.  On September 11, 2001, through the miracle of the Internet, our family confirmed within a few hours of the World Trade Center collapse that she was safe and sound.  But she had been a witness, seeing both planes hit the towers, and their falling to the ground.  In understatement typical of our family, she called the experience “excessive”.

Around Christmas of that year, I learned that my best friend and roommate from prep school, with whom I’d lost touch since college years, had lost his life in that attack.  He had been at Windows on the World restaurant at the top of the north tower, preparing to speak at a technology conference, when the first plane hit.  I had just found his email address that spring, but had not yet contacted him.

Multitudes around the world lost loved ones that day.  In response to the catastrophe, I redoubled my efforts to find peace within my heart, through release of fear and pain.  My study and practice of Reiki were an enormous help.  So, when I read about an opportunity to give Reiki in the parks of New York City during the anniversary week of 9-11, I jumped at the chance.

I found SPARK in the Park on the Internet.  From their website, [now]:

“SPirited Action, Release and Kindness (SPARK) is a New York-based organization consisting of holistic practitioners and volunteers from as far away as Arizona, coming together to provide free energy-based therapeutic services and licensed one-on-one counseling to the New York public.  Founded in June 2002, our goal is to help release the stress and fear arising from the events of 9/11/01.

“On September 11, 2001, New York and the world awoke with no idea of the events that would transpire.  For many, this day of massive change and transition created an emptiness and feeling of tremendous separation.  At the same time, it also provided one of the greatest opportunities for people to reach out to one another and connect in an effort to restore balance and a sense of wholeness. To this day, people are still moving toward that sense of completion, and we are here to help.  No one needs to suffer.  We are here for those searching for a way to release the traumatic effects of two years ago.  We intend to help others connect with the beauty and fullness of life.
“We are all here for each other.”

Last year, 17 practitioners of Reiki and other therapies such as Integrated Energy Therapy, Joh Rei, Transformational Breath, one-on-one counseling and more, from as far away as Arizona, had treated approximately 650 people in two Manhattan parks during the week of 9-11-2002.

As soon as I read their website, I knew this was something I must do.  I emailed the coordinator, Kaiyo Gorczynski, filled out the application, and started to work on travel arrangements.

Fast forward to Tuesday morning, September 9.  SPARK had recruited around 45 volunteers this year, the majority working in Battery Park at the southern tip of Manhattan, close to Ground Zero.  Since it was near my sister’s apartment, I joined the group that gathered in Tompkins Square Park, a lovely neighborhood park in the East Village.  Roxy Baldwin, the Reiki Master from Queens who had alerted me to SPARK on the Internet, and Sue Ananian, Reiki Master from New Jersey, were early arrivals.  Not long after we three met each other, Kruti Parekh, Reiki Master, and Richard Kanter, who does Kabbalistic Healing, CranioSacral Balancing, and Reiki, drove up in a van loaded with the essentials.  We unloaded and set up massage tables, chairs and a welcome table under a pair of elm trees.  In an opening meditation, we linked up in a grid of light with the SPARK volunteers in Battery Park, at the southern tip of the island.  We felt the energy all around us; it filled us with loving kindness.  More practititioners joined us that day and the next.

The trees gave us a sunlit green-leafed canopy for our work.  Roxy and I did a Reiki share to get warmed up and clear ourselves.  Lying on my back on Roxy’s table, I gazed up at the leaves and sunlight while feeling the Reiki flow from her hands.  (We found out on the second day, when a young women knelt and kissed the ground at its roots, that one of the elms is dedicated to Srila Prabhuphad, guru of Hare Krishna.  You can see the plaque on the nearby fence.)

It wasn’t long before people were stopping by our welcome table to ask what we were doing.  Typically they thought it was massage, so we explained about Reiki and energy work.  Not only Reiki, but Johrei, network spinal analysis, one-on-one counseling and other modalities were available at both sites.  When they got to the question, “how much does it cost”, the answer was, “it’s free, a public service in the spirit of cooperation and assistance that came out after 9-11”.  With that, the client – “visitor” in the parlance of SPARK’s literature – most often signed up right away for a session.

Business picked up steadily – at any given time most of the practitioners had visitors on their tables or chairs.  We took turns going to lunch and having breaks.  In the midafternoon, there were several times when people crowded two deep around the welcome table, asking questions and signing up for sessions.  There was such a variety of visitors, reflecting the joyful diversity of New York.  My visitors included people from children to middle aged, New Yorkers, tourists, upscale, working class, many ethnic groups.  Of the thirteen people I treated that day, and the eleven the day after, I was so honored that they would trust me to put my hands on them, out in public view.  The Reiki was flowing effortlessly, just part of the great flood of light and love.  It filled me to overflowing as I practiced.  So many visitors got up from our tables completely relaxed, smiles on their faces, with comments like “that was amazing!”.  They left their stress behind that day, in a busy city that was stressful even before 9-11.

I worked the “day shift” as did most of my fellow practitioners.  Richard and Kruti continued treating visitors until late evening.  I salute their stamina!  In truth, the energy sustained us all.   Even I, a suburban office worker not used to staying on my feet all day, did not really get fatigued any time that week.  The light and energy was just raining gently down on us the whole time.  Actual rain from clouds did not arrive until Saturday, so the 45 or so volunteers were able to treat approximately 575 people from Tuesday through Friday (Kaiyo explained that the total treated was slightly less this year because more time was given for each visitor).

I was able to spend two days serving the people of New York, an incredible opportunity for which I am eternally grateful.  I left on Thursday, 9-11, for a scheduled interview with an Israeli Reiki Master working for peace in her part of the world (another story!).  My taxi drove past the U.N. building on the way to Grand Central Station – I  took it as a symbol of hope.  I whispered a blessing to the people of New York and felt tears.

Now the pitch:  if you provide energy-based therapeutic services or licensed one-on-one counseling, or if you want to financially support SPARK, contact [].  This is a project that deserves to grow!

Jeffrey Hotchkiss is a Reiki Master Teacher practicing in Yarmouth.  He can be reached at