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REIKI: Are You Doing or Being?


One day reading a discussion in a Reiki chat group it occurred to me that the word Reiki is used in a variety of ways.


as a noun – (a thing) I know Reiki

as a verb – I’m was Reiki-ing a client

as an adjective – Reiki was flowing very strongly

as an adverb -While giving Reiki in this one area there was strong byosen.


An unexpected feature I noticed was that there appeared to be two (possibly more) camps which spoke of either “doing Reiki” or “being Reiki”.


Now you might be thinking is there really a difference between these two thoughts. When I was a novice or beginning Reiki student I might have said: No, not really. As I might have assumed both phrases to mean the same thing – a person was just a practitioner of Reiki and thought nothing else of it.


Skip forwards a number of years, and after learning a number of different styles and I have a different point of view, hence this post. :)


In my mind the act of doing is implying an action outside of ourselves. For instance, when washing dishes by hand, we normally say “We are doing the dishes”. For some this activity is a chore, or it can be used as a focus for meditation, an opportunity for the washer and the dryer to discuss the day’s activities and I’m sure you can come up with other scenarios. So you might be wondering how does this apply to Reiki? Well, it has been my experience when I used to “do” Reiki it was mechanical. A set pattern or way of giving Reiki to myself or another person. In fact, on occasion I even viewed Reiki as a chore; as it was something else that I had to cram into my overbooked daily schedule. By “doing” Reiki I was disconnected from the experience. This does not mean that my hands didn’t get hot, or I wouldn’t feel a clients’ ache or pain on some part of my body. At the time I didn’t notice, but there was something missing and I had no idea what it was.


As my personal experience with Reiki grew and matured, I became less interested in having the “strongest, most powerful – knock your socks off” kind of Reiki. A friend one time shared with me that when I gave Reiki to her it felt like soft kitten kind of energy. My ego felt insulted, how could kitten soft energy do anything? Then I remembered a phrase that is often said at Christian marriage services – “love is patience, love is kind, it is not boastful” and I began to understand. I realize that this desire for power was a need, a want, or even a craving of my more than human ego.


So what is “being” Reiki all about then? A person who is being – in the words of Eckhart Tolle is someone who is in the moment. Ahhh…. and if I’m in the moment then I am not looking outside of myself but mindfully present. This thought then leads to the first line of the Reiki – Gokai – Just For Today (Kyo Dake Wa). Being mindful of my thought, word and deed – am I being kind or compassionate to those whom I meet during the course of my day? And so began the internalization of the rest of the Reiki Principles. This internalization included learning them in Japanese, as I am a firm believer that words spoken in their language of origin hold a different vibration than the translation. We have all heard jokes that are very funny in another language that when translated into English don’t seem so funny. I view the Reiki principles in the same way.


This is the version of the Gokai – 5 Principles I use. It has made a difference to my Reiki practice saying them in Japanese, and some of my students also notice a difference in theirs. Shofuku no hiho Manbyo no reiyaku


Kyo Dake Wa ~ just for today

Ikaruna ~ do not be angry

Shin Pai Suna ~ do not be worried

Kansha Shite ~ be grateful

Gyo-o Hageme ~ do your duties fully

Hito Ni Shin Setsu Ni ~ be kind to others


You can find many different versions of this on YouTube – maybe I’ll add my own one day :)


By having a better understanding of Byosen and internalizing the Gokai, (I feel) it has lead me to become a better Reiki practitioner and Master. This internalization has put flesh on the bare bones of the traditional hand positions that I first learned in Takata-Usui Shiki Reiki. Hopefully, my students get a sense of this rich Reiki tapestry. My clients have reported a positive change in the Reiki they receive, so maybe I am on the correct path with all of this.


So I will follow the wise words of the founder of Reiki ~ Mikao Usui-sensei “Chant these words in the morning and evening” as I sit on my meditation seat and endeavor to “BE” Reiki. In this way I will become empowered and hopefully a little enlightened. It was this goal of attaining enlightenment that lead Usui-sensei to sit on Mount Kurama. I look forward to tapping into that Unlimited Potential - Universal Spirit wisdom and thank you for sharing this journey on the Reiki path.


January 2, 2012 - revised February 2023

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