Be like water

reiki simplicity bruce lee

“Be formless, shapeless… like water”
“True refinement seeks simplicity”


…if you are wondering who said these things, you might be surprised to hear that they were spoken by Bruce Lee, film star and famous martial artist who developed Jeet Kune Do, a hybrid martial arts method that took the best approaches from different fighting systems and synthesised them into a flexible and effective fighting art. Jeet Kune Do is referred to as a “style without style” where, unlike more traditional martial arts which Lee saw as rigid and formalistic, JKD is not fixed or patterned: it is more of a philosophy with guiding thoughts, a “style of no style”. Bruce Lee often referred to JKD as “The art of expressing the human body” in his writings and in interviews.

And those comments got me wondering about Reiki, especially when Lee identified three different stages that someone’s practice could go through. He said that before training, people had a natural ability, something that was unformed and unfocused; training begins and the student learns how to follow the instruction, they are restricted to the framework that they are taught and many practitioners might not move beyond that stage, following the system almost by rote. The third stage is where the practitioner moves beyond the rote learning to embrace simplicity and flexibility.

So how does that echo one’s development with Reiki? Well before some people learn Reiki, they already have a healing ability, maybe unstructured or unconscious, unfocused, but a natural healing ability nevertheless. We have taught many such people, who have found that Reiki gives them a framework or a structure to work through, focusing and channelling and enhancing what they already had.

The student learns a particular approach, with some rules and standard hand positions and in some lineages quite a long list of things you can and can’t, should and shouldn’t, do with Reiki. Some practitioners remain at this stage, following the instructions they were given and remaining content with that way of working.

But you can move beyond that framework, simplifying your practice, altering what you do to the needs of the recipient. You can embrace intuitive working, where you leave behind those basic rules to go ‘freestyle’ and, where Lee describes his system as “The art of expressing the human body”, we could see intuitive working as “The art of expressing the energy”. Here we are empty and formless, flowing like water to where the water wants to go, joining with the energy and following it, directing the energy to where it wants to be directed, emphasising aspects of the energy that need to be emphasised. We stand as a flexible conduit between the source and the recipient, empty, formless, fluid.

I believe that clutter-free Reiki is the best Reiki, and that by cutting away the rules and the dogma we can ‘refine’ (to use Lee’s word) our Reiki practice. Emptiness is the goal here: no planning, no thought about what you might do, just being there with the energy and the recipient; your treatment has no form, no structure and you simply follow the flow of energy, becoming the energy, merging with the recipient, with no expectations other than to just ‘be’.


Picture credit: IQRemix

If you like the sound of this approach then you might consider doing some training with Reiki Evolution. We have live Reiki courses running throughout the UK and Taggart teaches one-to-one through his special Reiki Home Study courses. For more information, click on the links below:

Live Reiki courses
Home Study courses

6 thoughts on “Be like water

  1. Hi Taggart.
    When I came to Reiki Evolution in 2006, I had already crossed the first stage and was half way through the second. Yours was the helping hand that helped me through. I can now confidently tell you that I am practising the clutter free Reiki and am just being with the energy and just being the energy!
    Thank you so much for guiding so many like me.

  2. Hi Taggart. As you know this is a journey I’ve been on with Cognitive Hypnotherapy for a while and it’s great to get a reminder that it should be the same for Reiki too (as I’m fairly new to it). Many thanks.

  3. Hi Taggart

    I am great watcher of people and find it very interesting to see how they behave and react in all aspects of life. Talking to other Reiki practitioners/healers it is true a number of them are so fixated on the symbols and using the right placement of their hands, so missing out on the real feel of the energy which is coursing through them. It may be right for them to be this way in their stage of development. However,I agree with you that Reiki should be clutter free and flow as the river, going where it is needed.
    Thank you very much Taggart for all the great ideas you have for advancing students/people on their journey.

  4. Thanks, Guys. The thing is, a lot of people will simply take what they are taught at face value and practise in that way to make sure that they are “doing it correctly”. If they aren’t exposed to other ways of practsing Reiki then they might not realise that there are other valid choices out there. When I took Reiki 1 I assumed that everyone who did Reiki had been taught the same way, and it was only when I started to come across other Reiki people that I found that there were differences, some small and some huge! And there can be comfort in certainty, that “this is the correct way… this is what you do”, whereas our approach involves more an embracing of uncertainty.

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