Do I need to be a healthy, teetotal vegan to learn & practise Reiki?
A common question that I am asked revolves around health and diet, both before someone goes on a Reiki course, and once they are practising. People ask whether they need to follow a particular sort of diet before attending for a Reiki First Degree course, and then subsequently, and they also ask whether it’s ok to treat someone when you feel ill, or if you’re under the weather, or have a cold, for example.
A further question asks why Reiki hasn’t resolved a particular health condition for a practitioner or a client.
The perfect diet
There is no particular diet that you need to follow before going on a Reiki course. Some people ask whether they should avoid red meat, or junk food, or stop drinking alcohol, or follow a vegetarian diet for several weeks before their course date, and my answer is that you do not need to do any of these things. Whatever your diet is like, you will receive an effective ‘connection’ to the energy and you will be able to channel the energy for your benefit and for the benefit of people that you treat.
But, and this is a big ‘but’… Reiki attunements (or empowerments, because they are the same thing, essentially) will often give you quite a ‘clear-out’, where you experience perhaps emotional ups and downs, or a need to declutter or simplify or alter your life in some way, and Reiki can also give you a physical clear-out, where you can feel tired, or full of energy, or sleepy, or have disturbed sleep for a time, and you may experience what has ended up being referred to as a ‘Reiki cold’, with aches and pains, a fuzzy head and other physical symptoms.
If you live on red meat, junk food and alcohol then you are likely to experience a much stronger physical clear-out than would a teetotal vegan, so while there is no diet that you need to follow to go on a Reiki course, the poorer the quality of your diet, the more pronounced your physical reaction to the attunements is likely to be.
Reiki in its Japanese form emphasises working on yourself, self-healing, embracing the Reiki precepts, and there is something quite incongruous about working with energy on a regular basis to care for yourself, while at the same time assailing yourself with junk food, perhaps smoking, drinking to excess and eating an unhealthy, animal-product-based diet. We need to care for ourselves not just by meditating and doing energy exercises, but also by ensuring we have a healthy diet and doing physical exercise regularly.
Reiki will not save you from a junk-food, couch potato lifestyle!
Being in perfect health
Sometimes people ask whether it is ok to treat other people when you are ill, and the question usually revolves around whether all the energy will be ‘used up’ in dealing with the energy needs of the sick practitioner, and whether there will be very little left to pass on to the recipient. I will come to that, but I’d just like to make the practical point that if you are ill, is it really a good idea to sit with your face 6 inches away from the face of someone else and place your hands on them, when you are possibly contagious? The answer is ‘no’: people don’t want to come to you for a Reiki treatment and leave with whichever disease you are currently nurturing!
The question about whether all the energy will be used up by the practitioner is a bit of a red herring because there is not a limited supply of Reiki. When you channel Reiki, you are connecting to an unlimited supply of energy, and when you treat someone you are creating a ‘healing space’ that allows them to draw what they need in that moment; you are a bystander in that process and your system will not be able to greedily grab the energy that is available, and prevent the person you are treating from being able to access what they need.
Certainly some people seem to be better channels for the energy than others, but that is a separate issue and is to do with their personal Reiki practice: how regularly they work with the energy, how practised they are in ‘getting out of the way’ and entering into a gentle, neutral, mindful state when they treat someone. That is what gives you ‘clear pipes’. But that’s a bit of an unhelpful metaphor because there are no pipes and there is no plumbing that travels into the practitioner first, with what’s left trickling into the client.
When you treat someone you are also treating yourself. You merge with the recipient and stand aside, there is no you and there is no them, and you are creating a energetic space that allows you and the recipient to obtain what they need in that moment. What you need is different from what they need, and what you receive is different from what they receive. What one person receives is not dependent on what the other person receives, so your state of health or otherwise does not affect what the client receives.
But if you’re ill, don’t treat people!
Look after yourself, get some rest, and if you have some sort of a virus… don’t infect others!
What do we do when we treat?
I heard of a Reiki student once, who decided that they were no longer going to learn or practise Reiki. The reason? They noticed that Mikao Usui wore glasses and concluded that if even the founder of Reiki was not able to ‘heal his eyes’ with Reiki, then Reiki wasn’t much of a healing system. And that got me wondering what people expect from a system such as Reiki. Do we expect all Reiki practitioners to live to be 150 years old, in perfect health? Do we expect Reiki to be a perfect cure-all, able to zap and eliminate any disease, with the thought that if this is not happening then we’re doing it wong in some way or perhaps we are not good enough as a practitioner.
While Reiki has, is and will continue to do produce some quite miraculous things for people, it is not a 100% cure-all and it will not resolve everyone’s ailments. I spoke earlier about how Reiki will not save you from a junk-food, couch-potato lifestyle, unclogging your arteries and strengthening unexercised muscles, but what it can do for us or for another person is to help that person’s body system to heal itself, as far as that is possible for that person. It will support that process, giving the practitioner or recipient its best chance to bring things back to normal, to health. But there are no promises made. There is no offer of a miracle cure. And sometimes the best that Reiki can offer is to provide some comfort, or acceptance, where a physical condition is not going to resolve.
I wear glasses. I have done since I was 21. I look at computer screens too much, and that certainly does not help. Reiki has not resolved my astigmatism for me. And at the same time, I think Reiki is wonderfully effective. The two things can live side by side: my lack of perfect eye functioning and my belief that Reiki can produce quite incredible effects in some people, and for most provide a sense of calm, of contentment, helping to release stress and tension and allowing people to feel more positive and better able to cope with whatever they are facing.
And that is a miracle, in my eyes!
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Photo credit: Kim Siever