Disclaimer: This is a personal piece based on my experiences in the holistic/ wellness industry as a queer, 2nd generation Filipinx/Filipino. In no way do I speak on behalf of others or the entire Diaspora. I share my stories to inspire conversation and healthy questioning around what we subscribe to and the communities we find ourselves in.
As we enter this "Renewed Age" of Spiritual evolution and Human activism, it's important that I share my story - not just for myself but also for others who might be questioning their Spiritual path.
I almost quit practicing Reiki and here's why...
How My Reiki Journey Started
I first stumbled upon Reiki while I was in my 4th year of University. In those days, I didn't have the best mental and physical health; sleeping inconsistently and facing bouts of anxiety and depression. I couldn't help but feel disconnected to myself and disconnected to Spirit.
During a personal health transformation, I experienced a series of signs (or synchronicities) that led me to rekindle my connection to my health and my Spirituality.
That's when I was led to study Reiki.
Fast forward to the beginning of 2017 - I completed my Reiki Master level studies and started my humble practice. Today, my work is inspired by decolonizing Spiritual and Wellness practices; I try to make resources and knowledge as accessible and inclusive as possible. Compared to the beginning of my practice, I'm less concerned with the formality of certifications and "fitting in."
(After all, why force yourself to fit into an industry that was never built to be accessible to you in the first place? But more on this in another post)
Understanding Reiki's Origins
The word "Reiki" is comes from the Japanese terms Rei (Universal or Higher Power) and Ki (life force energy). The Usui-Reiki technique was founded by Dr. Mikao Usui (1865 - 1926) following a spiritual experience (or Awakening) on Mount Kurama (located North of Kyoto city).
In 1922, Mikao Usui founded his first Reiki clinic and school in Tokyo
There are reportedly 4 other approaches to Reiki that existed around the same time (Reiki.org).
Modern Cultural Appropriation
Although Reiki is considered a practice and not a Religion, I've found that in North America there's rampant appropriation of religious and spiritual practices. I admit that I've been guilty of this in the past as well (I'm not perfect and I didn't always know better) but we can be quick to light a bundle of sage or say certain mantras without understanding and honouring where it comes from.
As awareness of Reiki continues to grow in North America, it is important to acknowledge the roots and intentions behind Dr. Usui's practice. Usui had only trained several Reiki Masters to continue the practice and grow the lineage; it was only when Reiki healing came to America (through Hawayo Takata around WW2) that it became more widespread.
What you man not know is that some believe that the knowledge of Reiki was passed on to Usui through the Spirit of Buddha. In his Spiritual Awakening on Mount Kurama, he had a vision and Divine calling to do this work. Christian associations might have only been made later, when Reiki came to America, in order to make it more appealing and accessible to Westerners.
The Intersectionality of Reiki
In my opinion, it is impossible to fully study Reiki, or any energy healing modality for that matter, without understanding the intersectionality of those who founded it and the individual(s) who practice it.
It has been a journey trying to unpack and understand my relationship with Reiki healing, but I finally began to find peace when I fully understood the layers of Reiki's existence (specifically Usui Reiki): being something of Japanese origin in the 1920's, with Buddhist and Christian influences. Immigrating to the USA around the 1940's.
And those layers in relation to the layers of my own identity.
...Being a: queer, 2nd generation filipinx immigrant, born and raised in Canada. Baptized Catholic, but active in various non-Religious, Spiritual practices. Living in the present, digital age.
The layers of our identity influence how we interact with the world around us.
The intersectionality of our identity informs our perspectives on money, Spirituality, Religion, History, other cultures. This identity can even carry its own biases, conditioning, and prejudices along with it. It's impossible to separate these lenses we carry, when working within Reiki; it is necessary for us to address them before we attempt to add other layers and lenses to our consciousness.
Questions on intersectionality:
What cultural or community groups do you belong to and identify with?
How have these parts of your identity influenced your relationship with Spirituality/ Religion?
How has your personal history and the history of your ancestors influenced how you interact with Spirituality/ Religion?
(If you are a part of a Diasporic Culture) How does belonging to a Diaspora influence your views of Reiki and/ or Spirituality?
Capitalism in Reiki
When I completed my Reiki training, I hesitated before joining any governing body or directory board. Something about all of the paperwork, the recommended pricing models, and the strict rules and regulations, didn't sit right for me. It seemed so far from the practice I fell in love with. The practice that I was led to.
These days, I see practitioners charging $200+ Canadian or US for a single Reiki session, while they prove their legitimacy with their name on a certificate, after a single-day crash course. Complete training can cost around $1,000 or more, which is far less than what Hawayo Takata was charging. It's reported that Takata initially charged thousands of dollars in order to instil students' respect and dedication to Reiki (keep in mind that this was also at a different time). It can be argued that the present day's pricing model has moved Reiki into a Capitalistic model, rather than something that is respected and studied over a longer period of time. Although Reiki is more widespread today, it's also done recklessly to make (some) practitioners a purely profitable business.
What I want to make clear is this: There's Reiki the Energy Healing practice and then there's Reiki the Industry.
*Note that not everyone has the same level of training and certification in Reiki. Different Teachers may teach courses for different lengths, but from what I've seen in North America, courses often range between 1-3 days. I prefer to teach over a 3 month minimum, to allow time for case studies, thorough understanding and bonding with the information. This is a longer more dedicated path, but based on my beliefs, it follows more of an approach that I feel is ethical and fair to both the teacher, student, and the True essence of Reiki.
My Questions for Reiki Practitioners:
Why do you choose the current pricing structure for your services?
How much did you pay for your instruction in Reiki and what did that represent/ mean to you at the time?
How do you continue to invest in your learning and development?
What is it that you value about Reiki above all else?
My Questions for Aspiring Reiki Practitioners:
Why do you want study Reiki?
What parts of your identity provide you certain privileges or advantages over others?
How would learning Reiki benefit yourself and your greater community?
Why I haven't Quit
I truly believe in the power of Energy - not just Reiki, but all forms and names that energy healing may come in. Although the Reiki community is not perfect, I still have hope that there those of us who are trying to bring higher awareness of what it means to do this work. Our efforts may look different, but at the root of any movement comes a level of unlearning and relearning; deconstructing and rebuilding connections and ideas.
Since issues of appropriation, decolonization, and reevaluating the "Spiritual Industry" are too complex to explore in a single post, you will see that these themes may reoccur on the blog.
In the meantime...
Re-learning with you,
PS. To explore these concepts deeper, I'm also teaching a (reoccurring) Decolonized Energy Healing course, with guided exercises, techniques, perspectives to understand healing for yourself and for your work. Beginners and Advanced Practitioners are welcome. This is accessible through sliding scale donations to help fund the continuity of this site and work.