I sometimes refer to myself as the Reluctant Reiki Master. I came to Reiki in a roundabout, back door sort of way. I never set out to do this, and yet I find myself practicing and teaching for a living. I am so grateful to be to be able to do this.
For most of my life I have been a planner. In fact, most of my jobs have involved planning special events, conferences, parties, trainings, and workshops. I was a maker of lists, working ahead, always knowing full well what I'd be doing and when. By the time I was 40 I pretty much knew what I'd be doing until retirement.
I discovered Reiki at a Woman's Wellness Conference; it was featured in a breakout session. I took the session because all of the others were full. I'd never heard of Reiki but it sounded intriguing. By the end of the session I was hooked. All of a sudden (!) the word Reiki was popping up all over. I was seeing workshops offered, talking to people who had just had a Reiki session, meeting Reiki Masters. I started to read about it and began thinking about getting a session.
One day I was at the local health food store reading the bulletin board while waiting in line for the rest room. One card on this board of many seemed to be glowing, calling out to me. It belonged to a Reiki Master. I put the card in my pocket and carried it around for a few months. I used it like a worry stone and soon it grew soft and faded. I thought about calling but was too afraid. What if this person could read my mind? What if she put a spell on me? The pull to Reiki was there but my fear was stronger and it held me back.
A few weeks later I was at a health fair and there was a woman doing 10-minute Reiki samplers. I sat down in her chair and in a matter of minutes I felt transformed! I was feeling ill and out of sorts that day. I had been arguing with my husband and felt crabby and mean. Sitting in the chair I began to tingle and I felt the energy flowing through me. Even though we were in a crowded room with many people and bright lights I relaxed immediately as a warm glow began to fill my body. The ten minutes flew by and when I got up from her chair I felt so light and free. I felt loving and lovable. This feeling stayed with me for the entire day. I was convinced I needed more and called the Reiki Master on the card I had been carrying around and set up an appointment.
I had a spectacular session. It was and still is one of the most amazing experiences of my life. It's so hard to put into words! I spent the hour immersed in love and light. Driving home I felt once again wrapped up in love. This session led to more and eventually I began to study Reiki in earnest. I loved how it made me feel and I wanted to know more about this mysterious thing called Reiki.
The day of my Reiki I class I remember sitting in front of the home of the Reiki Master, debating whether or not I should go in. I was so afraid! What was going to happen in there? How was it going to change me? Did I really need this? My mind was working overtime, but in my heart, I knew this was the right thing for me to do. I made a conscious decision to do it afraid. This would be the first of many times I would not give in to my fear, to my mental monkey mind, and go with what was in my heart. In retrospect I see that I trusted the Reiki energy, even though I wasn't entirely conscious of doing that. I just called it Doing It Afraid!
I was so excited to have received my Level I Attunement and I wanted to work on everyone! Practice! Practice! Practice! I ordered a table and even before it came I worked on family, friends, co-workers, literally anyone I could get my hands on. I loved the feeling of the Reiki flowing through me, the laying of my hands on others, feeling the different energies, learning to discern the subtle differences. I immersed myself in all things Reiki. I felt reborn, enthusiastic, full of love and life! I couldn't get enough! Each night before I went to sleep I practiced the self-healing hand positions. I slept well and woke up refreshed and ready to go!
Despite all of my enthusiasm and love of Reiki at the time I did not see myself going on to Level II. When my teacher suggested it I hemmed and hawed. I said I would think about it, but I was afraid to. I really didn't see myself going any further. I was going to stay at Level I. My Reiki teacher got married and moved away and I lost touch with her. In a way I was relieved, as I wouldn't have to face those questions any longer.
About six months after I received my first Attunement I started thinking about going on to Level 2. I began asking friends and co-workers if they knew a good Reiki Teacher and the same name kept coming up. I went to see her for a session. It felt good to receive Reiki again. She had a class coming up in a few weeks and I decided to take it.
Again, the debate in the car on the morning of the class, much like the first time. This time my fear was stronger. My mind was telling me all sorts of scary things, like Who Do I Think I Am, Going On To Level 2? I am a fraud, a fake, I can't do this. What if others are more advanced than me? What if they see through me? What if I can't remember the symbols or how to draw them? What if the Attunement doesn't take? I sat there, mired in this swirl of negative thoughts and emotions and almost drove away. I didn't because, again, in my heart, I knew I was going to do this. I knew this was just fear and insecurity and it wasn't real. What was real was in my heart. Again, without realizing it, I trusted the Reiki energy. I still called it Doing It Afraid. It was starting to become my mantra.
It was a good day, a good class. I loved the symbols! I felt an immediate connection to them; it seemed I already knew them on some level. I loved drawing them and I couldn't wait to use them. We practiced that day and instead of feeling fearful and insecure I felt once again wrapped in love and really enjoyed using them. In the past when I'd have to demonstrate something I'd get nervous and sort of fake it but I didn't feel that way. I remember thinking that if I didn't understand or know I'd just ask for help. This was a new way of thinking for me - I never asked for help - I used to see it as a sign of weakness. Instead I felt very comfortable and real practicing the symbols, working on my fellow classmates. I was wrapped up in the moment and I loved how it felt. I remember not wanting to leave class, to stay in this warm cocoon of Reiki and love.
An interesting thing happened after class. I didn't practice. I would tell myself every day that I would and when it came time I'd make up excuses. I stopped the self-healing sessions in the evening and I couldn't bring myself to practice on my friends and family, as I had been doing the past six months. People would ask for sessions and I'd make excuses. I took down my table and told my husband to sell it on EBay, that I wasn't going to work on people anymore. He suggested putting it in the basement and waiting a bit to see if I changed my mind. I was sure I wouldn't.
One thing I did do was practice writing the symbols. I loved the feel of them, their shapes, what they meant. I felt I had an intimate connection with them. Daily, first thing in the morning I practiced drawing them in my journal. I also began to do distant healings. I loved the ritual of it. I'd light a candle and either use a picture or a name written on paper and send Reiki to my friends in California, Florida, and Massachusetts. I sent Reiki to my brothers across town, to my workspace and co-workers. I enjoyed this very much, but I still couldn't bring myself to work on people. I felt as if I was done with that. I decided to just do distant Reiki.
About six months later, still in this mode, I began thinking about my first Reiki experience. I contacted that Reiki Master and set up a session. I hadn't had one since before my Level II class and felt I needed one. It was good to see this woman again and after the session I asked her if she taught classes. She had recently become a Teacher. I told her I was considering moving on to Master Level. We stayed in contact and I continued to receive treatments from her.
Slowly, I began to practice Reiki again, starting with myself, at night, before I went to bed, as was my ritual. It felt good to have it back in my life. I worked on my husband, as he sat in his recliner, watching television. Eventually I brought the table back up from the basement, and the practice sessions began again.
About six months later, almost a year to the day of my Reiki Level II class I received my Reiki Master Practitioner class, from the woman I had my first full Reiki session with. It seemed symbolic and I am so glad I chose her. This time, as I drove to class, I felt surer of myself and my decision to become a Reiki Master. I could see how I was making some significant changes in my life, as a result of this new energy. I was willing to continue on this path, open to whatever it would bring. There was a tiny part of me that still held my fear but I brushed it aside. My heart knew, and I knew, this was what I was supposed to be doing. No more debates in the car, I was ready!
I felt reborn after the class. I was more comfortable in my own skin, more real, like for the first time I knew who I was and where I was going. I knew that no matter what happened or where I went, or whom I was with, I was connected to this thing called Reiki. I could trust it and it would lead me to where I needed to be. I felt safe.
I continued to practice, and once again, loved how it felt to work on others, to work on myself, to be aware of the Reiki energy. I began to mediate and started spending most of my spare time in nature, in the woods. I was beginning to connect to things on a level I never had before. I felt in awe of this new life and was so very grateful! Life was good! Again, I didn't see myself as going any further. At the time I didn't realize that I felt this way after each class, it's only looking back that I notice this pattern. I didn't want to move on to Teacher; I couldn't see myself teaching/attuning others. It wasn't me. I would just continue to practice on those that wanted Reiki.
I set up a Reiki room in my home. I filled it with the things I loved and it transformed from a messy home office to a peaceful place of mediation and Reiki. I began to charge my friends and co-workers for the sessions. I charged them half price, a "friend" rate. I had a hard time with this. I didn't really want to charge, I felt very uneasy with the concept of accepting money for Reiki. After all, it wasn't my job - it was something I loved to do, and besides these were my friends and co-workers. Yet, I'd read enough to know there had to be an exchange. I also knew that it had to do with my issues surrounding money and I had to work on this. I came to dread the end of the session when it was time to pay me. I'd take the money, but not look at it, just quickly put it in my pocket. Sometimes it took days for me to pull it out and look at it. If someone challenged me or assumed it was free I'd back down, give in. Then I'd feel bad, be mad at myself. This went on for a long time, until I got tired of the drama. After a bit I was able to deal with it better, but it took awhile until I became comfortable with it. Tips freaked me out and I almost (but not quite!) felt I shouldn't accept them. Looking back on this I have to smile and it seems unreal I ever felt that way but I did. Like it has with so many things, Reiki really helped me to change the way I thought about money and valuing what I do for a living.
I had a sort of business going for a few months in my new Reiki room, working on friends, family, and co-workers. I was starting to have thoughts about moving beyond my home and out into the community. It was just the teeniest of thoughts and when I'd allow it in I'd be filled with that initial dread and fear and all of those old questions of insecurity would pop into my head. But this time there was something different - a sort of excitement and a knowing that it would happen. There again, in my heart, that knowing! The heart was beginning to take over the head, I was beginning to understand and trust the Reiki energy!
One day I was at my health club, working out. It was a new gym, a privately owned beautiful space. As I was walking out I noticed a door, opening into a dimly lit space. The smell of lavender drifted out and I was drawn into this room. It was a massage room and as I looked in I saw myself doing Reiki in this room. It was that clear. I knew in a very short amount of time I would be practicing Reiki, here in this gym. Never mind that there was no Reiki at this gym. That didn't seem to matter. As I stood there, seeing this, knowing this, a friend walked over and asked me what I was doing. I replied "I'm going to do Reiki here", surprising both of us!
I went home and wrote a letter to the owner of the gym, introducing myself, asking if I could come in and talk with him about practicing Reiki there. I included my Reiki resume and wrote up an information sheet on Reiki in case he didn't know what it was. A week later I got a call from the Lead Massage Therapist inviting me in for an interview. She was familiar with Reiki, as her son had just received his Reiki I Attunement. She was very excited about the possibility of having Reiki at the Health Club.
The interview was a huge success! It went on for hours! She agreed that Reiki would be a great addition and she had many good marketing ideas. I was asked back for a second interview, where I would meet the owner and do a Reiki session on the therapist. In the past I was always nervous before an interview. However, this time I felt ready and on some level I knew I would be practicing there. It felt so right. The day of the second interview I was offered the job and negotiated a good contract. I started the following week.
Once I secured the position the old fears and insecurities reared their ugly heads. What had I gotten myself into? Am I crazy? Who do I think I am? No one is going to come! I'll have to work on strangers! On people I don't know! On men! That last thought scared the daylights out of me! Outside of my husband and my brothers I had never worked on a man I didn't know. I wasn't sure I even could! Oh my goodness, what have I gone and done! Help!
I pulled out my old mantra "Do It Afraid". I hadn't had to use it in a while but I knew I needed it. While my head raged, my heart calmly told me to do it and it would be ok. Honestly I didn't see how this was possible, but knowing that it worked in the past I listened.
My first order of business at the gym was to do two nights of "Reiki Samplers" where I would offer Reiki, for two hours, at 20-minute intervals, free of charge. A sign up sheet was provided in advance and when I arrived it was full. Oh no! To say I was terrified is an understatement. I thought I would both throw up and faint and I'd be fired, never to return. So much for my Reiki career!
Instead, an interesting thing happened. As I prepped the room and did my mediation, I lost the fear and could not wait to introduce Reiki to this new population. I loved doing it so much, I decided to let that love in, and it just swallowed up the fear and negativity I'd been wallowing in. My first two clients were sisters and they each made appointments for future sessions. They both responded very well to the Reiki and I couldn't wait to work on them for longer sessions. Everyone showed up, the night flew by and I was so happy and grateful to have had this opportunity. I felt so lucky and so full of love! (Note: it's years later and those two sisters are regular clients of mine. They have a special place in my heart, being the first two "strangers" I worked on.)
As a condition of my employment I had to do community education talks at the gym about Reiki. Having never done public speaking I was terrified and actually told the owner that I wasn't going to do it. He reminded me I had to. We set up the talks and once again that old hamster wheel of fear started spinning in my brain. Again, looking back, it amazes me how much fear I had and how it took me so long to learn to trust the Reiki energy! But like everything, it is a process and I had to learn it.
All of the talks were well attended, with a lively discussion period. I gained many clients from these talks and was able to introduce Reiki to a population that never heard of it. I was asked many challenging questions, so it was a good education for ME, although at the time I didn't see it that way! It's always been hard for me to explain Reiki, but in those days I felt I HAD to. If I was unable to "convince" someone I felt a failure. I no longer feel I have to convince anyone, but rather share what I know. I'd still rather do it than talk about it, but I also really enjoy brining Reiki to populations that are not familiar with it, so it's important to me to do the talks.
I thought it would take a while for the Reiki to catch on at the gym, but to my surprise and delight it was busy from the start! I worked two days per week, doing two sessions each day and most of the time slots were full. There were a lot of curious folks, people who had heard of Reiki but didn't know where to go, people that came to my talks or samplers and wanted to try it, folks that wanted to release stress, folks that were sick and wanted to have it aid in their healing. I met so many different and interesting people and I continue to work on many of them to this day.
At about the year mark at the gym I began thinking about working in the community. The gym gig was going well, but I wanted to branch out into the community. I had volunteered for health fairs and had gotten a taste of working with a more diverse client base and wanted more of that. I put the thought out there and then immediately felt panic at leaving my safe nest at the gym. I fit in well there, was part of the team, enjoyed my clients, yet I knew the time to move on to the next level was looming.
Through a contact in the local Chamber of Commerce I found out about a woman who owned an Acupuncture clinic who was looking to sub-lease space. I was given her name and number. I was familiar with her ads; in fact on some level I felt as if I knew her, even though I'd only met her once. I figured I'd give her a call in a few months, at the end of the summer. I didn't want to start something new quite yet, but when I did I'd contact her
A few days later I was at home, writing when I heard a voice telling me to contact this woman. No! I'm not ready! I can't afford it! The gym paid for all of my marketing costs and didn't charge me rent - why would I want to change that? I had just left my job and was planning on spending the summer working on me and some personal issues that needed attention. I have no time for new things! Well, this voice was very insistent and kept reminding me to contact her. I was becoming familiar with this voice so I gave in and sent her an email. I figured I did my part, that it would take a while for her to get back to me and I was safe, at least for a bit.
Her call came bright and early the next morning! She was excited to meet me and wanted me to come in that day. She said she was about to place an ad to sub-lease space and wanted to meet me before she did this. I agreed to come later that day. All the way to the clinic I told myself why I couldn't do this. I was not ready! I couldn't afford it! Where will I get my clients? This is not possible. I decided I'd go in, meet her and leave. I didn't have to do anything.
The clinic was 7 minutes from my home, in a very good location. Not bad. I walked into the waiting room and felt immediately at home. It was a beautiful space. The owner came out, introduced herself and told me to look around, on my own, and get a feel for the space. She asked me to contact her the next day and let her know if I was interested. I wandered around, liking what I saw. There were a number of different treatment rooms, but a room in the back was calling to me. I entered the door of this room and I saw myself in it, doing Reiki. Much like my experience at the gym I KNEW I'd be working here, practicing Reiki. It felt right. Before my mental monkey mind could kick into gear and get the best of me I drove directly to the gym, gave my notice and agreed to sub-lease the space. Whew! Heady stuff! The Reiki energy was leading me to my next adventure and I trusted it! I felt this with all my heart. I was filled with gratitude and awe at this wonderful opportunity.
Right before I found this space I had been in Sedona, Arizona receiving my Reiki Master/Teacher Attunements. I was still in the glow of that experience and I believe the Reiki energy was high; I was very tapped into it. I came home and continued to mediate and began incorporating what I had learned there into my daily life. I was made aware of the shift my life had taken in the year since I'd been a Reiki Master. I was learning to trust this energy, to listen to that inner voice, to be led by this higher source. I found that I was living a life based on my values, that I was starting to walk the talk. I had to do it afraid much less.
Sedona, Arizona is one of my favorite places. I had a profound awakening there in the spring of 2000, when I first began to walk this path of self-discovery. I'd been traveling there a lot since then, tapping into its magical energy, hiking among the beautiful red rocks and getting to know this special place.
After six months of practicing as a Reiki Master I was ready to move on to the Teacher level. I decided as a gift to myself I would go back to the place I had my awakening and receive it there. I had no idea who to go to or how to even find them, so I went to the Internet, goggled "Reiki in Sedona" and up popped a Reiki website. I was excited to see they had Reiki Master/Teacher training the exact weekend I had already booked my vacation for! I signed up without a thought.
I have to admit I went to that training a bit cocky. Gone was the shivering wreck in the car, debating whether or not I should go in. I couldn't wait to get there! I was hyper with excitement! What's to be afraid of? I was already a Master! I was ahead of the game! I was in Sedona! What could go wrong?
The training was everything I could hope for and more. The teachers were amazing, and being in this class of 10 women was like being wrapped in a Reiki cocoon of love. Even after nine hours each day I didn't want to leave. I could have stayed there forever. Being attuned outside on the balcony facing the red rocks of Sedona was like a dream come true. I remember feeling so happy and so full of love and gratitude and marveling at the changes in my life in the last five years.
That's not to say this training wasn't difficult. In a way it was the most difficult thing I've ever experienced. Parts of me were revealed to me in those three days that had been so deeply buried I'd barely been aware of them. I saw barely because they hovered at the edge of my consciousness, waiting. Well, they picked that weekend to come out. I felt ripped open, exposed, and raw. I don't think I've ever felt more vulnerable, or cried so much as I did that weekend.
It was scary but in a different way. Instead of Doing It Afraid, I let myself be. I let myself feel these things and let the thoughts unravel. I didn’t try to fake it till I made it. I just was. I felt like a boulder slide off my shoulder and a light was shining down on me, in me, all the way through me. I met my inner child the second day. Up to this point I thought this Inner Child business was New Age hooey. She'd been waiting for me and I embraced her, with gratitude and love.
I hiked every morning and things popped into my head, clear as day. I made some big life decisions and followed through on them, even though they seemed like not the right decisions. My heart was screaming out and I was listening. I returned home, exhausted, yet ready to live this new life. Once again I felt reborn.
In the summer of 2006 I left my job and surrendered to Reiki. I moved into the community to practice and teach. This became my "real" job! I love this so much! I love working on people, helping them heal themselves, teaching, opening the doors of the Reiki path to others, and passing this gift on. While it's been scary and uncomfortable at times, I've been taught to keep my ego and personality out of it and when I do that it's been pure joy and love. I love that Reiki has the ability to connect me to people in ways I never would have been able to before, and to people I never would have met. My relationships are different as a result of the Reiki. I am real, and they seem to respond in kind. I am full of compassion and see more sides of people and situations. It's so enlightening!
In 2012 I realized a dream and moved to northern Arizona, just outside of Sedona. I had the opportunity to create a Reiki program in a medical center, working with cancer patients who were going through radiation and chemotherapy treatments. After two years, I left that position to focus on my private practice and write my Reiki book – The Reluctant Reiki Master’s Step-by-Step Guide to Creating and Sustaining a Thriving Reiki Practice. It is part Reiki memoir, part how to. That book can be purchased here: www.reluctantreikimaster.com. I am creating a Reluctant Reiki Master series, so stay tuned!
I have been very blessed to have a thriving Reiki practice, teaching and practicing full time. For many years I subleased space in a clinic with a group of dedicated healers (acupuncturists, massage therapists, Reiki Masters.) Recently, I’ve cut back my hours to focus on writing, but still teach and practice part-time. I have my practice in Arizona and still travel back to Wisconsin a few times a year to practice and teach. I continue to take Reiki classes, ever evolving and pass that on to my students and clients. I am so blessed. I can’t imagine my life without Reiki in it.
I am so grateful to have discovered Reiki and to be able to walk this path. It truly has become ingrained in my life. It's not just something I do; it's become who I am and how I live. I will continue to move forward in this love and light and trust that I will be lead where I need to go. When I need to I will Do It Afraid, but Reiki is teaching me to trust and I am less and less afraid. Onward!