I was first introduced to Reiki when I was just twenty-two. It was during a visit to Kripalu in the Berkshires of Massachusetts where I had gone to do “karma yoga” or devoted volunteer service. Kripalu has been instrumental in several transformations in my life, and that visit was not exception. I have gone there at various times in my life to heal and renew and have come away with many precious gifts. During the summer month that I spent there, I met people from all over the world who practiced almost everything you could name. I slept in a huge dorm room on a small cot-like bed. The other women around me, who were mostly doing their karma-yoga practices also, were there anywhere from a few days to six months. There was a nice habit amongst the guests to exchange gifts during the quiet hour before bedtime. At that time I only read tarot cards, but that was and is an incredibly popular modality, one which people would exchange almost any other service for. It means that I’ve been fortunate to have tried numerous healing arts in the past 23 years since the first tarot deck picked me.
One evening this older woman, Roslyn, a very quiet and self-possessed person, with a thick British accent, and I set our sights on one another. She was round in the sort of way that said mother to me, but she was not at all the mothering kind, which always fills with delight to recollect having this limiting image of woman-as-mother shattered at that age; it was liberating. She was frank and unobtrusive. Mostly she didn’t talk or chatter like some women did. She was mysterious. It was her aura that attracted my attention. We connected while scrubbing toilet bowls, cleaning mirror and shining faucets in silence. There is a certain level of respect and appreciation one develops for a person who can do those sorts of things, clean for others—yes, our mothers do it for us, but then we all must grow up— with integrity and care, despite that the service is technically “unpaid.” That is, after all, the entire point of karma yoga. One is meant to work off whatever debt is owed to the universe, each other or our past selves through service to one’s community. Karma yoga allows us to pay back or rebalance the flow of energy in our lifetimes through a commitment to doing whatever needs to be done, humbly, without recognition and without monetary compensation. It was while we were teamed up, working in silence that we were able to truly see the other person.
Like many gifted healers, Roslyn had an understanding of the high value of her abilities. I have really come to appreciate this perspective over the years. In fact, in exchange for our karma-yoga service, we slept and ate for free at the ashram. This is the notion that we should be fairly paid for the work we do. When Roslyn and I discovered that we could offer something to each other, we exchanged services. This was to be my first and probably most fantastic Reiki session yet. The word Reiki comes from the Japanese language and is really two compounded characters, Rei and Ki. Rei means spirit, and Ki stands for energy or life force. A Reiki Master is able to channel this energy and teach others how as well. It is said that Reiki is the same healing energy that Jesus Christ used to heal the sick.
What made my first session of Reiki so extraordinary was that Roslyn could see and sense things that had not been verbalized. She began our session by asking me about my wants, feelings and needs. We talked about my life and the things I was working on during my stay at Kripalu; then she asked me to lie down. She explained that she would place her hands on various points on my body, and that I would feel warmth flowing through me. She also asked me a series of questions during the laying on of hands, which I was to answer silently. As she asked me to visualize a powerful color, one that I find healing, she named it aloud. Next, she asked me to send her a mental image of a shape. Again, she announced it when she received the image I had sent. In my astonishment, I could hardly lie still, but I knew even then how rare such an interaction is, and I channeled my excitement into the Reiki. I can still vividly remember the magical images and sensations of that hour.
It was my special gift to get touched by a powerful Reiki Master. When we are given clear visions and can communicate without words, it has profound impact on our higher selves. It allows us to evolve onto higher planes, because we take each other to new levels. Once there, we can always return to those heights. The possibility is there forever, and not just for the individuals involved. That is the nature of evolution, including spirituality-based evolution. Now, some twenty years later, I’m finally coming back to Reiki. Recently I received my First-Degree Reiki transmission and have been practicing being a conduit for the healing energy. Roslyn comes back to my mind repeatedly as I navigate the challenges of learning a new modality. I have so many questions, so many obstacles to get through in order to get to her level. I see now that she possessed tremendous concentration, inner stillness and complete self-confidence. I also know that it is possible, with time and commitment, to attain her ability. For today, it is enough to hold this space within myself, to heal the parts of myself that I can with my gifts and abilities, knowing that everyone has to start somewhere.
by Edissa Nicolas