My Reiki Journey by Way of an India Trip.
Some years ago, I took a trip to India that set into motion a huge transformation in my life. Looking back, I am astounded at how it all mysteriously fell together.
I had never imagined going to India, but a friend told me about a woman who was putting together a trip with a once-in-a-lifetime itinerary. It would the first trip to India for everyone who had signed up. All in the group had dreamed of going to India and many practiced healing arts, two interests that I did not yet share, but soon would.
It seemed like a crazy idea to agree to this fast-paced journey from the southern tip of India up to the Himalayas. I was intrigued, but far from sure about my decision. Vaccinations were suggested. My visa application was initially denied. Apart from these issues, I remember feeling deep down that I would be changed by the experience if I went. Truthfully, I wasn’t sure I wanted that.
My life was comfortable, and I was reticent to allow in change. In the end, I decided the possible pros outweighed the cons.
After we had landed in Trivandrum, we spent two nights in a restful hotel on the warm, palm-studded Kovalam Beach. This sojourn was to help us rearrange our sleep schedule, with a thirteen-and-a-half-hour time change, and to recuperate after a day-and-a-half of traveling. We then headed north up river on a scenic and surreal water journey to Amma’s ashram.
We traveled by houseboat, complete with bedrooms, a bathroom, kitchen, and deck, navigated by two men in wrap-around dhotis. It was here that I first saw Reiki being practiced.
Not long after embarking, one of the women in our group walked down the dark hallway to use the bathroom. Wearing sunglasses, she didn’t see the open hole in the boat floor where repairs where being made, and she fell in. The result was bruising and cuts on her legs.
We helped her walk to the bow of the boat, arranged some cushions there for her to rest, and a holistic nurse who was our travel mate began giving her Reiki. I watched quietly and then saw over the next two days how quickly she healed, and the bruising disappeared. What had happened? I wanted to know.
I had heard of Reiki, but I thought it was an inherent talent that practitioners were born with. On a bus from Puttaparthi to Bangalore, I was seated next to the nurse who had given Reiki on the boat. She told me that anyone with an intention to help themselves or another can learn to give Reiki once they are attuned by a master.
That conversation and what I had seen on the houseboat sparked an interest and an inquisitiveness, and once I returned home, I scoured the library website looking for books about Reiki and reading them one after another.
This is what I learned. We all have energy flowing through our bodies. When the energy runs freely and without obstruction, this supports health. If there are obstacles or imbalances in the energy, we can become unhealthy. Reiki is a simple way in which positive energy is channeled to reestablish balance within the body, mind, and spirit.
During a session, the person giving Reiki places their hands gently in various learned positions on or above the recipient’s clothed body, and energy flows through the practitioner to where it is needed. This enhances the receiver’s innate healing potential, which helps them regain balance. A treatment is soothing, deeply relaxing, and centering.
You can use Reiki on yourself and others, even on animals and plants. Reiki has been shown to do the following: strengthen the immune system, enhance digestion and sleep, alleviate pain and stress, detoxify, lessen inflammation, speed recovery, and create a sense of calm and wellbeing. This type of healing has a long history, going back to information found in ancient Sanskrit texts.
More recently, in the early 1900s, it was demonstrated to the modern world by a teacher and the founder of Reiki in Japan. From there, it spread to the United States and to other countries.
After reading a lot of books about Reiki, I felt this was something I wanted to pursue. Next, I searched for a teacher. Six months after returning from India, I went to my first class never having met the teacher and only having received Reiki on one occasion. Our teacher taught us the history of Reiki, the hand positions to use in a session, and other pertinent information.
But what truly creates a Reiki practitioner are the attunements given by a master. These open a channel, allowing healing energy to flow through a person’s body and to another.
Joyce J. Morris, author and Reiki master teacher, says in her book Reiki Hands That Heal, “The attunements align your crown, third eye, throat and heart chakras, and the minor chakras in the palms of your hands, as well as working on the electromagnetic field of the body.” For many people, this sounds very foreign. Consequently, I believe many practitioners don’t usually talk about what they do.
Nonetheless, most Reiki practitioners have their private treasure of stories where Reiki has helped someone.
After I had practiced the hand positions and given myself and my classmates a treatment during that first class, I remember my hands felt a little tingly and I was relaxed. It felt good to give and to receive a treatment. But compared to what I experienced later, this was just a beginning.
At the end of class, I learned that my teacher was also a massage therapist, and I arranged for a massage with her two days later. Little did I know what awaited.
That day, after the massage and before I got up to get dressed, I began to suddenly feel a humming current in my lower extremities which then traveled up my body and down through my arms. It felt like water was flowing out of my palms. When I asked my teacher to come back into the room, she told me she thought my energy channel might be opening.
That day, I wrote in my journal, “I had tears of joy in my eyes. I felt shaky and dizzy and had to sit in my car until I felt I could drive.” This experience opened me fully to Reiki in a way that gave me confidence to start practicing.
From then on, anytime I touched someone with an intention to help, I felt a tingling vibration and a pleasant pressure in my hands. The first week after class, I did eight one-hour sessions for friends and family. One of the beauties of Reiki is that while giving a session, you receive the same healing energy through your own body, so it is a win-win experience. For me, it is as relaxing as meditation.
Shortly after, I realized that I had been waiting for a gift like this to offer. Reiki felt like coming home. It is the best feeling to know that by simply offering to be an open channel, you might make someone’s life easier.
As I continued to give sessions, I started to understand what our teacher had taught us, that the most important part of the teaching is the practice. The more I practiced, the stronger the energy felt and the more confident I became.
After months of practice, I took the second-degree Reiki class, where we learned emotional and distance healing. Another remarkable characteristic of how this energy functions is the physical distance between client and practitioner is not an issue. A few years later, I completed the Advanced Reiki Training, the master class to be a Reiki teacher, and the Karuna master class.
I never planned to teach, but then I never planned to be a Reiki practitioner either!
One of the most amazing benefits of Reiki is being able to use it for myself. More than a few times, I have had colds go away when I already had a sore throat. I play beach volleyball each week. When I pull a muscle, strain, or injure some part of my body, I sit on the sand and let Reiki flow.
Once, I had severe back pain completely disappear when a friend gave me one Reiki session, but for other incidents it sometimes took more sessions.
Emotionally and spiritually, I am calmer and more centered when I give or receive Reiki. Life feels right just the way it is. I am less likely to worry or try to change outcomes. I also believe Reiki can be used to foster creative endeavors and that Reiki opened me up to become a writer.
After my first class, I started getting strong inspiration to write and often received ideas for writing during the time I was giving myself Reiki.
I will never forget that first day I felt energy coursing through my body. It made me a believer in the possibilities of energy work and gave me confidence to start practicing and to want to tell people about Reiki. It’s important to me to share what I’ve discovered to be an effective way to heal.
Looking back over a journal of the sessions I have given, almost everyone has related that while receiving Reiki and after they felt a sense of peacefulness. Another common response was a lessening of worry or anxiety.
Some told me they felt heat, vibration, or energy moving in their bodies, others that they slept better or were relieved of pain. Some saw colors and lights or had visions. Others told me they felt healing on an emotional or spiritual level.
In the end, my adventure to India, the wonderful people I met, and the remarkable sites I saw were a great gift. A wondrous seed planted on this trip grew into my connection to an energy healing modality and presented one of the most magnificent additions to my life. I cannot imagine ever not practicing Reiki; there are so many life experiences it can be applied to.
For all the reasons discussed, I strongly recommend Reiki to anyone interested to try a type of holistic healing and a new way to feel better.
Carolyn Chilton Casas is a Reiki Master and teacher. Her favorite themes to write about are healing, awareness, and the life journey. Carolyn’s stories and poems have appeared in Braided Way, Energy, Odyssey, Reiki News Magazine, The Art of Healing, Touch, and in other publications. You can read more of Carolyn’s work on Instagram or in her first collection of poems titled Our Shared Breath.