Just for today, be kind to all living beings.

The Times, Libby Purves, Monday 3 July 2017

Network Rail staff and Transport Police are taking a Samaritans’ suicide prevention course. One member of staff, who was initially sceptical, brought himself to approach a woman who as it turned out, was planning to jump.
Resistance, in the guise of scepticism, is often self doubt. When we follow the fourth Reiki principle, work hard on yourself, training courses can be a springboard for self-development as well as helping others. It needn’t be a situation as serious as a potential suicide. Just letting someone feel they are not alone can help ease a burden.

Kindness has been defined as the quality of being friendly, generous and considerate. It is also linked with the Buddhist principle of Compassion. When I say this principle, I think of the Metta Bhavana, Loving Kindness meditation. The meditation takes you through five stages.  With the first stage you start with yourself.

May I be well, May I be happy, may I be free from suffering, may I progress.

Then the meditation moves on to a good friend, then someone neutral then someone you dislike. For each stage we wish the person well using the phrase above. In the final stage we extend Metta, loving kindness, to all four people (including ourselves) equally and at the same time.
If you want to try this for yourself, there are guided meditations on Free Buddhist Audio.

Parmanada in his book Change Your Mind, offers the best written description I have seen. I take just the opening words for each stage. Please see the Kindle or print version for a more detailed explanation.

Stage One: As we have seen, the ability to feel Metta towards others is based on, or is dependent on, the ability to feel metta towards ourselves. This is therefore where the practice begins. In this stage we try to cultivate a sense of metta towards ourselves. Sometimes this can feel quite awkward – if we have been brought up to feel that caring for ourselves is selfish.
Stage Two: Now we bring to mind a good friend, someone whose company we enjoy. It is said that it is best to choose someone who is about your own age, who is still living, and of the same sex.
Stage Three: In this stage we bring to mind a different person, this time someone that we could call a ‘neutral’ person, someone we have no strong feelings towards, one way or the other. It might be someone we work with but have never really got to know, or it might be someone we often see in our locality; it doesn’t matter too much. What we are trying to encourage here is an expansion of our normal emotional range, a broadening of our emotional awareness to include those who do not have a direct impact on our lives.
Stage Four: We now make a move into enemy territory, that is to say, we bring to mind a person who would normally provoke in us rather unfriendly feelings. We bring to mind an enemy, or at least someone we find difficult or irritating. This is a very interesting stage of the meditation to teach, as it tends to provoke strong reactions from people.
Stage Five: In the final stage of the meditation we really let ourselves go. We try to apply whatever feelings of metta we have unearthed to all manner of other people, wherever they may be – or, indeed, to all manner of living beings, human and non-human. First of all we bring together the four people we have already included in the meditation, with the thought ‘May I feel equal metta for all these people.’

The purpose of Metta Bhavana is to cultivate compassion for ourselves. Once we experience self-compassion and learn to accept ourselves as we are, it is easier to extend loving kindness to others.
Many years ago I regularly attended a meditation group at the College of Psychic Studies led by Julian Willmore in partnership with his guide and teacher Linpur. One particular phrase in the meditation always resonated with me.

“Have compassion for who you are, have compassion for who you have been and have compassion for who you will be”

As we travel through life, we metamorphose through many stages of existence. As we grow or experience setbacks, we can sometimes feel like different people. It can also include forgiving our many selves as well as forgiving others. With the fifth Reiki principle, we can be reminded to show kindness to our many selves, as well as all living beings.

 

 

Just For Today, Work Hard on Yourself

Sometimes translated as “Be honest in your work”

For me, this means self-development. Investing in myself.

I approach this in a number of ways. I’m by no means perfect – I see myself more as ‘a work in progress’ than the finished article. The finished article may take some time!

Self-healing: A daily Reiki self-treatment, takes a bit if self-discipline to become a regular habit. However, even if only 15 minutes, it does play an important part in self-healing. It is said a little Reiki is better than no Reiki. I do, however, feel much more relaxed after an hour long session.

There are Reiki techniques that focus on changing bad habits, addictions and redundant thought patterns. Seiheiki Chiryo Ho and Nentatsu Ho are very similar. Both can also be used to set an intention, usually in the form of an affirmation. Affirmations are very personal – what gels with one person can sound a bit ‘airy fairy’ to another. Some people like Louise Hay, but there are plenty of alternatives out there. Or you could make up your own. An affirmation needs to be positive and achievable. These techniques can be performed on yourself if you have Reiki (Seiheiki Chiryo Ho uses the Reiki 2 symbols, Nentatsu Ho does not need them)

I enjoy Hatsurei Ho each morning. I tailor it to fit the time I have available. When I go to Reiki shares or Reiki Guild events, these normally form part of the proceedings.

Reiki Shares: Whether you are a practitioner or not, as long as you have been attuned to Reiki, do find a local share and join in the fun. You can learn new techniques and make new friends. And learn how to do Hatsurei Ho!

I am currently working with the Three Diamonds. From: Nathaniel. Reiki: The Path of Three Diamonds: The Path to Spiritual Harmony

The first Dantien, Hara, is placed in the abdomen. The second dantien is placed in the heart, and the third dantien is placed in the head. Between them, according to Taoism teachings, there are two primary energy channels connecting the dantiens together – the front and back channel. Together they create what is called the microcosmic orbit.

The first Diamond, the earth energy, is the material world and the layer of Yin. The second Diamond is the emotional realm – our feelings and emotions, our points of view and perception of life, the Shadows hidden in the unconscious mind. The Third Diamond is the energy of the heart, it’s the practice of the third degree – Shinpiden. Here we discover nothing more but the practice that leads to integration of the first two Diamonds. This is where we practice in order to integrate together what we have learned in the past. We discover new aspects of the First and Second Diamond, where everything becomes a whole, leading us to the final goal of Unity.

According to Taoist teachings it is said that we should never work directly with the second and third dantien. We can work safely only with the first dantien, the Hara. But these dantiens are connected with each other. When the first dantien is activated fully, the spiritual energy goes to the second dantien, and once this one is full and activated, the energy reaches the third dantien. Nevertheless, on the path of Reiki we work directly only with the first dantien, the region of Hara in the abdomen. In a passive way, the second dantien benefits from meditations, breathing techniques and working with the Gassho mudra, and the third dantien benefits from the general practice.

At the beginning of this piece I wrote “The finished article may take some time!” I’m not sure there will ever be a ‘finished article’. And I am pretty sure I wouldn’t want there to be. It’s quite nice being a work in progress and exploring what life has to offer.

Just for today, be full of gratitude

The concept of counting your blessings can sound trite, if not handled carefully. So I hope I can do the concept of gratitude justice.
I know that an authentic feeling of gratitude can’t be faked. The order of the principles (Anger, Worry, Gratitude) has relevance. If we are angry or worried, it’s hard to be satisfied with our lot. If we have genuine concerns about money or feel anger because we feel we have less than we are entitled to, a feeling of gratitude just isn’t going to happen.
Sometimes we need a change of attitude to feel gratitude. A lack of gratitude, of always wanting and never getting, brings us down emotionally as well as physically. Gratitude can be an uplifting experience; we can hold ourselves tall, knowing that we are satisfied with what we have, or have the skills to obtain what we need.

Recently, after waking up to several dull and grey mornings in a row, I was truly grateful for a burst of sunshine when it happened.
Spring is a time for gratitude; witness the new buds forming on trees, crocuses and daffodils popping up everywhere. Better times ahead, summer is coming.

I grow tomatoes and herbs in the garden and buy a pot of basil or parsley from the supermarket. I say thank you to the plant before I take what I need. From a spiritual/shamanic perspective, I am expressing gratitude for the Earth’s bounty. We can also say thank you after a self-treatment, to show gratitude.
Another Reiki principle that can help with gratitude is ‘Be kind to all living things’ An act of kindness can help restore another person’s faith in human nature.

From Penelope Quest: Reiki For Life: The Complete Guide to Reiki Practice for levels 1, 2 & 3

Be grateful/ show appreciation/ count your blessings We need to value and appreciate many things in our lives and to be grateful for our many blessings; however, sometimes we need to recognise those blessings first, because if life is a struggle and if we are going through a ‘bad patch’, this colours our view of life until we assume that everything in life is bad. Even when we are happy and healthy we are often not aware of it and take it very much for granted. Yet most of us are living very good lives, even if they aren’t perfect. Take time out of every day just to stand and stare at the beauty of a flower or the happiness of a child at play. Develop an awareness of life and what it means to live it. Of course there will be ups and downs, happiness and sadness, but every experience is valuable because it helps to make you who you are. So, just for today give thanks for your many blessings. The world is a wonderful place in which to live a physical life, so use Reiki and meditation to help you to develop an ‘attitude of gratitude’ to discover and trust in the abundance of the Universe and to develop your own belief in your deservingness of love, beauty, peace and anything else you need or desire.

Just For Today, Worry Not.

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I know I’m going to worry, but there is something I can do about it. And some worries are worth worrying about – a little. It’s a good idea to plan or prepare for some situations. But once the decision is made, leave it there. No point going round in circles.

On a physical level, worry brings us down. Shoulders rounded, head down, back stooped. Worry almost carries a physical weight. Excessive worry leads to anxiety, which can cause stress, high levels of cortisol, high blood pressure and digestive disturbances (there are ‘brain cells’ in the gut)

Emotionally, worry and anxiety can leave us drained. Thinking “I can’t do it” can make a person feel like they are drowning, overwhelmed. This makes clear thinking difficult. When feeling overwhelmed, breaking a tough schedule into small achievable chunks can help.

On a Spiritual level, worry is self-doubt. That interferes with any belief systems we may have on both mundane and higher levels. Self-doubt is losing faith.

Primary and secondary suffering – in Buddhist terms, primary suffering is the initial problem we experience. Suppose I twist my ankle. The very real pain in my foot would be primary suffering. Secondary suffering would be the worrying that follows – supposing the swelling doesn’t go down? I won’t be able to walk, then I won’t be able to go to class, then I won’t be able to finish my course, then I won’t be able to earn a living, then… Disaster! This can also be described as the first and second arrows of suffering. With the first arrow, we are shot with misfortune. With the second arrow we shoot ourselves. This is the aversion, worry and denial that follows the first arrow.

Dealing with worry: Saying the Reiki Principles first thing can help. Just as Anger is linked to fear, so too is Worry. Remember, it’s just for today… And by the time tomorrow comes, whatever our worry is, it will in all likelihood have resolved itself.

Just for today, Anger not

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Repeating the Reiki Principles at times of stress can help modify habitual responses and reactions. Taken from my Reiki First Degree portfolio completed at Morley College:

Just for today, Anger not. How do you feel after you say the Principle? Every day this week look out for situations where anger could be aroused and reflect on it. What effect does anger have: physically, emotionally, spiritually, socially? What makes us angry? Why does it make us angry? Does it make us strong? Does it weaken us?
Physically anger can make the body tense (flight or fight response) It can also be ‘held’ in the body as muscular tension, (locked jaw, headaches, etc). Bodywork of any description can help release the emotions held within the body.
Emotionally anger can be turned inwards as well as outwards.
Anger can be part of the process of change. It can be the catalyst for change.
Loss of control over situations can result in fear and anger. Anger and Fear are close cousins.
I found that my anger had gone after my First degree attunement. I had been holding a lot of anger that I had been unaware of until it dissipated. I woke up the next morning, feeling something was different. It didn’t take long for me to realise my anger was missing. I looked around the room, rather theatrically, searching for my anger. Where was it gone? It had been a real physical presence in my life and now it was gone. This anger was different to the day to day angry moments one might feel. I’m glad it’s gone.
Saying the principle in the evening as well as the morning allows for reflection on the days experiences. It would be a tall order to vow never to be angry ever again. “Just for today” makes it more manageable.

From Thich Nhat Hanh Anger: Buddhist Wisdom for Cooling the Flames

Cooking Anger

You need to sustain your mindfulness for a certain amount of time in order for the flower of anger to open herself. It’s like when you cook potatoes; you put the potatoes in the pot, cover it, and put it on the fire. But even with a very high flame, if you turn the fire off after five minutes, the potatoes will not be cooked. You have to keep the fire burning for at least fifteen or twenty minutes in order for the potatoes to cook. After that, you open the lid, and you smell the wonderful aroma of cooked potatoes. Your anger is like that—it needs to be cooked. In the beginning it is raw. You cannot eat raw potatoes. Your anger is very difficult to enjoy, but if you know how to take care of it, to cook it, then the negative energy of your anger will become the positive energy of understanding and compassion. You can do it. It is not something only a Great Being can do. You can do it, too. You can transform the garbage of anger into the flower of compassion. Many of us can do this in just fifteen minutes. The secret is to continue the practice of mindful breathing, the practice of mindful walking, generating the energy of mindfulness in order to embrace your anger. Embrace your anger with a lot of tenderness. Your anger is not your enemy, your anger is your baby. It’s like your stomach or your lungs. Every time you have some trouble in your lungs or your stomach, you don’t think of throwing them away. The same is true with your anger. You accept your anger because you know you can take care of it; you can transform it into positive energy.

The Reiki Principles

ideals

A translation of the above reads as follows:

The secret method of inviting happiness

The wonderful medicine for all diseases (of the body and the soul)

Just for today

  • Do not get angry
  • Do not worry
  • Show appreciation
  • Work hard (on yourself)
  • Be kind to others

Mornings and evenings, sit in the Gassho position and repeat these words out loud and in your heart. (For the) improvement of body and soul, Usui Reiki Ryoho Usui Spiritual Energy Healing Method Chosso Usui Mikao The founder, Mikao Usui

With Reiki comes spiritual awakening. Healing involves the mind as well as the body. Self-healing is very much a part of the practice and reflecting on the five Reiki Principles allows us to work with the conscious and sub-conscious mind.

There is no self-punishment attached to the principles. Just for today – don’t worry about yesterday or tomorrow. Concentrate on the present.

Repetition on a daily basis allows the principles to become ‘second nature’. Reflecting or meditating on the principles gives us a chance to think them through. We can invite happiness into our lives, for example, by having gratitude. Take a look in any bookshop at the self-help section. These principles are represented in many of the books on display in one way or another. Over the next few days, I’ll be looking at each principle in turn.

Mikao Usui

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A good introduction to Mikao Usui can be found on the pages of Reiki Guild
Here is an extract:

Mikao Usui rediscovered the system of Reiki in Japan at the end of the 19th Century following a lifetime of study, effort and dedication.

His life-changing experience came through a meditation retreat on Mount Kurama near Kyoto in 1922. From this he developed the simple system of Reiki that we know today.

Following the huge 1923 earthquake which ripped through Tokyo causing firestorms and destruction on an almost unknown scale, Usui and his students gave Reiki to countless suffering people. Their dedication and compassion meant that his Reiki system became known to many people who studied.

Through Mikao Usui’s teaching career, he taught many people Reiki. They in turn, passed this system to their own students.

For people particularly outside of Japan, Reiki was spread through a retired naval officier – Chujiro Hayashi who was a prolific teacher. One of his students, a Hawaiian Japanese lady called Hawayo Takata who was a widow and single mother, was singlehandedly responsible for the spread of Reiki from Hawaii to the US and from there around the world.

With the enormous popularity of Reiki today, this life-enhancing system has been taught to millions of people worldwide in various forms. This is partly due to the huge popularity and hunger for Reiki that spread across the Western world and led to many variations in the way Reiki was taught.
The Richard Ellis School of Reiki has a profile of Mikao Usui that includes the links with Buddhism that lay the foundations for the more secular spiritual practice of Reiki followed in the west today. Mikao Usui asked all Reiki practitioners to say The Reiki Principles in Gassho (hands pressed together in front of the chest) in the morning and in the evening of each day. There are many translations and I use the following:
Just for today:
Anger Not
Worry Not
Be full of gratitude
Work hard on yourself
Be kind to all people
I will be discussing these principles in more detail in future blogs.