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Alice's Adventures in Wonderland illustrated by John Tenniel colored by Fritz Kredel. Random House, 1946.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland illustrated by John Tenniel colored by Fritz Kredel. Random House, 1946.

There are two primary metaphors for describing the flow of spiritual energy in the practice of Reiki Ryôhô. In one, we describe the energy as flowing from above or beyond us. We use words like “channeling” Reiki or being a conduit for the energy. The idea is that it flows through us like water through a hose or pipe. In fact, one of my early blog posts was to address just this experience (“The Bamboo Reed”). In the second metaphor, the energy arises from within. In this post I’ll explore the differences and similarities between these two metaphors and present my own experience which I believe reconciles the two nicely.

Hawayo Takata, the woman who brought Reiki to the West, says,

“Meaning of “Reiki” Energy within oneself, when concentrated and applied to patient, will cure all ailments – it is nature’s greatest cure, which requires no drugs. It helps in all respects, human and animal life. In order to concentrate, one must purify one’s thoughts in words and to meditate to let the true “energy” come out from within. It lies in the bottom of the stomach about 2 inches below the navel. Sit in a comfortable position, close your eyes, concentrate on your thoughts and relax.” – Excerpt from Mrs. Takata’s diary Dec 10th 1935

In Japanese philosophy, the hara—the energy center two inches below the navel—is the location of personal energy. It also represents the energy we receive from our parents at conception. If this horrifies you—some of my students have almost quit Reiki when confronted with the idea that their spiritual energy derives from their wayward (or worse) parents—remember that your parents received their energy from their parents and so on and so on.

faberge shampooRemember that shampoo commercial where the screen splits each time someone tells their friends about the shampoo: “and they told two friends and they told two friends” until the whole screen is divided into tiny rectangles indicating all the friends? It’s just like that—your parents got the energy from their parents who got it from their parents who got it from their parents and pretty soon this unique and personal energy is diluted into a lineage of your whole family, ancestry, race, and eventually into the evolution of all human beings—where does it stop? The Source of All Life. So the energy you feel in your belly is the same energy as the Source of Life—what many people in the West will term the Divine or Spirit. In this metaphor, Reiki comes from within because this is the seat of our connection to the Divine.

Philosophically, I love this explanation. But I always had a bit of a conundrum because I often felt the Reiki as if it were flowing down from above. Is it coming from within or without? Do I experience it one way or another because I was taught to experience it that way or is it truly my unique experience?

Several years ago I was doing a series of readings for some new clients. The sessions lasted about three hours and included several steps ending with the selection of a final card. I closed the session with the recipient holding the card and gazing at it in a contemplative meditation while I performed reiju, the Reiki blessing. One person that I worked with was soaking up the energy unlike anyone I had worked with previously—the flow of Reiki was so strong I honestly wasn’t sure I could handle it. I repeated my mantra about being only a channel and suddenly my consciousness shifted from being within my body to being within a much larger energetic body around me. The larger body was able to easily channel the energy being drawn in by the client.

I’ve always found this to be an interesting experience, but only recently did I start to make a connection. This larger energetic body was entirely surrounding my body, like the etheric body (an energy body that follows the contours of the body and extends only slightly beyond the physical body), but much larger, like the aura. However, it didn’t have the typical egg shape that the aura is usually described as having, but a human shape. It recently occurred to me that the feeling I have of energy flowing from above might actually be my switching consciousness partly into that surrounding energy field – not fully like I did with that particular client those years ago – but just becoming aware of the part of the field that is above my head.

In this case, the energy is not flowing from above, it is above and below and around me and I am only choosing to be aware of the portion of it that is above me.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland illustrated by John Tenniel colored by Fritz Kredel. Random House, 1946.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland illustrated by John Tenniel colored by Fritz Kredel. Random House, 1946.

In Ceremonial Magic, we do an exercise called the Cabalistic Cross which opens with a brief meditation based on the idea of Adam Cadmon. Adam Cadmon is the original human and is visualized as standing with feet firmly on the ground while his body extends to the edges of the universe. The visualization is done by first becoming fully aware of your physical body and its dimensions in space, then feeling it grow larger and taller—all the while with the feet firmly planted—until it reaches the highest heights. “Like Alice in Wonderland,” one friend quipped when I taught her the exercise.

Perhaps my experience with this client was simply a case of my ceremonially training overlapping with my Reiki practice. But nevertheless it allowed me a new perception of what it means for the Reiki to arise from within and flow from without.

The hara is considered the connection to earth energy—it is where we are grounded. In the Adam Cadmon meditation the feet remain planted as a means to ground the energy. The more grounded we are and the more fully present we are in the body, the greater the energy we can carry.

So the next time you’re feeling the flow of Reiki, especially if you normally feel it or were trained to feel it as coming down from above, consider shifting your awareness to your hara or to your feet and see what happens. I’d be interested to hear your experience!

(Many thanks to the client who allowed me to have this amazing experience about five and a half years ago!)

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Joy Vernon is widely recognized by tarot professionals as an expert tarot teacher and respected community leader. With over twenty years’ experience teaching energetic and esoteric modalities, Joy brings expertise and practiced familiarity to her specialty of esoteric tarot, which layers astrological and qabalistic symbolism onto the traditional tarot structure. Under her leadership, the Denver Tarot Meetup has grown into the most active and one of the largest tarot-specific meetups in the world. Joy works as a psychic and teacher at Isis Books. To learn more, please visit JoyVernon.com.

© 2015 by Joy Vernon. All rights reserved.

Joy Vernon is widely recognized by tarot professionals as an expert tarot teacher and respected community leader. With over twenty years’ experience teaching energetic and esoteric modalities, Joy brings expertise and practiced familiarity to her specialty of esoteric tarot, which layers astrological and qabalistic symbolism onto the traditional tarot structure. Under her leadership, the Denver Tarot Meetup has grown into one of the largest and most active tarot-specific meetups in the world. Joy works as a tarot reader, astrologer, and teacher at Isis Books. To learn more, please visit JoyVernon.com.
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