Spirit is our Shield: Taking on the Energy of Others in Reiki

Estimated Reading Time: 7 minutes

At a recent meetup the topic of taking on the energy of others came up. A woman told a story about doing a healing on a friend who had pain in her hip. The next day, the healer woke up and her hip hurt—she immediately recognized that it wasn’t her pain: her own pain was in her right hip, it was the left hip that hurt that morning. She could tell that she had taken on her friend’s pain.

A lot of us in the meetup that night identify as empaths, and it is typical for empaths to feel in their own bodies the physical and emotional experience of other people. I first noticed this for myself back in college—I was sitting in the theatre waiting for a rehearsal to start, feeling nothing in particular. A friend came in and sat down and I was immediately overwhelmed with a sense of depression. I started doing a mental inventory of what might be making me feel depressed and why it came on so suddenly. I realized it couldn’t be me—it had to be her. I turned to her and said, “How are you feeling?” “Oh, I’m so depressed,” was her response. I realized that the depression I was feeling was not mine; I was simply connecting with my friend.

I have dozens of stories like this, but I’ll bet you do too!

Clients and students often ask me what I do or what they can do to protect themselves during a Reiki session. Often such a request is accompanied with a story similar to mine or to the one I heard in the meetup. So they are shocked when I admit that we don’t use protection in Reiki!

Let me tell you the second half of the healer’s story. She already had a chiropractic appointment scheduled for the next day for her right hip. She asked the doctor to work on her left hip as well. He did, but she felt no relief from the pain.

This is a perfect example of the idea of taking on the energy of others—physical healing doesn’t affect what we are experiencing in our bodies as physical pain. We do not take on the physical disease or injuries of others when we practice energetic healing. It is only the energetic component that we share—even though it feels perfectly real to us. This idea of taking on the energy of others is only that—an idea. It is just a thought, it is only information. This is the way that we as healers discover the experience of others so that we can best connect with them to perform the healing. This is the gift that we have—to experience the pain or disease clearly so that we can release it fully. I tell my students that if they ever feel they are taking on something from a client, to simply say silently to themselves, “Thank you for the information. I understand clearly and no longer need to experience this.”

In the traditional Japanese Reiki that I teach, one of our main goals is to lose the ego by connecting to our true selves and through that connection realizing oneness with the Source of Life. In oneness, there is perfect clarity that all things are one; there is no separation. In oneness, all things are perfect and whole.

One of the main techniques taught generally in the metaphysical community for energetic protection is a shield—many energetic practitioners are taught to visualize a protective bubble around them, usually in a particular color. Often people tell me their shield is mirrored to reflect back the negative energy from others.

By definition, this practice separates us from others. In Reiki, we are taught oneness, not separation.

I would never dream of trying to take away a person’s belief in themselves as being safe and protected. Also, on a very practical level, if a tool works for you, use it. And no matter how far down our spiritual path we’ve traveled, sometimes shortcuts work. So when someone tells me about their shielding techniques, I always say that it sounds like they have an excellent practice. All paths lead up the mountain—the more they work with their shield from a place of truth and honesty, the more they will start to recognize it as a construct, an idea that can be shed as they grow closer through their practices to the unity of the Divine.

You might notice that we started with recognizing that the idea of taking on energy is only an idea. Now we see that protecting ourselves from energy is only an idea. Ideas are in the mind, and the mind defines. To define is to limit or set up a boundary. Boundaries separate. Our goal is oneness. In oneness, the limitations of our mind are released. In oneness, all things are perfect and whole.

The healer from the meetup group told us that the next time she saw her friend she asked if the chiropractor she recommended had helped. The friend replied, “Well, I didn’t need to go. The pain is completely gone and I feel perfectly fine!”

Energetic healing works. But to think that it works because we have taken on the energy of another is, from a perspective of oneness, the height of ego, which is duality. It is ego, an overly strong attachment to the I, that limits us, that creates separation, and that results in the dualistic thinking of self and other.

So what do you do? How do you find the connection of oneness in your practice?

In Reiki, there are three steps, called the three diamonds: connecting to the earth, connecting to heaven, opening your compassion. Once these steps are fully experienced, the bright light shines in and around you, flowing through you and radiating out from you. This is the energy that arises from the connection to the Divine, from achieving anshin ritsumei, absolute inner peace. It is the energy of connecting. It is the energy of oneness. In oneness, all things are perfect and whole.

There is no separation. We do not take on another’s pain. We only release our own.

Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of Aikido and a contemporary of Reiki founder Mikao Usui, said, “Your spirit is the true shield.” This is not to say that we hold spirit in front of us like holding out a cross in the presence of a vampire!

If spirit is our shield, it is a shield of light. We do not put on the mantle of pain or wear the hurt of others. We clothe ourselves in the light of the Divine. Have you ever seen the edge of light? Turn on a bright light in a large dark room. Try to find the exact edge of the light. I’m not going to say you can’t find it—we are trained in our society to make executive decisions and to analyze just such conundrums. But every time you mark the edge of the light, if you let your perception grow finer, you will probably see that the light extends just a bit past where you thought it ended. If you try to separate yourself from others, if you put on a shield and armor and march into the war of healing, you may be safe but you will not be able to ever touch the other. If you don the shield of spirit, there is no end to your ability to radiate the healing of love.


Read an article on Protection and Reiki by Frans Stiene, one of the founders of the International House of Reiki.

Check in tomorrow for my article, “The Three Diamonds: A Reiki Approach to Experiencing Oneness” to start practicing the steps that lead to the experience of oneness.

Joy Vernon specializes in Traditional Japanese Reiki and is a certified Komyo Reiki Shihan (Teacher). She studied with Komyo Reiki Kai Founder Hyakuten Inamoto in 2011 and 2013. She is also a Reiki Practitioner and Teacher in the Usui Reiki Ryôhô lineage through IHR. Joy was first trained in Usui Shiki Ryôhô/Usui Tibetan Reiki in 2003. She is the Organizer of the Denver Traditional Reiki Meetup and is a member of Shibumi International Reiki Association and the Healing Touch Professional Association. Joy is also a Certified Professional Tarot Reader. Learn more at JoyVernon.com.

© 2015 by Joy Vernon. All rights reserved.

Joy Vernon
Joy Vernon

Joy Vernon is widely recognized as an expert tarot teacher and respected community leader. With over twenty-five 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 grew into one of the largest and most active tarot-specific meetups in the world. Now Joy runs the Greater Seattle Tarot Meetup. Joy works as a tarot reader, astrologer, and teacher in Burien, Washington. To learn more, please visit JoyVernon.com.

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