As part of my journey into holistic wellbeing, and our mission to bring you tried and trusted products, services and experiences that complement this, I recently investigated Reiki. I have long been intrigued by this ancient therapy. I was fortunate enough to meet a Reiki practitioner from County Durham at a local networking event. After chatting for a while, I was curious to know more about the type of Reiki that she practiced, which is Jikiden Reiki. What is Jikiden Reiki? I thought Reiki was, well, Reiki! So I asked the expert, Carole Dawson, one of only a handful of UK-based Jikiden Reiki Shihan Teachers, to tell me more.
Carole began her holistic therapy career in 1988, following a massage treatment. Having been asked by her therapist if she had a neck problem (simply by feeling her feet!), Carole’s interest was stirred and she began to look into it further. Before long she was booked on an introductory Reflexology course in Edinburgh. At this point Carole had no plans to go into this as a career. Whilst she was intrigued as to the possible health benefits Reflexology could bring, it was only after practicing on family and friends as part of her course progression that her eyes were opened to the wonders of this ancient art.
Carole was amazed to receive positive feedback from her new found “guinea pigs”, even at these early stages of her training. Yet it still had not occurred to her that this could be a career opportunity! Despite continuing with her training, it was only when the “Pass” certificate arrived on her doormat that the penny dropped. She could actually do this as a profession.
Working very part-time around her young daughter, Carole started to pick up clients. Through predominantly word-of-mouth recommendations it soon grew into a thriving business. It wasn’t long before Carole was being asked to give talks on Reflexology.
It was in 1995 that Carole was introduced to Reiki, and the journey continued.
Introduction to Reiki
It was during Carole’s first European Conference of Reflexology, which happened to be taking place in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, that she came across Reiki. Preparing for the conference, arranging childcare for a small child, had been quite stressful. Whilst sitting with a group of fellow Reflexologists, she mentioned a painful “knot” she had in her back as a result. One of the group was a Reiki practitioner and she offered Carole a treatment.
As she placed her hands on the affected area, Carole immediately felt an intense heat and a tingling sensation. She assumed this was coming from the Reiki practitioner. But it was actually Carole drawing the energy through into her! After only a few minutes, Carole not only felt relief from the painful knot, but her focus, attention span, energy, were dramatically improved. And this lasted for the whole weekend. “I felt absolutely wonderful, I felt alive!” said Carole.
Carole firmly believes her positive experiences that weekend were a direct result of the Reiki treatment. She did offer a caveat that the benefits may not be so obvious each time – she hasn’t experienced the same “electricity” that she felt during that first treatment. And not only is it different each time, but it is also likely to be a different experience for each person. She puts this down to the body drawing the energy it needs at that particular moment and each time could feel completely different. People often go for Reiki expecting to get results they’ve heard about from others, but there’s no guarantee that what they feel will be the same.
What is Reiki?
I asked Carole what it is about Reiki that gives such positive benefits. “Reiki is energy that’s being made available to that person for healing, and their body draws what it needs, where it needs it“, explained Carole. “It’s a totally natural process, it’s not forced in any way.” Compare this to Reflexology, where the pratictioner chooses what to work on, makes active decisions about where to focus attention, etc. With Reiki, the therapist’s only job is to make the energy available (utilising the energy that’s all around us) for the benefit of healing by putting “hands on” (more on this later).
Whilst there is a process that Carole follows during a treatment, the key is to “listen” to messages the body is giving out, and focussing on these as areas that require healing. These may be sensations of varying intensities, such as heat, or tingling. This sensing of the body is called “Byosen” which roughly translates to “toxic lump” or “congestion”. And Reiki is the art of sensing different levels of this and working on the body accordingly.
Discovering Jikiden Reiki
The treatment starts at the head then moves to the feet, which means you have energy flowing up and down the body immediately. After that, the focus is on the areas that need attention – this is very much the Jikiden Reiki style. I asked Carole about the differences between Western Reiki and Jikiden Reiki. She explained that Western Reiki is the style that is most commonly practiced here and that most people will be familiar with.
Whilst Reiki originated in Japan, it is thought that the original style was lost after the war. Amid the post-war fear, the country all but closed down. A consequence of this was that only medical practitioners were allowed to touch people, forcing the main Reiki institute to become a closed group.
Reiki had, by this time, spread throughout the West but it had been westernised to make it acceptable to people. In that process, many authentic practices were taken out and others put in that were unnecessary to Reiki. It was still Reiki, but it simply wasn’t as authentic, and was disconnected from the original style.
Rediscovering Jikiden Reiki
Carole went on to talk about Chiyoko Yamaguchi, who was discovered to be the person who had learned from one of the original teachers when she was just 17. She practiced Reiki her entire life and had raised her children on Reiki, using only Reiki to treat them. This rediscovery of the practice of the original style reignited the authentic Reiki practice, previously thought to have been lost. Eventually Chiyoko and her son were encouraged to start teaching this style (this is where the name “Jikiden” comes from, meaning “directly taught”).
There is some wonderful background on Jikiden Reiki on Carole’s website, which I can highly recommend if you are interested in the history of this authentic Reiki style.
Practicing the Jikiden Reiki Style
As with her original experience of Reiki, Carole discovered Jikiden Reiki entirely by accident. Having been practicing Western Reiki since 1995, eventually becoming a teacher of the practice, in 2013 a colleague encouraged Carole to join her on a course run by Mr Tadao Yamaguchi, Chiyoko’s son. Unfamiliar with the history of the Yamaguchi family at that time, Carole agreed to go anyway. Driven by her interest in anything connected to Reiki, Carole was amazed by the differences in the two styles. She felt there was a “purity” about the Jikiden style that she hadn’t experienced with Western Reiki.
Part of the process of becoming a Reiki practitioner is “Reiju” or “attunement”. Carole explained that everyone has a connection to healing energy, but not everyone can access it. They become “clogged up” with things like negative thinking, social conditioning, etc which prevents this process from working naturally. Reiju helps to open up the channel, to clear the way and allow the healing energy to come through. The Jikiden process felt very different to its Western counterpart for Carole, leaving her feeling even more connected to the healing energy.
Carole continued with further trainings with Mr Yamaguchi, including psychological treatment and sending Reiki from a distance. She eventually progressed to the Jikiden Assistant Teaching programme and after much soul-searching (not to mention some subliminal guidance from the Universe via some unlikely sources!) finally made the decision to move away from practicing Western Reiki to focus solely on Jikiden Reiki. It’s a decision she has not regretted.
Carole now runs a busy Reflexology and Jikiden Reiki therapy practice, as well as teaching Jikiden courses for up to 10 people (see her website for more details).
My Jikiden Reiki experience
Carole was kind enough to offer me a Reiki session, which I gladly accepted! I began by lying on my back, with a light cloth covering my eyes. There was gentle, soothing music in the background and the whole ambiance was one of calm and serenity.
Carole began at my head, holding her hands over various areas of my head and face. It wasn’t an obvious sensation, there was definite heat but it was gentle and very relaxing. As Carole explained, the sensations and experience of Reiki are unique to each person and what they need at that moment. Carole then moved down to my feet, legs, stomach and chest, focussing on the areas that she felt needed attention based on the energy being channelled.
The treatment lasted about 45 minutes, finishing with a more “traditional” massage to my back and legs. This invigorating and energising massage set me up nicely for the rest of my busy day. The effects weren’t dramatic or obvious at the time but I definitely felt calmer and more “balanced”.
I can highly recommend trying a Reiki session. Whether to address a particular issue, to escape from the stresses of the world and have some “me” time, or simply to rebalance. We could all do with looking after our holistic wellbeing, and Reiki most definitely is a tonic for our body, mind and spirit.
If you’re in or around the County Durham area and would like to experience her healing touch, then contact Carole via her website.
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