An Interview with Kate Jones: Developing in your practice
Kate Jones began her Reiki training in 1989, becoming a Reiki Master in the latter part of 1991.
WHERE AND WHEN DID YOU TRAIN?
I first came across Reiki in a Tai Chi class. I’d sprained my ankle but just carried on stoically. The Tai Chi teacher said he’d noticed my struggling and asked if I’d like some Reiki. I didn’t think it did much, but was impressed by the feeling of energy in my body.
Soon after this, my dad died suddenly and the same teacher offered Reiki to help with my emotions. I was feeling my grief physically and I was quite sceptical: I had never had any experience of non-physical healing. My dad was a psychiatrist and a GP so I came from quite a scientific angle.
But I had a full treatment for an hour and it was amazing: I ended up having six months of treatment which I found really helped me with my grieving. Having found it was simple to learn I took First Degree in February 1989 in Birmingham with Martha Sylvester, the same person who had taught the Tai Chi Instructor. I still think of it as one of the most special weekends of my life. I was very enthusiastic.
Three months later I received a phone call to say Martha was teaching a Second Degree class, so I went ahead and did that in the May of 1989.
The Tai Chi teacher and I were then living together and had started offering Reiki treatments in a local complementary health clinic together. I realise now I was totally unprepared for public practice.
It was a really important part of my Reiki education in terms of working with the public. I saw very quickly that people needed Reiki not once a month or week, but every day to make real changes. So I had a dream to become a Reiki Master to teach them so they could have Reiki every day in their lives. We organised classes in our home and, a couple of years later, Martha asked us if we both wanted to become masters, which we did in November 1991 after a year’s preparation.
YOU FELT YOU WERE REALLY UNPREPARED FOR PUBLIC PRACTICE AT THE TIME. WHY?
First of all I lacked experience in Reiki. I hadn’t been practising for very long and wasn’t prepared for what may come up in some treatments and I didn’t know what to say to people.
You need as much experience as possible in treating different conditions or specialising in one area before you go out in public domain. Practitioners also go through an evolution â€“ from informal practice (sometimes known as ‘folk art’) to public practice.
The clinic we gave treatments at was a professional setting but we didn’t know the ethics, the way to behave, the expectations of the people coming. Although I had some idea from my dad’s medical practice of boundaries, I had an awful lot to learn.
What I learned was a lot more about timing, about how to prepare, about booking appointments, timing, etc. But mostly it’s about experience.
HOW IS YOUR PRACTICE DIFFERENT NOW?
What’s helped me most is the work that I’ve done on myself. Practitioners need to be as solid as possible in them to really help other people.
WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY ‘BEING SOLID IN YOURSELF’?
Being as physically and emotionally fit as possible, in terms of being balanced and having dealt as much as possible with your own emotional issues such as grief and any emotional pain from past. If other people bring emotional pain, it can be a trigger and can touch on my own pain and I may not deal with them in as balanced a way.
I work constantly on being present, balanced and centred and have found Reiki a great help with this. For a long time I found it difficult to give myself a Reiki treatment every day: I was resistant to taking that care of myself. Now find it difficult not to! I treat myself first thing in the morning; Reiki helps me to see what I need to do that day.
HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO HAVE SUPPORT AS A REIKI PRACTITIONER?
Practitioners do need to take care of themselves. We have much more to give when we take care of ourselves. Support is important, particularly support for practitioners.
DOES IT MATTER WHETHER YOU TRAIN OVER A SHORTER PERIOD OR A LONGER PERIOD?
A professional practitioner is not something you can become in three days or three weeks.
My experience has shown me that Reiki practice is like a garden, it grows organically; it doesn’t happen overnight. A first Reiki course is just the beginning and people who do very fast training may struggle because they don’t have the support to bring them to full maturity. My observation on seeing people who do very quick courses is that it can be very painful because there is so much they may need to process within themselves. The initiation speeds things up and that can be uncomfortable.
For example, looking back, I think it would have served me better to have waited a bit longer for my second degree. Because I did second degree so soon after first I feel I’ve still got some learning to do. In the Reiki system I practise, the master training is over a year and often longer.
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF REIKI?
I think the purpose of Reiki is to help human beings to fulfil their full potential and true purpose in life. It helps by giving us comfort on all levels: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. It helps people to awaken to who they truly are and to do this in a very simple way. But simple does not necessarily mean easy.
A lot of people come to Reiki with a physical problem, but Reiki also leads them to a deeper understanding of themselves. My understanding is that the true causes of illnesses lie on the non-physical level of mind, emotions and spirit. I see that we human beings are very good at putting ourselves off balance. Part of what Reiki is about for me is reconnecting with our natural being, our inner wisdom and intuition, making healthier decisions for ourselves on all levels, so we don’t put ourselves off balance so much.
Reiki can also be about easing our transition, preparing for death. I have observed how Reiki really helps people towards the end of their life. Dying becomes easier and less fearful.
WHAT DOES THE WORD REIKI TRULY MEAN?
The word Reiki, as I understand it, is translated as Rei the universe and Ki meaning energy so Reiki is a natural source of energy that is around us all the time. Reiki is like the teachings of the Dao, the divine energy that flows through everything.
Reiki often mysteriously attracts people, we’re attracted at a non-conscious level. Like it says in the Dao De Ching: The Dao that can be explained is not the true Dao. Reiki has been explained in many ways over the years. Hayashi called Reiki ‘the drugless healing art’ for instance. There is a positive quality about that: many people nowadays are questioning their use of drugs, so Reiki offers another option, as well as supporting drug therapy.
WHERE DOES REIKI COME FROM, HOW OLD IS IT, WHERE DO ITS ROOTS LIE?
Reiki as a system of healing was developed by Mikao Usui in the late 1800s and early 1900s based on much older teachings from the Buddhist tradition as well as teachings from other systems he also studied. So it’s old and it’s young.
IS REIKI THE SAME AS SPIRITUAL HEALING? IF NOT, WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENCES?
I would say it is not the same as spiritual healing, although it has a lot of similarities. From what I understand, spiritual healers make their connection with the energy that does the healing through their own meditations and prayer. With Reiki we are given the connection via the initiation or attunement process, which is done for us by the Reiki Master. This gives people a strong connection with the universal life force energy which continues for the rest of their life and grows stronger if they practise.
I have heard that some people who began with spiritual healing and then learned Reiki found Reiki easier and simpler. It doesn’t require the personal effort of prayer or meditation to access the energy. Reiki is right there, any time as soon as we place our hands somewhere there is a need for it. That doesn’t mean to say that Reiki doesn’t require any effort on our behalf. There are challenges, but for me the difference is that the energy is very easily accessible for anyone who wishes to have it in their life.
Also most spiritual healers, I understand, work without touch. I, and most people in the system of Reiki I practise, work through touch. I think that touch is part of the therapeutic effect. Many people in our modern society don’t receive enough touch. People who live alone may not be touched by another human being for months. It has been scientifically proven that touch makes people feel more positive about themselves and about life: even a slight touch can make a big difference.
DOES IT MATTER IF SOMEONE IS ATTUNED AT A DISTANCE?
For me, yes. And in Usui Shiki Ryoho it does. I feel that the relationship between the Master (teacher) and student is important. Relationships at a distance are different from those in physical presence. I therefore feel that it is important for the master and student to be in the same room at the time of the initiation.
I’m sure it is possible to do distant initiations/attunements, just as you can do distant treatments. However the initiations represent a greater transformation than normally happens in a treatment and that this needs to be held in a person to person relationship. If I am in a room with someone, we are both witness to what has been given and received. At a distance we can’t be sure what happened or what was received. I would also be unable to support them in the same way moment to moment.
When we were discussing this in the National Occupational Standards, it was agreed that it would be inappropriate to give a certificate to practise to someone a teacher had never met in person.
There is also the question of commitment from the teacher and student to turn up: I’ve seen that the willingness to be present is part of many spiritual paths.Â By that I mean physically, mentally and spiritually present. Through the Reiki initiations we are bringing the non-physical into the physical realm.Â I see part of our work as human beings is how to be spiritual beings in a physical human body. Reiki helps us with this. To be aware of our spiritual self and also really present in our human bodies brings aliveness and potential.Â I know I really notice and am inspired by people who have achieved this!
IS IT POSSIBLE TO ATTUNE ONESELF TO REIKI? IF NOT, WHY NOT
I would say, no, it’s not possible to do it yourself. The whole beauty is that someone does it for you in the context of a relationship. There is the physical and energetic transmission of Reiki from teacher to student. If you are drawn to doing it for yourself why not become a spiritual healer?
DID MIKAO USUI ATTUNE HIMSELF?
That’s not my understanding of what happened: I think that he prepared himself to receive the Reiki energy in his body over the years of study and meditation. There are elements of his experience on the mountain that are similar to what happens during the initiation/attunement. For example he had a willingness to surrender to whatever might happen, just like we don’t know exactly what’s going to happen during the initiation process. But although that’s very similar to how Usui received his enlightenment, I wouldn’t say he gave himself an initiation.
HOW MANY LEVELS OF REIKI ARE THERE?
That depends on the style of Reiki. In the style I practice and teach, Usui Shiki Ryoho, there are three: First Degree, Second Degree and Reiki Master.
HOW MANY ATTUNEMENTS/INITIATIONS ARE NECESSARY FOR EACH LEVEL OF REIKI?
In Usui Shiki Ryoho there are four initiations for First Degree, one for Second Degree and one for Master. I understand that there are varying amounts in other systems.
IS REIKI A COMPLEMENTARY THERAPY?
It’s complementary to conventional medicine and complementary to other treatments. It goes well alongside other therapies e.g. aromatherapy, reflexology, acupuncture.Â It’s also good alongside conventional or allopathic treatments including surgery and medication, for chronic and acute problems and during pregnancy. Is it a therapy? I’mÂ not so sure it’s a therapy. It’s therapeutic, but I’m not so sure it’s a therapy, because the outcome is unpredictable.Â Reiki does what’s best for the person, which is not always what they expect. Sometimes the improvement involves going through uncomfortable symptoms. Sometimes the improvement received is unexpected: they may have a change of mindset instead of the relief of a symptom.
WHAT ENGLISH VERSION OF THE REIKI PRINCIPLES DO YOU USE?
The one I use is not so much a translation but an interpretation by Mrs Takata from her understanding of Japanese culture and of Reiki.Â It is what she felt would be helpful for people learning Reiki in the West, based on what she had learned from Hayashi:
Just for today do not worry
Just for today do not anger
Honour your parents, teachers and elders
Earn your living honestly
Show gratitude to every living thing
Some people find this expression in English of the Reiki principles quite challenging. Allowing the wording to challenge you can be helpful: usually if you find one principle particularly challenging,Â that’s the one it can be most helpful for you to work with at the moment. It’s also been very interesting in recent years to read the literal translations of what was found on Dr Usui’s memorial stone.
DO YOU HAVE TO USE THE SAME SYMBOLS AS YOUR TEACHER? IF USING USUI SHIKI RYOHO DO YOU HAVE TO USE THE REIKI SYMBOLS?
If you’re following the same tradition, yes. If you’re moving into a different style, you use whatever feels right for that tradition.
In Usui Shiki Ryoho, you don’t have to use the symbols in all the treatments. First Degree students don’t learn symbols and can give a perfectly good treatment. At Second Degree some feel you have to use the symbols every time, some don’t. Sometimes I find offering a treatment without symbols is a little more gentle for someone who’s new to Reiki. But this is also part of the choice you can discuss with a client.
HOW MANY SYMBOLS ARE THERE IN USUI SHIKI RYOHO?
There are three. There is also the character used in the master initiation. But this is not a symbol in the same way as the others are.Â It is Japanese language that you could look up in a dictionary.
WHAT IS A LINEAGE?
A lineage is the line of teachers that connects a Reiki student/master back to Dr Usui. In Usui Shiki Ryoho we have two ways of talking about lineage. There is the spiritual lineage: Mikao Usui, Chujiro Hayashi, Hawayo Takata and Phyllis Lei Furumoto, with each person having held a place in their lifetime as the head of the practice. There is also a teaching lineage that connects back to one of the spiritual lineage bearers. Many people connect back through Takata, who initiated 22 Reiki Masters before her death in 1980, others through Phyllis Lei Furumoto.
Knowing your lineage is a bit like knowing your family tree and where you come from; each lineage has its own particular flavour. My own lineage is through Wanja Twan a Swedish Canadian woman initiated by Takata, who my Reiki Master Martha Sylvester studied with.
IS THERE ANY DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A LONGER AND A SHORTER LINEAGE?
It doesn’t make your Reiki any better having a shorter lineage. However with longer lineages, sometimes people have been initiated very quickly without a depth of practice.
ARE THERE ANY CONTRAINDICATIONS TO USUI REIKI?
Not that I’m aware of.
DO DIFFERENT STYLES OF REIKI SUIT DIFFERENT PEOPLE?
Yes, absolutely. I think one of the reasons that different styles of Reiki have evolved is so that many different people can have a doorway into Reiki. If you’re learning, or having treatments, it’s worth doing some research to find a really good fit between yourself and a practitioner or teacher.
WHAT MAKES A GOOD REIKI TEACHER IN YOUR EXPERIENCE?
Someone who has done plenty of Reiki treatments, who has committed themselves to Reiki, treats themselves regularly with Reiki and, if possible, taught lots of classes. I also feel it is good for a master to have engaged in continuing professional development and with the Reiki community. I would also see a willingness to learn as an important quality: seeing a Reiki Master course as just the beginning of learning. Reiki has been a part of my life for over 20 years now and I learn more every day. For the first couple of years, I thought I already knew a lot. Gradually I realised how much more there is to Reiki. I am beginning to see that the amazing healing stories we hear about Takata’s treatments are truly possible for us.