I don’t know about you, but my family doesn’t really get the whole Reiki practice thing. My mom, who’s from Spain, thinks it’s some sort of Japanese santeria. She doesn’t say it in so many words, but her not-so-subtle eye-rolling every time I mention Reiki makes it evident. She was visiting me a few days ago, and we started chatting. When I said the word Reiki, boom, there it was: eye rolling.
—But Cotufa—Cotufa or popcorn is my nickname for her—it’s not santeria, it’s just breathing and connecting with your body.
The word breathing caught her attention. She has emphysema.
—What do you mean, breathing?
—Using your breath to align mind and body.
I left out the word energy on purpose to avoid the famous Cotufa eye rolling.
—Breathing into your body? That makes no sense. You can only breathe with your lungs.
—Think of breathing more in terms of awareness. You use your breath to bring your awareness to different parts of your body: hands, feet, skin.
When we’ve been practicing for a long time, we start using terms like breathe with your whole body or create spaciousness. But these terms sometimes feel very vague and esoteric to people who have not practiced any mindfulness techniques.
In the case of my mom, simple facts caught her attention more than terms like non-duality or balancing energy systems. Her eyes came awake at the idea that they’re 100 million neurons in the gut and that, when you breathe and expand your belly, you relax that area. Or that creating spaciousness could be taken as using your whole nervous system versus just your brain.
I’m not saying that Reiki talk should become all about science. It’s, after all, a beautiful spiritual practice that goes beyond that. But there are many layers to this system. You can practice Joshin Kokyu Ho for years and still discover new depths to this meditation.
Simple, down to earth facts may prove appealing to some. For others, it may make the practice to sterile and be a complete turn off. It is up to us, as teachers to go deep enough into our practice that we can provide the right guidance.