I was once the kind of girl who had plans for every waking moment. I put a tremendous amount of pressure on myself to succeed. I worked hard – quickly working my way up from Assistant to Manager in a Public Relations department of a large retail store – and played hard – every spare minute was accounted for; working out, seeing friends, taking evening classes, and so on. It was a galloping, sometimes exhilarating, yet ultimately exhausting lifestyle. I thought I was in complete control of everything, but I wasn’t really in control of anything.
I ploughed my hard earned cash back into things that would 1) make my life easier – hired domestic help, a faster car, 2) help me to feel better – drinking binges, an expensive concoction of vitamins and supplements, and, 3) temporarily ease my physical and mental stress – massages and spa days. Sleep was restless, my busy mind analysing the day’s events or fretting over tomorrow,s plans. My countless to-do lists for work, exercise, chores, shopping etc, were never completed; as one task was crossed off, another three were added.
Finally my body told me it had had enough: it shut down. I shut down. Arriving at my parents’ house for an intended short visit, my body crumpled to the floor. I couldn’t get out of bed for two weeks and I barely left the house in 3 months. I was only able to speak to my family and a couple of close friends, of which one suggested I try Reiki. She had heard that this latest holistic treatment helps to heal physical pain and emotional suffering. I was ready to try anything. So, I booked an appointment, changed out of my pyjamas and went off for my first session. And I haven’t looked back since. Reiki has quite literally, changed my life.
For the uninitiated, Reiki – meaning ‘spiritual energy’ – is a safe, natural hands-on healing system with its origins in Japan. Its basic principle centres around the fact that everything in the universe is made up of energy. When energy flows freely around our bodies we are healthy. When the flow is disrupted, blockages are formed causing all kinds of ‘illness’, mental, physical or spiritual. When Reiki is introduced to the body, the blockages are gently cleared and the body’s energy is encouraged to flow freely once again.
At my first Reiki session, I had no idea what to expect and kept my eyes tightly shut, afraid that I would witness some witchcraft or paranormal goings on. I had nothing to fear. Fully clothed and laid out on a massage table, my practitioner held her hands slightly above my body (I couldn’t help but take a peak). As her hands slowly worked their way from my head to my toes, I experienced a comforting warmth and slight tingling sensations. After the session, I felt an overwhelming sense of calmness and had the best night’s sleep I’d had in years. Over time and with regular sessions, my emotional and spiritual healing was evident. I was able to leave the house, receive visits from friends and I even began to smile again. Reiki also helped with my body’s occasional bouts of physical pain too – a headache relieved in a few minutes, a pulled hamstring healed in a few sessions. I was a convert.
A few months after my burn out, I resigned from my high powered marketing job and embarked upon a worldwide travelling adventure. Whilst enjoying a long pit stop in Sydney, Australia, a palm reader told me I had strong energy points on my fingertips – a sign of a good Reiki practitioner . The next day a flyer landed on my doorstep inviting me to attend an information night at the International House of Reiki. Not one to ignore cosmic signs, I took up the offer.
As with anything new and taking you out of your comfort zone, I approached feeling a little apprehensive and cynical. But I told myself that it couldn’t hurt and if I felt something, then I would enrol in a course.
I was met by a smiling Frans, and myself and the others sat in a circle as he explained about reiki in simple terms. I really liked his down-to-earth approach. We were asked to close our eyes so Frans could give us a Reiki blessing, I couldn’t help peeking and saw him gently put his hand on each person’s shoulder. Convinced it was ok, I closed my eyes and patiently waited for my turn.
What happened next just blew me away. Suddenly, a strong white light shone through my body, it was Frans approaching me! As he lay his hand on my shoulder, a bolt of lightning shot through my body. I’d never experienced anything like this before. It felt exhilarating, energising and peaceful all at the same time.
The following week I took Reiki Level I and not long after, Level II. Seven years on, Reiki helps to keep me calm and grounded. I enjoy helping others too: easing my mother’s back pain, reducing a friend’s swollen ankle, even helping to put back together another friend’s broken heart.
Other aspects of my life have also changed dramatically. I have chosen to live a completely different way. I’ve swapped my old work hard play hard attitude for a more relaxed, simplistic work/life balanced lifestyle. I’ve happily traded in hectic London for laid back Sydney, climbing the corporate career ladder for a more gentle and rewarding profession, convenience food with healthy homemade meals and, fast paced workouts for peaceful yoga and meditation. Reiki has replaced stress as the most defining factor in my life and I now have more control of my body, my mind and my spirit.
Helen Green is a graduate of the International House of Reiki in Australia