Within many Reiki classes and energy healing modalities there is a lot of talk about protecting yourself.
Practitioners and teachers often feel the need to protect themselves from “negative” energy from their client, but does this all make sense?
Lets take a closer look at the concept of protection.
The first question we need to ask ourselves is why do we feel we need protection during a hands-on healing session or while performing a reiju/initiation/attunement?
The real answer is that we have fear; fear that we pick up something unwanted from the client. We have this kind of fear within ourselves because we are not stable, we can’t see the whole picture but only parts of it – we are not grounded, not centered, not realizing the truth. This fear makes us unstable, which also means that if we try to protect ourselves with, for example, the visualization of a bright light around us, then that visualization is based on fear, which in turn means the whole visualization is unstable. We could call this kind of visualization “outer protection” as we see it external from ourself.
Some Westerners when they go to India or Nepal come back loaded with cords around their neck and arm. If I ask them what they are they tell me they are protections and I ask, “But are you a practitioner?” “Oh yes.” “Then why don’t you use practice to protect yourself, you aren’ t a goat a dog or a yak” ~ Namkhai Norbu
But what is fear, FEAR = False Evidence Appearing Real.
We experience fear because we cling to the “I”, “I am getting your negative energy”, “I am not feeling good after performing a hands on healing session”, “I am picking up your physical issues” etc. All these statements have their base in a strong grasping of the “I”. But who is this “I”? Normally we only relate to the relative “I”, but when we go deeper into our personal practice we start to find our ultimate relation to the “I”.
But hang on, lets turn the roles around…
If we have to protect ourselves from taking on the client’s “negative” energy, then what about our client!? Does the client also need to protect him/herself while laying on the table? Wouldn’t the client also take on the practitioner’s “negative” energy? Because if we have the fear that we pick something up from our client then it can also be the other way around! Strangely, this doesn’t seem to enter the practitioner’s or teacher’s mind, why? Because we only feel the need to protect ourselves, it is an ego trip, it is all about the “I”.
Some teachers say, “Wash your hands after a hands-on healing session because you touched the client or worked in the client’s energy field and now you might have taken on some of the client’s “negative” energy.” This also implies that the client needs to wash him or herself after a treatment, as the client has also touched you!
In response to this you might think, “No, my client only lay there. It was I who put my hands on the client.” This comes once again from the ego, the “I”. Just try it, put your hands on someone, okay it looks like you are touching the person because we associate touch with our hands, but the other person is touching your hands through the body! Right or not right? Touch a tree, and now realize that the tree is also touching you, touch an animal and now you realize that the animal is also touching you – it is never a one way street. We can touch with our whole being, our eyes, our hands, our skin, our energy and not to forget the most important one, our mind.
The whole idea of protection comes from our projection of grasping to the “I” – when the practitioner considers him or herself as the doer and therefore can only pick stuff up, not the other way around. Your client is as much participating in the whole process as yourself.
Because we cling so much to the “I” we need to work with the other practices taught within the system of Reiki before we can do a proper hands-on healing session. These other practices help us to soften the grip on the “I” which in turn will lessen our fear. One of these practices is the precepts.
The precepts are:
Do not anger
Do not worry
Be honest in your work
Show compassion to yourself and others
We only have to look at the precept: do not worry, to get a clear picture of where this is going. We feel the need to protect ourselves because we worry that we pick something up, that we become contaminated with our client’s stuff. But the precept says: do not worry!
So if we still feel the need to use an outer form of protection then this also means that we are not really grasping the precepts. This is why we first of all need to understand the precepts, without this our hands-on healing practice becomes unstable.
And what about compassion? What if you are doing a hands-on healing session on your client and afterwards your client says: “Please, can I give you all my issues, I’ve had enough of them”. What would you say? If we were truly compassionate we would say: “Yes, of course. Let me take them from you, no problem.” This is real compassion, taking on someone else’s suffering. Taking on another person’s pain and suffering is a wonderful way of helping to release our own fears and attachments and also to awaken pure compassion in ourselves. So be taking on another persons suffering we deal with some of the other precepts, like worry and anger. So this practice/intent is a great antidote for our own pain and suffering. By the need to protect ourselves we only strengthen our own fears and worries and we push ourselves away from real compassion as well. Often we are afraid to do this as it brings up our own fears, anger, worry you name it.
A mother would have this kind of intent for her child, she would gladly take on the child’s pain, but when it comes to strangers we get scared.
One other major issue is that we have fear because we are not properly grounded within our physical body. Remember the Weeble Wobbles, Weebles wobble but they do not fall!
Why do Weebles not fall? Because they have their weight at the bottom. Most of us, in our modern society, carry the weight in our head, too much TV, computers, intellectualising, judging where to place the hands and what else to do during a treatment, mobile phone, you name it, it is all in the head. This makes us very unstable.
We need to remember our centre again, our foundation, and this can be done with the traditional Japanese Reiki practice Joshin Kokyu Ho. This practice is about clearing our mind of all our fears and worries through focusing on the breath and the hara/tanden.
The more we practice this kind of meditation, the more grounded we become Like a Weeble Wobble, we might experience something during a hands-on healing session but we do not get scared or fearful, we do not fall over, we move straight back into our centre. As our focus is directed inwards, into our centre/tanden/hara, we can call this form of protection “inner protection”.
Within the system of Reiki we also have mantras. Mantra means protection of the mind.
When we recite a mantra, our mind is focused on just one thing, the mantra, therefore the mantra protects the mind from going into fear or worry mode.
This kind of protection is also called “inner protection” like working with Joshin Kokyu Ho. The mantra is internalized and is working with the mind and our subtle energies to create harmony and balance, which in turn releases our fears and worries. These mantras are taught in Okuden, Okuden means inner or hidden teachings, this means that we need to apply the tools, symbols and mantras, taught within this level internally and not externally. The more we use these tools internally, the more we let go of the “I” , which in turn softens our worries and fears.
We are firmly protected from the inside. That is our spirit. We are protected from the inside, always, incessantly, so we do not expect any help from outside. ~ Shunryu Suzuki
Negative and Positive
So we feel the need to protect ourselves because we fear that we might pick up “negative” energy from our client. But what is “negative” energy anyway?
What one person might find negative the other might find positive. For example, you might do a hands on healing session on someone and see lots of black stuff, you might get scared and label it negative, while someone else sees the same black stuff and it reminds her of a beautiful black night sky. Same experience but a different kind of labelling.
You might do a treatment on someone who has a cold and you get worried that you might pick it up, because you label the cold negative. Someone else does a hands-on healing on the same person but doesn’t label the cold as negative, but just as a cold. The latter practitioner is in a much better state, worry triggers unbalance within our own mind. This is why we need to clear the mind first before we can become stable practitioners and teachers. If our mind is unstable, our body and energy will also be unstable, and this means we are more vulnerable leaving us with the possibility of picking up “negative” stuff.
When we go deeper into the system of Reiki we start to realize that we are all interconnected in the first place. At a relative level we are separate ,but at the ultimate level we are all interconnected. When we realize this interconnectedness we start to realize aspects of our true self. This means that on this deeper level there is no giving or taking, no coming or going, no devision between practitioner and client, there is just interconnectedness and that is all. This state of mind is the “ultimate protection.”
This means that within our personal practice we need to grow from “outer protection” to “inner protection” to “ultimate protection”.
This state of mind is also symbolised by the third symbol and mantra HSZSN which means “I am right mind” and the symbol and mantra of Shinpiden Reiki Level III DKM which stands for non-duality.
When we look for the source of all the problems that confront human life we usually blame everything but the root cause: our lack of spiritual discipline and realization. Particularly in this degenerate age, the world atmosphere is so very negative and the conditions around us conducive to little but evil karma and meaningless distractions, that not to have the protection of spiritual knowledge is to leave ourselves totally defenceless against the negative mind. ~ Dalai Lama
Here is a story which I often demonstrate in class with a physical cardboard box, if available, which I put in front of me.
When we feel the need to protect ourselves we create a wall between ourselves and our client, thus separating ourselves from the interconnectedness of our client and the universe. Imagine erecting a cardboard box which is symbolising our wall of protection. But as soon as there is a wall I can kick it, I can damage it, it is vulnerable. At this stage in the class I kick the cardboard box, it flies here and there and everywhere, it gets hurt, it gets worried, afterwards we need to fix the box, repair it – symbolising repairing our own energy and mind, maybe by washing our hands, clearing our own energy from the “negativity” of our client after a hands on healing session.
But…. what if….. I take the cardboard box and rip it open, rip off the sides, make it completely open, can I still kick it? No, there is nothing to kick!
This openness, if it comes from the right place of course – our centre, is the best protection, there is nothing to kick, nothing to damage, nothing to hurt. This open state of mind is the state of mind of mushin “no-mind”, the ultimate form of protection. This state of mind is like space, we cannot hurt space, we can blow up walls, but we cannot blow up space.
This kind of spaciousness is symbolised by the Shinpiden level III symbol and mantra DKM, but we need to embody it, not just know it intellectual to really benefit from it.
This state of mind was strived for by the Samurai of ancient Japan.
The spiritual aspect of valor is evidenced by composure–calm presence of mind. Tranquility is courage in repose…A truly brave man is ever serene; he is never taken by surprise; nothing ruffles the equanimity of his spirit. In the heat of battle he remains cool; in the midst of catastrophes he keeps level his mind. ~Nitobe Inazo – Bushido: The Soul of the Samurai.
Bronwen and Frans Stiene are the co-founders of the International House of Reiki and co-authors of The Reiki Sourcebook, The Japanese Art of Reiki, Your Reiki Treatment, The A-Z of Reiki Pocketbook and the Reiki Techniques Card Deck. Bronwen and Frans teach in the USA, Europe and Australia. Visit the Courses page to find a course near you.