Reiki and the courage to change

Carol BurbankArticles, English 11 Comments


Recently re-entering my daily life after the Washington, DC Shinpiden class, I was struck by the changes I’ve been able to embrace since I first started studying with the International House of Reiki 8 years ago. I’m more grounded and expanded, usually both at the same time! If you knew me well, you’d know what a miracle that is. I’m also more compassionate and strong in my own meditation and personal healing, clearer and more effective as a healer for others. Far from perfect, I am nonetheless more calmly and sanely me, in ways I couldn’t have guessed when I began this path.

My increased calmness takes a lot of the drama out of the ongoing learning curve. Recently, I faced and named my reluctance to practice Reiki regularly, and had to admit it was a mystery and a misery to me, the hesitation. Why did I hold back from work I knew was helpful? You probably know from your own experiences, but this is what I realized: I was afraid of the change that is happening, that that is already set, beginning, becoming, shining in me.

Gripping to the illusion that I could hold back that change only made life harder, because the light I am shines no matter what I do, and I was subversively keeping it dim, “just in case.” In last week’s Reiki class, I stepped through that reluctance and into a new space, so that all that’s left of it is an echo, like the shell of a cicada on a wall. The light is free. With courage, I am free. With the courage Reiki gives me, my growing sense of freedom isn’t as intimidating as it was before.

I know I have always had a great deal of courage, even before I began walking the Reiki path. I’ve reinvented myself many times, taking risks that just seemed like common sense to me. Some days, I feel exhilarated by my life, seeing the choices that brought me here as pearls on a string, evidence of my correct path. Other days, I feel the tug of regrets, aches and adjustments of the transformations that brought me here. Always, I’m grateful for the Reiki tools that keep me on track, and deepen my courage with a sense of calmness and joy.

The precepts have been very helpful, because through them I’ve learned to understand the sticky systems of fear, anger and anxiety. My fear is often rooted in the holding of some unhealthy illusion, mostly holding back from the edge of the unknown with a pretended known. If I happen to wake up on the regretful side of the bed, I can find a lot of reasons to be reluctant. Sometimes the best I can do is breathe into my hara, and let the stickiness dissolve.

My Reiki practice makes the holding and waiting feel, after a few days of really breathing, a little ridiculous. In the light of Reiki courage, it’s clear when inner and outer don’t match, so I can see my soul struggling against the world instead of flowing through it, being part of it. Because I have begun to know the world as a place of belonging, I’ve been able to face my stubborn misperception and the world’s challenges with a softer grip on “the known.” I get to choose courage more often.

So I’m meditating again, and it feels great. It’s hard now to remember why I couldn’t take those 15 minutes that now seem so effortless. But hold the applause, friends! There’s a cosmic joke, here, one that sometimes feels so funny I forget to laugh (as we used to say on the playground). Because I’m human, I will face that reluctance again and again, because courage needs to be regularly renewed by the experience of courage, and every moment offers a new choice.

I will return to the meditations, and then return, learning the same lessons again and again, differently each time. Because I have gone back to meditating daily, I can feel it vibrating around me – the unknown, the new perception I was trying to avoid – and even though I know that the very practice that brings it on makes it right, I may just spend tomorrow breathing into my hara and distracting myself instead of sitting on my little seiza kneeler.

Good thing I have the fundamentals to give me some compassion when that happens again. Even with an ongoing practice, change isn’t always easy. My small mind distrusts unpredictability, because the big “what if” shimmers with the unknown, and my gripping heart is afraid to beat, “just in case.” What if something I don’t like happens? Well, that’s probable in both the gripping and in the letting go. The delusion that staying still and resisting change prevents the unpredictable is the biggest joke of all.

The unpredictable will occur no matter how hard I grip onto the illusion of permanence. So expansion is always better. The core Reiki practices – breathing, chanting, the precepts – remind me I am more than my small mind thinks I am. The true path is not about becoming what we’re supposed to be, but being the light we already are. Courage helps me make the choices to get out of my own way, and Reiki helps me see that a courageous choice is one in which unpredictability is simply what is, and I yam what I yam, just like Popeye.

So compassion must be the spinach of the Reiki path! I’ll get another chance to choose from the grounded, expanded courage, if I let myself trust the process. I will be brave because I have been brave before (the small comfort of ongoing practice), and I become stronger because I am the great white light (the comfort of growing knowledge).

This is why Reiki is the practical and visionary path of the spiritual warrior, because there is courage in every step forward. And in our path, courage is a breath into the hara, a gassho with the world, a vibration in the precepts, a return to meditation. It becomes our way and our being, if we let ourselves choose.

Carol Burbank is a Shinpiden Reiki Level III graduate of the International House of Reiki. Her website is

Comments 11

  1. Avatar of Mallory Smith
  2. Avatar of eleanor

    I recognize the fear of change in myself and in other students repeatedly. DC actually stirred up a little questioning in me.  As beautiful and grounded as I felt, I found myself looking for a reason to make it “wrong”. There was an inkling of “This is too good to be true.” Thank you for sharing. Hugs:-)

  3. Avatar of Candice

    This is so absolutely fabulous! It really resonates with me too!  It’s like waves in the ocean, coming and going. Learning to go with it and open up to the changes takes time and practice. patience and perseverance. This is beautifully written. Though I would say we are not healers for others, we only facilitate healing in others, it is them that do their own healing. Great article! Will share this!

  4. Avatar of Alice Risemberg

    Beautiful post, Carol, thank you. I, too, could relate to much of what you wrote.

    Understanding the illusion of thinking we actually can “hide our light” is such a powerful point. I’m struck by this as being part of our anger practice, with gradually shedding the illusion of “dimness” being another form of not bearing anger.

    Full acceptance of all kinds takes monumental strength and courage, indeed. It’s such a tender, sweet courage you express here. Thank you again, from one spiritual warrior to another.


  5. Avatar of Elly

    Gassho, Carol! Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us! Courage seems in such short supply these days. The beauty and power of Reiki helps us all to raise our torch and step into the light.

  6. Avatar of Carol Burbank

    Thanks for your comments! I’m glad my often comical, sometimes painful discoveries resonated. Thank you, Candice, for correcting my phraseology about offering a healing space for others! Ah, so many habits—of language, of practice, etc.—that need shifting. Reiki on, all!


  7. Avatar of Mary

    Hi Carol
    Thank you for sharing this wonderful artical, funny how we make some thing so easy difficult and how I need to be more compassionate to myself and as Frans says, JUST DO IT.
    Love and Light to all
    Mary <3

  8. Avatar of Joe Moon

    beautifully woven my dear, a rare tapestry of the enigma of self becoming more.  Fearlessness in the face of the unknown comes slowly but as you have pointed out, come it must and will.  Why we want to dim our lights is a mystery for sure, perhaps it is confusion along the path of humility…not wanting to be thought to be special or gifted.  I came to the realization that those who can see the light within us are in a position to help us enhance it and expand it where it needs expanding at the time when we need to expand it.  These are our teachers.  Whether it be a soft summer breeze puffing in affirmation of a revelation just had, Frans saying/doing just the right thing in the present moment that awakens another sleeping corner of our being, or a transdimensional lucid dreaming that tests the limits of your fearlessness. Those who we might want to hide our talents away from are the very folks who are blind to the light the shines from within so there is no point to cloaking it…just be it.

  9. Avatar of Joe Moon

    I believe we entered this path together 8 years ago in the Chicago burbs.  We have many of the same reluctances though we may call them differently.  I kept telling my ‘self” that I needed to remember how I got here NOT so I could find my way back back but so I could show others the way.  But I now think it a clever ‘self’ deception created to ease my worry of being in unfamiliar energetic territory.  We have walked this path in our own ways and our own times but always with with resilience and perseverence. I am glad we are still on this path together. 

  10. Avatar of kathi richards
  11. Avatar of Alexandra Datwyler

    Nearly 8 years later, this article still resonates. I have only just come across it and it was so soothing to read. You have a beautiful gift in the way you write and express yourself. Thank you for sharing your profound wisdom and experience. Much appreciated. <3

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