The Highest Good: The Role of Intention in Hands-on Healing

Sundar Kadayam - USA English 13 Comments

When a Reiki practitioner does hands-on healing, should they hold a focused intention for a specific outcome for the recipient?  i.e. Say a person is stricken with cancer, should the Reiki practitioner hold an intention that they get cancer-free, or other similar specific intention? 

As a Reiki practitioner, doing healing work over the years, I’ve noticed a distinct evolution in my thinking and approach to hands-on-healing work.

Focused, specific healing intentions and their effects

In the early years, it seemed very logical to me that one should hold a focused intention for a specific outcome.  If someone had severe fever, I would have an intention that they are free from the fever soon.  If someone had a fractured limb or a torn ligament, I would have an intention that their fractured limb or torn ligament heal completely and quickly.  If someone had degenerative disease like Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s, I would have an intention that they heal and return to normalcy.

In those healing situations where the outcome aligned with my intentions, I would be ecstatic, thrilled beyond words, and totally pumped to be of service to others in need.

In those healing situations where the outcome did not align with my intentions, say, the fever kept lingering for days, or the torn ligament didn’t heal quickly, or the arc of degeneration in Parkinson’s did not get materially affected through the Reiki treatment, I would be confused and quite possibly dismayed or upset.  Then the internal conversations that would ensue would be filled with self-judgment, self-doubt, and severe self-criticism — “I’m not a good enough healing worker!“, “I’m messing something up here!“, “I can’t believe that after days of Reiki, this person isn’t healing! What am I doing wrong?“, “Is something wrong with my intentions?” … and so forth! This would further create a serious challenge to the rational analysis and thinking part of myself – what the heck is going on, and why is Reiki working sheer miracles some times and why isn’t it working at all at other times?  In turn, this would make me wonder if I really should be trying to do Reiki treatment for others.

And then came the experiences with people in a terminal stage of their life with a deadly condition like cancer. One in particular devastated me at the time it happened.  This person, in the prime of her life, was in a state of coma at hospice, and believed to me in intense pain for many days in a row, when I was called into this situation.  Coming from a series of amazing healing experiences, I stepped into this one with great confidence, and promptly held strong and clear intentions for her healing.  And there’s a story to be shared about this in depth, but for the moment, it would suffice to note that after my second healing session with her, she passed away.  Happening as it did just in my 3rd year of Reki healing work, I was shell shocked at the flow of events. I got such a severe lashing from my ego for being a stupid, and naive person, and butting my head into things that were way outside of my understanding.  I literally stopped doing Reiki healing work for a month after that!  The fear and the anxiety and the self-criticism were so harsh that I could not bring myself to do practice even just on myself.

I guess I am a slow learner in many aspects of my life, and this was surely one of them. It took me many years to observe and notice the patterns of what was going on inside me in the course of doing healing work.

  • When I held a specific intention, I was simultaneously clinging to the specific outcome I sought. In that situation, I found myself furiously “DO”ing things to drive towards that outcome.

  • So, in a sense, my intention in healing, was no different than a “desire” I would otherwise have in life, and with desires, I know the ridiculous clinging and attachment that came with the package of having desires.  The same was happening with my specific intentions in healing work.

  • As my personal practice deepened, I noticed that there was a certain arrogance, a certain gall that came with the holding of specific healing intentions.  Who was I to determine what was the person’s best interest and those of others involved?  

  • I had used the notion of “highest good”, as in “So-and-so returns to wellness for the highest good of all”, but without understanding what the heck “highest good” meant!  I was simultaneously seeking, desiring a specific outcome and saying at the same time that such be for the “highest good” — as it turned out, these were just words I was using because I heard it from my teachers or from other practitioners.  I had never really understood what that meant!

The “Highest Good”

Somewhere along the way, in my journey, I started seeing the futility of holding very specific intentions for healing.  I simply did not have the clarity on what was the right intention for someone in a given situation and all those concerned with them in that situation.  I was getting tired of experiencing the clinging and attachment to whatever specific intention I held in a given situation.  I had, through personal practice with the Reiki precepts, started noticing the fear pattern that lay underneath my specific intentions and clinging, and the self-judgment and self-criticism stank of lack of compassion for me — obviously all that had to go!

So, how should I approach a hands-on healing situation?  The answer lay in understanding the notion of the “highest good”!

In this mind-body construct that I occupy, I have limited visibility to the reasons for the ebb and flow of events in a given person’s life.  But noticing keenly, and without judgment, the flow of events in hundreds of cases, one thing became apparent.  There is a natural perfection to the flow of these events in a person’s life, even if the experience of the same may be unpleasant, or far from perfect, for them or those concerned around them.  And having witnessed so many miraculous healing outcomes, and also many that I had judged as “weird” or “unsatisfying” outcomes, I came to see that there was something far superior and far more intelligent and far more amazing at work here. A person undergoing days of fever and needing bed rest wasn’t simply being subject to the suffering of the same, but perhaps being forced to rest from an otherwise dangerously stressful drive through life.  A person who has been lingering for days in pain in hospice care may not be in need of a return to wellness, as much as they need a way to depart with ease and grace. Given things of this complex nature, I had no choice but to see that there was indeed a “highest good”, one that I may not understand intellectually, or have the wherewithal to manifest with my DOing.  But one that I could be in the flow of, if I could acknowledge that my healing work and outcomes were not a result of me pushing energy through me into someone, but came as a direct result of the flow of Grace!

The Healer’s Calling

As my healing work led me to a deeper spiritual understanding of myself and my journey and my world around me, I came to realize that my calling as a healing worker, a Reiki practitioner, in any situation, is very different than what I had assumed before. I wasn’t being called into that situation to “DO Reiki”, or to “Send energy”, or to “Provide healing”.  It is none of those.

As a Reiki practitioner / healing worker in any situation, I am called to be present, in surrender, to the Divine / Nature / True self / Reiki, call it what you may.  I am called to be present and let Grace move through me for those involved.  That is the calling. Where the results may go, that was not for me to choose, or yearn for, since I don’t know realistically what “the highest good” is.  Hence, I am called to trust in the Divine / True self / Reiki, and be totally present so that no distortions emerge from my being in the flow of Grace for all concerned in that situation.  What flows and follows is purely and solely the outcome of Grace.

This stance, I’ve noticed, keeps the ego in check, enables me to operate with humility and equanimity.  And further, it enables me to operate in a state of acceptance as events unfold, regardless of how those events are judged by the mind and ego.  

This is what I’ve come to understand as the calling of the healing worker in all situations.  I now see every healing work opportunity, these days, as an opportunity to practice what I’ve been referring to as “Active Surrender”, the act of simply BEing, or being present to the flow of whatever flows. “Active” because of this reason — Often, while in the state of BEing, intuitions flow about specific actions that I am meant to take in this regard, and my role is to act on those.  “Surrender” because of this reason — The essence of it all is being present, or in the state of surrender, if you will.

With this incremental realization on the journey, my intentions for healing work have simply turned out to be something like this: “Let me be present to this person and situation, for the highest good“.  That bears very clear meaning to me now.  It is not about the person, the situation or the healing outcomes desired.  It is NOTHING at all about all that.  It is about me, my state of mind, my willingness to drop out of ego state into the state of the True Self, and simply being present, and trust in the flow that ensues.

This is not trivial or easy to do, and certainly did not come easily for me.  The ego definitely attempts to interfere in an effort to control the flow of events and the outcomes. But, at this point in time in my journey, I can only say that the nature of the healing sessions has gotten more amazing than ever before.  There is an utter simplicity to it all, in my personal experience.  And in this simplicity is the profundity of all there is!  And all I have been called to do is to learn to be present, learn to BE rather than DO. That is the path of allowing and witnessing the Highest Good!  

To me, all this is further evidence that the system of Reiki is far more than a healing art.  It is a path to discover one’s True Self, or a spiritual path, if you will!

As always, this is evolving thinking from one practitioner.  Please share your thoughts about this in your comments.

Sundar Kadayam is a Shinpiden Reiki Level III graduate of the International House of Reiki.

Comments 13

  1. Hi Sunder, another great blog! I had a similar experience but little bit more personal. I was encouraged to learn reiki by my brother in India, who himself was at that time “newly” RMT (he doesn’t practice any more). He came to visit me of several years ago and when he saw how stressed I was trying to take care of my special need daughter he suggested I learn reiki so I can “help” her. So there I went I did my level 1 and 2 in 2005, after few months came back and tried Reiki. I didn’t felt any different I was still stressed, anxious and unable to cope. So, I thought I just need to try harder and I kept on doing free sessions to friends around for 3 years. Then in 2008 I thought maybe I need to take the next big step and that will make me all “wise and powerful” so I can make a difference in my daughter’s life. She would not let me touch her, even if she was sleeping! I kept on doing distant healing on her from 2005 till 2010 with no real benefit, so I felt I cannot do any good to anyone. I knew that you have to ask permission etc. however that never sink in…In my head what that meant. I was doing all kinds of “fusion” Reiki as I call, doing “psychic surgery to give her a new brain etc. Then one fine day I was giving a treatment to one of my close friend who had lot of pain due to very painful skin condition, I was determined that I will make her pain free and gave her several sessions. She would feel good but then pain would return. Made me very frustrated and ego came in place, what am I doing wrong. Then I started to go back to read, analyze and meditate and I realized my friend was somehow not taking the responsibility for healing. She has doubt and it was strange to me but I realized she wanted to be in pain. With this realization I stopped seeing her wished her all the best and I revisited my daughter. I realized I am not asking her permission, I am focusing on the outcome and forcing my desires as you have said on her. So, I changed the way I did healing sessions and it changed everything!! .. It was 2010 and now its 2013, from that moment on I tried to relearn what I thought I know already and last year I started to teaching reiki (on persistence of one of my client). During those 3 years I came across lot of kind people who mentored me in some form or other and Frans and Bronwen are among them. Read their books and tried to bring that in my practice and I see I don’t know anything but what I do have now is calm ness. Today only one of my patient who is a retired plastic surgeon (told me and my coworker—about her she is aggressive (typical for therapists) and I am calm and gentle. I started to think am I? , while I was thinking about that Frans posted a video –Happiness for no reason, how one needs to distinguish between social eye and mirror eye. Somehow whenever I run into obstacle feel I see the answer…only to find another question…thats where I guess right state of mind is…so much to learn , thank you so much Sunder for sharing this and thank you Frans and Bronwen . Hugs.

  2. Sundar, Thank you for sharing your story. Some 20 years ago when I started I was like you, wanting outcomes, especially with the cancer clients. One day I drove past a cemetery and my head went ‘who do you think you are that place is full of people who went through the medical model’ and I realised that my ego had had a great time playing with me.
    I still practice Reiki but get out of the way and just BE.

  3. Thankyou for sharing.  When I share Reiki with my clients now I just ask them to be open to receive whatever it is at this time they need and we don’t need to know what that is. That’s what Frans instilled in me. To let go of the out come.  I do ask clients do they have any pain in their body but stress we do not need to be in that area for it to be healed the energy will go to where it needs to go.  When I finish the session I will ask if the client experienced any warmth in any particular spots etc and then I say even though we are not to analyse this is where I felt the warmth etc while referring to the Reiki chart. I will also share any thought I may have. Of late I might find myself looking at a picture in the room and I become conscious of my thoughts and from that a thought appears and I share this with them and say I don’t know if this is relevant to you and it’s amazing how it is. It may be just simply that nature is very important to them nothing that will change their life course. It could be to ask do you eat 3 meals a day. I just share my thoughts as it may be of benefit.

  4. Thank you so much for your article. You are all very insightful. I have been practicing reiki since October 2012. I went through a period of adjustment only working on myself. I then began to feel that I was ready to help others, when I hadn’t felt that way before. I do succumb to it and understand that a focused specific intention has nothing to do with the equation (besides calling reiki and intending for the person’s highest and greatest good). I am not the creator or the source, so I do not claim to know what the greatest good is for anyone.
      Sometimes I feel that my facilitation is helpful and at other times I feel like I make no difference, but again I try to dismiss my ego and realize that they will realize benefit when they are ready. I also feel reiki being drawn thru me at times and then spontaneously “shut off”. I worried that somehow I wasn’t a good facilitator, but have since come to learn that reiki is drawn thru you rather than you causing it to go into the person. When their higher self has “had enough”, the draw diminishes.
      I recently have had the desire to reiki EVERYTHING and have always felt blessed to have been attuned. I have been working on each of the reiki principles, one at a time until I feel reasonably confident that I have made it truly part of my life and have just begun to work on being grateful.
      I am currently searching for a compatible reiki master to help me journey through ART and perhaps RMT (with nursing CEUs) and look forward to serving others and look forward to reiki being a part of me for the rest of my life.
      I am happy to hear that some of my doubts and concerns are not just my own. Thank you for sharing!

  5. Beautifully expressed and thought out as always, Sundar! I have to admit, I never bothered with intentions, impressions and the like while doing hands-on Reiki. I felt that busying the mind was a distraction that derailed the whole experience, which was simply to put your hands down in love and let the energy flow. In our touch-averse society, many people have never experienced disinterested loving touch, and the lack of loving touch sickens and kills. As someone on the Reiki path, I’ve always felt that my role in hands-on healing was simply to show people’s bodies, and through them their hearts and minds, that they were loved, not because they were glamorous or desirable, but simply because they were. (And the same for animals and plants.) My hope is always that this will bring them a sense of integration, of peace, of acceptance, whatever their state and its outcome.

  6. Hi All,
    Thanks Sundar for another great article.

    I always see a treatment as an offering, and if we get really good as a practitioner we might be able to offer the whole universe. The client takes from your offering whatever he/she needs, because i don’t really know what they need.

  7. Thank you and bless you, Laurie, for your kind words! And all the best to you on your Reiki journey. Bear in mind that “when the student is ready, the teacher appears.” I’m sure you’ll find the right Reiki teacher(s) at the right time(s) on your journey! I haven’t studied with them, but I’m sure Sundar and Zeynep (in Cincinnati) and Frans (everywhere!) would be great teachers. As would my Komyo Reiki teacher, Hyakuten Inamoto Sensei (in Japan and New York). (And mind you, he was my fourth Reiki teacher! Every one of them taught me what I needed to know at the time I studied with them, and have remained good friends through the years as I continue my journey.) You’ve obviously made a strong and sincere start, and have very far in lass than a year!

  8. “As a Reiki practitioner / healing worker in any situation, I am called to be present, in surrender, to the Divine / Nature / True self / Reiki, call it what you may.  I am called to be present and let Grace move through me for those involved.  That is the calling. Where the results may go, that was not for me to choose, or yearn for, since I don’t know realistically what “the highest good” is.”

    This is exactly what I needed at this stage in my growth, thank you

  9. by Sameera on SEPTEMBER 23,2013 AT 4.20 pm
    Hello Sunder! Your article is just what i needed right now.Beautifully written in fact i would say that Higher Self has made you write it for my help as i was awfully confused with the same questions. I am into reiki for almost 10 years now but have had similar confusions all this while.even my reiki prayers have been the same like the ones you have mentioned in the beginning of your article.Intentions have been more of or simply desires. I feel very upset when the outcome does not align with the intention.Self doubt, self criticism is often there. Despite knowing that we do not DO reiki, it just flows, there have been confusions regarding the right intention.Your article is perhaps what i needed the most. I ll try to follow your advise now onwards. They say that the teacher appears when the student is ready and i would also add that the right site/blog pops up too. Thank you so very much for this wonderful enlightening article, problems which were faced by most of us but were going without solutions. Once again i m full of faith and positive energy after reading your blog. Thank u Thank u Thank u.

  10. Hi Sundar! love reading your articles as they are not only beautifuuly written in a simple language bt also because they deal with very common things we all face bt never dare to ask about them. In this article you have written how to isolate reiki from desire, i appreciate it very much but then i would like to know what about affirmations? When we do affirmations are we not asking for our desires to b fulfilled? Pl help.

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