Health & Harmony

Bringing Reiki, life and wellbeing to Galashiels and the rest of the Scottish Borders

Reiki and gratitude

How does gratitude fit in with our Reiki practice?

 Balance is the perfect state of still water.
Let that be our model.
It remains quiet within
and is not disturbed on the surface.

Still water

Still water

One of the earliest advocates of a daily gratitude practice was philosopher Rabbi Baruch Spinoza. Born in Amsterdam in the seventeenth century, he suggested that each day for a month, we ask ourselves the following three questions:

1. Who or what inspired me today?
2. What brought me happiness today?
3. What brought me comfort and deep peace today?

This practice, wrote Spinoza, would help us find more meaning and joy in our lives and would lead to profound inner transformation. When our attention is focused on appreciation, the ego moves out of the way.

Doesn’t that sound familiar?  At the very heart of our Reiki teaching is:
Just for today, show gratitude to every living thing.

Throughout the day, notice the many things for which you are grateful . . . nurturing relationships, material comforts, your body that allows you to experience the world, your mind that allows you to really understand yourself, your essential spiritual nature.  Take a moment to breathe, pause, and be grateful for the air that is filling your lungs and making your life possible.

This is all just a breeze when all is going well in our world, isn’t it?  When the going gets rough it is a different matter.  Sometimes our heart just isn’t in this gratitude practice at those times.  Or we neglect it altogether.  This reminds me so much of my dear mother who seemed to have more rough times in her life than smooth ones … and yet there was always a ready smile.  She loved poetry, and could recite poem after poem from memory.  One of her favourite was Worth While by Ella Wheeler Wilcox.

It is easy enough to be pleasant,
When life flows by like a song,
But the man worthwhile is one who will smile,
When everything goes dead wrong.
For the test of the heart is trouble,
And it always comes with the years,
And the smile that is worth the praises of earth
Is the smile that shines through tears.

My mother certainly did just that, and I sincerely hope that I learned from her example.

A practice of gratitude is at the heart of being able to summon a ‘smile that shines tears’, nurturing the capacity to stand back from the urge to rant and rage at the person who has just hurt you … acknowledging that you have stood in that place on occasion too … recalling with gratitude the many qualities that person possesses.  Sometimes this is easy, but sometimes it can be quite a struggle!  But it is always worthwhile.

Susan Gregg who lives in Hawaii shares with us the Hawaiian practice of keeping a mahalo card, a gratitude card.  Write in the card all the things for which you are grateful … the love of your family, your pet, having a secure roof over your head and food on your table, beautiful sunsets, rainbows, flowers, your community, etc.  Susan suggests that you read your mahalo card before sleep every evening and remind yourself of all you have to be thankful for each and every day.

When there is something you wish was on the list, but you haven’t yet got to the point of being able to sincerely say ‘thank you for this’, write it on a post-it note and attach it to the card.  Write it in once it has become a reality.  That way, you are also giving thanks to that stage of transition too, the process of growth that is taking place within you as you move through this phase of your life.

It is worth remembering, though, that Mikao Usui taught us the Five Prinicples as an ongoing discipline.  He taught his Reiki students to recite the Principles every morning and every evening, with heartfelt gratitude for each of the qualities.  Like the practice of Reiki itself, these Principles are deceptively simple.  It is easy to learn them at the first level class and then leave them gathering dust in our memory – as we do with so many things that we have learned.

Mikao Usui required his Reiki students to begin a discipline though, and we should heed his teaching.  Choose your own method, but please honour his teaching and wisdom – it is never too late!  Whether you read the prinicples out loud from a card or wall hanging, recite them from memory, sing them – maybe recite them along with Doi Sensei in Japanese with the Basic Practice CDs.  Doi sensei recommends that we put up a card or poster with them in our bathroom so that we are reminded of their value over and over again each day.  They are the very basis of our Reiki practice.

Contemplating the Five Principles can also be a valuable part of your daily Reiki self care practice.  As you sit with your hands on yourself, checking in with what is going on in your body today, check in with where you are with the Reiki Principles too.  Sometimes you can really stick on one of them, and feel dis-ease within.  Sit quietly with that dis-ease and go to the root of it, healing whatever lay hidden in your memories and letting go of the hurt … thanking it for helping you to become who you are, but releasing it.  This may need to be done a number of times for the larger stresses in our lives, but is really Worth While

   … thank you Mum, thank you Ella, thank you Susan,
thank you Spinoza, thank you Confucius …

and thank you to Mikao Usui for making Usui Reiki Ryoho available to us – the Usui System of Natural Healing.


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