Bronwen Stiene: Reiki as a Spiritual Path

Tami Simon: You’re listening to Insights at the Edge. Today I speak with Bronwen Stiene. Browne founded Australia’s International House of Reiki with her husband Franz Stiene and teaches the system of Reiki in Asia, North America, and Europe. A student of the Japanese lineage of Usui Reiki Ryoho, she is coauthor of four books, including The Reiki Sourcebook and The Japanese Art of Reiki. With Sounds True, Bronwen has created a two-session program called Reiki Meditations for Self-Healing where she helps listeners access their innate capacity for deep relaxation in order that we may live more naturally in alignment with our authentic self. In this episode of Insights and the Edge, Bronwen and I talk about some of the central myths that surround the practice of Reiki. We also talked about the importance of grounding as part of the practice as well as the origins of Reiki, practicing Reiki with animals, and how we can open right now to whatever is needed most in our life. Here’s my conversation with Bronwen Stiene.

Bronwen, I think that people think that Reiki is a form of hands-on healing, some type of hands-on healing. And to begin with, can you help our listeners understand what might be unique about Reiki from other forms of hands-on healing?

Bronwen Stiene: Yes, it a form of hands-on healing. As a teacher of the system, I see it as something broader than that. Perhaps that will help distinguish it from other systems—the way that I see the system is that it’s made up of five elements and one of those elements is hands-on healing but there are other aspects to it as well.

I guess a good place to start is to say that, yes, it is something that you would do. I guess when people say hands-on healing they might think of working on other people and helping other people—and that’s definitely something that you can do if you learn the system of Reiki. However, it’s also something that you can do on yourself. The elements, when they come together, they actually focus first on healing the self: sort of helping you to become more healthy and happy and whole, more balanced. Then, with that aspect of yourself being so much brighter and open to energy work, then you can go and help other people. I know that in the West, we have focused much more on the hands-on healing aspect but I’d like to just mention the other elements as well that we do work with. These are the things that help us to be good hands-on healing practitioners.

The first of those is the precepts. We have the precepts. Another word for precepts is “instructions,” so their instructions are really simple. And, they’re really, well … let me put it this way: they’re actually not simple to do but they sound simple. They are—I’ll just read them out for you. “For today only, do not anger. Do not worry. Be humble. Be honest in your work. Be compassionate to yourself and others.”

TS: Is that the first one? Or is that all the precepts? Because that sounds like a mouthful.

BS: That’s it all together.

TS: Oh, that’s all of it. OK, thank goodness.

BS: There’s five of them. They have their intro, which is “for today only,” which is really about each moment—to see if we cannot bear anger and not worry. Like I said, this [is a] simple thing with these instructions, however they’re enormously hard to actually incorporate always in your life.

TS: Now that word “precepts” sounds very moralistic. I was a little intimidated by the use of that word.

BS: It is, sort of. If you look it up, you might find “law” and [that’s] one of the things that it might be. But it’s also an instruction and, really, we see it as an instruction. So it’s just something there—they’re guidelines for you to follow and to help you to live a good life.

TS: Bronwen, we’re going to have to pause because there’s a lot that I want to talk to you about, and I really want to get into a lot of aspects of Reiki.

BS: Yep.

TS: But just beginning with these instructions, we’re going to have to talk about them a little bit. This first one, “Just for today, do not get angry,” I mean aren’t there times when being angry is exactly what’s needed in a situation? I would think so.

BS: Well it depends. The precepts don’t work individually as well. And neither do the elements of the system of Reiki. So we need to be compassionate as well. I think that each of the things— there are times when we definitely feel anger. We need to look at why we feel that anger and [ask] “is it beneficial to the situation that we’re in when we’re feeling that anger?” We are hurting people when we’re angry. It’s a very deep subject, you’re right, and it’s something that the way we work with these— we work with meditation practices so we do a lot of contemplation with the precepts. We also use them in a form of mantra. We would repeat one precept over and over again and really absorb the meaning of it in a different way. There are different ways of working with it. Really bringing our awareness simply to the precepts and having that awareness is going to help us work with each one of them. So those are sort of the ways we would work with them.

TS: Well, a very interesting thing that you said is that they all work together. I know in previous discussions that I’ve had with Reiki practitioners, it seems like they look at [the precepts], each one of them, as a unique principle, not this idea that they’re all an interrelated whole.

BS: Yes, this is very unique to the way that Franz and myself would teach at the International House of Reiki. We see everything as interrelated because in truth, nothing exists on its own. It’s the same with the actual practice. For example, hands-on healing—which you mentioned before—if we are working with hands-on healing, we’re going to be better practitioners if we don’t worry.

If I’m practicing, doing a Reiki treatment on someone, and I am sitting there wondering about the treatments, you know: if the person’s going to like it, “am I doing the right thing”—all these things are going to obstruct my ability to be open to the energy and to allow the energy to flow. So working on myself with the precept and being aware that the worry is not going to benefit me, then I’m going to be a better practitioner as well.

TS: Now this idea, “Just for today, I will not worry.” That’s feeling particularly meaningful to me at this moment, while I’m talking to you. The idea that you would use these in your meditation practice, I’m curious if you can just go into that for a moment. If there are other worriers out there who might be listening to us right now: how would I, “Just for today, I will not worry”? How would I work with that? Can you take you take me through a little bit experientially here?

BS: What you would do, as I said—I sort of briefly went into before—but what you would do is, you can simply contemplate. You might sit quietly and just relax and make yourself comfortable—but not too comfortable so that you are falling asleep. Sitting in a relaxed position somewhere. If you’re feeling particularly worried, there are different things that we would do technique-wise.

Once again, it’s bringing all the elements together because one of the other elements is the meditations and the techniques. One of the meditations is for grounding. We work with what is called the hara. The hara is an area about three finger-widths below the belly button and inside the body. It’s the grounding force of the Japanese energetic system, and as the system of Reiki is Japanese, this is the system that we work with. So this hara, inside the body, inside your belly, down deep in your belly—this is the area that grounds you. And this is the area that we work on to really feel connected to the earth, to feel that strength in ourselves, and feel strong and calm.

If we were feeling worried and our awareness was with the worry, knowing that it’s not beneficial to us: our instructions are “Do not worry, just for today.” We could take the time to actually sit in a relaxed space and breathe down into the hara and fill the hara with beautiful energy and air and then as you breath out, you expand the energy out through your body. We would do it again, breathing in, trying to bring the energy down into the hara, filling it up with a beautiful warm energy, and then as you breath out, expanding your hara out through your body.

Now that’s a really basic technique that we teach in the system of Reiki. It’s one of the first techniques that people learn and it is all about expanding that strength of the hara. Also, it’s called our “original energy,” so it’s our real source. Expanding that out through our body so that we have this strength so that it actually moves as the energy moves through your body. It’s actually moving those things, taking those things that are obstructing you from feeling really calm and really connecting to that hara energy.

Allowing that energy to really take you over and move the worry in you. That would be a very simple foundation practice that we would take. And when I said, “try to get the energy down there into the hara,” I was thinking that’s not quite right. It’s with practice that you get to do that. Often, people find it more difficult in the beginning—you know they’re breathing in and they get the energy down into their chest and the energy flows with the air. And you get it down into your chest and you’re like “Oh, I can’t get it any further.” So you just relax, don’t worry, and just breathing in again and really focus in on the hara.

Some people, when they are doing it, find it very beneficial to put their hand over their belly. Over your belly, over your nice little round belly, and you feel your hand actually rise. You can try that. Breathing down, pushing your hand out—and as you breath out letting that energy expand through you. We’ll do it again. Breathing in, down into the belly, feeling the warmth and hold it there. And then as you breathe out, just let that energy move through you. And feel that connection with the earth, feel your strength, feel the solidness of your body.

TS: That’s very helpful Bronwen, and also, I’m starting to get an understanding that when you’re talking about Reiki hands-on healing as a component, but meditation is a component, grounding is a component, and living in alignment with these precepts. Now you quickly told me what the precepts were and I think I got overwhelmed and didn’t get it all. We started with: Just for today, I will not anger and I will not worry, and then what comes after that?

BS: “To be humble.”

TS: Okay.

BS: And then to “Be honest in your work.” When we talk about honesty in our work, we’re not talking about the 9-5 thing. We’re talking about life. Our work, it might even be our spiritual practice—and we do see the system of Reiki as a spiritual practice. And the last is “Be compassionate to yourself and to others.”

TS: Okay. Wonderful. Now one of the big questions that I have about Reiki, and now I’ll be a little confessional here, which is: I did go through a Reiki level-one training and received something that was called an “attunement.” It was a type of ceremony. I don’t really know what happened during the ceremony, but supposedly the Reiki energy was turned on during this ceremony such that it would flow through me in the future. I don’t know if you’ve been feeling the Reiki energy coming through me or not—that’s kind of a joke—but in any case …

BS: [Laughs.]

TS: The reason I say that is, I always felt a little suspicious because that’s just my nature.

BS: Yes, I know what you mean.

TS: Did anything happen during this attunement? And if so, what happened? Can you help me? What goes on during a Reiki attunement and what happens?

BS: Yes, I can tell you. Just to clarify—attunement is the Western form of the Japanese thing called a Reiju. So you can put them on the same level together, but they are one of the five elements of the system of Reiki. So we have the precepts, we have the hands-on healing, we have the meditations and techniques, and we have the Reiju and attunement. So that’s the fourth one.

What it is, if we look at the origin of the attunement, is the Reiju—which is the Japanese practice. The word Reiju means “spiritual blessing.” The word “attunement,” when it came across to the West, that’s the word that was chosen for it. But in France they call it “initiation, initiations” [Says it with French accent], or however they might actually say that. Perhaps that is the best word for it and the best way for us to understand it. It is the initial experience of working consciously with energy. That is what the teacher is there for. The teacher is there to help support you in understanding what it is that you can do, what this is, what Reiki is.

This initial understanding is experienced as the attunement. It’s a ritual that the teacher does, and the intent of the teacher is not to do anything to the student. They’re not trying to make the student do anything. The teacher connects energetically with the student. If you think of it as a blessing, they’re connecting with the student and the student is touching on what it feels like to have worked with the system of Reiki. The student is getting a feel of the teacher’s experience of energy work. Does that make sense?

TS: It does. I think one of the questions I have is: there’s this idea that after this initiation, now this energy is forever turned “on” in you and before—it wasn’t. It was “off” in your system. And then you had an initiation and now it’s like the light switch went “on.”

BS: Yes.

TS: I’m curious if you see it that way?

BS: I don’t, no. Through that understanding of what I just said, I guess you can see why I don’t because for me it doesn’t have anything to do with it. The word “Reiki” is “spiritual energy.” We see it as the spiritual energy, the energy of everything. It is the energy that we are, that we are in, that we exist in, that everything exists in, so how could I possibly not already be Reiki? But I don’t necessary have a conscious awareness of that. I don’t necessary have a conscious awareness of being Reiki. What I can actually do with that? How can I actually work with it? What the attunement is doing is actually bringing your awareness to who you are. It’s certainly not making you into something. There are so many myths that abound within the system of Reiki, and most fortunately, I’m so pleased that a lot of them are disappearing over time as we become more practical and we take away the mystique and the mysticism. I don’t think that there’s necessarily anything wrong with mysticism, but if it’s misused to propagate something for a person’s gain, for example, then things get out of hand.

TS: Tell me what you think these central myths have been about Reiki.

BS: Well, I think you’ve really hit one of them and that is that attunement makes you into something. Also, different attunements: this one will turn you into this, this one turn you into that. I don’t see in the system of Reiki anything like that and I see it really about the person working to connect to learn to understand that they are a great bright light. Coming back to the great bright light and really trying to get rid of all the garbage that covers it.

TS: Let me ask the question in a different way about this attunement phenomenon. So let’s say that I never took a Reiki class and I put my hands on somebody and tuned into my heart, just in a natural way and tried to direct loving energy at this person. So that’s person A. Now this same human goes through an attunement and a day later does the same thing, puts their hands, opens their hearts Do you think it would be significantly different, have a different healing impact after the attunement … or no difference?

BS: Well, I think the idea here is that some people will say, “Oh look, I’ve been attuned to Reiki.” And to me that means absolutely nothing because the attunement on its own, is nothing. It’s the actual elements that we’ve been talking about that make a system. And it is a system that you would follow to be a Reiki practitioner. Say that I was at someone’s house, and I said, “Oh, I’ll do an attunement on you,” and I’ve done Reiki before. It may well absolutely mean absolutely nothing to me. And it may not affect me in any way simply because I’m not really in the place for it mentally. An attunement is something that the teacher does to support the student.

So, back to you’re A & B people. I would say that it’s a difficult one to say. I would say that if the person had been more than attuned to the system of Reiki but had taken a Reiki course, then the consciousness would be very much in what they do. They would definitely already be consciously working energetically. When they would put their hands on someone, they might feel more happening than if they had not done a course. However, there’s so many thing here. You’ve got to look at each person as unique. Some people already work a lot energetically but perhaps not totally consciously, where others may be feeling quite disconnected. So when everyone comes out of the Reiki class, they’re not all on some “layer one.” Everyone is totally unique and how they will have experienced that course will be totally unique because we’re all totally unique and we’ve all have different experiences in our lives.

So I can’t say, this is what you’re going to feel, how you’re going to feel it, or what’s going to happen. It’s really such a unique experience and it’s something—in Japan, when you do a Reiki course, say you become a level-one practitioner, you do a course but it doesn’t mean that you’re actually that practitioner. It means you’ve begun at that level—so it’s really about letting that initial experience and working on yourself and developing that.

TS: I realize for people who have no knowledge or experience of Reiki, this may seem like I’m over-driving this point of initiation. However, what you’re saying is very controversial—it seems to me within what I’ve at least experienced with Reiki practitioners. Meaning: what I’ve experienced is this idea that the attunement—and I think this is true not just with Reiki but many other spiritual traditions—that the attunement is like a magical initiatory moment. And that from the moment of the attunement on, you are forever different—regardless of whether or not you’re changing your lifestyle or are channeling a particular kind of love or openness when your hands are on people. It’s like the lights have just been turned on because you received this attunement. And what I hear you saying is that you’re not convinced that’s true.

BS: For me, what you’re saying there is just one of the myths that you’re “turned on” and it stays that way for life. That’s bullshit because you know if you really think about it, say that I did a Reiki course and then I went away and I lived a life that in no way followed those precepts that we talked about, and was definitely not interested in following those precepts, what sort of a practitioner would I be? Would I be this great bright light? No.

What I’m saying is that when we have this initiation, this attunement, this Reiju, what we’re doing, the student—there is something magical to this. You can’t ignore that and I’m not trying to take the magic out of it because life is magical and it’s just how we interpret it perhaps. But when I’m a student and I receive an attunement or sit with an attunement with a teacher, I sense something. And it can be wonderful. It’s beautiful to hear the experiences that people do have when they have attunements because they are actually connecting, they are being allowed something in themselves through the ritual. They are allowing themselves to open up and to experience this energy that normally consciously are not aware of.

And you know, people can see it different ways or feel it in different ways. There are so many unique experiences with the attunement, so there is definitely a level of magic. But it is not something that—there’s no rule, there’s no rulebook for energy. It doesn’t say that once you’ve done this, you are forever changed and you can never go back. In Japan, there is an association and it’s existed since the early 1900s. They come together regularly and what they do at each time that they come together, the head practitioners do Reiju on the students. And the reason why they do this is because they are constantly supporting their students’ energetic practice. And they are not making them into something, turning them into something; they are just there to support them energetically.

TS: You said some people, during the initiatory experience, see or feel Reiki in a certain kind of way, what’s happening or changing them. How do you see or feel Reiki energy, if you could call it that?

BS: Do you mean me personally?

TS: Yes.

BS: Because, you know, for everybody it is totally unique. I can feel energy moving and when my consciousness is with it, I can vividly feel energy and the more that we work with energy, the more that sensitivity to the movement of energy grows. I think that would be the simplest way to explain it.

TS: Well, for example, when you meet somebody who is a very developed Reiki practitioner does that feel differently to you than when you meet a different kind of person, someone who has never been exposed to Reiki? Does it have a different feel to you?

BS: Now that’s an interesting question. You know [Sighs]. Can I take it out of Reiki?

TS: Sure.

BS: Reiki is a bit of a minefield at times and you’ve sort of said that yourself. So I wonder how many really developed practitioners there are out there. And because of a lot of the myths that have existed, a lot of people have taken Reiki courses, but have they really developed themselves? Maybe, maybe not. I think that what we’ve tried to do is to really help people through our research into the origins of the system—really help people to get a feel for something that is a practice. It’s something that’s ongoing and it’s something that you can continue to work with yourself.

But just let me take it out of Reiki for a moment. I think that … I’ll just give you an experience, which I’ve never had personally, but my husband when he was in Japan, he met—just walking on a mountain—he met one of those practitioners. What do they call them? Living … I’ve forgotten the name. They’re considered living Buddhas. That’s not quite the right name, I’ve just lost it for the moment, but what it means is that they’ve done amazing energetic practices using Japanese techniques, obviously. Franz said he met this guy for two minutes on a path on a mountain and he was, at least for a day, still shaking energetically afterwards. I think it’s that level that, well I’m definitely not there yet, and that if we continue to work on ourselves, that we definitely can very significantly affect others without having to have great rituals and things around it.

In fact, the founder of the system of Reiki, Mikao Usui, he was said to do the attunement by sitting opposite the person. And he didn’t actually move or do anything. You would just sit opposite with him. And he would connect with you and you would connect with him and he would support you energetically in that way. So we do the rituals because we need the rituals because we’re not really there yet.

TS: Can you tell us a little bit more about the origins of Reiki? How did this gentleman come to discover Reiki in the first place?

BS: Well, there’s a lot of different stories about him because there’s very little written information about him. It would be easy to give a whole list of wonderful things that he’s done but really these things are word of mouth. If we want something factual about the man who started it, then the best place to go would be his memorial stand. In Tokyo, there is a graveyard and it’s a beautiful thing and the memorial stand is written in old Japanese, which is pre-World War II. It’s all engraved—it is written by the association that existed in the early 1900’s, by the Reiki association. They talk about him and what he did in his life.

He was born in the 1860s. What we understand is that he came from a family that would have been a samurai family. At that time, the samurais were actually—there was a changeover in the politics in Japan and the samurai were actually losing their position in the culture, and he came from that class. In that class, he would have learned a lot of the things that Japanese people at that time did. And those are the things that we would also find within the system. For example, there’s poetry, which we don’t really use in the West, but they did use in Japan as a form of concentration. The poems are called waka and they are spiritual poems about nature. They would use them to contemplate in the similar way that we read the precepts. And they would concentrate as a way of developing spiritually.

If we look at his life, he did a number of different things. He took practices such as martial arts, where we can see a lot of the influence of the elements of the system of Reiki come from a martial arts background. The symbols and mantras that are taught in the second level and the third level in the system of Reiki can be seen in martial arts. He was a Shinto practitioner it appears, which means that he would have done a lot of work on mountains. And Mount Heiya [ph] in Japan is a famous mountain for Shinto practitioners. And Mount Caramaus [ph] is connected with Mikao Sui, the founder of the system where he meditated. Shinto practices include 21-day practices where they would fast for 21 days on the mountain and within the system of Reiki in the West, we often use 21 days as a sort of a healing time after one does a course that you would grow through training as a practice.

It’s very interesting when you look at the history to see where each of the things has come from and been drawn upon from within the Japanese culture. And yet we’ve lost the understanding of the origins of these things.

He died in 1926, he was born in 1865 and died in 1926. As I said, the memorial stand is the place that has most of the information about his life and what we can see is that it was something that he actually did for himself as a spiritual practice. He took different elements from different areas and created this system which he probably didn’t even call it a system back then and he taught people. And people who were interested in seeing his spiritual development, they asked him to teach them. So he would pass it on in that way.

TS: Would you say then that he was the founder of a spiritual path called Reiki and that that is now the path that you’re on?

BS: Yes, and the thing is that we would call it the “System of Reiki” rather than just “Reiki” because the word “Reiki” is a word that is quite commonly used. Especially at that time it was quite commonly used in Japan by many other groups who were doing energetic work and working with spiritual energy, working with Reiki. So we call it a “System of Reiki.” So to clarify that, we’re not just talking about that energy, we’re actually talking about a system that has different elements and we do see it as a spiritual path. We see it as a way to find that great bright light within us.

TS: And so you would consider it a “complete spiritual path” meaning that within this system of Reiki it offers everything you need for your spiritual path.

BS: Absolutely. Though of course, a lot of Reiki practitioners do other things as well. And it doesn’t preclude anything. It doesn’t mean you can do anything else. And there are a lot of practitioners that are yoga practitioners.

TS: Sure. So in many ways, in talking to you Bronwen, I think I might call you the “rational Reiki practitioner.” You’re like a rational Reiki-er. Not everyone is ever really a Reiki-er but now I know that one of the ways that you’re described is as a “Reiki researcher.” And I’m curious what research you’ve done and what research exists, if any, to prove the effectiveness of Reiki?

BS: Ah, yes, you mean scientific research?

TS: Yes.

BS: Well, I would say that that is my ultimate field, scientific research. I’ve been more involved in historic research but there is scientific research, which does exist. The problem with that is getting numbers, funding. A lot of the research that has taken place is with very small numbers and it’s not accepted by the scientific community. So scientifically, there is research and you will find it out there. In fact, there are different websites which will list research that is being undertaken. I think one of the things that I personally find about research is that because the system of Reiki is not diagnostic, we don’t say, “You’ve got this, you’ve got that,” we try not to restrict our work or limit what we are doing energetically by directing the energy. So it’s quite a difficult thing.

In truth, if I’ve got a pain in my tooth, yes, I may put my hands—if I’m doing hands-on healing on myself—I might put my hands over my tooth. But it might be more beneficial to me to actually work through intuitively over my body, putting my hand over other areas on the body and sensing where the energy is being drawn because my rational mind would be telling me “It’s my tooth,” but perhaps the problem is coming from somewhere else. Who am I to diagnose it? Who am I to say? And really what I want is for the energy to be drawn where my body needs it, not where I think that I need it. So we say to ourselves when we work on ourselves, or we ask our clients to say this as well, that we say, “I am open to receive whatever it is that I may need at this exact moment in time.”

TS: Bronwen, I know that in your experience that you work with Reiki not just with people but with animals and I’d love to hear more about that.

BS: Animal Reiki, especially in the US, is becoming very popular. I guess there are a number of different reasons for that. One is that a lot of animals are finding themselves in bad situations—they’re in shelters, they’ve been abused, and people are looking for ways to help these animals. There’s a lot of volunteering in the animal Reiki community and the way that we work with that, I mean you can work with your pets and it’s such a beautiful thing. And you know what we have to remember is that humans are animals, too. So we’re all animals.

It’s really interesting to work with nonhuman animals because it gives us a great deal of insights into working with humans as well. When we work with animals, what we don’t want to do is we don’t want to force it on an animal. So what we want to say, “You sit there, I’m going to put my hands on you and you’re going to take this.” Because, they’re not going to because they have their own minds and they’re going to want to get out of there as quickly as possible. What we want to do is open ourselves up as a practitioner and we want to offer the energy to the animal. And we can do this by being next to them, we can do this by being five meters away from them. We don’t need to be on top of the animal, and we give the animal the choice whether they want that or not.

It’s such a beautiful thing. Then animals can then come to you, if they’re wanting it. Or they can run the other way if they say, “Look I’m just not interested.” And there’s nothing wrong with that. There’s nothing wrong with you if that’s the case as well. It’s just the way that it is. It’s just the way that it is. Animals can change their minds. I had a dog that I got from a pound, and she was a very nervy dog. And she didn’t like men and she didn’t like trucks and there were a lot of things she didn’t like. She didn’t like Reiki. And you know here I am a Reiki teacher and Reiki practitioner and my dog doesn’t like Reiki. I found that just so strange. She just found it too much, I think. Well, I’m guessing, I’m interpreting here. I don’t know but that was how I felt about it.

It was just too much for her to deal with and she had had a hard life. So toward the end of her life though, when she became pained, I offered her Reiki and she would soak it up. It was so beautiful. It was really her saying, “Now is the time that I just have to accept this, and I really can let go and appreciate the sense of calm and healing that it offers me.”

TS: What kind of effect did you see it having?

BS: Well, she actually had cancer. And I think she had a lump in her jaw. I initially got that cut out when we first found out. They told us that she wouldn’t have long to live—you know that whole story—and it would grow back very aggressively after being cut out or whatever. So we didn’t hold out a lot of hope, but she lived for at least three years.

During that time, she loved receiving Reiki. I really felt that it supported her, and it gave her a sense of love. This was such a big thing for such a little dog to open up and accept this. And it was a very flow opening. See when I first started, I was like, “Oh my goodness!” because I could feel the energy moving and I thought she is starting to accept me offering her Reiki. And that became strong er and strong er over time. It was a beautiful thing.

TS: Do you have an explanation, for yourself—an internal explanation, for how Reiki works whether it’s on humans or an animal?

BS: I see us as being this beautiful, great white light. An amazing being and thing, connected with everything. I see it covered in all this stuff and really the light is just not getting through. That beautiful bright light is what we want to get back to. When we do something like Reiki, we are consciously allowing that energy to expand within us, to remove the obstacles that are in its path.

I guess a better a way to explain that is to say, as if we were a garden hose and we naturally would be like water—the water flowing through, that’s us. That’s energy. That is us in our perfect, great, bright-light state. But our hose gets kinks in it. It gets all these different things and what we want to do is to get those kinks out. So when we work with energy, we’re drawing on more of that energy so that there’s more water flowing through and it’s pushing through and it’s removing those obstacles, removing the kinks and bringing us back to who we truly are.

TS: We talked previously about some of the myths about Reiki and I want to try this one on you. I’ve seen people not only give Reiki to their animals, but give Reiki to a stack of letters before they send them out, or give Reiki to their car that’s not working quite right. I’ve seen this—you know I live in Boulder, Colorado where Sounds True is located. What do you think of this, giving Reiki to objects?

BS: Well, I think everything has energy in it. You know, I met this monk once. He had this hard drive for a computer and it was in India, in Darjeeling—I lived there for a year—and he was a reincarnation of someone and he had traveled the world. And he was relatively young. Anyway he had this broken hard drive and he was like, “Yes, it’s not working but I know how to fix it.” And he picked it up and shook it really hard. And then it started working again! I was like that is absolutely crazy that you would actually shake something that’s broken to make it better. Look, I really don’t know. I just found it very amusing when he did that because it was like the opposite of what I would have considered doing. I guess maybe we need to be open to things happening.

I think everything is connected. I’m open to things. You know, you called me rational before. I don’t actually see myself as rational. I guess I see myself as practical but I see myself as extremely experiential. I think that’s really important. We actually have to open to experiencing. You need to open to allow that connectedness with life. All those things you mentioned, they’re all part of life. A letter is not just a letter: it is a part of this world. I’m a part of this world. We’re all a part of it. And we all coexist together. My feeling about that is although I may not be doing Reiki on the letters that I send out, for example, I’m open to being in a state where I am connected to things.

I don’t want to make things happens. This might be the other issue connected with that. If I’m doing Reiki on a letter, and I want this to do this, this, this, and this. I actually don’t. That’s not the way that I work with the system of Reiki. I want everything, well, I don’t want. The idea is that everything has a perfect space and it’s a state of balance. And that’s the state that I’m working toward and it doesn’t mean that I’m not going to die, because we all die. Perhaps it’s how I die [Laughs] and how I feel, and those sorts of things. If people want to do that it’s all well and good but I would say that perhaps it’s the intention behind it that’s the thing that I perhaps would not be doing it.

TS: You said that the experience is the most important thing to you, that you’re an experiencer. I’m curious here, with Reiki, what was your Reiki early on with the system such that this became your path?

BS: Well, when I chose to become involved with the system of Reiki—because it was something that I had known about. In fact, I made the choice at different times in my life but didn’t really quite come around and I needed help doing some different things but nothing really connected with me. When I chose to do it, I chose to do it with my husband. We chose to do it together as a sense of healing for ourselves as a couple and something that we could do for ourselves to help us individually as well. So the ideas are quite small and very focused on us, I guess, on ourselves individually and as a pair. And we did the first level.

We actually studied the system of Reiki with different teachers but the very first time was in Katmandu. Yet the person that we studied with would not have been my choice of teacher but it was the first teacher that we came across because we had bought a book and we said that the first teacher that we come across—that is the person we will study Reiki with. And we did. It really changed us I think because I was quite open in many ways to energetic things but my husband wasn’t at that point and that’s sort of interesting because he’s really into it now.

So we thought it was something that could bring us together. And I felt that it definitely was. It actually gave us a path for us to continue our lives forward together. When we did it, we just realized it was something that we could share. And little did we know that we’d go on to actually teach it and write books and do CDs with Sounds True! So you know really it started us off on a path together and it’s been—just from the first moment when we did the course, we knew it was something for us.

TS: To end our conversation, I’d love it—if you are willing—if you could give our listeners a Reiki-infused blessing here at the end.

BS: A Reiki-infused blessing…in what fashion would you like that?

TS: Whatever occurs you.

BS: Whatever occurs to me. Okay. All right. We’ll I’d just like everyone to make themselves comfortable [Sighs, deep breath]. And to relax and take in some deep breaths. Breathe in and as you breathe out, just feel your body relaxing. Breathing again [Deep breath]. And relax. Feeling your muscles just letting go, you shoulders relaxing, your face muscles relaxing, your fingers, your hands, your arms. Continue breathing in deeply, and as you breath out feel your back relaxing, your bum relaxing. Breathing in, and let your thighs go, you knees, your legs, and your feet and as you sit here in a relaxed state, I’d like you to sense your spine long, allowing the air to move freely in between each of those little spinal areas down your back, letting it breath warm and long, moving right up the back into your neck, and your head, and your spine, breathing in and out.

Now close your hands over your heart, one hand over the other hand. Now breathe into your chest with your hands on your chest, breathing out, breathing in, filling your chest, as you breath out let go. Sense your hands, your palms, feel a connectedness between your palms and your body. Feel the energy building between your palms and your body, the energy is building in your hands as you’re breathing in and out, focusing on your chest. Now I’d like you to say to yourself, “I am open to whatever it is that I may need at this exact moment in time.” Breathing into your chest now. Feel your chest’s energy expand, your hands are enveloped in this beautiful warm energy. Feel the energy of your heart, expand through your body, down to the tip of your toes out through the palms and your fingers, up your back to the top of your head. Breathing in and as you breath in and out you’re pulsing with this beautiful healing energy. Feel your chest moving in and out, open, and warm.

And now I’d like you to sit in this energy as it grows and pulses within you, allowing healing to take place, leaving your fears and worries behind you. Be compassionate to yourself.

TS: Beautiful. I’ve been speaking today with Bronwen Stiene. She is in Australia, just a couple hours outside of Sydney in the mountains. Bronwen Stiene has created with Sounds True a double session audio learning series on Reiki Meditations for Self-Healing. Bronwen, thank you so much for sharing with us so generously and so honestly. I really appreciate it.

BS: It’s been a pleasure Tami, thank you.

TS: Many voices. One journey. Thanks for listening.

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