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Steps on the Healing Path: My First Reiki Session

Everyone comes to the healing path in a different way. This is the first post in my "Steps on the Healing Path" series, in which I'll share some of the pivotal moments of my journey.

A slightly different version of this post appeared on my personal blog in 2012.

It was my lover who wanted to take the Reiki class: she was training to be a Doula, as was the woman who was teaching the class. I'd never heard of Reiki before my girlfriend told me about it. The Reiki Master had encouraged me to take the class as well. Guided by my budding fascination with natural healing and earth centered spirituality, I decided to go for it.

I was in a pretty tough place back then. My girlfriend and I were financially strapped and isolated. My parents were barely speaking to me since I came out to them a year previously. New Orleans was populated with giant, flying cockroaches, and I was so terrified of them I was in a constant state of fight-or-flight anxiety. (New Orleans belongs to the roaches, I think, and they let us humans stay because we provide cool places to hide and plenty of garbage to eat. Forget the meek. When the apocalypse comes, the cockroaches, dandelions, and pigeons will inherit the earth.)

The week before our class was Valentine's Day week. I worked in a flower shop in the garden district (with a giant roach living in the bathroom--I tried not to go to the bathroom when I was at work!). Valentines Day behind the scenes in a flower shop is brutal: the night before the holiday we worked until midnight. Valentine's morning we opened at 8:00 a.m., and a crowd waited at the door. Throughout the grueling hours on my feet, I thought about how excited I was about my upcoming class--and about my first Reiki session.

Since I'd never experienced Reiki, Valentine's evening our soon-to-be Reiki Master would give me my first session.

After eating and changing into dry clothes I dragged my exhausted, aching body to the Reiki Master's house. She had a room set aside for healing: that night it was dimly lit, and very quiet. The massage table had blankets and a pillow; she told me to get comfortable and lit incense and candles. On her desk, a specially designed box housed several honey bees, which she used in her Ho Shin practice. As the smoke from the incense curled through the room, the bees began to buzz around their temporary home. Somehow this sound was the most soothing one in the room. I felt safe and soothed.

She began the session with her hands at the top of my head, and I immediately felt warm, tingling sensations there, which slowly spread downward to my neck and the tops of my shoulders. Over the next hour, she moved her hands down my chakras, then down my legs to my feet. Warmth and comfort spread ever so slowly through my entire body. The sensations were all subtle and gentle, and I grew more and more relaxed. When she finished, she told me to take my time getting up, and left the room. As soon as she left, I burst into tears.

Mind you, my response to most intense emotions is to cry. These tears were mostly about releasing all the stress and tension of my work week, and about the relief of feeling my usually tense body relax.

But I also cried because I felt a stirring of hope--the first hope I'd felt in a while. At the time I didn't have any concept of emotional and spiritual healing. I knew you could go to therapy for your mental problems, to a doctor for physical ailments, but I didn't understand that the spirit could be healed just as surely as the body and mind could be. What I couldn't articulate in that moment, but felt deeply, was the first faltering steps of healing from the emotional and spiritual abuse of my childhood.

I slept better that night than I'd slept in months.

I knew, after that first session, that Reiki would be an important force in my life. I didn't know, of course, that it was only the beginning of my explorations into healing and vision work. In my next post in this series, I'll share the experience of my first level one Reiki class and attunement.

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Michelle Simkins grew up in rural Northern Michigan, where she divided her time between reading fantasy novels and wandering the woods. It was no surprise that as an adult she found herself drawn to earth-based spirituality and energetic healing, both of which she's been exploring since 1999. She now lives, works, writes, and studies her craft in the Pacific Northwest.


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