What separates Reiki from other Ki disciplines that have evolved up to the rediscovery of Reiki by Mikao Usui? The gathering of Qi in Taoist and Qigong practices had the ultimate goal of union with the great primordial oneness. Therefore great emphasis was placed on developing and refining energy through the various energy centres in the body to arrive at a point of reconnection to the cosmos. Chakra theory follows a similar concept of refining the self and ascending through the energy centres, developing self-awareness of our essential nature and awakening our divine consciousness in the crown Chakra.
I think it is easy to misunderstand these concepts and focus on developing the higher centres at the expense of the lower ones in an effort to acquire intuitive gifts. This is typical of a western attitude, where Spirituality is often approached from an intellectual rather than an experiential point of reference. As a result, people can often be left feeling disembodied and without a foundation on which to build their spiritual practice. Unfortunately, one of the great attractions to Reiki can also be its Achilles heel. Students are not required to develop a mindful awareness of their body before attaining Reiki, because, by its very nature, they are given it. Alas, unless guided by a good teacher we can end up with many top-heavy, ungrounded practitioners. In Qigong, the approach is that energy must be gathered and refined before reconnection to universal oneness can occur. In Reiki it is the opposite, connection is made to the oneness and then refinement takes place, the practice comes after receiving it, not before. Because of this, practitioners can sometimes forget their foundations and lose sight of the importance of balancing the energies of heaven and earth.
What sets Reiki apart from everything else is that we are connected to the Reiki phenomenon by an initiation. Once the initiation has been received however, Reiki is similar to other practices in as much as it is about letting go of what stands in the way, becoming as empty as possible and allowing Reiki to flow through us to enrich our lives. A practitioner must seek to ground Reiki, cultivate that connection, integrate it and through daily practice surrender to it, allowing it to flow through them.
It would be wise for Reiki practitioners to develop awareness of the belly area before attempting anything else. This helps with our orientation and ensures we have a grounded practice. It supports the idea that we are part of the process and the energy that we manifest is something that flows from within us rather than thinking we have to go out there to find it. The Hara, and in particular the ‘Seika Tanden’, an energetic point three-finger widths below the belly button in the core of our belly, provides a point on which we as practitioners can focus our attention. Hawayo Takata referred to the Seika Tanden point herself when she wrote in her diary; “It lies in the bottom of your stomach about 2 inches below the navel” and how we must “let the energy come out from within.”
By bringing our awareness to our Hara, we naturally bring ourselves into the present moment and remain firmly grounded. This enables us to take our position between heaven and earth and allows us to notice internal energy flow and become an empty vessel for Ki to naturally express itself through.
There is some confusion between the hara system found in Japan and the Dantian System from China. Many people think they are one and the same but the Hara System, by virtue of its location in the belly, only encompasses one energy point, the Seika Tanden. This is in the same location of the Lower Dantian from the Chinese model. The other energy centres from the Dantian system are not generally referred to in the Japanese Hara system as they exist outside of the belly region. In the Hara system it is the mind itself that is concentrated into the Seika Tanden and all energy rather than being circulated, emanates from here.
It is believed the vital life force of an individual, is said to reside in the hara. In Japan a famous way to commit suicide is to commit Hara – Kiri [cut the Hara]. A more classic Samurai word for this type of suicide is ‘Seppuku’ which Reiki Sensei, Chujiro Hayashi, famously committed in 1940 to end his life.
You cannot be conscious of the hara without dropping into the NOW which is why fulfillment is said to arise out of sinking the mind into the hara. Once the mind is focused here, all movement and expression comes from a place of grounded mindfulness. Individual understanding of this energetic space through breathing meditations naturally brings us into balance by focusing our mind on the present moment. The arising benefits of this meditation allow for a growing awareness of our true nature. It provides knowledge of the foundation within our body from which energy can emanate. As a practitioner develops their awareness of themselves as a point of expression between heaven and earth the result is energy flow. Through the steps offered to use the breath to ground awareness of their mind into the hara, a practitioner is brought into a deeper sense of the now. Once this is mastered an embodied state of mind is achieved and the intention for Reiki to be transmitted is all that is required to create flow.
Meditation on Seika Tanden
Assume either the seiza posture, [sitting on your heels] cross-legged or on a chair.
Place your hands comfortably in your lap
Place the tip of your tongue into the roof of your mouth just behind your front teeth
Close your eyes and focus your awareness on your breathing
Notice the rise and fall of your belly as you breath
As you sink your awareness deeper into your belly allow it to direct your breath
As you release control of your breath, notice the sensations of being breathed by your Hara
Allow your breathing to become deeply relaxed
Relax into your hara
Notice whatever sensations occur and the changes in temperature of your body. Pay particular attention to your extremities.
When you feel its time to finish simply open your eyes.