One of the Kanji found in the middle of the Reiki pictograph is the character Wu which literally translates as ‘Shaman’. Wu also refers to the empty void from which flows the primordial essence of the universe and becoming one with this essence is the principle path of Taoism.
In keeping with my theme of emptiness this month, I would like to discuss the ‘Wu Wei’, which epitomizes the Taoist philosophy of becoming empty like bamboo, so that we can feel the flow of primordial essence through us. ‘Wu Wei’ is the art of non-action or following the path of least resistance. It refers to the cultivation of a state of being in which our actions are effortlessly efficient and in alignment with the natural flow of our environment and is achieved by first becoming conscious of an inner flow within. It is said when we do, the potential is there for us to become aware of our intimate connection to everything in the outer world and realize we are part of the universes unfolding story and an expression of its infinite creativity. The more still and empty we can become, the more we are aware of our own formlessness and the more we are able to sense this creative expression of universal energy through us, as flow.
I love this appreciation of emptiness because it encapsulates the approach we must cultivate when it comes to practicing Reiki. So often we can get caught up in our own ability to give Reiki that we inadvertently make the healing about ourselves, even though we are told throughout our training that it is not us that is doing the healing and to let go and trust Reiki’s innate intelligence to know what is needed and where to flow.
So can we learn from the Taoist philosophy of Wu Wei? Can we embody the notion of emptiness, not make it about us, get out of the way and allow space through which Reiki can flow? I believe this is the real key to successful Reiki treatment. To experience the quality of the interaction whilst reminding ourselves; everything that takes place is what is required. Being empty means we let go of preconceived ideas of what is to take place. It is to realize that trying to direct Reiki is as futile as trying to push a river, for like a river, Reiki flows where it will.
Being empty is to surrender and allow an unfolding of the healing process that is congruent with the needs of the client. The more we push someone towards some desired outcome, the less congruent we are. The more we try to fix someone and send them home healed, the more we have robbed them of their own opportunity to heal themselves.
Wu Wei is effortless action, acting when the time is right and achieving, without the appearance of trying. When we allow ourselves to be inspired by spirit [in-spirited], we are allowing ourselves to become in that instant intuitively directed by the flow of energy through us. The emptier we become the more we are guided to be appropriate for the given moment because we are present with what is. The emptier we are, the greater the Ki flow and the greater the potential response.
The person who is most effective at becoming empty and open is usually the one who is not trying because quite simply, Ki flow is interrupted by our own needs and wants. It’s not easy to be deeply surrendered and not make things about ourself. It’s not easy to release outcomes and simply hold a space for someone else unconditionally. We like to feel useful, we like to think of ourselves as making a difference. We want to know that we have helped facilitate change. But all that just gets in the way and prevents us really being completely open and surrendered to what is.
Wu Wei as a concept, teaches us that rather than trying to force a result upon another, we must allow it to unfold naturally. Allow flow to reveal what is required and guide us to the right outcome. This is our task, to become like empty bamboo so that we can feel the vital essence of life through us. Fortunately we are beautifully designed for this purpose, we are the point at which the Yin of earth and the Yang of heaven converge. The more still and the emptier we become, the more we can realise ourselves to be a manifestation of them. As we develop this relationship to these two polarities, the greater we experience their flow until we arrive at a very simple truth, we are intimately connected to everything and a part of lifes unfolding story.
In Qigong there is a physical stance called the Wuji. This is the standing posture from which all movement arises. Wuji has been likened to empty bamboo because, before any forms are learnt, first we learn to stand as emptiness. We could call it the shaman’s stance. It relates to the infinite possibilities before the creation of Yin and Yang. As a stance it informs us of what is misaligned and out of balance that prevents wholeness within our being. Through the Wuji we learn to root ourselves, take our place on the ground and stand tall. We learn where to focus our centre of gravity and become mindful of what is obstructing flow within. Most importantly of all, we learn to view earth as a living entity that we have grown out from.
Through the Wuji we can experience the integration of Yin and Yang energies in the body and begin to notice the focal point for these energies in the Hara. It is here that Reiki can be gathered as part of our daily preparation. The Wuji is an incredibly useful exercise that helps us become aware of what we are holding onto that prevents the flow of Ki within.
Exercise for Wuji
Place your feet approximately shoulder width apart, heels and toes parallel.Imagine yourself in the saddle of a horse and allow your knees to flex gently
Begin rocking forwards and backwards from your heel to your toes whilst maintaining full contact with the earth through the soles of your feet. This will activate the yong quan [bubbling spring] points in your feet. As you continue to rock gently, allow the hips and pelvis to become fluid and part of the movement.
After a few minutes, allow the rocking to slowly reduce, winding you in, finding the perfect point of balance and stillness.
Allow yourself to become aware of your breath and gently bring your breath deeper down inside your body to your belly.
As you begin to feel what you notice inside that requires unwinding, make minute adjustments to your posture so that your skeletal system is supporting you and your muscles can relax as much as possible.
Become aware of your spine and allow it to extend upwards vertebra by vertebra as it feels supported by the foundations of feet, legs, hips and pelvis below.
Allow your shoulders to open and relax and your arms to sink downwards
feel your neck lengthening and your jaw relaxing. Allow your head to find a point of balance on the top of your spine.
When you feel a synergy between, breath, balance and stillness, whilst staying nicely rooted to the earth, imagine opening the top of your head and connecting with the space above you.
Breathe, relax and feel the connection between the earth below you, the heavens above, your breath anchoring you to the now and Ki flowing through the emptiness of you.