the whisper of Kyoto

There are those who decide on a pilgrimage heeding its call at some point in their lives. For me it whispered unexpectantly as an invitation to a Reiki Congress. A business trip.

Then it blew in as Santa Ana winds swirling a constant 99 degree temperature restricting my flight from its scheduled take off. Arrival into Tokyo became cloaked in night darkness. No luggage. It was removed the day before to lighten the load for takeoff.

Readjusting travel arrangements in a foreign land, in a foreign language, became part of the experience. A bump in the road-but the road was in Japan. And I was excited to be there.

The whisper grew louder as a typhoon traveled across Japan raising humidity levels into the 90’s over the next two days. It was Wednesday, and I began this journey on Monday morning, in the same clothes-sitting for hours on a plane at the gate, then on the tarmac, on a shuttle bus to a hotel in Tokyo, back to the airport hours later, onto another shuttle to a different airport, to catch a plane to Osaka. Now, I badly needed a change of clothes. Off to buy something to wear, but no. Kyoto shops only carry Japanese sizes. Keeping my spirits up, I made light of the situation.

Until the following morning. The heat, now pouring rain, and still in my travel clothes-I fell apart. I missed an important group tour. And I was hungry waiting for the dining room to clear so I wouldn’t put anyone into an unpleasant situation hugging me hello. Still not knowing if my packed clothes would arrive today or tomorrow or the day after, well into the Congress weekend.

For hours I walked and cried in the rain. And I walked some more. And I cried some more. Breaking down, falling into pieces with each step. Breaking away from my important public-self. I didn’t know it at the time, outwardly, trying to hold myself together. To be okay. To find peace with what was happening to me. Being separated from the group. Examining me as alone. How my physical self could indeed exist separate from my spirit self.

Sitting on a park bench, I watched a man hit a baseball. With each swing, observing the smooth arc of time and space he, and now I, was traveling. Watching him, I could breath again.

On Friday afternoon, my luggage arrived. Happy to have different clothes, I realized I was different and the window dressing didn’t really matter. At the Congress I felt invisible in a room of 200 colleagues. I had become more an observer than a participant. Empty but whole.

Staying on, I visited shrines, and temples, and parks and took long walks along the river and down side streets. Talked with shopkeepers and artisans. Walked behind a geisha, a few feet away, sensing the gentle yet intense presence she represented. Feeling gratitude for the brief shared space into tradition. I rode the train and subway with business people and families with young children. Visited a Kanji museum and played like a schoolgirl at the exhibit tables.

Mostly now, I stayed in awe at the quiet moments offered at empty temples housing large golden Buddha statues, spying a lone crane on a rock in a still lake, meeting Senju Kannon where time stopped and a sweet unspoken communication occurred. I inhaled the incense burning from street shrines, and bathed in the abundant lush of the green trees that filled my soul.

It has taken me 5 months to put words to my experience. Although it falls somewhat short. If I could only share the whisper I first heard . . .then Kyoto could also change you. Listen for it.


Reiki – on a paper coffee cup

Written in black marker, on the side of a white Starbucks coffee cup, I have been referred to as Lorene, Loran, Lorain,  Lauren, Laurene, Lori Anne, and my favorite, Maureen. To the barista making my grande-soy-latte, it’s all me: the lady waiting patiently at the pick-up counter for her morning coffee.

The same with Reiki. Frank Arjava Petter teaches that it doesn’t matter what you call it. That what comes out of our hands is Reiki. The energy is all the same no matter what we call it. Reiki is Reiki. And it doesn’t matter to the person in front of us about to receive it. (The part that is important, is we represent ourselves and the modality with honesty. If we add anything to it, then we have a responsibility to tell our clients what it is and it’s origin.)

When I heard about Jikiden Reiki® I was intrigued. It was Reiki from Japan without western influence.

This western influence was indeed confusing to me as a new Reiki Practitioner. I was taught to keep my ego out of it, as Reiki would flow better that way. A hard pill to swallow, since I couldn’t help but wonder what chakras had to do with anything Japanese? And why did we play New Age piano music instead of traditional Japanese music during a session? We had westernized it. Put our stamp of approval, our collective handprint, and borrowed East Indian and Native American concepts to help explain it. Big time ego.

Maybe I was jealous. While a teenager during the 60’s, I never got to be a hippie; and at the height of the New Age, I was a single parent who couldn’t take time to lose myself into the ethers, even for one minute. When I came to Reiki in 2004 I had no previous experience with chakras, meridians, crystals and drumming over people on a massage table, or using anything with aroma that wasn’t purchased from a major department store. My learning curve was long. At first, I waited to see if I could catch-up, and then finally decided to forgo the extras and concentrate on doing just Reiki.

I continued to do my best, and forget the rest. My hands were on, no matter what words were used to describe it. But somewhere in the back of my mind I really wanted to learn about Reiki and it’s history and the history and culture of Japan in Usui Sensei’s time. That’s what was missing for me. The questions kept coming. How did Reiki come about? What really led Usui Sensei to Mt. Kurama? Why wasn’t Reiki being taught in Japan? Did it die along with Dr. Hayashi? Learning Jikiden Reiki® was my answer.

So is my Reiki better than yours? That’s not the point. Jikiden Reiki® fits better with who I am and what I can comfortably represent as an Energy Medicine (NIH-CAM), or as a relaxation technique to my clients. It’s Reiki, pure and simple, as taught by Dr. Hayashi to Mrs. Yamaguchi as it remained in Japan for all these years.

In case you are wondering, I am trained in Usui/Tibetan Reiki, Karuna Reiki®, Jikiden Reiki®, and Reiki taught by Beth Gray’s lineage which I teach as an Advanced Level II. And yes, when I represent each of these, I do it with an open heart and with much respect for each of my teachers.

So the next time you are at your favorite coffee shop, notice the menu on the wall. Espresso, Latte, Americano, Cappucinno. It’s all coffee with a slight influence to make each one different. If you are new to Reiki, or a new Reiki Practitioner, try not to let the words get in the way. Just do Reiki. And make mine a double shot with extra foam!

Frank Arjava Petter will be in San Diego May 2013 to teach Jikiden Reiki@ Levels I and II and Shihan kaku (Jr. Teacher). I serve as his host in San Diego, and also teach Jikiden Reiki® Level I. Please contact me for more information.