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.

Expansion on a theme . . .

Cranes on a Pine Tree   Hokusai, 1832-33

Cranes on a Pine Tree
Hokusai, 1832-33

I used to think once I attained Master level, practiced and taught for nine years, I would have arrived at some Reiki knowledge pinnacle. Once there, I could indulge in what I called, side-to-side learning, or expanding on a theme. So I continued in a straight line to “Master”, and  took “advanced” classes to round out my training. With certificates in hand, a strong client and student base, I felt I reached my goal.

After all, once you have experienced the five taste bud sensations, sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umani (savory), everything else is just a variation of their intensity or a combination of these flavors. This is what I expected to find in giving Reiki to others year after year. Everybody’s organs and internal mechanics are basically the same. Illness, like taste bud sensations, manifests on varied levels of intensity and in combination with other factors. I just had to pay attention and continue to compile this information to develop my expertise.

I became an expert and knew pretty much from experience what to expect under my hands during my sessions. Every now and then I would feel an intensity, or knowingness, during Reiki that, as I look back over the last nine years, had been shown to me on the level I was presently aware of in both training and spiritual acceptance.

Let me say that again, . . on the level I was presently aware of in both training and spiritual acceptance. The first part is easy. Things that were out of my realm as a Level I Practitioner were not recognizable to me. Then Level II, (distance), Advanced (crystal grids), Master (attunements), Karuna Reiki® (other energies), and Jikiden Reiki®* (byosen, and a most effective spiritual technique). Each level and school of Reiki brought with it new discoveries of ways to access the Reiki energy, or intention for a specific condition, and a better overall understanding of healing in general.

The second part, spiritual acceptance is a more personal affair. Planning to do “mainstream Reiki”, I pushed the word spiritual deep down to almost a whisper. I had to present Reiki in a more scientific/concrete way. My audience demanded it. A spiritual person myself, I believe in God, the Virgin Mary, the Archangels, my Guardian Angel, the fairies, dragon flies and elves others say live in the tree outside my Reiki room, Spirit Guides and helpers, but that’s me.  I have seen some of these in my mind’s eye and smelled their sweet fragrance now and then during a session. I even had a psychic tell me how “they” sometimes put their hands in mine when I work. But I couldn’t tell. My hands seemed to always be hot, then very hot, and sometimes cool. That’s Reiki.

Until last week after a client returned from a spiritual retreat. She shared her exceptional experience and I delighted in the stories she brought back, declaring to her, that I believed everything she said. I felt it in my soul. Then I realized that at this session, I was present on a new level of spiritual acceptance.

I always knew it wasn’t me doing the healing. The energy was coming through me, and like others, I learned it was just out there and somehow funneled into my crown and through my hands. It was an accepted mystery. Maybe that is how it happens, but I think now, the energy has a guide and when both the practitioner and the client invite (intend) their presence, you can feel the power at the core of compassion coming through you for them, and maybe a little for yourself too.

After having sampled this new taste sensation, I humbly asked for forgiveness in my “Master” plan. Laughing together, we will work as one to help others to wellness: with them providing the spiritual light, and me the vehicle. And that whisper in my throat has found a voice. Reiki is a Spiritual modality and that’s what people are looking for most these days. To touch spirituality even if, for now, it has to be through another person.

*Jikiden Reiki®, taught me a new level of spiritual practice in Reiki, and identifying byosen levels and patterns, which looking back, prepared me for this next level of “training”.

Frank Arjava Petter returns to San Diego in May to teach Jikiden Reiki® seminars. Contact me for more info.