Reiki: Spiritual Practice or Religion?

Reiki is a spiritual practice, not a religion. How is spirituality different than religion? And why should we care?

Because, as the New York Times announced recently: We are spiritual beings.

We are spiritual beings

While I’m very aware we humans are spiritual beings, I wasn’t expecting it to be featured news. But how wonderful that the Times brought it to our attention. Likely most Times readers aren’t thinking about their spirituality.

The article continues, “But for many of us, malnutrition of the soul is a plague of modern life.”

Looking around, I know what the writer means. You do, too.

And I’m grateful to have a practice that is spiritually nourishing (and so simple I can practice it every day, but we’ll come back to that).

Even people who have strong religious affiliations might need spiritual nourishment.

We’re not all religious

Religion is about belief; those in a particular religion share specific dogma. They have the same chosen deity, calling the One they worship by the same name.

Spirituality, however, is about direct experience rather than belief. That’s why after Reiki practice, I ask my clients and students a simple question, “How do you feel?”

I know their response will be some version of, “I feel better.” But I’m not the one who matters; they need to recognize they feel better, and to start understanding just how much feeling better means.

How do you feel?

The simple statement, “I feel better,” is an indication of spiritual healing. Your direct experience of yourself–and perhaps of life–has shifted in a way that might be subtle, but is nonetheless palpable.

You don’t “believe” you are better; you feel it, you know it.

If you have a serious ailment, you’re not suddenly cured of your malady. Of course not. But you feel better. You feel a sense of relief or improvement, of being nourished. Your spirits are lifted. You feel spaciousness and possibility where before there was a wall.

You sense your innate wholeness, even if you’re undergoing medical treatment. You feel motivated to do what you’ve been wanting to do, but haven’t had the oomph to do.

What is spiritual practice?

Spiritual practice is how you turn your awareness within to engage your spirituality. It’s something you do to uplift yourself.

Spiritual practice is how you find your best Self, how you reach inside for the highest, how you transform your understanding of who you are and discover your values, what life is about, and particularly, what your life is about.

Spiritual practice is how you discover what’s possible, how you can grow into the person you know in your heart you can be. It’s how you experience yourself beyond your thinking mind, where creativity resides.

All of that can happen with any spiritual practice. In my 50+ years of spiritual practice experience, it happens fastest with Reiki practice. And when you’re spiritually starving, feeling nourished and uplifted fast can make all the difference in the world.

Feeling spiritually nourished fast helps keep you from hurting yourself by neutralizing the cascade of stress hormones. That’s valuable on its own, but it also means you’re less likely to take actions that can hurt yourself and others.

Reiki spiritual practice, not just stress reduction

If you already practice Reiki, do you refer to it as a stress reduction technique? If so, are you willing to revisit that?

Don’t get me wrong. Stress reduction is a valuable by-product of Reiki and all spiritual practice. Stress reduction is important; most of us could do with a bit less stress. But that doesn’t mean Reiki practice is a stress reduction technique.

Think about it. After practicing a stress reduction technique, you (might) feel less stressed (depending on your skill). But do you feel uplifted? Do you feel empowered?

After you practice self Reiki, you feel lighter, often a bit happier, and life feels more doable. You feel a bit brighter, more yourself, your true Self.

Reiki and religion

People often ask, “Can you combine Reiki practice with religion?”

Why not? Like other spiritual practices, Reiki practice is non-dogmatic; it’s belief-neutral. You don’t have to believe anything to practice Reiki; you simply practice.

Religions generally make use of spiritual practices such as prayer, meditation and self-inquiry, placing these spiritual practices within the context of their belief system. Perhaps you’ve seen mentions of Christian Reiki. It seems Christian Reiki practitioners started using the term to reassure fundamentalist Christians that Reiki practice does not counter to Christian beliefs.

Does the dogma of your religion expressly forbid Reiki practice, or other spiritual practices such as meditation, yoga or tai chi? I’ve never come across that, but it’s your religion, so it’s up to you to find out from your religious authority, or decide for yourself (which would be a spiritually-based/inwardly-sourced decision).

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