Reiki Activism: Challenges and Successes

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I'm turning 50 on Sept. 11th, which has brought on a bout of reflection, recalibration, and reinvigoration. I'm not where I thought I would be at this point in my life. Then again, "Reiki Activist" was not on the list of careers presented to me by my high school guidance counselor. I've been wandering through unchartered territory since discovering reiki and setting my mind to raise awareness of its myriad benefits—making it available to all who want it. I initially envisioned a straight line of stepping stones. Many of us who practice reiki do, but this is not how life works. If it did, reiki would be everywhere by now. 


Those who know me know I am very transparent. When I'm excited about something, they hear about it, and feel my enthusiasm ("When you talk about this, the hair on my arms stands up!"). When I'm disappointed or frustrated, that's pretty obvious, too. Lately, there's been a lot of both.

When you look at your own life, do you think others are having an easier go of it? I can assure you that while sometimes they are, sometimes, they're really not. Finding out how my struggles compared to those of others who make it look easy was really helpful in stoking my motivation. I hope my sharing this makes the challenges in your life a bit more tolerable, and the successes all that much sweeter.


After buying a microphone, setting up a sound studio in my home (and then in my next home after moving), I recorded my entire book, Connecting the Dots: from ad exec to energy practitioner. It was painstaking. At first, I read too fast. Then, when I slowed it down, I sounded like I had peanut butter in my mouth. I recorded and re-recorded each chapter, laboriously removing mouth clicks from each sentence. It took hours per chapter, a year in all. When I was finally done (whoo-hoo!), I realized the instructions I'd been following failed to mention that mp3 files only contain a fraction of the data, and could not be re-edited. As I had yet to make some final tweaks, and had not saved the original files, all my audio was useless (Damn it!). I couldn't bear to start over, so I hired someone, and paid a lot of money to have her read my own book for me. 


Patty, a professional narrator, did a fantastic job with the book. It took a couple months, but it was much easier for me to give directions and receive files in my in-box than to agonize through it myself. The audiobook is finally done, and I'm thrilled. You can click the link above and purchase it now, or stand by for audio clips in future newsletters and on all social media platforms. 

Lesson learned: I'm reminded of the sand mandalas Buddhist monks spend so much time creating, knowing all their hard work will blow away. All is fleeting, so move forward enthusiastically and with an open heart, no matter what happens. 


After volunteering with the VA for nearly seven years (three of them in-house with a well-orchestrated reiki program), it became clear they were not going to keep their promises to me. They had said that if vets and staff were interested in taking reiki classes, they would pay us for them—a few hundred dollars after thousands of hours of service. It wasn't so much the money, but the official acknowledgement that reiki has value. I saw it as a a big step towards more fully integrating reiki into the VA system. I yearned to achieve this goal, and thought was inevitable as our list of interested vets grew. When I brought it up this past spring, for the umpteenth time, my contact laughed and said, "That was never going to happen."


Knowing there's more than one way to skin a cat, I went over his head. The new woman in charge is pro-complimentary therapies, and, as synchonicity would have it, one of my first reiki students back in the day. We met to discuss the possibility. She seemed very excited about it in the meeting, but then failed to respond to my follow-up. Finally, she said to me, "That's above my pay grade," and asked me to stop contacting her. I'm pretty sure that's not something you want to say to a woman who's been working hard with no compensation whatsoever to help the population you are responsible (and paid) to help. After all, walking through the front door is above my pay grade, and I'd been doing it for years. 

At first I was devastated that all the work I'd put into that dream was not going to bear fruit. I was frustrated with the lack of integrity of the people I'd worked with. I was concerned about my future, as I've put most of my eggs in this basket, fully expecting the outcome I'd envisioned. But then, I changed gears. 


After refocusing our efforts, the Reiki Brigade has been able to create inroads into more receptive communities and are closer to securing a grant for reiki classes after eight months than we'd been after seven years at the VA. We still attend Stand Down events as a means to serve vets and stay connected, but if the VA wants in-house reiki, as has been encouraged by VA national since (because of?) the inception of our program, I'm happy to show them a market-level rate card. 

Lesson learned:  This could be another mandala lesson, but it's also a reminder to set boundaries and move towards people of integrity who have enough respect for themselves to show us respect as well. 

Here's to practicing non-attachment and moving forward in the direction of our dreams!