I tried Reiki for the first time at a donation-driven community event at Maha Rose (97 Green Street). The event listing described Reiki as “a high vibration energy that transmutes lower frequency vibrations helping the body to come into balance…” This doesn’t mean much to me. Then again, if someone described the way my phone functions I probably wouldn’t understand it right away.
As soon as I arrived I was instructed to take off my shoes, and asked “Are you giving or receiving?” A large room was set up with rows of blankets arranged like yoga mats. I took a spot with the others who were receiving that day. Each blanket was soon claimed and we were told to lay down. The people giving Reiki entered from the back of the room.
A woman with dark hair and a calm demeanor sat next to me. She introduced herself in a half-whisper and asked if there was anything I’d like to work on. I mentioned the scoliosis I have which seems resilient to yoga and bodywork. She nodded and we began.
It felt a bit like the end of a yoga class when everyone lies in savasana, except she placed her hands on my forehead. They were warm, and I began to relax. I felt safe through the entire session, even though my mind wandered. She continued to hold her hands lightly and steadily over my forehead before moving to my sternum. Thirty minutes went by quickly, and a bell signaled it was time to wrap up.
Afterwards I felt relaxed and spacey. The next day I interacted with a challenging person who often leaves me drained. While the interaction was still difficult, a few hours later I’d forgotten about it and was feeling upbeat. Later that week I took a big step forward with a creative project I’d been stuck on. Neither change was unprecedented, I’ve been working to let go of unhealthy emotions and move past creative blocks for some time. It was the clarity and ease in moving towards my goals that felt new, and while the scoliosis hasn’t left, I feel physically freer as well.
Curious to know more, I learned that sessions are typically an hour long (community Reiki is 30 minutes) and cost in the range of $100. I read through enough testimonials to learn that people typically go for 8-12 sessions. The other option is to invest in learning to give Reiki by taking workshops. There are only two levels, and both can be completed in a single weekend. However these were also pricey, and I wasn’t convinced I was ready to practice Reiki on others.
I picked up a book about Reiki but the anecdotes it contained seemed closer to traveling medicine shows or stoned flower cults than the emotionally intelligent, stylishly occult vibe found today around places like Maha Rose. The book stated cost shouldn’t be a factor in the pursuit of Reiki which sounded vague and out of touch. Even the MeetUp.com Reiki interest groups are almost all created by workshop leaders looking for paying customers.
There is something of a choose-your-own-adventure vibe to Reiki that leaves much open to interpretation. This for me is both the draw and also the drawback. Reiki strikes me as a form particularly suited to the open, low-key exchange of giving and receiving offered at Maha Rose’s community Reiki days, and I’m grateful I had the chance to attend one.
Maha Rose is located at 97 Green Street in Greenpoint and their next Community Reiki event is Monday, September 5th for a sliding scale donation of $20-40. A portion of the proceeds will go to Amma’s Philippines Relief.