Q. Can you please tell us a little about yourself and how you started on your Reiki journey?
I have a rather unusual background in that I started out as a Dental Surgeon, but that was far too stressful… so I moved on to a different career entirely, becoming a Tax inspector, but that didn’t suit me either and I ended up with Chronic Fatigue and depression at the same time. The depression and M.E. fizzled out, fortunately, and then I stumbled onto Reiki, completely by chance, through a whole series of strange ‘coincidences’, and it has changed my life in many wonderful ways.
I had always been interested in complementary medicine, and had read a lot of books on the subject, not that I had ever been on the receiving end of any therapy, and I certainly had not heard of Reiki. For a reason that I cannot remember, I was on the mailing list of a healing centre 20 miles away, and a couple of times a year they would send out a magazine. Usually I would flick through the magazine, find it vaguely interesting, and then get rid of it. This time I noticed the Reiki adverts, didn’t have the faintest idea what it was – I did not even know anyone who had received a Reiki treatment – but I put the magazine to one side, came back to it a few days later, read the adverts again.
Then I was walking along our local high street and I saw a display of books about complementary medicine in the window of a bookshop. In the middle of their display was their one copy of a book about Reiki, which I bought, I read the book and suddenly I was on the telephone booking up my Reiki1 attunement, wondering what on earth I was doing, thinking that I was just being gullible (again!) and that I was forking out money on a load of new age nonsense.
On the day of the course I was sitting there like a lemon with my eyes closed, being attuned, wondering what on earth this strange woman was doing behind me, and then I was amazed to find that my hands started to tingle whenever they got near other people, and the other people on the course said that my hands were boiling hot – which was ridiculous because I had always been a cold-handed person! Over the next few weeks I had emotional ups and downs, a three-week cold, and was seeing everything around me in ‘technicolor’.
Because I was quite skeptical I practiced on as many people as I could get my hands on, and was amazed by what Reiki was doing to these people: getting rid of the pain of sports injuries and long-term back pain, for example. I thought ‘good grief, what is going on here?’ I knew that Reiki was definitely what I wanted to do, so I went through the levels quite quickly, trained with a few different people, and started giving treatments from rooms in/above some Health Food shops. After a while I started running courses. Now, over a decade later I have a team of 25 teachers who teach my style of Reiki courses in the UK, and an extensive web site that makes available detailed manuals, eBooks, CDs, MP3s, self-help guides and home study courses. I think Reiki is wonderful and I feel so lucky, so privileged, to have come across it, because it makes such a wonderful difference to so many people, and it is so humbling to be part of that.
Q. How has Reiki affected your life?
It has brought contentment, mindfulness and fulfilment.
Q. Who did you train with, and how long have you been teaching?
I trained in Western-style ‘Takata/Hayashi’ Reiki in 1996, with a lovely lady called Diane Whittle. Since then I have trained informally with a range of Reiki teachers in Europe, benefited from the methods brought to the West by Hiroshi Doi, and trained face-to-face with Chris Marsh, who was in contact with some of Mikao Usui’s surviving students in the early years of this century. The way that I teach Reiki with Reiki Evolution is based primarily on the original practices taught to me by Chris Marsh, presented in a way that works in a ‘weekend course’ format. We very much focus on Reiki as a tool for self-healing and spiritual development, rather than having it primarily as a treatment method. We emphasise simplicity, intuition and mindfulness.
Q. How would you explain Reiki – is it a spiritual practice, energy healing or something else?
It is a spiritual practice that is free from dogma and thus suitable for people from all religious backgrounds, or none, and it is an energy healing method. It is a tool to change things for the better.
Q. What makes Reiki different from other forms of energy healing (like Qi Kung / TT / Pranic Healing)?
The difference with Reiki is the ritual that all practitioners go through, which allows them to channel energy from an infinite source rather than have to deplete themselves, as would be the case with Qi Gong healing, for example.
Q. What is the most misunderstood thing about Reiki in your opinion?
People tend to see Reiki as a hands-on treatment technique, whereas in my opinion it’s much more about a personal journey of spiritual and self-development.
Q. What really happens in an attunement?
It all starts with a connection, doesn’t it? We “attune” to the energy, connecting them or hooking them up to a source of energy that they did not have access to before… or do we? Are we connecting people to something external to them?
One of the important principles of the original system was the concept of ‘oneness’ and in fact one of the goals of the original system was to experience this state, by working with meditations and/or kotodama at Second Degree. The idea here is that what we experience as reality is said to be ‘illusion’ : the notion that we are individuals, separate and distinct from other people, is an illusion, and ultimate reality is oneness. There is no me, there is no you. In fact one way that you could explain distant healing is by saying that there is no problem in ‘sending’ the energy to another person because there is no other person and there is no you!
And in that light, how could there be something external to us that we ‘connect’ to, how could there be something that we were not ‘at one’ with: we already have the connection.
So what does the attunement do? Well we could see the ritual as a way of directing the student’s attention in a particular way, helping them to recognise or notice something that has always been there. I like to explain this in these terms:
Imagine that you are visiting a friend and you walk into their living room. They say to you, “can you hear that high-pitched noise?”. You can’t hear anything, well not to begin with, anyway. Then you listen, you really listen, you focus your attention in a new way, in a different way from how you were paying attention when you first walked into the room… and suddenly you can hear the sound because you have ‘tuned in’ to it. You have been ‘attuned’ to something that had already been there, and you were only attuned to that sound through the intervention of your friend, who asked you the right question.
And to take this metaphor a little further, does it matter exactly what wording your friend uses to direct your attention to the sound that you couldn’t initially hear? No, of course not, there are many ways of asking someone to pay attention to a ‘mystery’ sound. Your friend needed to be there in some way to facilitate the process, but the detail of what they said isn’t so important. Their intention in directing your attention in a particular way is what’s significant.
And in fact they didn’t even need to have been in the room: they could have called you on the telephone and asked the question, or they could have left you a note to read. The end result would have been the same: the intervention of a third party, in some way, helping you to ‘tune in’ to something that had already existed and which you had the potential to experience, but didn’t until your friend helped to point you in the right direction in terms of your awareness.
I think that the word ‘attunement’ is unhelpful and redundant and that attunements and Reiju empowerments (which both ‘open up’ a student to Reiki) – and whether carried out in person or at a distance – help the student to realize or recognize something that has always been there.
Q. Can you share with us your most unforgettable experience concerning Reiki?
Someone that I had taught to be a Reiki Master Teacher contacted me to ask if I could do a Reiki treatment on her because she had found a breast lump. She was due to have a biopsy on Monday and I saw her to give a Reiki treatment on the Friday before. The treatment was very powerful, I worked intuitively and was basically ‘locked’ into one hand position for most of the treatment, chanting a kotodama in my head for a while, while it wanted to be chanted. [Kotodama are sacred sounds used in Mikao Usui’s original system which predate the use of symbols].
When the lady went for her biopsy there was a problem because they could not find the lump (which had been the size of a hazel nut). They did not do the biopsy because there was nothing there to biopsy. Now, obviously, it’s not possible to say in an individual case that Reiki definitely produced a particular effect, but such examples as this one keep turning up. Reiki can do amazing things.
Q. What do you hope to see change for Reiki in the next five to ten years?
It would be nice if there could be some more tolerance of different ways of working, in the Reiki community. Here in the UK some people can be very narrow minded and dogmatic in their approach and there is even an organization here where, were any of Mikao Usui’s students still alive, none of them would qualify for ‘Practitioner’ membership of this organization because none of them would have been ‘properly’ initiated. So we have a situation where none of the students of the founder of Reiki would be able to join an organization set up in his name because their training wasn’t good enough! It’s very amusing and very sad at the same time.
I believe that there is no ‘one true way’ when it comes to Reiki and no one person has all the answers. Reiki accommodates many different ways of working and we encourage our students to experiment and find their own comfortable way with the energy.
I would like to see Reiki being understood as being more for personal growth and self-development, and seen less as just a hands-on treatment method, important though that is.
For more information on Taggart King please visit www.reiki-evolution.co.uk
Taggart King is a Reiki Master based in UK, and offers both in person and home study Reiki classes. He also offer other courses such as Reiki Drum Technique and Five Element Reiki, as well as reiki resources like Reiki music and Reiki leaflet and certificate templates.