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Interview with Reiki Master Colin Powell

Posted in Personal Experiences, and Reiki Blog

Q. Can you please tell us a little about yourself and how you started on your Reiki journey?

Sure. I am a 57 year old husband and father, living in Eccles, near Manchester in the United Kingdom.  My profession is an IT Application Consultant but my practice is Usui Reiki Ryoho. I first heard about Reiki back in 1998 when my sister-in-law mentioned that there was something I may be interested in going on at our local church hall (she also added: “because you like weird stuff, don’t you?).

I went along to an ‘Introduction to Energy’ evenings there and as part of it, we had to place our hands on a partner’s shoulders. I placed my hands gently on a young lady’s shoulders and was not prepared for what happened next! In my head I ‘heard’ a very strong thought or maybe even a voice that said: “You should get back to doing this, it is what you should be doing!”.

After recovering from that experience, I took every opportunity to find out more about Reiki and asked the lady who was running the evenings if I could learn Reiki with her, which I did, over several months when she returned to the UK from Australia where she was living.

Eventually, I felt that I would like to teach and initiate others and decided to write my own Reiki Manuals, which required a lot of research (I did not receive a manual as such from my first Reiki teacher, just a couple of sheets of paper with basic information ‘What is Reiki?’ and instructions on how to perform the attunements, with pictures of the symbols).

Whilst researching, I found that there was a lot of conflicting and confusing information about Reiki and this lead me towards a more traditional Japanese approach to Reiki practice. I communicated with many other Reiki teachers/researchers and was initiated into several different styles of Reiki, to experience the differences and also the similarities. These styles include Gendai Reiki and Komyo Kai Reiki and most recently (2007) Jikiden Reiki, with Tadao Yamaguchi, when he visited Manchester. In 2008, I was fortunate enough to go to Japan, where I repeated my Jikiden Reiki Shoden and Okuden (equivalent to 1st and 2nd Levels) with Tadao Sensei, in his mother’s old house in Kyoto. Tadao’s mother, Chiyoko, was taught Shoden and Okuden levels by Chujiro Hayashi back in the 1930s.

I went on to become a Jikiden Reiki Shihan Kaku (Assistant Teacher), which entitles me to teach Shoden Seminars. Currently I teach a distillation of what resonates with me from the various styles and from my continuing Reiki research and call it Reiki: pure & simple because I try to teach what was taught as part of Reiki practice originally and because of the simplicity of the original practice. I also run a regular, small Reiki share at my house for Reiki practitioners of any style.

Q. How has Reiki affected your life?

Reiki practice has affected my life tremendously! It has enabled me to meet, teach, treat and share Reiki with so many interesting people. It has given me wonderful opportunities such as visiting Japan, appearing on TV, demonstrating Reiki at a Mind Body Spirit Festival, doing Reiki presentations to groups of people, being asked to write guest blogs for Pamela Miles, being interviewed by Phyllis Furumoto on her radio show and extra responsibilities such as being co-Admin of the Reiki Learning Lounge Internet forum, co-Admin of the Reiki Professionals Linked-in group and managing my own Reiki: pure & simple facebook and web pages.

I have always been interested in the spiritual side of life and Reiki practice has given me a daily foundation practice, which has helped me progress on my path to knowing who I really am, my reason for being here and has also given me a more confident and positive outlook on life generally.

Q. Who did you train with, and how long have you been teaching?

As mentioned in my answer to question number 1, I first began my Reiki Journey in 1998 (March) and began teaching in August of the same year, which many may think is quite soon but I had done a huge amount of research in those few months and many Reiki sessions. I first trained with a lady called Carol Satchell, who had learned Reiki in Australia (her lineage was through Hawayo Takata > Phyllis Furumoto and then several others) and then with Tom Rigler (for Gendai Reiki, Komyo Reiki and Sekhem Seichim Reiki – SSR). Finally, as mentioned, I trained with Tadao Yamaguchi but I have also shared and exchanged techniques and research with many other Reiki teachers, including Pamela Miles, Frans Stiene, Taggart King and James Deacon.

Q. How would you explain Reiki – is it a spiritual practice, energy healing or something else?

My quick answer is that Reiki can be all three!

My more detailed answer is:

Reiki can be explained as a spiritual practice, the full original title of which is ‘Shin Shin Kaizen Usui Reiki Ryoho’ (the Usui Reiki Healing Method to Improve Mind and Body), more commonly shortened to Usui Reiki Ryoho or Usui Shiki Ryoho (Usui Style Healing Method) or just Reiki. The spiritual practice of Usui Reiki Ryoho includes daily recitation of (and meditation upon) the Gokai (Five Reiki Precepts), Reiki sessions (self and other) and other meditations such as Joshin Kokyo Ho and Hatsurei Ho.

Many Reiki practitioners and teachers, probably the majority, consider Reiki to be an ‘energy’ and therefore view what they practice in Reiki sessions as a form of energy healing. Whilst a Reiki session undoubtedly involves energy in the balancing of mind, body and spirit, I personally believe that Reiki underlies this process rather than being the actual process itself.

Although, most scientists would now accept that ultimately everything is energy, an increasing number of people are realizing that the organizing principle behind energy may be Consciousness. For me Reiki itself is a form of consciousness (Takata used to call it God Power, Pamela Miles describes Reiki as Primordial Consciousness) which has the effect of balancing energy on all levels in respect of the true purpose or true nature of that on which it acts. What people sense when they give or receive Reiki is the result of their brain to make sense of the awareness of Reiki – something for which their consciousness actually has no frame of reference – and that is why quite often different sensations are felt by the giver and receiver when hands are placed on or over any given position. Sometimes the brain just gives up and nothing is felt, even though something positive is happening.

I have written a detailed article about the etymology and meaning of the term ‘Reiki’ in one of my guest blogs on Pamela Miles’s website.

Nowadays, the term ‘Reiki’ is often translated as ‘Universal Life Force Energy’ but, although Ki can be translated as ‘energy’, the concept of Ki in Japan covers a whole lot more, including an atmosphere or an essence or vapour. I have never been able to trace ‘Universal’ as a translation of ‘Rei’ in Japanese dictionaries , though! Rei also has many meanings but the way it is written in Kanji characters tends to lean more towards the mysterious, spiritual, nebulous, soul, spirit or even ghost. The translation I prefer is actually Spiritual or Divine Atmosphere, which, for me, sums up the feeling or ‘atmosphere’ that is created when practicing Reiki.

Many Reiki teachers and books talk about Reiki as a subtle energy (and sometimes even give it the properties of more generally accepted electromagnetic energies). It is often equated with the Chinese Qi (as in Qi Gong) or Prana (as in Pranic Healing) or many other similar life energies. However, although Reiki contains the character for Ki (the equivalent to the Chinese Qi) I don’t think that Reiki is the same as Ki (or Qi or Prana for that matter). I believe that the term Reiki is a word in itself not really meant to be split into two separate characters. Splitting words can be misleading e.g. in English if we look at the word ‘legend’ we can see that it is composed of the words ‘leg’ and ‘end’ but if we try to determine the meaning of the word ‘legend’ from the definitions of its component words we will run into difficulty!

Q. What makes Reiki different from other forms of energy healing (like Qi Kung / TT / Pranic Healing)?

My answer actually links with my previous answer, in that Usui Reiki Ryoho involves something deeper and even more subtle than the subtle energies involved in Qi Gong, Therapeutic Touch or Pranic Healing. It involves spiritual consciousness which may initiate the interaction of various subtle energies, which are also present in Qi Gong, Pranic Healing etc.,  but Reiki is not under the control of the practitioner – the Reiki practitioner is not manipulating energy even though they Reiki itself may be doing so. The Reiki practitioner provides an opportunity for the Reiki to manifest in the physical realm and do what needs to be done. Although subtle energies may be directed, Reiki cannot be directed as it is already everywhere, it is just not manifested physically everywhere.

The way a person becomes a Reiki practitioner, by receiving an initiation or attunement, also differentiates the practice of Reiki from these modalities.

Q. What really happens in an attunement?

The details of what really happens in an attunement is a mystery that I think we can only ever experience rather than understand intellectually. There are many different methods of performing a Reiki attunement (initiation, Reiju, empowerment or whatever you prefer to call it) and they all seem to work. This would seem to indicate that the particular method used is not an important factor. What I do think is important is the mind state of the teacher and the student, which some may call the intention.

If I had to say what I think happens in a Reiki attunement then I would say that it is like a meeting of minds. Through the use of one or more symbols  – and maybe one that symbolizes Oneness or Interconnection, in particular 😉 – a mind state (or resonance or vibration) is achieved in the teacher and student that allows Reiki to manifest within the student, who may or may not become consciously aware of it (often through images, colours, heat etc.). Once this state of mind has been experienced by the student, consciously or not, then they are able to facilitate the manifestation of Reiki when they intend to practice Reiki.

Q. What is the most misunderstood thing about Reiki in your opinion?

I think one of the most misunderstood things about Reiki itself is that it tends to be perceived as one of many subtle energies and is thought of as electromagnetic in nature. As a consequence of this many unfounded ‘rules’ and pieces of misinformation have arisen, such as the idea of ‘sending’ Reiki from point A to point B (when , in my view, Reiki is already everywhere). The search to try and measure or detect Reiki by scientific methods used to detect forms of very weak electromagnetic energy is also likely to only discover subtle energies that Reiki affects rather than Reiki itself.

One of the most misunderstood things about Reiki practice (or what is taught as Reiki) is that although Hawayo Takata adapted what she taught to suit her audience (particularly the information about Mikao Usui and how he discovered Reiki) she did teach most of what she learned from her teacher, Chujiro Hayashi, although she did not to my knowledge use the Japanese terms that are now so prevalent in ‘Traditional Japanese-based‘ Reiki styles. She did not add things such as treating/balancing chakras, using crystals, invoking Reiki Guides etc. Those things have been added by subsequent Reiki teachers. The misunderstanding that Takata changed Reiki has given rise in some circles to an “us” and “them” situation between “Western Reiki” and “Traditional Japanese Reiki” or “Original Usui Reiki” practitioners, which really has no place in the Reiki Community as there is and always has been only one Reiki and the core practices remain very similar no matter which style is practiced. It is just that some styles have accrued more ‘rules’ and unnecessary clutter than others.

Q. As a Reiki Master, what was the most challenging question posed to you by your student, and how did you answer it?

In some respects all questions asked are challenging. They not only challenge one’s knowledge but also challenge one to answer truthfully, from one’s own experience rather than from what other people say (although if the answer to the question is outside one’s experience, relying upon the experience of a respected source is necessary).

Many questions are asked from misunderstandings of the nature of Reiki or that have arisen from the teachings of others as well as questions asked for clarification. All questions are good. The only dumb question is the one that is not asked.

If it seems as though I am not answering the initial question here it is because I cannot really think of the single most challenging question I have ever been asked. If I am asked a challenging question then how I answer it is with honestly. If I don’t know the answer, I say so, and let the questioner know I will try to find out. More often than not, I am able to reflect upon it and maybe do some research and either find an answer or come to the conclusion that we just do not know the answer at this point.

Q. Can you share with us your most unforgettable experience concerning Reiki?

In common with many Reiki practitioners, I have stories of how even a single, short Reiki session has hugely benefited someone (even removing a longstanding condition such as Temporomandibular Joint Disorder, where eating or yawning is painful, on two occasions). However, my most unforgettable experience was probably in an Intensive Care Unit at my local hospital. I had gone to visit a fellow member of my Amateur Dramatic Society, who was unconscious and on life support. When I arrived, his daughter and her husband were there but they were pleased to see me. All we could do was look at this person on the bed, connected to several machines that were beeping and hissing away and every so often, he appeared to become distressed and his breathing became labored. Apparently, he had been like that for some time before I arrived and the staff had reassured his daughter that he really wasn’t in distress, it just appeared that way. I too felt helpless just watching so I decided to ask his daughter if I could try some Reiki (she was aware that I was a Reiki practitioner as I am often called upon when members of our AM-Dram society get a headache or various aches and pains). She agreed, so I just stood next to him with my hand on his arm (which was relatively free of wires and tubes) and felt the calmness and peace of Reiki arise. It would appear that my friend also experienced this as, after a single additional episode of apparent distress, during which I kept my hand on his arm, he had no further episodes up to my leaving.

The following day, his daughter contacted me to thank me for helping her father, who had passed away peacefully that night.

Q. What do you hope to see change for Reiki in the next five to ten years?

I hope that the practice of Reiki becomes more widespread and generally accepted both as a valuable practice which promotes healing and as a personal spiritual practice. This is already starting to happen in some places but there are still many people who see Reiki practice as an intervention that requires evidence-based research and risk-assessment. This can impede the introduction of a Reiki program because of the misunderstanding that Reiki is something that is done to someone, rather than something offered as an opportunity for a return to balance, which is facilitated by something that is beyond our current scientific understanding.

I also hope that we see the Reiki Community demonstrate the harmony that Reiki is all about and ceases the bickering and often pointless arguments about one Reiki style is “better”, “more powerful” or more “original” than another. There is more commonality between the various Reiki styles than many people seem to realize and, as mentioned previously, only one Reiki .

Q. Is there anything we have not asked that you would like to share with us?

I don’t think so. I would just like to offer my gratitude for being given the opportunity to express my personal views (which I realize may not necessarily be the same as those of others). Such an exercise has been very useful in setting down in words what my current views actually are!

Ai to hikari (Japanese for love and light)

Colin Powell’s website: