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It is well established within Reiki that the energy we channel is 'intelligent'. Some people believe that the energy is innately intelligent, perhaps because of its divine origins, and some believe that the intelligence of the energy is accounted for by the presence of spirit guides who direct the energy as we treat someone. Most of us will have noticed that the energy will move from where our hands are resting to other parts of the recipient's body, drawn according to the recipient's need to areas of need, so it is clear that it doesn't always go where we send it.
Some people take a quite 'hard line' on this issue and believe that Reiki will work perfectly well no matter what hand positions you use, irrespective of the knowledge and experience of the practitioner, and whether or not the practitioner can work intuitively. The implication of this is that you could quite happily carry out a Reiki treatment by simply holding someone's hands for an hour, and the energy would be drawn to the areas of need according to the recipient's need, and we are just simple bystanders in this process.
Another view is that there is a whole range of things that a practitioner can do in order to increase the effectiveness of a treatment. Examples of this are: using ways of artificially increasing the flow of energy, using intuition to decide where to put your hands (rather than following standard hand positions), directing the energy using intent, and directing the energy using a knowledge of the meridian system for example.
I tend towards the latter view, but I think there are elements of truth in both views.
There are some inconsistencies in the first view described above. Many people will use techniques designed to balance the chakras, while believing that Reiki is intelligent and will always give the recipient what they need. Yet imposing your will on the energy and using it to balance the chakras is over-riding the way that the energy will work in the body, is it not? Surely if Reiki is an intelligent energy then it will balance the recipient's chakras in a way that is appropriate for the individual, without the practitioner doing anything specific to achieve this. If you direct Reiki to balance a person's chakras then you are implying that Reiki will not balance the chakras without your direct intervention. Since Reiki works on your energy system and produces beneficial effects on all levels, how could it not balance your chakras during this process?
The fact that people can develop an intuitive ability, and find that their hands are guided intuitively into a combination of hand positions that is different from one person to another, and different from one treatment to another, suggests that there are combinations of hand positions that are more effective in dealing with an individual's problems that simply applying a standard template. In practice, I have found that people treated with intuitively-guided hand positions find that the treatments feel in some way more relevant, more profound, more effective than when standard positions are used, and that is my impression too.
If we look to the origins of Reiki and the way that Mikao Usui taught, we can see that intuitive working was a fundamental part of the practice of Reiki, and still is in Mikao Usui's Reiki Association in Japan to this day. Why would Usui have placed so much emphasis on letting intuition guide your hands when you treated a person, if standard hand positions - or no hand positions - are just as good in terms of producing good results? He was a practical man, after all.
For the benefit of students who could not yet work intuitively, Chujiro Hayashi produced a long list of what could be described as 'good places to put your hands for different medical conditions', which suggests that certain combinations of hand positions are more effective in dealing with specific conditions that applying a standard template. Why would Dr Hayashi have produced such a list if, as many believe, Reiki is an intelligent energy that always goes where it is needed?
Personal experience tells me that there are things that you can do in order to more effectively deal with low energy levels, for example Chronic Fatigue, when compared with 'standard' treatments, and that ways of artificially increasing the flow of energy make treatments more powerful.
If we think about it, as soon as we start using any of the Reiki symbols we are consciously over-riding the way that the energy wants to work when left to its own devices, and imposing our will by directing the energy in a certain way. So, when we choose to connect to energy using the mental/emotional (harmony) symbol we are taking control of the energy and pushing it in a particular direction. This is an integral part of the Reiki system, and whether or not you use the symbols, or move on to working directly with the energies that the symbols represent, you are still over-riding the natural working of the energy. This is an essential part of the system at Second Degree and above, in original Usui Reiki, in Gakkai Reiki, and in Western Reiki.
I believe that the truth lies between these two views: that Reiki is an intelligent energy to an extent, and is drawn by the recipient's need, sometimes over-riding the way that we have directed the energy if that is required. However, there are a whole range of techniques that can be used to increase the effectiveness of our treatments, some that can be put into place using intuition and some through experience and research, and that is still Reiki. I believe that we work in partnership with the energy, and that we are not simply empty tubes through which the energy flows. Through the development of our intuition, we can understand how the energy needs to be directed by us to better help our clients: where best to put our hands, and what aspects of the energy need to be emphasised.
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