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The Tenderness of Reiki

by Susannah Spanton

,My Reiki training was initiated in 1998, inspired by a distant Reiki session offered to me from a nurse to assist in the healing of my serious back surgery. I accepted the invitation only to be considerate. As I lay in the kind of pain that seems like it will never leave, I thought she was crazy to think she could “send” me energy to help heal my back. Christie, my nurse friend, said at 3:00 she would use a proxy, a Teddy Bear, as my stand-in and send me Reiki for approximately thirty minutes. Now I privately thought for sure that Christie must be on some kind of medication that caused delusional side effects! I could not imagine any possibility of this so-called energy thing happening to anyone, especially me.

A noteworthy fact to consider in this story is that due to the surgery I was bedridden and would be for a few weeks. My days were spent reading books and welcoming visiting friends who helped take care of me. It was quite the learning experience to be forced to receive care in this way and not be in a giving role as I was accustomed to as a mother and teacher. It quickly became an important lesson of humility.

Since Christie requested 3:00 in the afternoon as the time she would be sending Reiki I knew I could really pay attention to what this Reiki thing would feel like. With an ever-so-slight tickle of curiosity, I decided to put down my books I was reading and prepare myself for my “Reiki healing” that I knew nothing about and had never heard of. An astonishing thing happened to me. Instantly I effortlessly fell into a deep sleep and at exactly 3:30 I awoke feeling fresh and peaceful. While this may not have seemed a big deal to some people, to me it was amazing because falling asleep was the last thing I ever expected. Throughout my adult life I refrained from nap taking during the day because I was not the kind of person who would just nap for twenty minutes to an hour. If I fell asleep, which was most difficult to do during the day, I would sleep for several hours, which would turn my day upside down and leave me up very late into the night.

As the next several months passed and I became stronger, one night, I sat up at 2:00 am with a message from somewhere that I should partake in a Reiki Level I class. “What?” I thought. I have hardly ever woken up in midnight dreamland with a message. What is going on here? I called my dear friend Denise who was much more open to energy than I and she said, “I have been waiting for this phone call—let’s go take the class together!” My appetite for Reiki began and quickly I was gracefully humbled and in awe of the power and tenderness of this healing phenomenon. After 13 years of practicing Reiki as a practitioner and Master teacher, so many lessons continue to create countless awakenings for me.

In the fall of 2010 I was invited to take a position as a Reiki Practitioner for Heartland Hospice. Being of service to both families and clients is an honor I experience every week. I will let the stories speak for themselves in the hope that you may experience a glimpse into the lives of many extraordinary and brave human beings. As you care for a loved one who has come to the place of fulfilling his or her life or is lonely for love, my hope is that the tenderness of Reiki will find its way to you, the people in your family and your community.

I will begin with Hanna who suffers from great pain in her knees and general bedridden discomfort. Instantly, as soon as I arrive at the nursing home facility, she asks me to place my hands on her knees. Each time I visit she doesn’t want me to leave and asks me when I will return. Sometimes she cries softly when I must go, and I feel a passionate desire for a different care system to nurture people who are so lonely. Reiki therapy comforts the aches she feels in many areas of her body and the aches in her spirit.

Upon entering the room of Charlotte, there was classical music playing very loudly. The attending nurses told me that Charlotte would not speak to anyone. Her husband had died a few days prior, and he had shared a room with her in this nursing facility. It was so sad to see the burden of unexpressed grief that seemed to be stuffed within this charming woman. Slowly, ever so slowly, with the strong assistance of Reiki, I was able to create a container of trust safe enough for Charlotte to share her narrative with me of the immense pain she was holding. Her husband had promised her that he would not die first, and she felt emotionally betrayed even though she cognitively knew it was not his fault.

Charlotte and I began speaking about her fears and feelings as Reiki sessions continued each week. She has come to know who I am and whispers gently to me, “You are the woman with the warm hands and the warm heart.” This is such an endearing statement from a woman who barely speaks and has no family or friends to visit with her. Her loneliness is eased as a result of our Reiki sessions together, which she deserves, and I stand in awe, blessed to be the conduit of healing light energy.

Matilda, a woman with flowing and time-honored gray hair, has been challenged with severe dementia and speaks in a jibber-jabber style during our Reiki sessions together. We have cultivated a strong relationship over the past several weeks. On one particular day Matilda was in a very agitated state. I sat directly in front of her and gently whispered, “How are you, my dear?” Suddenly and with great surprise, she punched me in the nose! Although I was in temporary shock, I simultaneously knew that she was very angry today. I believe it may have been with good reason. Someone on staff had been relegated to give Matilda a new look. They unfortunately took the liberty of giving Matilda a very short haircut, and I believe she had very passionate feelings about her hair and its beauty. Sometimes the best intentions by staff can unwittingly create suffering for patients. After moving my chair back to a safer distance, I gently administered Reiki with empathy, which Reiki has taught me well. Matilda fell silent and peaceful under the warmth of my hands.

May, a woman in her nineties and a home care patient, smiled brightly, telling her doctor that Reiki is helpful to ease the pain in her back areas. As our visits continue, May becomes increasingly more comfortable in accepting the warmth and compassion Reiki provides this joy-filled woman. May carries a strong sense of sentimentality and demonstrates gratitude with gestures of appreciation every visit. Her favorite kindness is to select a piece of delicious chocolate and place it in my hand before I bid her farewell. May has taught me great pearls of wisdom, and I will forever cherish my favorite quote from May—“What blesses one… blesses all.”

Family surrounded Jo Jo when I arrived at her home. Her children had painstakingly struggled with many medical decisions. Together they agreed to move her from the hospital because they accepted that her time had arrived and as a family they desired to comfort her at home using the services Hospice offers.

Jo Jo’s children were intrigued by the idea of Reiki and I suggested I take some time with each of them before I would go in to see their Mom. I administered Reiki to the family members in short ten-minute sessions before meeting with Jo Jo.

When I entered the room I felt like the Divine Spirit was present. With twinkling music filling the air, there was a brilliant, picturesque scene, with a window with sun beaming in on flowers in colorful large vases that outlined the room like a matted frame. As I approached this woman who was clearly beginning her journey of transition, I felt as though I was being filled with her light. The love in this home was palpable. There was an essence of knowing that she lived a life creating love. She was taking that love with her while creating a legacy of love to live on for many generations to come.

I softly laid my hands on Jo Jo as she came in and out of consciousness. As I touched her face I could almost feel the years of joy embedded within her. Such peace infused the room, and I felt honored to be participating in the experience. Her daughter looked at me at one point during our session as I lay my hands on her mother and said, “Hmm, Reiki therapy or ICU? I chose Reiki for my mother, and I am so happy as I watch you be with her now.”

The family asked if I could return the next day and I honored their request. Little did I realize what a sacred moment I was about to partake in. As I was giving a tender Reiki treatment, Jo Jo transitioned to her final resting place with my hands on her head and her heart. A moment of pure light and love enveloped the room as I was given the sacred opportunity to participate in her final breath. It was a beautiful time for me and for all of her children to witness such a peaceful and spirit-filled passing of the woman they loved so very much.

Katie, for whom I have written a poem, is a true inspiration to anyone who experiences her exquisite presence. Her heroic story includes the savage onset of Lou Gehrig’s disease when she was only 63 years old. Through the power of love and unwavering determination this woman is living far longer than once forecasted.

Over the last several months the ability to speak has become minimal and this has been very frustrating for Katie. Suddenly, as if files were instantly being downloaded, Katie began writing poetry nearly every day, creating communication of intense inspiration. She whispers the words of beautiful poetry in a style of dictation as her beloved husband types furiously trying to keep up. Recently Katie’s works are being published in a book of poetry that will teach many people the power of presence.

Katie loves Reiki. Our sessions are weekly or biweekly, and they provide a cascading peace for Katie at a time when both her speaking and breathing become more and more difficult. Katie lives on today as a model of one who partakes in a ladle of joy and only a spoonful of sorrow.

My Dedication to Katie

The words no longer make their way from your lips

Time is slowing moving fast

This inability to speak leads you to compose poetry like an ancient one

With the hand of your beloved writing your expression

That the disease has taken from you

And still joy radiates from your face

As I lay my hands on to soothe your struggles

I am in awe of the spirit of you

Your senses wax and wane

Even this pours determination from a well within you

Eyes that capture the radiance of your essence

It is love that is your fire

From deep within you it breathes into each of us

As it fills our spirit like mist from a distant time

Susannah can be contacted by email at sspanton310@gmail.com

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