This is a copy of an article that appeared in "Reiki Magazine" in 2003.
Tom first came to my attention through the Internet sometime in 1998, as he was a member of several Reiki lists that I also was on. I was very impressed with his way of sharing his views and knowledge about Reiki because, not only did his posts reflect some of my understandings, but more importantly because of his compassionate style. Though Tom was oftentimes writing about aspects of practicing and teaching Reiki that on occasion have created controversy between various Reiki practitioners and teachers,
he wrote in a way that did not put anyone down or make them wrong, and which was lovingly inclusive of everyone. I felt an immediate kinship with this person out in cyberspace who always signed his posts with the phrase "take gentle care" which I could feel coming through his words.
As it turned out, Tom and I lived within about 35 miles of each another, and at least twice that I know of just missed connecting in person. Then in summer 1999, I moved across the country to the Pacific Northwest, and in August quite unexpectedly found myself in Vancouver, British Columbia attending the first Usui Reiki Ryoho International conference that hosted Hiroshi Doi, (see the Summer and Fall 2003 issues of this magazine for a two-part interview with Doi-sensei).
To my surprise and delight, I heard Tom's name called when they introduced the three organizers of this groundbreaking conference, and at the first opportunity made a point of going over to Tom and gave him a big hug. Though it took moving over 3,000 miles to finally meet Tom, it was well worth it!
Let me now tell Tom's Reiki transformation story. Tom shared his story with me in part through passages of his spiritual poetry which are included below.
Tom began by saying straight out, "Reiki saved my life." He had been searching for God, doing personal growth work, yoga, polarity, shiatsu, and breathwork all powerful healing practices though none struck him in the same way as Reiki had. At the time, his relationships were failing and he was very unhappy with himself and his life.
I tire of being stuck
in the wreckage of the past.
Another false place, another illusion.
Help me to draw back
the curtains of Maya
and see not the wreckage of the past,
but the promise of the future.
Tom's introduction to Reiki began in a rather circuitous way. He was attending a retreat at the Kripalu Yoga Center (then located in Pennsylvania, now in Massachusetts) in 1983. Tom lived in Baltimore, Maryland and had been introduced to Kripalu by a friend/mentor who knew Tom was trying to figure out how to make his life come into focus, and how to make things work better.
Tom had been studying Polarity Therapy for a year with a local teacher
named Chandana Becker. Through working with Polarity and counseling, Tom's life was slowly becoming easier to deal with. Polarity Therapy is a system created by Dr. Randolph Stone in the mid to late 1940's that works with the human energy system through touch to bring about healing on mental, emotional and physical levels. ("Sound familiar?" quips Tom!)
While at Kripalu, Tom met a woman also from Baltimore. She taught shiatsu and was a Reiki practitioner and was there to recharge her batteries and get some much needed rest. As they talked, she asked if Polarity could help her headache. Tom worked on her and she commented, "oh, you do Reiki." Tom replied that this was not so because he did not even know what Reiki was, and she added, "then if you are not working with Reiki, you should be!" After Tom agreed to put his name on a list, she assured him that he would soon receive a call about a Reiki class in Baltimore.
About six weeks later, Tom found himself sitting in a Reiki I class with Ethel Lombardi, one of Mrs. Takata's original 22 masters. Tom fell in love with Reiki immediately! After the first of four attunements, Tom began to see energy, auras and lots of things that he did not have a name for but definitely wanted to see and to know more about. In his words, "I was hooked big time!"
As a small child, I glimpsed the light,
wondrous, magical, beckoning me, calling
my name, playing its celestial symphony,
but I couldn't reach it.
The only thing Tom did not like about Reiki early on was that he could not teach others how to use Reiki to help themselves. This was because at that point, there were not many Reiki teachers, and most were charging $10,000 for Master level training which Tom considered way out of his league.
Though Tom was hungry for more of the Reiki energy, he was equally dedicated to seeking out those modalities that he could bring to others. This desire led Tom to next study acupressure with Bonnie Pendleton. When Tom would work on Bonnie, she would immediately go to sleep and could not figure it out why. Tom knew that it was the Reiki flowing through the points he was holding. Tom was pleased that he could teach people how to hold certain points to help themselves.
Then Ethel Lombardi stopped teaching Reiki not long after Tom's class and began teaching her own system, which she called MariEL. Tom enjoyed the MariEL energy, yet knew Ethel rarely initiated anyone as a teacher, so once again felt he likely would not be able to teach the system to others. Along the way, Tom also learned Ka Healing from Reverend Chris Cole of Australia. Ka is an energy very similar to Reiki, with some added visualizations.
Sometime thereafter, Tom began a two and a half year apprenticeship with Jessica Dibb in Integrative Breathwork (Rebirthing), a system that utilizes the breath to heal the body. During graduation, Tom and four other graduates ended up on Mt. Shasta during the Harmonic Convergence. They had some requirements to finish while there, including completing certain spiritual practices. During a meditation, Tom was taken by Spirit into a crystal cave under Mt. Shasta and was initiated into the energies of crystals and stones. Even as Tom shared about this experience, he reported he could feel the vibration of that event still humming away in his soul!
Though Tom greatly valued all he was learning from these other modalities, by now he had been working with Reiki for some 15 years, and still wanted more. Out of the blue (per Tom "yeah, right!"), he received a magazine from the International Center for Reiki Training, and discovered the Reiki Master course was being taught at a price he could afford. Tom jumped at the opportunity and traveled to Michigan where he received his Reiki mastership in 1998 from William Rand who initiated him into Usui Tibetan.
The master attunements opened Tom further, not only to the energy, but also to the desire and need for yet even more training and knowledge. Later that year, Tom was also attuned to Tera Mai by Rick Rivard in Vancouver, British Columbia. Rick now calls his system Threshold Reiki.
In August 1999, Tom, together with Rick Rivard and Andy Bowling, invited Hiroshi Doi to Vancouver, British Columbia to teach his Reiki system. Doi-sensei was a member of the Gakkai, the society started either shortly before or just after Usui's death, and his method looked very different from the style of Reiki that Tom had already learned. Shortly thereafter, Rick, Andy and Tom created the Usui Reiki Ryoho International (URRI) organization as a result of that gathering in Vancouver of some 67 Reiki masters. Their purpose was to openly share information about Reiki as they discovered it.
This first URRI conference, which has become an annual event, was a major development for the Reiki community, as it ushered in greater opportunities for those outside of Japanese Reiki circles to learn more about their perspectives and the practice of Reiki both during and after the time of Usui. Tom tends to minimize the important role he played in making this happen, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank Rick, Andy and Tom for helping to open the doors for this kind of sharing to take place.
Earlier in 1999, Tom came to a Sekhem-Seichim-Reiki (SSR) class taught by me and became certified as a teacher in this system. Later that year, Tom also finished a one-year SKHM class, and became certified as a SKHM teacher. As if this was not enough, Tom learned Karuna Reiki® before the year was out. 1999 was a busy time for Tom to be sure!
In November 2000, Tom attended the next URRI conference in Kyoto, Japan, as well as a Gendai Reiki Master class with Doi-sensei, being given the title of Shihan, teacher, in his system. The 2001 URRI conference was held in Madrid, Spain, and it was another opportunity to spend time with Doi-sensei and a Japanese monk named Hyakuten Inamoto. Toronto was the site of the 2002 URRI conference, and Tom attended Hyakuten Inamoto's class, becoming a teacher of his system, Komyo Reiki. Hyakuten was taught Reiki by Mrs. Chiyoko Yamaguchi, who was a student of Hayashi. It was also Tom's great fortune to attend a class taught by Dave and Laurie Ann King of Toronto. They have been working with a Japanese Buddhist nun who was a direct student of Usui-sensei, and they are teaching what they call Usui-Do, the way of Usui. Tom received an attunement to the Shodan level which really does not equate to any western levels.
Though by now it is perhaps easy to understand why Tom jokingly calls himself a "certifiable energy junkie," it should be apparent that something deeper has been driving him for all these years. When I asked Tom what this was, he hesitated a moment, smiled, and said, "let me tell you what has made it all worthwhile." In his words:
When I first learned Reiki, I was anxious to practice on any willing (or unwilling) subject who would let me. However, carrying that experience into my family was a disaster. My parents knew nothing about Reiki or complementary health care then, and were afraid that I was going to be jailed for imitating a doctor! My dad died without ever letting me use Reiki on him, which might have helped with a lot of the pain he felt in his later years.
In 1998, my mom suffered a dissecting aneurysm which tore down into the aortic arch. I could not fly out of Baltimore to be present while she was in surgery, yet did call all my Reiki friends and we started sending Reiki right away. The doctors came out of the operating room twice during the 8-hour operation, and told my brother to call the family, that she was not going to make it. But she did! I spent the next 11 days sitting in the intensive care unit constantly sending Reiki. Nurses walked by giving me strange looks as I sat with my hands pointed toward her. I did not care, I trusted Reiki.
She spent five months in the hospital and rehab and after she came home, I visited again. Her right arm was without blood flow for 12 hours, necessitating the grafting of a new artery from her heart to her arm. Her grip strength was 3 ½ pounds in her right hand. I started working immediately, spending extra time on her hand and arm. The second day, I noticed her flexing her hand and looking puzzled. I asked why. She replied that she was noticing her hand was working better than it had the day before. I smiled, said a silent prayer of thanks, and then took the plunge. I suggested that if she wanted, I could attune her to Reiki, so she could work on herself. She looked at me and replied, "I expect you better do that." What a thrill, honor and pleasure to attune my mom. Today, at 84 she can still drive, lives alone, although close to my brother, and continues to take care of herself.
Whenever I visit, she is always receptive to Reiki, and occasionally asks me to send distantly to her. Quite a change!
I could tell you lots more stories along the same lines about healing miracles I have witnessed through Reiki, SSR/SKHM, and the like, how much time do you have?
And so for Tom, Reiki has become a solid prayer, a good friend he can always count on in times of need. He no longer doubts or worries about the existence of God, because when Tom asks for Reiki to flow, he feels the presence in his hands and in his body. Tom has had many very powerful meditation experiences over his years of spiritual seeking, yet with Reiki, here is something that is a constant no matter where he is, or what he is
doing. Knowing this has provided Tom with a concrete way to work on himself for just about anything that might be of concern, whether emotional, physical, spiritual or mental. Life is much easier now with Reiki.
Love can take me out of illusion,
love can lead me past the distractions
that roar at me from every angle, every doorway, every direction.
Today, Tom uses the meditations and practices of Reiki and SSR/SKHM to work on his own personal growth and healing, and to assist others with theirs. After spending 36 years working full-time as a court reporter, it was an incredible relief in 1999 when he left this behind and opened a full-time healing practice, teaching and practicing Reiki and other energy systems in an environment dedicated to healing and growth.
Reiki has brought Tom to his true calling, that of student, teacher and practitioner. There is no greater excitement for Tom and no better reward than watching someone's eyes as the light of Reiki is awakened in them and that person begins to feel the flow of energy, or watching the pain leave a client as Reiki does its healing work.
The heat of the inferno of love
ignites in me a spark.
I pray, my Beloved
allow that spark to burst forth
fanned by Holy Light
and Divine Energy,
until I am burned away
and all that is left is you.
Reiki has truly awakened and cultivated within Tom an ever-deepening connection to the Divine. Tom's greatest hope and prayer is that one day everyone will come to consciously become aware of this connection within themselves. In the meantime, this wish fuels his healing work as he goes about his days doing his best to help others do the same. Take gentle care!
Tom lives in Towson, Maryland and can be reached at email@example.com.
The above article was written in 2003. Since that time, there have been many developments in my work and my practice. Stay tuned for the continuing story. :)