If you have come across the word ‘kaizen’ before it will probably have been in the context of industrial quality control or personal development. Kaizen is a Japanese word that is usually translated as ‘improvement’, but it means more than that. The word has connotations of continuous, gradual, orderly and never-ending improvement, the willingness to constantly, relentlessly pursue improvement a small step at a time. The application of the kaizen principle is the reason why Japan’s economy was transformed after the Second World War.
So what has this to do with Reiki? Well the word kaizen actually appears towards the end of the Reiki precepts. The line in Japanese is “Shin shin kaizen, Usui Reiki Ryoho”, which could be loosely translated as “Mind body change it for better Usui Reiki method”. So when Usui was talking about using his system to improve the body and mind, I get the impression that we are looking at a lifelong commitment to work with the system, to dedicate ourselves to developing our effectiveness as a channel, to focus the energy on ourselves again and again, long-term, in order to produce small incremental improvements. But small changes build on previous small changes, an enhancement upon an enhancement leads to amazing transformation over time. And Usui’s original system gives us the solid, concrete techniques that we can use to develop ourselves over time: as channels, in terms of spirituality, in terms of intuition, to produce our own individual Reiki Evolution!
So how do we pursue our own kaizen of Reiki? How do we apply the concept of continuous and never-ending improvement to our practice of Reiki? Here are a few suggestions.
Root your practice of Reiki in daily energy exercises
From the Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai in Japan, an association set up after Usui’s death by some of his students, comes a series of energy exercises called ‘Hatsurei Ho’. This phrase means something like ‘start up Reiki technique’. It consists of a series of energy meditations/ visualisations that focus on your Tanden (Dantien) and which are designed to be carried out every day. The cumulative effect of doing these exercises day after day after day is to gradually increase the clarity of your channel, and to allow you to grow spiritually. The exercises take maybe 12-15 minutes to carry out each day, and can be fitted into the busiest of schedules if the will is there. We can all make this time for our Reiki practice.
Focus the energy on yourself regularly
to enhance the beneficial effects that Reiki produces within you. Whether you carry out the Western ‘hands-on’ method of treating yourself, or use Usui’s original self-treatment meditation, you should focus the energy on yourself on a regular basis. We prefer to use the self-treatment meditation because it seems more intense and versatile. Usui’s system was all about spiritual development and self-healing, so Hatsurei Ho and self-treatment can lie at the heart of your Reiki practice.
Receive spiritual empowerments throughout your training and beyond
Training with Usui was rather like martial arts training, where you turned up again and again over a long period of time. Part of your training involved receiving simple spiritual empowerments, repeatedly, at all levels. Each empowerment reinforced your connection to the source, cleared your channel, allowed you to develop spiritually and enhanced your intuitive potential. To echo this practice, Taggart sends out a distant Reiju empowerment every week, on a Monday, which can be ‘tuned in to’ by any Reiki person.
Work on developing your intuitive potential
The original system did not involve slavishly following ‘standard’ hand positions that you had to apply to everyone you treated. Usui’s method was simpler and more elegant. You allowed the energy to guide your hands to the right place to treat, different from one person to another, and different within the same person from one treatment to another. The way we have been taught to do this is through a ‘technique’ called ‘Reiji Ho’ (indication of the spirit technique’), a way of emptying your mind and merging with the energy, getting your head out of the way to allow intuition to bubble to the surface. The exciting thing about Reiji Ho is that it works for everyone, and with time – we come back to kaizen’s small incremental improvements -your hands will move more quickly, more consistently, and you will start to attract more intuitive information. So every time we treat someone we should spend time cultivating our ‘Reiji’ state of mind, and gradually, gradually, we develop.
Learn to become the energies
that you are introduced to at Second Degree and Master levels. Usui’s system didn’t involve symbols, as far as most of his students were concerned. They were expected to carry out meditations to learn to experience the different energies. At Second Degree, by becoming earth ki and heavenly ki again and again, for example, these energies became part of their being. Once an energy becomes part of you, you can connect to it direct without having to use a prop like a symbol. Usui provided some Shinto mantras that could be used to invoke the energies, but even these could be moved beyond with time. In my last article ‘A Simple Way with Symbols’ I describe a meditation for becoming these energies. Use this regularly to become the energies of Reiki.
Live your life according to Usui’s guiding principles
Usui’s simple principles to live by should be the foundation of our daily practice of Reiki. We do not need to be perfect, we do not need to beat ourselves up for not applying each and every principle all the time, but by dedicating ourselves, and by forgiving ourselves, and by trying to do a little better each day than we did the day before, we transform ourselves.
That is the key to our kaizen of Reiki: dedication and commitment, patience and forgiveness, and openness to the source. Long term.