There is an intangible, omnipresent energy that gives life to every living organism. Humanity has been aware of this power for thousands of years and has tried to harbor the power of this energy within their own body in order to heal and influence their lives. The Japanese know this energy as Ki, the Chinese as Chi, Prana by multiple cultures that originated in Asia, and the Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost by much of the western world. This energy is said to be in and around us right from the moment we are little microorganisms in our mother’s womb and lives in us for the rest of our lives. Kirlian photography has given us a chance to see this energy that envelops all living organisms. Ancient Eastern cultures have harnessed this energy since before the 1st century C.E. And Reiki is one such discipline that has successfully taught the human to control and adjust the flow of this energy, this energy that is believed to be of the purest form. This discipline, which originally practiced in India and other eastern cultures, was lost through the generational sieving of passing this art on by word of mouth, and it wasn’t until the late 20th century that it was rediscovered by Dr. Mikao Usui.
In this world of racing towards a finish line we don’t even know exists, we, as humans, as humanity, have become hollow, like a shell of who we used to be, a shadow of who we used to be. Human beings are not meant to greed for money and power to the point of madness. We are not meant to bend backward and hurt ourselves every day for the value of a penny that doesn’t deserve it. We need to take a few steps back to return in full force, we defy the gravity of mundane materialism and throw ourselves upwards, against that influence. That can happen through the practice of Reiki, a discipline that heals oneself and everyone around them.
We have seen this power come to force in our everyday lives without realizing its presence at all. A little baby hurts itself while playing and cries out for help. Someone, absolutely anyone around, will rush to its aid, take it in their arms and try their best to comfort it. The child eventually calms down enough to breathe and isn’t red-faced anymore. What is it that makes the child feel comforted and safe? What gives a person, who may have never had a previous encounter with a child, know exactly how to comfort it? You have your answer. It is the healing energy within us. The older human being is channeling that energy while the infant or child receives it.
Reiki is formed by two Japanese words: Rei, which means Universal, Omnipresent, Spiritual Consciousness and Omniscient Wisdom, and Ki, which means Life Force, Non-Physical Vitality. Reiki is holistic in nature, neither positive nor negative. It is divine in origin and the most profound source of life and healing. It allows us to attune to the frequency, the vibration that is shared by every being in the universe. Unfortunately, a small blog cannot entirely explain everything that Reiki is all about, but I, a humble human, can give you my experience with it.
I was introduced to Reiki in my first year of college and at that point, my 18-year-old self thought it to be utter bullshit, but it wasn’t until this lockdown and this pandemic, that caused my anxiety to skyrocket into an actual clinical mental illness, that I learned to make my peace with peace. I began Reiki as a means to help with my anxiety and to help me connect with my higher self. My friend, a very avid self-healing practitioner, asked me to mainly focus on my solar plexus region and the part of my forehead where my third eye belongs. I agreed and started to wake up every morning at 4:00 a.m, just so that I could enjoy the silence of the morning while I tried to heal my mind, to practice Reiki. Today, about a year later, I can say that it has helped immensely. Initially, I was absolutely stunned when my hands started to produce healing heat when I hovered them gently over my forehead and solar plexus specifically, but when I do this today, on a daily basis, I know that I am healing for the better. I find myself being an unafraid, unapologetic, opinionated, and empowered woman, everything that I had intended to be when I began my self-healing process, but that isn’t all. There is another thing that is vital to one’s climb, which is self-regulation.
Massimo Pigliucci was the one who introduced me to the philosophy of Stoicism, safe for the content I consumed through my career as a Literature Student. He said, “Imagine yourself walking down the streets of Athens twenty-four centuries ago. You might meet this guy, Zeno of Citium. He was a Phenician merchant, doing very well until his ship was wrecked and he lost everything. So, he made it to Athens and what did he do? He walked into a book shop and started reading books. He read Xenophane’s Memorabilia, which is a book about Socrates. He was so intrigued that he turned to the bookseller and said, ‘Where do I find one of these philosophers?’ The bookseller said to me, ‘There’s one right there, walking by.’ The guy walking by was Crates, a cynic philosopher, and Zeno became his student.”
Eventually, after having worked with multiple matron philosophers, Zeno started his own school, which came to be known as Stoicism. Stoicism became one of the major philosophies of antiquity. It spread through the Hellenistic world before touching the Roman Empire. It produced some of the most important thinkers of the time, Seneca, Nero, Marcus Aurelius, etc. Stoicism, like many major philosophies, died when Puritan Christianity was born but was still part of everyday practice throughout the upcoming 2 millennia. Paul of Tarsus, Thomas Aquinas, Descartes, Baruch Spinoza, and many, many more.
Now that we have its history in place, let’s walk about what Stoicism is all about. Stoicism stands on two fundamental pillars:
1) The Four Cardinal Virtues
2)The Dichotomy of Control
The Four Cardinal Virtues: Practical Wisdom, Courage, Justice, Temperance.
Practical Wisdom happens to be the knowledge of self-interest, of what is good or bad for oneself.
Courage is to be brave enough to stand up for what is right.
Justice asserts that which is in the right.
Temperance stands for the ideology of balance, to execute and act in the right measure, not a smidge more or a smidge less.
The Dichotomy of Control: Acceptance of that which is in our control and that which is not. One who practices such kind of self-regulation knows better than to worry about what isn’t in their hands to deal with. In simpler words, not my baby, not my problem.
The self-control and regulation spoken about by this philosophy help one stay away from addictive behavior, acting on impulse, to stay focused on everything that truly matters. When the distinction between the things in our control and the things out of our control is made, we find ourselves strengthening everything that is in our control. This ensures that we are less susceptible to submitting to external forces that are just not in our hands. Impulses, triggers, temptations start to lose their grip on us, which strengthens our grip on ourselves.
Lucius Annaeus Seneca, in his “Moral Letters To Lucilius”, says, “Set aside a certain number of days, during which you shall be content with the scantiest and cheapest fare, with coarse and rough dress, saying to yourself the while: Is this the condition I feared?”
Marcus Aurelius, whose “Meditations” is read by millions across the globe today, wrote that we must set limits for ourselves, emphasizing the universal truth that we are not meant to waste our lives eating, drinking, and slumbering to excess.
To bring about the discipline that one requires through self-regulation, many techniques can be used.
Fasting (water fasts, intermittent fasting, etc.). Please consult a doctor before stepping into this.
Limit your use of your phone. For at least an hour or two every day, set your phone onto DnD mode and shut the world out to know yourself better.
Wait a minute or two before you pounce upon the meal kept in front of you. This may seem very trivial but once you read Sigmund Freud’s opinion on The Pleasure Principle, you will realize what I mean when I say food can alter the pace of self-regulation drastically. Control your urges, catch hold of yourself.
As Seneca says, “Let’s become intimate with poverty, so that fortune may not catch us off guard. We shall be rich with all the more comfort if we learn how far poverty is from being a burden.”