Tsukimi Birthday Wishes

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Usui Sensei’s Birthday is always a wonderful chance to come together and celebrate his teachings because FUN FACT he probably never celebrated a single birthday! There wasn’t really a custom of holding Japanese birthdays until after WWII. Before that, New Year’s Day was the day in which everyone got older. This was because the ancient custom was that everyone got older on New Year’s Day, not the day they were born. Since then, however, due to globalisation, and assimilation, Japan has changed in that regard.

So, even though Usui Sensei may roll around in his grave for this, we can still honour his spirit via his teachings today, this week, or at the very least during this week’s full moon, dedicating this Tsukimi in a special way.

On 15 August 1865, the man who changed the way we look at bioenergetics, Buddhism, health, and enlightenment was birthed into this world. Once, twice, perhaps for the upteenth time on this planet. Who knows? Maybe it was his first lifetime, although I doubt it.

Regardless, this man who at about the ripe age of 57, created a school clinic in which healers from all over Japan could come and learn, hands-on, the ability to care for people’s suffering manifest in their anger, worries, ingratitude, sloth, and indifference.

See, some people are just late bloomers.

Last year, I wrote a comical 150th birthday roast for Usui Sensei. This year, I want to challenge each of us to go a bit deeper into our practice. Meditate upon it, and ask ourselves WWUD- What Would Usui Do?

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Because some of us may have forgotten the tradition of honouring one’s teachers.

Let’s face it, many of us (especially us Americans) do not practice Reiki the way Usui Sensei did. Many of us lack the patience. Many of us lack the cultural context to understand the subtle complexities of his techniques and teachings. And really, many of us would rather play with our crystal collections than actually go hiking up a mountain, fast, and meditate for 21-days. Many of us would rather play doctor instead of doing community service, and opening up a free school-clinic like Usui did after the horrific Tanto Earthquake hit in 1923. Not many of us believe in ourselves the way Usui Sensei did. Not many of us have the courage and dedication that Usui Sensei had. Not many of us are as selfless as Usui Sensei was.

Or are we?

Today is a day to reflect upon these questions, and ask what we really want our Reiki Practice to look like? Do we want it to be yet another superficial mass media fluffy bunny business? Or do we want it to be down to earth, and about helping people grow?

Many of us have forgotten Reiki’s roots. What is that phrase? “So many seek the truth in the stars that which can only be discovered in the tree’s roots.” So many healers now a-days are trapped in the ethers, in lofty abstract pseudoscience, and have forgotten about the beauty of meditating upon a waka poem or sweating doing hard manual labour in a rock garden. So many healers now a-days are captivated by technology and angels and being a “starseed” that they forget that they are made of this earth, of the Ancestors, of the winds and rain and sunlight. Not that one is more important than the other, but we certainly have strayed away from Usui’s teachings, and I think many of the problems that face modern healers: feeling drained/zapped, feeling afraid of so-called “demons,” or feeling depressed or lost is because of this. Our awareness has expanded but we have failed to meet our awareness with practice. With mindfulness practice. With the universal wabi sabi techniques that Usui and his students incorporated into Reiki in order to reach that level of mastery and skill. Why else do we tend to dabble in so many different workshoppes and self-help certificates these days, besides simple curiosity? Is it that we are still too afraid to just sit, listen, and look in the mirror? Are we seeking so fervently to understand and cope with these new talents and abilities that have been given us seemingly without an operator’s manual?

At the end of the day, we have to remember that Reiki is an Eastern practice of mindful nurturing. Based upon the strict mental disciplines of martial arts, Buddhism, Shugendo, and Shinto. We can use this day to pull some of that wisdom and diligence into our lives, minds, and actions.

So make yourself a cup of tea, light some incense, and meditate upon the cup. Meditate upon the tea, meditate upon the Gokai, and his teachings. And then drink them up, heartily, wishing the teacher of us all a very happy birthday: “tanjoubi omedetou gozaimasu.” 誕生日おめでとうございます

Bowing peacefully three times to you,
remember that there is a joyful, courageous, grateful, diligent, and kind healer within you.

Mikao-Usui-Sensei_ReikiOn

150th Birthday of Usui Sensei

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In honour of Dr. Mikao Usui.

It isn’t every day that you get to turn one-hundred and fifty.

You fasted, you reached enlightenment, then stubbed your toe, and became the teacher of us all.

So many people are honouring you tonight, but all I can do is chuckle at the fact we only have two images of you, and let’s face it, the one not on my altar tonight is the one I like the very best because it makes you look oh-so pregnant.

Like seriously, watermelon sized pregnant. Like 9 months extended and ready to pop!

I say this humbly because I know you and I have that kind of relationship. You poke fun at me, and I poke fun of you; but seriously Sensei, some days I wonder if you took the Buddha’s teaching of “nothing survives without food,” a tad bit too seriously.

The fact of the matter is, there was no waist-watcher’s in the 1920’s but I guess we all know how you survived for 21-days up on that mountain, or what patterns you either resumed or created once you came back down.

All jokes aside though, we do honour you tonight. You have offered so much wisdom over the past 150 years, and we would all be remiss if we didn’t. So, my birthday present to you is as such since you so very much loved waka poetry:

Not everyone dies quietly, some go out with a laugh.
Not everyone dies longingly, some go out with a fight.
Not everyone dies honourably, some go with a bed pan underneath their bottom.
Not everyone dies gracefully, some go as you went:
with comfort, a full heart, and of course
a pair of worn chopsticks somewhere nearby.

Merry birthday to you and that Buddha Belly.
May you continue to inspire us all as the years go by.
Gassho,
Gyōshō,
Keibyaku (with humility)
Your number one fan,
Healey Sensei, “Derek-san”

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Reiki Holidays

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I’ve been meditating on Reiki Holidays for some time now. Like any path, or philosophy, there are specific cultural holidays and festivals that keep the spirit alive. I have added the following list of observable holidays that anyone wishing to strengthen and deepen their Reiki Practices can choose to do.

For the longest time, I have been gathering people together during moon days, equinoxes, and solstices. These I feel are observances that are so under appreciated! They ground us in the natural world, which keeps our energies grounded and in tune with not only nature herself, but the global energy climate and system as a whole. These moments and more, are doorways for us to tap into the collective pool of energy and see how we are impacted, and paradoxically (if we are clever) moments in which we can tap in ourselves to impact the world for the better.

These are all great opportunities to strengthen not only your own intuition, but also wonderful opportunities to strengthen your Sangha, or spiritual community. During these moments we come together to share stories, to hold Reiju Healing Circles, and heal our communities. By gifting ourselves with these moments we succeed in keeping our spiritual wells full and overflowing with energy. As healers, we MUST take and make the time for these very important self-care gatherings.

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Uposatha (Observance Days) – The four monthly holy days which continue to be observed in Theravada countries – the new moon (Shingetsu), full moon (Mangetsu), and quarter moon days. Tsukimi are Full Moon Viewing Parties to reflect on the beauty of the moon, drink tea/sake, listen to koto music, and recite waka poetry.

1 January – Oshogatsu or Shogatsu (Shinto New Year) – Shintoists consider this holiday one of the most popular celebrations, where many shrine visits take place.

7 January – Koshogatsu – This is the Shinto rite to honor Goddess Izanami, partner of God Izanagi. Together they created the Nature and the Kami (cosmic energies) as the Shintos believe.

3 February – Rissun (Setsubun) – This day when the Shinto community celebrates the beginning of Spring. Traditional celebrations include throwing of beans at the Shrines. The priests throw lucky beans towards the gathering while the people who assemble there attempt to catch them. At homes, the eldest male member is supposed to throw around roasted beans which is believed to send away demons and welcome good luck.

17 February – Toshigoi – This is the Shinto rite to honor Kami and to offer prayers so that they are blessed with a bountiful rice harvest.

March – Avalokitesvara’s Birthday (Kuan Yin) – This is a festival which celebrates the Bodhisattva ideal represented by Avalokitesvara. Who represents the perfection of compassion in the Mahayana traditions of Tibet and China. It occurs on the full moon day in March.

3 March – Hina-matsuri (Festival of Dolls or Girls’ Day) – This is the day when girls are honored. Prayers are offered for the health and the well beings of young girls. It is a common tradition for families with little girls to decorate a multilevel podium covering it with red carpet ad placing ornamental dolls on it as per the tradition of hierarchy. Offers like rice cakes, peach blossoms etc are put before them.

9 March 1926 – Usui Sensei’s Deathday – A time to honour Usui and his wonderful legacy.

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21 March – Shubun-sai (Spring Equinox) – This is the day when the Shinto community embrace fresh new spirits. The homes are given a thorough spring cleaning. People often visit the cemeteries of their ancestors and pay homage and leave fresh flowers as a mark of remembrance. This is also the beginning of the National Cherry Blossom Festival which lasts until April 17th in Washington D.C.

April 1922 – Usui Sensei Opens Usui Reiki Ryoho Gakkai (Usui Reiki Healing Method Society), his first school/clinic in Harajuku Tokyo.

May – Vesak or Visakah Puja (Buddha Day) Traditionally, Buddha’s Birthday is known as Vesak or Visakah Puja (Buddha’s Birthday Celebrations). Vesak is the major Buddhist festival of the year as it celebrates the birth, enlightenment and death of the Buddha on the one day, the first full moon day in May, except in a leap year when the festival is held in June.

30 June – Oharai/ Grand Purification Festival – This is the Shinto rite of exorcising evil from the world. Devotees are cleansed and purified from offenses committed.

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21 June – Geshi (Summer Solstice) – Morning misogi done in the Pacific. It is timed to coincide with sunrise on the year’s longest day. Participants dress in white

13 July – Ulambana/ Obon – Beginning on the thirteenth of July and lasting for three days, which celebrates the reunion of family ancestors with the living.

6 August 1945 – Hiroshima Day – The day of ceremony to commemorate the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

15 August 1865 – Usui Sensei’s Birthday – A wonderful chance to come together and celebrate the teachings of Usui Sensei.

1 September 1923 – Great Kanto Earthquake

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21 September – International Day of Peace & Shuki kōreisai (Autumn Equinox) A day of gratitude and thanks for a good harvest.

8 October – Gandhi Jayanti (Gandhi’s Birthday) – Gandhi Jayanti is marked by prayer services and tributes all over India, especially at Raj Ghat, Gandhi’s memorial in New Delhi where he was cremated. Themes of glorifying peace, non-violence and Gandhi’s effort in Indian Freedom Struggle. Gandhi’s favourite bhajan (Hindu devotional song), Raghupathi Raghava Rajaram, is usually sung in his memory

November – Loy Krathong (Festival of Floating Bowls) – At the end of the Kathin Festival season, when the rivers and canals are full of water, the Loy Krathong Festival takes place in all parts of Thailand on the full moon night of the Twelfth Lunar month (November in western calendars). People bring bowls made of leaves (which contain flowers) candles and incense sticks, and float them in the water. As they go, all bad luck is suppose to disappear. The traditional practice of Loy Krathong was meant to pay homage to the holy footprint of the Buddha on the beach of the Namada River in India.

23 November – Niinamesei (Labor Thanksgiving Day) – This national holiday takes place in Japan and was originally meant as a harvest festival, allowing people to appreciate their harvest and have a chance to share in the joy with Kami.

8 December – Bodhi Day (Enlightenment Day) – Bodhi Day honours the enlightenment of Siddhartha Gautama — the Buddha. Buddhists observe the importance of this event by celebrating Bodhi Day usually on the eighth of December. The day is observed in many ways, including prayer, meditation and teachings.

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21 December – Shunki kōreisai (Grand Ceremony of the Winter Solstice) – This day marks the end of the sun’s decline (the yin period) and the beginning of its growth (the yang period). In Japanese spirituality, the sun is expressive of Amaterasu Omikami, the sun goddess and guiding spirit of the Japanese people.

In Honour of Dr. Mikao Usui Sensei

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Tomorrow marks the 88th Year anniversary of Usui Sensei’s passing.

He is buried in Saihoji Temple in Suginami-Ku, Tokyo. His students created and erected a large memorial stone next to his grave describing his life and work. In his lifetime, Dr. Usui taught Reiki to over two thousand students and initiated sixteen individuals to Shinpiden or the Master Reiki Level.

Usui Sensei taught The Five Reiki Gokai or Principles, which are pretty simple, but in our modern world they can be so hard for so many to incorporate into daily living. They are a series of mantras or self-affirmations that are recited once in the morning and again in the evening as part of your daily practice:

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The daily practice of thinking, speaking, or chanting these Reiki Principles or Reiki Precepts can be truly healing in itself for clients and practitioners alike. Because, it can be so hard to remember to not allow anger to swallow you up. It can be so hard to not get drowned and bogged down by worry. It can be hard to be grateful for your blessings, when your car gets clipped or a loved one gets assaulted. It can be so hard to be diligent in your work/practice, when there are so many different things out there that distract us. And it can be so difficult to remain compassionate to every living thing, including yourself when you feel guilty for accidently stepping on a bug or have committed a great wrong towards a loved one. However, all of these are the Reiki Principles, and doing them “Just for today” makes the difference. The Principles remind us, when we are angry, when we are worried, when we aren’t grateful or paying attention to our work to live in the present moment and find the compassion that exists all around and within us.  

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We can pause in a moment of anger and really get to the bottom of why we really are angry. In this way, anger can be a great teacher towards self-progression of spirit. We can pause in a moment that we are worried, and can recognize that this worry originates from fear and an attachment to outcome, which is unhealthy. Living a life in fear is no way to live. By recognizing this we can then practice compassionate detachment. This does not mean to say we should not care about certain things, but simply surrender to them, and welcome and release those situations to their natural flow. We can take simple moments and show our appreciation or gratefulness for not only the many conveniences we take for granted such as running water, indoor plumbing, unpolluted drinking water, and Central Air; but for the simpler things like a loving partner, a warm Spring day, or the laughter of children. These moments of humility show us that there are many “good” and “bad” aspects to everything in life, and shows us that we can even be grateful for things that we ourselves may not have but that others do. This teaches us to let go of envy and jealousy and see that there are already so many things to be happy and grateful for in our world. When we catch ourselves in moments where our minds are running rampant, we can calm them with our awareness alone, and sink into a deeper more focused mindset or higher state of consciousness to access spiritual growth, and truly jump in away from petty concerns to do “The Work” as my friend Debbie would say, or “Finish the Important Shit First” as Leonie Dawson teaches at her Amazing Biz, Amazing Life Academy.

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Lastly, when we affirm to ourselves to be compassionate and loving we acknowledge the Sanskrit greeting of “Namaste,” which recognizes the same divine beauty and Spirit that is within ourselves is also in all other living things. It also fosters Ahimsa or non-violence. Because if we can extend love and compassion outward, how can we raise a fist or utter a harsh word? If we can recognize the Divine presence of Love in others that is in ourselves we can relate with all creatures, with all people, with all races and religions. We can then in turn show others how we wish to be loved, respected, and treated. And furthermore, we can then extend this appreciation and love and respect in a larger sense for all communities, nations, ecosystems, and planets.

By returning back to the present moment, we can analyze and ultimately accept and understand our anger, our fear, our circumstances, our dreams, our passions, and also those of others. We become transformed, we become wise, we become self-aware, we become healed. We become facilitators of change for others and ourselves.

Namaste

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