The question of whether Reiki works by, or without, intention (this question keeps raising itself in varying discussions) perhaps is best approached not with specificity of language, but with stories that illustrate how the twists in life may somewhat bring us to a place where we smile.
Sometimes the path is as easy as "hands on hands off," and sometimes, the path may wind through the forest until it reaches a quiet place, and we hear music through the trees.
This past month was sort of like that.
Three years ago I began, with the assistance of my first Master Teacher Robin Hannon, a Reiki program within my hospice. I requested approval of a Reiki policy, and we began training staff and volunteers who wanted to participate. Slowly, the culture in our hospice changed. Without reducing our commitment to evidence based conventional practice, we began adding Reiki and Complementary techniques with the mantra that we could care even when we couldn't cure; that spirituality and connection were important at end-of-life.
Staff, even those who had no Reiki training, began to refer to death by a different name, "transition." And staff began to talk about their own feelings of spirituality as they helped patients face the later days of life. And the focus became more how people lived than how they died. "Burn out" became less a problem. We saw surprising results, and it was moving to be part of.
This past month, our national program sent a consultant to start a new program, and our site was a pilot. Joyce Nimard, author of "The End of Life Namaste Care Program for People with Dementia," came to elevate our focus and sensitivity in these areas. And she did. Because even though she found a medical director who was committed to the program (the fear was that the medical director would be the obstruction, and, while in some places that may be true, increasingly, physicians have been exposed to Reiki, and more and more physicians are "open" to mindfulness techniques.)
Joyce looked at everything we were doing, and made wonderful suggestions - it was great synergy. And as we talked it also helped to point out how much change has occurred, and how Reiki is becoming a part of the mainstream, Joyce's husband, who has supported her program and wrote a forward to her book, is Ladislav Volicer, MD who just retired as Clinical Director of the Geriatric Research Center for the VA in Boston, one of the most respected geriatricians in the world.
I also found out that a Reiki colleague, has been asked to consult with one of my competitor hospices. And this week I had lunch with one of my favorite Social Workers, a caring professional who has recently completed Level 2 Reiki, and he has accepted a promotion to go with another competitor hospice, part of his position to assist in the expansion of a new Reiki outreach to patients program.
This month I visited Nursing Homes in a more distant portion of my state, and rounded with a Nurse Practitioner colleague who I had encouraged in Reiki. She had been suffering from headaches and conventional medicine was not sorting it through for her, I helped her with some Reiki and she and her husband went away together to take a class with Amy Rowland, one of my teachers. Her headaches went away. Nurses and an Administrator were talking about how they could put together a Reiki class, and Dementia care could be changed by adding Reiki, Music, Aroma therapy, and a patient centered approach to rooms and life in facility. Ripples keep spreading.
Three years ago, I did not know exactly what path Reiki Ripples would take. I have not controlled the Ripples. One could perhaps simply say, "Reiki on, Reiki off." But in another sense, not from a place of "ego" and "self" but from a place of connection and wonderment, we may reasonably have "intention" that compassion may flow. Less perhaps as a sense of "power" or "I" - than from a connected place as part of an infinitude of life. A "prayer" - that suffering may be alleviated (for an individual or for a community).
Discussing a presentation we had made at Long Term Care Medicine 2011, I was surprised to find out that we are now "mainstream" - can't call ourselves "alternative" anymore, since increasingly evidence based studies are supporting Reiki as complementary care to conventional medicine. Many medical schools include introductions into their curriculum, and many Hospitals include Reiki Nurses into their programs.
It is not what i expected when I started this journey. I could not have controlled what happened, nor could I have predicted it.
I suppose there may have been a sense of intention in all this; not the intention of power, or increased vibration, or even the intention of asking for a specific result, but intention as a form of humble request to the llife spirit that connects us all.
There is less a sense of accomplishment here than a sense of awe. And a hope (or intention), that as more ripples come together more compassion will spread through the world.