I dunno: CBT one day (see post below) and Reiki the next… all of a sudden, it’s Self Help City round these parts. (If you ever spot me reading a copy of The Little Book Of Sodding Calm, then you have permission to shoot me. There are limits.)
So, yes: Reiki session #2 two took place just after lunch in the empty meeting room upstairs, and once again I am feeling cleansed and re-centred and all that scary guff. Perhaps more so than last time, as I was more familiar with the routine, and hence more relaxed about it.
Just before the session starts, you’re asked to visualise a “safe place”, to which you can “return” if you feel uncomfortable at any stage. Last time, I picked the morning room in the cottage, where we sit with the papers after breakfast on Saturdays and Sundays. This worked fine at first, but after a while I begun to feel a bit stuck in the chair; a sort of spiritual numb bum, I suppose. This time, the choice was immediate: our lovely villa at the Banyan Tree from two weeks ago, which had been a source of such utter peace, tranquility and superior interior design. This had the added advantage of letting me wander about the place in my mind’s eye, from pool to sunbed to Sala Thai to sunken bath and so on.
Aided by the noodly New Age music in the background, which the Banyan Tree were also rather keen on, the whole session felt like I was being transported back to Phuket. Indeed, I actually started to smell the place, with all its incense sticks and aromatic oil burners (as lit in your room every evening at turn-down time) – to the point where I became convinced that incense was burning in the room.
(Which was bizarre, as during the de-brief session afterwards, my somewhat amazed Reiki Master – I know, I know – admitted to using nothing more than lavender-scented handwash. Wow, have I started channelling olfactory hallucinations, he muttered.)
A further word about the noodly New Age music, which I would never normally listen to by choice. Too bland by half. Too gift shop. Too emotionally thin. Embarrassing, even snigger-inducing. Well, within the context of the Reiki session, it actually came into its own – forming a kind of backwash, blocking out the distracting noises of the building, and of the traffic on Maid Marian Way twelve stories below. Of course, you couldn’t possibly listen to it, but then it was specifically designed not to be listened to. With no specific points of interest to latch onto, its purpose was to aid mental de-cluttering – a purpose which would have been defeated if I had started actively concentrating on it, and emotionally responding to it. A sort of musical beige, then… and there has always been space in my life for beige.
The best bit of the whole session comes at the start, as the Master wafts his hands across the face and head, sending repeated surges of blissful warmth fluttering over and through you, while amorphous blocks of colour swirl and coalesce in front of your eyelids. Yes, it is a bit trippy. Then, as the initial rush wears off, you settle back and relax for the next hour or so, as the hands move between each energy centre, or “chakra”, channelling and balancing the…
Yeah, yeah, okay, okay. I know that this sounds like the most ghastly, self-deluding mumbo-jumbo. And maybe it is. A large part of me – probably the most part, and almost certainly the best part – still thinks it is. But the point is this: if you choose to imbue a ritual with meaning, then it has meaning – even if the ritual is arbitrary in the first place. And the other point is this: any prolonged relaxation/meditation session is going to do you good. Especially when that session is structured, guided and witnessed by a second party. For the Master’s involvement keeps you focused in a way that would be far more difficult to achieve on your own, when both mind and body would be significantly more likely to fidget and stray.
Besides, I was always the little boy who liked to believe in Santa. “Harnessing the power of your delusions” – come on, that has to be a self-help book in the making.
Of course, K – being the hard-headed scientific rationalist that he is – has nothing but scorn to pour on the proceedings. Witness the following exchange, which took place after I returned from my first Reiki session:
K: So, you say felt all these warm sensations?
M (eagerly): Yes, that’s right – I don’t know how it happened, because his hands never touched me.
K: And he told you to keep your eyes shut at all times?
M: Oh absolutely, that’s very…
K: (picking up electric fan heater and wafting it over me) “Yes Mike, that’s right… keep your eyes shut… woooh… can you feel the heat?”
M (indignantly): That’s… that’s… you cynical bastard!
K (triumphantly): You know what you were, don’t you darling? You were ironed!
(collapse of both parties)