My Journey Into The Sacred Art Of Reiki
By Reiki Master, Kathleen Ireland Gregg
Reiki: Establishing the Universal Life Force
The ancient Japanese healing method of Reiki is often misunderstood. There are 100’s of accounts of Reiki and how it emerged as a healing method from ancient Sanskrit texts. Although these descriptions may vary from one to another, all have a similar underlying theme. They tell us that Reiki is an ancient and powerful healing technique to overcome physical and emotional imbalances in one’s body. The imbalances are resolved by a properly trained and attuned Reiki practitioner. By focusing universal life force energy through their hands into the client’s body the practitioner aids the body in releasing stress and tension by creating deep relaxation. Because of this, Reiki promotes healing and health. The word Reiki is made of two Japanese words - Rei which means “universal energy” and Ki which is means 'life force energy”. The Reiki system of healing is a technique for transmitting this subtle energy to yourself and others through the hands into the human energy system. Reiki restores energy balance and vitality by relieving the physical and emotional effects of unreleased stress. It gently and effectively opens blocked meridians, chakras, and clears the energy bodies, leaving one feeling relaxed and at peace.
Becoming a Reiki Master was one of my life’s unexpected miracles. With the honor to my esteemed teachers I’d like to share with you the incredible story of how I became a Reiki Master in September of 1993.
Awakening - My 1stDegree Reiki Training
I found myself studying and practicing natural healthcare in the early 1980’s when conventional medicine failed to resolve my health issues. I opened my first office in 1984 with a wonderful woman named Carolyn Twiss. To make our business a success, Carolyn and I first honed our negotiating skills and relied on the good will of others. Carolyn’s husband provided us a business loan and we provided alternative health care skills to our landlord in exchange for office space. Carolyn and I were thrilled with our new venture that offered a variety of services including reflexology, massage, colon hydrotherapy, and whole body detox wraps.
On a Friday afternoon in May 1984, the owner of our offices called to say that she scheduled a Reiki training class in our space. This took me off guard and set a tone for the conversation. Exhausted from work, I’d just gotten home and was looking forward to a nice restful, soothing weekend. My landlord continued. She went on to say that everything was taken care of and I didn’t need to do a thing. She added that an introductory lecture would be held Friday evening and the formal Reiki training would be all day Saturday and Sunday. The clock struck 6:30 and I stormed off, straight to my office to see what is going on. I was angry beyond words. Without consulting Carolyn and I, the owner committed our office to a Reiki training class. Moreover, a total stranger would be instructing the class. When I arrived, all of the Reiki trainees were standing on the porch with no one to let them in or coordinate the class. My better sense triumphed. I felt empathy for the students and I shamefully regretted my anger and judgment. After asking forgiveness with a prayer, I walked up the steps. Before reaching the office door I glimpsed a tiny lady walking towards me with her hand outstretched. I took her hand. It felt so warm. The woman’s gaze brought on feelings that, to this day, I am unable to put into words. She spoke first; “You’re Kathleen Ireland. I knew you would come. It pleases me you’re here.” Speechless, I thought, what was happening to me? This was weird. I finally found my voice and said yes; “I am Kathleen.” And with that, I unlocked the door to let the group in.
A close friend with whom I shared similar alternative health care philosophies was attending the class. Our oldest children were dating and the two of us spent a lot of time together. I began to wonder why my friend had not told me about the Reiki training. While I stood there contemplating, a good deal of time passed. Still no one showed up to facilitate the class. Somehow, I turned into the hostess and began setting up chairs. I brought out bottles of water and a large bowel of fruit that seemed to appear out of nowhere. With the room organized and everyone seated, the mysterious woman that earlier greeted me was ready to begin her lecture on the history of Reiki.
Since there was no cost for the Friday evening lecture, I decided to stay and listen. As the woman spoke, I realized that her incredible story rang true to me. I thought; I’d like to take this Reiki training. However, at that time, I did not have the $150 fee. My office had only been open for two months and that money was needed elsewhere. While the woman signed people up for her two-day class, I went upstairs to the room with lounge chairs and fell asleep. I don’t know how long I had been sleeping when I became aware of a warmth at the top of my head that was beginning to spread through my body. I opened my eyes and saw a woman was on her knees with her hand on my head. This was the same woman who greeted me, the same woman that was instructing the class. As the woman removed her hand she spoke in a very soft voice thanking me for the use of my space and for creating a warm, nurturing environment for her class, saying it was very generous of me and that she wanted to pay me for my service. I spoke up and insisted that there was no need for payment, I would be happy to help. But the generous woman retorted, “That won’t do” - her exact words. You haven’t signed up for the training yet.” When I started to explain, she put her hand up and I stopped speaking. She was quiet, gazing at me for what seemed like a long time. Then, she stood up and made a loud statement: “I’ve never done this before and I’ll not do this again: I’m going to give you the gift of Reiki.” With that, I received training to become a first degree Reiki practitioner. In the future I would arrange all of the details for the first degrees and second degree Reiki training in Lansing. I would receive a commission for each person that signed up and I would be paid for facilitating.
This woman’s name is Reiki Master Virginia Samdahl. Master Samdahl was one of the very first in the United States to study with and become a Reiki Master under Hawayo Takata.
Family Matters – The Path to My 2nd degree Reiki Training
I learned that 2nd Degree Reiki training was going to be offered in August 1984. It was by invitation only and I received mine in the mail. The cost for the class was $500. When I replied that I was unable to take the class, Master Samdahl sent me the instructions anyway. At that time, my health care partnership with Carolyn was changing. Following her husband’s retirement, Carolyn’s family sold their home and moved to Gun Lake. Carolyn’s husband was concerned about the daily drive to Lansing that now faced Carolyn, something I understood. I was on my own now and had to pay the business start up loan back to Carolyn’s husband. To economize, I moved the business to my home. One of the first clients from my practice with Carolyn, Opal Lee, continued with me when I moved.
Opal was a small woman from a family of Chinese immigrants. I started giving Reiki sessions to her elderly mother. As a 1st Degree practitioner it took me much longer to complete a session than it would for a 2nddegree practitioner. So, I spent many hours alone with Opal’s elderly mother and I loved every moment. During our sessions, it was common for my beloved client to tell me wonderful stories about life in her village in China. On one such occasion she asked me to call her Grandma. So, I did - until the day she passed form this earth.
One day I shared with Opal a snippet from one of my conversation with Grandma, something only the Opal would know. Taken back, Opal asked, “How do you know that?” I replied, “Grandma told me.” Opal said that Grandma doesn’t speak English. I replied, “Maybe not to you or the rest of the family, but she does to me every time we are together.” It became a big joke in the family that Grandma knew what everyone had been saying all along.
Grandma Lee and her family would be a constant force in my life, for the next 34 years and counting. Grandma, Opal, and the Lee family helped make me a better person by welcoming me into the family as one of their own. I was honored by the loving relationship I shared with Grandma for many years. She offered trust, respect, and love without judgement. I was also privileged to hear Grandma’s life stories and to be with her, holding her legs and praying, at the time she passed.
Sometime in July 1984, much before Grandma’s death, Opal called asking me to stop by her house. She said it was important and she needed to see me. It seemed odd, but a lot of things were odd in my life at that time. When I arrived, she invited me in. While we were both still standing she handed me a white rose and said, I have a gift for you. She offered me an envelope. Inside there was a check for $500. I don’t know how long I stood there. I was stunned. People just don’t do things like this. Opal started talking. I’m not sure what she said because I was overcome with surprise. But I got it together. I told Opal that this gift was too much, but I would accept this as a loan with interest. She said no, Mother wants you to take care of her. These two women, Grandma and Opal, gave me 2nd degree Reiki.
Guided Trust: My Path to 3rd Degree Reiki Master
These events are something that I never expected to happen. In the late 1980’s and early 1990’s Master Samdahl and I spoke on the phone often. During one of our conversations, Master Samdahl said, “Someday, you are going to be a Reiki Master.” I reply with a strong, “No I’m not. You are my Reiki Master, I know my lineage all the way back to Master Mikao Usui.” She replied, “We’ll see dear.” Master Samdal’s requirements for training to 3rddegree Reiki Master was a one year apprenticeship traveling with her and attending all of her classes, and a $10,000 fee. And this is the story behind those words.
After my husband Frank passed, I became engaged and married David. Master Samdahl was out of the country teaching at the time of our wedding. Although the two had never met, Master Samdahl and David had many engaging conversations when Master Samdahl would phone. As a consequence, they established a fine rapport. In September 1991 I received a call from a woman I’d known for a long time about a 3rd Degree Reiki mastership class being offered in East Lansing. Any 2nd Degree Reiki practitioner was welcome to attend the training for a fee of $500 but the class was limited to about 20 students. I was curious about the instructor and their training. I asked my friend if she had any details and she replied that the instructor had trained under Master Virginia Samdahl. My friend was excited about the possibility that I would attend the class and I told her that I’d let her know. My mind was racing. No Master who studied with Master Samdahl would conduct a class of 20 or more students for $500 per student. It was especially odd that this training would be given without any prior preparation and interaction between instructor and student. About that same time, I had become concerned with the tendency of some instructors to offer the traditional and sacred art of Reiki in an abbreviated training. It became common to offer 1st Degree and 2nd Degree in one weekend. Eventually, some teachers offered 1st Degree, 2nd Degree and 3rd Degree in the same weekend. But, for the class that my friend alerted me to, my faith in Master Samdahl was absolute. Master Samdahl never made a mistake in her choice of instructors, especially those she chooses to become a Master. Although Master Samdahl moved to Florida when she retired, we kept in close contact. So, I called her. When I told her about the upcoming class, the cost and the reports that she had trained the instructor, I was ready to come unglued! I finally shut my mouth so Master Samdahl could speak. She was very silent for a moment and then asked if I trusted her. I replied that I trusted her with my life. She has been my instructor since 1984, her last class in Lansing. She insisted, “Take the class.”
I called the host for the class and told her that I’d be attending. Three days later I received a beautiful engraved invitation. The next day I got the instructions. I called Master Samdahl and said, “This has the look and feel of your work again.” She reiterated, “Do you trust me.” I said, “Yes of course you know that I do.” “Then take the course.”, she said, and “We will talk on Tuesday.” Since the course ended on Sunday, I asked why we would not speak on Monday. She said, “You’re not going to feel well on Monday.”
I finalized plans to take the class. Two weeks earlier, I had received many pages of instructions in the mail and I had started to use those in my preparation. Curiously, on Friday evening I was given additional instructions. I then started taking stock of the weekend. I understood that the class consisted of 20 students. In my estimation, this was a large class and struck me as odd. I kept thinking; trust the process, trust Master Samdahl. So, I stopped thinking about what was supposed to happen and, instead, focused on what was happening.
The first ceremony was to begin Saturday morning. There were large pillows on the floor to sit on. The lights were off. The only light was coming from a window in the front of the office. We had our eyes closed. Well, the other students had their eye closed. Our hands were in a prayer position. I heard Master Samdahl’s voice, “Do you trust me?” I closed my eyes but returned to my assessing mode. I thought, with the $500 course fee and 20 students the instructor will make at least $10,000 this weekend. We had been told not to eat anything the night before or that morning, so I hadn’t. At the end of the first attunement, the instructor began a prayer of release. I began to feel sick. I was sweating, starting to gag and, then, vomited black sludge into a basket provided to me. When I stop vomiting, the instructor put a cold cloth on my face and said, “Master Samdahl sends her love. It’s an honor to assist Master Samdahl with the teaching she wishes you to receive.” I lay back on the pillow. Everyone else was dancing and feeling wonderful. I, however, was ready to go home to bed. I don’t remember much of the rest of Saturday. At the end of class, the students wanted to go out to dinner. The instructor told them he was sorry, but he had other plans. He was staying with David and me for the weekend and David had prepared one of his special dishes for us.
I now understood. David had dropped me off that morning. He likely knew what had gone on and recognized that I probably wouldn’t be feeling very well. I’d learn more when David and the instructor were ready to tell me. When we arrived home, I took a shower and changed. I found David and the instructor in the family room. I anxiously waited for someone to explain the events of the day to me. The phone rang. It was Master Samdahl. She was the one that was going to explain! I had been given different instructions than the rest of the class. Although the students now had the ability to perform a 3rd Degree Reiki session correctly, if they ever decided to teach at a true master ship level Master Samdahl would make sure they had some additional training. As for me, Master Samdahl indicated that I was going to be attending one more class to take place in Lansing at a later time. This one would not be so hard on me physically. She said, “Trust me Kathleen, I told you and God in May of 1984 I was giving you the gift of Reiki and I always do what I say I’m going to do.”
In December 1991, Master Samdahl sent an instructor to teach me privately. In the following year I was to travel to Florida to study with Master Samdahl. Again, funding for this training was no problem. The money that had been collected by the instructor of the first class of my 3rd degree Reiki training went toward my expenses and the remaining money was divided between the two Master teachers that trained me in Lansing. Over the next year, I joined Master Samdahl in Florida several times and we continued to stay in contact until Master Samdahl went of be with our Lord in 2003.
Master Samdahl asked nothing of me but gave me everything. She told me that when I was ready I would need to tell this story of Reiki and what it means to me. Master Samdahl emphasized that I would know when the time was right. That time is now, and I am honored to share it with you.
I leave you with one thought. Miracles happen every day and often the Creator uses a properly trained Reiki practitioner, which I am blessed to be.
Epilogue and Lineage
I continue to practice Reiki using the traditional Usui Shiko Ryoho system of Healing that was rediscovered, developed and taught by Dr. Mikao Usui in the early 1900’s. Dr. Usui taught more than 2,000 students and initiated 20 Reiki Masters. Before his death in 1926, Dr. Usui asked Dr. Chujiro Hayashi to carry on his teachings and expand the Reiki Ryoho system for him. Dr. Hayashi continued Dr. Usui’s work treating patients and training Reiki practitioners. Before his death in 1940, Dr. Hayashi initiated Hawayo Takata to Reiki Master. Master Takata was the first Reiki Master to introduce Reiki healing and training to Hawaii and the United States mainland. If not for Master Takata, Reiki would likely have been lost all over the world and even in Japan. This is because after World War II, and Japan’s surrender, the United States required licensure for all those practicing any kind of healing. Most of the Reiki practitioners refused to be controlled by a licensing board and went underground, practicing only on each other. In 1976 Master Takata initiated Master Virginia Samdahl to Reiki Master. I am exceedingly proud to have been trained and initiated to Reiki Master level by this great woman.
And that is my story.
The Reiki Principles
Just for today I will give thanks for my many blessings
Just for today I will not worry
Just for today I will not be angry
Just for today I will do my work honestly
Just for today I will be kind to my neighbor and every living thing