Learning to Bow

photo of AnnaLast weekend Paul Mitchell, USUI Traditional Reiki Master, came to Ottawa from Idaho to discuss the five reiki principles and meet with Reiki students and masters from all disciplines. Paul is one of the last Reiki Masters initiated by Mrs. Hawaya Takata. On Saturday, each reiki principle was examined in a series of experiential exercises. With partners, we got real and explored our own feelings around anger, worry, honouring our parents, elders & teachers, earning a living honestly, as well as, honouring all things. We spent time on the meanings of individual words parsing and unearthing the texture of each principle. It was a rich experience! 

As well as sharing his personal insights on the principles and interpretation of the Japanese translation, Paul shared some of what it was like to be a student with Mrs. Takata. He also shared his interest in learning a martial art and the importance of bowing. "Bowing is a large part of the study and discipline of a martial art. For example, before you enter class - you bow; to greet other students - you bow; to greet the teacher - you bow; if you make a mistake - you bow; and if you bump into someone during class - you bow!" 

So we, the seminar attendees explored the energy of a bow. We faced our partners squarely and then to my surprise were instructed to recognize the humanness of our partner: i.e. that they could hurt us, betray us, tell lies about us, etc. We were asked to feel into this energy - and then we bowed. Next, we were asked to place our hands on their hearts, send them Reiki and look into their eyes. After this, we bowed. For me, there was quite a difference in the energy of these two experiences but no difference in the energy of either bow. I could acknowledge and honour the feeling of the warrior energy, as well as, the openhearted unconditional loving energy. Both were good. I could stand in my power and bow with deference and gratitude to my partner. 

It wasn't until later that night that I realized that I had spent quite some time in my life "bowing". In fact, I had spent 22 years showing deference and gratitude in the ballet classroom - a different but no less challenging discipline. Students would arrive before class began to warm up and if you were late for class, you could be and sometimes would be refused entrance. At the end of class we would "bow" through reverence to say "thank you for teaching me" to the master. Sometimes I would attend four or five classes a day and at the end of each class I would bow to say "thank you" to my teacher. 

I have often read Phyllis Furomoto's writing "thank you for teaching me" or "thank you for being my teacher". Up until this moment I really hadn't understood what she meant by it. But now, the light bulb finally glowed. It meant thank you for giving me the opportunity to bow. To show respect, reverence and gratitude for your presence and quite literally to learn from the interactions we do in our every day lives. 

Life presents many opportunities to bow if we are watching. So when someone cuts me off while I'm driving, I think I will bow to him or her. When my children need one more pair of clean jeans and there aren't any, I think I will bow. I'll take my time though, probably my lifetime, to employ Mrs. Takata's favourite saying "practice, practice, practice." Perhaps one day I will perfect my bow. 

Thank-you Paul Mitchell for your time, energy, patience and enthusiasm at this seminar. And also, thank you to Karen Johnson who had the vision to bring together some 80 people from all reiki disciplines for this wonderful weekend.

Published in TONE Magazine, November 2004 issue and the International Reiki Magazine, Vol. 7, March 2005