Studying the AQAL Integral map for the evolution of consciousness has been the most sobering reality check that I have ever encountered, causing me to question and re-assess everything that I knew to be true, and moreover, everything I teach in my classes.
One of the aspects learned is the subjective and objective lens to reality. Individual subjectivity is what makes our human interiors: the world of sensations, feelings, emotions, drives, impulses, urges, values, concepts and various states of being. The subject “I” can only be known from these interiors, and even though subjectivity is real, it cannot be proven, quantified, measured or observed.
That which can be observed, measured and quantified is objective reality, the ‘it’. Subjectivity and objectivity are correlated: they co-arise simultaneously, the subjective ‘Why’ (motive) and the objective ‘What’ (behaviour). Being and doing happen simultaneously. There is no causality, but correlation.
I have been practicing healing arts, and teaching Reiki, meditation and self awareness for fifteen years now, and my subjective, interior life has been extraordinarily enriched by my practice. Reiki, contemplation, and embodied mindfulness are practices which address the subjectivity of the individual practicing it. If you have a direct experience with such practices, you may have noticed a variety of changes and responses to these practices in your interiors - perhaps fluctuation in your body temperature, or pulsation and flow in your hands and feet, or a sense of emotional peace and calm, an increase in self confidence, a sense of joy, greater mental clarity, or inspired creativity, or a ‘je ne sais quoi’ that you lack words for.
And we do look for words to describe the suchness of our interior experience, to connect with others, and be witnessed, or to make sense of it, or to communicate it and ‘share the love’. This, verbal communication, is when healers get into trouble – trying to map uncharted territories and explain the correlated objectivity of their subjective experience with inappropriate validity claims. Objectivity is the domain of science: it is science’s business to measure, count, weigh and observe; any objectivity claim that isn’t measurable and observable by science, is wrong. Many talented healers, including myself, are and have been scoffed at because of their clumsy attempts to communicate their trade, explaining the subjectivity of their, and their clients’ experience through concepts that don’t stand up to scientific testing, resulting in the discrediting and dismissal of their work. When altered states of consciousness are interpreted by an individual with magical or mythical worldviews, their interpretation of those states may look like visitations of unicorns and flying fairies. Interpretation is function of stage of development, level of awakening, personality, gender, culture etc, and unless it is proven (somebody takes pictures of that unicorn), it is just an interpretation – aesthetically pleasing, pleasurable and attractive, but not more real from an objectivity point of view than Santa Claus and his reindeer.
When I teach the first level of Reiki to a group of students, I precede the attunement ceremony with a guided meditation where I introduce them to a mysterious benevolent figure, without giving a shape, face or a name to that being. After the ceremony, students take turn in sharing their experience with the meditation, and it turns out that the mysterious being they meet is someone else for each one of them. Christian students often see a Jesus Christ like figure, with long hair, a bead and white robes. Jewish students often see a deceased loved one, such as a grandmother or a departed parent. Hindu students see Hindu gods – one particular student, DP, kept seeing the same Hindu god sitting on my shoulder throughout her entire training, from level I to Reiki Master. Students who meditate and don’t affiliate with a certain religion often have the vision of a bright light with no face or name to it.
This caused me to become mindful of what I teach my students that Reiki is and does. If Reiki is a transmission which facilitates altered states of consciousness that look, sound and feel differently for each student, how ridiculous it would be if, based on their, or their students’ visualisations, the teachers claimed that Reiki were a method to connect with Jesus Christ, or with your deceased Granny, or specifically with Lakshmi! And yet, most of the healing arts teachings are constructed upon some individual or group’s interpretation and belief, causing valuable transmissions and inspired methods to be missed, obstructed by faulty maps which make the laughing stock of skeptics.
This situation is a lose-lose for all: healing arts fail to gain mainstream approval, separating healers from clients who would greatly benefit from their service. Science fails to explore a rich field of personal well-being and transformation, lacking the vision, the courage and the funds to chart new territory and conduct research with healing arts.
My advice to my fellow healers: when you speak or write about your trade, communicate that which you observe: what you see, hear, and feel that takes place with yourself and your clients, and avoid objectivity claims that cannot be measured by science.
As an example: the Reiki student learns about chakras, the energy centers referred to by healers, shamans and practitioners of martial arts and Qi Gong. Science hasn’t measured or observed chakras, and even though a few sensitive men and women can see them, unless chakras are seen by a majority of individuals, or at least measured by instruments, their existence will be denied. In my Reiki classes, I introduce the students to embodied awareness where they practice noticing breath, posture, and sensations. After the attunement ceremony, when the palms of their hands become sensitive and perceptive, the students practice ‘scanning’ each other with their hands, and, with their eyes closed, they are able to feel and locate each other’s chakras.
One interesting fact that I noticed is that whenever I think, speak or write something inspired by a deep wisdom within myself, I have warm, vibrating sensations between my eyebrows, and a reddish spot appears exactly where the Third Eye chakra is said to be. I can’t demonstrate scientifically that the Third Eye chakra exists, is real and activated, so saying anything about it might get me into trouble. But I can demonstrate the red spot appearing on my forehead consistently, and that’s what is safe to communicate.
I advise the same caution in regards with the health and well being effects of the healing arts: we are healers and not prophets, so don’t make promises or assumptions about future outcomes of your healing work. I noticed many times acute pain disappearing only after one or two sessions of Reiki, and at the same time, I will not promise or claim that this is a consistent, expected outcome of my trade. I will speak about what I have noticed so far, and by extrapolation I point towards a possibility, and not prescience.
Some say that spiritual healing is just placebo, and I have no way to prove that it’s not. On one hand, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence; on the other hand it is safer to use a language that agrees with the current state of scientific testing in our field, if our field is to avoid ridicule, and gain mainstream acceptance.
Reiki is known and taught as a type of spiritual healing, with the life force energy ‘Ki’ being guided by ‘Rei’, the Japanese word for Spirit. While there is consensus for this to be true within the world of healers, for as long as there is no objective evidence of either Ki or Spirit, I’ll play it safe by calling my art a ‘laying on of hands’, which no-one, no hard science skeptic, can argue with.