The Gift of Touch

by Natalia Pisetskaya

In my attempt to communicate to others what Reiki is, I have come up with quite a few definitions, each highlighting a specific aspect of Reiki. Those of you who practice Reiki already know that it is almost impossible to explain Reiki using words. It is like trying to squeeze into a form something that is all-encompassing by its very nature. Reiki is an experience, an experience of the fullness of life, life as is. It is no surprise that after years of practicing Reiki, new insights continue to be revealed to me. In this article, I will focus on just one—perhaps the most obvious aspect of Reiki—the one that has to do with touch. Reiki is a practice that brings us in touch with ourselves, literally.

At the time when we are born and throughout the baby stage of life, touch dominates our experience. While it takes a while for visual and hearing abilities to develop, as well as for taste and smell to fully serve us, touch provides everything we need and is crucial to the development of a human being. At the end of life again, touch starts to regain its role and assists us in having last moments of physical connection with the world we are to leave behind. But what about the so-called mid-life stage? It happens to be that touch is the most neglected sense for all adults. In our high-tech society, other senses dominate our experience. The sense of sight, hearing, taste, and smell are challenged to accept more and more information, which we are unable to process fully. We live in the world of sensory overload. It applies to all senses, but touch.

Interestingly enough, it is the touch that can help us to limit the input that we receive from outside, guiding us to discover the universe within. Touch in general, and Reiki touch for sure, helps to establish the communication with the inner world. When we place the hands on the body, the link is created, and we begin "to hear" what is happening inside. We start to realize that there is a life flowing within us, life that was unnoticed and unappreciated before. The hands guide us into the world of subtle perceptions and to the most profound discovery of peace within:

The touch invites us to be present,

To stop, to rest, to simply settle;

And as we hear this quiet call,

A different world begins to show:

The rainbow of colors not seen by the eye,

Angelic sounds from Heaven above,

Familiar tastes and smells are here –

This all the simple touch brought near.

That perfect stillness, inner peace,

Was waiting there underneath

All fears and worries and everything else…

Receive the gift of your True Self!

Finding ourselves. How important that is! Isn't it strange, that while we look for ourselves, we are drawn outward? It is no surprise that we cannot find ourselves there. We remain unsatisfied no matter what we do: no amount of food or entertainment can bring us lasting fulfillment. Everything we engage in brings just a fleeting moment of happiness that never lasts. Perhaps, we are hungry for something else. That something else, however, is right where we are and what we are looking for is within us!

The journey with Reiki is always a journey inward, the journey that begins with a touch guiding us to reverse direction of our perception and start paying attention to what is happening within. It is from the depth of our being that the answers come. We find that everything we need is given to us in every moment. Inspiration and insight begin to flow into our actions and interactions. And we start living from the inside out, channeling the gifts we have been given into the world we live in. Then everything we do becomes a meaningful contribution to life around us.

Touch is finding its way into our lives again. New modalities that involve touch are being introduced into the medical setting: Healing Touch, Comfort Touch, and, of course, Reiki Touch. Regardless of how it is called, human touch carries enormous power to provide comfort and support, to relieve pain and stress. There is much more to it than can be measured and validated, although anything that can provide credibility for this kind of work helps all of us to transition to a health care where real human touch is an integral part of all other therapies.  Not only does it help patients, it helps medical practitioners as well.  When we honor the healing power of nature, which we are a part of, anything we do is empowered by this connection.

Yes, it is by the design of nature itself that we do have touch and that we use it. From the ancient times, touch has been known as a healing technique. It is the first intuitive response that arises when we hurt ourselves as we immediately put our hands on the body. Actually, we do not "do" that, nor do we make a conscious decision: hands are finding their way to where they need to be. It is the first thing the mother does to calm the child that is in any kind of discomfort as she simply holds it. Doesn't it tell us something? Perhaps, the answer is simpler than we think: for as long as we have a human body, that human body will always need human touch.

There is something special about Reiki touch, though. It is the touch with intent to support and to honor, touch that re-affirms wellness and re-connects with wholeness. It dissolves the barriers that obstruct the flow of healing energy, helping the body to find its way to balance once again. This is something that the body does for us so many times when we are not watching. There are times, however, when we need to help it, and our Reiki hands create a powerful link, connecting us to the healing power within.

In my own experiences of receiving Reiki, I was always deeply touched by the very fact that someone would be willing to simply be there and hold hands over me. I actually remember how I felt after receiving my first Reiki treatment: so peaceful and so grateful! In our high-tech society, we are very deprived of this kind of touch. Can we really measure love and compassion that flows during those moments and what it actually does for a person? And since I continued my own daily Reiki practice, because I could not be without it, I could see in my own life that the benefits of this simple practice, that every person can do for himself, are so far-reaching. The benefits reach beyond making us more comfortable and helping to deal with pain on a physical or mental level, although this is important as well.  They are about making peace with ourselves and what we have been given and living a meaningful live regardless of any limitations that we may experience.

I love the openness of the framework that Reiki provides. It is a gentle process of opening the channels of healing. It is about allowing the body to find its own balance and supporting it through the process. It is also about finding peace and joy within, in spite of any medical condition that may still be present. I think that the less we struggle to change the condition we are in (physically or mentally), the more likely the change will happen. To me, simply holding hands to honor the life that flows under those hands is an enormously powerful experience that invites much healing. What has been my experience as well is the kind of surrender to life and openness to the flow of Grace that stays with me now regardless of what I do with my hands—that something was started first by experiencing the touch of another human being and then by using my own hands to do the same.

There is an expression that we all use in life to indicate a special gift one human being brings into the life of another. We say: "You touched my life." We do not always mean it literally, but nevertheless touch IS that special gift that we can give to each other.

This article appears in the Summer 2011 issue of Reiki News Magazine.