I handed the middle aged woman cab driver a print out of a map with directions entirely in Thai. All I knew was that the place I was going to, alone, was far and expensive to get to. She studied the map at length, nodded and drove away from Le Meridien Hotel (highly recommend using Starwoods; it was ridiculously cheap staying at this hotel using points) in Chiang Mai. While Humpty was taking a photography class, I decided to take a Reiki class in the middle of no-where with a British expat named Guy.
I was beginning to get nervous as we entered the farm field and saw no civilization. The driver eventually pulled up to a rusting white closed gate. Behind it was a house about a football field away.
I thought to myself, “I’m probably getting raped and killed by a psycho who lives on a farm in the middle of no where. Why in the world did I agree to this? Who lives in an isolated place like this? Was reiki really that interesting?” I didn’t want to leave the cab, but I did. I made the cab drive promise me she would return at 5pm sharp to pick me up (three hours from the time of drop off).
The gate was buzzed open and I reluctantly entered. It was dead silent. No birds chirping. No butterflies flying. No bees buzzing. No wind caressing the grass. Just me walking slowly on a lonely long straight road to an isolated house on a humid still day. As I reached the door, a man stepped out. I was not appeased in the least. He looked like in his 40s, completely bald and kinda short by American standards. Guy, at first glance and with the state of mind I was already in, fit the creepy profile.
“Hello. Pleasure to meet you. I am surprised your driver found this place. Most people have to call me a couple of times before they can find it,” he said as we shook hands. His palms were sweaty.
The space inside the house was an open living room with a huge ceiling. There were crystals, mats and various meditation stuff everywhere. Yet it was tidy and uncluttered. I immediately noticed, or rather felt, there was no air conditioning. But I did begin to relax at this point since it looked like a legit meditation place. I just couldn’t get over how silent it was.
I wasn’t sure what to expect of a first day reiki session, but Guy began by telling me about his background. In detail. In a nut shell, he used to work for Steve Jobs (ok, so that part was interesting) and eventually became a chip designer in San Francisco. He got tired of corporate America and became a yoga instructor. From there he transitioned to living in Thailand full time, dedicating his life to Chi Gong, meditation and Reiki.
So after an hour of listening about his life story, I asked to use the bathroom. Now some of you may not have this problem, but I found it hard to pee in the quietness. I kept thinking he was going to hear the pee sound through the walls…
The first question he asked me when I came out was, “So what do you know about Reiki?”
I made up some vague explanation about how I wanted to learn healing energy, but in reality I had no clue what it really was. I just knew it was next step in my education of meditation.
So the first next hour he preceded to educate me on Reiki and I soon realized there was a lot of background research I should have done before coming. I thought it was simply using energy to heal, but it was much more than that. He started the lesson by asking me to close my eyes and open the palm of my left hand. Within seconds I felt this pulling sensation, like a tickle, in the middle of my hand. I was astounded when I opened my eyes and saw that his hand was about 14 inches above mine. And yet I felt his energy. He now had my full attention.
He told me my body’s frequency was quite low and out of tune and he was going to attune my body. What I did not know was that Reiki can’t really be learned on your own but rather must be gifted to you from a Reiki master. In essence, Reiki is a meditative practice of connecting the body and soul to the energy of the universe. By channeling this energy, the receiver of Reiki is able to attune the five koshas of being. Koshas or human consciousness is divided into five realms in ascending order: physical body, energy body, emotional body, mental body, and spirit body. Whenever there is a disturbance in one of the koshas, such as being emotionally distraught, the negativity manifests itself in other parts of the being, such as by becoming sick or getting injured. Guy believes that by clearing your spirit (i.e. practicing Reiki), you then have the domino affect of clearing and healing your mind, emotions, energy and body. If you want to learn more about it, please visit his website here.
So after an hour lecture on Reiki itself, it was time to actually practice. He made me sit on a stool in the middle of the room with my eyes closed. All I felt was him walking around me but I had no clue what was happening. I didn’t feel any sensation; all I knew was that he was transferring some of his the energy to me. He ended this strange session with placing his hands on my head.
He then had me lay down on my back on a padded table (similar to a massage bed) and asked me to meditate. He was going to attune my energy with his by placing his hands in various points along my body. I was weirded out by it at first, but I soon realized it was harmless and calming. There was a point when I felt a tingling sensation and felt myself becoming light headed. He must have done this for a solid 30 minutes (seemed like eternity). When I stood up, I felt so…..light. And giddy. And peaceful. Even exhilarated. Maybe I’ve felt this way after getting a massage but I never expected to feel this way after a Reiki session.
We then switched positions, with him now lying down. “Okay, now you’re going to do Reiki on me, the same as I did for you. It will be good practice”.
I was hesitant, but he assured me that as long as I had intentions of healing and I focused, I couldn’t really mess this up. I had beads of sweat on my forehead as I gingerly placed my hands on his shins. I eventually moved up to his arms, shoulders and head. I imagined healing energy transferring out of my hands and into his body.
I had no clue if what I was doing was actually working or not, but soon enough, as I got closer to his head, he started to snore–loudly. I wanted to laugh. Here I am in the middle of nowhere in Chiang Mai with my hands on a man I’ve never met before and I’ve just put him to sleep. I had no way of getting back to the hotel other than hoping that the cab driver will return as promised.
Another five minutes passed this way before I gave up and started checking out his collections of rock crystals. He eventually woke up and looked relaxed. He didn’t give me much feed back on what he felt, and I had no clue whether my “powers” put him to sleep or if he was just tired. Either way, I was kind of glad the session was coming to an end. I looked at my watch and he took that as queue to look out his window for any cars waiting outside. Hallelujah. She came!
Pictures from cooking class
Despite how my above story comes off, I’m truly glad I had this experience. In fact I practiced Reiki that very same night on Dumpty and he too felt a tingly sensation. I do wish however that Guy was closer to the city or that he was a woman instead. I think it would have made me more comfortable with the whole set-up.
I am sure with more research, I could have easily found another Reiki master because Chiang Mai was a hippy town. In fact my favorite and second most memorable experience in Chiang Mai took place on one of the hippy streets lined with vegetarian and vegan restaurants, seedy bars, green juice shops, and yoga studios. We had a great meal at one of these casual healthy restaurants (I had some green veggie beet juice) and decided last minute to get a foot massage.
We were seated outside, facing an outdoor restaurant. It must have been open-mic night. There was a white guy playing his acoustic guatar and singing The Sound of Silence by Simon & Garfunkel. Something clicked with me that night as his soft singing wafted through the sounds of tuk tuks, motorbikes and the chatter of people.
Maybe it was the Reiki, maybe it was that song or maybe it was that we no longer had material attachments (i.e. no home, no possessions other than our backpacks, no job, and no clue where this trip was going to end), but at that moment I felt at once connected with the world around me and yet disconnected from everything. I was in a bubble. It was quiet inside but I could sense the pulse of life outside. It was a great moment–one that reminded me to be thankful for life.