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I don’t know how this came to be, but somehow the new age community thinks that one has to be a flake in order to be a healer.
I can tell you with complete certainty, one can be a healer, shaman, teacher, or Reiki Master without being a flake.
The shift toward flakiness is curious. I am grateful that the dogmatic version of spirituality and religion has expanded and shifted. We have included love and joy and connection and warmth and compassion and empathy and messiness; yes I am including messiness as an area of growth and development in the healing and spiritual communities.
The days of presenting ourselves as “perfect” or “healed” are gone, with the exception of the coaches who have photo shoots and video sessions every day trying to show how “perfect” they are.
How did we get here?
Whose idea was it that pretending you’re meditating on a rock by a river translates to, “I am physically attractive, therefore, I can guide and teach you how to be healthy and well?” Where is the grit and deep, dark struggle that ravaged years, if not decades, of your life in the process? I don’t want to see a picture of you pretending you are “Zen” or “blissed-out.” I want to know about what it was like for you to hate yourself from the minute you woke up and thought about how to ruin other people’s days and lives so you’re not the only one going through this hell?
I am fortunate that the therapist I worked with in the early 90s—the Reiki master and spiritual teacher I worked with soon afterward, as well as the Tai Chi and Qigong masters—were all present and ready, before any trainings, sessions, or healings, before I or any other student or client was. I could count on them to be present and ready every single time I met and worked with them.
I could count on them to be present and ready every single time.
If our appointment was at 3 p.m., they were sitting in a chair ready with everything they needed by 2:50 p.m. If they were facilitating a training that was to start at 8 a.m., they had the room and the space aesthetically and energetically clean, clear, balanced, and prepared at 7:30 at the latest. I’m using time and punctuality as an example. Whether it be an internationally known Qi Gong Grand Master, the Dalai Lama, or my Reiki Master who’s been practicing Reiki for 35 years…none of them were flakes. All of them were more like oak trees than dandelions. Dandelions are beautiful, but I would not count on them to be where they are needed, when they are needed.
The core of what I am trying to understand and explore is humility.
The teachers who I have worked with listed above, all had the humility to know that they were exceptionally gifted in certain areas of their lives, but there were other areas of their lives that not only were they not gifted, they weren’t even competent. What they all have in common is they realized if they cannot be counted on, how can anybody benefit from their gifts?
Back in 1999, I had the opportunity to participate in a smallish group of students who were receiving teachings and healings at a 10-day intensive with the Dalai Lama. One of the things that stood out to me the most about him was that he was present and ready before everybody else every single day. He returned from lunch pretty much before everybody else, every single day. He did not have any sense of entitlement of, “I am a great healer and teacher, therefore, all of you will have to put up with the areas of my life that are not developed and attended to because I am so great and you need me!”
The Dalai Lama, Betsy my Reiki Master, and Grandmaster Suh all understand that there are ways that they are special, but not more special than others, because everybody is special and gifted in a few aspects of their lives.
I’m going to take a leap here and say if you think that you are “that special” that everybody else has to cater to the areas of your life that you’re not willing to attend to, it’s possible you’re not actually special or a healer at all, just another human being being ruled by their ego. Whether it be Michele and Barack Obama, Michael Jordan, Pema Chödrön, pretty much across the board, most great healers, teachers, and guides have humility. They are humble enough to know that it is essential to find a way to compensate for their shortcomings in the areas of their lives where they are less gifted or competent, while being vigilant and committed to improving those areas!
If people cannot count on us to be present, ready, and dependable, who are we actually “healing”? If we can’t meet with people because Mars is in retrograde…be vigilant about not scheduling any appointments with anybody for that whole year. If you are not able to be present and practice active listening and support for your clients while you’re having trouble with a relationship in your life, don’t book any appointments until you’re stable and solid again.
Messiness is part of growth and development. Messiness is part of the human experience. Messiness is part of relationships. Messiness is part of teaching, healing, guiding, coaching, counseling, therapy, and all of our daily practices. However, we need to set our own personal boundary with ourselves to not bring our messiness into our work with others. We can share our experiences as tools for teaching and healing, but we have to leave our messiness out of our work with others.
I understand that many of us will do anything to avoid working at an awful job with awful pay in an awful environment. That alone is not an excuse to go get trained in being a yoga teacher, a Reiki Master, a sound healer, a life coach…so that you can find a way to make money, work fewer hours, and do something you love and enjoy. Go get that Reiki training and yoga teacher training, and practice for several years before you start getting paid to do the work.
In The Usui System of Natural Healing, which in North America we call Reiki, there were two levels of becoming a Reiki Master. The first level, which is similar to the training that we offer today, was Reiki Teaching Master. A Reiki Teaching Master was somebody who was able to pass Reiki Attunements to Reiki students so they could begin their Reiki journey. A Reiki Teaching Master could teach people how to connect with Reiki, how to share Reiki, and how to practice Reiki with others, while practicing Reiki on themselves on a daily basis.
This second level of becoming a Reiki Master, often took several years, if not decades, of daily Reiki practice, and spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical development and growth before one could identify themselves as a Reiki Master. For me, I was trained in Reiki and became a Reiki Teaching Master in 1995. I did not identify myself as a Reiki Master till about 2015, give or take a year. Before that time, I identified myself as a Reiki Teaching Master.
I am only using Reiki as an example. During those first 20 years, I worked rigorously with my Reiki Master. During that period, there were several times when she had “recommended” that I stop teaching Reiki for a while, and there were other times, where she “recommended” that I stopped practicing Reiki on others for a while.
Betsy was training me in the practice of being self-vigilant so that the people I work with or trained were receiving what they were requesting, and not a watered-down or half-assed version, because I wasn’t aligned, grounded, and centered enough to be what they needed.
I practiced Reiki every day on myself and hundreds of people during that 20 years, and it wasn’t until I recognized that people were beginning to devalue what I was offering without payment, because there wasn’t an economic exchange included. So I started accepting financial payment for working on others. To be fully transparent here, I am pretty certain that what I offered with no financial exchange was a higher-quality service than when I started accepting payment in the form of money. I have a sense of what that’s about, but I think that belongs in a different conversation.
I value my time and energy, and other people’s time and energy. I am not more important than them.
If you are someone who wants to be part of healing from our individual and collective trauma, I encourage you to not let your ego and insecurities convince you that it’s okay for you to be irresponsible and a flake because you are “special.” If you are here in a physical body, there are responsibilities that go along with that. One of them is to be somebody that others can count on.
Can you imagine if Brené Brown, the Dalai Lama, Pema Chödrön, or Thich Nhat Hanh we’re not feeling “the vibe today” or “don’t work with linear time” and thousands of people traveled from all over the world to see them for nothing?
What would you think of them as models of healing and maturity?
How would this affect your trust in their words, healing, and teachings?
Maturity, humility, and responsibility are part of the commitment of being a healer, teacher, or shaman. We don’t get a free pass; if anything, we need to hold ourselves to a higher standard, not lower.
Please don’t be a flake if your intention is to be a healer.