• Ryan J. Bush, Ph.D.

Returning to Balance

Updated: Jan 2

Preparing, Grounding, Centering, Opening, and Energetic Balancing


For better or for worse, we are living in a very paradoxical time in the world. On the one hand, for the first time in human history, we have unprecedented access to all the wisdom accumulated from spiritual traditions all over the world and throughout human history. With this incredible access to wisdom, and the ability to compare all these traditions, one might think that people would see how everyone is talking about the same thing for many different perspectives.

However, instead we are still like the blind men touching the elephant — each of us seeing a small part of the whole and not understanding how it all fits together. Instead of seeing commonality, we only see divisions and separation, and as a result the world is incredibly chaotic and stressful, filled with conflict and wars, and people more and more polarized — not listening to each other, not seeing each other’s common humanity. We have been out of balance for so long, and in so many different ways, that we literally don’t know what true balance is really like, and how it can transform our lives and our world.


No matter what our spiritual or philosophical beliefs might be, we are not asking enough of our personal practices if they don’t help us return to a state of balance whenever need be, even in the most difficult challenges that life throws at us. After all, there are many very practical and effective techniques that have been honed over the millennia by various different spiritual traditions. These techniques are compatible with any system of belief (or non-belief), and can help us completely transform our experience, helping us get out of whatever thoughts, or emotions or complexes we might be stuck in, being able to ground ourselves, center ourselves, reach a true state of balance, and more open than we ever thought would be possible.


We tend to think of ourselves as being incredibly rational, but when we really look at how our minds function, it’s clear that a lot of the time we are incredibly not rational. Some estimates are that 80% of our thoughts don’t need to be thought because we spend so much time ruminating about the past, worrying about the future, telling all kinds of stories about why things might be happening, why people might have done what they did, what we could have done differently, and so forth.

There certainly are times it’s important to self-reflect, learn lessons from the past, and plan for the future, but generally speaking, our minds are very easily distracted. Anyone who’s tried meditation knows that our minds tend to be like goldfish — if we try to focus on something (like our breath, or anything we’re meditating on), we may find ourselves distracted every few seconds, constantly blown off course by thoughts, emotions, or sensations that come up.


Our thoughts, emotions, and sensations can have a lot of inertia, tending to spin on, and on, and on. Especially if we’re upset or concerned about something, it can be close to impossible to get out of whatever we might be stuck in. We often talk about being stuck in thoughts or emotions, but physical sensations can keep holding our focus as well, such as how paying attention to chronic pain helps strengthen those neural pathways that lead to more pain, making a vicious cycle. Or, some people might be overly attached to various kinds of pleasures such as food, sex, gambling, or drugs. Everybody has different challenges that they face, and different ways that we may be out of balance.


However, the good news is that whatever our challenges might be, whatever we might find ourselves stuck in (whether it’s in our thoughts, or emotions, sensations, etc.), or however we may be out of balance, there always are tools that can help.


The system of Reiki has many tools that can help us ground, center, balance, and open ourselves whenever need be, but there are some additional techniques from other traditions, like medical qigong, network chiropractic, osteopathy, rolfing/structural integration, the ayurvedic chakra system, Earthing, and various other traditions, that can help us flesh out the full map of how we can bring ourselves back to balance. So, in this article my goal is to lay out as briefly as possible some basic techniques that anybody can use, regardless of their spiritual or philosophical persuasion, to be more balanced than most people ever realize is possible.


In laying out these techniques, I also hope to show skeptics that there really is a lot of value in practices like Reiki, meditation, and other practices that work with energy or consciousness. After all, a lot of people think that meditation, and Reiki and other kinds of practices are just about ‘taking a break’ from reality and the challenges of life, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Whatever skills we learn during meditation, or through Reiki or other practices, these skills are fundamentally about helping us be as effective as possible in our daily lives — being able to center, and ground and bring ourselves to balance whenever need be even in the most difficult, the most agonizing, the most challenging of circumstances.


Overview of the Balancing Process

The overall process of bringing ourselves into balance can be thought of as several different steps:

  • preparatory steps

  • grounding

  • centering

  • opening

  • energetic balancing

Anyone who has studied Reiki or other energetic practices will probably recognize these steps as things they already do, though not necessarily with these names or in this order. Indeed, the names don’t matter, and the steps don’t all have to be done in this exact order — with practice, the first four steps can be done all at once in just a few minutes, though energetic balancing can take longer depending on how out of balance we are.


Even if these concepts already feel like simple practices that we’ve done for years, there are some aspects of each of these steps that are not usually discussed in the system of Reiki, but can make a big difference in the effectiveness of our practices.


Presence #11, by Ryan J Bush

Preparatory steps

Before we start balancing ourselves, it can be helpful to do preparatory steps at the three levels of our mind, body and energy.

Preparing the Mind

Preparatory steps have to start with the mind, because if we don’t decide to balance ourselves, then we’ll just keep approaching things from the perspective of our ordinary selves (aka the ego, monkey mind or grasping mind), or from the perspective of our lower self (aka the subconscious, shadow, animal self, or lower self), and remain out of balance, and stuck in whatever we might be stuck in.


After all, we all find ourselves out of balance at times, whether we feel out of balance emotionally, physically, mentally, spiritually, or anything else. For example, when we’re really upset, angry, afraid, or any other strong emotion, when we feel stuck in our thoughts, emotions, or sensations, or when we feel tired, distracted, spacey, lost, or alone. There are, of course, times when so-called negative emotions like fear, anger, and sadness are perfectly appropriate reactions to circumstances that arise, but most of us spend way too much time stuck in thoughts, emotions, and complexes, even though there are many tools that can help us get unstuck if we want to.


When we’re upset, need to ground ourselves or need to reach balance, it can be easy to reach for our usual distractions or comforts (such as food, TV, sports, social media, alcohol or drugs, or whatever we might tend to use as a less than effective way of addressing our problems), rather than remembering that we can do Reiki and balance ourselves. Our thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations can be so intense and have all the inertia of a runaway train, that it can be incredibly difficult to step back for a moment, notice how we’re doing, and remember that it is possible to return to balance.


That’s why, as we’ve discussed in a previous post, it can be helpful to firmly embed in our minds that Reiki (or whatever practice we use) is a form of first aid. While the Japanese Navy used Reiki as first aid for physical issues, it can be even more effective as first aid whenever we’re out of balance.


So, the first preparatory step is:


1) Remember that we can balance ourselves, and decide that we want to balance ourselves right now.


We don’t necessarily need to calm our minds before we begin the balancing process, as just letting the Reiki energy flow can often be enough to help our minds calm down, but if our minds are especially active, or we find it difficult to concentrate on the process of balancing, it may help to remember the Reiki precepts (don’t bear anger, don’t worry, be humble, practice diligently, be compassionate to ourselves and others), or to find a ‘gap’ between our thoughts.

For example, we can observe any thought, emotion, sensation, or anything that is arising, then watch as it subsides, leaving a gap in between thoughts, emotions, and sensations. With practice, we can rest for longer and longer in the gap between thoughts, and it can always help to have something for the mind to focus on, such as doing Reiki, focusing on the breath, chanting, or any other meditative activity.

If need be, we can cut through our thoughts (or emotions, sensations, etc.) with a forceful approach, such as the fudo practices that are often taught in Shinpiden, Reiki 3a, or the technique of trekchö taught in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition of Dzogchen.


Preparing the Body

In preparing to balance ourselves, we also need to remember to prepare our body. The key step here is:


2) Decide whether to stand, sit, or lie down, and position our body appropriately, keeping feet against the floor, back straight but relaxed, hands relaxed, chin tucked, feel a thread pulling upward from our crown, touch tip of tongue to roof of the mouth, eyes relaxed, etc.


If possible, it is ideal to stand, because that makes it easier to ground ourselves fully, and to open fully, as we will discuss in the following sections. If it’s not comfortable to stand for long enough, sitting is fine too. While more of our energy gets dissipated through the chair or whatever we’re sitting on, it’s still possible to ground our energy through our feet, and be very open through our entire body.


If neither standing nor sitting is comfortable, we can lie down, though it isn’t totally ideal. After all, when lying down the entire length of our bodies is in contact with whatever we’re lying on, which dissipates a great deal of energy to the ground. And, because our head and heart are both in close proximity to the ground, it’s tougher to connect with the pure energies of Heaven Ki and Heart Ki. However, with practice we can still have an effective session of balancing or Reiki, even while lying down. Our bodies are incredibly resilient, and can accommodate a great deal.


Whatever position we’re in, the most important thing is to be relaxed and comfortable, and not holding tension in any part of the body so we can check in with each part of our body from our toes and bottom of our feet up to the crown. It can be helpful to spend even just a few moments or minutes checking in with our body, because it’s very easy to hold a lot of tension in various parts of our body without noticing.


When checking in with our body, there are a few areas to pay particular attention to, for example to make sure our feet are firmly against the floor if we’re sitting or standing, our pelvis is open, our back is straight but relaxed, our chin is tucked, and feel as though there’s a thread pulling up from the crown of our head. It may also help to put the tip of our tongue against the roof of the mouth, to close the energetic circuit between the back and front channels of the body (as in the seven-point Vairochana posture of Buddhism, or the ‘fire’, ‘water’, or ‘air’ positions of the microcosmic orbit in Daoism), and may also help if we keep the eyes relaxed. If we don’t remember some of these specifics, that’s okay — as mentioned above, the most important thing is to be relaxed and comfortable.


Preparing our Energy

To prepare our energy, we can first put our palms together in the gassho position, and set our intention, such as to return to balance, or open fully, or whatever our goal may be.


Then, it may help to let go of any stuck or stagnant energy, such as using the technique of dry bathing (kenyoku ho) from the system of Reiki. As traditionally practiced, dry bathing consists of using the right hand to sweep diagonally down from the left shoulder to the right side above the waist; then using the left hand to sweep diagonally down from the right shoulder to the left side above the waist; then again repeating the process on the left side. Then, we hold our left arm out, bent at a 90 degree angle, and use the right hand to sweep down from the left shoulder along the left arm; then we hold our right arm out, bent at a 90 degree angle, and use our left hand to sweep down from the right shoulder along the right arm; then we repeat the process on the left side.

As we pass our hands over the skin, stuck or stagnant energy gets cleared from the meridians, or energetic channels, just under the skin. After all, almost our entire body is covered by fascia, the dense layer of connective tissue just under the skin that forms a continuous sheet connecting the entire body. Stuck or stagnant energy is just a particular build-up of electrons, and electrons can be moved by induction, using our hands to help them get unstuck from wherever they had built up, and dispersed so our channels can be more open.


Each of the six movements in dry bathing is accompanied by a strong out-breath, so we clear energy not just from the external meridians, but also from the inner channels (the nerves and inner energy centers). After all, the breath is the engine that drives the flow of energy in the body, so the more forceful our breath, the more energy gets moved.


While the traditional dry bathing ritual focuses only on specific areas of the torso and arms, we can expand the practice to clear energy from any part of our body that we can sweep our hands over, or direct our breath to.


Traditions other than Reiki have different ways of clearing stuck or stagnant energy, like the ‘trembling horse’ technique from Daoism, where shaking the body is used to scatter stagnant energy, similar to how animals in nature will shake themselves to help them recover from a difficult or traumatic experience. For an example of how that technique is done, see this video on YouTube.


Meanwhile, many traditions use actual water as a way to let go of stuck energy and prepare for another state of being, as in baptism with water, or how refreshed we feel after a bath or shower.


To be most general, the third step can be phrased as:


3) Put palms together in gassho to set our intention, then do dry bathing (kenyoku ho), or any other technique to clear stuck energy.


Grounding

Once we have prepared our mind, body, and energy, we can begin the balancing process. Generally speaking, the first part of balancing is to become grounded. People often talk about the importance of being grounded, but don’t often understand what that actually means or how to go about doing it. Reiki teachings help explain the process of grounding somewhat, with the emphasis on connecting with our hara, the energy in our belly (centered two finger-widths below the navel in the center of the body, at the dantian or ‘field of elixir’), and focusing on Earth energy with the first symbol and mantra of Okuden (Reiki II).

However, the system of Reiki doesn’t talk much at all about the role of our pelvis or legs — as far as Reiki teachings are concerned, we might as well be paraplegics! A good reason for the lack of focus on the legs is because early practitioners in Japan were used to sitting cross-legged or in the seiza position (with legs folded under), which automatically tends to open the pelvis, distribute energy between the left and right legs, and maintain a close connection with the ground. Besides, Japanese culture (as well as Western culture to some extent) tends to avoid directly discussing our private areas, like the pelvis.

Fortunately, other traditions can help flesh out our understanding of the role that our pelvis and legs can play, such as physical therapy, network chiropractic, osteopathy, rolfing/structural integration, and qigong. There is too much to discuss than we have time for here, but some key points that can help are:


4) To help ground ourselves, be sure to keep all muscles in the pelvis open, including the PC muscle at the pelvic floor, the muscles around the butt, and everything else. To help open the muscles in the pelvis, it may help to push down the pelvic floor while slowly breathing in, to do the ‘First Position’ Yoga stretch, or to remember to keep our ‘tail’ out.


5) Open and ground one leg at a time, for example by shifting all our weight onto one leg, and feeling the firm, solid connection from our crown to that leg and foot. Then, we can go further, extending our energetic ‘roots’ down into the ground (as far as we want to go), then bringing our attention back up into our body. Once that side of our body is fully grounded, we can shift our weight onto the other leg and repeat the process.


6) Once we’ve done these steps, it may be easier to connect with the hara (the belly), or the dantian (or 'field of elixir'), two finger-widths below the navel in the very center of the body. If need be, we can use the first symbol and mantra to strengthen the connection with our hara and Earth energy.


Because the statement in step 4 of keeping our ‘tail’ out may not be self-explanatory, it may be helpful to remember that our tailbone, the coccyx, really is a vestigial tail, as well as being the end of the spine, which some would say is the lowest energy center in the body (the first chakra, in the Ayurvedic chakra system). While the coccyx doesn’t move much, when we feel unsafe or down for any reason, our ‘tail’ curls downward a little bit, which can significantly alter the flow of energy through our body. To help energy flow smoothly, it can help if we remember to keep our tail out, like a dog that is happy.


This connection with the ground isn’t just in our imaginations, grounding ourselves has very real and measurable impacts, for example as described in Earthing by Clint Ober, Martin Zucker, and Stephen Sinatra. As they point out, in our modern lives the vast majority of us are usually kept completely insulated from the Earth with our plastic and rubber-soled shoes, with our foam mattresses, with our wooden floors. All these things quite literally insulate us from the Earth. In their insightful book, Ober et al. show the issues that can arise from keeping ourselves insulated from the Earth, such as inflammation, difficulty sleeping, and chronic pain, which can be alleviated if we learn to literally ground ourselves.


With the thousands of lightning strikes that occur around the Earth every minute, the planet is an enormous battery, letting us draw electrons to replenish the ones we constantly lose from being around lamps, electronics and many other aspects of daily life that drain our energy. The good news is that we can reconnect ourselves with the Earth anytime we go outside and stand on the ground in bare feet or we can get a so-called Earthing mat from Clint Ober or various other providers.

If it’s not feasible to go outside and stand on the ground in bare feet, or to get an Earthing mat, we can just stand wherever we are, without shoes if at all possible, and extend our energetic roots downwards through the bottoms of our feet. On the outbreath, we can send our energy down into the ground to the ground beneath the ground as far as we need to and then we can breathe on the inbreathe, breathe fresh energy up from the Earth and we can repeat the cycle as long as we need to.


It’s worth also mentioning that right before Siddharta Gautama had the awakening experience that transformed him into the Buddha, he first touched the ground (so that the Earth would be the witness in his struggle with the demon Mara). Only after he was fully grounded could he reach upward with his energy (when his attention was drawn upward to Venus, the morning star), connecting heaven and Earth, and becoming his whole self.


Centering

After we’ve prepared our mind, body, and energy, and after we’ve grounded ourselves, we also need to center ourselves:


7) Gather all our energy into as concentrated a point as we can, centered wherever our energy is the strongest.


For example, we can observe where our energy seems to be at this moment, then gather all of it into a single, concentrated point. If our energy feels the strongest around our hara, we can gather all our energy right there. If our energy feels the strongest around our head, or our heart, we can gather all our energy into that area. Wherever our energy is, that’s fine — we don’t have to start at the hara if it’s tough to connect with that area. For example, if we have lower back pain, it might be really difficult to connect with the hara and it might be really easy to start opening our energy at our head.


Centering can be done either before or after grounding, or at the same time. The important thing is to remember to gather our energy from however many places our energy may have been scattered. When possible, it’s ideal to center ourselves before opening, so we learn to focus ourselves before trying to be completely open. As an analogy, meditation teachers would not generally encourage people to practice pure awareness or non-duality, without having first learned to focus on a particular object (such as the breath). We first need to learn to focus the beam of our awareness with laser-like intensity, before broadening out into all-over focus.


Opening

Once we’ve done the preparatory steps, and grounded and centered ourselves, then the next step is opening ourselves.


During the steps taken so far, our minds may already be very calm by this point, but if our minds are still distracted, chaotic, or excited (for example, if we clearly sense the shift in energy, we may get excited, as it can feel very clearly different from ordinary states of consciousness), we may need to first calm our minds down before we continue. For example, as described in the preparatory steps above, we can acknowledge that thoughts are arising, then let them subside, and rest in the gap between our thoughts.


Anyone who’s taken Reiki classes will already be at least somewhat familiar with the process of opening, but there are a few different details that I find helpful. For example, while Reiki teachings generally encourage people to start by opening the hara, or the energy center two finger-widths below the navel, the most generally applicable advice would be to start the opening process wherever we feel our energy is the strongest, as in the Centering step discussed above. One thing that dealing with chronic back pain has taught me is that if it’s difficult to start at the hara, start wherever works!


Wherever our energy is centered, we can start the opening process by putting our hands over that energy center. If it’s the hara or the heart, we might put one hand just off the skin and then the other a few inches above that. If it’s our head center, we can either do one hand over the other, or one hand in front of our forehead and the other in back. The most important thing is to just feel the energy, feel the connection and then grow that energy outwards it may help to draw out the outbreath.


Personally, I feel a much stronger flow of energy anytime I breathe out, rather than when I breathe in, but whatever works is fine. We can stay in that position for a minute or longer, however long we need to let the energy flow, and grow it larger and brighter, like cupping our hands around a candle to help the flame grow stronger and stronger.

As we feel more energy and more connection, we can move our hands outwards as we feel more connected with the energy (as we do after doing dry bathing, where we put our hands over the hara, and move our hands outwards as we feel more connected with that energy). As our hands go outwards, they’re naturally connecting with each layer of our energetic field along the way. As our hands go out into the each successive layer of our energetic field, our hands amplify that energy and become filled with that energy as well.


Once we’ve opened the first energy center and grown the energy there, we can continue by opening the next energy center. The method generally taught in Reiki is to spread the energy from one energy center to another, making sure we have a strong connection and can expand our hands outwards before moving on to the next energy center.

For example, if we started at the hara, we would next do the heart, and then the head after that, because they generate the successive layers of our energetic fields (rather than jumping from our innermost layer to the outermost, then going to the middle, for example). However, whatever feels most natural, comfortable, and effective is totally fine.


The process of spreading this light and energy from one center to the next is a lot like lighting candles — first we light one, then use that to light the next, and the next one. We can share energy back-and forth between the energy centers by putting one hand over each, as in the Three Diamonds meditation of Reiki. (This can be thought of as part of the balancing process, though it’s also an effective way to open ourselves.) To be most effective, we can put our non-dominant hand over the energy center that’s more open, to draw energy from it, while using our dominant hand over the energy center that’s less open, to share energy to it.


To summarize:


8) Open the energy center where our energy feels strongest, by putting both hands over that area, feeling the flow of energy, and growing it stronger with persistent, slow out-breathing (like the technique joshin kokyu ho).


9) Share energy from that center to the other energy centers, using the Three Diamonds technique (using the non-dominant hand to draw energy from one center, and the dominant hand to share energy with another center), until all our energy centers are open.


Once we’ve connected with all three of the main energy center in the body, then if we want to (and, ideally, have completed the Shinpiden Reiki IIIa training), we can also connect with the energy center above the head, which is where it’s easiest to fully connect with the dai komyo space, aka the great bright light. For example, we could take our non-dominant hand, which tends to be more sensitive, and slowly pass the palm over the crown of our heads and feel that column of energy that is always there. It might feel like a pencil-thin thread of light, or it might feel like a huge bucket of sunlight streaming down on top of our head, or we might not notice anything. Whatever we experience is totally fine. If our crown has already been opened (for example by having a Reiki attunement, i.e. a reiju, or if we’ve had a strong awakening experience where our energy raised above our heads), opening the crown again can sometimes be as simple as putting both hands above our heads, growing that energy outwards, and just connecting with that heavenly energy above our heads.

It’s important to note that having our crown a little open, such as while we’re doing Reiki or balancing our selves is very different from opening our crown fully while in deep meditation. If our eyes are closed and we’re deep in meditation, fully opening upwards can lead to an awakening experience (aka satori, samadhi, illumination, transcendence, or enlightenment, though it’s imporant to not get hung up on names or our associations to them), while if we’re doing Reiki or balancing ourselves, and are close to ordinary consciousness, opening our crown a little may just feel like a beautiful, calming, loving experience. However, if our lower energy centers aren’t open enough, or our crown isn’t open enough, we won’t be able to fully connect with the energy above our heads, and may not feel anything at all during this process.


With practice, the opening process can be much simpler, as straightforward as just standing and opening. That is how the opening process is done in the tradition of Subud, originally from Indonesia. Once someone has been initiated (using a process the original attunement that Mikao Usui would do, where someone who is already able to fully open themselves would stand next to the new member, then open fully, and energy would flow to the new member), the opening process is as straightforward as sitting for several minutes to calm the mind, body, and energy, then standing and opening. It can take some practice, though, as our mind, body and energy need to be trained to be fully open.


In the tradition of Reiki, the fully open, fully energized state is called the “Reiki space,” while Jesus called this state the “Kingdom of Heaven”, and Buddhists call it “Nirvana” (when the winds of desire stop blowing). The different names, concepts, and connotations don’t matter, as they can distract us from the overall experience of oneness. Instead of focusing on names and concepts, it may be helpful to use images, such as the images of saints and spiritual figures from many, many different traditions that are often depicted with a golden glow around them, a halo, or a cloud of fire.

For example, there's the Virgin of Guadalupe, surrounded by an oval-shaped glow known as a “mandorla” (because it’s shaped somewhat like an almond), or the halo around heads of various saints and spiritual figures not just in Christianity, but also in Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and many different traditions.


Virgin of Guadalupe




Many traditions talk about something mysterious and beautiful that people can sometimes connect with, such as Judaism with the “Shekhinah” or divine presence, or Christianity with the Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost. There’s a feeling of sacredness, of divinity, of undeniable connection with something that’s much larger than ourselves whether we think of it as part of our own self like the higher self, the Buddhist self, Christ consciousness, or if we think of it as something outside of ourselves like the Source, the Tao, the Brahman, the Holy Ghost, or the Divine.


Whatever we think of this connection as, it’s undeniable that we’re connecting with something and it’s incredibly beautiful, and healing and can help sustain us through the most agonizing and difficult of life’s challenges. Just for me, personally, with all the extremely difficult back pain I’ve been going through for almost four years, the state of connection and openness has been one of the things that’s kept me going the most, and I strongly encourage people to give it a try.


Of course, there are many different traditions that recognize the importance of working with our energy and our bodies to reach a state of openness and connection. For example, QiGong and Daoism have a lot of techniques that can be helpful (such as the technique called “pulling down the heavens”, which can be a very effective way of getting into the fully-open state), as well as the tradition of Subud which we discussed earlier. There are a lot of other different energetic practices as well, including medical or bodywork traditions like network chiropractic, osteopathy, manual therapy, physical therapy, and rolfing/structural integration, as well as energy-based systems like the Ayurvedic chakra system, Barbara Brennan’s ‘hands of light’ system, Reichian therapy, pranic healing, shamanic work and many others. No one tradition has a monopoly on knowing how to open up, or on understanding everything that is really possible once we learn these techniques.


Energetic Balancing

Once we are fully open, it becomes easier to balance ourselves (or others), as all energy from all centers are available. We may do some balancing while we’re still doing the opening process, such as if we use the Three Diamonds technique discussed above, but after we’re as open is a great opportunity to bring ourselves (or others) into balance.

There are many different ways to bring ourselves into balance, and many of them are core parts of Reiki practices, such as scanning using our hands to feel where energy is stronger or weaker, and sharing energy between areas with a technique like the Three Diamonds, drawing energy with our non-dominant hand from the area with more energy, and sharing energy with our dominant hand to the area with less energy. Reiki practices remind us of the importance about balancing the hara, heart, and head, balancing front and back, and left and right sides of our body (or yin and yang, corresponding to the non-dominant and dominant sides of our body), though the practices for balancing left and right sides aren’t always fully spelled out.

Energy centers, side view


(Side and front views of the energy centers and energy fields, from Hands of Light by Barbara Brennan)


The gassho, where we put our palms together in a prayer position, is one way to balance energy between our left and right sides, especially if we focus on feeling complete balance between each part of our left hand and each part of our right hand, everything pressing and equal amount from both left and right sides, and feel the balance extend through our arms to every part of our body.


Crossing our legs or arms is another way to balance the left and right sides of the body, as in the practice of sitting cross-legged (which has the additional benefit of helping the muscles in the pelvis stay loose, so energy can flow between left and right sides at the base of the spine), or the part of the reiju attunement where the receiver may be asked to cross their arms towards the end of the process.


If some areas are difficult to balance using our hands (for example, it’s tough to reach parts of our back with our hands, without significantly distorting the flow of energy), we can use our breath or movement to help, such as by directing our breath into that area, or asking our body to move however is needed to bring that part into balance.

Another way to balance our left and right sides is alternate-nostril breathing (nadi shodhana), as taught in Hindu pranayama, where we hold one hand over our nose, using the thumb and ring finger to close one nostril. If we start by closing the right nostril, we would breathe slowly and steadily in through the left nostril, hold the breath for a few seconds, then cover the left nostril, and breathe slowly and steadily out through the right nostril. Then, pause for a few seconds, breathe in through the right nostril, pause for a few seconds, and breathe out through the left nostril. Then, we repeat the process for 5-10 cycles. For more details, see the great amount of information online, like this site.


If we’re sensitive to energy, we may be able to use our hands to feel how strong the energy is on our left and right sides, such as by putting one hand in front of each side of some part of our body, such as the head, heart, or hara. Then, we can grow the energy on either side of our body by doing Reiki on that side, pulling our hands away from our head as we feel the connection strengthen, until both sides are radiantly open.


During the balancing process, it can also be helpful to feel the balance between Earth and Heaven, such as by sending our attention and energy down into the ground, to the ground beneath the ground, and to the very center of the Earth, then bringing our energy back up into our body, and feeling the pull of supergravity upwards to the heavens, like a string pulling upward from the crown of our heads.


It may also be helpful to include some movements in our practice that have our hands stretched out fully to the sides or above our head, like the Reiki exercise ‘becoming dai’, the Daoist exercise ‘pulling down the heavens’, or simply stretching out our hands and feeling how that shifts the energy. Otherwise, if our hands stay close to our body the whole time, we never get to work fully with the outermost layers of our energetic field.

So, the process of energetic balancing can be summarized as:


10) Use our hands, breath, and movement to bring balance between all parts of our body, including the vertical dimension (Earth, Heaven, and Oneness), front and back (conscious and unconscious), and left and right (yin and yang). When done, put palms together in gassho to give thanks and complete the practice.


Conclusion

Once we know how to open and connect, there is no limit to what we can do. We may want to do Reiki on ourselves, or we may feel some form of guidance (such as images or thoughts that may be helpful or healing in some way), or we may just want to be in that beautiful space.


When we know how to open and connect, we don’t have to feel alone ever again, as we may have a palpable, direct feeling of connection with something vastly larger than ourselves, whether we think of it as our own true nature, the Great Bright Light, the Source, the Tao, the Brahman, or the Divine. Whatever we conceive of it as, it’s there. We don’t have to live under the illusion of separateness, the illusion that every single one us is just a tiny, little separate ant that is inconsequential and our lives are meaningless. When we’re in the open state, we know that the entirety of ourself is absolutely incredible and amazing, and our ordinary self is one tiny sliver of everything that we are, one one-thousandth of everything that we are, or one one-millionth.


Then, again, many people may not yet be sensitive to energy. It can take time, and practice and repetition to be able to sense energy, and be able to connect fully, and there are a lot of different physical aspects that can sometimes make it more difficult to open up like if we have a lot of tension in our muscles or if we have a physical issue that restricts the flow of energy. Even something as simple as being constipated can significantly make it more difficult for us to open fully because in order to open fully, the energy in our body needs to be able to move really freely.

Our bodies are like violins, harps, or other string instruments. If our strings are held too tightly, they’re not going to vibrate fully, they won’t be able to sing. Our bodies have to be open and unrestricted for them to be able to vibrate as fully as they were meant to. The instruments of our body aren’t making their beautiful music, if our bodies aren’t able to open fully. We just have to do the best we can in this moment, and do everything we can to be able to open up more and more each time. Sometimes, it takes a little effort to find alternative ways that really work for us, but one way or another, progress is always possible.


As we have seen in this article, there really are a number of practical techniques that can be extremely helpful to ground ourselves, to center ourselves, to reach balance and open up to connect with the entirety of everything we are and with everything that is. If our spiritual and personal practices aren’t helping us ground, center and balance ourselves whenever need be, we aren’t asking enough of them.


We are capable of being so much more open and balance than we ever thought. All spiritual and wisdom traditions from all over the world and throughout human history are all pointing to the same fundamental truth, though it’s often discussed in such symbolic language (like ‘the Kingdom of Heaven’ or ‘Nirvana’), or with their teachings hidden away in monasteries or only taught to the chosen few, that hardly anyone is able to piece it all together and see how all traditions all talking about the same fundamental truths.

If anyone doubts that there is a point to religion and spirituality, it’s an empirical question — give Reiki a try, or any other wisdom tradition or energetic practice. However, we can’t just try it once or twice, it may take a while for our bodies, minds, and energy to get used to the changes. If we persist, and use all our strength and determination in the journey, we will not be disappointed. If we learn to fully open and balance ourselves, all our questions will be answered.


To summarize the steps of balancing that we discussed:


PREPARING:

1) Remember that we can balance ourselves, and decide that we want to balance ourselves right now.


2) Decide whether to stand, sit, or lie down, and position our body appropriately, keeping feet against the floor, back straight but relaxed, hands relaxed, chin tucked, feel a thread pulling upward from our crown, touch tip of tongue to roof of the mouth, eyes relaxed, etc.


3) Put palms together in gassho to set our intention, then do dry bathing (kenyoku ho), or any other technique to clear stuck energy.


GROUNDING:

4) To help ground ourselves, be sure to keep all muscles in the pelvis open, including the PC muscle at the pelvic floor, the muscles around the butt, and everything else. To help open the muscles in the pelvis, it may help to push down the pelvic floor while slowly breathing in, to do the ‘First Position’ Yoga stretch, or to remember to keep our ‘tail’ out.


5) Open and ground one leg at a time, for example by shifting all our weight onto one leg, and feeling the firm, solid connection from our crown to that leg and foot. Then, we can go further, extending our energetic ‘roots’ down into the ground, then bringing our attention back up into our body. Once that side of our body is fully grounded, we can shift our weight onto the other leg and repeat the process.


6) Once we’ve done these steps, it may be easier to connect with the hara (the belly), or the dantian (field of elixier), two finger-widths below the navel in the very center of the body. If need be, we can use the first symbol and mantra to strengthen the connection with our hara and Earth energy.


CENTERING:

7) Gather all our energy into as concentrated a point as we can, centered wherever our energy is the strongest.


OPENING:

8) Open the energy center where our energy feels strongest, by putting both hands over that area, feeling the flow of energy, and growing it stronger with persistent, slow out-breathing (like the technique joshin kokyu ho).


9) Share energy from that center to the other energy centers, using the Three Diamonds technique (using the non-dominant hand to draw energy from one center, and the dominant hand to share energy with another center), until all our energy centers are open.


ENERGETIC BALANCING:

10) Use our hands, breath, and movement to bring balance between all parts of our body, including the vertical dimension (Earth, Heaven, and Oneness), front and back (conscious and unconscious), and left and right (yin and yang). When done, put palms together in gassho to give thanks and complete the practice.


While it can take a little while to talk about all these steps and details, with practice it can take just a few minutes to open fully, be in the Reiki space, and bring ourselves back to balance. It's a powerful set of tools that can help us ground, center, and balance ourselves even in the most difficult of circumstances. The only thing we have to lose is our ignorance, and the illusion that we are separate and alone.


If anyone has any thoughts or questions, please let us know.

Peace and love.



Presence #12 by Ryan J Bush


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Los Gatos Reiki is dedicated to helping others by teaching and practicing the traditional Japanese techniques of Mikao Usui...

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2018 • Ryan J. Bush, Ph.D. and D. Steven Nouriani, Ph.D. • all rights reserved