Many years ago I was teaching a Reiki class with George Barrick, co-founder of The Reiki School + Clinic. He was trying to describe to the students, fledgling practitioners, how to engage in a pre and post-session dialogue with clients. “Be like Oprah!” he remarked. “Think about why she’s so good at what she does. She’s a great listener, and she also knows how to ask good questions that draw out essential information from the people she’s interviewing.”
To this day I hear George’s voice ringing in my ear when I mentor students. I’ve learned that asking good questions is one of the most important skills a Reiki professional can cultivate. The ability to ask good questions, however, comes only as a result of knowing how to listen. Listening means more than just hearing. In addition to understanding what a person is saying, I look for clues in body language and facial expressions. Listening means knowing what’s being left out. That’s why Oprah is so good. She understands how to hear what’s not being said, and to ask clarifying questions when needed. This is so vital. It not only helps a practitioner best understand a client’s wants, needs and concerns, it also helps redirect a client to make sense of their own healing experience.
Consider the following scenario:
Pre-Session: Judy arrives at her first Reiki session with Nan, a professional practitioner. During their pre-session conversation, Nan asks Judy if she’s ever received Reiki before? Judy explains that she received Reiki a handful of times from a practitioner she loves dearly, who no longer lives in the area. Nan, wanting more information, inquires about that practitioner’s style of practice. This essential question opens up a dialogue about Judy’s hopes and expectations for her treatment, based on her previous experience. It turns out that Nan and the other practitioner have vastly different treatment styles. Nan is able to explain the differences between the two practices, let Judy know what to expect/not expect from the session, and remind Judy that every session is unique.
During the session: Judy looks uncomfortable. (Nan senses this because her eyes are open during the session!) Although Nan already explained that Judy’s comfort is of the utmost importance, Nan still wonders if all is well? Not wanting to ignore this, Nan asks, ” Judy, is everything okay? You look uncomfortable, so I’m just checking in.” Judy sheepishly replies with a big grin, “I’m embarrassed. At one point during the session I became overwhelmed with joy, and it made me really feel like laughing, but I didn’t want to offend you. I’ve been trying to hold it in and be serious! I’m so sorry. ”
Nan laughs, and assures Judy that it’s okay to smile or laugh during a treatment. She explains that some people fall asleep and snore, others pass gas, and occasionally some people laugh or cry. She reiterates that it’s all welcomed, normal, and okay. They both have a good laugh and go back to the treatment feeling refreshed and happy.
Post-Session: Judy asks Nan, “Why did I feel so much joy and laughter when you placed your hand on my stomach? That was so weird! Did you sense anything there? What does it mean?” Nan is able to redirect Judy back to making sense of her own experience. Her reply is simple. She smiles and asks, “Judy, does it mean anything to you? ” Judy explains that she has been feeling really stressed and repressed lately. She takes things way too seriously sometimes, and the joy and laughter that ensued from the session reminded her that she could be both responsible and happy at the same time.
Nan reiterates that Reiki is balancing, and most people say that they feel like themselves again after treatment. She suggests that Judy take time after the session to journal about her experience, and pay attention to how she feels in the days following.
Oprah (and George) reminded me how to listen to those I share my Reiki practice with, be it students, clients, or the general public wanting information about Reiki. I’ve spent years learning how to listen and ask good questions that create a richer, clearer, and more meaningful experience for those I touch. Our training programs, and private consultations help practitioners build these skills. Has there been a time when you’ve been called to be like Oprah, to listen, and ask a question that made a Reiki experience better?
-Kimberly Fleisher, RMT, M.Ed, Director of The Reiki School + Clinic