I’m a new subscriber to an upscale, beautifully produced spirituality magazine, which features an intriguing spectrum of articles and interviews. One Q & A piece highlights the work of an animal psychic, who, for a fairly significant hourly rate, claims she can talk with, say, an ailing bullmastiff or lethargic iguana and so share with its owner secret messages that apparently a woof or a hiss cannot.
This particular communicator goes one better, and insists that she also can speak with plants. “I had a conversation with cilantro,” she says, that has “ . . . this vibrant, playful, celebratory energy . . . that loves to interact with people as far as being eaten and celebrated.”
In my life and in my Reiki practice, I strive to discover and forge connections, to promote what unites rather than divides, to seek connections between mind and body, spirit and matter. And I tend to subscribe to the notion of that an individual’s spiritual or religious beliefs are his or her own business, as long as no one tries to force them onto others or influence public policy. Though of course that happens each every day.
But talking cilantro? Difficult for me to suspend judgment there.
I talk to my dog, Gustav, all the time. He’s mighty fine company, and he clearly knows the words chicken, kitchen, water, walk, blanket, and a few simple commands. He regularly disregards those commands, but I’m fairly sure he understands them. And I talk to the crows, too, who come by in the morning to see what I might set out on the breakfast buffet. “Hello, crows!” I say, as they eye me from their high perch in the tall maples.
But neither bird nor dog has ever articulated a response. Not in English, anyway. And I would hope that, should I begin to hear detailed responses in my native tongue, my loving family would intervene and get me some help.
To each his own, I suppose.
Over the course of my Reiki education, I worked with several amazing women who brought enormous compassion and dedication to their practices. I learned much about the mind-body connection, and through those years and facing my own struggles, have found a path by which I hope to help others as I have been helped.
While I studied the Usui Reiki program to become a master teacher/practitioner, I have since rejected the symbolism and “attunements” required of that method. Those elements simply do not speak to me as a seeker or as a practitioner.
If we accept the premise – which I do -- that we are able to connect with a healing force in the Universe, a force of strength and sustenance, why would we need foreign and essentially arbitrary symbols and rituals to access it? What works for me now is a more intuitive form of practice, one that also incorporates simple, user-friendly visualization and meditation techniques.
While I believe in that force, what I offer in my practice requires no belief in a spiritual aspect. Research indicates that touch aids healing, and that the mind and body do indeed work together. I work with that, and don’t preach beyond it.
I don’t believe most Reiki practitioners do, either. I think most offer what we feel can best help others, and keep personal beliefs personal.
And I have no doubt that there are talented folks who love animals so much, have worked with them all their lives, are so familiar with the subtle cues of their moods and movements, that they can pick up what we who are less perceptive cannot.
The problem lies though in exaggerated claims that often dominate what is to me an important conversation. The promise of cures. The shouts of the snake oil hustlers. The cilantro communicators.
I’ll leave you with that thought. I’ve got a couple of thirsty geraniums on the windowsill that need attention. You wouldn’t believe the catty stuff they’ve been saying about me.