What is ‘energy exchange’, and why is it important?

In one version of the Reiki story Mikao Usui treated people for free:

[Usui] decided after a few days to go to the beggar city in the slums of Kyoto to treat the beggars and help them lead a better way of life. He spent seven years in the asylum treating many illnesses. One day, however he noticed the same old faces kept coming. When he asked why they had not begun a new life, he was told that working was too troublesome, and that it was better to go on begging. Usui was deeply shaken and wept. He suddenly realised that he had forgotten something of great importance in his healing work, namely to teach the beggars gratitude. In the following days, he thought out the Reiki principles…

With the lesson being that Reiki practitioners should not give their time and efforts away without some form of energy exchange. In today’s world, money is the most convenient way of making this exchange, but it can be anything.

The concept of exchange has its roots in three Japanese concepts: giri, okaeshi.

Giri, in this usage, means obligation or indebtedness, and it is a big deal in Japanese culture. Such indebtedness can weigh heavily on the mind, and can even carry a degree of shame.

Okaeshi means ‘a gift in return’, and is the way people free themselves from obligation. Okaeshi can be money, or another service, or any kind of assistance. When it is given, the receiver becomes free from indebtedness, and truly owns the gift. There is no feeling of obligation or guilt.

If you provide someone with a reiki healing session and ask for nothing in return, they will feel unsure about how they are supposed to feel. They will feel unsure next time they do something that might jeopardise the healing: how could they possible go out and get drunk after the beautiful healing you have given them? However when they have given their gift in return (the energy exchange), they are free to own the healing, to make it part of their life, and eventually to realise that they are the master of their own healing journey.

Posted in: Practising Reiki