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Penelope Quest talks about life as a Reiki Master

Author and leading Reiki Master Penelope Quest shares with us what inspires her work, her top tips for Reiki beginners and the hardest challenges she faced in her journey to becoming a Reiki Master.


Who or what in the world of Reiki is your inspiration?

My inspiration has to be Mikao Usui, the Japanese Buddhist scholar who developed the system of Reiki as we know it now. I recognise that for some Western Reiki students, Reiki is predominantly a healing system for physical ailments, albeit with a spiritual aspect, but I believe that Usui’s emphasis was more about a personal spiritual practice to bring about a spiritual awakening, rather than just physical healing.


His teachings were so unique because they combined esoteric Buddhism, ancient Shugendo practices (a mystical spiritual tradition in Japan), classical Samurai teachings and knowledge of energies through martial arts. He referred to his teachings as the ‘Method to Achieve Personal Perfection’, and they were about personal mastery. He taught that it is by mastering the mysteries of the self that we learn to affect the mysteries of life. He encouraged his students to perform daily meditations, breathing and energy exercises, as well as hands-on treatments for themselves and others, and to live by the spiritual principles he taught. This is how I now try to live my life. In this way I feel I am, metaphorically speaking, treading in Dr Usui’s footsteps, following his example.


How did you come across Reiki?

I was a member of a group which organised regular talks on alternative topics, and one of those talks was given by Kristin Bonney, a Reiki Master. That was back in 1990, and I had never heard of Reiki – few people in the UK had at that time – but I was impressed with how tranquil she seemed. At the time, my life as a divorced mother of two teenagers, a full-time college lecturer and Open University student was somewhat short on tranquillity!  I thought if Reiki could have that effect on her, maybe it could on me, so I attended a Reiki First Degree course with Kristin a few months later. At the time I was a bit sceptical, and wondered how on earth you could learn to become a healer, and even if you could, surely it would take longer than a weekend. However, I was proved wrong, and by the end of the course I had learned how to use Reiki on myself and for others, and I was so enthusiastic about it. I just loved it and wanted to use it as much as possible to help my family, friends, pets and even my pot plants – which incidentally responded well!


What three pieces of advice/tips would you pass on to the Reiki beginner?

  1. Before you take a Reiki course, choose a Reiki Master you feel comfortable with, and whom you respect, who seems to ‘walk their talk’.  It’s OK to ask them questions, and you might also like to have a Reiki treatment from them to help you to decide if they are the right person to teach you.
  2. After you’ve taken a Reiki First Degree (Reiki 1) course, your first priority should be to do a self-treatment every day.  This isn’t complicated – it just means resting your hands for a few minutes in each of about 12 positions on your head and body, and just intending to let the Reiki flow. There’s no special ritual to follow, and you don’t have to feel ill to benefit from Reiki, as it encourages relaxation, the release of stress, and a general feeling of well-being.
  3. Try to live by the Reiki Principles – Just for today, do not anger, do not worry, be grateful, work hard (meaning work on your spiritual development) and be kind to others (including yourself!).  These were the precepts Usui taught to his students back in the 1920s to help them to grow personally and spiritually, and they are as valid and as useful today as they were then.


What is the hardest moment you experienced on the path to becoming a Reiki Master, and how did you overcome it?

Becoming a Reiki Master doesn’t happen overnight, just because you’ve taken a Reiki Third Degree (Reiki 3) course. It’s a gradual process over months and years as you begin working with the Reiki energy in a deeper way.  From that perspective, I think the hardest moment for me was just after I had taken the course, when I suddenly realised the sacred responsibility I had taken on. To be honest, it shocked and scared me!  I had always looked up to my Reiki Master with respect for her wisdom, knowledge and experience, but from that moment on I realised that I would be the one my future students would look to for advice and inspiration. And in that instant I knew I had a lot of work still to do if I was to be the good example of Reiki practice that I believed my students would need.  Knowing how to run a Reiki course, how to attune students and how to teach them the basics wouldn’t be enough. I knew I loved Reiki, but I had to learn to ‘walk my talk’, to grow personally and spiritually, and live Reiki, every day and all day. That’s what I’ve spent the last 20 years trying to do. It’s getting easier, but I think it’s probably a life-long task!


What do you think this ancient healing art can offer the modern world? What do you see as its role in the future?

The modern world has become far too stressful, and this has an enormously detrimental effect on our health.  Reiki could potentially be an antidote to that.  On an individual basis, people can incorporate Reiki into all aspects of their lives, using Reiki for their physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being, helping them to lead healthier, deeper, more meaningful and fulfilling lives.  However, one of its effects is to raise a person’s consciousness, allowing them to become more aware of the connectedness of every living thing, the sense that everything is a part of the Divine, God, the Source, the All-That-Is, or whatever they choose to call it. This can lead to a realisation that there is no place for prejudice, judgementalism, hatred, cruelty or indifference in a world where we are all a part of the whole, all One.  And rather like a pebble cast into a pool, the ripples of people’s personal beliefs in tolerance, peace, compassion and love, can flow out to influence those they come into contact with and so affect the wider world.  The Reiki journey for each of us can be a rich and insightful path towards fulfilment and enlightenment. Reiki is also a powerful healing energy that could potentially tip the balance, when enough people use it, to be a source of peace and positivity, healing and harmony, helping to make the world a better place for all of us.  Let’s hope so!