The morning after my Reiki I training, I woke up depressed. I woke up depressed because on the day of the training, I believed in God, but by the next morning, I did not.
Overnight, I lost my faith, and I woke up grieving. I grieved for two weeks. I felt hopeless and exhausted. My partner worried and suggested therapy. I kept saying, "It's just the Reiki. It's just the Reiki."
Reiki is taught through a ritual known as an attunement. The attunement initiates a twenty-one day energy cleanse. It helps you shed thought structures and emotional ways of being that aren't aligned with your truth - or capital-T Truth - and my level one attunement shed my belief in God.
But what I know now that I didn't know then, is that Reiki shed my beliefs in order to rebuild them.
The Shape of God
When I was very young child, I believed in something. It had no name, but I thought maybe its name was God.
Every night, I'd lie in bed and pray to something. I prayed that the house wouldn't catch on fire. That my parents and sister and cats would all wake in the morning.
Then, I got a little older, and I stopped praying. I stopped believing in much of anything but molecules bumping into each other. In me, dogmatic atheism found a body from which to preach.
Then, in my mid-twenties, meditation changed everything. It helped me sense something more than my thoughts. Something that felt very, very godlike. Nevertheless, I resisted the idea of God, and I struggled to call myself a believer.
One night, I was on the phone with a friend who is Catholic. He asked me if I believed in God. I told him, "I believe in something greater. I believe we're all connected."
"So yes, you believe in God," he replied, and I laughed. From then on, I began getting comfortable with saying I believed in God - not necessarily man in the sky God - but I believed in God.
And for two years, I called myself a believer. I felt a kinship with every religion. The idea that there was a source of all creation made incredible sense to me.
Then, my Reiki attunement happened. My belief in God as Source disappeared, and in its place, sadness, skepticism, and science reigned. But so did curiosity.
When I let go of my understanding of God - an understanding shaped mainly by descriptions from other people and various religions and a few personal experiences - I fell into open space.
In this openness, there was plenty of space for God to play. Though I didn't call it God. I called it experience. I was just being. Just experiencing.
And in this experience, I met gods and goddesses, fairies, mermaids, spirits, and all sorts of myths and legends from various traditions, cultures, and beliefs.
I honored these experiences. I wrote about them. I let them exist, but I also let linguistics and logic get in my way. I took my experiences and owned them at a distance. I hung them on the wall and looked at them and asked “but does this actually make sense?"
I silenced the part of each and every one of those experiences that said "This is all real. This is all happening."
After my Reiki I attunement, I remember sobbing on the bathroom floor. In that moment, I asked the universe or energy or God or whatever you want to call it - why? Why this life? Why this body?
This kind of depression shows up in every highly intuitive person I’ve ever met. You see all this beauty, but it’s through a thin veil. You want to get to the other side, but you can't. And you become frustrated with the expectations society lays at your feet. You become angry that society lays them there like they somehow mean something, when inside, you know that they don't.
I've often felt that I do not belong here. That I am not of this Earth. And this is how I felt that night, sobbing on the floor, asking God, "why am I here?"
And do you know what I heard in return? Laughter. I heard laughter, and I heard a voice saying "where else would you be?” Because you see, this is it. This is life. This is everything. There is nowhere else to go. There is no escape.
As I was crouched and sobbing on the bathroom floor, my phone rang. My partner’s name was on the screen. I answered the call and told him how grateful I was that he called when he did. I told him how I was a sobbing mess on the bathroom floor, and I told him how this is everything. And he just laughed and said, "of course."
A Shapeless God
Since then, I've had two more Reiki attunements and given other people many more attunements than that. I've built a business around this work. I've listened to the messages I received while holding onto my doubt and agnosticism.
But on the last full moon, I had a nasty sinus infection. It kicked me on my ass. I had to cancel every meeting. I had to confine myself to my bed, my couch, regular dosages of plant medicine and pills, and enough Netflix to tire my eyes so I could actually sleep despite the severe congestion that made it hard to breathe.
I resisted being sick. I sent emails and had phone calls, but something kept stopping me in my tracks, asking me: please just be still.
So I stayed in bed and read Life of Pi, and this is what it said:
“I’ll be honest about it. It is not atheists who get stuck in my craw, but agnostics. Doubt is useful for a while. We must all pass through the garden of Gethsemane. If Christ can play with doubt, so must we. If Christ spent an anguished night in prayer, if He burst out from the Cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” then surely we are also permitted doubt. But we must move on. To choose doubt as a philosophy of life is akin to choosing immobility as a means of transportation.”
I stopped at that line. I took a nap. I took a shower. I drank some water. Then I opened my computer and read the latest blog post written by one of my dear mentees. Three days earlier, she'd received her Reiki I attunement, and this is what she wrote:
“There, at that poignant clearing where I felt the essence of my Self for the first time, was love. There was hope. There was joy and laughter. There was pure, unending peace. There was God. Because God is good and you are good and God is love and you are love and love is good and joy is love. It’s all one. It’s all real. It’s indestructible and non-negotiable.”
It’s indestructible and non-negotiable.
I let the line sink in. I went about my day, and then, I stood in my bathroom doorway wearing a white robe with my hair tied in a knot at the top of my head, and I looked out onto my home, and I whispered, “Okay, God, I see you.”
And I did. I saw God in everything. It took no shape. It carried no significance as "the source of creation" or anything. It just was.
I felt a surge of energy rush through my body. Maybe it was the doubt lifting. Maybe it was the sickness. Maybe they were the same thing.