A History of the first 21 years of The Reiki Association
As told by Kate Jones (Administrator 1992-2004, & former Council member)
In the beginning...
1990 there were discussions about anticipated restrictions to be imposed on practitioners of complementary therapies by the EC. Reiki masters Kristin Bonney and Martha Sylvester were also being asked about legalities and insurance by their students who wanted to offer Reiki publicly.
They got together with other UK Reiki masters, culminating in the foundation of the Association of European Reiki Practitioners (AERP) on 5th June 1991 in Bristol. This somewhat cumbersome title was chosen because it was hoped that our European colleagues, constrained by Roman Law, could eventually benefit from an organisation established under the lesser constraints of British Law.
At this early stage we decided that this organisation should be open to 1st and 2nd level students as well as masters and to people of all Reiki lineages, making it at the time a unique organisation.
The First Year:
The inaugural meeting was held in August 1991 in Harborne, Birmingham. With just under 100 Reiki masters and students present it was the largest gathering of Reiki people from different Reiki lineages to have taken place in the UK at the time. A constitution was provisionally adopted and an Executive Committee elected. It was decided that the founding members should stay on in an advisory role as 'the Board'.
Regular meetings began, initially discussing what kind of training might be needed to comply with the forthcoming EC regulations. Links were established with Reiki Outreach International which continue to the present. As more people heard of the Association there was a growing interest and by the next AGM, held in October 1992, membership had grown to 250 members.
Setting Up A Formal Structure:
In the autumn of 1993 we recognised that the constitution adopted at the inaugural meeting was not really suitable for a Reiki community and the ways of working of the Association that were evolving. We therefore agreed to write a more appropriate constitution.
We began with writing a Statement of Identity, a first draft of which was created at a Board meeting in Llangollen in July 1995, developed over the following months and adopted at the AGM in 1996. During this process the name of the organisation was also changed to The Reiki Association.
We also decided that a simpler management structure was needed, so instead of the Board and Executive a group of 6 people known as The Reiki Association Council was created and elected at the same AGM.
The new Council revised the constitution, which was adopted at the AGM in 1998. We then decided to seek a legal status for the Association, so a memorandum and articles was drawn up based on the constitution.
On 4th July 2000 The Reiki Association was registered as a company limited by guarantee and thus became a legal entity.
Charitable status has been discussed over the years and is once again being considered.
What Reiki Means for this Association:
In 1994 we recognised that we needed to be clear about what the Association recognised as Reiki, which at the time was not a simple question! A draft definition document was drawn up, based on one published by The Reiki Alliance and inspired by Phyllis Furumoto and Paul Mitchell.
In order to be sure that the Association was moving in the right direction with the Usui System as its focus, a special meeting was held in January 1995 to decide whether or not the Association should recognise Phyllis Furumoto as the Lineage Bearer, and to discuss the definition document. The consensus from this meeting was to recognise Phyllis and there was general support for the definition document.
Following on from this we recognised that Phyllis Furumoto and Paul Mitchell, as Lineage Bearer and Head of the Discipline of Usui Shiki Ryoho, are the people the Association needed to look for a definition.
At the Annual Gathering in 1995 Phyllis gave presentation on her definition of the Usui System. The members present were asked for their feedback, which was overwhelmingly positive. Over the years Phyllis and Paul have maintained close contact with the Association and their contribution has always been inspiring.
Coming Together in Community:
One of the main benefits of the Association is its potential for bringing Reiki people together. A Reiki Gathering was held at Gaunts House in Dorset in 1993. The experience of so many people coming together and giving and receiving Reiki was so wonderful that it was decided to combine the AGM and the next Gathering, so making the Association's business part of a long and enjoyable weekend. This would give people time to be together, share Reiki and have some fun as well as attend the AGM.
In 1994 the first Reiki Association Annual Gathering was held in Sutton Coldfield, offering members the opportunity not only to attend the AGM but also to share Reiki and meet other Reiki people including Phyllis Furumoto, our special guest.
Subsequent Gatherings moved around:
1996 Cork, Ireland
1997 Erskine near Glasgow in Scotland
1998 Coventry, England
In 1999 the Gathering found a new home at Buckland Hall near Brecon and for several years the Gathering was held there.
In 2001 we celebrated our 10th birthday with a wonderful gathering attended over 100 members and Phyllis Furumoto.
Phyllis Furumoto and Paul Mitchell have been guest speakers at many of the Gatherings. Other guest speakers have included masters initiated by Hawayo Takata and other longstanding masters: Rick Bockner, Wanja Twan, Marta Getty, Susan Mitchell and Barbara McDaniel. Their talks have stimulated discussion and helped clarify the direction of the Association.
The Gatherings also offered the chance to talk, share Reiki, eat, dance and sing together, with many new friendships made.
In 2009 The Reiki Association decided it was time for a more central venue, so we held the 18th Birthday AGM and Retreat weekend at the place it all began: Harborne Hall, Birmingham. An independent group continued to hold a Reiki gatherings at Buckland Hall for a while.
Keeping in TOUCH:
Another important benefit of membership of The Reiki Association is the magazine TOUCH. This was the way members were kept up to date with the activities of the Association, but it has also always been an important forum for sharing ideas and stories. The magazine evolved from a few typed pages to a much more elaborate printed colour magazine.
In 1999 the English version of Reiki Magazine International was launched and The Reiki Association supported it by including a subscription to this magazine with membership. The Reiki Association also had a regular page in Reiki Magazine International, reaching a wider readership all over the world. During this time Touch became smaller, but continued. Unfortunately RMI was discontinued in 2007, leaving the opportunity for TOUCH to be developed further. A vibrant young team currently holds responsibility for TOUCH.
The origins of the Reiki Care Service:
The idea of a telephone tree to help members in crisis came about following the death of a member from cancer in our first year. Members felt that had they known she was ill they would have liked to offer Reiki support through distant treatment. Thus the Reiki Care Service was born. Members can now request help via the website or by phone. Many members and their families have found Reiki very helpful at difficult times and some wonderful outcomes have been reported.
Referrals and Practitioner Support:
For those wishing to find a Reiki master to learn with the Association began publishing a Directory of masters in 1997. The Association also needed to find a way to respond to the many enquiries we received from people trying to find a Reiki practitioner.
Over the years there were many discussions about the training needed to support practitioners wishing to work with the public, given the recognition that first and second degree/level Reiki is not in itself a training for working publicly.
In 1998 the Treatment Referral Scheme was set up after much deep discussion, supported by Phyllis Furumoto. Practitioners needed to fulfil agreed criteria to be included on the Association’s referral list, which was sent to those enquiring about a local Reiki practitioner. Advisors from the Association would visit the practitioner to receive a treatment and assess whether they met the required standard.
Unfortunately the scheme proved too costly, so was eventually dropped. However what had been learned from the discussions was useful when The Reiki Association participated in the creation of the National Occupational Standards for Reiki treatments and in the Reiki Regulatory Working Group. Following a conference with Phyllis Furumoto in 2003 a new initiative for practitioners was set up: the Practitioner Support Programme which provided opportunities for Reiki practitioners to develop their skills.
With the recognition that many of these events were of benefit not just to Reiki people wanting to work with the public, the initiative was subsequently re-named the Deepening Practice Network and opened up to anyone with Reiki wishing to participate.
A code of ethics was also developed and the Association negotiated favourable insurance for practitioner members.
The Reiki Association has had a website presence for many years, but this is now a key way to communicate with the public and for our members to connect with each other. This now includes a directory of practitioners and masters for those looking for Reiki treatments or classes.
In 2012 we celebrated our 21st Birthday with a special Gathering attended by Phyllis Furumoto at which we discussed our vision for Reiki in the future. We look forward to continuing connection and sharing through our common practise of Reiki.
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