In the hospitality industry, where I work, I am constantly meeting creative and inspiring people who either have their own business, are starting a business, or are already established and successful in their ventures. This spurred the idea and creation of a series to dive into their world and learn a bit more about what they do and how they got to where they are. The first person I met with is a co-worker of mine who has just started her own Reiki practice. This was something that intrigued me because, to be completely honest, I didn’t know what the heck Reiki was, or what it even meant. So, I sat down with Emily Opal Smith to talk a bit about just that.
The first thing I wanted to clear up was what Reiki even means. Smith explains, Reiki is a Japanese word which can be broken down into two parts. ‘Rei’ means universal and ‘Ki’ means energy. She continues, “what it is, is the movement of energy, within you. So, the practitioner is essentially giving you a massage without manipulating your tissues.” She says the thing she loves about it, is that in a massage, someone is there to deal with your physical symptoms, but with Reiki, there’s been so much evidence, especially as of late, that the mind, the body and the emotions are all connected. “What reiki does is tap into your foundational energy source.”
“Reiki is a healing modality that works with that foundational energetic presence.” -Emily Opal Smith
The fascinating thing is that we all have an awareness of this energy. Smith says that the way you get a good or bad feeling from someone when you meet them is an example of how our energies are reacting to each other. We can even feel our own energy if we hold our hands out and away from ourselves as if we were holding a ball. Eventually, you will sense a warmth or may even feel a buzzing between your hands; that’s our own energy.
There are a number of benefits to Reiki as well. Smith says that one of the best things is that you put your phone down for an hour and you’re in a room with someone who is present with you. How often do we get that? She continues, “it’s a chance to be with someone who is there for you to support you in whatever way you are ready for”. Whether you’re looking for a moment to relax or you’re ready to begin a journey of healing, the practitioner is there to guide and support you completely. Other benefits of Reiki include ease of physical or mental tension, a sense of groundedness, and an alignment between the physical and mental.
I was also curious to know Smith’s thoughts on the comparison between Eastern and Western forms of medicine and healing, as Reiki is a rather non-traditional healing modality. When I started to phrase the question, she nodded with delight and noted that she’s “obsessed” with this question as it’s something she thinks about often. “Western medicine, to me, is . . . quick-fix” she begins, “it puts a bandaid on the symptom, and . . . believe me, if my arm is broken and I’m gushing blood, get me to a hospital, you know what I mean?” However, when it comes to the relationship between emotional, mental and physical, Smith states that Western medicine really doesn’t go below the surface. It can actually be a distraction from the root cause of certain problems. This isn’t to say that she is against the idea of medication or Western treatment and neither am I. However, based on my own personal experience, there is a lot more that goes into maintaining my mental well-being than just medication. That, on its own, would simply not be enough for me.
Another reason Smith believes that we tend to reply more on Western medicine is because going to the root of a problem and doing the work needed to get to that place, which is often required with Eastern traditional practices, is hard. It takes a lot of commitment and dedication to work on our own mental well-being and it comes down to our society wanting to be fixed right away. She sums this up saying, “we are a generation of convenience, and when things unfold slowly, it makes us feel like we aren’t getting anywhere.”
“We don’t only carry trauma in our bodies from [this life], we carry [it] through our DNA.” -Emily Opal Smith
Lastly, I was curious how Smith got into her practice. She says she was always on the “periphery of that world” growing up with a mom who was into ritual and earth based practices. Having received Reiki in the past, it was something that peaked her interest. Back in 2017, when Smith moved back to Vancouver from Toronto, she heard of a Reiki training group through a friend of a friend. She completed her first level of training about a year and a half ago, and she said she was hooked immediately. “Reiki kind of hits that middle ground. With therapy, you’re sitting on a couch, talking and with yoga you’re moving your body. But then with Reiki, it’s like everything in between . . . That was the thing that was kind of missing for me that I really, really loved when I found Reiki. I had been living this my whole life” she concludes.
If you’re interested in learning more about Reiki or would like to book a session with Emily, visit www.emilyopalsmith.com or find her on Instagram @emilyopalsmith. She can also be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
all quotes and images are credited to Emily Opal Smith with her permission.