“Let Reiki teach you.” Hawayo Takata said it in different ways, and it’s one of the phrases I heard her say most often. Even today, next to “Reiki on, Reiki off,” I’m sure it’s the most frequently quoted. It remains my favorite.

In part, the words are poignant for me. I was quite young in Reiki when Hawayo Takata died so I didn’t have a teacher to turn to as questions arose in my practice. While I talked with my husband and friends who’d also learned Reiki from Takata, none of us had practiced long. At that point, we only had Reiki as our teacher. In my own mind, the words were a kind of consolation. We weren’t orphaned; we had Reiki to teach us. Sometimes, I also heard these words as a gift from Takata—I may be gone but “Reiki will teach you.”

Her words suggest the importance of creating a relationship with Reiki—for how can I be taught, if I am never with the teacher. It needs to be a relationship that grows out of experience. I only know Reiki through treating myself and other people and being treated. I’ve come to see my practice like a relationship with an intimate friend. No matter what other people may tell you about someone, you only really know them by being with them. Intimacy, understanding, appreciation, all grow with time.

If we let Reiki teach us, the voice of this teacher flows out of the practice. We can give up the driving need for control. When we place our hands on ourselves or someone else, we’re connected with the very essence of life. Although we can forget our place, we do know we’re not wiser than the essence of life.

Expectations and attachment to outcome, which is so often tied to our attachment to the person we’re treating or our own need for praise or being seen as important, eases as we experience our place in the order of life—not most important but equal in importance with all life. Ease, peace, contentment (not complacency) are the results.

To know the ways of this friend and teacher requires attention and mindfulness because the voice can be subtle. While results are sometimes dramatic, the gradual changes that happen over time may be the most transformative. Reiki nurtures and nourishes us so that we’re able to recognize and gradually release the knots that tie us up, freeing our hearts and minds.

“Let Reiki teach you” has been a call, a reminder, sometimes even a summons for me to appreciate the gift I’ve been given and aspire to be a worthy student.