I spent two days last week with my closest friend in college. I hadn’t seen her in thirty-some years. Sitting across the table from her, I thought, “No wonder this person was so dear to me.” On the long drive home I was reflecting  on the deep friendships I’ve had in my life. Sometimes I met these people by chance or because someone introduced us. We found we shared common interests and started spending time together. Sometimes the person stimulated and challenged me or brought out my good qualities. I felt more alive, kinder, lighter, more open or reflective being with them.

I’m sure it’s the same for you. Little by little, these people take up a larger place in our hearts, in our thoughts, maybe even in our daily lives.

But if I try to tell you how wonderful my friend is, it doesn’t make them your friend. The person doesn’t become the one you love. At best, you know something about them, maybe you anticipate liking them, or you even want to meet them. But you don’t know them.

It’s like that with Reiki too.

People may come to a First Degree class full of information about Reiki. At the end of class, some students ask how they can learn more, what they can read. But it doesn’t work that way, does it? The books, the blogs, the websites may be thought provoking or broaden your understanding, but you don’t learn Reiki from them. You don’t really learn Reiki from the person who teaches your class. You receive the initiations and you learn the form of the basic treatment. You meet when you treat yourself and your classmates.

After that, if you want the relationship to grow, you need to spend time together. You treat yourself every day. You feel what it’s like to be treated by others. You listen. You watch how Reiki affects you and how it affects the people you treat. Little by little, you begin to understand what Reiki is to you, how it feeds and nourishes you, what it is to be silent and present. Your friendship blossoms.

Like any intimate relationship, you go through phases. Sometimes things happen that you don’t understand. You may feel Reiki disappointed you, didn’t meet your expectations. Maybe you stop treating yourself. In those moments it’s hard to see what Reiki is showing you, the opportunity it’s offering, and you don’t know how to take it in. Your friend keeps challenging your beliefs and assumptions.

If you’ve practiced Reiki for a long time, it may sometimes feel so ordinary—you’re going through the motions, a bit distracted and bored. You forget to notice the ways Reiki supports your life and the benefit your treatments bring family and friends. You don’t feel very connected.

And yet, the desire to know and understand ourselves and to live more open-heartedly draws us back to engaged practice. Having experienced what it is to be more whole, more compassionate, we do want to flower.

And even the dearest friendships don’t necessarily last. Sometimes people give up on us or we give up on them. Sometimes we change and the connection fades or circumstances separate us from one another.

Yet Reiki remains constant, unwavering, always available. The essence of life doesn’t lose interest in us and never leaves us. That unconditional loving presence remains at our fingertips, able to ease our pain and struggle, and to reconnect us with ourselves, with one another, and with the source of life.