Since I was 13 or 14 years old, I’ve had a fascination with all things spiritual. When my friends were meeting after school to play football, you could often find me sitting in a park tapping into the consciousness of the world around me, talking to the trees, and appreciating the profound emptiness of all things. There was a level of aliveness about the world that it seemed to me at the time, only I was aware of.
For most of my life I think I’ve been on a spiritual journey of discovery, which is to say, a being human journey of discovery. I’ve delved into many traditions, religions and philosophies over the years and discovered much about myself and the world around me.
Over the past, more recent decades I guess I have been inspired to some degree by the practise of Reiki. I came to it in the early 90’s, just as it was starting to get more known in the UK. When I first learned it, however, I was literally the only Reiki teacher for hundreds of miles in any direction, or so it seemed to me at the time. Reiki has served me well, over the past 25 years, as a small (and diminishing) part of my spiritual practice and I’ve written two books about it. It’s a practice that isn’t of any great significance to me anymore, at least, not in the form that most people relate to it. I’m not big on energy healing. For me, Reiki is simply a training wheel for much more significant and impactful spiritual practises that come out of esoteric teachings, which are in the end, the origins of Reiki in any case. I think the point of Reiki is that one SHOULD grow out of it. I don’t think it’s something you want to simply stay with for ever. Reiki always had the exit door signposted and wide open, but most people don’t even see that it’s there.
I do despair sometimes at just how shallow an engagement with Reiki the world has. The Reiki community is not a community I associate with or have any affinity with really and I tend to keep away from it. Although I teach Reiki, I do try to steer my students away from the dominant expression of Reiki as some simple energy healing thing. I’m at great pains to cultivate in them an understanding that energy healing, as the Indian mystic, Sadghuru has rightly pointed out, is a dangerous and crazily immature thing to be involved in unless approached from a perspective of deep knowledge, care and a realisation that it’s not your business to make things happen in a healing context, just get out of the way and let the energy do what it needs to do. If you can mind your own business in energy healing, you can’t go too far wrong. In any case, a 5-year-old can do this. There’s nothing special or sophisticated about it. I try to cultivate in my students a deeper and more immersive relationship to the spiritual heart of the practice and to see energy healing as just one small fragment of a much wider range of spiritual tools that enable the practitioner to get a true understanding of their authentic selves. When you can orientate to the practice in this way, it becomes a thing of beauty, the like of which is barely hinted at within the energy healing mis-orientation.
My latest book, Mindfulness Meditation and the Art of Reiki, aims to refocus the engagement with the practice much more on to its spiritual core and away from energy healing. I hope that it serves some people.
As a professional artist I’m inspired by the work of Pablo Picasso, Mark Rothko and Edward Hopper, amongst many others. I adore Picasso’s work but am really very much wedded to the American Abstract Expressionists. For me Hopper, though not even close to the Abstract Expressionists in terms of his artistic oeuvre has, for me, a real affinity with the emotional and spiritual triggers of someone like Rothko. So, my artistic influences and interests are eclectic to say the least.
Art is my overriding passion. When someone asks me what I do, my answer is: artist and writer. It is never, Reiki teacher (or heaven forbid, that utterly dreadful term ‘Reiki Master’). Art is an opportunity, as I see it, for a deep spiritual engagement with the universe on a level outside of the mainstream of traditional spiritual practices. I guess you could say that it’s another form of meditation, even when the creative process is seemingly frenetic and mindlessly chaotic. Can frenetic mindless chaos be mindful? I think so.
When I practice Reiki, I do so in the context in which I practice art. It’s an expression of an inward journey that takes me to the core of who and what I am as a human being and as an emanation of the oneness of creation. Understanding this within the context of meditation and artistic expression, which is a process of destruction and creation, emptiness and stillness, is profoundly liberating. Art, whether that be writing, painting, drawing or sculpture are deeply personal experiences that reveal one’s true nature. When backed up by a serious spiritual practice such as meditation, can be explosive in their insights. My personal journey is now very much centred on my creative work. I may write another book in time. It will almost certainly be focused on art as a creative expression of personal spirituality. At least that’s my current thinking, but one thing that I have learned from life (including Reiki) is to stay in flow because you never actually know what is around the next corner. Life does that.