Several years ago I was studying for a Politics degree at university. Spirituality was not a topic of concern for me. In fact, I would go as far as to say that I had completely lost touch with any spiritual side to myself that may have existed prior to that point. I was too busy trying to convince myself that I was enjoying the excesses of a student lifestyle. Happiness was not something I aspired to, because I wasn’t convinced that I could realistically achieve it.

Alongside the excess I was simultaneously a fitness fanatic, utterly obsessed with my physical appearance. Dieting was a friend and foe, both keeping my weight down and covertly compromising my health a little at a time. Exercise was my passion, and when it became too easy to run six miles, I weighted a rucksack down and launched myself up many a hill in a bid to maintain peak fitness. Injuries were building up, but I resolutely ignored them. Desperately I clung to the philosophy, "you only live once," as a proverbial comfort blanket. If I was only going to live once, I was going to push my body to the extreme.

In 2003 I completed my degree, miraculously, considering my lack of attendance, but I was still directionless and intentionally oblivious to the internal damage I was inflicting upon my body. A temporary job continued to fuel my indecision about which path to take in life. Lackluster, I plodded through my work, wondering how everyone else could tolerate a life that I couldn’t. Each day was a chore until the weekend arrived, a time when I felt I could let my hair down with binge drinking, which was later accompanied by a few lines of cocaine, because consuming alcohol was no longer making the evening entertaining enough.

Eventually I came to a point where my body was refusing to be exercised, despite my incredible willpower. Pain overtook my body, my emotions and my soul. Doctors and therapists offered no conclusive or even correlating answers, and when turning the handle on the office filing room brought me to tears because of the excruciating pain in my joints, I knew it was time to try something else. A work colleague mentioned that she had undertaken a Reiki course and suggested that it might offer me some solace. Reiki sounded fascinating to me, although I was drawn to the mystical, rather than the spiritual element that would later govern my life.

Two Reiki treatments later with my body feeling slightly healthier, I decided to learn Reiki. The treatments were unlike anything I had previously experienced in life. I lay on a massage table while the Reiki practitioner channeled energy into various parts of my body, suspending her hands above me. This caused a range of sensations, from bright colors floating in the line of my vision to my back cracking to involuntary spasms in my legs. My research led me to a Reiki teacher who was a member of a recognized Reiki association. On the train journey to the course, I saw a sign out of the window saying "Prepare to meet thy God," and I knew at that moment that my life would be irrevocably changed.

The Reiki course was magnificent, bringing me insights that I had never ever dreamed of possessing. There seemed to be something so much more than what I had experienced in my life and for the first time I felt a sense of immovable hope.

Through a series of what are known as "attunements," the Reiki teacher raises your vibrational frequency, enabling you to channel energy to heal yourself and others. The attunement also develops your spiritual side and enables you to attain enlightenment, provided you devote enough time to regularly healing yourself.

The weight of the world I had bore upon my shoulders, and all the self-obsession, guilt and lack of direction, dissipated. I spent hours a day self-healing. It wasn’t easy, I had to confront myself completely and some days I would spend hours in tears, but I knew that what lay beyond this was worth the temporary pain. This left me realizing that I had the potential to help those around me with this gift, as well as healing all the events from my past that had so dramatically halted my self-development. My awareness grew rapidly. I felt enlivened and positively peaceful.

This incredible experience set me on the road to recovery. I stopped doing all the things that were damaging my mind, body and soul. Drink, alcohol and constant partying became a thing of the past, and achieving optimum health and conscious living became my new regimen. Reiki had taught me the real value of taking responsibility for myself and boosted my self-esteem and self-respect.

Reiki helped me to choose a fulfilling path, to truly live rather than just existing, and to find true inner peace, something everyone secretly craves for whether they realize it or not. The road to serenity is not always easy. Understanding the truth about yourself and others is hard, but it is the most worthwhile journey anyone can ever take. I am more confident, focused, healthy and able to have a more positive, healthy attitude to life. Helping others to develop in the same way is truly rewarding.

I practice and teach Reiki with my partner (who incidentally is the guy who taught me Reiki!) and I can honestly say that I couldn’t have wished for a better life. We aren’t rich and don’t lead a lavish lifestyle, because we prefer not to. We have ups and downs as anyone would, but the most consequential thing is that our happiness is derived from so much more than satisfying our physical needs, it comes from satisfying our souls, the real source of inner peace and tranquillity.

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Dawn Mellowship is an author, journalist, ethical stylist, spiritual teacher and a Reiki practitioner and teacher based in the UK. Her first book, Passage to Freedom (O Books) is available from Amazon and all good book stores. For more information see www.dawnmellowship.com, e-mail info@dawnmellowship.com. Copyright © 2008 Dawn Mellowship. All Rights Reserved.

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