Over our many years together, I watched John Harvey Gray tell our Reiki students about the benefits Reiki
self-treatment would provide for a long and healthy life. John would explain, “ Reiki helps to bring balance and healing to all aspects of the self … physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.” He would continue, “Practice Reiki self-treatment every day. If at the end of six months, you do not feel significantly better, then quit if you want to. I’ve outlived all members of my family by many years, but it is not how long one lives that really matters. What really counts is the quality of one’s life.”
I often heard John say those words and knew they were true. However, John’s many years of practicing Reiki had also brought out another ability in him that significantly contributed to John Harvey Gray’s secret to healthy aging. It was his practice of being truly in the present. John had learned how to live in the moment, finding delight in all the little things that take place in daily life … working in his vegetable garden, going for a car ride, cooking breakfast, spending time together with me, relaxing around the house, going to the bank and saying hello to the bank teller. Everyone loved him. The bank tellers would later tell me that whenever John walked into the bank, that was the highlight of their day. John truly enjoyed being in the present, finding joy in simple moments. He would bring a smile to anyone he met. John touched many lives … he was not just living, he was truly alive.
Of course, life brought challenges, but I never saw John dwell on the past nor worry about the future. Whenever facing a future challenge he would say “Why not think of the future in the way you would like it to be and send that energy forward?”
There’s an old Taoist tale about a man who is being chased by a tiger. He comes to the edge of a cliff and jumps. This leaves him dangling in the air, half way down the cliff, hanging for dear life from a small branch. The man can’t climb back up because the tiger is waiting for him at the top. He can’t climb down because now there’s another tiger at the bottom of the cliff, also waiting for him. To make matters worse, two rats appear, one black and one white, and start gnawing on the branch. The man realizes that if the rats keep gnawing, the branch won’t be able to support his weight and he will fall. Suddenly, the man sees a red plump juicy strawberry growing on the cliff, not far from him. He loosens his grip on the branch, hangs onto the branch with one hand and with the other seizes the strawberry… eats it, and finds it delicious.
The tiger at the top represents the past, to which we can never return. The tiger at the bottom represents the future, which will eventually lead to death. The branch represents the present moment that lies between the past and the future. The two rats, one back and one white, represent the passage of time … night and day. The rats gnaw at the branch, making it weaker, bringing the man closer to death. The strawberry represents all of the amazing beauty and gifts that life makes available to all of us every day. To pick the juicy strawberry is to seize the present moment, to be awake, to be alive and enjoy all of the amazing gifts, big and small, that life brings to each of us every single day … no matter what else is going on in our lives at that time. Knowing how to live in the present moment, was truly John Harvey Gray’s secret to healthy aging … his gift to me and to all of his students.