The following article by Amy Z. Rowlands appeared
the Spring 2003 (Vol.2, Issue 1) edition of the The Reiki
Beth Gray is my teacher's teacher. While my teacher,
Denise Crundall of Melbourne, Australia has since left her body,
I find myself more than a little interested in Beth, who remains,
and lives in California.
I have asked for and received permission to reprint
this article in full. I have done this because there is much 'between
the lines' that allow a very personal and intimate glimpse of
one of the first Reiki practitioners in North America, more than
the words convey. So with much gratitude to Beth for being and
to Amy for writing here is my teacher's teacher, Beth Gray.
A Tribute to Beth Gray
by Amy Z. Rowlands
Beth Gray was trained by Mrs. Takata and was an
unusually powerful healer and teacher. Takata, taught her a remarkable
healing technique which few of the other masters she trained were
In the first decade after Hawayo Takata's death
in 1980, the twenty-two Reiki Masters she trained traveled across
the United States, to Europe, to Scandinavia, to all parts of
the world, teaching Reiki as they remembered Takata teaching them.
Among these teachers was Reverend Beth K. Gray. She had been my
Reiki Master for Reiki I and II, and was affectionately called
"Beth" by her students. It was a blessing and a privilege
to learn hands-on and distant healing from Beth in 1987, and to
assist afterwards in many of her level I and II classes until
her retirement in 1992.
Beth taught Reiki as her beloved friend and teacher,
Hawayo Takata, had taught her during many visits to the Grays'
home in California during the 1970's. Beth began her own training
with Takata in 1973, and soon after, established the first centre
for Reiki healing in the continental United States, which remained
in operation into the early 1990's. Takata initiated both Beth
and her former husband, John Harvey Gray to the Master level.
Beth considered teaching Reiki her calling, her passion, her joy.
Although she taught many classes at her centre in
Woodside, California, Beth also traveled to teach. In 1983, she
made her first visit to Australia to teach Reiki and was so warmly
welcomed that she returned year after year for almost a decade.
By the late 1980's Beth was living half the year in California
and half in Australia, actively teaching in both locations. In
fact, the only two Reiki Masters Beth trained and certified were
both Australians; Barbara MacGregor in Sydney and Denise Crundall,
who made her transition on June 30, 2002 in Melbourne.
In the spring and fall of each year, Beth visited
Bucks County, Pennsylvania, despite the demands of her teaching
schedule in California and Australia, and stayed with Reiki practitioner
friends. During these brief visits, she taught weekend classes.
Although she did not advertise, the practitioners she trained
shared their experiences of Reiki and of her classes with friends,
family, and acquaintances. In this way, her classes grew in size
from a handful of students in a private home in the spring of
1987 Reiki I class I attended as a student, to around two hundred
in a hotel meeting room in Flemington, New Jersey, just across
the Delaware River from Bucks County, in the spring of 1992. This
was the last of her classes at which I assisted.
Whenever in front of a classroom of Reiki students,
Beth Gray was radiantly beautiful, elegant, peaceful and fully
present. The light in her blue eyes was dazzling, especially when
she smiled. This light illumined her whole face, with its high
cheekbones softened by the fall of short gray curls. Her eyes
danced with a vibrant love of live, sparkled with laughter, and
shone with tears of gratitude as she described her experiences
with Reiki; she lived the Reiki principals and taught by the example
of her life.
of Beth's Reiki I and II classes in which I participated or assisted
she taught over three days, beginning on a Friday evening, continuing
all day Saturday, and concluding on Sunday. Beth taught all her
weekend-long classes in the same way in which she had been taught
by Takata, with loving and patient attention to each student and
great reverence and love for Reiki in her every word.
During Reiki I classes, Beth attuned her students
four times, usually on Friday evening, on Saturday morning, on
Saturday afternoon and on Sunday afternoon. Before each attunement,
she would tantalize us with part of the story of Dr. Usui, completing
it just before the final attunement. She would also lead us in
a meditation on one of the Reiki principals. With the soothing
music of "Prelude to Lazarus" by composer Steven Boone
playing softly in the background, we listened to her voice gently
inviting us to reflect on our lives and understand that we could
choose, just for today, not anger, but to forgive, not to worry,
but to let go and let God, to be grateful and to count our blessings,
to be kind.
When we returned to or chairs after each attunement,
we sat in a "Reiki train", although Beth did not call
it as such, it was like the traditional Japanese technique called
Reiki Mawashi or Reiki 'circulation," placing our hands on
the shoulders of the practitioner in front of us. As the people
in the row behind us returned from being attuned, we felt the
warmth of their Reiki-charged hands on our shoulders. Finally,
when Beth had attuned everyone, she would return to the front
of the room, sit quietly, and gently smile at us all. She would
nod permission to relax our arms and shoulders and let our hands
come to rest in our laps. The she would ask us, one by one, what
we had experienced. Listening, she would smile with pleasure,
nod encouragement, laugh with delight. Some students reported
seeing swirls of purple light, even with closed eyes; some felt
warmth and pulsing sensations in their hands; some heard the tinkling
music of Beth's signature charm bracelet, worn because she herself
heard bells when she was first attuned. By listening to the experiences
others had had during each attunement, we learned to appreciate
our own which made it easier for us to describe them when it was
our turn. Sitting with our hands loosely folded in our laps or
with one hand over our hearts and the other holding a pen as we
took notes, we began to feel, with new conscious awareness, the
flow of Reiki energy. And with each of four attunements, we opened
ourselves more deeply to the experience of the Reiki energy. This
opening was reinforced , stabilized and finally sealed, so that
only the Reiki's pure essence- in Beth's words, "unconditional
love" - could flow into us and through us for the purpose
of bringing healing.
this foundation of repeated attunements, students learned to "listen
to their hands" and to keep their hands in a position through
at least one cycle of Reiki energy before moving to the next position.
This is how Beth taught us to practice the hand positions for
self treatment and client treatment in Reiki I. We were told to
ignore the dictates of the clock, unless required to attend to
it by our profession role in a clinical setting. She also advised
us to ignore the prompting of the conscious mind to move quickly
through the positions. Instead, she urged: " listen to your
hands. Stay with the energy through a cycle in each position before
moving to the next, so that the energy can penetrate and accelerated
healing can occur. Following Beth's guidance, "listening
to our hands," we worked slowly and carefully through the
twelve standard hand positions on the front of the torso, the
head, on the back, and any additional positions that seemed appropriate
as we practiced self-treatment and client treatment.
Although Beth believed, "Reiki is simple. A
child can learn it." and advised us, "Keep it simple,
sweetheart," she spent hours during each Reiki I class teaching
student about the anatomy of the body under the practitioner hands
in each position. While she assured us that her teacher, Takata,
had said that it was not necessary to know anatomy to do Reiki,
Beth herself believed it to be helpful to know something about
anatomy in order to understand our client's treatment needs and
to communicate them clearly to our clients and to those involved
in their care. She provided to each student a little book which
clearly showed the layers of organs beneath the skin, muscle,
and bones. By connecting our growing awareness of what we were
feeling in our hands with knowledge of anatomy, Beth laid the
groundwork for understanding how our emotional and mental states
contribute to our wellness or illness. For example, she told us
that Takata had called the upper abdomen, at the level of the
navel, the "emotional radio." This area is one that
often draws Reiki energy quite strongly, simply because so many
people in our culture are under stress. This is where people feel
"butterflies in the stomach" or "swallowed anger."
She gave us another little book, Louise Hay's Heal Your Body:
The Mental Causes for Physical Illness and the Metaphysical Way
to Overcome Them (ISBN 0-937611-35-2), for additional help
in understanding how we store emotions in or physical bodies.
Beth also taught us about referred pain and stressed
the importance of applying Reiki to the 'original cause' - to
the original site of physical infection or injury and the originating
emotional or mental issues that make a person susceptible to illness
and prone to injury.
She acknowledged that, as we began to practice Reiki,
most of our initial treatments would probably be quite informal
- "band-aiding" a friend's headache or a child's scraped
knee by applying our hands to where it hurts. But she encouraged
us to set up a professional practice and offer clients more complete
Reiki treatments by appointment, once we grew more confident as
Reiki practitioners. To that end, on the final day of the class,
under Beth's supervision, we paired up at bodywork tables and
practiced providing a complete Reiki client treatment on one another.
In addition to allowing us to simply relax and enjoy the experience
of receiving Reiki, this gave us the opportunity to become familiar
with the sensations of Reiki energy flow, comfortable with this
new awareness, and conscious of the changes that signal a shift.
By late afternoon, on Sunday of each Reiki I class,
Beth had attuned us all four times, taught us Takata's story of
Dr. Usui and guided us in meditations on the Reiki principals
before each attunement; she had demonstrated to us and watched
us practice the standard hand positions for self-treatment; she
had also demonstrated a "walk-through" of a formal client
treatment on a willing assistant and supervised our practice sessions
with each other. She had answered many questions gently and with
love, given us recommendations for future Reiki practice, and
described possible additional training. At last, it was time to
certify us as Reiki I practitioners. She called us, one by one,
to the front of the room, where she gave us each a beautiful yellow
rose, a certificate embossed with her seal and stamped in red
with the japanese character for her name, and a congratulatory
hug. I believe that most of us left with a sense of having received
not only the gift of Reiki, but also her blessing.
In the six-month intervals between Beth's visits,
we practiced Reiki, experimenting to learn its effectiveness,
exploring to discover its true nature. I, for one, enjoyed doing
the Reiki I homework: "each night in bed, give yourself a
Reiki treatment. See how far you get before you fall asleep."
For the first few months after my Reiki I class,
I fell asleep with my hands in Basic I, position, over the lower
rib cage, penetrating to the adrenals. It took almost a year for
me to get to Basic I, position 4, over the lower abdomen, before
I fell asleep. Often, I would wake three or four hours later,
still with my hands in position, before rolling over onto my side
for the first time. Whether I completed the hand positions or
not, I awoke feeling wonderful, physically better than I could
ever remember feeling in my life. My fellow students reported
similar experiences with the Reiki I homework assignment.
Beth's thorough and loving instruction soon bore
fruit. My first "Reiki miracle" was bringing complete
healing to a horse the veterinarian had been unable to treat with
any success. My second client, a San Diego man with chronic sinusitis,
responded so immediately to Reiki that he had to blow his nose
again and again, for about ten minute, until his sinuses cleared.
I had done something wrong, somehow making his condition
"No", he reassured me. " I am great.
I can breath!"
He had had pressure and congestion in his sinuses
for the previous six months; the flow of Reiki had caused his
sinuses to open up and drain. He was grateful and interested in
learning Reiki himself.
With stories like these and many others of using
Reiki to bring healing to family and friends and acquaintances,
and pets, we came together again at the appointed time to share
our experiences and learn Reiki II from Rev. Beth Gray.
Beth's Reiki II, Learning
to Hear and Trust Our Intuition
Seeing Beth again was always a joy. Simply being
in her presence was uplifting because she radiated the Reiki energy
so powerfully. As we entered the room, as we chatted with each
other awaiting her arrival, as we saw her walk to the front of
the room and turn to us with a bright smile, we felt the Reiki
energy quickening in the palms of our hands, tingling in our fingers
and warming our hearts, lifting us on its subtle waves into sacred
space for higher
Beth always began her Reiki II classes by inviting
us each to share an experience we had had since Reiki I. This
was wonderful and profound. Supported by our own experience with
the energy, we were easily able to integrate the lessons of the
stories others shared: A young mother of a handicapped child shared
her joy in connecting with him more and being able to teach him
new tasks more easily - success she attributed to Reiki; a practitioner
who had been diagnosed with Lupus reported that she had done daily
self treatments and was now in complete remission. We listened
to one another's stories and to Beth's comments with delight that
became reverent awe.
After hearing about our experiences since learning
Reiki, Beth introduced us to Reiki distant (or absent) healing.
She told us that we could use distant healing to treat clients
and ourselves, as sell as our pets, farm animals, other animals,
and our plants and gardens. We could send Reiki to our relationships,
to our workplaces, and our co-workers, to our businesses.
Then, in preparation for our first level II attunement,
Beth led us in another beautiful guided meditation, as "Prelude
to Lazarus" played softly in the background. This meditation,
on the remaining Reiki principal "Just for Today, do an honest
day's work," became a message of encouragement to us all
to work with integrity and do our best. She attuned us each twice
during the weekend class, usually once on Friday evening and once
on Saturday, in the early afternoon. During these level II attunements,
we held out one hand to be empowered to draw the three symbols
used in Reiki II. As I will explain, this two attunement process
for Reiki II was a different method than what Takata had taught
most of her other master students, to whom she taught a one attunement
Beth paced her instruction in the symbols slowly
and carefully, including an hour's drawing practice, with pen
and paper, for each symbol. To me, this felt not unlike learning
to print the letters of the alphabet in the first grade. Again
and again, we would initiate the form of an individual symbol
she had presented and attempt to follow it stroke for stroke,
while remembering to recite the name three times with each completed
drawing. We filled notebook pages. Finally, we showed the pages
to Beth, who would suggest any changes needed. Then, we practiced
drawing the symbol in the air, as we repeated its name aloud.
Again, Beth would approve or gently correct. Her goal was that
we would each have all three symbols perfectly committed to memory
before the class ended. She had promised Takata that she would
collect all drawings of the symbols at the close of each Reiki
II class, and afterwards, burn them. And this she did leaving
us with only our memory of the symbols as our only record.
Beth made it clear to her students that the symbols
were sacred and not be shown to anyone who was not already attuned
to Reiki II or master. This was in the late 1980's and early 1990's
before the symbols began being published in some Reiki books and
also long before pictures of the symbols were published on the
Worldwide Web. To this day, out of abiding respect for the Takata
method in which I was taught and out of love for my teacher, I
honour this instruction and I do not share the images or sacred
names of the symbols with anyone who has not taken the appropriate
Reiki training and received the attunement for them.
What was most unusual in the way Beth taught Reiki
II was her instructions in the use of the second symbol. Certainly,
as for all Reiki practitioners, the second symbol was presented
as the mental/emotional healing symbol; but for Beth and for us,
her students, it also became the "talking symbol". Takata,
cognizant of Beth's earlier work as a professional clairvoyant,
taught her a special method that allowed Beth and those students
drawn to learn from her to be able to receive intuitive impressions
about the client's treatment needs and the original cause of any
illness or disease condition. As far as I know, Takata taught
only a few Reiki Masters to use the second symbol in an intuitive
way, and she did not teach them identically.
A special attunement process using two attunements
instead of one was part of this process as it actually opened
a channel to the student's mind that allowed this enhanced intuitive
ability to be present. This gave the practitioner the ability
to communicate with the subconscious mind of the client to find
the original cause of an illness or condition and also allowed
the practitioner to the communicate with the client's Higher Self.
Communication with those who have passed on as well as spiritual
beings was also made possible with this special attunement process
and the instructions that went with it.
With this instruction in the use of the second symbol
came a discussion of the metaphysical foundations of wellness
and illness. Beth truly believed that we have the ability to choose
consciously how we think, how we feel, how we behave and that
these conscious choices are the foundation for health and happiness.
We discussed how Western medicine attempts to address the apparent
physical causes of disease are often insufficient to bring about
complete and permanent healing, with or without the help of Reiki
and how Reiki, too, can fail to bring about complete and permanent
healing when there are underlying emotional and mental reasons
for the client to be sick. So Beth encouraged us to attempt to
identify the hidden emotional and mental causes of illness, as
well as any apparent physical causes.
During this discussion, Beth reminded us of the
teachings of Louise Hay, especially as presented in You Can
Heal Your Life (ISBN 0-937611-01-8). She placed value on
the process Louise Hay describes of reviewing the past to become
aware of any resentment over real or imagined wrongs, and forgiving
the wrong, the wrong-doer, and ourselves. She suggested that we
might also benefit from reading Alice Steadman's book, Who's
the Matter With Me? (ISBN 0-875162-25-8), which explores
the emotional and mental causes of illness in a similar way.
She encouraged us to read Peter McWilliams' book,
You Can't Afford the Luxury of a Negative Thought (ISBN
0-931580-57-9) and to notice any negative statements we make to
ourselves or to others and to reframe them into positive ones.
In particular, she talked about how powerfully creative are statements
like these: "I'm sick and tired of...," "This is
a real pain in the...," "I just can't handle... ."
Making these statements, she cautioned, whether
inside our own heads or aloud in conversation, is a bit like telling
the subconscious mind to make us sick and tired and full of aches
and pains. When we become chronic complainers, to ourselves or
to others, we often develop chronic conditions as well.
Our emotional state is also much more in our conscious
control than many of us realize. Each day, Beth suggested when
you wake up in the morning, imagine that you can go into a grocery
store and 'select' what it is that you want to feel that day.
Choose wonder. Choose laughter. Choose confidence. Choose gratitude.
Choose peace of mind. Choose love. Accept joy. The last two injunctions
became the theme of the second day's lesson, which preceded or
final level II attunement.
By exploring the metaphysical foundations of wellness
and illness with us, Beth taught many of us a new way of thinking
that deepened our spiritual understanding of the nature of Reiki.
This understanding enabled us to accept more completely our own
ability to bring healing on all levels in our own lives and to
support the same acceptance in our clients. Conscious working
with the metaphysical underpinnings of the process of healing
now became integral to the practice.
We had learned in Reiki I that Reiki is most effectively
applied at the original site of the infection or injury. Now,
if and when a client did not respond to hands-on Reiki quickly
or completely, we could suggest that a client review the past,
become aware of the emotions and mental states that had accompanied
the onset of symptoms and do the work of forgiveness and release.
Later, if I received an intuitive impression while sending distant
healing to prompt the client to undertake a similar conscious
healing process, we would know when it was time to offer understanding
and support. We might recommend the client talk to a therapist,
journal, draw, or engage in any method of creative expression
to enable the client to safely express negative thoughts and repressed
feelings manifested in the physical body as illness. To help the
client design a healthier, happier reality in the present and
future, we would suggest the client use the spiritual tools of
meditation, creative visualization, and affirmations. As, as Reiki
practitioners committed to our own healing on all levels, we might
use the tools ourselves.
On the final day of the Reiki II class, we practiced
distant healing using a name and photograph provided by another
student to connect to our unknown client. At the same time, we
practiced the use of the second symbol as "the talking symbol".
With bed pillows on our laps or on the table in front of us, our
hands in position and flowing with energy, we "listened"
for intuitive impressions, as well as changes in the sensations
in our hands. From time to time, we would lift a hand from the
pillow to jot down notes; for example: "basic I, position
2, intense heat on client's right side. Image of horse and rider
jumping hurdle." Then we would return to position and continue
the treatment. At the client's head, we would use the symbols
as Beth taught us, and then attempt to engage our client in "conversation".
Some clients were, in Beth's words, "chatty Kathies."
Others were silent. Either way, we noted down what we felt in
our hands and what impressions came into our minds.
For a few students in each Reiki II class in which
I participated or assisted, receiving impressions was easy; for
a few, it seemed quite difficult; for most, it was a pleasant
surprise to discover that at least some of their impressions were
accurate, based on the feedback of the student who had provided
the photograph and name to them. Beth assured us that with practice,
using the symbols and the method she had taught us, the process
of sending distant healing would become automatic; the energy
itself, of course, would provide immediate healing. In time and
with practice, just as we had become more sensitive to the subtle
shifts in energy in our hands after learning Reiki I, so we would
discover that we were becoming more comfortable with the experience
of receiving intuitive impressions and more confident when we
Beth's promise to us of increased ease and confidence
using intuitive impressions to aid us as healers rested on a solid
foundation: a platform of repeated attunements (four for Reiki
level I, two for Reiki II), incorporating the second symbol intended
for this use, and including the third eye in the attunement process.
The attunement process patterns the practitioner's mind and body
to channel Reiki energy easily and effortlessly, below the level
of conscious intention, like breathing. With body and mind attuned,
the practitioner can focus on learning to "listen" to
his or her hands or his intuitions during treatments, and thus
quickly develop an understanding through experience of the nature
of the energy as unconditionally loving and constant.
Practice, of course, was also essential. For Reiki
II students who learned from Beth in the early 1980's, the homework
assignment was to treat fifty different people in the fifty days
immediately following the class. By the time I learned Reiki in
1987, she had reduced the homework assignment to thirty different
people. In all of these thirty treatments, we were encouraged
but not required to use the second symbol to receive intuitive
impressions and invite "conversation." This was not
an easy homework assignment. While some people successfully completed
it, others faltered, stalled by self-doubt or plagued by concerns
about invading people's privacy. Even those who did complete the
assignment often continued it at a later time.
Those of us who continued to use Reiki distant healing
combining with the second symbol as Beth taught us have enjoyed
a radiant change in our world view. With the use of these techniques
comes a wonderful sense of the interconnectedness and unity in
Spirit of all life. It is difficult to fear dying when you can
"talk" to the dead, comforting beyond words to know
that those who come into your life do so for reasons of love and
useful to become aware of the impact of past life events on present
life issues. It is helpful to be able to communicate to a doctor
or nurse what is going in the mind of a patient in a coma and
gratifying to be able to tell a veterinarian about an ailing animals
thoughts and feelings. All of these become possible through the
use of the second symbol as the "talking symbol" - a
single 'element in the body of knowledge about Reiki that Beth
Beth Gray's contribution as a traditional Reiki
Master to the collective good of all people, all living creatures,
the living planet, cannot be measured. Although she is now retired,
the impact of her teaching still ripples outward through sacred
time and space into ordinary reality, touching countless lives
with healing, changing hearts and minds from despair to hope.
Yet she would not take personal credit for these positive changes;
she would say, "Reiki is the healer."
Beth taught Reiki in a secular way, allowing anyone
drawn to her classes to learn, without regard to religion or lack
thereof. Yet, sometimes, when a student pressed to understand
the nature of the energy more clearly, she would quote Takata:
"Reiki power God power." Then she would gently turn
to the next practitioner who had a comment or a question, deflecting
attention away from the magnitude of those words.
In this way, she encouraged us to understand Reiki
energy through our experience. So I share with you one of mine.
In one of the last Reiki I classes at which I assisted, a beautiful
young woman stylishly dressed in a suit and heels, and bound to
a wheelchair, rolled herself to the front of the room and confronted
Beth. A car accident had left this young woman paralyzed from
the waist down and the doctors had told her she would never walk
again. She was angry. Beth was kind. She listened with tender
compassion and calmed her. She told the woman, newly attuned to
Reiki, to just give Reiki a try.
Today that woman teaches Reiki. She walks to the
front of the room without even a cane, stands on her own two feet
in front of her students, smiles, and begins to talk about a Japanese
Beth may be contacted via email@example.com
is a link to Academy Health in New Jersey with another tribute
For links to Amy's web site,
and to William Lee Rand's (publisher of The Reiki News) check
out the Dragon Links page.
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