So Long 2020!

Here in Philadelphia we are experiencing very gray and rainy skies today. A friend just texted to say how perfect the weather is for the last day of 2020. It does seem rather appropriate!

I’m hearing fervent hopes that 2021 will be better. While I have no idea what’s going to happen in the outer world, I’m determined to cultivate more peace, love, harmony, freedom, and joy in my own little bubble. From there it will ripple out.

So, what’s the plan?

I find it helpful to look back over the year every New Years Eve and take inventory. What’s working? What’s not? What needs to be repaired and what needs to be let go? What victories do I have to celebrate? What changes do I have the power to make that will improve my circumstances and relationships?

While eating more cleanly and setting aside time for creative projects might seem somewhat meaningless in a world that on some levels resembles a dumpster fire, I still aim to maximize my comfort and well-being. When my tank is full, I’m better able to contribute to others.

If I focus my energy on the improvements which are in my control, not only do I feel empowered (which is a much better feeling than despair!) but I also give myself the best possible opportunity to create a different future.

So long, 2020. It’s been real. You’ve inspired me to take a close look at my life and ask, how does it get better than this? And you’d better believe that when my heart answers, I’ll be ready to take action.

Ask Rick: What Can I Do To Minimize Holiday Stress?

I found these tips from Dr. Rick Hanson’s newletter to be very doable, simple and quite effective. “Slow down, do less.” Good advice for most of us during the season of cold, long nights. I’ve copied it below in case anyone needs some gentle guidance.
In your body, keep engaging the balance to the sympathetic nervous system: the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). Potential ways to do this include long exhalations, relaxing the tongue, warming the hands, and relaxing the body as a whole.

In your emotions, keep turning to the small positive experiences available during the holidays: for example, decorations are pretty, oranges smell good, it’s fun to go sledding, kids are cute, and it feels sweet to make others happy. Then take a dozen seconds or more to savor the positive experience so that it can transfer from short-term memory buffers to long-term emotional memory, and thus really sink into you.
Take care of your body, emotions, thoughts, and actions.
In your thoughts, beware “shoulds” and “musts.” The things we do during the holidays are only means to ends: goals such as happiness, love, sacredness, generosity, and fun. If the means get in the way of the ends – as they so often do at this time of year – it is time to lighten up about the means. Keep coming back to simplicity inside your own mind as an end in itself: the simple truth that in this moment, each moment, you are actually basically alright; the simple fullness of being in the present, not regretting the past or worrying about or planning the future.

In your actions, slow down and do less. Keep coming back to your breathing as you look for gifts, do dishes, wrap presents, or visit friends. Don’t let others rush you. Be kind; cut others slack; this time could be stressful for them, too.

One last thought would be the reflection that the practices of thought, word, and deed that lead to sanity during the holidays sound like a pretty good way to live year round!

Reiki and Bladder Issues

Recently someone asked me how Reiki could help his bladder issues. He didn’t elaborate on exactly what the “issues” are, but it doesn’t particularly matter. Reiki works with bladder issues much the same way it works with anxiety and sprained ankles and pneumonia: holistically. As I’ve heard several other bladder complaints since then, I thought it might be helpful to share my perspective here.

Reiki support is multi-layered: lowering stress (which halts energy from being needlessly diverted to the same physiological response experienced when facing a bear in the woods), bathing the body in life-force energy (which can be used for recharging and healing), and supporting emotional balance (which helps prevent future stress and further accumulation of stuck or stored emotions). I believe the body knows how to heal itself; but injuries, false beliefs, destructive habits, trauma and stress block the innate flow of energy. Reiki helps re-establish that flow.

Louise Hay, who I affectionately refer to as the Queen of Affirmations, writes about bladder problems in her little blue book, Heal Your Body, the Mental Causes for Physical Illness and the Metaphysical Way to Overcome Them. She lists probable causes as “Anxiety. Holding on to old ideas. Fear of letting go. Being pissed off.”

She also provides a new thought pattern with a prescription to repeat it frequently until relief emerges. “I comfortably and easily release the old and welcome the new in my life.”

In my personal experience and in working with thousands of clients over the years, it’s clear that affirmations are helpful in reprogramming thought patterns. They help us notice when we slip into a harmful mental loop and bring awareness to our emotional state and our power to intentionally shift it.

However, many of the deeper programs running in the subconscious seem to be immune to such efforts. When the fight-flight-freeze mechanism gets triggered, there are no magical words that will deactivate it. This wouldn’t be a big deal if it only occurred occasionally. However in today’s hectic world, it’s quite common to experience chronic levels of stress that keep the body locked in a state of being constantly on the defense against bears.

This is where Reiki comes in. By stimulating the relaxation response in order to reset the nervous system, it’s possible to move more quickly out of fight-flight-freeze reactions. When we’re able to recognize that in reality we really are safe and that the traffic or deadline (or whatever activated the warning bells) has awakened a primal physiological response that is a huge overreaction.

When the brain is no longer on hyperalert and signaling the body to prepare for imminent danger, calm is once again accessible and from here, it’s possible to resume positive thinking. Combined with compassion and the awareness of the sensations the body provides as indicators of well-being or the lack thereof, we now have a recipe for deep and lasting transformation.

It’s possible to build up resilience against chronic stress by receiving routine Reiki treatments, practicing mindfulness and other stress management techniques, and using affirmations to rewrite the default scripts that play in the mind. If you feel the need for a more powerful intervention, a beginner’s Reiki class will enable you to access this seemingly magical healing energy wherever and whenever you need it. While there are no guarantees when it comes to healing, it never hurts to explore natural and holistic remedies that give you access to the best possible health that is available to you in each moment.

Contact me if you’re interested in receiving a remote treatment from the comfort and safety of your home or to learn how to treat yourself. I’d be delighted to discuss the possibilities with you.

Burnout and How to Complete the Stress Cycle

Wow! This podcast, Unlocking Us with Brene Brown, featuring Emily & Amelia Nagoski is tremendously heartwarming and uplifting. I just love it when research backs up what my intuition and immersion in holistic health and healing for 20 years have shown me. A few years ago, I blogged about Preventing Burnout, and I’m pleased to notice that there is some overlap.

What I think you’ll love about this podcast is learning that we needn’t be free of external stressors to complete the physiological stress cycle. If you need a quick fix, the list of ways to manage this are totally doable and simple, yet immensely powerful. Physical activity, breathing, positive social interactions, laughter, affection, “a big ole cry”, and creative expression are the remedies they share.

These activities are already on my self-care to-do list, but as the sisters point out, “The cure for burnout is ALL of us caring for each other.” I wholeheartedly recommend having a listen, or reading the book if you’re more of a visual learner. I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, but am so very eager to devour it!

Copied from the Goodreads website: “This groundbreaking book explains why women experience burnout differently than men—and provides a simple, science-based plan to help women minimize stress, manage emotions, and live a more joyful life.”

Yes, please!

Reiki for the Election, the Follow Up

You might have heard about the recent US presidential election. 😉 And that Pennsylvania, and Philadelphia in particular, were spotlighted while the country waited for the results. It felt like we were in one big pressure cooker!

This post isn’t about politics per se, but about the spirit of community and how taking action in ways that align with values can feel empowering. That spirituality and everyday life need not be compartmentalized, but can be integrated for greater purpose and well-being.

You might have also heard that Philadelphia’s mail-in ballot count was highly contentious! The media mentioned it once or twice. 😉

Here’s the insider scoop. This year, Pennsylvanians were allowed to register to vote by mail without needing to provide a reason such as poor health or travel. Unsure of the course of the pandemic and utterly devoted to democracy, many of us did so. After hints of the postal service not being able to handle the volume of this unprecedented event, many made a plan to hand them over directly at official drop-off points.

Well in advance of election day, two of my friends and I donned our masks, and walked to the neighborhood location. We were surprised to see a line of people waiting to vote early at the polls as well as a steady stream of folks dropping off their mail-in ballots.

It was AWESOME!!!

Reports from other neighborhoods and on other days made it clear that this was the norm. Signs continued to pop up all over the place, encouraging people to VOTE, make a plan to VOTE, to reach out to all our contacts and encourage them to VOTE. The neighborhood was already plastered with “Hate has no home here”, “Black Lives Matter”, and “Biden/Harris” signs, so it was pretty crowded out there.

The community as a whole was enthused and engaged in a way I’ve never seen. One of my clients told me that she and her husband were so committed to voting in person on election day that they bought hazmat suits. As people of color, they felt strongly about their votes being counted.

I continue to get teary when I recall the collective fierce determination that was so heartening it was palpable.

What’s this got to do with Reiki? Fair question! Back in September, some of my students and I offered Reiki with the intention for justice to prevail during the entire election process. You can read about that here. We were excited to be able to contribute our efforts to creating a more harmonious and equitable future for our country.

No, Reiki did not win the election for the Democratic party. The people had already made their choice overwhelming clear. You could not have visited this city without knowing which way the cards would fall. Reiki couldn’t have overridden the obvious choice of the vast majority, but I do believe it supported the process of counting those ballots.

I don’t know why, but state law says mail-in ballots could not begin to be counted until election day itself. There were HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of them! It took days to count them all, as you probably know. The whole world was watching us.

It was INTENSE!

And Reiki was helping to hold the space, ensuring that every vote was counted. Now I’m certainly not claiming credit for turning the tide of the election. I know other spiritual groups were actively engaged in flooding the election, the country, and the swing states with white light to support the highest good of all. Grassroots campaigns had been laboring industriously for months and it would be impossible to list everyone who made great strides behind the scenes. It was most definitely a collaborative effort.

Holding the vision for justice, peace, equality and harmony helped each of us to be doing something proactive while so many were feeling utterly helpless. I can think of nothing more just that ensuring that every vote was counted. Which is exactly what happened.

When the results were finally reported, it triggered hooting and hollering and corks popping on my quiet little block and a massive dance party in the streets downtown. Relief flooded through my body like a wave.

We have a lot more work to do to see the changes through, but we all rest a bit easier here in the City of Brotherly Love. Won’t you consider joining us in whatever way you can to to keep the scales of justice moving towards balance?