The problem I have with massage…

“The problem I have with massage…” is not exactly the phrase I wanted to hear from a new client! (Yikes! What have I gotten myself into?!) “…is that I’m unable to verbalize when the pressure is too deep.”

“Aaaah… I can total relate! I’ve experienced this frequently myself.” (I sigh with both relief and empathy!) She went on to explain that even when the therapist invites her to speak up, she just can’t do it and ends up feeling sore for days afterward.

Many of us were not raised in an environment that supported us voicing our needs and desires. Sometimes it wasn’t safe to do so. Programming begins at a very young age, and when we receive the message that our preferences don’t matter, we might adapt by shutting down to protect ourselves. Children might learn to keep their requests quiet out of fear of upsetting the adult in charge, and choose instead a strategy of remaining silent in order to be accepted. Heartbreakingly, we might internalize the message that we don’t deserve to be comfortable or nurtured or that nobody cares what we need.

This cycle can be broken if we intervene, but many of our childhood coping mechanisms run on auto-pilot until challenged. Massage is already a tricky situation because the receiver is in a vulnerable position, both physically and emotionally. Once the relaxation response kicks in, our rational thought and speech centers are subdued. It’s easy to feel that the therapist is the authority who holds all the power, and to slip into the erroneous belief that they know what is best. We’re certainly trained to think this way by the western medicine model.

You are the authority on your body! Please remember this!

I commended this woman for her awareness and for having the courage not only to show up, but to share this with me. Given that I use a gentle pressure and am able to tune in to the nervous system’s response, I felt confident that we could successfully work together. We negotiated a new strategy in which I would ask if she’d like less pressure because she said it felt easy for her to answer “yes” if that were the case.

For the same reason, I ask if a client is feeling chilly rather than if they’re warm enough. I’ve witnessed again and again that someone will say they’re fine only to discover goose bumps moments later. Sometimes the reply is that they don’t want me to go to any trouble or to interrupt the flow. Please believe me when I say that any qualified, caring massage therapist does not want you shivering or flinching on the table!

We can all learn to be more sensitive to one anther’s needs and recognize the difficulty that many people have asking for what they want. Posing a question so that they may respond with “yes” will be helpful for those with a people pleaser coping mechanism. (There’s a lot of us out there!) I find that slowing down, listening deeply without intent to formulate a reply, and tuning in to body language is beneficial.

We can also learn to express our concerns upfront and ask for help when we have difficulty. This can be a stretch from our comfort zone for sure, but if you believe your massage therapist will not respond supportively, it’s probably a hint to find one that will. Speaking to the therapist before booking a session can shed some light on their listening skills and activating intuition can serve as a filtering process.

Massage shouldn’t hurt! (Not unless you want it to, and even then it’s debatable. That’s a discussion for another day.) I’m here to advocate for everyone everywhere to speak up for themselves and ask for what they need. If you find words are elusive in a session, try a simple “Ouch!” And if that is not respected, “STOP”. There is absolutely no need to suffer in silence on the table. Life is painful enough as it is, there’s no reason to endure more at the hands (or elbows) of a hired professional.

Reiki Master Teacher Training and Personal Healing Quest

I’m delighted to announce a new certification program! I’ve been dreaming up this concept for years and have finally worked out the logistical kinks. Reiki Master Teacher, sometimes called Advanced Reiki or Reiki 3, is the pinnacle of training in this healing system. Often it’s taught in a weekend intensive, and it’s entirely possible to receive the certification without ever giving one single treatment.

I wanted to go a different route. A more scenic route. One steeped in devotion to practice. My passion is encouraging students to develop a daily routine for exploring a personal healing quest and uncovering their soul’s calling. Along with unconditional compassion and non-judgment, I believe this is the foundation of becoming a quality practitioner and teacher.

Perfection is not the goal. Consistent application of the healing tools at our disposal is. Reiki is the greatest, wisest teacher I’ve ever met! The experiences I’ve had treating myself and others have taught me infinitely more than any book or class could. It’s my intention to share this understanding and gently but firmly guide students to allow Reiki to reveal it secrets through observation.

Granted, this is no easy task! It requires patience and diligence and courage. Especially courage. Facing our wounds, fears, resistances, and limiting beliefs requires stamina, curiosity, and tons of courage. It is much, much easier to show up for a weekend workshop. In this program, you really have to work to earn the certification!

So I’ve developed a six month training that is largely independent study. Six of the seven classes will be held online for everyone’s convenience. We will meet in person only once for the attunement. There will be reading assignments and practice, practice, practice to keep us all busy for the weeks in between.

We’ll cover the traditional material including the master symbol for spiritual healing, opening a practice, and how to give initiation attunements and healing attunements, which are super-potent treatments. And we’ll discuss many of the more nuanced aspects of giving the best sessions possible. In my teaching I share the tricks that I’ve figured out over the past 16 years giving thousands of treatments. I learned the hard way, but you don’t have to!

If you’re interested in diving deep and immersing yourself fully in the Reiki pool, let’s connect and see if this is a good fit for you. You can join from anywhere, with the exception of the second class, when we’ll gather in my office in Philadelphia. The cost is $777, with an early bird discount of $77 off, available through 3/1/2020. Classes are on the fourth Thursday of each month, 6-8:30 pm eastern time, beginning in March. Details can be found here.

Long Distance Reiki Healing

One of the most amazing benefits of Reiki is that it is not limited by time or space. Healing energy can be sent to a client who is not geographically present. With the use of sacred symbols learned in a level 2 Reiki course and the power of intention, spiritually guided life-force energy can be transferred remotely. To anywhere!

Over the years of offering healing sessions to those who live in different parts of the world, I’ve come to have a deep respect for this amazing technique. While there is indeed something special about the comfort of human touch, I often find that long-distance healing can be more powerful. Somehow without a body beneath my hands, I’m better able to tune into the energetic matrix that is the blueprint of our physical reality.

It’s quite common for me to see images of blockages while sending Reiki remotely. It’s become second nature to be guided by these images to a root problem that is causing symptoms of discomfort or imbalance. Pain might be represented as steam pressurizing in an organ, a hornets’ nest, or a clogged drainpipe. While these messages obviously aren’t literal, they offer me clues about where to apply Reiki for an optimal outcome.

For several months now I’ve been sending Reiki to my 5 year-old nephew who has difficulty focusing at school. Well, duh! He’s 5! But I’m concerned that he will be burdened with a diagnostic label that might come with a prescription, so I’ve been intervening in the only way I know how. During one of his remote sessions, am image came to me of a parade of ants crawling down his leg. Ants in his pants! Totally a metaphor for what was happening, as well as an indicator that I was on target and needed to stay there until the last ant was evacuated.

Reiki has a great sense of humor!

I’ve come to recognize a pattern when doing this type of work; as one blockage is cleared, often the next layer is revealed and new symptoms arise. I’ve started offering long-distance sessions in packages to accommodate this phenomenon. Deeper healing generally requires a series of treatments to restore balance and harmony, but even one treatment can produce tremendous results. (If you’re wondering how many sessions it will take to heal an issue, that’s rather like asking me how long it will take to become free of debt. It depends. Here’s a recent post I wrote about exactly this.)

For example, working on a friend’s broken finger brought up an underlying sense of anxiety that causes her to rush around without being mindful- perhaps the very cause of the injury. Treating both the finger and the anxiety offers a much greater opportunity for deeper healing and a future with fewer accidents. I suspect the anxiety has an even deeper cause that will likely be unveiled in upcoming treatments.

Each time an intention is set for healing, whatever it is that is preventing that healing becomes the focus point of an inner spotlight. It takes courage to allow this spotlight to reveal the hidden blockages and outdated beliefs that are lurking in the shadows. It’s much easier to blame others for our circumstances, to distract ourselves or numb the pain. The very nature of our modern culture encourages to keep so very busy we never need notice our inner turmoil, and if we do, we are encouraged to drown it out with alcohol, baked goods, online shopping, endless social media scrolling, or casual sex.

Been there, done that!

If these superficial strategies are no longer working for you either, I would be honored to facilitate your healing process with Reiki.  I’m extending the 10% off package discount through the end of January 2020. Normally $400, five one-hour long-distance Reiki treatments are now only $360. I offer 15 minute complimentary consultations if you’re on the fence, as well as gift-certificates for your loved ones.

This can be a challenging time of year for so many reasons. You don’t have to go it alone. Another alternative is to take a class and learn to use Reiki yourself. This is the most affordable option if you’re the type of person who will actually use it on a regular basis. There’s nothing quite like having the power of healing energy at your very finger tips! I have a level 1 certification coming up in January if you’re in the Philadelphia area. If you’re not, there’s likely a teacher near you. Or you could just stay at home and schedule a long-distance treatment.

2020: The Year of Perfect Vision

Full transparency: I am borrowing this tag line from a student. But it’s just so brilliant I have to share it! 20/20 is the term ophthalmologists use to describe normal eyesight. Well, we’re taking it a step further and claiming 2020 as the year of Perfect Vision, the foundation to uncovering the soul’s calling as well as the guidance and motivation necessary to pursue it.

It’s helpful to know where you want to go before your start charting your journey. It’s also helpful to clean out your trunk so you’re not hauling around crap from the past decade on your adventure. Perhaps most helpful of all is tuning up your vehicle, paying attention to all the systems that allow it to run smoothly. Self-care, -kindness, -discovery, and -awareness are the corollary steps in creating an intentional lifestyle.

For me yoga, Reiki, and nourishment are essential building blocks in this process. No news there; you’re heard me say this 10,000 times already! Over the past year I’ve benefited greatly from several other teachings that really upped my game, and I’m very eager to share them here in the hopes others might also profit. If you’re looking to maximize your potential in the new year, you might find some guidance here.

I could spend the next month extolling the virtues of these lessons. Instead I’ll provide links to websites allowing you to do your own research. The three teachers I’m mentioning have a variety of courses as well as very generous newsletters which can be a risk-free gateway into their work. I respect and admire their contributions to personal growth and spiritual awakening and am incredibly grateful for the wisdom they’ve shared.

Sharon Blackie’s Courting the World Soul online course totally blew my socks off. I’m still digesting the amazing material of this 8 week course, which is a mix of depth psychology, mythology, and more. She has set me on a journey of discovering my roots to help find belonging in a world that generally makes no sense to me.

Layla Martin offers a free Radiant Queen Masterclass which includes simple practices for liberating the wild feminine energy that most of us women were taught very early on to lock down. She’s a vibrant teacher of tantra, sexual empowerment, and liberation from the bonds of patriarchal programming. I highly recommend checking this out, especially if that last sentence makes you uncomfortable!

I’m really learning a lot from Rick Hanson’s Growing the Good yearlong meditation program. His background as a Buddhist and neuro-psychologist reveals a fascinating intersection of east/west, ancient tradition/modern science. Understanding my nervous system better allows me to experience calm more frequently. ‘Nuff said!

Perhaps more transformative than all of the above is the time I’ve spent in nature. I just can’t get enough time amongst the trees! Sitting by the creek breathing the ki-infused air is where my deepest healing and best ideas happen. I’ve applied to a volunteer training program to further my knowledge of the local wooded treasure as well as to gain skills for sharing it with others. If you’re in the Philly area, Friends of the Wissahickon offers loads of guided hikes. Wherever you are, no doubt there is a patch of land that needs your appreciation.

And finally, I’m over the moon with my latest oracle card purchase. The Wild Unknown Archetypes is a beautiful deck and has been tremendously helpful for accessing my inner wisdom. They’ve been a big hit at recent community Reiki circles and I’m planning to bring them to this week’s event. Join us if you’re in the neighborhhood!

It’s my sincerest wish that 2020 brings you great peace, health, wealth, and happiness. Perhaps one of these tools can help you further your goals. As always, I’m available for Reiki (in person and remote) and massage sessions to get your year on track and uncover the benefits of Perfect Vision.

Follow the Yellow Brick Road

I talk a lot about the follow-up steps after a Reiki session; paying attention and taking inspired action. (My most recent post about this, You Don’t Need to Know How, can be found here.) Healing isn’t usually something that just occurs voila! in a treatment and then you’re all done, ✔. I suppose that might happen occasionally, but more often than not, we are given directions to the next step on the journey of recovering health and wholeness. It’s then up to us to follow through. Or not.

The perfect circumstances in my own life have aligned to illustrate this. I’m sharing it here because I am often greeted with blank stares when I tell clients to watch for insights and synchronicities that occur in the days following their sessions. Generally these hints turn us in directions we are unlikely to have found on our own. Yet if you don’t know what to look for, it can be easy to miss them.

Here’s my example.

I yearn for a sense of belonging. It’s been an elusive experience in my life, partially because I’m an introvert and have some peculiar habits, a ridiculously early bedtime and a very low tolerance for superficial conversation. This is compounded by frequent callings to up and move across the country every 8 years or so. While I have occasional glimpses of belonging, most of the time I feel like a misfit. I don’t see that changing, but I would enjoy being a part of a larger community of misfits. 🙂

A friend mentioned a teacher/author that he appreciates and so I followed her blog, bought her book, and happened to be sitting in front of my laptop when an invitation arrived from her. An online class, the description of which used different language, but essentially outlined a way to grow a sense of belonging wherever you are. Yes please! But completely beyond my budget given a recent out-of-pocket root canal and dental crown. But a 50% scholarship was offered, I applied, and was accepted. Some might call this grace. I call it Following the Yellow Brick Road.

Wait, there’s more! During this online class, we were given an assignment to learn the history of the land we live in, as well as the native flora and fauna. Well I couldn’t tell the difference between an oak and an elm tree and all those little birds pretty much look the same to me. A search of the library’s catalog showed nothing helpful and I hadn’t yet made it to the local bookstore when I received an email from a colleague inviting me on a hike organized by the group that maintains the wooded area near my home.

I’m not able to attend this particular hike, but when I signed up for the group’s newsletter, I was alerted that they are soon beginning the next round of volunteer training. A training that covers the history of the woods I so love to visit and the native flora and fauna there as well. Ding, ding, ding! I filled out the application, and was delighted to receive an email containing the training dates, which by some miracle (or grace or Follow the YBR magic) align with my somewhat impossible schedule.

The next day I received another email inviting me to schedule an interview with the volunteer director on one of the next several Saturdays. Saturdays are my busiest workday. I have appointments scheduled every Saturday for the next 10 weeks. But this coming Saturday, I have nothing booked in the afternoon and therefore am able to easily make this interview. This is exactly what I mean! I never could have planned this. I’m just following the road that is emerging before my very eyes.

I haven’t yet been accepted into this program. I might not be. I might not even want to be. I’m in a curious place of non-attachment, recognizing that if it’s meant to be, it will be. If it’s not meant to be, it has at the very least opened my eyes to the possibility of divine intervention through the unlikeliest of methods: email! All I know for sure is that I’m going to the interview and will keep following the clues as they appear, clearly showing me the way on The Yellow Brick Road.

All I need do is pay attention and take inspired action. Period. I don’t need to see the big picture, or even know where the next turn is. Obviously this doesn’t absolve me from making plans for my next vacation or paying my bills, but when it comes to healing it’s become crystal clear to me that I’ll be shown the way. Every single step!

You Don't Need to Know How and Reiki Package Special

One of the most common questions I hear from Reiki students and clients is, “How do I heal…”. My eczema, my finances, my relationship with my mother, the trauma lingering from childhood abuse, shoddy self-esteem, karma from previous lifetimes, addictions, phobias… You name it, my answer is always the same.

Set an intention and add Reiki. Combining the power of the mind (via intention and attention) with the healing of spiritually guided life-force energy is the formula for soothing whatever ails us. I used to want to make it more complicated, to have specific recipes for each and every circumstance, but that’s just not necessary. I’m learning to appreciate the ease of this one-size-fits-all approach!

In my self-care practice, I treat a sprained ankle the same way I do disappointment or getting out of debt. I invite Reiki to flow for whatever purpose I have in mind. Then I pay attention.

I pay attention to insights and intuitive nudges that arise from within me as well as synchronicities that point me toward guided action. When blockages and resistance arise, I use Reiki to uncover what’s underneath, and then I use Reiki to treat that.

I keep repeating this process as I work through the layers that keep me separate from the experiences I desire. I also use Reiki to help myself accept that wherever I am is exactly where I’m supposed to be, and to release the limiting beliefs that I don’t deserve to have all the goodness that I long for.

I use Reiki to help me let go of the habits that prevent me from receiving my heart’s desires and to notice the clues the universe gives me about how to move toward my goals. When I encounter obstacles, I Reiki them; and when I feel stuck, I Reiki that. Usually what’s underneath it all is a false message I’ve adopted as a result of cultural conditioning or an outdated coping mechanism. Once discovered, I Reiki that too.

I know this time of year can be difficult for many of us. It certainly is for me. I take extra measures to protect my mental and emotional health. To help you do the same, I’m offering a discount on a series of 5 long-distance Reiki session, only $360. Normally $80 each, you save $40 when purchasing a package by 1/31/20. Gift certificates are available as well.

You don’t need to know how to heal this anxiety, depression, auto-immune condition, neurological disorder, PTSD, or anything else. Reiki knows how. All you need to do is receive treatment and take inspired action. Contact me with any questions or to arrange purchase of a package and schedule your first session.

This is What 'Self-Care' REALLY Means

I’ve written a lot about self-care over the years. I talk about it frequently with students and clients. I practice it non-stop. Most of the time it’s not at all glamorous. Often it involves chopping vegetables on a Saturday morning, doing my bookkeeping on a Friday night, saying “no” to invitations that don’t spark joy, NOT buying that awesome tote bag that’s 60% off, getting up at 5 am to pursue my dreams, and going to bed early so I’m not cranky when I do that.

When this touching article by Brianna Wiest came across my radar once again, I decided to share it. She makes very good points about the toxicity that is so rampant in our society and the importance of choosing to go another route. Particularly this: “True self-care is not salt baths and chocolate cake, it is making the choice to build a life you don’t need to regularly escape from.” So here’s what Brianna has to say. I hope you find it helpful.

“Self-care is often a very unbeautiful thing.

It is making a spreadsheet of your debt and enforcing a morning routine and cooking yourself healthy meals and no longer just running from your problems and calling the distraction a solution.

It is often doing the ugliest thing that you have to do, like sweat through another workout or tell a toxic friend you don’t want to see them anymore or get a second job so you can have a savings account or figure out a way to accept yourself so that you’re not constantly exhausted from trying to be everything, all the time and then needing to take deliberate, mandated breaks from living to do basic things like drop some oil into a bath and read Marie Claire and turn your phone off for the day.

A world in which self-care has to be such a trendy topic is a world that is sick. Self-care should not be something we resort to because we are so absolutely exhausted that we need some reprieve from our own relentless internal pressure.

True self-care is not salt baths and chocolate cake, it is making the choice to build a life you don’t need to regularly escape from.

And that often takes doing the thing you least want to do.

It often means looking your failures and disappointments square in the eye and re-strategizing. It is not satiating your immediate desires. It is letting go. It is choosing new. It is disappointing some people. It is making sacrifices for others. It is living a way that other people won’t, so maybe you can live in a way that other people can’t.

It is letting yourself be normal. Regular. Unexceptional. It is sometimes having a dirty kitchen and deciding your ultimate goal in life isn’t going to be having abs and keeping up with your fake friends. It is deciding how much of your anxiety comes from not actualizing your latent potential, and how much comes from the way you were being trained to think before you even knew what was happening.

If you find yourself having to regularly indulge in consumer self-care, it’s because you are disconnected from actual self-care, which has very little to do with “treating yourself” and a whole lot do with parenting yourself and making choices for your long-term wellness.

It is no longer using your hectic and unreasonable life as justification for self-sabotage in the form of liquor and procrastination. It is learning how to stop trying to “fix yourself” and start trying to take care of yourself… and maybe finding that taking care lovingly attends to a lot of the problems you were trying to fix in the first place.

It means being the hero of your life, not the victim. It means rewiring what you have until your everyday life isn’t something you need therapy to recover from. It is no longer choosing a life that looks good over a life that feels good. It is giving the hell up on some goals so you can care about others. It is being honest even if that means you aren’t universally liked. It is meeting your own needs so you aren’t anxious and dependent on other people.

It is becoming the person you know you want and are meant to be. Someone who knows that salt baths and chocolate cake are ways to enjoy life – not escape from it.”
-Brianna Wiest