Slowing Down for December

Once again, nature is slowing down during these short winter days. Most of the plants are stripped back to the bare minimum and many animals are hunkered down in their dens. I feel the same impulse to stay at home and do less. When I do venture out, I’m moving slowly and intentionally. 

I’ve cleared my calendar of all extraneous events. Easier said than done, I know! I’m also looking at my daily rituals and habits and wondering which can be paused for now. At first glance, everything seems essential, but I know that’s not entirely true. Which of these tasks are fueled by “shoulds”, such as what society informs me is necessary or from my own ego, clinging to an identity that may no longer be valid?

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be wiping the slate clean. Letting go of who I think I should be, who I think I am, and who I am expected to be in order to allow the truth to emerge without the imprint of conditioning. The activities I engage in will be flavored with this sense of inquiry and intention of releasing old patterns. For example, this post is still being written (obviously!), and aligns with December’s exploration and my desire to share the processes that support me. 

(I’m fascinated by how much of life can fall into the “both this and that“ category when I let go of “either this or that“ thinking.)

While I do still have responsibilities to meet and bills to pay, I’ve created a spaciousness that will allow me to slow down. The goal is to be more present with what arises in each moment in order to be more mindful of my inner landscape. Ideally, this awareness will help me let go of all the embedded beliefs that prevent me from experiencing and expressing my essential self. 

I imagine a backpack that contains all the beliefs I hold about the world. Some of these concepts were dropped in before I had the capacity to object and others snuck past my defenses when I wasn’t paying attention. It’s my hope to empty this backpack, examine those beliefs, many of which I’ve been carrying around since the 70’s, and carefully choose which to keep and which to discard. Ideally, I will be more discerning moving forward, and only collect items that align with my desires and values. 

I’m very much looking forward to lightening my load!

If you have access to Reiki, it can be a helpful tool for analyzing your belief system. I find that activating Reiki when I’m doing any sort of introspection helps me remain in the present moment, focused on the task at hand, without getting too caught up in memories or projection. 

Reiki also helps me calm my nervous system, reduce the impulses to run away from the discomfort, and accept myself just as I am, 40-year-old baggage and all. My go-to technique is to turn on the flow of healing energy, place one hand on my heart and the other on my belly, and state my intention. I do this at the beginning of my process and whenever I feel the urge to do the laundry, check my emails, or any the other distracting/avoiding/numbing strategies that are so familiar. I return to this hand position and my intention, allowing the Reiki to help me find my center again, as often as necessary. 

Is there just one thing you can let go of this month that is no longer serving you? I’m choosing to stick firmly to my work schedule and stop making minor adjustments to accommodate clients. There are parts of me that feel afraid that this will affect my income, but I have trust that the clients who are meant to work with me will adapt, and those who aren’t will move on, making space for new ones who are more compatible. 

I did such a good job of letting something go last year that I can’t even remember what it was! Several years ago, I stopped rushing. That’s one goal that I can recommend wholeheartedly. I allowed more time in between appointments, especially if traveling was involved. I also stopped filling up every last moment with some sort of activity. Now, when I find myself with five minutes until my next client arrives, I take the opportunity to sit quietly and meditate rather than the trying to squeeze in a chore. It’s been great for cultivating a calm feeling within me. 

I’d love to hear how you’re slowing down. Maybe next month we can truly claim to be moving like molasses in January. 

Dance it OUT!

Bad mood? Feeling blue? Running a mental loop of resentful or judgmental thoughts? Frustrated, disappointed, jealous, or ashamed? Welcome to the human experience! There are so many flavors of feelings and life seems to provide ample opportunities to taste them all.

Perhaps you’d like to try something different and allow whatever is alive in you to be expressed. Ignoring it is nearly impossible and stuffing it down just causes future health issues. Putting on a happy face and throwing positive affirmations on top does not make the feelings go away. Some masterful folks can transmute unpleasant emotions with mantra or meditation, but a lot of people are really just bypassing them, leaving them to fester and leak out sideways or explode when the pressure rises.

What if you gave yourself 5 minutes to just FEEL it? Provided you’re not on the edge of a trauma spiral (and if you are, please do get yourself some help!), moving your body while tapping into emotional states can be fantastically cathartic. This is a fun song with a great beat! The lyrics are in Portuguese, making it easy for us English speakers to focus on the rhythm and how it invites movement.

If you’ve become estranged from your feelings, a possible step towards reconciliation would be to invite them into the dance, without any expectations of how they show up. The more accepting we can be, the more likely the parts that have been rejected, neglected, hidden, abandoned, shamed or numbed might make an appearance.

If you’re already having an enjoyable day, you can use a dance break to anchor that, drink it up, soak it in, and savor the good. And if your feelings are pretty neutral, that can also be celebrated. And maybe you just need a break from whatever task you’re doing so that you can come back to it with greater clarity and focus. And let us not forget the endorphins!

If resistance comes up, you could get radical and allow that to express itself through your movements. How would resistance move your body? It can be enjoyable and liberating to experiment. So close the curtains, lock your door, silence your gadgets and give yourself 5 minutes to feel what needs to be felt. You might be surprised at how quickly things shift when they’re allowed to flow.

If you have access to Reiki, I suggest creating a Reiki bubble to infuse yourself with healing energy while you do this. Imagine a bubble with a radius about an arm’s length surrounding you and fill it up with Reiki. If you have level 2 skills, drop in the mental/emotional symbol, and any others that call to you. Allow yourself to receive the comfort and support of this universal life-force energy while you go on about your day.

Online Reiki 1 Certification in January, 2023

Are you looking to activate your personal power? For optimal well-being, happiness, creativity, abundance, and connection? Why not start the new year off with a bang and give yourself a helping hand? Reiki is a potent tool for dismantling the blockages that prevent us from experiencing our best possible lives. You could have limitless access to this healing energy with minimal cost or time.

Hidden beliefs, unconscious triggers, cultural conditioning, and outdating coping mechanisms can sabotage even the most sincere resolutions. Reiki can help us love and accept ourselves exactly as we are and support our efforts to be more peaceful, compassionate, and integrated. No need to keep white-knuckling it or banging your head against the wall. Instead, try cultivating balance from within.

Photo by nicollazzi xiong on Pexels.com

This is a simple, yet powerful, modality that can assist you in aligning desire and intent; body, mind, and spirit; head, heart, and gut so that all your parts are working as a team, rather that a bunch of rogue elements fulfilling personal whims at the expense of the greater good.

Join me for a series of four online classes in January. No experience or special skills are necessary. Anyone can learn Reiki and benefit quickly from consistent application. It’s the easiest, safest, most magical method I’ve discovered in 25 years of spiritual practice and personal development work. Whatever therapies, remedies, or potions you’ve got going on, you can add Reiki for amplification.

If you’re wondering what the heck Reiki is, I’ll attempt an explanation. Keep in mind that words don’t really do it justice. Just like kissing, one authentic experience will be more informative than volumes of books! But I know that’s not very helpful, so here we go. Reiki is a holistic technique for healing that relieves stress. It activates the body’s innate restorative abilities by flooding the system with universal life-force energy. Once we are no longer chronically depleted, overwhelmed, or barely existing in survival mode, we have so much more power to create change in our lives. One of my students described her experience as stepping off the hamster wheel. I think that’s a great metaphor!

If you’ve been burning the candle at both ends or spread too thin, taking care of everyone else besides yourself, or simply going along just to get along, it would be my great pleasure to introduce you to a different way. You can find details about the class here. If you’re interested in applying, just send me a message and we’ll see if it’s a good match for you.

Sauerkraut Update

Last month, three of us spent a few hours shredding 7 giant heads of cabbage to make sauerkraut. Full story here.

Not in my kitchen! Sheesh, it’s a messy project.

Then the full 5 gallon crock sat for about 5 weeks.

Also not in my kitchen!

After about 4 weeks, I received a report that it was starting to smell funky. Those aren’t the exact words, but I can’t bring myself to type what my dad actually said. 🙂

Earlier this week, a qualified taste~tester deemed it “done” and 12 quarts were jarred up and refrigerated.

A pint sells for $12 at my local co-op, so that’s equivalent of almost $300 of kraut for about $13 worth of cabbage and salt. Plus a boat-load of probiotics. Not a bad way to spend a Sunday afternoon!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to my American readers! May you be safe, happy, healthy, and peaceful wherever you are. 

I’m also celebrating my 20th Reiki anniversary today! It was this day in 2002 that I received my first Reiki 1 certification (I say “first” as I’ve completed the training a total of three times over the years, being the nerdy lover of learning that I am.) from my teacher and current- day friend, Laura Bruno. Thanks, Laura! ❤ I can’t imagine where I’d be without your magic. 

Many of the things for which I am thankful, today and every day, have been enhanced by my ongoing Reiki practice. Health, relationships, career, prosperity, happiness, and creativity; each has been improved by the steady influx of divinely guided life-force energy. 

Everything except my true self is being gently transformed- all the limiting beliefs, stories held in the ego-mind, suppressed emotions, blocked energy, and unhealthy coping mechanisms. I’m basically a long-term alchemy project! Reiki is removing impurities to uncover the pure essence of who I truly am; revealing the gold that had been disguised by lead. 

In the beginning I was solely interested in pain relief and being free of the chronic discomfort that subtly (and sometimes not-so-subtly!) directed every aspect of my life. Eventually I discovered the underlying mental and emotional patterns that locked the physical pain into place and began the work of exploring the psycho-spiritual realm. Over time, I began to align, step by baby step, with my soul’s purpose. I’m not saying that it was easy or pleasurable the entire time, but I was gently guided and rewarded by this magnificent force called Reiki. Knowing I wasn’t lost or alone, even when it seemed that way, gave me the courage to keep going and accept responsibility for creating the life of my dreams. 

Giving thanks is a consistent part of my daily ritual. It’s a simple way to access a higher vibration and invite more good to flow towards me. I can actually feel the energetic shift that takes place within me. This instantaneous feedback is great motivation as it feels so good!

Gratitude can be used as a spiritual bypass strategy- overriding uncomfortable emotions and shadow aspects of the self in order to feel better in the moment. That’s not what I’m suggesting here! Instead of using gratitude as yet another distraction from being present in the moment with whatever is active, it can be a useful touchstone to remind us that life is a flux of ups and downs. It’s possible to experience both grief and gratitude, anger and gratitude, fear and gratitude. There is room for it all. 

There’s always something to be grateful for, even when it might not feel that way. Oxygen. Gravity. Bees. Wifi. Indoor plumbing. Sunshine. Sticking to the basics can be an easy introduction. Next time you’re doing an inventory of that for which you are thankful, tune in to the energy of gratitude rather than merely making a mental list. That will add some oomph to your practice and open up a whole new level of well-being. 

What are you most grateful for today?

When Everything is Falling Apart

It can be really difficult when things don’t go as expected. It can be even more difficult to trust that what is falling apart is what holds us back. The good news is that you don’t have to figure anything out. It’s a simple matter of remaining present with whatever comes up in the moment. (Notice I said “simple” and not “easy”. They are often very different!)

I love how Kyle Cease breaks it all down in this 15 minute video.

There’s No Such This as “Just” Anxiety

I get so frustrated when clients come to me with chronic pain, discomfort, or uneasiness which doctors have labeled as “just” anxiety. As if anxiety isn’t real and therefore the effects of anxiety don’t matter. GAH! (Post edited to remove a lot of creative cursing!)

Recurring headaches, digestive issues, insomnia, pain, inability to focus, and skin irritations can all result from anxiety. These conditions are no less problematic than those with medical origins. To suggest that anyone should just resign to living with such challenges because they result from anxiety rather than disease is absurd.

Anxiety produces a very real physiological response that can disrupt all the body’s systems. I’m remembering a time when a friend and I went for a hike. We were having a lovely time until suddenly I thought I might have left a pot simmering on the stove. It didn’t matter that I have never done any such thing or that we’d be gone for two hours and if there was to be a fire, the damage would have already been done.

There was no logic-ing my way out of the racing heart, nausea, and muscle tension that ensued. It’s an understatement to say that I was flipping out. And when my friend refused to join me in panic mode, claiming fatigue as an excuse not to rush back, I could feel my blood pressure rising and intense anger building. (Insert image of The Incredible Hulk!) My body responded immediately with a sympathetic nervous system (AKA stress) reaction that was not helpful (and fortunately not necessary as the stove was indeed off) but very much real.

It took some time for my system to reset itself, but I eventually calmed down. Imagine experiencing a similar state of panic as a common occurrence. The body would be constantly challenged and would suffer very real physiological consequences. I’m sharing this example to illustrate the power of the body-mind connection; it’s not an accurate depiction of chronic anxiety at all, but hopefully gets my point across. This stuff is real!

If you’ve had an experience of being dismissed by the doctor from whom you sought help, I’m so sorry. This is where western medicine fails a lot of people. If the problem can’t be found with a microscope or scan, it’s considered irrelevant. Just because thoughts and emotions are outside the range of the average MD’s practice doesn’t make the situation imaginary or hopeless. Looking outside the box can provide answers that aren’t always visible from inside the system.

In addition to (thankfully) rare anxiety attacks like the one I described above; I experienced a low-grade, consistent anxiety for years. Probably decades, but I was pretty good at ignoring it in my youth and liberally applying numbing and distracting strategies as I got older.

As my spiritual practice evolved and I became more capacitated to sitting quietly and tuning in to what I was feeling, I often noticed an uncomfortable energy residing in my solar plexus that I came to label as anxiety. It wasn’t the flipping out kind, but it was ever-present and kept me from living my best life. Once I discovered its presence, I was able to treat it with Reiki and self-compassion. With consistent efforts and the invaluable practices of slowing down and saying no to opportunities and invitations that didn’t resonate, I’m happy to say that it’s mostly absent. It appears upon occasion with a message that I’ve made a decision that isn’t aligned with my values, and when I correct my trajectory, it fades automatically.

Anxiety doesn’t need to be a lifetime sentence. In addition to prescription medications, there are a wide variety of complementary and alternative holistic options. It’s one of the most frequent complaints I hear from Reiki students and clients, who report relief with consistent treatment. Psychotherapy, meditation, herbal remedies, flower essences, aromatherapy, enjoyable movement, EFT, nutrition, and yoga are just a few of the strategies besides Reiki that can have effective results. Sometimes the shift comes from reevaluating a relationship, living situation, or career.

What if anxiety is the body’s way of telling us something is off and requires our attention? Ignoring such a message can have destructive consequences over time; like taking the battery out of the smoke detector to stop the noise. There are lots of ways to treat anxiety, and likely one that suits your personality, lifestyle, and resources. I’ve gone the DIY approach myself, and guide others who wish to follow this same path, as well as those who seek professional help from a Reiki Master.

One thing is for sure- it’s not going to magically disappear. Nor will the symptoms. If your doctor has let you down, please seek assistance elsewhere. That might be as simple as looking up “breathing exercises for anxiety” on the web or scheduling a long-distance Reiki session. Such an easy step might be adequate to calm down enough so that you can figure out what the next steps are.

“Stop trying to heal yourself…”

Wow! I just love this quote from Jeff Foster. It matches my personal journey of accepting all the things as they are. It’s impossible to be whole if any part of me has been rejected, so I’m choosing to welcome everything. It’s a practice with a steep learning curve, but every step forward results in greater peace within.

“Stop trying to heal yourself, fix yourself, even awaken yourself. Let go of letting go. Stop trying to fast-forward the movie of your life, chasing futures that never seem to arrive. Instead, bow deeply to yourself as you actually are. Your pain, your sorrow, your doubts, your deepest longing, your fearful thoughts…are not mistakes, and they aren’t asking to be healing. They are asking to be held. Here, now, lightly, in the loving arms of present awareness.”

― Jeff Foster, Beyond Awakening: The End of the Spiritual Search