Happy Solstice!!!

OOPS! I didn’t publish this yesterday, December 21, which was actually the solstice. Oh well, close enough. 🙂

A significant turning point in the cycle of the year, today is the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere. That means tonight is the longest night and that tomorrow night will be slightly shorter. The days will become increasingly longer.

It’s a great time of year to turn inward. Our western society does a tremendous job of compelling the exact opposite, but if you tune in to the rhythms of nature, you can sense the pause. The pause is where clarity arises. It’s my goal to use this time of the year to slow down and allow inner wisdom to guide me. Before I begin investing my time and energy in the new year, it really helps to have a grounded and embodied sense of where I actually want to go rather than just continuing on the same trajectory I’ve been following.

My plans for today include venturing out into the cold quiet of the winter woods to refresh my life-force energy and spending some time in community. It’s lovely to be with other folks who are doing the inner work of exploring and releasing the old patterns that are no longer beneficial. I’ll give myself some time to integrate the results before setting my intentions for the new year, at an online event you’re most welcome to attend.

Whatever you do today, or on the days surrounding the solstice, I wish you peace, clarity, and acceptance. This may not be your preferred season, but isn’t it beautiful in its own way, nonetheless? We haven’t yet had any snow to speak of here in Philadelphia, but I think this photo from my last adventure in the woods conveys the spirit of Pennsylvania in winter.

Seasons greetings, friends. Take good care of yourselves.

New Year’s Day Intention Setting Event

I’ve been intentionally slowing down for the month of December. I realized that I perhaps overshot the mark when more than 50% of my clients this month cancelled or moved their sessions to January! I wanted to slow down and do less, but SHEESH! not that slow! I’ve since course- corrected and things have been normalizing over the past few days.

During this time of contemplation and introspection, a plan has emerged. I’ve gotten a lot of clarity about how I want to invest my energy in the new year. It will take some time to unfold, but today I’m happy to announce the first step. I’ve launched a Meetup group: Reiki Plus, Online Metaphysical Wellness Group. It’s free to join and I hope to see you there!

“Whether you’re curious about Reiki, wanting to learn more or maybe get initiated, or a practitioner (seasoned, beginner, reluctant, or lapsed), this group is for you! Wherever you are on the planet, there is space for you here. We will be meeting exclusively online.

“Together we will explore tools and applications for holistic healing, personal growth, embodied spirituality, and self-empowerment. While Reiki is the foundation of my offerings, I also “stack” complementary techniques for a synergistic effect. We’ll experiment with different metaphysical recipes to maximize your results: what I call Reiki Plus.

“Uncovering wholeness and worthiness, examining unconscious beliefs and conditioning, regulating the nervous system, and replenishing life-force energy are the goals for our events. No matter what your history, circumstances, or beliefs, I believe it’s possible to use Reiki to experience optimal wellness, joy, peace, freedom, and creativity.

“You’ll find a wide variety of events, including intention setting circles, Reiki circles, group coaching and workshops for folks already initiated, and traditional Reiki certification classes.”

The first event I’m hosting will be on January 1st. I’ll guide a body-mind-spirit centered intention-setting process. I call this the head-heart-belly approach to getting #$^! done. The idea is to get all the parts of yourself on the same side, working together as a team for your greatest good. It’s a practice I do myself every year and have shared with my local Reiki community in the past. I’m expanding the invitation to anyone who’s interested in joining.

If you’re new to Meetup, you’re in for a treat! It’s a great network of folks doing unique work. It’s easy to sign up. The notifications can get overwhelming, so I suggest you make alterations that suit the amount of activity you’d prefer in your inbox.

I have a lot of ideas about what I want to share. The easiest way to keep up with the offerings as they develop is to join the Meetup group. There’s no obligation to ever attend, but you’ll keep your options open. I’d love to have you onboard!

Self-Massage Tips

It’s perfectly natural to rub or press on sore muscles. Instinctive even. I encourage folks to actively participate in caring for their bodies and think self-massage is a beautiful addition to a wellness routine. As many parents know, simple human contact can be incredibly soothing. As massage recipients know, treating aching and stiff muscles can provide incredible relief.

There are lots of tools that can help us reach spots that are difficult to touch, and I use my Backnobber, foam roller, and a tennis ball frequently. However, I’ve all but stopped recommending self-massage to clients. Many of them got too aggressive and showed up the following week with bruises!

So, yes, these tools can be helpful, but even more helpful is understanding the reasons what makes massage beneficial. I can’t stress enough that a compassionate, gentle approach is going to be most effective. Let go of any idea of punishing muscles for misbehaving or trying to beat them into submission.

It’s also important to examine the cause of the pain. It’s often an imbalance in the structure of the body. Muscles that are habitually shortened due to posture and repetitive movement tug on the opposing muscles, eliciting a complaint from a location that is not the cause. Neck and shoulder pain from hunching over a keyboard all day is the perfect example. Treating the symptom might provide pleasant sensations, maybe even temporary relief in the form of distraction, but won’t create any lasting change.

I have a few basic guidelines I’d like to share to promote safe and productive self-massage.

  1. Massage promotes relaxation. My specialty is connecting with the nervous system, and allowing chronic tension to fade by reducing the internal alarm bells signaling danger. Pain, even self-induced pain produced in an attempt to treat chronic pain, triggers the symapathetic nervous system and activates muscular contraction. It’s totally counterproductive!
  2. Massage promotes circulation, bringing oxygenated blood to muscles and removing cellular wastes. This is easily achieved with a light to medium pressure. Intense pressure that produces pain, over even the expectation of pain, causes the breath to become shallow or even held. Counterproductive!
  3. Massage ideally addresses musculoskeletal imbalances. A basic knowledge of anatomy, physiology, and body mechanics is helpful. For example, in the 15,000 + sessions I’ve given, never once have the rhomboids (the muscles between the shoulder blades) been the cause of pain in that area. Sure, they’re tight on almost everyone, but that’s because chest muscles are habitually contracted, overstretching the rhomboids. Applying a lot of pressure to an overstretched muscle is beyond counterproductive.

I am in full support of anyone who wishes to improve wellness with a DIY approach. Please do keep in mind these simple guidelines so that you can take action without creating harm. When in doubt, check in with your body- it doesn’t lie! But our minds have been conditioned to do more, go deeper, suck it up, and push through. Counterproductive!

How Slow Can I Go?

A quick update on my Slowing Down for December intention. The universe heard my request and has responded with half of my clients cancelling appointments this week and last. It’s a good opportunity to let go of the ancient fear of not having enough, to re-examine the wisdom of the “careful what you wish for” maxim, and to renew faith that things always work out, often in unexpected ways.

For the greater part of my days, I’m camped out of my Bio-Mat, surrounded by a stack of books that I’ve wanted to read for ages, a cup of tea, my journal, and an array of colorful markers. There’s something about having a beautiful notebook and great pens that makes the task of inner exploration seem less daunting. As do my comfy pajamas- it’s hard to take things too seriously when you’re covered in lemons and wearing your favorite fuzzy socks. 🙂

I do have some structure provided by guided meditations and written exercises designed to help me uncover what’s beneath the surface identities that I present to the world. The process of letting go of attachments and conditioned beliefs can be unpleasant, and I have a circle of friends with whom I check in frequently. It’s helpful to hear that they are facing many of the same challenges, and like me, continue to show up and face whatever arises, nonetheless.

Curiously some physical discomfort has amplified-or is it that I’ve removed enough distractions that I can actually receive the messages my body is sending? I’ve pulled out some massage tools to apply gentle pressure andstimulate circulation. (This is key! The goal is not to punish muscles for misbehaving or to beat them into submission, but to give them some loving attention and bring awareness to postural and movement patterns. More on this in an upcoming post.)

I ventured out to the farmers market for some produce and have been getting out most days for walks, so I’m not entirely reclusive aside from work. The goal has really been to clear my schedule so I can tune into my needs and desires with minimal influence from those insidious “shoulds”. As it turns out, I prefer books and trees to small talk, media of all forms, and shopping. No surprises there!

Basically, I’m playing detective and discovering what I can let go of and what I can cultivate in order to move into the new year in the most authentic way. Being present with emotions and sensations seems to be the only way to get an accurate reading on what to keep and what to release. Being still and quiet supports the inquiry.

We’re really in the darkest of days here in the northern hemisphere as the moon wanes and the winter solstice approaches. It’s really no hardship to stay tucked inside my cozy little apartment as much as possible. While it’s not exactly easy either, I am grateful that I decided to give myself this gift of doing things my way. It’s my hope that you’ll lean into doing things your way too.

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.