Reiki. It’s Better Than Therapy!

“Reiki. It’s better than therapy!” A friend told me this last night, and I just had to laugh. We have been working together for several months now, doing Reiki sessions as part of her general wellness routine. The benefits of deep relaxation, inner peace, and overall well-being grow every treatment. The shift that occurs on an inner level that quiets the mind allows the parasympathetic nervous system to kick in and deep healing to begin. I truly believe that the body knows how to heal itself; Reiki is merely a tool that allows the system to reset to it’s natural, relaxed state which supports this innate ability.

I’ve personally never experienced psycho-therapy. I do not intend to diminish the effectiveness of this work by any means. I am aware that countless people have experienced valuable relief with therapy. I am absolutely not suggesting that anyone substitute Reiki for treatment that is helping them in any way, shape, or form. And I know from personal experience that Reiki has the capacity to shift stuck energy in ways that talking about being stuck cannot.

We can only be aware of the Truth of our Being when we feel safe, accepted, and calm. Reiki is a means to achieve this state. Once we have become present, we can often see with newfound clarity and open to intuitive guidance. From this sacred space it is possible to recognize the negative patterns we’ve fallen into and the inaccurate beliefs that hold us in them. When we become connected to our Higher Selves, we discover the resources of strength, wisdom, and grace that assist us in aligning with our Spirits. When this alignment is nurtured, deep and lasting healing occurs. Reiki is not the only path to such a transition; it is however, the most powerful, gentle, and easily accessible way that I’ve ever encountered.

I Can Bend!

These were the words of my elated client as she walked out of my door this morning. She had arrived 45 minutes earlier, stooped and fatigued, wearing slippers because she was unable to tie her shoes. Being a landscape artist causes her to misuse and abuse her body all day long, constantly. Being a determined and driven woman led her to push on through until the pain was unbearable. 

It’s not uncommon for people to be in extreme discomfort when they finally seek my help. I do my best to educate folks that bodywork is most effective as a maintenance practice, rather than emergency care, and that if they commit to listening to the body’s signals they can avoid pain altogether. Often times the suggestion of daily stretching is met with a look usually reserved for divorce lawyers and dental drills, and routine massage schedules fall by the wayside. 

Like I said, I do my best to educate clients. When their resistance to self-care outweighs my informative presentation, I’m always willing to offer support when it is urgently needed. I wish they wouldn’t wait until they can’t bend to call me, but when they do, I’m humbled and filled with gratitude to have the skill and training to promote bendability when it’s lacking. 

Sleepless

Reiki is a terrific tool for breaking the pattern of insomnia. It resets energy flow, calms the mind, and enables one to relax and welcome rest. I have discovered that it also has a restorative benefit even if one remains awake all night. I have come to accept that there are some nights I’m just not going to sleep, no matter what. It’s not uncommon for the energy of a full moon to keep me awake, or loud noises, or an uncomfortable bed. But I don’t need to suffer because of these circumstances.

This past weekend I found myself on an air mattress in the nursery of 11 month old twins. I volunteered to take care of my niece and nephew while my brother and his wife were out of town. I knew full well when I signed up that sleep was unlikely. First of all, one of them snores. Seriously! And whenever one stirs, there’s a mad rush to replace the pacifier before crying wakes the other up. Plus my neck was unhappy with my borrowed pillow.

Luckily I had the company of Reiki healing energy. Rather than tossing and turning and counting the hours of sleeplessness, I used this precious time for an extended and thorough Reiki self-treatment. Immediately my breath began to deepen and my tension evaporate. The mental suffering that often accompanies lying awake at night diminished and I gave thanks for this opportunity to give myself the gift of relaxation and contemplation. As I focused my attention of the warmth flowing from my hands I realized that while sleep is invaluable, the blessing of receiving hours of an overnight energy treatment offered even greater restorative powers.

Don’t get me wrong- I wouldn’t trade a good night’s sleep for Reiki on a regular basis. However, I did feel refreshed the next morning. There was no foggy sensation of stumbling about in pursuit of caffeine. I wasn’t irritable or impatient. A sense of deeper inner peace unfolded around me and supported me throughout the day. And when I finally made it home to my own bed, I enjoyed the deepest rest I’ve experienced in months. Caring for my own health in the midst of challenging situations is fantastically easy with the miracle of Reiki at my fingertips. I look forward to the day when it is considered a must-have tool for everybody.

Reiki as a Lifeline

I sometimes struggle with my seeming inability to describe the powerful healing benefits of Reiki. Words seem such an inadequate way of expressing a cosmic force that offers the essence of divine love to anyone open to receiving it. Yet words are the most common method we humans have of communicating with one another. Rather than merely stating that Reiki provides healing on all levels (physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, energetic) and expecting that those unfamiliar with the concept of energywork will understand, I’ve decided to delve into the specifics of what that actually looks and feels like.

I find it difficult to ask for help; especially when I need it. This is a bit of a problem as there’s no sense in asking when I don’t need it, although sometimes I can plan ahead when I know a challenge is coming. I’m referring to times when I’m experiencing emotional distress and wanting comforting support. Reaching out to someone when I’m feeling pain is almost unbearable because if they are unable or unwilling to provide it, the wounded part of me that is activated takes it personally and creates more suffering. Even when I’m successful at finding a willing friend to sit with me in my time of need, they sometimes are uncomfortable being present with pain, are unskilled at the art of deep listening, or are unable to resist the urge to “fix” me.

I don’t need fixing. I need a compassionate witness who hears and understands me and continues to love me, including the mistakes I may have made or the grief I may be experiencing. And of course, I want it instantly! This is where the beauty of Reiki for self-care comes in. As a practitioner of this amazing healing art, I have access to divinely guided life-force energy at my fingertips 24/7. Reiki is never busy or flakey or impatient. This soothing balm flows immediately to where it is most needed and suddenly it is easier to remember that I am a divinely guided spiritual being and everything I need has already been provided to me. Reiki helps me reset my thinking and release resistance to What Is and allows me to graciously extract myself from any false identity as a victim. From there, my clear thinking is restored and my heart is at ease.

The circumstances might remain unchanged, yet everything is different. Reiki keeps me from spiraling downward into despair, from lashing out at anyone else in pain, from turning to unhealthy substances or behaviors to distract or numb myself, and from creating more suffering. From the calm that emerges I am better able to respond lovingly if a response is called for, or to let go and move on if that is what’s appropriate. It is not a magic pill that makes my world a perfect place; rather a remedy that promotes inner peace and the ability to accept life as it unfolds and allows my higher self to hold the reigns. The greatest gift of all is that anyone can learn how to practice Reiki in a day or two, and have this incredibly powerful tool available at their own fingertips 24/7.

Transition

Philadelphia, The City of Brotherly Love
Philadelphia, The City of Brotherly Love

What a wild ride the past six months have been for me! I moved from the mild climate of coastal California to the urban winter of Pennsylvania. I have no doubt that without the powerful tool of Reiki I would be an enormous emotional mess right now. Leaving behind beloved friends, sunrise walks along the ocean, and a blossoming private practice was extremely difficult. Sorting through belongings in order to decide what to pack and ship, give away, or donate was exhausting. Finding my way around the busy city of Philadelphia via public transit was stressful. Growing my business once again from the ground up and cultivating new relationships was indeed a labor of love, and quite time consuming. Building a new life from a completely blank slate requires a great deal of energy. The blessing of Reiki self-treatments have helped me remain sane during this whirlwind of change.

My health and peace of mind have been top priorities for the past two decades. I know that as an energyworker, taking good care of myself is a necessity to be of the highest service to my students and clients. It’s important for me to be vibrant and calm and able to remain fully present with others. Keeping my ki (AKA qi, chi, prana, life-force energy) flowing and my heart shining requires me to have healthful habits, pure thoughts, natural whole foods, lots of movement, creative expression, and a positive environment. Anyone who has ever moved across the street, let alone across the country, knows that without effort these things will not magically happen.

The beauty of Reiki is that it is super-easy and effective to treat oneself. In fact, it’s the most powerful tool I know for self-awareness, personal growth, and healing. And it is available to us practitioners wherever and whenever we want. Years ago I made the decision that I was worth the time and effort of a daily self-treatment, and I have not looked back since. Every night before I go to sleep I spend 10-20 minutes flowing this healing, nurturing energy to balance my body-mind-spirit and every morning I awaken feeling refreshed and ready for whatever the day will bring. The return on my investment is beyond priceless and the benefits are too numerous to count.

Because That’s the Way We’ve Always Done It

I’m sure everyone has been frustrated by this concept at some point in their lives. It seems to pop up quite frequently in my day to day activities, but maybe that’s because I’m on the lookout. Doing things in an illogical manner just because that’s how it’s always been done makes absolutely no sense to me! In fact, I once quit a job after only one week because the tracking system was so redundant and inefficient it drove me mad. I have noticed that sometimes people just get so entrenched in going through the motions that they don’t even notice that their routine could be improved.

One of the greatest benefits of moving to a new city is that I had to begin from scratch. I had to learn to navigate in unfamiliar territory with little outside assistance. Nothing was the same for me and that meant that I was able to create new systems and strategies that were perfectly designed for my new life. Even opening a new bank account offered me the freedom of mobile deposits (taking a picture of a check I wish to deposit with my smart phone eliminates the need to go to the bank) and a more streamlined bill pay feature. This is just one example of changes that have actually been upgrades.

Now I’m certainly not suggesting that everyone move across the country. Although it is one strategy for shaking things up and discovering your priorities, obviously it is a drastic choice. I would like to encourage you, however, to examine your habits with fresh eyes from time to time and engage in self-inquiry. Could your menu or closets or social calendar use an overhaul? Could your errands be more efficient or maybe even some of them eliminated? Your close friends might have some insight into possible improvements and if you are willing to hear what they have to say, they could be a valuable resource. Why not have a sincere look at your routine or your belongings and evaluate what is truly working for you and what isn’t? You will probably be pleasantly surprised at the hidden benefits of inviting change into your life.

Thank You, Reiki!

Thanksgiving is a day Americans traditionally pause to give thanks. This year I am adding a Reiki blessing to all that I do. Every slice of the knife or swoosh of the spoon will carry a boost of spiritually guided life-force energy to enhance the well-being of those who savor the meal. Every smile on my route to my brother’s home, every hug within those walls, every word I exchange with my family will be infused with the healing power of Reiki. Even these words I am typing now have been saturated in loving-kindness that is now drifting into your awareness and available if you should choose to receive it. I invite you to join me in painting the world with sacred energy; whether it be healing energy, love, light, or any inspiration you have to share. Let’s use our gratitude to uplift those around us for the highest good of all.

Just Feel It!

I really enjoyed Kate Northrup’s most recent blog about feelings. She describes how her willingness to sit with herself and feel what she was feeling (rather than distracting with busy-ness or numbing with substances) allowed her so-called “funk” to pass quickly. I have been working with this concept over the past few years and have found that once the initial discomfort of experiencing grief or anger wears off, the uneasiness that was lurking seems to evaporate almost immediately. Treating myself with Reiki indeed helps me to both recognize when I am feeling out of balance as well as to relax into whatever is true for me in each moment. This is another reason I so enjoy teaching Reiki classes; giving others the skill to allow their emotions to unfold naturally sets them up for a lifetime of physical/mental/emotional/spiritual well-being. Every step we take to ensure holistic balance in our minds and bodies affects us all.

Check out her insightful and helpful blog if you’re interested in learning more. http://www.katenorthrup.com/on-feeling-what-were-feeling-and-the-inherent-movement-of-emotion/

Advanced Stress Management

There is nothing like relocating across the country to test the limits of a good self-care routine! In a leap-of-faith, I have decided to move from the California coast to the metropolis of Philadelphia to be with my family, which now includes a niece and nephew- twin newborns. On paper, it is a completely ridiculous decision as I love my life here and have no idea where I will live or work or well… anything. Viewed from a soul level, however, I am following the calling of my heart, and trust that, as always, all my needs will be met.

Today marks the beginning of the 30 day countdown, and I find a bit of stress sneaking through the cracks. I consider myself to be a stress management expert; I have been practicing a wide variety of self-care and relaxation techniques for the past 20 years, and practicing bodywork and Reiki for eleven years. I believe that creating health, peace, and joy is an inside job and that I am the only one responsible for my well-being. Yet as my to-do list increases, I have started to get sloppy and I am already feeling the difference in my body as well as in my mind. If ever there was a time to be 100% healthy and calm and full of vitality, it is now. So I’m going back to the basics and recommitting to myself.

I think we all know the importance of quality sleep, nutrition, movement, and mindfulness. Finding the time to pursue these virtues seems to be an issue for many of us. I’ve decided that now more than ever, these are my top priorities. I’ve been waking up in the middle of the night feeling anxious. Not acceptable! So tonight I am implementing a pre-sleep ritual of unwinding and perhaps some herbal tea to enhance rest. Ten minutes will most likely do the trick. I have been eating out more often lately, thinking it’s saving time. I’m not happy with the quality of food, however, and know how important it is to put only the purest ingredients into my body temple. I’ve realized that preparing simple, fresh, mostly raw meals (green smoothies with hemp seeds, salads, celery with almond butter, sour kraut, bliss balls (homemade nut/date/coconut treats!) are all super quick to make and energizing. I like to go for a walk along the coast at sunrise, which soothes my soul and invigorates my body, but haven’t found the time to make it to yoga class lately. This is unlikely to change, so I am committing to a daily home practice. I know even that short amount of time will do wonders for me on so many levels. My meditation practice has never wavered as I am clear that without it I am a complete mess. 15 minutes each morning sets me up for a much easier day.

As a massage therapist and Reiki practitioner and teacher, I value the healing arts immensely. I teach my students the benefits of daily self-treatment as well as the importance of receiving sessions. Lately it’s been easy for me to cut my Reiki self-care short because I am so concerned about the things I need to do. This was a big clue that I was way off track! All the things I need to do go way more easily after I’ve soaked myself in healing energy. 15-20 minutes before I get out of bed makes all the difference in the world. I have recommitted to this priority. I have also schedule myself to receive a treatment (either Reiki or bodywork) each week. I simply must find colleagues as soon as I arrive in my new home to continue this practice.

So with an investment of about 90 minutes each day, plus an extra 90 minutes once per week, I’m going to be in tiptop shape for my transition. This might seem like a lot of time to many people. I say, let’s consider the alternatives: fatigue, back pain, headaches, digestive upset, anxiety, lack of focus, and melancholy. Overall that makes me less productive and certainly less joyful and probably eats up way more time. I need to be functioning at peak performance and that means a commitment to my well-being in the form of self-care. I can think of no greater lesson to share with the babies I am moving heaven and earth to be with either. Stress happens, it’s up to each of us how we manage it.

 

Plan B

One of the great things about teaching a technique for healing and stress management is the freedom to go with the flow. A student in my Reiki 2 class yesterday wasn’t feeling very well. In any other type of class, she probably would have had to chose between suffering through or missing out. I saw no reason for her to do either. We were gathered together to learn more about the healing arts, and here was the perfect opportunity presenting itself for our learning benefit.

I’m still relatively new to teaching Reiki in a group setting. I spent a lot of time working on my class outlines and what I thought would be the best order to introduce the topics that I wanted to cover. I mean, A LOT of time! I won’t say that I obsessed over planning, but I certainly did pay attention to a wide variety of details. It took just a short amount of time for me to decide to chuck out all my plans, and to go with the flow. My students were needing a different course of action, and I was not about to deny them that simply because of words and times I had printed onto a piece of paper.

So, Plan B it is! They came to learn Reiki and to open to intuition for guidance. It was a great joy to demonstrate just that. I set aside my lesson plans and pulled out the massage table. It was the perfect opportunity for the students to practice the symbols we had just learned on someone in discomfort. In fact, I couldn’t have designed a better opportunity for practicing Reiki if I had tried. The student receiving the impromptu session improved enough to remain with us for the rest of the day, and the others received great experience and feedback about their work. Perhaps I am the one who benefited most of all because I learned (or rather remembered!) the lesson that my students are my greatest teachers and that I am always guided to act in the highest good of all;  I only need remain present and flexible. It truly was a win-win-win situation and I am deeply grateful for the entire experience.