Upcoming Online Mindful Self-Compassion Course

The other night I watched my 4 year old nephew open his birthday gifts with great gusto. “This is AMAZING!” he proclaimed regarding a new Lego set. Well, I feel the same way about Mindful Self-Compassion! I recently completed this 8 week program [click here], and it had a profound effect on me. You, too, can learn about ways to infuse your life with both formal (such as seated meditation) and informal (remedies for self-soothing out in the real world) practices that will create profound shifts. I found the facilitators, Annie and Anne, to both be welcoming and nurturing. They did a great job of creating a safe space for us students to explore the practices and share about our experiences.

From the class description: “With self-compassion, we can motivate ourselves with encouragement, forgive ourselves when needed, face and befriend our shortcomings, care for others while caring for ourselves, and live more authentically. Research shows that self-compassion is strongly associated with emotional well-being, lower levels of anxiety and depression, healthier habits of caring for our bodies, and more satisfying personal relationships.”

Who doesn’t want all that? We can enjoy these rewards just by changing the way we think. The material is simple and accessible and quite effective. Being a part of a group helped motivate me to practice by fostering a sense of accountability that is often missing when I learn a new skill on my own. Having a community of like-minded people sharing the journey was both comforting and inspiring.

Or you could check out the workbook [click here], which I found to be incredibly helpful, without taking the class. From there, you can access wonderful guided meditations, both recorded and offered live online for free. Sadly we don’t learn about being compassionate to ourselves and others in kindergarten along with other important life skills like sharing and reading. I wish we did! But it’s never too late and this is a powerful technique that’s simple and easy to learn. Two thumbs up!

Reiki Principles as a Template for Living Happily

During a recent guided meditation, the facilitator shared the 5 Reiki Principles for us to contemplate. I realized that they are universal guidelines for all people, practitioners and non-practitioners alike, who desire to cultivate more happiness, peace, and wellness.

I especially like the version that she shared. While we have access to the original material written by Usui Sensei, the founder of the Reiki system of healing that is most widely known today, translations vary greatly. I’m guessing it’s not easy to transform Japanese, a complex and highly nuanced language, into meaningful text while accounting for vast cultural differences and the passing of 100 years!

In case you’re interested in being more happy, peaceful, and well, I’ll share the principles here.

Just for today, I will not be angry.

Just for today, I will not worry.

Just for today, I will do my work honestly.

Just for today, I will give thanks for my many blessings.

Just for today, I will be kind to my neighbor and every living thing.

I so appreciate the simplicity of committing “just for today”. That seems very doable! Tomorrow you can go back to being angry or worrying if you want, but I suspect that the benefits you reap might convince you otherwise!

Notice the first line says that I will not “be” angry. In my mind, there is a difference between “getting” angry, and allowing the emotion to flow and dissipate, and “being” angry, as in stuck or attached to it. I might suggest “I will not hold on to anger” as an alternative if that seems useful.

How in the world can we not worry? Perhaps it’s easier if we define worry as obsessively thinking about things we cannot control. It’s not helpful! Nor healthy. And very different from paying attention to what’s going on, taking the necessary steps to protect yourself, and making plans for things you are unable to affect now, but might in the future. If you can’t exert any influence over it, dwelling and wallowing will only weaken your life-force energy and subsequently, your immune system.

I want to point out that “work” here refers to any activity that you offer in your home or community that benefits yourself or any other. It need not be a paying job, but that is included as well. Whatever you’re doing, make a choice to do your best and be honest- especially with yourself.

Giving thanks for blessings is a wonderful practice for connecting to Spirit and attracting more things for which you can be grateful. Our brains developed over the millennia to notice problems as a way of surviving. Even though we’re no longer in danger of becoming lunch for a saber-toothed tiger, our default thinking is still negatively biased. Rick Hanson, meditation teacher and neuropsychologist says, “The mind is like Velcro for negative experiences, and Teflon for positive ones.” We have to make an effort to be aware of the blessings but it gets easier with practice.

As the facilitator read the final line about being kind to neighbors, mine were hammering on our shared wall. How curious! It reminded me that there are consequences to thoughts as well as actions, and putting out annoyed vibes is not an act of kindness. It was a lovely opportunity to exchange irritation for acceptance, and remember that I am also sometimes noisy. The neighbors probably don’t love it when I turn up disco music while bouncing on my rebounder!

While these words were written a long time ago in an immensely different world, there is much wisdom that can be gleaned from them. Even if you have no interest in learning Reiki, you can still benefit from contemplating how and why you might apply these principles in your daily life. Each and every effort will bring its own rewards in the form of greater happiness, peace, and wellness.

Online Yoga Series with Dana Wills

I met Dana several months ago in a Mindful Self Compassion course. I enjoyed her warm and peaceful energy so much that I’ve been joining her weekly meditations on Mind Oasis. When she told me about her upcoming yoga series in May of 2021, I was super-psyched!

If you’ve come to the conclusion that all that twisting like a pretzel and jumping back and forth is not for you, never fear. That’s just one style of yoga that happens to be popular. I don’t care for it much myself! This will be very, very different. It sounds like the perfect remedy for all the stress and anxiety that many people are experiencing.

Here’s the invitation from Dana:


We will start with gentle yoga movement to prepare our bodies for a short seated meditation, then get really comfy and lay down for Yoga Nidra. I’ve created this series, imbued with self care and self compassion, because it’s one I’ve always wanted to take!


Yoga Nidra, the “Yoga of Sleep,” is an ancient practice that taps into our true selves through deep and profound rest and relaxation.  You may well go to sleep as you are guided through, but your conscious mind will still be very much at work, incorporating the relaxing steps that light up the brain in a step-like fashion.  It can also open up a portal for creativity.  You can use Yoga Nidra to help with sleep and deep relaxation, or to recharge much like a power nap.  They say that 20 minutes of Yoga Nidra is as good as 4 hours of sleep.

The classes are offered online through Mind Oasis on Wednesday evenings (6:30-7:30 pm MT), and in studio at jalaBlu in Buena Vista (my “yoga home!” for the past three years) on Thursday evenings (6:30-7:30 pm MT).  Can’t make the trip to my amazing little mountain town studio?  You can join us online for that one, too.  


Register below for one of three options, and let me know if you’re coming and we can talk details.  Thanks for your consideration — I’d love to see you there! 


Register HERE for Wednesdays ONLINE at Mind Oasis

Register HERE for Thursdays ONLINE at jalaBlu

Now Offering Virtual Reiki!

Over the past year I’ve been repeatedly asked if Long-Distance Reiki is done via Zoom. In fact, I’ve been asked so many times that I’ve decided to offer Virtual Reiki sessions, even though Reiki doesn’t need any assistance from technology. If you’d rather pluck out your own eyeballs and eat them than attend one more video meeting, never fear, old-school long-distance sessions are still available!

I’m recognizing a growing need for people to be seen and heard. Truly listened to and witnessed. While I don’t need a camera or microphone to do sessions, I have become aware of the value of the additional comfort this can provide. I suspect there is also an issue of accountability involved. People want to know that I’m actually there doing my job and not off somewhere doing Jell-O shots and playing cards. Fair enough!  

This optional adjustment to treatments allows me to add in an extra component of deep listening. For those who’d like to spend a portion of their sessions sharing about what’s up in their lives, I can provide a compassionate ear while simultaneously transmitting Reiki. For those who wish to simply state their intentions and rest quietly, that’s a choice as well.

I recently finished an Mindful Self-Compassion meditation course. During each class we would break into small groups and participants would take turns sharing about how their practices were going and the effects that were extending out into their worlds. The others would simply hold space by listening with compassion, without judgment, and without mentally preparing a reply. I got as much out of this exchange as I did from the techniques we learned! Sadly, quality listening isn’t a skill that’s taught in our culture and it’s pretty rare to have the opportunity to speak freely to a compassionate listener.

Another option is to receive coaching to tailor personalized intentions. These are simple phrases which can be used as mantras for rewriting your inner scripts, becoming aligned with your soul’s purpose, and focusing your attention on that which you wish to create. Clients often tell me how helpful it is when we collaborate and fine-tune their intentions since it’s not always clear what they want until we explore what’s happening beneath the surface. I’ve spent the past two decades crafting my own intentions and have learned a lot along the way. It’s a great joy to share this skill as the results can be so powerful.

So here I am, changing with the changing times, and offering Virtual Reiki, with or without Compassionate Listening or Intention Finessing. I’m excited to be branching out and including services that I enjoy offering and are powerful, beneficial, and complementary to Reiki. For the traditionalists out there, of course it’s possible to communicate your goals by email and receive the healing energy without any gadgets or wifi.

If you’re wondering what long-distance Reiki is and why you might wish to experience it with or without video, you can read more about it here and here. If you’re feeling psyched about scheduling, send me a message and we’ll make an appointment for you.

“Breath of Life” by Danna Faulds

 
This morning I joined a guided meditation online and the teacher shared this poem that touched me deeply. A reminder that breath is a conduit into healing and wholeness, accessible in each moment. And if you’re interested in a lovely online meditation community, you might enjoy Mind Oasis. Of course, you can meditate on your own without any props or guidance, but sometimes it’s nice to connect with others who share the values of mindfulness, peace, and compassion.

I breathe in All That Is-

Awareness expanding

to take everything in,

as if my heart beats

the world into being.

From the unnamed vastness beneath the mind,

I breathe my way into wholeness and healing.

Inhalation. Exhalation.

Each Breath a “yes,”

and a letting go, a journey, and a coming home.

Gayatri Mantra

I’m needing a “positive reality shifter” today. Maybe you are too? Thanks Laura Bruno, for introducing this to me all those years ago. ❤

Laura Bruno's Blog

Another one of my favorites from way back — a good reminder and focus for eclipse day, or any day. The Gayatri Mantra is one of the most powerful and positive reality shifters I’ve come across besides Reiki Healing Attunements.

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Springtime!

Happy equinox from Philly, where the snowbells are rioting.

Spring has definitely sprung here and today makes it official. It’s also the beginning of a new astrological year, making it a particularly good time to get clear about what you wish to create during this next spin around the sun.

What can you let go of that is no longer serving you? What beliefs need an overhaul? How can you invest your precious life force energy more wisely?

Clearing out the old helps make way for the new. If ever there was a time to brush ourselves off and make deliberate choices about the next steps forward, it’s now!

Urban Adventure Meets Ancient Wisdom

Last week I headed downtown for a change of scenery. I don’t get out of the neighborhood very often these days and I was getting a bit antsy. The bar for excitement is set pretty low right now, so I’m choosing to call this excursion an “adventure”. It’s all relative, right?!

I met a friend for an outdoor chat and then set off with several free hours and no agenda. Naturally, I was drawn to find some yummy treats on this journey. 🙂 I splurged on an organic, gluten-free, vegan cupcake that was almost as heavenly as sitting in the sunshine somewhere besides my porch for a change. Not the greatest photo, but it isn’t all that easy to balance a very dear dessert in one hand and snap a pic with the other in the middle of a public park!

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This delight inspired a tour of my other favorite dessert dispensers, and I’m sad to report that two had closed down over the past year. Sigh. But my spirits remained high because I was out of the house and had no responsibilities; so a-wandering I went. I allowed curiosity and beauty to guide my way. I’ve always found the colonial alleyways of Philadelphia to be charming, so I meandered, trying to avoid the busier streets and absorbing the essence of the hidden nooks and crannies of the city.

Which is how I stumbled upon this interactive installation, courtesy of the Mural Arts Philadelphia program.

The Atlas of Tomorrow by Candy Chang. Photo by Steve Weinik

I was perplexed that passersby kept passing by without a glance! We city-folk can be like that sometimes. But as I stopped to read the instructions and took a spin of the wheel, others began show interest. Number 17 came up for me. That’s my birthdate and chosen numerical talisman, so I wasn’t at all surprised when it popped up out of 64 possibilities.

“THE NOISY MAN: if you want to be heard, adapt to the changes of this world. Examine your opinions and prejudices. Power lies in meeting the needs of others.” This was the message conveyed by my spin on this intriguing wheel.

Exactly what I needed to hear! It was more potent after allowing a sense of wonder to navigate my adventure and after discovering the closed restaurants, which had apparently been unable to adapt to the changes of this world.

The universe is full of magic and beauty if we only pay attention and follow the guidance of spirit. I’m reminded of Joseph Campbell’s famous quote, “Follow your bliss.” Well, this path of bliss via healthy-ish cupcakes and charming alleys led me to a surprising gift and reawakened my intention to let my spirit guide the way. I can’t wait to see what appears next!

The Universe Listens

My day unfolded much differently than expected. A client wasn’t feeling well and postponed her session, allowing me to choose the course of my afternoon. I decided to do a few chores before heading to the woods for my nature therapy session. And once I was there, I felt a nudge to try a different path, hoping it might help me navigate the neighborhood while avoiding automobiles. Looking back, I now believe these seemingly random events were setting me up for a treat later.

About the time I realized that this path led me nowhere I wanted to go, I had the thought that it had been weeks since I’d seen any critters bigger than a squirrel. I sent a silent petition out to the universe to bless me with a wild animal sighting.

The wind picked up and I decided it was time to head home. Just as I crossed the bridge back into familiar territory, I heard the sound of a large body crashing through the underbrush. I was certain that it wasn’t human as we’re all treading lightly these days. The snow has melted in some spots, is melting in others, but mostly was partially melted and then frozen over, making it quite slick. Hopeful that my wish had been granted, I looked around and spotted a deer across the way.

I texted a friend that I’d sent out the request and had been granted the sight of the rump of a deer, supposing that was good enough for a Thursday afternoon. As soon as I pushed send, I saw two other white tails bobbing along. I texted again, “Make that TWO more rumps!” As soon as I pushed send, I heard a hawk screech. It’s a sound that always stops me in my tracks. I looked up to see not one, not two, but three of them circling above.

Naturally, I had to report this development as well, which earned me the reply, “The universe listened.”

Indeed it did! In fact, it’s always listening! That’s why I endeavor to speak more about what I wish to create than about what I wish to avoid. It’s easy to fill the mind with thoughts of gratitude to break the habit of focusing on the negative (which, btw is how are brains are wired. It’s a survival thing, albeit not so much helpful in today’s day and age.). Rather than thinking that I hope I don’t fall on the ice, or twist my ankle or … well, you know… I turn my thoughts to appreciation.

I’m so grateful for the boots that keep my feet warm and dry. I’m glad the sun is shining, and the days are getting longer. It’s so great that I have the opportunity to visit the woods frequently. You get the idea.

And when I’m really on my game, I remember to toss in a request for something I’d like to experience like creature sightings. And to find that missing umbrella, or perhaps even a better one, and to finish that library book before it’s due.

The icing on the cake today was the numerical message so obvious when I look back at the text thread. One, two, three. If it was followed by a four, I could interpret the series as “things are moving along” according to the oh-so-wise Laura Bruno. I had to laugh when I realized that today is the fourth of March. If I were European I’d write the date as 4/3/21.

Not only does the universe listen, but it also sends us messages. We just need to pay attention.  

How Can I Convince Someone That Reiki is Legit?

Sometimes my students are troubled to learn that a friend or family member scoffs at Reiki. They want to know how to convince their boyfriends, sisters, parents, etc. that Reiki is a powerful and effective therapy. As the students gain experience and see their own lives improving drastically, they become more and more eager to share it with others.

This is completely understandable. It’s only natural to want our loved ones to enjoy the same benefits (risk free, I might add!) that we do. Yet many individuals are skeptical of energywork as they can’t see it with their eyes, and often can’t feel it.  Of course, we practitioners know that just because energy isn’t seen or felt doesn’t mean it isn’t working; just that we haven’t yet become sensitive enough to notice it.

So how do we convince folks that Reiki is legit?

We don’t.

I know; that’s a disappointing answer! I’m tempted to say I’m sorry, only I recently vowed to be very discerning with my apologies.

I gave up all persuasive attempts a long time ago. Many of my massage clients get a glazed look in their eyes when I mention Reiki. My biological family just isn’t into it. I can get two sentences deep into any conversation before the topic is abruptly changed. Some friends have stopped bringing up anything health-related in my presence to avoid my Reiki campaigns. This doesn’t mean that I’ve stopped talking about it, but I don’t waste my breath trying to convince anyone. (I will, however, talk the ear off of someone who is curious and open-minded!)

Instead, I’ve cultivated a Reiki family. People who actually desire to talk about All Things Reiki. One day we will resume meeting in person, but for now there are frequent check-ins and occasional video gatherings. The more time I spend with my Reiki peeps, the less I care about proving the effectiveness of this extraordinary modality to anyone determined to deny its very existence.

I recommend letting go of the desire to validate Reiki’s worthiness. I do have a few suggestions that might help bridge the gap though.

You might find it useful to apply Reiki to your intention to be seen, heard, and understood. These are all valid, universal human needs and worth pursuing. It won’t necessarily affect the specific relationship that you’re wishing to shift, but you might find it reveals something better. Something you never even knew was possible until it appears.

You can also Reiki your communication skills. My teacher shared with me a short prayer that has been invaluable over the years. “Give me the right words, the right tone, and the right expression so that I may be heard.” I’ve applied Reiki to my throat chakra in combination with this prayer when preparing for challenging conversations. Sometimes finding the appropriate vocabulary can make all the difference. I use different lingo to speak to medical professionals than I do to spiritual seekers.

Also, you can Reiki your attachment to wanting to convince someone. You’ll find greater peace in letting it go. Not what you wanted to hear, I imagine, but nonetheless the truth. Your value as a practitioner and the value of the Reiki you offer is in no way limited by the regard, or lack thereof, from anyone else. Once you get clear on that internally, you’ll have an easier time accepting the skeptics as they are. Surrendering the need to change others might actually be the proof you seek!