Healer, Heal Thyself: Balance

Creating balance seems to be the key to healing. I aim for an 80% clean diet rather than restricting all foods that are less than ideal for me. I allow myself to enjoy some mindless, recreational screen viewing every week and make space each day for downtime. It’s important to make compromises and remain flexible.

So when given the opportunity to attend a Yoga Dance class with live drumming while visiting Kripalu, I couldn’t resist! Dancing is an expression of the joy in my heart. Certain music tends to move through me, using my body as a vehicle. I feel especially alive when my body is dancing; like a spring flower bursting through the snow.

Given the torn meniscus in my knee and my self-prescription for holistic therapy which includes lots of rest, I struggled with this decision. In the end, my heart won out. I realized that the joy to be gained was greater than the risk of set back. So I took it nice and easy and rested when I felt the first twinge of discomfort.

The next three days I was again presented with this opportunity to dance. Each afternoon I checked in with my body to see what was in my best interest. Each day I heard a “no”, loud and clear. While this was indeed disappointing, I chose to honor my inner voice.

If I had listened to my rational voice, I wouldn’t have danced at all. If I had listened to the ego, the voice demanding more More MORE! I would have taken all the classes. (And likely have re-injured myself.) Instead I tapped into my higher knowing, the voice of Spirit sometimes called the still, small voice within. It guided me to the path of balance and harmony. It always does.

All I need do is listen.

Healer, Heal Thyself Part 6: Slow Down

I suspect that the torn meniscus in my knee is a message from Spirit urging me to Slow Down. There were previously other, gentler messages that I chose to ignore. If we don’t answer the knock at the door, sometimes the result is a brick through the window. I am choosing to answer the door. While I snoozed through the first knock and the more instant knock, I’m jumping up (figuratively anyway!) for the loud banging. No bricks needed here, thank you very much!

Part of my slow down plan involves traveling differently. I’m off to Kripalu (!!!) for a continuing education workshop. I’ve expanded my itinerary to allow for one and a half days of travel in each direction. Very different than the original agenda of a 5 am bus with three transfers depositing me disheveled and exhausted moments before the first class.

So I’m on the commuter train on the way to the Amtrak train. It’s altogether a 7 hour journey to Boston where I’ll spend the night and a leisurely morning before boarding another train to the retreat center. For those who view time as money, it’s a horrifically inefficient plan. For someone who’s primary goal is wellness, it couldn’t be more optimal!

For starters, train travel doesn’t charge for luggage. Or make you jump through hoops regarding carry on bags which eventually get separated from you because when an entire plane full of people tries to avoid baggage fees, there’s never enough room in the overhead bins. Grrr! So I’ve been able to pack my big suitcase with a few decadent luxuries like supplements, my yoga mat, and all the aromatherapy oils I desire. Not just the ones the can fit in the quart sized ziplock bag.

I’m traveling in style with my reusable water bottle full of filtered water and travel mug full of my favorite tea. I have a few grounding crystals in my pockets and lace up shoes; neither of which will need to be removed. I have a packed lunch including proper utensils. I’m also wearing a knee brace with magnets without fear of setting off any alarms or being subjected to a body cavity search.

I have several books to read and a presentation to prepare. I’m grateful that I’ll have more than one cubic foot to do my work while riding comfortably with no worry of getting stuck in the middle seat. Once I get there, I have the added bonus of a mini adventure exploring a city I’ve never visited. I have no plan other than a hotel room booked. I have no contacts other than a online dating match that turned out disastrously and clearly I hope to avoid.

So finding an extra three days to journey to your next destination might not be in the cards for you. Yet I encourage you to think how you can create more space in your daily life for comfort, ease, and wellness. Can you allow yourself five extra minutes to get ready in the morning without rushing? Can you carve out a half hour to chew your food and receive pleasure and nourishment from your meals? Can you get to bed any earlier so the next morning arrives more peacefully? On the morning of your Slow Down journey when you obsessively decided to do one more load of laundry, can you leave it unfolded in the basket so you don’t have to hurry out the door? (I assure you that this is indeed possible!)

What choices can you make to set yourself up for success when it comes to living a balanced, harmonious, joyful life?

Healer, Heal Thyself Part 2. Body-mind-spirit Healing

Recently I announced my intention to chronicle my exploration of holistic healing therapies for a meniscus tear in my knee. Given my belief system (see Part 1), the infrequency of intense pain, and my knowledge of complementary and alternative medicine (especially Reiki), it is clearly the right path for me. Also, I am not a doctor and this is not medical advice.

Pain is often a message from my spirit or psyche telling me I am off track, misaligned with my True Self or life purpose, or exposing myself to negativity, toxins, or some sort of abuse, misuse or neglect that is taking its toll on my body. I view it as a cry for help. As such, I do my best to welcome it and get curious about the wisdom that this message intends to reveal.

I’m not a masochist by any means. I value pleasure and comfort a lot! However pain seems to be a warning ding (or DING!) that I need to change course. For this reason, I’m not relying on pain killers. I want to notice the dings before they become DINGS! and to do so, I need to be fully aware of what I’m feeling. I do keep a CBD creme on hand for soothing the DINGS! that occasionally reveal themselves, while simultaneously exploring what they are trying to tell me.

Disclaimer: I do believe that thoughts and words have an impact on my health. Holding resentment or anger within me eventually causes pain in my body. Ignoring my spirit’s cries for change will also lead to discomfort. AND I’m certain there are other contributors to pain as well- karma and soul contracts and other mysterious factors which I do not claim to understand. So while I believe that all negative thoughts contribute to pain, the reverse does not follow: not all pain is caused by negative thoughts.

In body-mind-spirit healing, I at least want to explore the possibility that my spirit or psyche is offering me valuable information. In this case, I noticed that twice I tweaked my knee on a Sunday while running for public transit on my way to the spa where I work part time. Aha! This, my friends is a clue!

Stop rushing is the most obvious message. I KNOW this! Rushing creates anxiety, stress, a fight or flight hormonal reaction, and apparently knee pain. Now I must actually HEED this by allowing myself more time to get where I’m going or do what I’m doing in order to create a peaceful mode of being.

When I dig deeper, I recognize that I’m working too much, I don’t want to work on Sundays (that’s when all the fun things happen!), and that the spa isn’t my ideal work environment. It’s pretty obvious that I need to make a change in my life. Of course, fear and scarcity thinking try to creep in and remind me that Sundays at the spa provide a substantial and reliable income; but that’s the type of thinking that got me into this mess! When I dig even deeper still, I become aware that I need the energy that I expend on Sundays to invest in my passion, my life purpose, my own business of offering deeply healing work to clients at my office.

What follows is a leap of faith. Well, I’m not actually leaping these days, so more like a big, carefully aligned step in the direction my spirit sets for me. I’ve told the manager that I will work two more Sundays while she tries to find a replacement, and then no more. It was an uncomfortable conversation. She was clearly disappointed, but I was feeling an amazing sense of liberation as I KNEW I was making the right choice for my health, well-being, and happiness. Nothing means more to me than that.

 

Tapping into the Power of Effective Motivation

I’m been mesmerized by a teaching of Christopher Wallis. According to his website, he teaches meditation, yoga and Tantrik philosophy, Sanskrit, mantra-science, and offers spiritual counseling.  He teaches about practicing from a three pronged “effective motivation”, called “pure motivation” in Buddhist teachings. My spiritual, massage and Reiki practices are being  transformed by adjusting my primary intention to one of effective motivation.

The first piece is to practice out of love for myself, rather than trying to fix the (seemingly) broken pieces. From a spiritual viewpoint, I’m not broken and don’t need fixing, and any motivation from this flawed perspective would be ineffective. Instead, when I’m motivated to uncover my essential nature of wholeness and holiness, I’m tapping into the power of effective motivation. Very powerful stuff!

May I practice out of love for myself.

Second, he cautions about chasing bliss at the expense of what is real. He offers the adjustment of practicing in order to know the Truth. (I use a capital T to signify universal and eternal Truth vs. subjective or temporary truths.) This allows me to experience the sadness, anger, shame, or fear that could be covering my True Self, and to allow for deep healing rather than simple pleasure seeking. He suggests that a greater level of joy is eventually accessible when we chose to honor what is True.

May I practice from a desire to know the Truth.

And finally, rather than seeking special powers (psychic powers or the ability to manifest desires of the ego) or manipulative power over others, he proposes that I practice in order to benefit all beings, myself included. Asking Life, “what do you want to do through me?” instead of making demands of what I think I want (P.S. I’m almost always wrong about what I think I want!) is a more effective motivation, and a simple way to tap into universal life-force energy.

May I practice for the benefit of all beings. 

This simple, yet powerful intention is shifting my practice in a fundamental way that feels like it will have profound results over time. Already I’m experiencing more groundedness, connection, and peacefulness. Which is really quite enough motivation for me to continue! Obviously I want to get the most out of all my practices, so aligning with this effective motivation appears to be an easy way to support myself.

May I practice out of love for myself, in order to know the truth, 

and for the benefit of all beings.

Emotional Honesty

I’m trying something new this year. 2018 is the time for me to feel all my feelings. It doesn’t sound all that impressive, I know. Yet it is a huge undertaking! The vast majority of my emotions have been ignored, suppressed, or deflected for decades. They’re still buried within, waiting to be experienced, digested, and released. It seems that this is the process that needs to be allowed for true healing to occur.

There are several key components that I’ve committed to in order to support this endeavor. I’ve recently realized that lasting change requires all of the pieces to be in play simultaneously.

  • Gathering a team of compassionate, understanding, and supportive friends who can witness my journey without judging, blaming, shaming, or advising.
  • Eliminating  self-medication strategies such as alcohol, sugar, and processed foods and limiting time spent on social media, watching TV, and engaging in meaningless chit-chat.
  • Devotion to spiritual practices that release blockages and reroute that freed energy for a higher purpose.
  • Willingness to be radically honesty with myself about what is coming up in each moment.
  • Commitment to stillness when uncomfortable emotions arise.

Ugh! It’s so much easier to eat something, to distract myself with electronics, or to check out with a nice pint of beer. I’ve become a master at using yoga, dance, and Reiki to shift the energy of discomfort. I now recognize this behavior as misusing these powerful techniques to avoid the work of healing by preventing emotions from rising to the surface for processing. Discomfort cannot be avoided in the healing process. Ugh!

Perhaps the most valuable lesson I’m learning is that there are multiple ways to use Reiki for emotional healing. First, it can be a remedy for getting through difficult situations by providing comfort in the moment. Second, it can be used to prevent emotions from becoming festering wounds that develop over time through neglect and abandonment. And thirdly (perhaps most importantly) it can be used to muster up the courage and willingness to sit quietly in loving awareness with whatever is true in each moment; without moving to escape or repair it.

So here I sit, prepared to experience whatever arises; willing to feel all my feelings despite great discomfort and the urge to flee. It might not sound impressive, but when I am able to allow complete emotional honesty, the liberation I experience is phenomenal. While the rewards are mostly internal, they are truly transformative. And that is more valuable to me than sounding impressive.

 

 

 

Committing to Myself

I began the new year with a ritual to get super clear about the changes I need to make in order to align with my desires. The more I explore the arts of spiritual practice, self-care, and redefining success to suit my needs, the more I recognize that shifting on the energetic level within myself is a much more powerful strategy than seeking external goals. 

I’ve developed a morning routine using tantric exercises, Reiki, crystals, mantra, meditation, and yoga to rewire my nervous system and engage my deep subconscious to support my efforts. I’ve cleaned up my eating habits to a level of purity I’ve only ever experienced during cleanses in the past. I’ve reworked my schedule to release everything that drains my energy and doesn’t provide nourishment, fulfillment, or pleasure.

This may seem like a lot of work, but I’m here to report that the rewards have been astounding! It seems that each of my efforts has resulted in unexpected bonuses I never could have planned. The Universe is supporting me wholeheartedly in my path of spiritual healing and recovering wholeness. I’m being met with blessings and honored with gifts that reassure and inspire me to continue on this road less traveled.

I’m reminded on a brilliant quote by Goethe, a German writer from the turn of the twentieth century.

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative and creation, there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too.

All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would have come his way.

Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.”

The experiences of my past several weeks have rectified any doubts I’ve ever experienced about these meaningful words. More than ever, I am committed to my journey of awakening and also to remembering that I have support from realms beyond. If ever there was a time to be bold, this is it. I choose to begin it now.

Won’t you join me?

 

Comparing and Despairing

“To compare is despair.” I’ve heard this sentiment at least a hundred times from Jennifer Hadley, a spiritual teacher. Yesterday I experienced it with brilliant clarity in the blink of an eye. I was feeling rather victorious about completing a book challenge. I read my goal of 24 books  in 2017 and was considering expanding that number for the new year. When I went to my Goodreads app to enter my aspiration to read 30 books in 2018, I noticed that the average number entered by other participants was 49.

What? How is that possible? Who are these people? Do they have jobs? Do they read picture books? And how can I rearrange my life to read a book each and every week in 2018? All of a sudden my victory was overshadowed by thousands of strangers and I was crushed.

I reviewed my day wondering how I could squeeze in an extra hour or two of reading. If I didn’t go to yoga class, get a massage, spend time visiting with my friend, prepare my meals or plan future ones; I could probably bang out one of the novels that’s been sitting neglected for ages on my bookshelf.

Wait a minute! What? Who am I and what just happened? I went from comparing to competition to mindless consumption to throwing my values out the window in no time at all. Is it really more important to me to achieve some arbitrary goal than to be a rock-star in the self-care world? Is it more important that cultivating meaningful connections or mindfulness in my daily life? Obviously it is not!

Luckily this round of comparing and despairing came and went pretty quickly. I caught myself before I went too deeply down that rabbit hole because despair is a rather icky feeling. My emotional radar lit up like crazy and warned me that I was off-track. I was able to reevaluate and correct my course within a few hours.

Yet I wonder how many times over the years have I lost days and weeks rather than minutes and hours? Oh wait! That’s a subtle form of comparison, isn’t it? I’m not falling for that! No doubt I’ve spent plenty of time feeling needless despair in the past, but the important thing is that I’m committed to avoiding any pointless upset from here on out. 

Welcome 2018. I can tell it’s going to be a year filled with challenges and growth and ultimately more joy. All I need to do is avoiding the nonsensical goal to win competitions I was never interested in entering.

Holiday Madness

Here we go again! Thanksgiving is still over a week away and already I’m seeing Christmas decorations in some local stores. This season can be overwhelming and super-stressful for so many of us. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the busy-ness of holiday traditions and seemingly endless to-do lists. It’s no coincidence that it’s also a season of colds and flus as we run ourselves ragged.

I encourage people to evaluate their intentions before overcommitting. Learning to say “no” is often one of the healthiest and empowering actions we can take when an activity is not aligned with our goals. Allowing time for rest and restoration is important all year long, but invaluable in the colder months of long, , dark nights. Choosing to stay home and recalibrate rather than overeating, overdrinking, overgiving, or overspending can be so supportive of health and well-being.

For those who are determined to push through and do it all, I highly recommend scheduling some healing support. Why wait till things go wrong, till the immune system crashes, the headaches descend or the low back gives out? Prepare yourself and prevent the aftermath of overdoing by making time for a massage, Reiki or acupuncture treatment, a trip to the chiropractor or hot baths, extra yoga or dance classes, or whatever you favorite mode of relaxation may be.

Make it a priority now and get it on the calendar! Save yourself the misery of getting sick or injured or suffering from stress and tension. Having two jobs, my own business, plans to travel to the Michigan tundra for a family Thanksgiving, an upcoming move to a different home, and all the other ordinary everyday stuff I’m loading up on self-care practices; including eliminating all inflammatory thoughts and foods, boosting my immune system with plant medicine, and receiving treatments from my awesome team of holistic health providers. Seriously, I don’t mess around!

If you’re wondering if a session with me would be helpful, let’s schedule a complimentary 15 minute phone consultation. Even if you’re not in the Philadelphia area, long-distance Reiki is an excellent option to stress relief, recharging batteries, and keeping life-force energy flowing and balanced. If we’re neighbors, let’s get you on the table for a therapeutic massage or Reiki treatment! Check out my website for details or contact me to schedule.

Can You Fix Me?

I get this question a lot from clients, often when they are in great pain; either physical, psychological, or spiritual. They come seeking relief, having been sent by a friend or Google search, correctly informed that Reiki and massage are powerful, holistic healing techniques. Recently a young woman jokingly requested that I vacuum out all her anxiety. If only I could! Alas, healing does not work this way.

Human touch and muscle manipulation are potent vehicles of healing, as is the universal life-force energy transferred during a Reiki session. They can provide the nudge that the body or psyche needs to return to alignment with the Spirit. They can also offer the boost in motivation to follow through on lifestyle changes, the release of self-sabotaging beliefs, and the comfort of remembering that we are not merely broken bodies with problems struggling alone in an unfriendly universe. Reiki and massage are some of the most powerful healing tools that I’ve ever come across in my twenty plus years of spiritual awakening.

And yet it is up to each of us individually to decide if we wish to receive the many benefits these tools have to offer. We are ultimately the ones in control of our own healing and well-being. Providers like myself can offer support to our clients, but until emotions have been fully acknowledged, felt, and released there is no shortcut. Our pain is very often an indicator that we have gotten off-track. It serves the function of reminding us of our greater purpose, our true nature, and our mission in this lifetime.

My compassion allows me to dream of taking away the discomfort everyone experiences, but my inner knowing counsels that this would indeed be a disservice to the evolution and ultimate wellness of others. Being human is a difficult job. But we have been blessed with countless systems of support, transformation, and integration. If you’re wondering if a treatment with me might be helpful, please check out my website! I offer a free 15 minute phone consultation for this very reason. If you’re just not into massage or Reiki, that’s cool too. I hope you seek out one of the other alternative options so readily available today.

Healthy Aging

I’ve been invited to participate in a panel discussion with other holistic healthcare providers on the topic of healthy aging. This is the second blog I’ve written to help me gather my thoughts and prepare myself for the event. The first entry was about cultivating ki (life force energy), and I’m certain there will be a third piece, perhaps even a forth, eventually.

It seems to me that the most important thing we can do to promote healthy aging is to prioritize our health. Many people would likely say that they desire good health, yet time after time the choices they make do not reflect this goal. Rarely does optimal wellness merely happen; it must be invited, welcomed, and fostered diligently. This occurs when we remind ourselves of its value (ease of movement, quality sleep and digestion, vibrant energy, etc.) and pursue it actively.

This is by no means a recipe for austerity or suffering. I believe the path of wellness overlaps the path of joy. Certainly there will be some compromises and adaptations along the way. Choosing better quality ingredients and suitable portion sizes by making favorite meals at home rather than ordering out is a perfect example of this philosophy. Upgrade or moderate the activities and foods you love to support healthy results without sacrifice. Go for a walk if you’re planning a Netflix binge later, thoroughly stretch your legs and back before getting on a plane, and opt for a hearty salad for lunch if BBQ is on the dinner menu.

I have plans to meet a friend for pizza and beer tonight. There are no words to adequately describe my love of pizza and beer, and yet I clearly recognize that I don’t feel my best after such a meal. So my plan is to neutralize the effects of white flour, cheese, and alcohol in advance. I’m stocking up on green vegetables and water throughout the day, and have chosen a restaurant that serves only the best quality ingredients. I’ll add some fiery pepper to counteract the congesting effect that dairy has on me and even more water throughout the evening to ensure proper hydration.

As I cannot imagine a life without my favorite things, I also refuse to resign myself to feeling achy, sluggish, foggy, or ill either. So instead I make the healthiest choices I am able in every moment. I know what foods and activities support my good health and opt for these most of the time. With some simple planning, it’s easy to reduce less-than-healthy habits for the most part, and when occasion calls for indulgence, I create balance as best I can.