Massage Doesn’t Have to Hurt!

Recently I was talking with a friend who’s also an occasional client. Many moons ago we did a series of three massages over the course of a month to treat shoulder pain which had been plaguing her for years.

“To tell you the truth,” she said quietly, with a sheepish look on her face, “I didn’t think the gentle work you did would be effective. As it turns out, it was exactly what I needed to experience a deep healing.”

We have this erroneous belief in our culture that a therapy needs to be aggressive to produce results. That somehow the more painful a treatment is, the better the outcome will be. I’ve heard reports of clients not returning to me, or others with similar technique, because “it didn’t hurt enough.”

True story! It didn’t hurt enough. Which begs the questions, how much should it hurt? Or what is the origin of this mistaken belief that causing pain is a realistic strategy for releasing pain?

Pain, or even the hint of possible future pain, stimulates the fight/flight/freeze response which activates a sequence of physiological reactions, including the tensing of muscles. Tense muscles tend to pull joints and the skeleton out of alignment and impede the circulation of blood, which delivers oxygen and removes toxins. This is a recipe for more pain!

Perhaps in some extreme cases, this might be beneficial, but in my experience as a giver and receiver of massage for nearly 20 years, gentle touch produces much more beneficial results. Creating a soothing, relaxing experience can alter the body’s chemistry, promoting healing as well as circulation, and allowing muscles to soften rather than contract. A type of somatic trust develops organically, with the body learning that it will be comforted and acknowledged rather than attacked and punished. Think “ahhhhhh….” vs “OW!

While we might be able to force a muscle to temporarily release under duress, it’s indeed possible to cultivate long lasting healing with a more gentle approach. If you’ve shied away from bodywork due to upsetting experiences in the past, I’m sorry. I’m sorry that you were hurt and even more sorry if it prevented you from seeking further treatment.

While many massage therapists will disagree with me, there are plenty of us who are willing to work with you in a pain-free setting. A simple inquiry will help you discern who is a good match for your needs. And if you’re wondering why your aggressive therapy isn’t producing lasting change, you might want to switch it up and try a different approach.

Massage. It really doesn’t have to hurt!

12 Reasons to Learn Reiki

Reiki has a growing reputation for successfully supporting cancer and surgical patients. Yet it has many additional uses. Taking a Reiki 1 class is an easy, affordable way to gain instant access to healing, cleansing, renewing life-force energy. All at your very fingertips! As the ability to practice is transferred from teacher to student during an initiation called an attunement, it’s not dependent on any special skills or specific lifestyle. You don’t need to be psychic, enlightened, or identify as a “healer” to practice Reiki.

While many clients are content to receive professional treatments, many others desire more consistent relief. I’ve compiled a short list of the most common reasons for doing so that I hear from students. If you can relate, you might consider signing yourself up for a class! It will reduce your dependence on a practitioner, enabling you to receive healing on a daily basis.

Photo by Puwadon Sang-ngern on Pexels.com
  1. Managing stress and anxiety. Aside from the fact that these maladies are highly unpleasant, they’ve also been linked to an increasing number of life-threatening diseases. Relaxation is becoming accepted as much more than an indulgent practice available to the likes of Hollywood divas frequenting day spas, but also as a wise investment in one’s health.
  2. Reducing chronic pain. Relieving stress reduces inflammation, which in turn reduces chronic pain. While arthritis, for example, might not be curable, many people with this diagnosis are able to reduce, or even eliminate, the pain with consistent treatment.
  3. Healing trauma. As if enduring a traumatic event is not terrible enough, it has long-term effects on the nervous system, causing survivors to live in a state of near-constant fear. Repeated activation of the physiological relaxation response can rewire the hair-trigger alarm systems of those struggling to acclimate to life after trauma.
  4. Releasing limiting beliefs. I’ve yet to meet anyone who didn’t pick up any limiting beliefs in childhood which prevent them from living their greatest, most joyful lives. Statements that begin with, “I never…”, “I always…”, “I’m just the type of person who…”, “I’m too this or too that” become ingrained in the subconscious, preventing us from pursuing our dreams. With diligent application, Reiki can help us rewrite our inner scripts and uncover our true power.
  5. Recovering self-esteem. For anyone who has developed a sense of insecurity due to past experiences, it’s hardly news that this way of being can be debilitating. By connecting folks to their deeper selves and inner knowing, innate self-esteem that has been fragmented or covered up can be reclaimed, allowing for greater personal freedom and contentment.
  6. Cultivating clarity. Often students don’t know exactly what they are seeking but do have an acute awareness that something is missing from their lives. Reiki can help put them in touch with intuition, a sense of knowing that is much deeper than the intellect. For those who feel stuck in health, career, or relationship, developing clarity can reveal the way forward.
  7. Healthy aging. There’s a common misconception in our culture that everything just starts to fall apart after age 40. Sadly, this is coupled with a sense of resignation and hopelessness. I’d like to argue that neglecting and abusing one’s body does cause increasing damage, and for many people, 40 years is the tipping point when such mistreatment can no longer be sustained. Reducing toxicity and inflammation while stockpiling life-force energy can go a long way to promoting better health through middle age and the elder years.
  8. Support through a difficult time. Relocation, new parenthood, death of a loved one, divorce, and other big life changes are highly stressful. Reiki can provide comfort through challenges that might not be avoidable, but don’t need to be downright incapacitating.
  9. Letting go of unwanted emotions. Resentment from old hurts can be a consistent drain of one’s energy and trigger undesirable coping mechanisms such as overdrinking, overeating, overworking, etc to numb the pain. Letting go of justified anger can seem impossible without external support. Yes, someone might have done something careless or even cruel in the past, and you might have suffered as a result. And at some point, you might choose to stop any needlessly suffering despite the damage that was done. Reiki can help find the inner resources and resilience to let go so that you can move on.
  10. Frustrating or inadequate results of medical treatment. Many people show up in my office after having run through the gamut of medical tests and procedures that simply haven’t provided the desired relief. Because Reiki works on the mental, emotional, spiritual, and energetic realms in addition to the physical body, it can often foster balance where modern medicine is unaware that balance is lacking.
  11. Enjoying optimal health, happiness, and productivity. While Reiki isn’t a magical cure-all, it does help everyone access the greatest health available to their unique selves. Sure, I remain sensitive to wheat products and susceptible to type 2 diabetes despite my daily practice. That’s unlikely to change in this lifetime. But within these parameters, I enjoy the best health possible for me. Experiencing optimal health goes a long way to being happy and productive. It builds a strong foundation upon which we can then layer creativity, connection, vitality, and success.
  12. Discovering and aligning with your soul’s calling. Once all the above concerns get sorted, it’s so much easier to hear the still, small voice within guiding you toward the plan your soul has for you. When there are fewer distractions from aches and pains, petty grievances, unnecessary triggering of the fight/flight/freeze response, limiting beliefs, outdating coping mechanisms, debilitating insecurities, and upsetting negative self-talk, there is so much energy freed up to explore our heart’s desires and innate talents which are keys to uncovering our unique mission for this lifetime. It’s in there somewhere, and Reiki can clear out the muck that stands in the way!

I could keep going, but this seems a good place to stop. If you have any questions about your specific needs, I’d be happy to set up a complimentary 15-minute phone consultation. Chances are I’ll say, “Yes, Reiki can help with that.” It’s a rather miraculous technique that continues to surprise me even after almost two decades of practice. If you’re interested in signing up for an online class, I’m offering Reiki 1 in a 4 week series beginning May 25, 2021.  

Online Reiki 1 Classes

I am delighted to announce the next round of beginners’ Reiki classes. If you’re interested in reducing stress, anxiety, tension or pain; cultivating the greatest wellness available to you; accessing intuition, clarity, focus, and creativity; releasing unwanted habits, stuck emotions, or limiting beliefs; and basically living your best life possible, this could be for you!

Over the past year I’ve really come to appreciate the benefits of hosting classes online. Not only does it make them more accessible, but it allows for shorter, more frequent meetings without sacrificing convenience. This seems to promote retention and assimilation for many students. Plus, no need to forfeit the blissed out feeling by getting in the car to drive home!

Four Tuesday evenings, 6:30-8:30 pm, eastern time

May 25, June 1, 8, & 15, 2021

$225 investment. $25 off early bird discount through May 14.

Contact me to register; space is limited for more personalized approach and greater connection.

Anyone who has taken Reiki 1 with me may sit in free of charge, space permitting.

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.

Which is Better, Reiki or Massage?

I get this question a lot from new clients. Is Reiki or massage better? It’s common knowledge that both are helpful for reducing stress and pain, so how does one choose which treatment will provide the most relief?

First of all, neither is better. They’re both fabulous. Just different.

For people who don’t wish to get undressed, don’t want their hair to get mucked up, or don’t like to be touched, Reiki is the perfect solution. Clients remain fully clothed, no oil or lotion is used, and healing energy can be transferred either with or without touch. For those who enjoy the gliding or kneading of bodywork or the moisturizing benefit of being coated in massage cream, well that’s an obvious choice as well.

For the rest of us, it all depends on the goals for the session and the origin of the stressors. Massage is extremely helpful for correcting postural imbalances from sitting too long at a desk and for muscle aches from repetitive movements. It’s my go-to technique for issues that are firmly rooted in the physical body.

For concerns that arise primarily from the mental/emotional realm, I find Reiki to be more helpful. For example, the type of stress that is unleashed from having too much to do and too little time. Reiki is brilliant. It excels at resetting the inner alarm system that keeps us on edge when we’re trying to unplug for a rest. Anxiety, depression, and insomnia all respond particularly well, as does old trauma that was hasn’t yet been released fully.

Yet it really isn’t as black or white as that. The physical, mental and emotional bodies are all interwoven and constantly impact one another. If I’m worried about meeting a deadline, the concern begins in my mind but it triggers physiological affect as well. If I spend 12 hours in front of my computer, it’s my body that is slumped over and achy, but my mood also pays a price.

If we bring in spiritual aspirations such as reclaiming worthiness or embodying the divine, the waters get even murkier. Releasing tension from the muscles allows us greater freedom to pursue a meditation practice or creative projects. And using Reiki to bring the chakras into alignment or balancing the flow of energy top to toe can give us the fuel we need to really dig into the necessary action steps.

The good news is, you don’t have to choose. This needn’t be an either/or situation. It can be a both/and scenario. It’s possible to blend energywork and bodywork together in a treatment. I really enjoy offering combination sessions as I can pull what’s most useful from each system for the immediate circumstances. Or it’s possible to alternate modalities depending on what your unique needs are on that particular day. This might require some advanced planning if you’re seeing two different practitioners. However, there are quite a lot of us hybrids out there who can adapt relatively easily.

I don’t think I’ve done a very good job answering the question! I guess my short answer is, it depends. In the care of a skilled and caring practitioner, you really can’t go wrong though. Either modality can be an effective tool for most complaints. Rather than trying to analyze the benefits intellectually, I think you’ll get a lot more information from experiencing a session. When in doubt, place a hand over your heart and inquire within. You have a great well of wisdom inside and who knows better than you what is in your best interest?

That’s so Reiki!

Many of my students have started using the word “Reiki” as an adjective. While technically it’s a noun (commonly translated from Japanese as “spiritually guided life-force energy”), I’ve used it for years as a verb. “Did you Reiki it?”, is my standard reply to each and every complaint or concern uttered by a practitioner. The adjective form was completely new to me, and a brilliant revelation!

One of the greatest rewards of being a Reiki teacher is learning from my students. 🙂 Frequently they have insights and ideas that change my perspective or open doors I never even knew existed. While my supposedly smart phone hasn’t been able to learn the word Reiki despite constant correction (seriously what is Ricci and why does it think it’s a word in my vocabulary?), people who are drawn to study Reiki are much more creative and adaptable.

“That’s so Reiki” developed in response to a discussion about the seemingly bizarre and inexplicable results and synchronicities that appear when we apply this healing energy consistently. When someone notices tingling or pulsing sensations at the time when a practitioner is sending them long-distance Reiki without being aware of the exact time of the transmission, that’s so Reiki! When the universe conspires to bring me the precise set of circumstances that puts me in the right place at the right time to meet the person who has the answers I need, that’s also very Reiki.

In the beginning it’s common to describe these results as “weird” or “impossible”, but as we continue to practice Reiki, we quickly learn that its effects are powerful yet gentle, all encompassing and somewhat miraculous. When we move beyond the ego’s desire to label and analyze these effects, it becomes easy to see that while I may not grasp the big picture, Reiki does. While I may not know what’s best for me, Reiki’s innate intelligence can deliver what I didn’t even know that I needed.

When we begin to trust in the spiritually guided aspect of Reiki, we can allow ourselves to relax into the seemingly mysterious results. Rather than trying to describe the indescribable nature of healing, we can simply accept that it’s just so Reiki.

Are You Giving Too Much?: Shamans Cave

I was introduced (virtually, of course!) to Sandra Ingerman at a Dreamwork Summit. She approached this topic from a Shamanic point of view, which is unfamiliar, yet fascinating to me. I was surprised (but not really) and delighted to find a hefty overlap with long-distance Reiki healing. Hear her and her podcast partner’s, Renee Baribeau, view on the hot topic of sending healing to those who haven’t asked for it at The Shamans Cave.

Reiki and Bladder Issues

Recently someone asked me how Reiki could help his bladder issues. He didn’t elaborate on exactly what the “issues” are, but it doesn’t particularly matter. Reiki works with bladder issues much the same way it works with anxiety and sprained ankles and pneumonia: holistically. As I’ve heard several other bladder complaints since then, I thought it might be helpful to share my perspective here.

Reiki support is multi-layered: lowering stress (which halts energy from being needlessly diverted to the same physiological response experienced when facing a bear in the woods), bathing the body in life-force energy (which can be used for recharging and healing), and supporting emotional balance (which helps prevent future stress and further accumulation of stuck or stored emotions). I believe the body knows how to heal itself; but injuries, false beliefs, destructive habits, trauma and stress block the innate flow of energy. Reiki helps re-establish that flow.

Louise Hay, who I affectionately refer to as the Queen of Affirmations, writes about bladder problems in her little blue book, Heal Your Body, the Mental Causes for Physical Illness and the Metaphysical Way to Overcome Them. She lists probable causes as “Anxiety. Holding on to old ideas. Fear of letting go. Being pissed off.”

She also provides a new thought pattern with a prescription to repeat it frequently until relief emerges. “I comfortably and easily release the old and welcome the new in my life.”

In my personal experience and in working with thousands of clients over the years, it’s clear that affirmations are helpful in reprogramming thought patterns. They help us notice when we slip into a harmful mental loop and bring awareness to our emotional state and our power to intentionally shift it.

However, many of the deeper programs running in the subconscious seem to be immune to such efforts. When the fight-flight-freeze mechanism gets triggered, there are no magical words that will deactivate it. This wouldn’t be a big deal if it only occurred occasionally. However in today’s hectic world, it’s quite common to experience chronic levels of stress that keep the body locked in a state of being constantly on the defense against bears.

This is where Reiki comes in. By stimulating the relaxation response in order to reset the nervous system, it’s possible to move more quickly out of fight-flight-freeze reactions. When we’re able to recognize that in reality we really are safe and that the traffic or deadline (or whatever activated the warning bells) has awakened a primal physiological response that is a huge overreaction.

When the brain is no longer on hyperalert and signaling the body to prepare for imminent danger, calm is once again accessible and from here, it’s possible to resume positive thinking. Combined with compassion and the awareness of the sensations the body provides as indicators of well-being or the lack thereof, we now have a recipe for deep and lasting transformation.

It’s possible to build up resilience against chronic stress by receiving routine Reiki treatments, practicing mindfulness and other stress management techniques, and using affirmations to rewrite the default scripts that play in the mind. If you feel the need for a more powerful intervention, a beginner’s Reiki class will enable you to access this seemingly magical healing energy wherever and whenever you need it. While there are no guarantees when it comes to healing, it never hurts to explore natural and holistic remedies that give you access to the best possible health that is available to you in each moment.

Contact me if you’re interested in receiving a remote treatment from the comfort and safety of your home or to learn how to treat yourself. I’d be delighted to discuss the possibilities with you.

Reiki Empowerment

Many of my clients and students tell me they are struggling to remain rooted in this world, aware of the events of 2020, connected to the well of peace within, and aligned with their soul’s calling. It is indeed a balancing act to keep our eyes and ears open and participate in a society that seems to grow more chaotic by the day without allowing ourselves to get swept up by despair and anxiety.

Some spiritually minded folks prefer to keep their attention focused inward, ignoring the struggle that so many are facing these days. That is absolutely an option for those of us who are privileged enough to not be directly affected by the state of the world. There are plenty of roles to be played during this time of great transformation.

If you’d prefer a more active role, perhaps with boots on the ground, as a participant in the crucial discussions happening online, or as a leader, teacher, or facilitator of some sort, you need not sacrifice your health and well-being to do so.

I’m observing an awakening of many activists who wish to lend a hand in recreating, in their own ways, the world we live in. People are stretching beyond their comfort zones to help their communities and beyond, and it is heartwarming to behold. I applaud those who are stepping up to engage in the shaping of our global future. I also recognize the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual fatigue that they risk without adequate care for themselves.

Reiki is the easiest, safest, and most powerful tool I am aware of to keep our tanks full so that we can return again and again to our missions. Filling ourselves with life-force energy and releasing unnecessary stress boosts our immune systems and our connection to intuition, two important factors for remaining able to continue on our paths with clarity and vitality. Even the greatest warriors need occasional respite. Taking the time to tend to our needs allows us to return to the arena, bringing our wisdom, power, and stamina.

It requires effort, but it is possible to have an embodied, visceral connection to the spiritual world, an eye toward the future we hope to build, and a sense of purpose integrated with inner peace. At times, staying involved without becoming a martyr will feel like a complicated dance. Receiving frequent Reiki infusions along can be both the anchor that allows you to remain grounded and the raft that keeps you afloat.

Anyone can learn Reiki in a short amount of time, without any prior knowledge or skill. These days there are plenty of online classes to choose from if you don’t have a teacher in your area. Once initiated into this healing modality, you forever have access to it.

I recommend a daily self-treatment of flooding oneself with spiritually guided life-force energy as a preventative approach, but it’s also easy to activate Reiki in times of stress, crisis, or pain. I call this technique Reiki on the fly and it is tremendously helpful. It’s also comforting to know that access to this infinite source of healing is at the fingertips whenever needed.

If the thought of adding one more thing, no matter how brilliant, to your daily to-do list causes you to cringe, you can benefit from seeking out a practitioner to support you. Depending on where you live, you might be able to receive a hands-on treatment. If not, there’s another, equally potent option. Long-distance Reiki is a tried and true service that allows a recipient to relax wherever they are and absorb the healing energy transferred from afar.

Reiki really is exactly the medicine we need during these challenging times. It gives us the extra oomph required to pursue our calling without a need to sacrifice our well-being. It’s easy and safe to use and is always available. Reiki provides us with the best possible chance of enjoying optimal health while remaining engaged with the world. You need not be forced to choose one or the other; Reiki can help you have both.

Medicinal Art

When my friend approached me about making a customized painting for my office, I jumped at the opportunity! Rod has been making multi-layered, multi-media art for years and is an embodiment of Love Itself.

He coached me through the creation of a unique set of chakra affirmations that reflect the exact vibration of healing that I desire to promote. I chose a theme of safety as I work with lots of people healing from trauma; old and new, big and small, overt and complex. Building a sense of feeling safe here and now is an important element for deactivating the fight/flight/freeze response so that healing can begin.

He painted these affirmations, layer upon layer, and in the process encoded the final product with the essence of each of them. (I’ve attached the individual affirmations below.) The final layer is based on a shape from the tradition of sacred geometry called the seed of life. It represents the interconnectivity of all beings. While this is not my area of expertise, I recognize a symbol of power when I see one, and wow! This is a visual representation of an energy similar to what I share in my Reiki practice.

The icing on the cake is the attached crystals and set of stones engraved with the chakra symbols, cultivating harmony within and well as with the natural rhythms of the universe. These photos don’t do the art justice, but you can get a glimpse of its potency. Below is a close-up of the disk representing the heart chakra, Anahata; the center of the painting, and seat of love, joy, compassion, and gratitude within us all.

The overall result is not only beautiful, but also a healing experience for those in its presence. It’s hanging in my office where I am able to gaze upon it and absorb and transfer its benefits during treatments. Clients generally close their eyes during a session, but many have commented on the effect it has when they enter the room.

During this time of great turmoil and uncertainty, I feel incredibly blessed to have access to one more tool for healing. Every effort we make to raise life-force energy, access inner wisdom and serenity, and boost the immune system has a cumulative effect on our well-being. This then ripples out into the world, touching all those whose paths cross our own.

These are the affirmations that have been layered into the painting. Feel free to use them as a starting off point for creating phrases that resonate deeply within yourself. May they bring you comfort and healing.

First chakra. It is safe for me to be here and to take up space. I belong.
Second chakra. It is safe for me to feel and express all of my emotions. I am connected.
Third chakra. It is safe for me to act in accordance with my values. I am empowered.
Fourth chakra. It is safe for me to give and receive love. I am loving. I am loved.
Fifth chakra. It is safe for me to speak and hear the truth. I express myself freely.
Sixth chakra. It is safe for me to see the truth and activate my intuition. I am guided.
Seventh chakra. It is safe for me to access my inner knowing. I am awake.

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