Is There Enough?(Hint: Yes! If We Change the Way We Look at Life)

I probably sound like a groupie, but I am utterly enchanted by Dr. Rick Hanson’s work. I just read his newsletter, Just One Thing, Simple practices for resilient happiness from Rick Hanson, Ph.D. , and immediately wanted to shout from the rooftop.

Resilient happiness. Who doesn’t want that?

The newsletter is free, informative and totally relatable. I enjoy reading it every week. Today’s message was about feeling already full. I’m simply going to copy and paste the entire thing here as he says it all.

No, I am not financially affiliated or rewarded in any way for promoting his (or anybody’s) work. This is just too helpful not to share!

Is There Enough?

The Practice:

Feel already full.
Why?

One slice of the pie of life feels relaxed and contented. And then there is that other slice, in which we feel driven and stressed. Trying to get pleasures, avoid pains, pile up accomplishments and recognitions, be loved by more people. Lose more weight, try to fill the hole in the heart. Slake the thirst, satisfy the hunger. Strive, strain, press.

This other slice is the conventional strategy for happiness. We pursue it for four reasons.

1. The brain evolved through its reptilian, mammalian, and primate/human stages to meet three needs: avoid harms, approach rewards, and attach to others. In terms of these three needs, animals that were nervous, driven, and clinging were more likely to survive and pass on their genes – which are woven into our DNA today. Try to feel not one bit uneasy, discontented, or disconnected for more than a few seconds, let alone a few minutes.

2. You’re bombarded by thousands of messages each day that tell you to want more stuff. Even if you turn off the TV, worth in our culture is based greatly on accomplishments, wealth, and appearance; you have to keep improving, and the bar keeps rising.

3. Past experiences, especially young ones, leave traces that are negatively biased due to the Velcro-for-pain but Teflon-for-pleasure default setting of the brain. So there’s a background sense of anxiety, resentment, loss, hurt, or inadequacy, guilt, or shame that makes us over-react today.

4. To have any particular perception, emotion, memory, or desire, the brain must impose order on chaos, signals on noise. In a mouthful of a term, this is “cognitive essentializing.” The brain must turn verbs – dynamic streams of neural activity – into nouns: momentarily stable sights, sounds, tastes, touches, smells, and thoughts. Naturally, we try to hold onto the ones we like. But since neural processing continually changes, all experiences are fleeting. They slip through your fingers as you reach for them, an unreliable basis for deep and lasting happiness. Yet so close, so tantalizing . . . and so we keep reaching.

For these reasons, deep down there is a sense of disturbance, not-enoughness, unease. Feeling threatened and unsafe, disappointed and thwarted, insufficiently valued and loved. Driven to get ahead, to fix oneself, to capture an experience before it evaporates. So, we crave and cling, suffer and harm. As if life were a cup – with a hole in the bottom – that we keep trying to fill. A strategy that is both fruitless and stressful.

All the world’s wisdom traditions point out this truth: that the conventional strategy for happiness is both doomed and actually makes us unhappier. The theistic traditions (e.g., Hinduism, Judaism, Islam, Christianity) describe this truth as the inherently unsatisfying nature of a life that is separated from an underlying Divine reality. The agnostic traditions (e.g., Buddhism) describe it as the inherent suffering in grasping or aversion toward innately ephemeral experiences.

Call this the truth of futility. Recognizing it has been both uncomfortable and enormously helpful for me, since you gradually realize that it is pointless to “crave” – to stress and strain over fleeting experiences. But there is another truth, also taught in the wisdom traditions, though perhaps not as forthrightly. This is the truth that there is always already an underlying fullness.

When this truth sinks in emotionally, into your belly and bones, you feel already peaceful, happy, and loved. There is no need for craving, broadly defined, no need to engage an unhappy strategy for happiness. And you have more to offer others now that your cup is truly full.
How?

Recognize the lies built into the conventional strategy for happiness to wake up from their spells. Mother Nature whispers: You should feel threatened, frustrated, lonely. Culture and commerce say: You need more clothes, thinner thighs, better beer; consume more and be like the pretty people on TV. The residues of past experiences, especially young ones, mutter in the background: You’re not that smart, attractive, worthy; you need to do more and be more; if you just have X, you’ll get the life you want. The essentializing nature of cognition implies: Crave more, cling more, it will work the next time, really.

As you see through these lies, recognize the truth of fullness. In terms of your core needs to avoid harms, approach rewards, and attach to others, observe: that you are basically alright right now; that this moment of experience has an almost overwhelming abundance of stimulation, and you probably live better than the kings and queens of old; and that you are always intimately connected with all life, and almost certainly loved. Regarding our consumerist and status-seeking culture, consider what really matters to you – for example, if you were told you had one year to live – and notice that you already have most if not all of what matters most. In terms of the messages from previous experiences, look inside to see the facts of your own natural goodness, talents, and spirit. And about the impermanent nature of experience, notice what happens when you let go of this moment: another one emerges, the vanishing Now is endlessly renewed.

Abiding in fullness doesn’t mean you sit on your thumbs. It’s normal and fine to wish for more pleasure and less pain, to aspire and create, to lean into life with passion and purpose, to pursue justice and peace. But we don’t have to want for more, fight with more, drive for more, clutch at more. While the truth of futility is that it is hopeless to crave, the truth of fullness is that it’s unnecessary.

Finding this fullness, let it sink in. For survival purposes, the brain is good at learning from the bad, but bad at learning from the good. So, help it by enriching an experience through making it last a 10-20 seconds or longer, fill your body and mind, and become more intense. Also absorb it by intending and sensing that it is sinking into you as you sink into it. Do this half a dozen times a day, maybe half a minute at a time. It’s less than five minutes a day. But you’ll be gradually weaving a profound sense of being already fundamentally peaceful, happy, loved, and loving into the fabric of your brain and your life.

Needless to say I highly recommend signing up to receive this gem in your inbox every week. He also links his podcast, classes, and other news in the world of resilient happiness. And I want that for all of us.

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Why Wait Till You’re Sick to Rest?

Recently a client told me that maybe it would be better if she just got sick so she could spend a few days in bed resting. For the past week her entire family had been fighting off one bug after another, and she was exhausted. I shared my strategy of taking time off when I feel the first hints of less-than-wellness, preferring to spend my time in bed resting without being miserable.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

It really got me thinking how we’re programmed in our culture to keep going, going, going no matter the cost to our health. We’re taught to push through discomfort and to force ourselves to carry on at any cost. In order to receive permission to take time off, from an authority figure or even ourselves, we often need to be seriously ill, oozing bodily fluids, devoid of all energy, and utterly wrung out.

Then it takes a week or more to recover when a day or two of rest might have been enough to avoid the entire episode. From a productivity point of view, it’s completely inefficient. From a wellness point of view, it’s completely bonkers!

Choosing to prioritize my health has shifted my thinking completely. I recognize the value in protecting my life-force energy and making choices that maximize my well-being. When I don’t work, I don’t get paid, which only reinforces my desire to defend my health. Taking two days off is rarely easy, yet it’s always easier than loosing a week or more of work.

My most recent bout of almost-sickness led to some serious soul-searching. What could I change to prevent a future incident? What is it that I give myself permission to do when I’m sick that I don’t have permission to do when I’m well? Is it possible to provide that without needing the threat of illness? Spending two days in bed creates its own problems in the form of stiffness and backache and isn’t the most ideal solution.

For many people it is about rest. But I fiercely guard my precious sleep, so that’s not it. For me, the answer was obvious. I’m “allowed” to do nothing and watch movies when I don’t feel well. It’s about downtime and entertainment. Pieces of the puzzle that are often missing in my daily life.

I’ve decided to upgrade my plan from resting when illness threatens to making time in my schedule every week for play and fun. Finding blocks of time that aren’t about being productive or learning or even creating (as much as I enjoy these things) is the prescription.

If I willingly give my psyche the time it needs to thrive, it won’t need to demand it through illness. Which isn’t to say that I’ll never be sick again. I wish! I’m still living in a human body, with all its frailties and imperfections. Yet I can give myself the best chance possible to prevent all preventable illness by making pro-active decisions.

And that’s really the best I can do.

Rejected. Thank Goodness!

Today I received a “thank you for your application, but…” email from a local non-profit group I want to volunteer for. Or at least I thought I want to volunteer. As I’ve been waiting to learn if I was in or not, I’d begun to feel anxious about the time requirements, both for the training and the monthly commitment afterwards. I’d put several other opportunities on hold to save time for this group and felt mildly resentful about that too.

So now I feel as if a burden has been lifted! Once again I didn’t know what I really wanted and chose to pursue something that wasn’t an ideal match for my needs. In fact, had I been accepted, I can now see that one of my favorite pastimes would have been irrevocably linked in my mind to volunteering and likely forever tainted by a sense of obligation .

Photo by Andre Furtado on Pexels.com

How cool is it that fate or the Universe or Divine Planning (or whatever you want to call it!) didn’t give me the thing I thought I wanted that I really didn’t? Not only that, but during my interview I was given the name of a book that actually contains the information that drove me to seek out the training in the first place. Perhaps that was the whole point!

Most magical of all, I’ve been able to see this potentially upsetting news as the gift that it really is. If it weren’t for my consistent practice of filling myself up with Reiki before getting out of bed every morning, I would have likely been sucked into a downward self-pity spiral. Instead I was able to tap into my inner resilience and wisdom.

I tell my students that Reiki always works, just not always in the ways we want it to. I had been using Reiki to support my hopes of being accepted into the program. I didn’t get what I thought I wanted, but I did get what I needed. Fortunately Reiki can see the bigger picture and has my highest good prioritized. My only job is to activate it, trust, and follow through on the steps I’m guided to take.

Whew! That’s totally doable.

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“I need you to Reiki my vagina.”

Not the greeting I typically receive from clients! But this woman has been suffering from chronic yeast and bacterial infections for the past eight years. Ugh! So she is on a mission and doesn’t beat around the bush.

One of Reiki’s superpowers is that it is activated by intention. Beginning practitioners are taught a series of hand positions to transfer the healing energy, but it’s not at all necessary to touch the area we are treating. We can hover over the area or “beam” the energy from our hands to the target, and as we gain skill it becomes easy to solely use the power of intention to focus the energy on a zone we cannot touch such as breasts, genitals, or rashes.

So it wasn’t the request that surprised me. It’s not problematic to treat the sexual organs. It was the candor of the request that really captured my attention. It got me thinking that in 16 years of practice, no one has ever said anything like this to me! It seems likely that some of my other thousands of clients suffered from some sort of vaginal distress.

Which got me thinking of how sexuality has somehow been excluded from attention in much of the holistic healing world. While it’s quite common for people to share extremely personal details about their digestive tract or emotional trauma, very rarely have I treated someone who expressed a wish to activate dormant sexual energy or experience more powerful orgasms.

Photo by Designecologist on Pexels.com

And it’s not because Reiki can’t help with these things. It totally can! Simply decreasing stress, releasing stuck emotions and improving circulation will invariable be beneficial; setting a specific intention will be even more powerful. Yet somehow the perception that our sexual health and pleasure isn’t worthy of healing or is too shameful to talk about pervades. Well, I am here to help break this pattern!

It is completely normal and perfectly acceptable to desire a happy, healthy sex life. There is nothing un-spiritual about wanting to experience greater ecstasy or more freedom and confidence in the bedroom. Or kitchen or garage… Hey, no judgment here! Regardless of the source of this seeming taboo (patriarchal, cultural, and religious conditioning; your time is up!) we can reprogram our thinking to embrace our sexuality and seek holistic health care support for maximizing our inherent ability to enjoy consensual physical union.

It may indeed be uncomfortable for you to speak to a practitioner about your goals for enhancing your libido. If it’s the first time you’re doing so, you can expect to stammer and blush. If you’ve done your homework and chosen an open-minded, progressive, and compassionate practitioner, he or she can help you get the words out. A big part of what I do is listening respectfully and guiding clients to a clear statement of intent. It’s just part of the job.

If you’re in the Philly area, I’d be delighted to schedule a treatment for you. To be 100% clear, using Reiki for sexual healing is completely non-sexual. It is simply the application of spiritually guided life-force energy for the intention of your choosing. Never ever, never ever should it include contact with the genitals; or any other area you’d prefer not to be touched for that matter.

If you’re not in my neighborhood, my long-distance Reiki package discount is available for another week. Contact me if you’re wondering if it could be a match for you and your needs.

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Will Reiki Help My…

Short answer? Probably!

In the past week I’ve shared Reiki for a wide array of issues. A sick cat, indigestion, misplaced libido, bladder pain, shoulder pain, low back pain, foot pain, general anxiety, travel anxiety, “ruffled edges”, depression, feelings of disconnection, worries about an upcoming difficult situation, healing of sexual trauma and all the resulting false beliefs and suppressed emotions, and stress eating.

Oh yeah, I did a healing attunement and blessing for a new home, and have since received excited reports of family harmony and children playing peaceably together and eating vegetables. That was fun. And very exciting for the parents and me too as it’s now a new service I’m keen to offer. More on this in the near future!

Reiki can be helpful for physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and circumstantial issues. It’s my go-to strategy for anything that ails me and no doubt my students get tired of hearing me ask if they Reiki’ed whatever it is that they are complaining about. I might sound like a broken record, but that’s just because it works. It works every single time! Often like magic. Not always in the ways we want it to, but it definitely works.

Here’s the thing. Reiki always supports our highest good. So when it seems like it isn’t working, often there’s a reason that we just aren’t seeing.

When Reiki wasn’t able to help me sleep past 5 am, I eventually realized that I was supposed to get my butt out of bed and make productive use of that time.

When the housing situation I desired didn’t materialize, I eventually realized there were lessons I needed to learn in my current location first. If I had just moved away, I would have taken all my problems with me. Thanks, but no thanks!

When my ankle continued to bother me for nearly 3 years, I eventually realized (with the help of a series of synchronicities and a medical intuitive session ala Laura Bruno) it was a message from my Spirit about being neither fully grounded nor moving forward as guided. I wrote more about this discovery in Reiki fail?

Reiki won’t help you find peace in an abusive relationship or soul-sucking job. It definitely won’t help you binge chocolate chip cookies without an inflammation response or ignore resentment that is festering deep inside. For sure it won’t make your mother change her diet to support better health if she isn’t interested in doing so, and it won’t make your baby niece sleep when you want her to. Trust me, I’ve tried all of these things and failed!

But the failure was mine. Reiki didn’t fail; it always had my back. None of those attempts were in my highest good. The problem is that I often don’t know what’s in my best interest. I’ve spent most of my life pursuing goals that were shiny on the outside and hollow on the inside. My limited human brain is generally unaware of my soul’s plan for sharing the gifts that are uniquely mine.

Not to worry! Reiki has an innate intelligence that is spiritually guided. It knows much, much better than I do what I need to be happy, healthy and fulfilled. Learning to trust that Reiki is 100% supportive allows me to surrender attachment to my ego’s plan and receive the gifts and guidance that flow to me.

Will Reiki help your xyz? If it’s in alignment with your highest good, for sure! If not, it will likely help you see that your thoughts are misguided and reveal the bigger picture. Either way, it will help you uncover your soul’s perfection and the unique medicine you have to share.

There’s still time to take advantage of the long-distance Reiki package special I’m offering to support you on this road of self- discovery. 10% off a series of five sessions, through 1/31/2020. Contact me if you’re wondering if this is a good match for your needs.

Reiki Master Teacher Training and Personal Healing Quest

I’m delighted to announce a new certification program! I’ve been dreaming up this concept for years and have finally worked out the logistical kinks. Reiki Master Teacher, sometimes called Advanced Reiki or Reiki 3, is the pinnacle of training in this healing system. Often it’s taught in a weekend intensive, and it’s entirely possible to receive the certification without ever giving one single treatment.

I wanted to go a different route. A more scenic route. One steeped in devotion to practice. My passion is encouraging students to develop a daily routine for exploring a personal healing quest and uncovering their soul’s calling. Along with unconditional compassion and non-judgment, I believe this is the foundation of becoming a quality practitioner and teacher.

Perfection is not the goal. Consistent application of the healing tools at our disposal is. Reiki is the greatest, wisest teacher I’ve ever met! The experiences I’ve had treating myself and others have taught me infinitely more than any book or class could. It’s my intention to share this understanding and gently but firmly guide students to allow Reiki to reveal it secrets through observation.

Granted, this is no easy task! It requires patience and diligence and courage. Especially courage. Facing our wounds, fears, resistances, and limiting beliefs requires stamina, curiosity, and tons of courage. It is much, much easier to show up for a weekend workshop. In this program, you really have to work to earn the certification!

So I’ve developed a six month training that is largely independent study. Six of the seven classes will be held online for everyone’s convenience. We will meet in person only once for the attunement. There will be reading assignments and practice, practice, practice to keep us all busy for the weeks in between.

We’ll cover the traditional material including the master symbol for spiritual healing, opening a practice, and how to give initiation attunements and healing attunements, which are super-potent treatments. And we’ll discuss many of the more nuanced aspects of giving the best sessions possible. In my teaching I share the tricks that I’ve figured out over the past 16 years giving thousands of treatments. I learned the hard way, but you don’t have to!

If you’re interested in diving deep and immersing yourself fully in the Reiki pool, let’s connect and see if this is a good fit for you. You can join from anywhere, with the exception of the second class, when we’ll gather in my office in Philadelphia. The cost is $777, with an early bird discount of $77 off, available through 3/1/2020. Classes are on the fourth Thursday of each month, 6-8:30 pm eastern time, beginning in March. Details can be found here.

Long Distance Reiki Healing

One of the most amazing benefits of Reiki is that it is not limited by time or space. Healing energy can be sent to a client who is not geographically present. With the use of sacred symbols learned in a level 2 Reiki course and the power of intention, spiritually guided life-force energy can be transferred remotely. To anywhere!

Over the years of offering healing sessions to those who live in different parts of the world, I’ve come to have a deep respect for this amazing technique. While there is indeed something special about the comfort of human touch, I often find that long-distance healing can be more powerful. Somehow without a body beneath my hands, I’m better able to tune into the energetic matrix that is the blueprint of our physical reality.

It’s quite common for me to see images of blockages while sending Reiki remotely. It’s become second nature to be guided by these images to a root problem that is causing symptoms of discomfort or imbalance. Pain might be represented as steam pressurizing in an organ, a hornets’ nest, or a clogged drainpipe. While these messages obviously aren’t literal, they offer me clues about where to apply Reiki for an optimal outcome.

For several months now I’ve been sending Reiki to my 5 year-old nephew who has difficulty focusing at school. Well, duh! He’s 5! But I’m concerned that he will be burdened with a diagnostic label that might come with a prescription, so I’ve been intervening in the only way I know how. During one of his remote sessions, am image came to me of a parade of ants crawling down his leg. Ants in his pants! Totally a metaphor for what was happening, as well as an indicator that I was on target and needed to stay there until the last ant was evacuated.

Reiki has a great sense of humor!

I’ve come to recognize a pattern when doing this type of work; as one blockage is cleared, often the next layer is revealed and new symptoms arise. I’ve started offering long-distance sessions in packages to accommodate this phenomenon. Deeper healing generally requires a series of treatments to restore balance and harmony, but even one treatment can produce tremendous results. (If you’re wondering how many sessions it will take to heal an issue, that’s rather like asking me how long it will take to become free of debt. It depends. Here’s a recent post I wrote about exactly this.)

For example, working on a friend’s broken finger brought up an underlying sense of anxiety that causes her to rush around without being mindful- perhaps the very cause of the injury. Treating both the finger and the anxiety offers a much greater opportunity for deeper healing and a future with fewer accidents. I suspect the anxiety has an even deeper cause that will likely be unveiled in upcoming treatments.

Each time an intention is set for healing, whatever it is that is preventing that healing becomes the focus point of an inner spotlight. It takes courage to allow this spotlight to reveal the hidden blockages and outdated beliefs that are lurking in the shadows. It’s much easier to blame others for our circumstances, to distract ourselves or numb the pain. The very nature of our modern culture encourages to keep so very busy we never need notice our inner turmoil, and if we do, we are encouraged to drown it out with alcohol, baked goods, online shopping, endless social media scrolling, or casual sex.

Been there, done that!

If these superficial strategies are no longer working for you either, I would be honored to facilitate your healing process with Reiki.  I’m extending the 10% off package discount through the end of January 2020. Normally $400, five one-hour long-distance Reiki treatments are now only $360. I offer 15 minute complimentary consultations if you’re on the fence, as well as gift-certificates for your loved ones.

This can be a challenging time of year for so many reasons. You don’t have to go it alone. Another alternative is to take a class and learn to use Reiki yourself. This is the most affordable option if you’re the type of person who will actually use it on a regular basis. There’s nothing quite like having the power of healing energy at your very finger tips! I have a level 1 certification coming up in January if you’re in the Philadelphia area. If you’re not, there’s likely a teacher near you. Or you could just stay at home and schedule a long-distance treatment.