What’s a Healing Crisis?

Allow me to introduce Karen, a Reiki student whose contagious enthusiasm, fascination, and curiosity inspired me to invite her to collaborate on a Q&A series. We are hoping that sharing the experience of how Reiki has affected her in such a relatively short period of time will validate others who are having similar experiences that seem far-fetched.

Karen: What’s a healing crisis and how do I know if I’m having one?

Pamela: Great question! A healing crisis can happen after a holistic health treatment or Reiki attunement. As the body adjusts to a new energy level, it begins to release stored toxins and/or emotions. This is a necessary part of the healing process but can feel… uncomfortable.

For instance, I tend to hold unexpressed anger in my left hip. When I receive work on that area, afterwards I sometimes sense that old and seemingly irrelevant anger rises to the surface. Sometimes there can be a flu-like response as toxins that had been stuck in that stagnant anger are being processed. Knowing that these are symptoms of healing, I’m able to support the process by drinking extra water or herbal teas, doing gentle stretches and movement, or taking an Epsom salt bath rather than sinking into despair or taking OTC meds. The awareness that I’m letting go of the very source of the pain in my hip encourages me to stick with it and be gentle and kind with myself rather than examining where I went wrong or why I’m feeling sick.

As for knowing if you’re having a healing reaction, I’m not sure you can ever really know. There’s not a blood test or any way to measure this. If your intuition is telling you this is a meaningful response, then most likely it is! If you recently had a treatment or an attunement, the chances are good that you are. The mind wants to know and define and label, but the truth is it doesn’t really matter for the healing. Just like any other symptoms; we notice, accept, get present with a loving heart, and use whatever tools we have to help ourselves.

Karen: It was interesting to experience the healing crisis and as time has passed, I’ve definitely realized that is what I was going through. The symptoms that led me to Reiki in the first place – a chronic back problem, anxiety, and depression – were suddenly acute! My back went into spasm, I was feeling overwhelmed and sad, and had a respiratory virus all of a sudden. But through this process, I continued to do my Reiki practice and gained perspective that enabled me to observe it without getting caught up in the experience. And it passed quickly, leaving me refreshed and with a renewed sense of possibility. Ordinarily a back spasm takes about six weeks to fully heal, but this healing crisis lasted less than a week and my back has been nearly pain-free since it occurred.

Pamela: First of all, I’m sorry to hear that the symptoms went acute. Ugh! Overall, I think it’s a good sign, but I empathize nonetheless. Secondly, let me commend you for continuing to give yourself Reiki and not getting caught up in the story about this discomfort! This is an important piece of healing: awareness and taking care of yourself. Recognizing that symptoms are a message of a deeper imbalance can point us toward addressing the underlying causes. Keep with it! I’ve been practicing for over 15 years now, and I still have episodes. Yesterday as I was preparing for a new client, my low back seized up. I met this woman for the very first time while I was bent over and unable to stand up straight. I was mortified to have to cancel a session at the last minute, but it was quite clear that I urgently needed to tend to my own needs. This was a resurgence of the original back pain I experienced as an adolescent, and a powerful reminder that there is still healing to be done and emotions to be released. Recognizing this, I dug into processing and self-care and less than 24 hours later I am 95% better. I don’t think I would have recovered so quickly without the awareness of healing crises. Which points to synchronicity- which will be our next topic!

Note to Karen: if I’m to be personally experiencing the topics we discuss here, let’s be sure to cover some joyful and pleasurable questions soon!

Massage for Chronic Pain

“This is the first time I really understood what it means to be kind to my body.”

A client said this to me after a massage. We might have been sitting, but I was totally jumping for joy on the inside. Also the Hallelujah Chorus was playing in my head.

sunset beach people sunrise

Before the session, we had discussed my kinder, gentler approach to bodywork. I had explained how my goal is to activate the physiological relaxation response that triggers all the feel-good body chemistry and can help break the pain cycle. She understood that I planned to use a moderate pressure to coax the muscles into releasing tension while stimulating circulation, detoxification, and dare I say? Pleasure.

She knew that was the plan, but had no idea how very healing this approach could be. “But you didn’t even attack the knots!” No, I certainly did not! There is no benefit from attacking. Those knots are a symptom of imbalance. I’m much more interested in relieving the root cause of the imbalance, which so very often is… stress. Treating the stress lessens tension and often knots evaporate on their own.

Relaxation is a remedy for stress and pain. Creating more pain through aggressive massage is not a recipe for relaxation. Even intense work that falls just short of pain can stimulate the fight, flight, or freeze response which then triggers… muscle tension. Just like you can’t get carrots by planting cucumber seeds, you cannot cultivate relaxation through pain.

She left feeling considerable relief from the chronic pain that had been plaguing her almost constantly. The next week she reported that she’d had much less discomfort following her treatment, and that it was the first time massage had ever had any noticeable effect. What a victory! I have a feeling this new perspective on being kind to her body will continue to have helpful results as well.

I could have brushed off my hands right there and then and retired happily.

But of course I didn’t because I love my work and there’s so much more of it to be done.

Onwards!

 

 

Reiki for Cravings

I’m not sure if it’s the approach of summertime or some astrological event,  but I’m hearing a lot from clients and acquaintances who lament their struggles with food cravings. It just so happens that this is an area where I’ve done extensive research. It seems like most of my adult life I was plagued by strong compulsions to eat things that were counterproductive at best, and self-destructive at worst.

While I’m not 100% free of this inner demon, I’ve learned quite a lot that allows me to live more peacefully most of the time, and to get to the root of the problem when it rears its ugly head. I’ve found that immediate application of Reiki really takes the edge off of most cravings. This is one of the reasons I advocate so strongly for learning Reiki; there’s nothing quite like having medicine at your very fingertips. It’s really quite simple. I place my hands on my heart and belly, set an intention to release the urge to eat half a family-sized bag of pretzels, activate the healing energy, and breathe deeply for a few minutes.

Relief comes instantaneously most of the time. Sometimes there’s a real physical need behind the craving and I am able to tune into this once I’ve calmed down a bit and am no longer compelled to violently shove my way to the snack aisle. Occasionally I will recognize that I’m actually hungry and my body is wanting carbs. That’s an easy fix and I’m often able to reach for a healthier option. (It’s horribly unfair that I love pretzels so much when eating them causing me back pain! For some people pretzels might be the healthier option. I’m not here to disparage them; they just aren’t good for me!)

More often than not, I recognize that the need behind the urge is emotional. It’s become my personal practice to return to this awareness when I have time to explore what’s really happening inside me. This is where the real power of Reiki healing lies. I just sit quietly contemplating the origin of the craving and open up to insights. It’s really just that simple. Getting present and listening while flooding myself with Reiki is the magical formula.

What I’ve noticed over the years is that the underlying cause is usually an energetic imbalance (feeling a lot of excitement or extreme fatigue) or any variety of emotional upset. It could be disappointment, anger, loneliness, worry, or … well pretty much anything! Once I acknowledge this precious information, I’m better able to make a plan that will meet my emotional needs and/or balance my energy.

If I’m feeling lonely, there is no chocolate chip cookie that will fix that for more than a moment. But calling a friend could do the trick. If I’m feeling sad, I have numerous strategies that can be helpful. However, I am absolutely certain (remember my extensive research!) there is no bowl of pasta or pint of ice cream that will be an effective remedy. Using Reiki helps me clear the source issue and voila! The cravings fade away.

Of course there’s nothing wrong with treating symptoms. I spent many years working on eliminating cravings. It was a huge improvement over the constant struggle to manage them or the shame cycle that resulted from giving in yet again. But the freedom of acknowledging my deepest needs, wants, and desires has been truly transformative. Now that I waste less energy failing to soothe my feelings by stuffing my face, I have more energy to invest in healing and creative projects.

Emotional healing is one of the amazing gifts Reiki has to offer. It’s fantastically simple and easy to learn and use. If you’re tired of relying on willpower to battle your cravings, please consider taking a beginners Reiki class so you too can enjoy the relief of getting to the root of the problem. I think you’ll agree that it’s a much more enjoyable way to live.

Solstice Yoga & Reiki

Release into the Summer Solstice with Yoga Restoratives and Reiki!

 

magical trees

 

When my friend and colleague invited me to join her in offering a summer solstice event, I did my happy dance. What a delightful way to honor the rhythms of nature while inviting balance into our own systems. Restorative yoga is one of my favorite practices as it is deeply calming and soothing to my often frazzled nervous system. Adding Reiki into the mix is like the icing on the cake!

Esther will guide the class through a series of asanas, or yoga postures, while I provide deeply nurturing and healing energy for each participant. This will be our second collaboration like this; last year was a huge success and everyone left feeling super-relaxed and at peace. It was a great joy to watch as stress visibly melted away and smiles began to emerge organically.

I hope you’ll consider joining us on the evening of June 20 if you’re near the Chestnut Hill neighborhood of Philadelphia. I hope you’ll find a meaningful and healthful way to celebrate the solstice wherever you are, and perhaps include these practices in your own way.

Register here and we look forward to seeing you then!

 

Chakrify!

Spring Cleaning for Chakras!

I’m excited to offer a new service that supports deep healing and reclamation of one’s whole self. I’m calling it Chakrify. It’s part guided meditation (designed to offer an internal awareness of the energetic centers) and part Reiki treatment (to purify, balance, and protect the chakras). This powerful session will leave you feeling lighter, brighter, and more enlivened. The meditation portion can easily be repeated at home as needed.

If you’re wanting to release energetic gunk that is dragging you down and holding you back, this treatment could be very helpful. Note that healing involves releasing, experiencing, expressing, and integrating suppressed emotions that block that natural flow of life-force energy. This process can be uncomfortable if you’re not accustomed to feeling all your feelings. If you’re willing to dive in and clean out the muck, I’d be honored to assist you in a Chakrify session. If that sounds like too much trouble, perhaps a traditional, more gentle, Reiki treatment is more your style. There’s no shame in going slow and steady.

Sixty minute treatment = $99. An appointment is necessary. Chakrify can be received either in person at my office in Philadelphia, or remotely in the comfort of your own home. Contact me with any questions or to schedule.

How Long Will It Take?

This is a question clients often ask me. How long will it take to heal my x, y, or z?

black and white photo of clocks
Photo by Andrey Grushnikov on Pexels.com

The short answer is: it depends.

While inherently true, it’s a most unsatisfying response; so let’s dig deeper.

I find it helpful to compare life-force energy to a bank account. The equivalent question would be: how long until I am free from debt? It’s easy to see how “it depends” is the only possible answer. It depends on how indebted someone is, how much they earn, how much they spend, and what the return is on investments they’ve collected.

This same thinking can be applied to healing. While Reiki and massage can indeed be counted on as deposits to one’s energetic bank, there are numerous other factors involved. How long has energy been leaking? What other investments in health have been made, and are one’s daily habits and lifestyle contributing to or depleting the account?

If I continue to cultivate anger and resentment from an event 20 years ago, I am draining my reserves. It would be like an online shopping addiction increasing my debt. If I do the hard work of releasing that anger and resentment and choosing forgiveness, it would be like getting a part time job to boost my income.

The more I build my energy savings through mindfulness, loving-kindness, movement, breath, creativity, eating real foods, spending time in nature, resting, presence, and authenticity; the more likely I am to experience the optimal level of health and vitality available to me. The more I drag my energy down with suppressed emotions, unhealed trauma, processed food, binge watching TV, criticism, incessant complaining, gossip, and judgement; the more difficult it is to reach my peak wellness.

As I tell my clients, healing is facilitated greatly when we stop engaging in the behaviors, thoughts, and beliefs that contribute to dis-ease. In my own life, I experience low back pain when I eat half a bag of hard pretzels, sit for too long, repress anger or anxiety, wallow in feelings of unworthiness, or overdo it. Reiki and massage definitely help my back feel better; but minimizing the cause of the pain in addition to receiving treatment is infinitely more effective.

I notice that my clients who are pro-active in creating healthy lifestyles, pursuing personal or spiritual growth, and who are willing to surrender the harmful habits that contribute to their discomfort have exponential returns on their healing investments. Clients who are more passive and leave all the work to me often progress more slowly.

It’s important to acknowledge that none of them are wrong or bad or lazy. Everyone is doing the best they can with the resources they have. I enjoy working with the client whose only act of self-care is showing up at my office just as much as devoted yogis. But it’s important to note that if you’re interested in experiencing the maximum results in the minimum time, you have to save more life-force energy than you spend.

It’s really that simple.

 

“Heal”, the Movie

When I was 13, I was blessed with the onset on chronic pain.

Wait, what?

Yup. Of course I didn’t see it as a blessing till much, much later. But from that young age I was exposed to the limits of western medicine. The doctor offered me some stretches and suggested I spend this time of crisis lying on my back on the floor. While that helped to some small degree, it certainly was no remedy for the suppression of emotions and crushed first chakra energy that plagued me. There is no remedy for the spinal malformation that creates a weak link in my low back, except for perhaps surgery, which fortunately was never recommended.

The blessing lies in the shift of my life trajectory which led me to the chiropractor, yoga class, applied kinesiology and resulting dietary changes, homeopathy, massage, Reiki, meditation, affirmations, and spiritual exploration. Not only did holistic health become my path for finding comfort in my body, but eventually my career and passion. Before this pain, I was destined for a future seeking fortune and happiness outside of myself and very likely some soul-sucking job that drained my life- force and health gradually.

Over the decades I’ve learned much about healing. Some key points are that pain is a message that imbalance is present and ignoring or suppressing the message is not helpful;  pills don’t cure; my thoughts, beliefs, and emotions affect my health; and the biggie: I’m the only one responsible for my well-being. I feel blessed that I began these lessons at such a young age and have had so many opportunities to expand my understanding. Rather than waiting for everything to fall apart at 50 as I see so many of my peers doing, I’ve been perfecting my practice of self-care and well-being. I anticipate turning 50 in a few years and feeling better than ever!

I was overjoyed to find this movie online, featuring many of the healers and teachers I’ve come to admire over the years. People with the courage to step out of the mainstream way of thinking and follow their hearts and intuition to share gifts; gifts which are often beyond the comprehension of the general public. Not only have they helped so many people find health and happiness, but they helped pave the way for the likes of me. This documentary is quite comprehensive in content and heartwarming in essence.

If you’re curious about alternative medicine, dissatisfied with the results of conventional medicine, or yearn to go deeper into the metaphysical realm you might find some understanding or perhaps even inspiration here. For me it brought a sense of belonging to a bigger community of believers; a bit of healing in itself as I often find myself confused and struggling in a world that makes no sense to me.

If nothing else, it might plant a seed that healing is a way of being and relating to yourself with love and kindness. From there, miracles are possible.