This morning while at the shoe repair shop, I saw a woman write “shoes” on her notepad and immediately cross it off. Risking being nosy, I asked if she just wrote the errand she’s currently running on her to-do list just to mark it as completed. She sheepishly admitted that she did. We enjoyed a moment of camaraderie uncommon amongst strangers.
I shared my strategy (thanks to my college roommate’s dad, I believe) to circle and star the accomplished tasks. In a world of seemingly never-ending to-do’s I believe it’s important to acknowledge and celebrate each and every little thing rather than jumping right to the next errand.
I’m rewiring my brain to notice all that I’ve achieved rather than constantly scanning for the next dozen things that need doing. The result is that I feel more relaxed. Lest you think that’s an airy-fairy, wu-wu goal; taking a break from chronic stress has a physiological response that promotes a healthier immune system, better quality sleep and digestion, less pain and muscle tension, lower blood pressure, and feel-good neurochemistry.
In addition to learning not to sweat the (negative) small stuff, I’m choosing to celebrate the (positive) small stuff every chance I get.
Promoting resiliency and maximum well-being is well worth the effort!
A few weeks ago, when I was visiting family in Michigan, my brother invited me to the county fair with him. He was going to purchase a steer and a hog at the 4H youth livestock auction. I decided to go for the experience of witnessing something so very outside of my urban reality. And for the funnel cake.
Funnel cake has always been my favorite fair food. It’s a very rare, nostalgic treat that I know has negative consequences. If you’re unfamiliar with such delicacies, it’s basically fried dough with powdered sugar on top. The batter drops through a funnel, creating a haphazard pattern in the hot oil, no doubt vegetable oil from the 1990’s. (Vegetable oil might sound healthy; I assure you, it is not! It’s likely a blend of GMO corn, GMO soy, and GMO canola oils, high in omega 6 fatty acids, and a precursor to joint inflammation.) It comes with 18 napkins to help soak up the greasy residue.
The full scoop is that after surveying the food arena, there was no funnel cake to be found! I was all revved up for something decadent and ended up choosing a caramel apple. Then on the way out, by some miracle or devilry, I spotted the jackpot. I got my precious funnel cake even though I wasn’t hungry anymore.
After approximately 3 bites, my knee began to ache. It continued to stiffen and swell and even throb a little. This is the knee that I had injured (likely a meniscus tear) about 18 months ago. It doesn’t bend completely, but hasn’t bothered me in over a year. A few bites of a triple inflammatory (vegetable oil, wheat, sugar) and poof! It regressed fantastically. And stayed that way for nearly a week!
I’m here to implore you to consider what systemic inflammation you may be experiencing due to dietary choices. Wouldn’t you like to know what it feels like to have greater mobility and less pain? Do you really get so much enjoyment out of doughnuts that it makes the subsequent suffering worthwhile?
I never felt better than when following the elimination diet recommended by Dr. Alejandro Junger in his book “Clean: The Revolutionary Program to Restore the Body’s Natural Ability to Heal Itself”. If that sounds too daunting, perhaps begin by taking just a small step and replacing one sugary fried dough product with something more wholesome. Every step towards reducing inflammation is a step in the direction of optimal health, freedom, and greater quality of life.
I promise, once you begin to experience life with less pain, you won’t even miss that funnel cake. After this epiphany, I certainly won’t ever eat one bite ever again.
So often I see clients completely wiped out after their heavily-scheduled “vacations”. They show up fatigued, aching, and dehydrated or overloaded with toxins and it takes a few weeks to get back on track. I’m aiming to avoid a necessary recovery period from my vacation this summer.
Here’s my plan.
Visiting family is a wonderful joy, and also brings up loads of deeply buried triggers and mismatched lifestyle choices. Now that I have nephews and a niece that I long to spend time with, my former plan of very short visits isn’t working any more.
Instead I’ve found a way to have my own space and have occasional visitors or drop in on them for a few hours now and then. As someone who needs A LOT of downtime, this is essential. I’ve claimed mornings as “me” time, making space for sunrise yoga, meditation, journaling, reading, and sipping tea while gazing through the trees at the lake.
I’m attempting to balance activities such as kayaking and swimming, which aren’t available in my normal life, with rest and restoration by making time for naps and a massage. I’m definitely eating more sugar than I recognize is good for me, but counteracting it somewhat with loads of fresh veggies and filtered water.
I’d forgotten how rough these little ones can be and was completely unaware of how much muscular effort is required on a peddle boat, so I was unprepared for aches and bruises. I’ll stop at the local co-op today for Epsom salts and arnica for my poor legs. Luckily I’ve not been head butted or had any teeth chipped on this trip!
I’m still working a bit while I’m here. Books need keeping and invoices need sending or else I’ll be swamped when I return. I’m doing several long-distance Reiki treatments for clients with urgent needs. AND I’m capping working hours at two per day. A pretty good ratio, I must say!
The foundation for my plan is balance. The goal is rest, play, work- in that order. While I won’t hit the mark every single hour, overall I am succeeding and enjoying the tremendous physiological benefits of relaxation. And hopefully when I return to my normal ratio of work, rest, play; I’ll be completely revitalized and ready to go.
Now if you please excuse me, a novel is waiting for me out on the deck.
I’m not exactly anxious about my appointment with the dentist today, but I know that once I’m in that chair, my primitive brain will take over. It senses danger in this semi-reclined, seemingly restrained, and rather helpless position. The very act of dentistry is invasive by nature- foreign tools and hands in the mouth, and is even potentially traumatic if the fight-flight-or-freeze response gets stimulated. I aim to avoid that.
So I’m spending extra time this morning getting grounded, filling up with nature ki, and strengthening my presence and peace of mind. While I’m not expecting any discomfort physically, I know myself well enough to realize there will be some emotional discomfort and I have no desire to allow it to blossom or fester.
The urge I felt upon waking this morning was to distract myself from the unease I felt rising up within me. While it’s too early for whiskey, Netflix is always available as a means to avoid emotions. Very tempting! But deep down I know that ignoring my feelings doesn’t actually heal them or even eradicate them, so I’m going with a more holistic approach.
Prayer, meditation, journaling, and nature are the remedies that truly feed my soul and help me find balance within myself, increasing my natural resilience. I find I need all the resilience I can muster when dealing with medical professionals who always seem so eager to expose me to toxic chemicals, radiation, and well… trauma.
So in preparation, I’ve been to the creek to fill up on life-force energy and have arranged for a friend and fellow practitioner to send me Reiki for support. I had the good sense to schedule a gentle yoga class followed by a sound healing session for tonight. I’m feeling confident that I’ve done all I can to minimize the potential damage and pave the way for a positive outcome.
It might seem like a lot of effort for a checkup! I’ve come to recognize the importance of prevention vs. cleaning up the mess afterwards as well as the logic of using tools and techniques that actually help me feel better rather than temporarily escaping. Oh my goodness, I think I’m really adulting!
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.
Release into the Summer Solstice with Yoga Restoratives and Reiki!
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!
This is a question clients often ask me. How long will it take to heal my x, y, or z?
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.