Shelter at Home, Tip for Sanity: Move Your Body!

I’m finding that all the meditation in the world doesn’t touch the edgy feeling of adrenaline in my system. It’s impossible to connect with the outside world without having a stress response. While I’m over here having a mostly wonderful stay-cation, many people are suffering. I don’t wish to ignore that, and at the same time I recognize that empathetic suffering won’t help them; in fact it diminishes my capacity to support anyone.

Movement, particularly movement that elevates the heart rate, helps the body to process stress hormones. If you are safely able to get your blood pumping, I believe you’ll find it very helpful. My rebounder, this mini trampoline pictured below, is my saving grace these days. There’s not much a vigorous 30 minute bounce can’t cure.

Yes, I know the gyms are closed. Your preferred form of exercise may not currently be available. You may have a tragic relationship with exercise due to 4th grade gym class. I get it. You don’t actually have to enjoy it to benefit. But once you get started, I suspect you just might! Please note that I’m not talking about enduring pain or physical discomfort! That’s not at all what I mean. I am talking about perhaps stepping out of your comfort zone for the sake of your mental, emotional, and physical health during this crisis.

There are all kinds of activities available for free right now online. Vinyasa yoga and fitness classes are more readily available than ever. If you have stairs in your home, a dozen trips up and down should do the trick. My personal favorite is dancing. All you need is your go-to foot tapping music and a little bit of space.

Don’t overthink it. It doesn’t have to be perfect and no one is judging your moves or lack thereof. Just choose a safe and sensible activity and give it a try for 10 minutes. Notice how you feel. Check in with your body. Does it want more? Need a rest? Tone it down? Ramp it up? It will guide you if you listen. You have all the information you need within yourself.

Just like any other journey, take that first step and let your inner wisdom lead.

Immune System Boost

I’m typing this on my phone while sitting by the creek. I needed some fresh air and sunshine and craved the sounds of nature. And I know in my gut the most important thing I can do for my immune system is to minimize stress and maximize life-force energy.

Ki factory 🙂

By now everyone has learned the importance of washing hands and social isolation. What has been missing from the inundation of warnings in my inbox is the importance of supporting the immune system in addition to avoiding viral contamination.

Stress has a physiological effect which dampens immune system function. This is not some wu-wu new age fiddle faddle. It’s science. When the fight, flight or freeze mechanism kicks in, the body’s energy is diverted away from the immune system to the heart, lungs and major muscle groups.

My approach to remaining healthy so I can continue to serve my community is to both manage stress (limiting contact with fear promoting agents, meditation, yoga, music, aromatherapy, Reiki) and cultivating life-force energy (Reiki, yoga, nature, laughter, music, creativity, gratitude). And of course, all the CDC recommendations.

I’m still seeing healthy clients in-person. But I’m shifting community events and classes online. We still need connection. Even more so with this lockdown situation. I’ll be posting more about online events soon.

Perhaps most importantly, I’m eager to remind people that Reiki is just as powerful, often more so, when shared remotely. You can stay at home and receive a healing session. This is great news for those who are sick or at risk! Stress reduction and life-force boosting all from the comfort and safety of your own house.

So find yourself some online meditations, art or yoga classes, and a Reiki practitioner. I’m here to help, and so are many others. Contact me to discuss booking a session. I’d be delighted to hear from you.

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.

Reiki for Healing Self-Sabotage

This is a topic that has been recurring in classes and sessions, as well as in my own life, again and again. I’d really rather ignore the nudges to write about it, but they’ve grown increasingly insistent. I’ve learned the hard way to honor my Inner Nudge, so here we go!

It’s not uncommon to commit to a goal, make a plan to achieve that goal, actively implement that plan, and within a short period of time abandon the whole thing. I’m pretty sure we’ve all experienced this at one time or another. We might meet resistance along the way, perhaps apathy or overwhelm, or even downright self-sabotage. Often we’ll beat ourselves up for failing and begin again, this time with harsher guidelines, only to hit that same brick wall, this time with greater velocity.

Here’s the thing. If any part of me believes that it’s not safe to achieve my goals, my subconscious is going to do everything in its power to prevent me from succeeding. If I believe it isn’t safe to be creative or successful or thin, my willpower is no match for my Inner Protector. As many times as I try, as many strategies as I develop, I will never best my subconscious!

This is the point were it’s easy to give up and settle for less. But I’m here to tell you that there’s another way! The amazing healing power of Reiki can be used to uncover any false beliefs that may be holding us back from our true magnificence and shift them to support our desires.

It might sound complicated and exhausting, but really this process is quite simple. Reiki is activated by intention, so all we need do is to invite it into the process. For example, “My intention is to uncover and release any blockages that prevent me from losing weight.” Whether you’re a practitioner yourself or seeking professional treatment, from here on out the work is simply showing up and paying attention.

When the treatment reveals a memory or a belief that is standing in my way, I must acknowledge it and accept it as my starting point. I always need to start from where I am. Plugging my ears and hiding my head in the sand has never gotten me anywhere! If I’m ignoring, numbing, or suppressing the gremlins that I’d prefer weren’t there, I’m giving away my power and allowing them to call the shots from the shadows.

My suggestion for those working on releasing self-sabotage is quite simple. State your intention clearly. Turn Reiki on and allow it to flow. If you feel a place in your body where a belief or blockage resides, place your hands there. If there’s no apparent location, imagine a Reiki spotlight above your head radiating down through your crown and illuminating your head, neck, shoulders, arms, hands, torso, pelvis, legs, and feet. Feel the glow within yourself. Notice any parts that might be resisting this glow, and gently focus the spotlight there.

Notice any “yeah, but…” statements that come up. “Yeah, I want to lose 20 pounds, but…”. These are super-important clues! Pay attention. Acknowledge these thoughts. Shine the spotlight on them. Follow the thought train, and it will lead you eventually to a submerged belief that for reason xyz, it isn’t safe to lose those 20 pounds.

Reiki that belief every day until it is healed. If it isn’t True (meaning not in alignment with the perfection of your Spirit), it will eventual fade. Sometimes it helps to write it on an index card, or to find or draw a visual representation of this belief and to Reiki that. This is the process of healing the source of the resistance/blockage/self-sabotage so that you may begin the process of actually moving forward to creating your goals rather that continuing to bang your head against the wall.

While this practice is simple, it may take time. The beliefs may have very deep roots. It requires patience and persistence to reprogram our thoughts. Just as a long journey begins with a single step followed by putting one foot in front of the other repeatedly, we only need to keep showing up and chipping away at our obstacles. If there’s a history of trauma or abuse, professional support will likely be required.

No matter how long you’ve been struggling with self-sabotage, there is indeed hope for breaking the cycle. Using the tools of kindness, awareness, and acceptance boosted with the power of Reiki healing energy, the path can be cleared and the journey to reaching your goals begun. As always, you’re welcome to reach out to me to schedule a session if you’d like some support.

Instant Inflammation

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.

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.