Reiki. It’s Better Than Therapy!

“Reiki. It’s better than therapy!” A friend told me this last night, and I just had to laugh. We have been working together for several months now, doing Reiki sessions as part of her general wellness routine. The benefits of deep relaxation, inner peace, and overall well-being grow every treatment. The shift that occurs on an inner level that quiets the mind allows the parasympathetic nervous system to kick in and deep healing to begin. I truly believe that the body knows how to heal itself; Reiki is merely a tool that allows the system to reset to it’s natural, relaxed state which supports this innate ability.

I’ve personally never experienced psycho-therapy. I do not intend to diminish the effectiveness of this work by any means. I am aware that countless people have experienced valuable relief with therapy. I am absolutely not suggesting that anyone substitute Reiki for treatment that is helping them in any way, shape, or form. And I know from personal experience that Reiki has the capacity to shift stuck energy in ways that talking about being stuck cannot.

We can only be aware of the Truth of our Being when we feel safe, accepted, and calm. Reiki is a means to achieve this state. Once we have become present, we can often see with newfound clarity and open to intuitive guidance. From this sacred space it is possible to recognize the negative patterns we’ve fallen into and the inaccurate beliefs that hold us in them. When we become connected to our Higher Selves, we discover the resources of strength, wisdom, and grace that assist us in aligning with our Spirits. When this alignment is nurtured, deep and lasting healing occurs. Reiki is not the only path to such a transition; it is however, the most powerful, gentle, and easily accessible way that I’ve ever encountered.

Time for My Meltdown

This morning a lady arrived for her weekly massage and announced, “Time for my meltdown!” I was surprised at first, because generally speaking a meltdown is a traumatic and dramatic event. Then it hit me- she was referring to the feeling of melting from the inside out. I couldn’t help but to smile at this beautiful concept. Meltdown = rubdown + enhanced inner peace. What a lovely way to describe the work I enjoy doing!

Yesterday, I gave a Reiki/massage combo to a sweet young lady who was having a stressful day. I started off with some balancing Reiki to move any stuck energy out of her mind and body, and could feel her sink deeply into the treatment. Afterwards she told me that she had been worried about having a breakdown on the table. While this is not uncommon during bodywork as emotions often get stirred up and pushed to the surface for release, it is often uncomfortable for clients who are shy about expressing heavy emotions or crying in front of others. She confided in me that instead of a breakdown, she had been able to release all the gunk she had been holding onto without the tears or upset. She instead had a meltdown!

When it comes to stress, the psyche runs the show, but the body pays the price. We get worn down by incessantly thinking that there’s never enough time to do what we need to do, that we’re running in place, that we always need to be on guard. These feelings weaken our energy flow, making our immune systems vulnerable, and creating an opening for illness. Gentle, nurturing touch and energy healing helps people let go of the thoughts and emotions that are the true source of most of the discomfort and pain in the body. Creating a safe, compassionate space for people to relax and restore is a surefire way to enhance health and well-being. How lucky am I that I get to be a facilitator of this beautiful process!?!?

Relaxation? None for Me, Thanks. Part 1

Relaxation? I don’t think so!

Often when I share my explanation of Reiki (a technique for stress relief and relaxation that also triggers the body’s innate healing ability) with others, I am met with a surprising response. Many people claim that they aren’t interested in relaxing; it just isn’t for them, or they don’t have the time, or they tried it once and it didn’t work, or my personal favorite, life is just stressful, period. Having experienced firsthand the wide-spread transformative power of a lifestyle that includes stress management, I continue to be mystified by this train of thought. I’m not talking about seeking enlightenment by meditating in a cave in the Himalayas, but rather everyday well-being, peace of mind, and a sense of contentment that reaches into all areas of life. Relaxation is a practical, sustainable, effective goal that can be obtained without sacrificing commitments or day to day activities.

I’ve tried listing the benefits of stress reduction that I have personally experienced or witnessed in my friends or clients: improved hormonal balance, digestion, and immune system function; diminished pain, insomnia, depression, and anxiety; enhanced focus; and a greater sense of overall well-being, just to name a few. Simply put, all bodily systems function with greater efficiency when relaxed than when remaining in constant fight or flight mode. I continue to explain that the advantages of a healthier now will be reaped in the elder years with greater mobility, memory, and independence. Still, the blank stare of disinterest usually remains.

So I began to ask myself, what is it that people actually want? What do they truly desire? After only a few moments observing mainstream media, I notice that we’ve been programmed to desire wealth, success, beauty, and romance. Whether or not these goals are truly our own doesn’t seem to matter. It’s what Americans are being encouraged to seek. After some deep contemplation, I believe that all of these objectives may be supported through the use of relaxation techniques, especially Reiki. Of course there are countless ways to reduce stress (yoga, tai chi, meditation, bodywork, acupuncture, time spent in nature or with loved ones, creative expression, and many more). Naturally one should choose the path that is most aligned with one’s own values and interests, but for the purposes of this article, I shall focus on Reiki as the method of relaxation along with the results I’ve personally witnessed.

You’re probably wondering how receiving Reiki treatments could possibly make you more attractive. While I do believe it’s true that inner beauty outshines all else, that’s not what I’m referring to here. While I have observed that many people seem to glow with luminosity following a treatment, still, there’s more. Many of us, myself included, are prone to stress eating. This is the compulsion to use food (very often junk food, fast food, sugary and trans-fat laden food-like substances) in order to numb stress or provide emotional comfort. It stands to reason that if one is not feeling stressed, this particular urge will be diminished. Once I got in tune with my food needs from a physical hunger standpoint rather than an emotional one, it became easier to make better choices about what I put in my mouth. Healthier food means fewer toxins, and excess toxins have been linked to … cellulite! Who doesn’t want less cellulite?

The same follows in regard to excess consumption of alcohol. It is not uncommon for people to reach for a bottle of wine or beer, or even something stronger, to soothe frazzled nerves at the end of the day. Along with the empty calories consumed, I’ve noticed that the results of heavy drinking can include bags under the eyes, unpleasant body odor, bloating, and sallow skin. No stress, no urge to medicate it with booze, or recreational drugs, for that matter. What about frown lines? Diminished with a sense of inner peace. Posture? Improved with lessened tension. Smile? Radiant, and freely shared. Also, I always have fewer aches and pains after a treatment, thereby eliminating that excuse to skip my exercise routine. Already, Reiki has caused weight loss, lovely skin, graceful poise, and a cheerful nature. In my eyes, this relaxed person I have become is much more attractive than the scowling, sluggish, hung-over, slouching grump I used to be quite often. Therefore isn’t it obvious that Reiki makes people more beautiful?

Next, let’s examine the potential for Reiki to help us attract a desirable romantic partner. I know that I personally am more attracted to someone with a calm, peaceful presence that an irritable, or angry person. Receiving healing energy sessions helps me to get in touch with the serenity that is natural to my Higher Self, and allows it to radiate forth. Being less cranky prevents me from repelling kind-natured, sensitive individuals who would undoubtedly make generous and thoughtful partners. Increased contentment and decreased complaining will do the same. Being centered in a relaxed state makes me a nicer person, and helps to motivate people to be nicer to me, which is a lovely self-perpetuating cycle. I am automatically friendlier to strangers in the grocery store or library, thus increasing my opportunities to attract that special someone. Reiki has effectively reduced symptoms of PMS and menstrual cramps, and I probably don’t need to explain how that can benefit my level of desirability! People are naturally drawn to loving, peaceful individuals, so Reiki will help attract wonderful new people into my life and improve my existing relationships too. While I have not yet met Mr. Right, I am quite certain that Reiki will help me do so when the time is right.

So how does Reiki make me more successful? It seems very clear to me that when I was stress-free employee, I performed with more clarity and efficiency. As my immune system was boosted with every treatment, illness was more easily avoided, and attendance enhanced. I became more cooperative and got along better with colleagues as stress-free healthy employee. People were more willing to collaborate with me on projects, and we accomplished more while working harmoniously. In my experience, these qualities were noticed by management and eventually rewarded with promotions more quickly than a grumpy person was. In my private practice, when I am relaxed, I am better able to focus on my client’s needs, more fully present, and a better channel for healing energy which better enables me to serve their highest good, thus increasing their rate of return. As a writer, when I am calm and peaceful words flow seamlessly, almost as if they are being channeled from a higher source.

Entrepreneurs can also benefit from a relaxed way of being. As I become more comfortable in my body, intuitive signals become clearer and divine guidance is more easily accessible. Gut feelings about opportunities, people, and investments are enhanced as the sixth chakra becomes more open. My former employers who managed their stress well were more pleasant to work for than others who let pressure build up and eventually explode. This trickled down into the workplace, reducing staff turn-over and the related training expenses. Also, employees were more enthusiastic, less resentful, and felt no urges to steal from the company as a result of bitterness or entitlement. All of this adds up to a healthy foundation which contributes to a successful business. Everyone, no matter their place in the hierarchy of the company, will achieve greater rewards when operating from a state of calm.

From this, one can deduce that earning power will be increased. But this is not the only way Reiki can contribute to someone’s overall prosperity. As discussed earlier, I have experienced a lesser need for the comforts of alcohol and junk food consumption. These savings add up over time. Better quality of sleep has reduced the need for reliance on caffeine and the daily $4 fix. Let us not forget compulsive purchases. Shopping therapy was not uncommon when I was feeling a general dissatisfaction with my life and needed distraction from chronic stress. We’ve all gone on spending sprees that we couldn’t really afford in an effort to feel better about ourselves or our lives. When I chose to invest in a monthly or biweekly Reiki treatment, the compulsion to numb tension and temporarily escape disappeared as serenity replaced the vague sense of aloneness.

Also, as I continue to get in touch with my spiritual self and find comfort in divine communion, nature, and the simple things in life, I no longer feel the need to keep up with anyone else and purchase unnecessary gadgets or furnishings or expensive clothes. The savings of becoming more fully aligned with my Higher Self continue to accumulate, and I have been able to decrease my workload and enjoy a great deal of free time as a result. This makes me a wealthy woman, in my eyes, even if I don’t have an incredible fortune.

While it is true that the most obvious benefits of any relaxation practice, particularly Reiki, are heightened sensations of peace, joy, and belonging; the secondary benefits stemming from these conditions spill into every conceivable aspect of life. Happy, peaceful people not only tend to be healthier, physically and emotionally, but they are more productive at work, more loving in their relationships, more savvy in their investments, take better care of their bodies, and age more gracefully. Whatever your goals in life, you can rest assured that Reiki is a tool to help you achieve your heart’s desire. Why not seek out a practitioner who can support you? Or take it one step further, and take a Reiki class so you can enjoy the benefits on a daily basis and share them with your friends and family. Reiki is truly a universal instrument that offers each of us exactly what we need.

Reiki for Hot Flashes

I’ve never endured a hot flash personally, but many of my clients experience this annoyance on a regular basis. Sleep is disturbed, equanimity is eradicated, routines are interrupted, and sometimes relationships deteriorate. Yes, it’s true that hot flashes are a common side effect of menopause and perimenopause.  However, it doesn’t mean that all women are doomed to suffer hopelessly and indefinitely. A return to equilibrium is possible, and Reiki is a gentle, yet powerful, technique for getting there.

Stress is a widely accepted trigger, and the relaxing effects of a Reiki treatment are a potent cure. I see the relaxation response as multifaceted. When our bodies are inundated with stress, muscles tense and circulation is impaired. Toxins accumulate in the tissues and over time all bodily systems function with less and less efficiency. Chronic stress also upsets the hormonal balance in a woman’s body as excess stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol run amok. Hormonal imbalance is another common trigger for hot flashes. Creating a relaxing environment and bathing the senses and nervous system in healing, soothing energy offers a much welcomed remedy.

A Reiki treatment can easily be tailored to target the liver (which cleanses the blood and helps to regulate hormones) so that it is more available to handle fluctuations in estrogen.  Focus on the ovaries is also an important strategy. Traditional hand positions will cover these areas, and the practitioner may choose to linger there if guided to do so. Balancing the chakras is also helpful and serves to reduce excess heat in the system. I am often lead to stimulate the liver meridian acupressure points and the liver and ovary reflex points on the feet for added benefit. I’m amazed at the power of Reiki to clear blockages throughout the entire system.

Naturally it is important to follow a doctor’s advice when dealing with any health issue. Reducing caffeine, spicy foods, and alcohol intake are general recommendations for decreasing hot flashes, along with moderate exercise and cessation of smoking. Releasing addictions, cultivating well-being and overall health, and nurturing lifestyle changes can all be supported with divinely guided life- force energy that is channeled through a Reiki treatment. Obviously these changes take time and diligent effort. A series of sessions will most likely be needed to assist a client through these shifts and to maintain the delicate beginnings of new habits. My clients report that the relief they experience, the improved quality of sleep, the elimination of extreme irritability, and the freedom from symptoms is completely worth the investment. There really is non-invasive, side-effect free help available for hot flashes. You don’t have to suffer any longer. Allow your intuition to guide you to a practitioner and invite balance into your life today.

Less is More

“Less is More.” This is a seemingly- heretical philosophy I learned while studying the gentle, energetic bodywork called Ortho-Bionomy. Over the course of giving more than 6,000 massages in the last ten years, I realize that this quite frequently applies to sessions I have given and received. I could expand this theory into many aspects of my life as well, but that is too big a task for this post. How I can most efficiently interpret the phrase “less is more” as it relates to massage in my humble opinion, is to say that bodies very often are more responsive to a gentle touch than to extreme pressure. When I say very often, I mean in 99% of the time, in my experience. Very often.

Yet, popular culture would have us believe that more is always better, or worse yet, “no pain, no gain”. This is essentially the antithesis of my work. Which is not to say that I never go deep, or that every moment of a therapeutic session is luxuriously pleasant. It’s sometimes uncomfortable to restore deep, postural muscles to their original, lengthened state. However, my approach is a slow, gentle one that works with the client’s ability to let go and breathe deeply. I call it a sneak attack and when performed well, the muscles don’t react because they never even knew I was coming. Once the nervous system perceives pain, or even anticipates pain, the fight or flight reflex kicks in and muscles tense, adrenaline is released, and the mind becomes super- alert. This is the exact opposite of the relaxation response in which stress and tension are released and the muscles soften.

It is a huge goal of mine to re-educate the public about the myth of more pressure being the antidote to soreness or pain. The object of healing or releasing tension is not how much “you can take” but rather how much you can release. Bracing yourself to experience deep work in the name of relief is as effective as drinking a triple shot of espresso and riding a roller coaster to help you sleep. People in our society are already super-stressed. Aggressive bodywork is perceived by the nervous system as more stress and most certainly does not create relaxation. It might create an absence of busy thoughts because the mind is focused on sensations, just as being in an emergency situation would focus the mind. This is not the same as relaxation, letting go, feeling safe, or being at peace; and these are the conditions necessary for healing to take place.

Somewhere humans have gotten off track and started believing that having more stuff is the key to happiness, that doing more is the key to freedom, that punishing our bodies will make us healthy. It is beyond time that we re-evaluate our beliefs according to our current values and the reality that we seem to be less happy, less free, less healthy than ever. I encourage everyone to take time out of their busy schedules to experience true relaxation in the form of a flowing, soothing Swedish massage and to feel the true benefits of escaping the adrenaline loop and enjoying the peacefulness that is our natural state. And begin to think about how doing less, spending less, feeling less pain can actually be more. More healthy. And more you.

Don’t Look at Me!

Several times each week, I work with clients who desire the benefits of massage, but are obviously anxious or even terrified about getting undressed. As a recovering shame-aholic, I understand this dilemma completely. When you dislike your body, you want to hide it. You don’t want anyone to know your secrets of imperfection for fear of being rejected or humiliated. I lived most of my adult life like this. It’s debilitating and isolating to experience the world through these lenses. As a compassionate person and professional therapist, I want everybody to be 100% comfortable during each session, so I take the time to explain that I will leave the room while clients undress as much or as little as they wish, and that they will be covered and their privacy protected. Yet I often still recognize that look of panic in their eyes while we are chatting before the session begins.

One day after working with a client like this, I was bicycling home and came across a hawk resting on a fence. I stopped to witness this creature’s majestic presence. I contemplated how regal this bird looked and felt a wave of inspiration. This hawk has never, not once, been ashamed of it’s body or feathers or beak. It has never thought, “Oh, if only I was sleeker or faster or more colorful.” It does not sit around criticizing itself or categorizing its faults. It just simply is. A hawk accepts itself exactly as it is, without a need to compare itself to another. (Or at least, so I imagine!) Can you visualize a beautiful bird like this hiding its head under its wing whimpering, “Don’t look at me! I’m not worthy. I’m just a hawk. I should have been an eagle.”??? NO!

So why do we humans treat ourselves this way? I believe it’s because we’ve forgotten who we truly are; that we are unique individuals with talents and passions that contribute to a better world; that we are worthy of being loved and accepted just the way we are. Not because of what we’ve done to prove this worth, but just simply for being ourselves. What a relief it is to drop the constant stream of self-criticism and to relax into the comfort of self-acceptance. I invite you to try an experiment and invoke the spirit of the magnificent hawk next time you feel doubts about your appearance, performance, or worthiness. It’s impossible to feel ashamed about anything when you’re in the flow of proud hawk energy.

The Power of Healing Touch

Yesterday a family of four visited the spa where I work. I was lucky enough to be assigned to the father. You see, this man clearly did not want to be here. He sat sullenly in the waiting room, arms crossed and brow furled. His responses to my questions were extremely curt and he volunteered absolutely no information about his needs or hopes for the session. As it turns out, his wife had drug him into the spa, insisting that he needed to relax. Well, he was determined to resist!

Lucky, you ask? Why on earth would I feel lucky to spend an hour alone with this man when he’d rather be anywhere else? Well, the truth is, I love a good challenge! And I assure you that the sweet feeling of victory when winning grumpy clients over is truly incredible. This type of situation is not uncommon in my business. I used to get very stressed out. Ten years of experience has taught me not to take it personally. I understand that some people don’t like to be touched, or are worried about being judged, or think bodywork is a fu-fu pampering treatment that is a waste of time. I get it. But since this person has showed up on my table, I am determined to give him the best experience possible.

Ninety percent of the time I am able to win the reluctant client over in the first 15 minutes. It starts with a big breath or a deep sigh once they begin to realize that it’s comfy & warm on the table; that a compassionate person is completely there for them; that a trained and skilled professional can easily locate their tension areas & has tools to provide relief. I image that my acceptance of the situation without judgement is a welcome respite from the demanding world. So, yes, I enjoy a good challenge. It makes my heart sing. Even when the client remains unconvinced that massage is NOT for them, I know that they have still benefited from the experience of healing touch.

This particular gentleman? Ten minutes into our session and he says to me, “I can’t believe that feels so good!”. I made a joke about the spa not being such a horrible place to spend a Saturday afternoon, and he laughed. He asked me a few questions about the tension in his shoulders and I was then able to explain that it doesn’t need to be that way. We have the power to make choices that support our wellness and comfort in our bodies. Bodywork is a tremendous resource for resetting our systems to relaxation, which is the foundation for good health. Now, I doubt I will be seeing this fellow on a regular basis, but I am delighted that I was able to plant a seed in his mind about the options available to him.