Ki is Key for Healthy Aging :)

I’ve been invited to participate in a panel discussion with other holistic health care providers on the topic of healthy aging. I’ve decided to write a series of blogs to gather my thoughts in preparation, as well as to share my knowledge on this universally relevant subject with you all. As my passion and primary source of health care is Reiki, focusing on Ki (life-force energy) seems like the obvious starting point.

Keeping my Ki balanced and flowing is my plan for aging gracefully. Just as a flashlight begins to dim as the battery fades, my own energy diminishes over time unless I make an effort to replenish it. This doesn’t mean that my body is doomed to fall apart gradually; I merely need to care of it properly and recharge frequently.

There are countless ways to top off our tanks. Fresh air, deep rest, natural foods, adequate hydration, and being in nature are all essential ingredients for nurturing ourselves. Activities which bring us joy (dancing, painting, gardening, making music, etc.- you know what works for you!) are excellent ways to energize ourselves. The key to success here is in prioritizing these activities and carving out time in our busy schedules. Furthermore, we must protect this valuable time fiercely as there will always be dozens of reasons to choose busyness over self-care and joy.

Reiki is a holistic energy healing technique that super-charges our batteries. It can help clear out any blockages, reestablish balance and flow, and flood the recipient with universal life-force energy. This supports the body’s ability to remove toxins and ensures that all organs and glands are supported with Ki and can function more effectively. The immune system is thus enhanced and our resistance to disease is boosted. Perhaps most importantly, stress is released, rerouting precious energy back to necessary functions and facilitating our bodies’ innate healing ability.

While gray hair, bifocals, and a slower pace might be an expected outcome of passing years, there is absolutely no reason to assume that we are incapable of enjoying health and productivity. Just as a flashlight’s brightness can be restored with fresh batteries, our vitality and well-being can be restored by practices that connect us with Ki, which is abundantly available. Choosing to recharge our batteries on a daily basis is an invaluable habit that will serve us well as we age.

Seeking support from a Reiki practitioner or teacher can amplify the process even further. It matters not what route you take; just that you start on the journey. Ki is key in maintaining vitality and wellness over time. Nourish yourself from within and reap the rewards both now and in your later years.

If you’re interested in scheduling a Reiki session, please visit my website for more information. As energy is not limited by time or space, Reiki can be sent remotely through the practitioner’s intention, with the aid of Reiki symbols, to anywhere a recipient may be. We call this powerful technique Long-Distance Reiki, and it is a service I am delighted to offer. Check it out!

 

Radical Self-Care, Dance it Out!

Any inner emotional demons can be released on the dance floor, simply by setting an intention and moving the body. Especially when there’s a full moon with accompanying eclipse during the change of seasons! Ability and fitness are of no consequence. And contrary to popular opinion, alcohol is not at all necessary.

I’m a big fan of 5 Rhythms, a style of conscious dance that is loads of fun. This is a form of free-style dance and according to the official website, “a dynamic practice to both workout and meditate in the same breath. Practicing them helps us become attuned to the underlying patterns in our everyday existence.” It’s an opportunity for creative expression as well as releasing stress. And I will repeat that it is FUN!

It’s not necessary to take a workshop or a class. I dance in my bedroom all the time. Just one song can change my mood from grumpy to sweet or angry to peaceful. I learned last night that you don’t even need music! The facilitator gave a room of 60 joyful participants a theme and a count and before I knew it people were jumping, bouncing, and twirling without a song. It was crazy and beautiful and here it comes again… great FUN!

Of course, music does make it easier. So fire up your iTunes or Pandora or burn a mixed CD and give it a try. Think about what you’d like to surrender, what you wish to create, and let the rhythm move your body. Apparently Isabelle Duncan said that as long as one finger is moving, you are dancing. Give it a try and let me know how you feel afterwards.

 

 

Radical Self-Care, Gadgets

Perhaps the most valuable lesson I’ve learned on this journey of self-care is one of not getting lost in the world of technology. I think we all know what it’s like to sit down in front of a computer to do one quick thing and not emerge for an hour or more. When my schedule is tight, I keep a strong focus on my priorities, which means not getting distracted by electronics, especially in the morning before I meditate.

The challenge lies in the fact that I use my smartphone for a lot of self-care practices. Music for yoga is stored in there, as well as my brain booster apps, affirmation meditations, and my idea list for this blog. I often check the weather on my phone before heading out for a hike, and it’s very tempting to see what’s happening on Facebook. Yet I know what’s down that rabbit hole and that I can easily get sucked into scrolling through status updates and loss track of time.

Since I value the convenience my gadgets provide, I’m disciplining myself to use them intelligently. Many days I have plenty of time on the train to respond to messages. On days that I don’t, I actually schedule time for electronic communication and do my best to stick with it. This means checking email and Facebook two, maybe three times a day and not 4oo. This simple strategy really helps keep me on track and allows me the time to focus on my goals without getting waylaid. It also improves productivity because I’m not rushing to get back to what I “should” be doing or multi-tasking.

Just as I schedule time for working on my website or newsletter and time for exercise, rest, or creative projects, I’ve come to an awareness that social media and other communication needs a time slot. While I do wish to remain in touch with friends and clients near and far, I’m not willing to sacrifice the supportive practices I’ve developed over the past six weeks. This technique helps provide a healthy boundary that prevents surfing the web from overtaking my precious downtime. Basically I’m using my gadgets to support my goals rather than letting them use me.

 

Radical Self-Care, Just Do It Already!

This morning I find myself procrastinating. I know I’ll feel better on my yoga matt and most definitely I’ll feel like a new person after practicing. Yet I’m dragging my heels. I felt into this resistance and there’s no substance to it. It’s not a message from my body saying “rest” or from my heart saying “listen”. It’s actually a stubbornness arising from my inner three year old who is stomping her foot and saying “You can’t make me!”.

Funny, that’s not where I thought I was going two minutes ago when I sat down to write this! But I’m going to roll with it and acknowledge her presence. So it seems there is a message after all! I could easily override this sweet child and Just Do It. I was ready to ignore her, but the willingness to tune-in to my resistance seems to have opened up the channels of communication.

So what I’m going to Just Do, is sit down and receive what she has to say, show this girl some empathy and really hear her. I’m guessing she needs some reassurance that her needs are important and that I care. I will take the time to do that and explain my reasons for wanting to do yoga; that it is a gift I offer myself because I love how it makes me feel, not because someone told me I have to do it. Or because I need to do it in order to be worthy of approval. It’s not an assignment needing to be accomplished to please anyone else.

As I’m sinking into this awareness I notice the resistance is melting away. While I still plan to have that conversation, I’m astounded by the realization that I often do put pressure on myself to get my self-care activities done so I can cross them off my list, boost my ego for having done so, and move on to the next seemingly necessary achievement. Once again, I’m reminded that intention is everything, and that just like anything else, self-care activities can be distorted to feed the ego or distract myself from the real job of expressing kindness to myself and others.

Be loving. Just Do It. Everything else appears to be questionable!

 

Radical Self-Care, Being of Service

Helping others is guaranteed to blossom in my heart. Countless times I’ve gone work tired or grumpy or out-of-sorts in one way or another and after giving someone a massage, I felt uplifted. Usually it’s the “before and after” contrast in the client that does it; one short hour later and they’re feeling relaxed and experiencing less tension or pain than when we started. I hope I never stop appreciating that.

Last week I was travelling home after a long day at work. The train was 30 minutes late and crowded. So crowded we couldn’t even get in. The attendant kept saying “move back”, but there was nowhere to go and the people who had space to move back into couldn’t hear him. It was frustrating and uncomfortable and it didn’t seem like there was an end in sight. Of course this slowed things down terribly and we were even later getting to the station.

I was in quite the mood by the time I finally got onto my connecting train and sat down. I overheard a conversation in front of me; four young people wondering if they were on the right train. I decided to be a good Samaritan and asked where they wanted to go. It took about two seconds for me to see they were NOT on the right train. I was able to help them sort out a new plan and send them on their way. I realized my mood had totally shifted; gone was the irritable, tired woman struggling to get home. Hello cheerful do-gooder, helper of naïve college students.

This incident was such a brilliant reminder of how acts of kindness, even small ones such as giving directions, can transform the course of a day. I’m sure I would have had a much more somber evening had I not chimed in to help. I had another opportunity yesterday while waiting for a bus. I had just pulled out my book when the man sitting next to me on the bench started a conversation. I went with the flow and had a nice chat with a stranger, who I’m guessing doesn’t have a lot of people to talk to. Again, I felt uplifted afterwards.

Living in a city it’s easy to find ways to be of service; holding doors, helping carry baby strollers up and down steps, giving up your seat on a crowded bus, putting a quarter in an expired parking meter, and smiling at people are all relatively easy tasks and don’t take much time. They’re also all great investments in feeling better about yourself. I’m all about getting involved in win-win situations, and being of assistance when you’re genuinely able to give without expecting a return reward can be a great reward on its own.

 

Radical Self-Care, Know Your Goal

It’s so easy to wake up and get overwhelmed by all the things that need to  be done that day. Even when most of my tasks are enjoyable, I can often start spinning out, worried that I won’t ever find enough time. That’s when checking in with my priorities comes in handy. Achieving a lot of stuff is not my actual goal, surprisingly! Spiritual evolution is. By that, I mean waking up and remembering who I am. Remembering that I am on a mission to be loving and to be loved. To be love itself.

Keeping this in mind  while I look at my to-do list brings a sense of ease and peacefulness. In fact, many of those to-do items no longer seem important at all and either get crossed off or moved to more appropriate times. Now that I’ve connected with my essential self, I feel supported by the flow of life and I am no longer struggling to accomplish meaningless goals. As long as I am being true to myself, it doesn’t really matter if my newsletter gets finished today or next week or if my furniture remains dusty for another day or two. Or ten. 🙂

True, there are still errands that need to be run. AND it’s crucial to remember that while I’m in the store buying a new battery for the smoke detector that my ultimate goal is to be in the flow of love. While I’m cooking dinner and taking out the recycling, if I’m focused on being love, any stress or upset about having too much to do evaporates. I’m just doing the task at hand, while being true to my mission. At that point, it’s all joyful. Knowing my goal makes each decision easier and every step along the way lighter. If I didn’t know where I wanted to go, how could I ever expect to arrive?

Radical Self-Care, Gratitude

One of the quickest and easiest ways to raise vibration is to express gratitude. Being grateful instantly elevates me to a sensation of peace and brings with it the knowingness that everything is exactly how it is supposed to be; even if I can’t see that from my human perspective. As I’m oozing gratitude into the atmosphere, I’m drawing more experiences for which to be grateful and simultaneously sending out blessings to everyone and everything I acknowledge.

Lately I’ve been spending a few minutes every night before bed reviewing the day and feeling gratitude for the experiences, events, people, and places in my life. Even the challenges usually contain a gift- a new understanding, renewed patience or tolerance, evoked courage or boundaries, or perhaps surrender of expectations. I do a chronological scan of my day, and finish by feeling grateful formyself  for taking such good care of me, and all the teachers who taught me how.

Grateful for my home and the comforts within it, the food which nourished me, my body that carries my essence around. Grateful for my work, my colleagues, my clients, and the opportunity to share my gifts. Grateful for my friends, my family, that friendly neighbor who always gives me a big smile and a huge wave. Grateful for music and the electronics that expand my ability to connect, for air conditioning, and public transportation. Grateful for the freedom and opportunity to explore personal growth and spiritual evolution.

Realizing the vast quantity of things for which I am grateful creates a sense of security and well-being. This sets me up for a peaceful night and restful sleep, which sets me up to awaken feeling refreshed and energized. Starting the day off in a good mood creates a Domino effect of feeling grateful, radiating joy, attracting kindness, and on and on and on…! That five or ten minutes before bedtime are not only rewarding in the moment, but also a great investment in a happy future.

Radical Self-Care, Just Sit

This morning I woke up in a funk. Knowing myself as I do, I recognized that there were three possible outcomes. One was to let the funk take over and drag me down, potentially for days or even weeks. I was all about finding an alternative to this undesirable conclusion. Another possibility was to numb and distract myself from the gnawing sensation inside. I am well-practiced at the art of avoidance and needless to say none of these activities actually make me feel better.

I am choosing Door Number Three: sitting with the pain. My Reiki practice has taught me that much of the suffering I experience is due to stuck emotions. Once I am willing to let go, things begin to shift, and progress might be slow, but it begins rather quickly. Since I had been planning to go to my favorite yoga class, I realized that would be a great opportunity to get unstuck. It was a close call as I really wanted to stay home with the novel I was enjoying and just zone out. So I went online immediately and signed into class, knowing that once I’d paid, I’d have excellent motivation to go.

I highly appreciate the detailed anatomical instruction I received during this “Fundamentals” class at Magu Yoga. Alex is a brilliant teacher and enthusiastically guided us through very specific movements that aligned my posture and allowed my energetic pathways to open. I felt muscle tension releasing and emotional gunk clearing. My limbs were trembling, which I recognized as a sign that my body was letting go of needless tension and my nervous system was unwinding. The precision demanded by this type of class gave my mind something to do other than fret, and the overall reward was body-mind-spirit rejuvenation.

The challenging work of sitting with the discomfort and surrendering attachment is still ahead of me. I’ve cleared any unnecessary tasks from my schedule today to make space for that to happen. The yoga class really paved the way for me to sit quietly and honestly observe what is happening inside. It released the charged sensation of needing to escape as well as the fear of suffocating in the heaviness, which needs to be felt in order for true healing to occur. It created a non-stick surface on which energy can flow rather than stagnating in depression, suppression, or self-pity.

Now it’s time for the main act.

Ready? Set? Sit.

 

 

Radical Self-Care, Laughter

My 2.5 year old nephew is a great role model. This kid knows how to have a good time! He will put anything on his head (a shoe, macaroni, the inflatable raft for the pool) and announce “HAT!”. He thinks he’s hilarious. Another favorite game is to hide behind a curtain or under a towel, waiting not-so-patiently for you to say, “Where’s Max?” at which point he appears giggling.

notice he’s wearing just one shoe, on the wrong foot and the book is upside down 🙂

Watching this adorable kid reminds me to laugh loud and laugh often. Research is showing that even false laughter can alter brain chemistry, releasing feel-good endorphins and lightening our moods; I know I feel infinitely better after spending time with friends who enjoy a good chuckle. In this day and age with virtually limitless video available instantly, there is ample opportunity to LOL.

While I may not play silly “hat” games or always have company available to entertain me, I’m often able to pull myself out of a slump by recalling a funny incident or plugging into YouTube. Here’s a short video of a classic Tim Conway dentist skit. It cracks me up every time. Or better yet, spend time with small kids. They can be relied on for a constant stream of humorous material. 

It’s been said that laughter is the best medicine. I have to say that I wholeheartedly agree! What’s really great is that hysterical comes in many flavors- silly, dry, witty, sarcastic. It doesn’t really matter which you choose; only that you do make that choice. Did you hear the one about the gorilla who walked into a bar? 😉 

Radical Self-Care, Forgiveness

As I was sitting in meditation this morning, I had yet another epiphany. I realized that many of the areas in my body where I felt pain were actually holding old resentment, anger, fear, or some form of unexpressed emotion. As I became willing to release the emotion, the tension softened, and the discomfort evaporated. I physically felt how the act of forgiveness restored my energetic flow and relieved unpleasant symptoms.

Of course it is always my choice to hold onto resentment and keep the pain. It may very well be true that this friend did behave like a jerk and that friend didn’t keep her promise. Letting go of my reaction to these events doesn’t condone their behavior, but it does release me from my role as judge, jury, and executioner. As long as I’m pointing the finger at someone, the need to punish arises. While I’m neither cruel nor vindictive, I am well practiced at withholding love and acceptance as a form of silent punishment.

The problem with this system is that I am only punishing myself. My true nature is to be in the flow of love, and judgement separates me from that truth. My desire to practice forgiveness has been reinforced; not as a spiritual practice, but as a practical one. I long to be set free from the weight of judgement and the burden of pain. I already feel lighter and more resilient. I have complete faith that with diligence I can experience major liberation and the joy that comes with integration.

Let me be clear that while I believe harboring grudges and ill wishes always produces pain of some sort, I do not wish to suggest that all pain is the result of bearing un-forgiveness. Also, some wounds may take professional guidance to heal. I do not wish to belittle anyone’s experiences. However, I think we can all benefit rather quickly from letting go of the smaller stuff; such as being cut off in traffic or stood up for lunch. Given the choice of righteous indignation or comfort and freedom in my body, I’m opting for the latter. Every single time.