What’s your Superpower?

Awhile ago, I was leading a meditation group. At the beginning of the session, I asked the participants why they wanted to learn to meditate. There were the typical answers of seeking improved concentration, peacefulness, and mindfulness; however, there was one woman who said she wanted to learn to sit still. She described how sitting still is a real challenge for her. Working in finance, she is expected to sit for many hours a day, which is really difficult for her. Her colleagues often comment upon her fidgetiness.

As we got to know each other more, I learned that this bright young woman was a creative powerhouse. She could innovate at home and at work almost constantly and was sought out by all who knew her for her keen problem solving skills. Things did not linger on her to do list as she was on-the-go throughout the day making things happen.

Our sitting sessions were difficult for her and so I modified them to a walking meditation practice that allowed her to meditate in motion. She savored coordinating breath with movement and was able to focus her mind on that singular place of breath and step.

Even with that success, however, she still longed to sit still. She said to me, “Will I be able to do sitting meditation next?” And I replied, “You’re training your mind and will be able to translate that into sitting.” But then I hesitated because I wanted to point something out to her and so I ventured, “What if not sitting still is your superpower?” She looked at me puzzled, and I said, “Think about it for awhile and let me know next week how that might change things for you.”

She returned to our meditation sessions regularly and we continued our discussions on reframing her view of her hyperactivity. She noticed that by not resisting her physical energy but rather by accepting it and harnessing it she had greater peacefulness and mindfulness.

When she felt fidgety at work, she would go for a short walk. She also moved to a standing desk and eventually a treadmill desk. Then she started to explore the possibility of a career as a personal trainer — an area she had always loved. And eventually, she was able to sit for short periods of time during meditation.

This experience made me think:

What if we looked at the things that people sometimes don’t understand about us and harness them as our superpowers? Rather than resisting them, we make them into an asset.

For instance, perhaps people tell you that you’re thin-skinned. Instead of trying to be a tough and callous individual, you accept your sensitivity and use it to relate deeply to others. You create appropriate boundaries to protect yourself and yet are able to guide those in your life with your insightfulness.

What is your superpower? I encourage you to identify it and nurture it. May it grow and help you bring a shining light to this world.

 

Interview with Alison Kelly

I had the the pleasure of sitting down with Alison and talking about her experiences with Reiki sessions and classes. She shares about how Reiki transformed her grief and how she has a steady client base after taking my level 2 class.

Time to Eat my Humble Pie

Last week, I was honored with an award from the women’s running group that Picture of humble pieI’m part of and my immediate reaction was, “I don’t deserve that.”

There is a pattern in my thoughts, and maybe yours too, one that says:

“I don’t deserve to have that chocolate cake because I didn’t run today.”

“I don’t deserve to get that promotion at work because what I do is not technical.”

“I don’t deserve to live in my dream house because I’ve made bad choices in the past.”

“I don’t deserve to have fun and be proud of my running because I’m not fast.”

This all made me realize that I need to eat my humble pie. Not in the usual way that expression is used but rather in a metaphorical way, where my pie is made of an excess of humility to the point of making my world view that of being a person of lesser status.

You see the pattern, the one that says – I’m not enough, I’m not worthy, I’m less than – it gets in the way. It blocks the things I desire from entering my life.

This pattern is one that I’ve been trying to turn on its head by changing my thoughts to:

I deserve.

I deserve that chocolate cake.

I deserve that new blouse.

I deserve the gift from a friend.

I deserve that recognition at work.

How might my life be different if I faced my day by recognizing my innate worth? As Maria Shriver says in her essay, I’ve Learned that I Deserve, “It’s not selfish or arrogant. It’s a way to be kind and loving to yourself.”

If I started there – feeling empowered by all that is good – I might more easily fulfill my needs and those of others.

Will I get everything I want and need? Indeed not. Life will still throw injustices and hard times my way as it does to everyone else, but I’ll face it all – the good and the bad – with the strength and power of my worth – because I deserve to give and receive love and all the gifts of the universe.

So please excuse me while I munch on my humility.

Interview with Nancy Paul

I had the pleasure of interviewing one of my students and a fellow Reiki Master, Nancy Paul, of Lyrical Healing. She shares her experiences using Reiki in her body-centered therapy practice and about the ease and effectiveness of Reiki classes!

I hope you enjoy this video!

It Just Happened

This article originally appeared in The Huffington Post

from tinybuddha.com

A few months ago, I attended a meeting at the Polsky Center at the University of Chicago. It was a gathering of people from the University and entrepreneurs from the community. We were there to talk about the development of a new center for innovation.

During the lunch break, I spoke with an entrepreneur who runs a business creating healthy skincare products. She told me about her dream of outreach to the community in terms of training local people in the manufacturing of her product.

She also shared her story of how she started her business. Several years ago, when her son was young, he had severe eczema. To address his skin condition, she started experimenting with different lotions and oils and crafting them from scratch at home. At the same time, she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

These two events led her to make a radical shift in her life. She left her corporate job and created a business around manufacturing and selling the healthy skincare products she had created for her son.

When I expressed my awe about her story, she said, “Oh, it just happened.” As our conversation evolved, I asked her if she was interested in sharing how she made that shift from the corporate world to being an entrepreneur and again, she repeated, “It just happened.”

I left the conversation fully impressed with all that she had accomplished, all that she had planned, and completely amazed by her humility. But it was more than humility, I think. Like many of us, she was not recognizing the amazing things she had accomplished.

She had done so much, achieved and created and succeeded and I was in awe of her. It made me think about how often we focus on what we have not done rather than what we have accomplished. We come to the end of the day and see the list of things undone and focus on those rather than seeing: “Wow, there were so many things that I did today. I did X, Y, Z, . . . And I did them with calmness and compassion and awareness.”

I am much happier with my day when I take note of what I have done and achieved that day, even the little things. Focusing on the good, on what’s done, helps me feel peaceful and whole.

As we launch into this new year and pause to reflect on the one completed, let’s remember all that we have done and all that we continue to do each day – even the little things, even the things that we do with ease. Those things count and deserve celebration because you are enough. You are whole and complete right now, just as you are.

 

 

Reiki and Balance

This article previously appeared on The Huffington Post

A client named, Colleen, came to my office a few weeks ago feeling out of sorts. When I asked her what she was seeking, she said, “balance.” Ah, yes, indeed, Reiki is an excellent modality for helping one achieve balance and clients often are seeking it.

Later on another client stated she was seeking the same thing from her Reiki session and this really started me thinking about what we are ultimately hoping for when we say we want balance.

Sometimes, I’m hoping to release a deep emotion or stop a pattern of grief or depression when I’m desiring balance. So maybe it’s not so much balance that I seek, but a change in a persistent emotional pattern.

For me, balance is best illustrated by a tree pose in yoga. When one practices this pose, often we sway, need to put our leg down, and make other adjustments in order to achieve a balanced posed. Getting to a place of balance means being un-balanced at times. Balance is achieved after we have swayed and stumbled.

Balance is a flow, not a fixed place.

In a similar way, when we think of the balance that we feel from a Reiki session, it comes from swaying back to center from being off-centered by a strong emotion or experience. To me, this is helpful because when I’m in a place that I would identify as being “off-balance” I can remind myself that this is part of the flow of life – part of the swaying of life and emotions.

A lovely Reiki session or yoga class can help me release that part that is persistent and pulling me in a singular direction. It can help me come to a more centered and balanced place. A place of not all sad, not all happy – a place in the middle that has ridden the flow left and right and stands in the middle – for now.

Wishing for you a gentle ebb and flow of balance.

Anger and Disempowerment

This post also appears on The Huffington Post

I’m so angry!! How could you do that to me and my team?!

That was my reaction the other day at work when a coworker strongly criticized the work my team was doing. She unfairly accused us of many things including working too slowly, not working in the right way, of not understanding how to work, and of general incompetence.

The reality is much different than her accusations, but I was flaming mad.

I mean really angry. Fuming. How could she have done that? How could she have been so thoughtless, careless, insensitive? Darn, I was overheating with anger!

Then I stopped and noticed. Noticed how these thoughts were landing me in a place where something was being done to me.

When I mindfully explored the thought pattern some more, I saw that my anger was disempowering me. So often we hear of people stifling their anger or letting their anger go in inappropriate ways. Anger, is difficult to work with. For me, there is often an inner dialogue of: I “shouldn’t” be angry.

However, this time, I was seeing anger as something else. Anger is a natural reaction to some situations. Like all emotions, it arises and falls away.

Now as I observed it and contemplated it falling away – rather than clinging to it. I saw how holding it, stifling it and denying it removed my personal power. [This, I believe, is different than the other way of looking at disempowerment and anger, where someone is feeling disempowered and then feels angry.]

Anger is disempowering.

So I thought to reframe the situation. What if I looked at it this way: Her actions and words were about her. Not me or my team. Yes, they had an impact on me, but they were not directed at me. They came from a place of her own struggles; her own weaknesses; her own blindspots. Yes, I felt angry. I acknowledge that and it is 100% legitimate.

Now, can I move forward from it? Can I be in a place of power instead? What might that power place look like?

Would I speak up about the situation and my feelings? Would I take another course of action?

And this for me was the most helpful approach to dancing with my anger. Turning the anger around from what was being done to me, to what I could do. Taking my power back. Taking it back from anger, from the situation. Using that fire in my belly to fuel action.

Today, I’m turning anger into action. Positive action, positive change. Changes that I can make for me and my team.

So go ahead, piss me off. I’m going to take that as more fuel for my rocket ship of positive action.

 

We Ate When We Were Hungry

 

This article also appears on the Huffington Post.

One time a colleague of mine, who was based out of Amsterdam, went on a summer road trip with her husband and two young children. They had a camper that the kids had helped to paint and spent their two weeks vacation at various campsites in Europe. When they returned she described the experience with great joy. She said it was a carefree time, and then said the following:

We ate when we were hungry.

This comment really stood out for me. It is remarkable because so much of the time we don’t eat when we are hungry. We eat when the clock tells us it’s time to eat. Or we eat because we are worried or troubled or depressed.

My point here is about time, not our relationship to food, per se. Eating when they were hungry was so remarkable for Henriette and her family because normally they ate, as many of us do, according to a schedule. A schedule dictated by work and school obligations. However, they had a different experience on vacation and ate according to the cues from their bodies.

In the wellness world there is a frequent rally call about listening to your body, however, our modern world is really stacked against making that something that’s viable and easy to honor. Our obligations to schedules dictated by others are so large and confining that listening to your body may be a lovely thing to do during a yoga class or Reiki session, but really is not an option during your work or school day. We listen to the clock more often than we listen to our bodies.

Wonder Woman
Warner Bros. Picture

As Diana in the latest Wonder Woman movie reacts to Steve’s wristwatch, “You let this tell you what to do?” Indeed, we let our schedules and the clock tell us what to do. What if instead, we listened to a wiser voice that is expressed by our bodies – that spirit that lives inside of us that connects us to all that is? What if we let that tell us what to do?

What if today, you eat when you are hungry, pee when you first get that cue from your body, walk when your body craves movement, create when the spirit moves you, and hug when love fills your heart? I invite you to take one step forward to living by the signals of your body and spirit.