Just One Thing

This article also appears on the Huffington Post.

Hope is the sparkPerhaps you’re like me. It’s mid-January, you’ve made big plans and set sincere intentions for this bright, shiny new year and . . . you’re stuck. It’s like you’re in a hole and you can’t find your way out. Any spark of action or glimmer of hope is lacking and you find yourself overwhelmed by the day-to-day needs of your life, unable to start even one change.

That thought is what brought me here today: “start with one change.” What if I changed just one thing today?

This is the idea behind what the founders of Simple Green Smoothies did. Unhealthy, broke, de-energized, and not sure where to go next, Jadah decided to change just one thing. She decided to have a green smoothie every day. With that change, she started losing weight and had more energy; then she started working out and the momentum continued to grow. She changed one thing and the rest followed.

So I started to think of the 10s or 100s of things I’d like to change, what is one thing I can do to get to “better”? What is one thing that can help me out of the hole and lead me toward hope?

The first thing that came to mind was going for a lunchtime walk each day. For my project management work, my office is located two blocks from Lake Michigan. Can I steal away for 20-30 minutes each day to connect with a little nature and gently move my body? Can I do this one thing every day for a week?

Will there be barriers and excuses? Oh, yes. An overly packed meeting schedule is sure to be a hurdle. What if I put it on my calendar to make sure it’s prioritized? Will the weather be cold and nasty? Hey, this is Chicago, you can guarantee it will be. But I commute by public transit so I already have all my gear with me. I can handle the weather.

Then my mind chimed in some more: But, wait. Does this make sense? How does this get you any closer to those lofty and important goals and intentions of the new year?

Honestly, I have no idea, but I stopped the analysis. It’s just one thing. It is a change. It breaks a pattern. It facilitates a shift. It changes a behavior of overwork, under-thinking, and under-breathing.

Perhaps it will be the spark that leads to something else. Perhaps it will provide me with the mental space to make a bigger change. I’m not sure, but it’s just one thing, that I’ll do for one week.

Will you join me? What’s your Just One Thing that you’ll do for a week to ignite a spark in your heart? Let us know in the comments below.

 

~Wishing for you the spark that lights up your heart with hope.

Sacred Sundays and Other Great Ideas

Sacred Sunday light“If it doesn’t serve to uplift your spirit, let it go.”

As the calendar was getting ready to change from 2015 to 2016, I experienced a healing CranioSacral session. My intention for that session included, “clarity and focus.” (If you know me personally, you know that this is something I don’t usually need to seek – but I was quite scattered at the time.) As I lay on the table, I heard very clearly, “If it doesn’t serve to uplift your spirit, let it go.”

This message is very helpful for focusing my actions and plans for this New Year. I have started to use it as a litmus test for whether or not I’ll continue with certain activities and scheduling in 2016.

For instance, for the past few years, I have run a Reiki Clinic on Sunday afternoons from 3-5 p.m. This has meant that my Sunday is another workday and sometimes that means working 7 days in a week.

Though Clinic is uplifting and fulfilling, I’m still there as a professional. This is not recreation and it is not family time. So I decided to implement a “sacred Sundays” policy for 2016. The only exception to this policy will be teaching Reiki classes on Sunday eight times this year. This will allow me at least one day off per week which opens up time for being with my family and having fun – just for its own sake.

This focus on uplifting my spirit has also caused me to change my schedule in other ways. I love to explore, hike, and travel with my family. However, with commitments most weekends, that means we usually can only get away for recreation a few times per year. So I’ve shifted my Reiki Clinic days to be the same as the days I offer Reiki treatments at the Wellness House in Hinsdale – one in the morning and one in the afternoon. This makes for a long day, but frees up Sunday’s schedule and it frees up other weekends.

I wish that the phrase (“If it doesn’t serve to uplift your spirit, let it go.”) were a Magic 8-ball and provided me with a definite answer as to whether or not I should maintain other activities and commitments, but it’s not. However, it has been helpful in terms of encouraging me to put my focus into a few specific activities related to my Reiki, meditation, and coaching practices for 2016, including a greater focus on teaching, especially in larger settings and, maybe, online; and doing more writing projects, maybe even a monthly column in a local publication.

Commitment toward those activities though means I have to be judicious in how I spend my time. I tend to take on a lot of things and end up being stressed out over a lack of time. In order to enjoy my activities and fulfill my highest purpose, I will continue to remove those things that don’t serve to uplift my spirit and dive into those that do.

How about you? How are you focusing your activities in the New Year? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Gratitude Attitude

Gratitude

As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday here in the U.S., there are many reminders for us to pause and give thanks. This can be a lovely time to reflect on what we are personally grateful for. You might take some time in your holiday preparations to sit with a cup of tea and reflect on what you’d like to give thanks for this day. Then take a note card or index card and write down your gratitude statement or intention.

Another wonderful tradition is to have “I am thankful for” cards on your Thanksgiving table or a side table. Last year, we had them on a side table and family members anonymously wrote a short list of what was filling their hearts with gratitude that day. Then, after our meal, we took turns reading them aloud. We laughed over the repeated items, like, “I am thankful for pie,” and felt warmed by the expressions of gratitude for each other’s presence in our lives.

I have noticed in our extended families that with all of the hustle and bustle of the day — the Turkey Trot, the parade, the football games, and the cooking — that the prayer or blessing at the start of the meal is often given just a quick once over. Sometimes it is our standard grace that is said and sometimes, in the more secular part of our family, we just dig right in to the food. This year, I’m hoping, with some advanced planning, to create a blessing to share before our meal. I think one that is customized to the holiday, those gathered together that day, and that touches on our personal blessings (especially in light of our personal challenges) — will be a meaningful start to our meal and bring the blessings of our universe to our family and our holiday. (I’ll share in a post after the holiday, what we created.)

Indeed, a gratitude practice can be powerful anytime of year and I encourage you to make this a daily habit. I have observed for myself how a grim point of view can be gently moved along by reciting the many things I am grateful for. When I’m commuting, for example, I often start with the first thing that I notice. I start with, “I am grateful for this warm coat.” Then I’ll go on to “I am grateful for safe transportation.” And from there I’ll continue with, “I am grateful for good music, great books, the people who create them, publish them, and the ability to enjoy them.” As you get deeper into your gratitude practice, you’ll notice that there is an infinite list of things to be grateful for — you just have to start acknowledging them — even the tiniest and seemingly insignificant things. They matter too.

What are your experiences with Thanksgiving traditions and blessings? Do you have a gratitude practice? Please share your experiences and thoughts in the comments below.

Wishing you a blessed Thanksgiving! I am so grateful for you!

Creative Visualization by Shakti Gawain

 

Creative Visualization by Shakti Gawain

Creative Visualization by Shakti Gawain holds a special place in my heart. This particular copy is from my father’s bookshelf. He is a psychologist who has most recently practiced in the field of sports psychology and uses creative visualization and self-hypnosis to improve an athlete’s concentration and overall performance. I remember, as a child, seeing it there on the bookshelf and being quietly inspired by it as I loved to live in the dreamlike world of my imagination.

A few weeks ago, I read this book from cover to cover. Before, I had only read parts of it because it is certainly a book that lends itself to that type of reading.  The first part of it provides a thorough background about, and discussion of, the application of creative visualization and affirmations. In the second part, one can practice with the many visualizations for particular situations, like the Pink Bubble Technique or the Healing Meditations.  As I read it, I was pleasantly surprised to find phrases that I use in my Reiki practice repeated throughout the book. It was as if it had woven its way through my consciousness and connects me to my life’s purpose and to my father.

Shakti Gawain starts off this inspirational book with a crystal clear definition: “Creative visualization is the technique of using your imagination to create what you want in your life.”  This simple and straightforward technique is then presented as a natural part of your imagination.  Something that you’re using everyday anyway, so why not use it to achieve your goals? Shakti builds this book on two important techniques: 1. Relaxation and 2. Affirmation. (Even the Stuart Smalley affirmation appears on page 22, “Every day in every way I’m getting better, better, and better.”)

One often hears that there are people who just can’t visualize and therefore this technique will be ineffective for them.  However, I believe, as with any self-care technique, one has to find the method that works for your way of thinking and your way of living.  Perhaps you’re more of a verbal thinker than a visual one so rather than holding an image of your goal, you’ll create a phrase that captures its essence. If you’re more of a kinesthetic learner, perhaps you’ll dance your way to the heart of your dream.  When you’ve created that image, phrase, or dance, then you use that again and again to help manifest the life you love.

I highly recommend this book as a guide to creative visualization and the effective use of affirmations.  The techniques contained in it also beautifully blend with Reiki.  As you practice your self-Reiki, I invite you to repeat, with a loving heart, a phrase, an image, or a dance that guides you to your highest healing good. Combining Reiki with visualization and affirmation is a powerful technique.

What is your experience with creative visualization?  Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

 

5 Signs You’re a Real Reiki Master

From a place of fun and lightheartedness, here are 5 signs that indicate you’re a real Reiki Master:

  1. You’ve said about Reiki: “Maybe this will work.  Maybe it won’t.”
  2. You believe the body heals itself.
  3. You’ve sent Absent Reiki by just intending to.
  4. You practice self-Reiki as frequently as possible.
  5. You know that you do not heal others, Reiki does.

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