How do you stand so still?

Bamboo Trees, Morikami Gardens
Bamboo Trees, Morikami Gardens

At a Reiki Clinic a few years ago, a recipient sat up from the table and said to myself, and my fellow practitioners, “How do you stand so still?!” We all laughed and I said, “It’s the Reiki.”

And, indeed, it is the Reiki that allows us, as practitioners, to stand so still during a session.

When I learned Reiki levels 1 and 2 in October 2001, at Kripalu in Lenox Massachusetts, standing still was one of the lessons for me.

I remember one of the students in my class advising me about using soft knees and modified yoga poses to assist in stillness.

This was enormously helpful and, even now (18 years later), I share those techniques with my students as we practice offering Reiki to others during a level 1 class. Also, as new students, trying to stay with the same hand position for at least 2 minutes can seem daunting, so having a steady base in ones feet and legs is essential.

However, is there more going on for the practitioner during a Reiki session? Is her stillness more than a mindful practice?

As a practitioner, when offering Reiki, the energy is flowing through you to the recipient. This is universal life force energy. It is universal and infinite. It cannot be depleted. You won’t use it up as it goes to your lovely client.

In this process, you, as the practitioner, enter the state of receiving Reiki and all of its calm-producing benefits.

This calmness helps one stand in stillness. Being in this state also brings focus to the mind and heightened clarity and greater awareness of sensations.

Some people have described offering Reiki as being in a trance-like state.

Trance is defined as a “half-conscious” state and I would say that in my experience, it is that way. When I’m offering Reiki, I often “go someplace else.” I am physically present in the room, aware of my surroundings, of my client and her state, and of the healing that I am facilitating, but I’m also in a completely different state than I am in my day-to-day life.

I am calmer, clearer, with laser focus — and I can stand absolutely still — and when I move from hand position to hand position, I do so smoothly and easily.

So the answer to, “How do you stand so still?” is, “Reiki!” It allows the practitioner to enter a trancelike state that facilitates focus, stillness, and heightened awareness. Ask any Reiki practitioner and they will be able to tell you their story of stillness and peace.

Hope to see you soon at a Reiki clinic, class or session to experience the peaceful trance of Reiki!

Essential Oils

Essential Oils and Diffuser
Nebulizing Diffuser from Organic Aromas

Several years ago, my daughter and I had the pleasure of attending an essential oils class with Lynn Palmgren of Palmgren Acupuncture, in Oak Park, where we sampled different oils and blends and found the right ones for us. It was fun and insightful, but what was truly amazing was that the next morning:

Our house had the lovely aroma of lemon throughout it!

What a treat to wake up to this pure clean scent!

Over the years, I’ve tried different oils and recently received a diffuser and oils from Organic Aromas.*

This diffuser is so lovely and looks beautiful in our home.

But what I really love about it is the intensity of the scent. No water is used with this diffuser and so it is just pure essential oils being sent into the air. We have been using the lemon for a clean and uplifting feeling and the lavender for the end of the day to encourage unwinding. Both diffuse easily and the amount can be controlled with a dial on the diffuser. (We also enjoy the changing colors of the LED light. This can be turned off with just a touch, if you choose.)

Another great aspect of this diffuser is that it’s easy to clean! It just takes minutes to clean and because you’re not using water in the diffuser, so there is no build up of minerals, which makes cleaning even easier. (You can check out this video for specific instructions.)

Aromas are a lovely add on to a Reiki session as well. For my clients without a sensitivity to scent, I have sometimes been adding in a lavender-based blend of oils to the diffuser and running it on a low setting during the session.

A number of my clients have mentioned that the scent helps them to focus their mind on relaxation and stay in the present moment.

I hope you’ll give essential oils a try. They integrate beautifully into your home and healing practice and provide so many benefits.

Wishing you abundant love and light!

 

 

*Please note that I received the Organic Aromas diffuser and oils in exchange for reviewing and posting about it. The above statements are true and accurate regarding my experience with their product.

Elsewhere

You sought peace and
freedom
No more depression.
Spirit said:
Go here
Go
Be free
free
free
and we went there
a place
of freedom,
peace
and spirit.
A place without our
bodies and our pain.
We went someplace else
and came back
healed.

by Janice E. Lodato

 

Elsewhere is a reflection on a Reiki session where a client sought freedom from depression.

Things that don’t make sense

Last year, my word for the year was actually a phrase. It was: “This is the year of doing things that don’t make sense.” This may seem silly or illogical or risky but for me it led me to do a number of things that didn’t make sense, but brought me a lot of joy.

For instance, I attended a Reiki retreat at a time of the year when I had neither the time nor the funds to attend. It was an amazing and transformative experience. I also made some of the closest friends that I’ve had in a long time. These are women who are truly my tribe. I can be 100% authentic with them.  Infinite gratitude to Rachel Goldberg for coordinating the retreat and making the financial hurdle an easy one to overcome.

Two other examples from last year were: 1. I ran a 25k trail race. In some ways this made sense. I’m a dedicated runner and logged over 1,000 miles in 2018 – the same as in the previous two years. However, I was woefully undertrained for the hills and trails and risked injury. It didn’t make sense to tackle this, though this accomplishment is one of my proudest of 2018. 2. My family and I adopted a second dog. This did not make sense, however, she has lit up my life and is a joy to be around. At 9 months old, she has a lot to learn, though her exuberance is a breath of fresh air in our house.

So for 2019, when I hear that voice in my head that says, “This does not make sense.” I will continue to pause and note that: this is probably what I should be doing and I need to find a way to make it happen.

I’m also selecting a word of the year for 2019. The word is, RESPECT. I want to be aware of when I am not being respected and when I’m not respecting myself. I want to be aware of respecting others and making sure that aligns with a respectful state for all — keeping respect in balance. For instance, a week ago, someone was asking me to provide some information that I preferred to keep confidential. He insisted and so did I. Later when I reflected on the interaction I saw this as an instance where this person was not respecting my boundaries. In order to uphold my word for the year, I will continue to stand my ground in situations like this and demand respect for what I want and what I need as a strong individual.

Other ways that respect will manifest itself is in realizing some long-term resolutions that I’ve ignored in previous years. For instance, I’ve wanted to write more and start my book project. I will do that in 2019. Also, I want to teach Reiki classes to larger groups of people in order to spread its goodness into this world. I’d also like to enhance my foreign language skills, take on a physical challenge, and travel, travel, travel.

What’s your word or phrase for the year? Please share it in the comments!

Wishing you abundant love and light in 2019 and always!

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.

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.

 

Mindful Running

Two runners on trailLast month, I completed my second half marathon. It was a different challenge for several reasons. Some were known ahead of time; some were not.

I knew it was going to be on a groomed trail and because of that, and the type of training that I was completing prior to the race, I would probably not top my previous finish time. So that left me wondering what type of race I should run. If I wasn’t running for a time goal, what was my goal? If my goal was not time, how could I avoid the obsession on time? Would my ego allow me to race, talk about it afterwards and not have the type of outcome that is usually expected and praised?

First of all, I started to develop a non-time focused goal. I came up with: “focus and fun.” Though, I always have two preliminary goals: don’t get hurt and finish. I practiced visualizing completing the race safely and with a stride that was focused and a heart that was having fun.

Secondly, I had to figure out how to not worry about my time during the race. I started to devise this plan: leave my running watch at home. I talked about this with my running buddies and got lots of positive feedback. One very experienced runner told me that she had her fastest 10-mile race when her watch stopped working during mile one. She said it improved her focus. Instead of being driven by the time on her watch, she was listening to her body, paying attention to her stride, and going with the flow. Then I found an article in Mindful magazine, called “Meditation on Foot.” It reinforced the steps I needed to take if I wanted to be truly focused during the race.

So, I was now resolved to leave my watch at home and have an intention of “focus and fun”. During self-Reiki sessions prior to the race, I would spend 5-10 minutes visualizing: running with focus and fun, moving fast and with ease, and crossing the finish line with plenty of energy left in my tank.

How did it turn out? As with any race experience, it had some unexpected twists. The biggest one was the number of hills. I’m accustomed to very flat conditions and the hills were brutal – not so much from a cardiovascular perspective, but from a muscle perspective. In the last mile, my left calf muscle was screaming and I was worried it was about to tear. I had to walk for awhile and was uncertain I could cross the finish line running. However, the course leveled out for the last quarter mile or so and I was able to run across the finish line at a modest pace.

Overall, though, I achieved exactly what I set out to do: I finished, I did not get hurt (beyond needing a couple of extra rest days for my calf to recover), I was focused (so focused I didn’t even listen to music), and I had fun (it was a beautiful, well maintained and dry course set in a forest preserve. My fellow runners were friendly and supportive and the weather was perfect.)

So next time you set a challenge for yourself, I encourage you to get clear on your intention(s) for the activity. Do whatever preparation and training is required and utilize visualization to achieve your desired outcome. If you can add in some Reiki it will help to boost your focus and calmness!

Wishing for you laser focus and lots of fun!