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!

First, yourself

This article also appears on the Huffington Post.

There’s a reason why as soon as you’re attuned in a Reiki class, you learn the self-care practice. Before you’re ready to practice on others, you must experience this yourself, because, Reiki is known through the experience of it. My words and years of experience may meet the needs of your mind, but the deep intuitive knowing comes through the experience of this universal life force energy.

This spiritual healing practice is a daily ritual for those who have taken a Reiki class. As a Reiki Master of Masters, I practice self-Reiki everyday upon waking. That first encounter of the day is often a brief one – usually 10 minutes – then, at least, once a week, I practice on myself for a full session of about 40-45 minutes.

Recently, during one of these full self-Reiki sessions, I went deeply into a state of connection with this energy that is in us and all around us. Here is what I experienced.

The difference between my hands and any part of my body where they rested were completely gone. I felt pure connections between my energy body and the universe. The confines of the body faded away and I touched spirit. When I did experience my body it seemed to be floating.

And then my mind came in . . .

It wanted to know something. I’m not sure what it wanted, but it needed attention and to be busy.

And, so, using the Reiki symbols, I allowed my mind to ask deeply philosophical questions: What’s next? What’s next for me? What has meaning for me?

Now, my mind, body and spirit were in harmony and went to a place of union and peace. The possibilities opened up before me.

Ah, so this is what it’s like to receive a Reiki session! This is what’s behind the smile and peace on my client’s face when she sits up after a Reiki session. Ah, sweet peace, sweet connection with the universe!

Is self-Reiki always like that for me? Absolutely not. Self-Reiki has taught me an important truth, which is that everyday I’m different. Like the tree in the photo above, I’m in a constant state of change and so are you.

Every Reiki session will be a unique experience because you are unique from moment to moment, day to day. Yes, there are physical ailments and mental patterns that persist; however, this snapshot in time, this moment is unique. The deep awareness that comes from a Reiki session allows you to see the truth of this uniqueness.

If you’ve taken a Reiki class, I encourage you to practice self-Reiki every day. It can be a daily 10-minute session before getting out of bed, or a full session as described above, and/or touch points throughout the day when hands are on and Reiki is on – connecting you to what really matters through this spiritual healing practice.

 

 

 

Reiki and Insomnia

Sleeping Girl, insomniaSometimes I wake up at 3:30 a.m. and can’t fall back to sleep. Does this type of insomnia ever happen to you? Is it a crisis for you? Do you lie in bed waiting for the alarm to go off or the sun to come up? Are your first thoughts? “I’m awake already??!! This is going to ruin my day.”

For me, that early wake up can be a gift. Sure, I’m short on sleep for the day and may need to turn in early that evening. And I may be fighting sleep at 4 in the afternoon. The gift, however, is that I get to lie in bed and practice self-Reiki for an hour. This dark, quiet time is an incredible gift. While the house is quiet and my family sleeps, I can do a full hour of self-Reiki – enjoying this self-care practice without being late for work or any other obligation.

Now you may say, “But the Reiki did not cure your insomnia.” That’s true, it did not. I was fully awake and allowed myself to remain awake – I didn’t fight it, I just engaged in a quiet activity that I enjoy. Then you may ask, “But I have chronic insomnia. Will Reiki help with that?” Yes, let’s explore that.

Now, if you’ve been reading this blog you know that Reiki is not a cure-all. However, it is a powerful healing modality and one that can have a positive impact on insomnia. It does so in two ways:

  1. Reiki brings on the relaxation response.
  2. Reiki quiets the mind, which brings about greater awareness and mindfulness, which in turn allows one insight into the underlying issues that may be keeping one awake.

The number one outcome of receiving a Reiki session is relaxation. When we’re relaxed, we sleep better, our bodies heal better, we think more clearly, and we relate to each other more genuinely. My clients who have had insomnia report deep relaxation during their Reiki session and sometimes a deep sleep during the session as well. One client, named Ruth, called me the day after her first session and reported sleeping straight through for 7 hours. She continued to come in for weekly sessions for four weeks and she reported that insomnia became an infrequent occurrence.

The awareness brought about by a Reiki session can also help with insomnia. Another client, named, Abby, was suffering from insomnia that left her with 2-3 hours of sleep per night. She would fall asleep immediately at night and then wake up after a few hours, unable to go back to sleep. After her first Reiki session, she reported feeling very relaxed and refreshed.

When she came back for her second session she said she realized several things about her routine and bedroom that were keeping her awake. She had made some changes including limiting caffeine in the afternoon and (she said this was most important) turning her bed so she no longer faced a window that had a bright street lamp outside of it. She said she also placed a darker curtain over the window. So in this way Reiki helped Abby to mindfully address her insomnia.

How has Reiki helped you with sleep and insomnia?* Please share your comments below.

~Wishing you a deep, restful sleep.

 

*Please note: Reiki is not a cure-all. There are many factors that contribute to a good night’s sleep. What one ate during the day, the level of physical fatigue (has the body been exercised during the day?), have there been relaxation experiences during the day (we can’t expect to know how to relax by practicing once per day while in bed hoping to go to sleep!), and a calm mind that has at least some peace about how things are. There are many more, including medications and physical conditions that interrupt sleep. Please remember that Reiki is just one factor in your self-care toolkit. Though I find it to be a very powerful one, you’ll need to find the one(s) that work for you.  Wishing you abundant good health.

Self-Reiki: What is it and Why practice it?

Self-Reiki Hand PositionsIf you’ve taken a Reiki level 1 class hopefully you’ve been taught how to have a self-Reiki practice. This practice usually entails a regular practice at the beginning and end of each day plus regular applications of self-Reiki throughout one’s day. There are particular hands-on positions that one follows (some of them are illustrated in the image on the right) or the practitioner uses a free-form approach.

It’s interesting to hear the experiences of Reiki students, however. Often one hears how daily self-Reiki practice has fallen away because of a busy schedule or the lack of recognizable results. The result of a regular self-Reiki practice can be very subtle. However, those of us who practice every day notice how grounded we feel and how those few minutes of calm attention at the beginning of each day set the tone and approach to the day. Like so may practices, self-Reiki requires regularity. Even without regularity, once was has learned Reiki, it is always available to you for self-care and relaxation. (The impact is more noticeable, however, with regular application/practice.)

If you haven’t been practicing regularly, it’s no big deal. Just begin. Practice again, just for today. When tomorrow comes you can do it again, “Just for today.” And on and on. It’s so simple and so accessible.

I know, life is complicated and not simple. Sometimes our morning plans are disrupted or completely out of our control. So you’re 100% into your day and you realize, “I didn’t do my morning self-Reiki practice. Ugh!” Ok, so what? Are you driving, talking on the phone, in a meeting, working at the computer, playing with your kids? Can you get one hand free to place on your leg, on the side of your head, in your pocket, or on your heart? Can the hand linger there for at least a few minutes? If you’ve answered, yes and yes, then you’re on your way to your first self-Reiki treatment of the day. Go for it! What about right now?! You’re reading a blog, can you free up one hand and place it on yourself for a few minutes? How does it feel? What do you notice? Ah, ha! You’ve found it! Time to practice your self-Reiki!

To an outsider, this sounds so simple — it can’t possibly work! However, through our experience, we know it does. We feel the flow of energy in our bodies, we calm our minds, and we experience the present moment. Sometimes, we also experience “Aha” moments or notice the profound healing of a bodily injury.

Does this kind of self-care and connection sound yummy to you? If you’ve taken a Reiki class, remember: Hands on, Reiki’s on. Do it right now! You can!

If you haven’t take a Reiki class, won’t you join us this fall? Sign up today!

 

Pay Attention! The importance of practicing Reiki

I Practice Self-Reiki Every Day

Moments of inattention often lead to life’s mishaps. For instance, recently, I was at an airport and I wanted to clean my glasses while waiting at the gate for my plane. I reached into my Ziploc bag full of small liquid bottles and pulled out what I thought was my lens cleaner. I sprayed my lenses and got busy wiping them clean. However, they didn’t come clean.  They had a terrible whitish film over them. Then I realized I had not used the lens cleaner — I had instead used my hairspray. Ugh! How did this happen?! Clearly it was because I wasn’t paying attention. (Fortunately, when I got home I found that an alcohol wipe gently removed the hairspray.) I believe these moments of inattention happen to all of us and are part of our human condition with our monkey minds and our plugged in world.

There are ways, however, to help us pay attention. During Reiki classes, I encourage my students to practice self-Reiki everyday for the next 21 days following their class. As with any new habit, this 21-day time period provides a manageable interval in which to repeat a task in order to make it a habit. During this time, I also encourage my students to journal about their experience. They can write brief passages in their journal, even just one word or a sketch is sometimes enough to capture the experience of their daily Reiki practice. As Reiki Practitioners, this is something we do everyday: we practice self-Reiki. It is easily integrated into one’s life as a morning and evening routine and throughout the day when hands are placed on oneself and the connection is made with universal life-force energy. This connection provides a moment of deep attention. For me, it often brings me out of head and into my body. I notice how I’m sitting, breathing, and feeling in my body in this moment of time.

How does one remember to make the connection? It is through practice. Reiki, like many of life’s endeavors, is a practice. It is a requirement that it must be done over and over again. After a Reiki class, though one is fully attuned and able to practice Reiki, the depth of the practice and the skillfulness of a seasoned practitioner is not yours yet. You must practice. You must practice on yourself daily and on others as often as is possible. Through the practice, you will get to know Reiki. You will notice the flow of energy more. You will experience deeper states of relaxation. You will connect more often with your higher self. Your experience of Reiki will intensify with practice. However, this is often the exact area that is most difficult for students, i.e., the practicing. Reiki, though, is so simple: anytime, anywhere: Hands on, Reiki’s on.

Don’t be fooled by its simplicity! You must practice and when you do, you experience its depth. I recently read the following regarding meditation in the March 2015 issue of Shambhala Sun: Judy Lief writes: “Meditation practice is called ‘practice’ for a reason: just like a singer practicing scales or a yogi practicing downward dogs, the point is repetition, doing the same thing over and over.” For some people, they might think this is very boring, but with Reiki it is not boring because you are not the same from moment to moment and so what you experience and notice will not be the same. Repetition is in the act of placing hands on and noticing.  What you notice will be unique to the present moment — to who you happen to be right now.

What have you experienced in your practice of Reiki? How has it helped you to pay attention? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Be Gentle with Yourself

lion licking foot I’m startled sometimes by the harsh words that people use when talking about themselves. These are people who I know would not speak that way to another person, but they feel completely comfortable using words of disgust, hatred, and criticism towards themselves. When speaking of another person they often find a good side to that person’s personality or behavior, but when they speak of themselves extreme criticism is the norm.

To these people, I say, “Be gentle with yourself.” Imagine you’re a small child, just learning your way in the world, you deserve kindness and caring. You deserve to feel good about yourself. As you are kind with others, be kind to yourself.

Why is that we find it difficult at times to be kind to ourselves? Do we hold ourselves to such unattainable high standards and therefore measure ourselves as failing to meet those standards? Do we lack humor and gentleness and don’t know how to apply these in our life?

As I’ve reflected on this statement, “Be gentle with yourself,” I have become more and more aware of a lack of gentleness in our society. As we work aggressively toward deadlines, drive our point home, and push to be first — we leave behind gentle words, a kind touch, an astute observation, and a listening ear.

One way we can practice being gentle with ourselves is by doing self-Reiki. This practice is the cornerstone of a Reiki level 1 class. Daily self-Reiki is a way to connect with our higher selves, a way to delve into our human experience, and a way to connection with the best that is within us. By practicing self-Reiki we are engaged in daily self-care which can be a foundation for being gentle with oneself.

What are your experiences with being gentle with yourself? Has there been a time in your life when you were highly self-critical? What brought that on? How did you work with it? What self-care practices do you use? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Wishing you the light and gentleness of the universe.

The importance of practice

“I believe that we learn by practice. Whether it means to learn to dance by practicing dancing or to learn to live by practicing living, the principles are the same. In each, it is the performance of a dedicated precise set of acts, physical or intellectual, from which comes shape of achievement, a sense of one’s being, a satisfaction of spirit. One becomes, in some area, an athlete of God. Practice means to perform, over and over again in the face of all obstacles, some act of vision, of faith, of desire. Practice is a means of inviting the perfection desired.” ~Martha Graham


We are accustomed to hearing about the importance of practice in areas of music, dance, and sport.  Practice, though, is vital in all areas of our life.  In many ways the act of daily living involves practice.  We practice how to relate to others — photo(1)family, friends, coworkers.  As parents, we practice how to parent with mindful words and actions.  At our workplace, we practice our craft over and over again through the repetition of the tasks that we complete on a daily or weekly basis.  Even driving or walking is a practice — we do it repeatedly and gain greater skill in it by doing it over and over again. Keep thinking about this — anything we do is a practice and we gain skill through the act.

Reiki is no different than any of these other aspects of your life.  The practice of it intensifies and hones our experience of it.  With practice we gain skill and mastery.  This however is not a physical skill, it’s a spiritual skill. Your skill with Reiki is a skill in a spiritual healing practice.  It is not something that can be measured with a stop watch or a more complicated musical piece being played. Reiki practice leads to mastery. It starts with daily self-Reiki and moves to Reiki for others.  These must be done consistently and frequently.

As Martha Graham stated, “Practice means to perform, over and over again in the face of all obstacles, some act of vision, of faith, of desire.” A musician, dancer, or athlete must practice his or her craft, so too must a Reiki Practitioner practice Reiki because of his or her desire for the highest healing good.

 

Belief is irrelevant

For Reiki to work, belief is irrelevant.  The mind does not control Reiki.  You can believe in Reiki or not, it will still work.

The mind is pesky and it will ask for proof.  It will ask how to know it has experienced Reiki.  Your task as a Reiki Practitioner and/or as a recipient, is to quiet the mind and experience the Reiki.  This can take the form of showing up — consistently. That means, as a Practitioner, you consistently and regularly practice self-Reiki.  As a recipient, you regularly receive Reiki.

Do you need to believe in it?  No.  Just do it.