A Vow to Myself

Wedding VowThis article also appears on The Huffington Post

My abs are tight, stomach flat, legs and arms strong and fit, I haven’t had a cold in months – I’m beautiful. I love myself. This body, she is wonderful and I feel so much love for her.

But then . . . something changes. A cold sneaks up on me and I’m sneezing, stuffy, and coughing – feeling miserable. Or I’m busy at work and haven’t done any crunches in weeks and my abdominal muscles return to their womanly shape. Or time has simply marched on and my muscle tone and skin tone have changed – not so tight anymore. I show my age.

How can I love this body? She’s not pleasing me right now. She doesn’t allow me to maintain the façade of youth. She gets sick – sometimes very seriously sick. How can she do this to me?

Can I love my body in sickness and in health? Can I love her unconditionally?

Honestly, that has been difficult for me. When things aren’t just right with my body, I notice my thoughts are not as kind, not as gentle. I hear my mind say, “How could this have happened?” As if I’m immune to all illness, injury, and aging. Then I hear, “If I don’t look great, I’ll lose so much in my life: work, relationships, attention.” Now, really mind is that true?

Let’s take a moment here for The Work from Byron Katie:

  1. Is it true? (Yes or no. If no, move to 3.)
  2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true? (Yes or no.)
  3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
  4. Who would you be without the thought?

This thought is pretty easy to deconstruct:

  1. No
  2. [Skip]
  3. I’m mean to my body. I don’t treat her well. I’m judging her negatively and I want to hide her.
  4. I would be a being of love and light. I would love her unconditionally.

Ah, love unconditionally. Can I love my body as I love my beloved? Can I treat her the way I treat those I love the most in my life? Why is this so hard?

For me, I know that my expectations for my body are unrealistic. I also have habits of mind, deeply indoctrinated by our culture that are not kind and loving toward my body.

Lovingkindness extended to my body, just as I love my beloved. From this day forward I’m resolving to love my body . . . in sickness and in health. And so I’m offering this vow to my body, my beloved in this earthly realm:

I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love and honor you all the days of my life.

Wishing you an abundance of love that fills your being: body, mind, and spirit.

Self-love: Calling my body, “she”

This post also appears on The Huffington Post.

Photo by Janice E Lodato Calling my body she

One day as I entered a bathroom stall at work, I was thinking about my body. “It’s tired. It’s old. It aches.” — were the thoughts that went through my head. Then I stopped myself, both mind and body, and thought, “Why don’t you call your body “she”?” After 50 years on this planet this thought arrived as a revelation. I’ve always called this body, “it” and, unfortunately, there have been times I’ve treated it with disdain. Like many others I have struggled with liking and loving myself, especially my body.

For me, I clearly identify my body as female and calling her “she” makes sense. I know for others that perspective is not as clear and the words may be different for them, but I invite all of us to at least address our body with an animate pronoun or a name.

These bodies are pretty amazing. Let’s start with a few examples.

  1. Your Body, She is a healing machine. Our bodies are constantly working toward a state of health and equilibrium.
  2. Your Body, She enables you to do so much. To see the beauty of a sunrise, to hear the sounds of uplifting music, to walk in the woods – to name just a few. She is an enabler, not a burden.
  3. Your Body, She provides you with awareness. Not just body awareness, but also emotional awareness. As we tune-in to our bodies they tell us the truth about how we’re feeling and provide us with instinctual awareness about situations and the people in our lives.

Why would you not call your body, “she”? Because she gets sick and dies? Because she gets fat or thin with no rhyme or reason? Because she is subject to scrutiny and criticism by others, especially doctors and our inner self-critic? But she is just having a human experience. She is a human body with all its wonderful aspects and all of its imperfection. If she were your friend, would you treat her the way you treat your very own body?

So, is calling your body, “she,” really helpful? I have found that when I’m talking about my body as a “she” my thoughts and actions are gentler. For instance, the other day my knee hurt – maybe from running too much or too fast or from stretching too little. My mind said, “Go running anyway, you’ll be fine.” But my body . . . she said, “Please rest. One day off and a little extra stretching would do me wonders.” So, because I respect her and her innate wisdom, I rested. I stretched. The next day I felt great and was ready to roll again. She showed me how appreciative she was and I ran with ease and comfort.

This body, she really is wonderful. She accompanies me on great adventures, is a guiding force in so many of life’s pleasures, she shares her wisdom (often so quietly that I have to stop and listen and just breathe and sometimes with such force I’m startled by the sudden clenching of my stomach or how my breath is taken away). She is a kind companion on this journey of life and I bow in honor to her – my first best friend.

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!


Too nice?

Kindness is Life FuelHas anyone ever said to you, “You’re too nice.”? People have said that to me and I’m always puzzled by their statement. What does it mean to be too nice? Is this even possible? As I’ve reflected upon this I see that there are times when I am too nice. When I put other people’s needs ahead of mine. When I don’t play by the rules of the game but rather by my rules for kindness. These both might be instances of being too nice.

In the first case, when I put other people’s needs ahead of mine, I may in fact be too nice. I may be giving them too much and putting them ahead of me in a way that is unfair to my needs. However, there may be times when my needs can be put aside ahead of someone else’s as a kind gesture that helps them through a certain situation or a difficult time or it’s simply an act of kindness.

In the second case, where I don’t follow the rules and put kindness first, this can be problematic as it may interrupt the social norm for behavior at that time. I may be putting kindness ahead of competitiveness which breaks with the rule that everyone else is following. Sometimes this is completely appropriate, I think, especially when the competitiveness leads to unkindness.

How do we make sure we’re creating the right balance between our personal needs and our desire to be kind? How do we help others while at the same time taking good care of ourselves? For me, this often takes the form of a gut check. How am I feeling about myself at this moment? Am I feeling good and confident about myself? Or is the action that I’m about to take causing me to set aside my highest self?

In order to do this gut check, you must be connected to your feelings. This requires ongoing check ins with your mind, body, and spirit because if you lose that connection to yourself you won’t have an effective gut check.  You’ll be so tuned out to yourself that you won’t know how you feel.

As always, excellent self-care through great food, exercise, Reiki, social connections, sleep, and all those things that make you most fulfilled, allow you to keep in contact with your feelings so gut checking can happen quickly and with integrity.  Then go for it and be kind to your heart’s content!

Wishing you abundant kindness!

Saying “no” without the guilt

Lately, I’ve had the opportunity to say, “no” to a number of personal and business-related requests, invitations, and, probably nearly a millionNo sign after-school activities for my daughter. It seems mind-boggling sometimes to face the sheer volume of ways that we can use our time.

I have to say that I am somewhat addicted to busyness and can easily fall over a cliff of being so insanely busy, that, well, it makes me act insane. When I get this busy I lose the joy in the activity and in those around me. I lash out, I struggle, and I shutdown some of the areas that are vital to my existence, especially in the realms of relationships and creativity.

Saying “yes” to everything and “doing it all” is definitely toxic for me.  However, I often experience anxiety over saying no. What will other people think? If I’m not busy, what will I do with my time? (And I know I’ve jumped off the metaphorical cliff, when I land at a thought that can be comically summarized as, “If I’m not saving the world, who will?”)

Now imagine what happens when I have one of those unusual days where my schedule is not packed. I start to question my self-worth. If I’m not busy and being productive, what is my purpose for being? (If you’re following this mental condition, then you know that being sick is incredibly difficult for me.)

Being busy is highly valued by me (and by our society), so I often feel guilty about saying “no” and admitting, “I can’t do it all.” I can’t keep a perfectly clean house, work two jobs, balance the family budget, throw an awesome party, exercise until I look like a gym-rat, and keep all my relationships in tip-top shape. (Certainly there must be something I forgot on that list.)  And then there is the other painful realization that, “I don’t do everything well. There are many things that I’m plainly not good at.” Ah, the perfectionist trap!

Some people like to remind me that, I’m not a human doing, I’m a human being. Oh, I love that saying. It’s funny, isn’t it? When have you chatted lately about your beingness? For someone like me, how do I get in touch with my beingness? How do I disconnect from my to-do list and reconnect with my soul?  If you follow this blog, you know the importance of Reiki and nature in my life.  These are essential for me to switch from doing to being. After I’ve done that, I can be more present for my family and myself.

How do you say, “no” and disconnect from busyness and perfectionism? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Wishing you love, light, and the peace of knowing you’re enough exactly as you are!

Reiki Resolution Technique

The past five days have been filled with anxiety, anger and pain.  Sometimes for me this has been almost disorientating and disabling.  I almost don’t know what to do next as I feel held by these strong emotions.

However, I have reminded myself of the wise and helpful technique presented by my teachers, Libby Barnett and Maggie Babb.  They call this technique the Reiki Resolution Technique.

The technique works as follows:  If you are a Reiki practitioner, level 2, then first do the mental/emotional symbol plus the empowerment symbol.  Place your hands on your heart and hold the emotion in your hands and heart.  Don’t shy away from it.  Don’t dismiss it.  Hold the anxiety, for example, in your hands and notice what happens.  (Hold it for about 5-10 minutes, with your eyes closed, your body relaxed and your breathing deep and steady.)  As I have done this the past few days, I’ve observed a melting away of the emotion as it replaced by a wave of peace.

If you’re not a Reiki practitioner, you can try this technique as well.  It is helpful to not turn away from our emotions but apply loving and heartfelt attention toward them.  The practice of self-compassion is very important.  The more compassion we create in ourselves, the more we generate this out into the world.

Try this technique and let me know how it works for you.

I will take a blogging break until after the new year.  I wish for each of you a Blessed Solstice, a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year filled with love, light and peace.

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