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.




Self-Care reTREAT

With Kara Jones of the Creative Grief Studioself-care retreat
With Kara Jones of the Creative Grief Studio

Indeed it was a treat to be with Kara Jones of the Creative Grief Studio and other grief support professionals in Pittsburgh, PA on April 23rd. What a great day of delving into our self-care, looking for ways to carry this forward, and finding intersections with our self-care and professional lives.

It has been a long time since I’ve been on a retreat and this one worked for me because of its proximity to home and family. My only regret was how brief it was. (Kara mentioned plans for a longer duration retreat for next year!) If you have the opportunity to go on a retreat, I highly recommend that you go for as long as your budget and schedule will allow. In my experience, it’s rare to get to the end of a retreat (even 7 day ones that I’ve attended) and think, “Gee, I wish that had ended 2 days ago.”

Kara was very skillful in her guided visualizations, bringing the group together for sharing and support, and helping us find the pieces in our insights that we’d like to carry forward. This is really an essential part of a successful retreat: “What are you going to bring forward from this experience into your day-to-day life?”

The first time I went to Kripalu for a yoga and meditation retreat I was filled with the positive vibes of the experience, but the re-entry into my normal life quickly erased it. I was left swooning with the after-effects and unable to grasp onto what I had learned and how I would apply it in my “real” life. (Other experiences at Kripalu have been different and more focused on how you bring the retreat experience and insights forward.)

A few things that I plan to bring forward from this reTREAT are to find places where I’m seen and heard – where each day I can be myself and tend to myself. This tending to ourselves is such a vital aspect of life. This is one of the things I hope I can do for myself and others (and I hope you can too). Let’s give ourselves and others accolades for self-care. We spend a lot of time patting each other on the back for taking care of others – and this is a wonderful thing — but let’s also pat them on the back for taking care of themselves. Because if they don’t take care of themselves, how will they take care of others?

Wishing for you many wonderful retreat experiences with action-oriented insights for your daily life.




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!


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!

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.

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!

10 Health-Promoting Reasons to Take a Reiki Class

Hands as in a Reiki ClassAs a Reiki Master Teacher, I’ve noticed that people take Reiki Classes for a wide-variety of reasons. Some people are seeking an addition to their professional practice as a physician, nurse, or therapist. Others are looking for a self-care practice to manage their stress and promote their healthy lifestyle; while some people are inexplicably drawn to the class. They are not sure of the reason that they are there but they are certain it is the right thing to do.

If you’re considering taking a Reiki Class, here are 10 health-promoting reasons to sign up today:

You want:

  1. A self-care technique that is available to you anytime, anywhere
  2. To feel calm and relaxed in your body and mind
  3. To experience inner peace
  4. A connection with the energy of the universe
  5. Greater presence, connection, and mindfulness in your relationships
  6. An additional technique to use in your current work as a caring professional
  7. Better sleep more regularly
  8. The possibility of accelerated healing
  9. To work toward greater mobility
  10. To experience regularly the love and light that is our essence

I hope you’ll join us at an upcoming Reiki Class to experience all of these things and your deepest health-promoting intentions for yourself and those around you.

Wishing you a greater connection to the light and love of the universe.

Reiki Class: A Great Value

There is a wide range of pricing for Reiki Classes. The fees charged by Mrs. Takata (the Japanese-American woman who brought Reiki to the United States) for Reiki Classes in the 1970s were:

  • Reiki 1 = $150
  • Reiki 2 = $200
  • Reiki Master = $10,000

Based on current inflation rates using the Inflation Rate Calculator found here, that would mean that in 2014, Reiki Classes should cost:

  • Reiki 1 = $655
  • Reiki 2 = $873
  • Reiki Master = $43,640

However, Reiki Classes are still consistently offered for rates very similar to those that Mrs. Takata charged. Even at slightly higher rates, Reiki Class remains one of the most cost-effective self-care practices that you’ll ever learn.

Please consider the following example:  A Reiki 1 Class with a tuition of $200 includes 7 hours of instruction time (often in a very small class setting) bringing the hourly cost to: $29 per hour.  After class you are fully trained to practice Reiki on yourself and others. You never have be reattuned, and, honestly, you never have to pay your Reiki teacher another dollar, unless you choose to go on to another level of Reiki practice or you want one-on-one Reiki Sessions. You then have within you, literally, all the time, the ability to connect with source/with spirit/with relaxation — anytime, anywhere. All for $29 an hour. Now, that’s an excellent value for your dollar!

Hoping to see you at an upcoming Reiki Class for the bargain of your life! Oh, and for the Reiki too! 😉

With love and light!

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National Women’s Health Week

National Women's Health Week

Welcome to National Women’s Health Week!  I hope you’ll take time this week to assess your health and the health of the women in your life. How can we support each other to live more healthful lives?

After reflecting on this for myself, I assembled a Self-Care Checklist.  After you read this, please let me know in the comments: What would you add or subtract to achieve your ideal state of self-care?  (Perhaps, like me, you’ve noticed how interrelated many of these activities are!)

For me, Self-Care is:

  1. Relaxation: Meditation, Yoga, Reiki
  2. Creativity: Writing, Storytelling, Music Making
  3. Exercise: Running, Swimming, Hiking
  4. Relationships: Family, Friends, Neighbors
  5. Spirituality: Sense of Purpose, Religion, Service to Others, Time in Nature and for Reflection

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