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!

Reiki for Mental Clarity

Photo by Janice E LodatoCheryl came to my office for a Reiki session. When she arrived she appeared tense and agitated. I asked her what she would like from the Reiki and she responded very clearly, “Mental clarity!” Of course, Reiki is helpful with getting the mind focused and honing in on a solution to a problem or a decision that needs to be made.

So I asked Cheryl what was going on that she wanted mental clarity about and she said that she and her husband were trying to decide whether to move to Oregon from the Chicago area and continue their semi-retirement. She went on to explain that this would involve selling their beloved home and moving away from their grandkids. She also said that she would deeply miss hosting dinners at her house and her close circle of friends who were part of her book group. Then she started to list off the advantages of living in Oregon — it’s natural beauty and opportunities for outdoor activities. In addition, her husband wanted to make this move. With this background and the intention of mental clarity, we started the session.

At the end of the session, Cheryl slowly sat up from the Reiki table. I offered her a glass of water. She drank some and then a smile came over her face. She said, “I think I’ve come up with the solution! We can go there for a month in the summer when things are quiet here and then maybe for longer time periods if that feels right.”  Her demeanor was lighter and brighter after the Reiki and she left the office with the clarity she sought and greater relaxation. While we often focus on the physical benefits of Reiki, it is also an excellent tool for achieving greater mental clarity and improved decision making.

Another instance of this came about for my client, Jill, who wanted to manifest greater confidence, especially as it related to decision making and parenting. As a single parent of two young children, Jill felt challenged by the demands of her children and wanting to make the right decisions about how to raise them. She questioned every choice she made and wondered if every instance of their misbehavior was her fault and the result of “bad” parenting. On the other hand, she knew in her heart that she was a good parent and doing the best that she could.  She knew that her children were well cared for and, mostly, well behaved — the missing component for her was the confidence in herself as a parent and manifesting that when faced with making a decision.

In her Reiki sessions, Jill sought confidence. For her, the visualization that she liked to focus on during a session was of her standing confidently in her kitchen, with it filled with bright light. She would imagine a smile on her face and precise and determined words flowing out at just the right moment and delivered in just the right way. This visualization would bring a smile to her face. By the end of the session, her posture would be straighter and her voice stronger. Jill continues to receive Reiki every other week to maintain that feeling of confidence and to continue with her decisive decision making.

While we often talk about the physical benefits of Reiki, the deep relaxation that one achieves from a Reiki session is also excellent for improved decision making and greater mental clarity.  When we’re relaxed we heal faster, think more clearly, and connect with others more openly.

Wishing you mental clarity!

Please note: Clients’ names are changed to maintain anonymity.

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.


Using Absent Reiki for Healing from a Distance

One of the things that Reiki 2 Classes are known for is teaching students how to send Reiki healing energy from a distance.  What this means that is that you learn a series of Reiki symbols that allow you to send Reiki to those you cannot touch.  This may be people who are at a physical distance from you or those physically near you who you cannot touch or they are unwilling to be touched.

For instance, I often send Reiki to my family members who live throughout the United States.  (When I’m in their physical presence I’m often able to offer hands-on Reiki.)  After the symbols are created and the intent is set to send Reiki, I visualize them in a state of wellness — their illness resolved or a barrier to their self-realization lifted.  The visualization might be of everyday activities being done with ease for someone suffering from mobility issues. For example, seeing in my mind’s eye the ease with which my father gets out of the car, makes dinner and moves about his house with ease, comfort and confidence — grounded through his feet.  Sometimes the visualization is as simple as seeing a smile on someone’s face.

When students learn Absent Reiki, they often relate it to their experience with prayer.  Indeed, it is like a prayer in that we are setting out a positive intention for a particular outcome.  With Absent Reiki, we are calling on universal life force energy to help realize that outcome.  As we visualize this positive state for the recipient, it is not necessary for the Reiki practitioner to know all the details of how the healing will occur.  Just visualizing the recipient in a state of wellness and contentedness is enough.  Reiki, and the person’s innate healing abilities, will take care of the details of healing.  Sometimes after we send Absent Reiki we find out that the recipient sought out a medical treatment that had long been delayed.  Reiki opened the pathway for healing to occur.

As with all Reiki the recipient is always in charge.  The Absent Reiki cannot harm or overwhelm, as it is not the sender who controls it, but the recipient takes in the Reiki as needed for his/her highest healing good.

Sometimes in an office setting, I will do Absent Reiki prior to a meeting to set a positive intention for the gathering.  I might visualize the participants collaborating and talking freely and leaving the meeting with a sense of accomplishment.  I might visualize smiles on people’s faces and a sense of teamwork in the room.  By setting this positive intention with the sending of Reiki, I set the tone for the meeting and allow each individual’s life force energy to unite in that moment for the highest healing good.

As with all Reiki, Absent Reiki benefits the sender as well.  The Reiki practitioner receives Reiki as she offers it to the recipient.  It is not her personal energy that she sends to another, but universal life force energy.  The energy of the universe is infinite.

If you have completed Reiki 1, I hope you’ll join one of my Reiki 2 classes to learn this powerful way of offering healing energy.  If you are practicing Absent Reiki, I’d love to hear your healing stories!  Please share them in the comments.

Wishing you love and light!

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