Organizational development and healing, ramblings, Reiki, Self-care, Teaching, Yoga
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Top Five Things I’ve Learned (or Been Reminded of) So Far in this Study of Reiki (which can be applied to other domains of life)

After a few months it seems reasonable to summarize so drum roll please  

1) Play it down.  I learned a lot this week by telling someone who was freaking about whether he’d be able to feel the energy and what it would mean and how he would experience it to just expect to feel relaxed and maybe even drift off to sleep. People actually increase their stressed just thinking about whether they’ll feel the energy — or feel inadequate or think they’re “doing it wrong” if they don’t.  (By the way, this is the #1 question yoga teachers get asked: “Am I doing it right?) My gut instinct was to get him to stop intellectualizing an experience he hadn’t yet had. He finally agreed to hop onto my massage table where he enjoyed a super groovy light show — even though he also appeared to be completely asleep — and snoring loudly — during most of it.  Suffice it to say that we had plenty to talk about and explore after the session, including other experiences he’s had with energy but had never thought much or talked about with others.

(2) Don’t get all woo-woo on the first date. One of my favorite yoga teachers on the planet is incredibly knowledgeable about chakras and meridians and internal winds and waters and energetic sheaths and all matters of yogic philosophy.  Paul is also eminently practical.  So, he spends most of his time teaching about things like bones and muscles and joints since what most people can relate to first and foremost is the tangible and tactile physical body.  Reiki is, as my Southeast Asian friends would say,  same-same (but different!).  Many practitioners start off by explaining earnestly that they channel universal healing energy through the chakras in the palms making you feel bathed by the excellent vibes.  Dude.  Doing Reiki this week on a doctor visiting from Peru (and a fantastic example of the skeptical scientist) and three medical students who are studying integrative medicine (and therefore really open and scientifically trained) , I got confirmation that first, talk physical or even emotional; add on the energetic and spiritual later only if readiness and excitement seems to be in place.  Thanks to the aforementioned doctors and doctors-to-be in teaching me how to frame Reiki in a way that makes sense to health practitioners (e.g., focusing about things such as receptors in the skin and how touch activates them, or the autonomic nervous system its affect on 90% of key functions in the body such as hormone and immune responses).   Not surprisingly (given how, dude, energy works), I’m suddenly finding myself in conversation with all sorts of conventional health care folk who are just fascinated by energy medicine.  Sometimes, just learning how to speak the language is worth the price of admission.

(3) Buddy up. This week, a flurry of emails and phone calls reminded me that even a quiet practice might occasionally require high-volume processing. If you’re a practitioner, participate in Reiki shares or have a regular exchange with a friend or two.  Make sure you’ve a support team of friends and colleagues with whom you can check in, around everything from what to charge to getting feedback on your analysis and actions around a particular case.  Actually. we can all benefit from having a “kitchen cabinet” of trusted friends, advisers and teachers who keep it (and us) real, especially during times of transition or when we’re stepping things up.

4) Work your own shit first and always.  Self-care is not an option if you’ve got your hands on others — or if you’re in any way doing any healing or teaching work.   I financially prioritize new learning and some form of body or energy work a couple times a month, even when funds are tight.  And most of what gives me extra ooomph doesn’t require cash:  I can always do yoga, hike, nap, meditate, journal, eat more greens, call a really good friend.  I wasn’t always this way.  But having essentially cured my low-back issues and depression/anxiety/PTSD, I just refuse to go back to a lower baseline of acceptable wellness.  I think what’s true for individuals is true for organizations too.   For years, I’ve worked in the field of nonprofit leadership development and capacity building.  It never fails to amaze me how many folks doing this work complain of not having the time (I’d call it willingness) to create reflective spaces for themselves, and essentially walk the talk.  You don’t need to be enlightened or pure as the driven snow, but a willingness and discipline to explore and process your own issues will help you do with more integrity for others.  I think of it as a parallel learning and healing track.  The heat wave, and being held captive by my a/c, gave me the extra solitude to delve deeper into my yoga and meditation practice.  Unwelcome — I’d much rather be taking long walks outside or engaging in wine and song — but necessary.  I’m even grateful for the way the weather can compel me to decompress and re-assess.

5)  The most important present you can give anyone is your presence.  I’ve heard this stated a million ways from people such as Alice Walker and my teacher Luann, but it’s true:  no one tool or technique is as important as just being fully present.  I had a couple of interesting sessions this week with folks who I just didn’t how to help.  Was it some other Reiki or coaching thing they needed?  I was kind of at a loss.  And I just stayed with it, kept coming back to my own breath and willingness to be there and hold the space for whatever came up.  In both cases, something eventually something shifted and I figured out where would be a useful next spot to park our attention.

Actually, this last one is the one I need to work more — how to be fully engaged in what I’m doing as opposed to list-making (oh, irony of ironies) or jumping into other tasks while I’m still in the middle of one.  It’s easy enough to zen out while you’re doing Reiki (though the woo-woo types would say “no worries, energy still flows”) — and I find it super simple to think I’m really good at multitasking when I’m on the phone or computer and realize (too late often) that I’ve flown off into la-la-land.

So for this next week, make your own lists and see what happens:

(1) Ten things you’ve done this year so far that you’re proud of

(2) Five people in your life you’re grateful for

(3) Three things you’d like to learn or get better at before year’s end

(4) One grudge or resentment you’re committed to forgiving and releasing

Until next time!

Yael

by

I'm a yoga therapist and coach who is fascinated by the ways in which scientific inquiry has converged with wisdom traditions in concluding that our physical, psychological and spiritual well-being are intrinsically connected. I try to use this knowledge to help people feel more resilient, courageous and alive.

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