By far the quickest Reiki session I did this week was on a delightful two year old who I tickled and impressed with my cheek-popping and tongue-twisting abilities. (I have done the same tricks on kids from Guatemala to Laos, and only the desperately-needing-naps do not smile or stick their filthy little fingers in their mouths and try to one-up me.) Asher, who’s got a great full head of long blonde curls his mom pins up Sumo-style, did not appear to want to go home, and so was on the sidewalk running around like a madman on speed. You can picture the fall and the scraped knee, hear the screeching M-O-M-M–M-M-M-M–M-Y-Y-Y-Y-Y-Y-Y!!!!!. She sat him down on her lap, and asked someone to head upstairs for water and ice. I squatted down and cupped his boo-boo, which he didn’t seem to like since doing so blocked sight of it, which (of course!) meant his mom couldn’t as easily blow the hurt off. So I moved my hands to the sides of his knee and we did a combined Reiki-blowing-teachable moment (“what color is your blood?” “r–w-w-w-w-e-e-e-e-d-d-d”) healing session. By the time the ice made its way down, Asher bent over and picked up a R-W-O-C-K which his mom grabbed just as he began the boys-will-be-boys racing around fun again. His mom, who is decidedly not woo-woo but enjoys yoga and meditation (we’ve come a long way baby), thanked me and said how cool it was to feel his body relaxing when I touched him.
If only it was always so easy. You never know what’s going to be tricky when giving Reiki.
One of the patients I worked with this week had to evacuate after about 20 minutes and practically jumped out the bed and onto the portable toilet by his bed to do so (the urge seemed immediate and strong from my perspective, since it came without even a verbal warning). It took me a few seconds to sort out what was happening. (For reasons I’m not at liberty to mention, I thought he might have been trying to break out of the hospital, although his wounds were severe enough to require surgery and he was weak enough that I simultaneously figured escape was unlikely.) Once I realized it was just potty time, I wanted to make sure all the wires attached to him weren’t cut off, especially the tubing around his wounds, which were still bleeding.
Now, I’m not anti-poop. Given how anxious about the surgery this guy was, I actually took it as a compliment that the Reiki relaxed him enough to physically release. But/and I’m not even supposed to help patients get in and out of their beds — liability up the wa-zoo (though I would honestly do so with someone without a nurse stationed out the door and less connected to IV drips and monitors that I’m scared to touch). I’m not a mom, so even though I’m not anti-poop, I am convinced that I never, ever need to be close to anyone’s poop but my own. But this guy jumped so freaking high and fast and pulled all the contraptions on the other side of the bed along with him and I was at a momentarily loss. A bit unusually, there were two of us giving him Reiki; since she was better trained in medical equipment, and on that side of the bed (I was on the potty side, as luck would have it) my colleague sorted out the tube situation.
We then both left the room and stood in the hallway, where we could periodically check under the curtain to see if his feet were still flat on the ground. We didn’t want to leave without saying goodbye, but it was fairly clear that we were finished. So the awkward waiting and checking and then finally after 15 minutes of “should we leave him in peace” or “would that feel eerily like a touch-and-run?”, we went back in and said something along the lines of ” lovely to work with you and blessings and good luck!”
I know, despite the circumstances, the #2 thing makes it an almost funny story, which I’ve played up like a drag queen at a midnight show. And, it’s fascinating to me what one finds challenging or awkward or irritating. I was with a friend who got beyond pissed off when someone that we didn’t know (and, in her defense, socially awkward in that smells-okay-but-is-acting drunk-at-10-am kind of way) starting chatting us up while we were waiting on a crowded line for a cup of coffee. She kept throwing me looks. I was more amused at her reaction and wondering what would happen if everyone I chatted up on lines got that ticked off.
Back to Reiki and our reactions to it. A couple of hours after the poop incident, a nurse hesitantly asked me if I’d be willing to offer Reiki to a woman who would deliver a stillborn later that evening. The nurse, who I had worked on the week before and so had a good sense of what Reiki could do, wasn’t sure if the woman would accept it because she’d been, understandingly, in a state of devastating emotional pain. I knocked on her door, and made the offer, adding that the woman’s nurse thought she might find it comforting. “That would be nice,” she nodded. Her sister had brought in an mp3 player with an hour’s worth of birdsong which was set up by her bed. The sister stayed with us in the room during the session, intently reviewing information the hospital had given her about naming rituals and available counseling and what to expect; another visitor decided to go down to the cafeteria for a short break.
The woman was surprised at the warmth of my hands, and asked me questions about Reiki and energy in general. Mainly she opened up about her own situation, and told me about where she was from (a beach town on the East Coast) and how she was feeling (sad, and yet content to know that this baby would always be a part of her). We talked a bit about death, about how the grieving process has a way of taking its sweet time and popping back up when you least expect it, how important is it to care for ourselves after someone we love dies, how she could plan on nurturing her own spirit, the way she had planned to nurture her baby. I invited her to visualize the ocean she grew up with, and taught her a simple breathing technique. By the time I was getting ready to leave and washing my hands, she looked less frightened, and she said something about going to the shore to chill out when she was out of the hospital and feeling stronger.
As I headed later that afternoon to a Reiki 1 graduation ceremony of six elders at a nearby senior residence (you’ve never seen anything sweeter), I couldn’t help musing about how while the actual time I spend with people may be quite short — from the five-minute boo-boo and up — this Reiki practice allows me into so many lives and experiences I’d never have access to otherwise, sometimes in profound ways.
And, as with anything else in life, I think it’s always a good idea to have a sense of your strengths and innate qualities, and work those the most, while making sure you get out of your comfort zone enough to keep you on your toes.
So this week I’ll be musing on the “so what?” of that — how that might translate into this fellowship I’ve been doing, but also a professional practice that I’d like to develop.
I always love hearing from you. Until next week!