Getting out of our head & back into the flow 

I’m not good at movement. I’m that person in the Zumba class that always goes to the right when everyone goes left or lifts the wrong leg in yoga.

For the last two years, I’ve been practicing martial arts. It has helped a lot, but I still suck. What do I keep doing it? Because many of the limitations that hinder my movement at the dojo, also block me in life. 

Right now I have an issue with timing, and my sensei gave me some tough love about it yesterday: “Either you don’t know what you are doing, which is not your case. Or you have a problem with balance. Or you are so much in your head that you are your own worst enemy.”

The last point hit home. For the last few months I’ve been so intent on doing every step right, that timing and flow didn’t even cross my mind.

But I feel that is true of many of us in our daily lives as well, especially when we start new ventures. We focus so much on getting to a point where we feel confident and do things correctly that, sometimes, we let opportunities pass. We first drown in doubt, then, in regret. 

I remember listening to Oprah one day (yes, I confess I like her) and she said, "Prepare, prepare, prepare and then let go." My sensei had similar advice yesterday: "practice, practice, practice until it becomes part of you, so you don’t need to think."

The same happens with meditation, the more we practice, practice and practice, the more it percolates our daily lives and lets us go of anger and worry. The less we live in our heads, the more we flow with life. 

Love,
Nathalie

How it took a delayed flight, 6 screaming toddlers and lots of poop to get a glimpse of the precept of “Be compassionate…”

Three years ago, I took a sabbatical from advertising to dive deeper into my Reiki practice. It was a priceless experience but one that let me with the certainty that, what I wanted, was to integrate my practice into everyday life.

Back in advertising, I get to practice Do not anger and Do not worry almost everyday. Many other times I get to feel the beauty of Be grateful. But until now, the precept of being compassionate to yourself and others was elusive. Sometimes I would feel compassion for others or for myself (ok, also indulgence.) But the two together? I didn’t even know there was such a thing and that it would feel so different.

So when my boss told me I was to travel to San Francisco for a meeting, I had no idea what was in store for me. I was just thinking, “Yes: Miles!”

My plane was overbooked and given that it was United (skull fracture, anyone?) I was a little worried. Boarding was very peaceful and cordial, if a bit messy. I got to my aisle seat on the last row, just next to the bathroom. Great!

People started to settle next to me. Mostly families with toddlers and babies. Excited. Scared. Screaming. Very, very loud. Not the most auspicious beginning. But it was a short flight: only 6 hours.

Well, not really. The engine had an issue, so we were delayed. And delayed. And delayed.

People were restless. Parents fretted. Toddlers pooped, screamed, cried, and pulled at each other’s hair. A young couple decided to break up next to me while waiting for the bathroom (really, people?). Groups were forming next to me and would hit my shoulder. The dad sitting next to me kept on making me stand up to go and check on his family. Then an “emotional support” dog wasn’t feeling well and the owners were desperate trying to get him to do number 2 in the bathroom, which he did on the floor after hours of stress and just before a woman walking barefoot came in.

The noise. The smell. The pushing.

I just wanted it to stop. I felt like crying and screaming, ‘Why me?’

Sniffing a bit, I put my earbuds on and started doing purifying breath (a Reiki-practice that’s grounding and calming).

And there amidst the chaos, I started to feel peaceful and light.

I was emotionally engineered by my upbringing to be a victim. It’s my default mode. But at that moment it dawned on me: I wasn’t one. We all were struggling. Parents were trying their best to manage their kids. Flight attendants were trying to remain calm and helpful.

We were all in the same boat.

The expression may be trite, but I felt the meaning with my whole body and spirit.

The lightness, warmth and peacefulness that ensued allowed me to survive the flight and, even better, actually enjoy it.

When the twin toddlers in front of me started blocking my screen with their tiny hands in the middle of a movie, I tickled them. Seeing the relief on the mom’s face (who probably was expecting me to scream) was worth missing a few minutes of what I had to admit was a very boring movie.

When the flight attendant brought me the wrong dinner, I just smiled and asked if there was any other choice left. There was and it ended up being complimentary (with United: absolutely flabbergasting).

I do have one confession: I loved when we hit pretty rough turbulence and people remained in their seat.

After almost ten hours in the crowded plane, I landed in San Francisco energized, content and ready for my journey there.

And inspired to keep on exploring the Reiki precept “Be compassionate to yourself and to others.”










 

Reiki precepts and the illusion behind racism

As in many spiritual practices, Reiki has a list of precepts that act as guideposts towards enlightenment. Originally written in Japanese, there are many different ways to translate these in English. However, these days, when issues related to racism are constantly making the front page, one particular version of the first Reiki precept really calls to me: “Do not bear fear, for fear is an illusion."

If the root behind racism is fear, it’s then also an illusion. A matter of subjective perception. Of people wanting to see what they want to see (or fear) in others.

Take me, for example. I was born in Belgium but moved to Venezuela as a child. When the so called Bolivarian revolution started to get traction, people frequently harassed me. I was too white. Too skinny. An imperialist. I was part of the problem destroying the country. Soon, they hoped, when Chávez took power, I would be gone.

I was gone indeed. As soon as I finished my studies, I moved the the US, finally settling in New York, where I happily got lost in the most diverse city in the world.

Only a few years later the war with Iraq started during the Bush government. People who saw my European passport and discerned the slight French intonation in my mostly Spanish accent screamed at me: "Go home, Frenchy. Go back to your country, freedom hater.”

At the same time, I decided to stop attending the Belgian club meetings because members kept asking me, “Where are you from? You’re too dark to be Belgian.”

Other people also called me brown because of my Spanish accent. Often on the same day I was called a  treacherous Frenchy.

Later on, at a big multinational advertising agency (emphasis on multinational) I was told it was a pity that I spoke with the “stupid” accent. Spanish. The person who said it meant to be kind.  Other people would speak slowly to me, using 6th grade vocabulary, until they found out I was born in Belgium and then, like if nothing, started talking normally.  

Who’s right? Am I white? Brown? Smart? Stupid? Slow? Imperialist? Low class socialist? Sophisticated? Lowly educated?

Does racism make any rational sense?

It’s difficult for me to believe that it does given my personal experience.

It’s just a very convenient way to blame other people for our own problems as individuals and as societies.

So every time we feel anger towards someone, every time we feel a derogatory, racist, or sexist thought forming in our head, let’s pause and reflect on the why.

Why does this person trigger so much anger in us?

Why do we feel the need to hurt him or her?

Why do we need to feel superior, better or in the right versus the other person?

Are we just displacing self hate and self blame?

The more awareness and attention we pay to our feelings and our actions, the more we’ll understand our true nature, and the more at peace we will feel with ourselves.

#BeingReiki #1000DayChallenge - Day 405: Do not Worry

Most of my journal is about feelings, sensations or ideas that come to me while meditating, but in this excerpt, I wanted to share a moment in which I was integrating the practice into my daily life.

This morning, I was on my way to a freelance job. One I usually like a lot, but not today. Although until now I had been pretty good at getting the right tone for the copy they wanted, in the last project I had failed miserably.

As I exited the subway and started walking towards the office, I felt very anxious. My heart was beating like crazy and my brain was going at like 2000 cps.

So I decided to sit down in a tiny little park between two giant buildings.

I put my headphones on, closed my eyes and started meditating on the precepts, specifically “Do not worry,” breathing deeply into my hara.

After a couple of minutes I could already feel the difference. My brain had slowed down. I could feel the fear moving though my whole body but with some distance. I kept breathing. And it came to me that fear was not allowing me to see beyond what I wanted. That I was defending my position instead of trying to understand the situation calmly. That I was taking a directions on writing as an attack to my person. I started breathing with a lot more ease. And suddenly I understood what was going wrong with the writing and how I could have a productive dialogue with my client from a more caring place.

So I went to the office, sat in the meeting room calmly, despite the uneasiness that was reigning and explained what I believed was the misunderstanding and how we could approach it. We all relaxed and after a couple of hours, we had the headlines and scripts right on point.

It wasn’t until today, really, that I “got” at all levels, that the precepts are a tool. I think in part my Judeo-Christian background made me view them as “commandments,” which made me resistant to practice with them. I would get angrier because I got angry and I was not supposed to. Or feel guilty about being worried. Shifting this POV to work with the precepts, observe anger and worry, and use these feeling as a teachers is helping me integrating my practice into every day life instead of leaving it behind on my tiny meditation corner.

#BeingReiki #1000DayChallenge—Day 419: Those Little Moments of Goodness

With all the violence and hate dialogue that surrounds us in the news, It’s easy to feel like the world is collapsing. Most of us are scared, angry and frustrated.

Yet there is also goodness going around.

People who find your wallet or give you a smile that makes your day better.

Do we notice them? Or do we let these moments go because we’re overwhelmed?

Are we filled with so much worry that we have no space left for anything else?

That’s why it’s so important to have a personal practice that allows us to let go of negative feelings and create space—space will make us feel lighter. Space will give us more clarity.  Space will allow us to move things around and keep tidying up until we are left only with what works for us.

It can be meditation, tai chi or yoga. For me, it’s Reiki practice. Every time I practice, I free some precious inches of space. When I get a session, I free even more—a precious gift in a crowded inner world.

What is your practice? What creates space in your life?

I would love to hear about it,

Love,

Nathalie

Building the Light Within

For the last few days, I’ve been pondering on why we are so hard on ourselves.
We do it because we want to be better, feel better, live better. But by being hard on ourselves, we focus on what we perceive as our “negative” qualities, mistakes or “areas of improvement.”
We try to become more positive by spending hours hashing and rehashing the negative.
How can we achieve balance in this way?
We can’t. 
By definition, we would need to have equal parts of positive and negative to achieve balance. Which means both nurturing our positive, bright side, but also accepting our “dark” side. Coming to a truce if you will. 
Many of us won’t give ourselves “permission” to enjoy anything unless we achieve an X-amount of things. And when we achieve what's in the list, we don’t reward ourselves. We come up with an even more demanding list.
No wonder we are anxious and exhausted.
In traditional Japanese Reiki practice, you meditate to build the light inside you. The joy, the happiness, the contentment, and the gratefulness. By feeding your inner light, you dispel the darkness. 
You don’t need to practice Reiki to do that.
As the spring light builds up with each passing day, start building your inner light as well. Appreciate the good things, the funny things, even the quirky things that make you… you.
Love,
Nathalie
PS: Ready to become lighter? A Reiki session can help. Check out its many benefits!
Reiki Mentorship: Learned Reiki 1 or 2 and struggling with your practice? I now offer mentorship via skype or in person if you live in NYC. Drop me a line and we can chat about it!

#BeingReiki #1000DayChallenge—Day 329: New roads

I love sessions. But as the days pass and I advance slowly (oh, so slowly) on this road, what I'm enjoying most are the very simple breathing/meditations. Their power to ground, recharge and bring clarity never stop to amaze me. 

To explore this area further, I signed up for Frans Stiene's virtual practice group, where every month he introduces us to breathing exercises/meditations inspired by the original Japanese practice. 

Not only am I enjoying thoroughly each session, but I've started to draw some of the exercises we do. I've been struggling to find words to express these experiences, but it seems that if I let my hand express it for me, the result is a lot more fluid and charming.

As with sessions, from now on, it seems I have to let my hands do the talking for me. 

Purifying breath.

Purifying breath.

How to prepare for a Distant Reiki Session

Here is what to do when it comes to our Distant #Reiki sessions.

  • 1—Choose a quiet place, where you won't be interrupted.
     
  • 2—Take the volume off your phone, turn off TVs and computers.
     
  • 3—You can lower the light, light a candle, or play some relaxing music if you like.
     
  • 4—I'll text you at the start of the session. You can either lie down comfortably on a bed/sofa or sit on a chair with your feet planted on the floor. 
     
  • 5—Close your eyes, take a few deep breaths to bring some awareness to your body. Then breathe normally. Set the intention to receive whatever is needed at this time to enable your healing process. 
     
  • 6—Do not try "too hard" to relax or "feel" the session. Observe your thoughts and let them go. Distant sessions are more subtle than hands-on sessions, but by no means less powerful. 
     
  • 7—If you feel like laughing, smiling, crying, go ahead. Reiki is all about reconnecting with emotions so we can process them, release them or benefit from them.
     
  • 8—I will be texting you approx. 10 minutes after the session is over. Stay a few more minutes in your quiet space—note any difference, any idea or feeling that comes up. 
     
  • 9—Some people like to jot down their experience on paper. In my experience, this is a good idea. Many of the thoughts or feelings that come may be very fleeting. 
     
  • 10—Afterwards, you may want to drink a couple  glasses of water more than you usually do to keep you well hydrated. To benefit most from the session, avoid drinking alcohol or going to crowded places for a few hours. 

And remember, I'm always happy to answer any question you may have before or after the session! 

Namaste!

 

Photo credit: Heaven's Rain from Elizabeth James.