#BeingReiki #1000DayChallenge—Day 76: Be Humble

—By Nathalie J.

“Humility” was a big thing when I was growing up. My family pride itself in being humble.
Yes, this sounds contradictory.
And it is.
Because being humble, for us, meant thinking we were smarter and better than the rest, but we would never say so aloud. We will self-deprecate ourselves in the hopes we would be contradicted. And if someone didn’t…well…let’s say this person would not be “welcome” for a while (forever.)
Yesterday I was meditating on this precept, and it felt so different and light than my psychological history could surmise. Humility was the act to accept the need to practice every day, the understanding that “spirituality” is about daily efforts. A road that all of us can travel.  And the more we talk about the road, the more we think we advance and remain in place. The more we walk, slowly and sometimes painfully, the more we truly advance.
I am a talker. I love talking. Doing… always been a little harder. But yesterday practice was so humbling in a good way, so honest and beautiful that—for once—words alone just won’t cut it. 

#BeingReiki: #1000DayChallenge—Day 57: Old Tricks, New Tricks

I have not worked in advertising for 10 months.
I forgot how competitive and weird things can be.
Living with a little bit more awareness is a strange thing. You can feel your own competitiveness taking over and playing tricks... but you can also push it aside using your new tricks.
You can feel your own insecurities taking over... and then leave them behind, calmly (meditating on CKR helps like crazy!).
And you can feel your surroundings. How people who smile  are actually very angry and stressed. Or how that arrogant looking girl is just scared and shy.
I'm only doing a freelance, but it's an interesting experiment on how to bring awareness and some Reiki help to survive (thrive?) at the workplace.
 

 

Photo credit: Drawing by Italian renaissance artist Leonardo Da Vinci.

#BeingReiki: #1000DayChallenge—Day 45: Reading About Death and Reincarnation

—By Nathalie J.

I love the simplicity of Reiki practice but as an ex-journalist (I'm way too curious for my own good) I love to explore other modalities and read a little bit of everything. 

The other day I was reading Sri Chinmoy's writings on "Death and Reincarnation." When it came to his vision of bad karma making you reincarnate in a more difficult life, his descriptions of being born without an eye, missing a leg or mentally disabled, made me wonder. Is it always this obvious? Or could it be more insidious, slow and even gratuitous?

Like in the case of this city filled with wealth, opportunities, attractive people, comforts... and so much unhappiness. So many people having it all, and not being able to enjoy it because of depression or mental frameworks. Feeling broken and not being able to blame a missing arm or leg, popping pills every day to get by. Isn't it also hell? 

Do you believe in reincarnation. If so, what do you think?

Photo credit: "Head III" by Irish-born painter Francis Bacon (1909-1992)

 

 

#BeingReiki: #1000DayChallenge — Day 41: About Respecting Other People's Space

Lately I've been really into the concept of holding healing spaces. I wrote a note inspired by it for our bi-monthly newsletter and I've been practicing with many friends, holding the space so they can do their own work.

I love how supportive yet respectful it is as a concept. You are there. Helping. Without invading. Without influencing. Respecting. Just being.

It's—in my opinion—the same space from which it will be ideal for me to give hands-on session. I'm not there 100% yet. There is still a part of me that wants to help, get involved and make sure positive shifts happen.

Last week, however, it became evident that this issue has nothing to do with Reiki practice but with family conditioning. My family is the kind of over-zealous helpers that overflow with constant advice. They come to your house and reorganize it the way they think it should be. If you feel down one day, they won't relent until they've talked you, pampered you or fed you out of your funk. Because they love you and "know better." In fact, they smother you in love and support until you run away (5000 thousand miles to be exact.)

During last week's visit, however, I was not smothered. I was shocked. Seeing them competing to help and pamper me, made me see how much like them I am. How I tend to hover over people to make sure they're feeling 100% fine. How I spend hours doing things for people who may just be happier if I left them alone.

Thus probably my interest in holding healing spaces. Hopefully a technique I will master in my practice... and in life.

And meanwhile, friends": cut me some slack!

Any tips are super welcome! You can leave them in the comments section or mail them at nat [@] mac [dot] com.

 

Photo credit: "La danse," by French Painter Henry Matisse.

 

#Being Reiki: #1000DayChallenge — Day 24: On growing roots

—By Nathalie J.

I have been working on "grounding" for the last few days.
As you may recall, I'm an air person who fears the constrains of grounding.

However, I've come to internalize that without proper grounding, you can't really have a strong practice—self-doubt and external criticism would constantly make you feel off center. 

To my surprise I'm finding my grounding meditations fascinating... and even enlightening.

As an example: during one meditation I was visualizing these amazing roots borrowing deep into the earth to get nutrients and stability... and then an image popped out: I felt the ground responded to the energy and that these virtual roots helped the earth keep its integrity, its place in the whole and its life—reminding me of the #Reiki principle, "There are no givers, gift or receivers."

Now I'm actually excited to keep on going. 

If you have a lovely grounding modality, don't be shy! Share it! I would love to experiment more  in this area. 

Thx and namaste!

#BeingReiki: #1000DayChallenge — Day 17 — I'm Light

—By Nathalie J.

One of the cornerstones of Reiki practice is meditating on the five precepts. These precepts are a fine guide for living even if you're not into Reiki: 

"Just for today, 
do not anger,
do not worry
be humble,
be honest in your work,
be compassionate to yourself and others.*"

The thing is... On my mother's side, I come from a Spanish traditional Christian background that thrives on guilt. The matriarchs of the family have used it for decades to get what they want: from help in the kitchen to properties. 

What does guilt have to do with precepts you ask?

Well, I'm the kind of person who's very easy going 95% of the time. Another 4% I'm a fiery Scorpio and the remaining 1% a NYC psycho. When I read "do not anger" I don't get inspired. I feel guilty. Guilty I lose it sometimes. Guilty I can be peaceful 100% of the time. 

On my father's side, I come from a Belgian thrifty family. Thrifty meaning extreme cheapskate. They calculate every penny spent and fret about the future if they go 1 euro above budget (don't even mention credit cards... they're the devil!) I've improved my relationship with money but it may be a few more years until I reach the 'do not worry" stage.

Nevertheless, living in New York I felt the need for a precept or mantra you can use when people complain about your dog or when tourists insist on checking their map at the entrance of the subway. Or help to control my temper each time my well intentioned family asks: "So what you're going to do?" midway through my sabbatical year.

The other day at a meditation class the theme was light and peace. I liked how simple and positive those concepts are. I decided to create my own mantra or what like to call a "pre-precept" to support me while I advance on the Reiki path. "I Am Light."

Repeating has helped me cope with neurotic dog moms. 
Smile at frustrated post office employees.
It even helped me stop spiraling down when my family asks, "So what are you doing?"

Without guilt. Without thoughts. Just light.

Do you have a mantra that helps you remain centered? Would love to hear from you.

 

*There are many translation of the Japanese original text. I like this one because it's short and sweet. 

Photo credit: "Flint Castle" by British painter William Turner.

 

 

#BeingReiki: #1000DayChallenge — Day 14: On Asking Help

—By Nathalie J.

The way I was raised, asking for help was a sign of weakness.  Yet you are to ALWAYS HELP others and NEVER EVER complain.

If someone—even a slight acquaintance or a friend of a friend—asks for anything you have to say yes. No matter if destroys your own plan (others first, don’t be selfish!) or help people you barely know move after working a 70-hour week.

I guess the idea is that in return people will be there when you needed support.

In my experience, however, this never happens… mainly because—remember—I’m not supposed to ask for help. And as for people guessing your needs… yep, you got it!

A few months into my Reiki practice, this family pattern started to shift.

You see, Reiki’ practice’s cornerstone is self-care: you take care of yourself so you can feel well, bloom and evolve, and then help others—if you can.

There are no sacrifices, no victims and no heroes in Reiki practice.

And I love that.

If you need help or guidance, you ask for it kindly. And if someone needs it, you give it. With boundaries and respect.

Leaving pride aside and learning how to ask for help without feeling shame is been one of the toughest lessons to learn. A lesson I can only learn in a tough city like New York, when life sometimes becomes just too much. 

I still suck at it, but it has allowed me two very important things: first, strengthen my bond with some dear friends—Niky, Vic and my lovely Mermaid Group— and second, meet amazing people.

Like Michele Kong, a wonderful holistic coach/healing guide that in less than an hour helped me shift an emotional pattern that I’d been working on for weeks with no success.

Like Lauraine Velez, a great clinical herbalist that is working with me in creating packages for the relief of Burnout Syndrome that affects so many people in Corporate America.

Or Daniela Hoff, who helped me shift things faster and with more ease than I would have been able by myself using a number of modalities such as Vortex Healing and Sacred Geometry.

Life can be at times tricky and lonely.

It feels great to know that when things get really tough, they are beautiful souls there to support you. Souls who are grounded, wise and smart (they’re new Yorkers after all.)

And that one day, you will have the pleasure of offering your hand in return. In a balanced, fair, loving way.

Photo Credit: Painting by Italian artist Giorgio De Chirico (1888-1978).

 

#BeingReiki: #1000DayChallenge—Day 9: Back to Basics

—By Nathalie J.

As part of the requirements for my Level 3 certificate, I’m to observe a Reiki Level 1 training, which is given in 3 classes over 21 days.

During the classes, I am not allowed to talk, do any of the exercises or socialize much. I am supposed to observe in silence (a challenge in itself) as a group of ten very different people go from having very little idea about what is a Reiki practice to discovering the power of their own hands to relax their body and quiet their minds.

The transformation of their attitude and the glow in their faces was beautiful to see. It was a gift in itself. But more importantly, reconnecting with the simplicity of basic hands on self-treatment, observe its power, was a great reminder that Reiki practice is not about levels— it’s about practice. 

Namasté!

#BeingReiki: #1000DayChallenge: Day 6 — And then… I lost it!

—By Nathalie J.

According to Judith Orloff in The Ecstasy of Surrender, when you try to be too sugary or over zen-like, you may be hiding a lot of anger and explode at any minute.

Today I can tell you with all my heart: this is so true.

I’m a passionate but rational Scorpio. Nonsensical, abusive New Yorkers drive me crazy. I can be absolutely relaxed, but one of them starts screaming at me about how I need to “talk” to my dog and “explain to him” he should not be smelling Tony the Pug’s but because he doesn’t like it… I lose it.

Last week I even did an amazing Life Coaching/Guided Healing kind of session to work on the issue and I thought I was doing so much better!

When a man suddenly opened a door almost hitting me on the face and screamed at me like a banshee instead of apologizing, I smiled graciously and walked away.

When a lady hated that my dog Maximilian said hello to her dog and made her lose a few seconds. I smiled and even wished her lots of love and peace (OK, I did say the F_ word… but only in my mind, which almost counts as not saying it.)

I’ve meditated and understood you can’t have a rational conversation with irrational people. That trying to convince them was actually being egotistical and irrational. I felt ready to move on.

And then came today.

I met a friend at Whole Foods for lunch. The pro is that you can bring your lunch and heat it up. The con is that their microwave is a magnet for contention.  There was no one so I put my topper to heat for 3.5 minutes.

A minute passes and I see this teenager arriving and trying to open the door. I calmly tell him, ‘You can't do that.’ He starts mumbling of how is going to waste 1.5 minutes of his life because I didn’t stop my meal so he could heat his tortilla. No matter how many times I explained to him he needed to respect the line and learn how to wait, he started saying I was not Christian and then reaching for the door. I reacted like he was Maximilian, saying “no you can’t, don’t you dare,” and grabbing his hand to stop him opening the door. When he opened it I lost it.

Why????

I was doing so well.

So it’s back to the cushion to meditate for an hour on how to manage kids that think waiting a minute or two is life-threatening and what it can teach me. Yet this is the kind of stupid situation when the "Show compassion to yourself and others precept" is a tiny bit challenging for me.

Parents everywhere. Let’s make a deal: can you explain to your kids that waiting is not a lethal disease? If you do, I promise I’ll do my best to feel compassion about them undergoing a crappy adolescence.

Thank you and Namaste. 

 

 

 

 

Being Reiki: #1000DayChallenge — Day 3: Rediscovering CKR

When I took my Reiki Level 2 class five years ago, I was taught all 3 symbols in one hour. A lot of emphasis was placed on CKR as the "power symbol," which works as a “switch” that helps to instantly increase the practitioner’s ability to channel energy and concentrates it on the required purpose. You wanted to accelerate healing? CKR. You wanted to rid your house of bad energies? CKR in every corner. There was nothing that CKR could not do.

The thing is I am a little bit like Al Gore: I dramatize things with amazing facility. So CKR became almost like a SuperMan kind of power in my head, which ended up being... a turn off. Childish I know, but We were not thought the importance of daily practice and meditating on the symbols.

When my life struggles were not instantly solved, no matter how many CKR I drew in the air, on paper and even in the mirror, I used it less and less. 

Through the years, my practice improved a lot. In great part by practicing simply and with respect at Reiki Clinics like the one at the JCC in Manhattan. I focused on letting my hands do the work and establishing a solid daily practice. Symbols didn't play a big role anymore... until I started my Reiki 3 class.

One of the first requirements was to read Frans Stiene's book The Japanese Art of Reiki. His description of the symbols are so inspiring, it created a desire to bring them back into my practice. Our teacher Deborah taught us simple meditations to understand each symbol's unique energy and how to incorporate it in yourself (Check them out at the end of the post!). Yet CKR—despite it's earthiness, grounding and accepting qualities—was a challenge to me. 

As a writer, I live in my head most of the time. The idea of grounding felt constraining. Almost anti-creative (as you can see I am not always the most perceptive person). So I binged on the 4th symbol, and avoided CKR like the plague, even though I started forgetting things everywhere and feeling a little to "airy."

The other day I was in a beautiful garden full of wild plants. They felt so alive it was almost like you could see them growing, moving, multiplying. And then it hit me: how stupid could I be thinking grounding and earthiness limit creativity? Earth is where life and all ideas get their nourishment to manifest. Their root to grow and prosper. It never constrains. On the contrary, it supports life without judging: weed, roses, deadly bugs or dutiful ants. 

And just like that I opened the door to CKR—to start discovering its nurturing energy of acceptance which dissolves anger and keeps things in perspective; its grounding effect that dissolves fears and worry.

If you have not meditated lately on CKR I invite you to give it a few minutes this week. Here are some tips that helped me get started:

1) Stand with your feet hip distance apart. Place your non-dominant hand on your hara and draw the symbol in the air with your dominant hand (using the palm). Say its name 3 times and bring the dominant hand to the hara (on top of the non-dominant one). Just breath for a few minutes and feel CKR's energy with your whole body.

2) Sit comfortably with your feet firmly planted on the floor. Draw CKR on a piece of paper. Place your dominant hand on top of it, say its name 3 times. Breathe deeply and feel the symbols' energy. 

3) If you are more auditory than visual, try chanting the symbol. You can download its chanting sounds here. Stand with your feet hip distance apart, hands to your side, take a purifying breath and get chanting. Start with 2 to 3 minutes per day and add time each time you feel ready. 

 

Photo credit: Nikolai Shevchuk

 

Being Reiki: #1000DayChallenge — Day 1

—By Nathalie J.

The other day I saw a video about Mitsunaga, a monk from the Tendai School in Japan, who became the 13th monk since WWII to complete the Sennichi Kaihogyo: 1,000 days of walking meditation and prayer over a seven-year period around Mount Hiei. The idea behind the challenge is allowing one’s sense of self to die and then be reborn to help and lead all beings to enlightenment.

Yesterday I finished a Reiki Level III class with Deborah Flanagan, a caring, down-to-earth and inspired teacher. I call it Level III and not Master because for me—more than an achievement—this class is the gate towards a spiritual journey which as has as a goal to become one with Reiki (in many years… or lives.)

Maybe that’s why I was attracted to the monk’s story—his journey is not unlike many of us who embrace Reiki as al life-long spiritual practice.

It’s true that Manhattan—where I live—is no mountain to be scaled, unless you commit to go up and down the Empire State stairs every day. There are no dangerous bears or mud slides. But there are some angry people that can kick any bear’s ass and subways without air conditioning in summer that can cause meltdown after a hard day. It’s also a land of extremes: where greed meets compassion, and infinite loneliness lives next to abundant love. There is so much noise and information that losing your center is extremely easy. Forgetting the Reiki precepts—especially the first about not getting angry—some days can take as much as… 30 seconds.

But what if I tried to commit to trying to my utmost power to live following those precepts, and leave anger and worry behind for 1000 days like the monk. To be humble and honest every minute of each day. To show compassion towards my self and others once and again. Could I do it?

Probably not.

But why not try?

So from today on I initiate my own personal Sennichi Kaihogyo. 1000 days of awareness and learning. Of embracing the thousands mistakes I do everyday and share the learning… if any. 1000 days of observation, lived with joy and honesty, true to myself and with a sense of humor… which I will try to transform into compassionate.

A journey in which I will try to transition from a sabbatical break into a career where I don’t feel like every second spent working is draining my soul. Finding a way to live from a place of trust instead of fear, especially when it comes to material goods and affections. Where meditation has a place, but also joy, life and adventure. And where becoming a better person doesn’t mean surrendering the use of lipstick (embracing my shadow side has proven challenging, embracing my shallow one, however, seems to come quite naturally to me).

Don't worry, I won’t be writing every day (boring I know) and I won’t commit hara-kiri like the Tendai monks if I get lost in my journey. BTW, I would love to hear from you: any tips, words of support or adventures you think can add spice to this journey? They would be very welcome.

So ready, set...Namaste. Day 1 it is. 

 

Photo credit: Two Clowns Tripping