#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

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.

#BeingReiki #1000DayChallenge—Day 160: The Tapestry of Life

When I started my Reiki practice, the main benefit I was looking for was to make my life easy.

Yep, that simple, that lazy.

I wanted things to flow and “manifest” without effort, just a half-hearted intention. I wanted to see life from a lofty point of view and feel 100% peaceful 100% of the time.

Are you laughing yet? I am.

On Day 160 of my challenge, things have not become easier. In part because my mind is not used to the concept of ease—struggle has been in my DNA since early childhood and letting go of this concept requires a few more years of ommms.

Instead, life has become… richer.

You see, before I would BE angry. Or happy. Or anxious. Or content.

I would see red, white, grey or gold.

Now I FELL angry. Or happy. Or anxious. Or content.

It’s a subtle play on words but a humongous difference in being.

And when I feel anger vs. becoming angry, I can still be aware of other feelings like happiness, peacefulness, sadness or compassion.

I can see the red threads of angers mixing with the blue threads of peacefulness or the light green threads of love—something I could not when I was BEING angry.

OK, sometimes I AM still angry: this is New York City after all. But less than before. A lot less.

Life has become like a rich tapestry where threads mingle and create beautiful patterns that form and dissolve. All of them are me. None of them are me.

It’s kind of cool.

How has Reiki practice change the way you feel during your day to day?

 

Photo credit: Hunt of the Unicorn, Medieval tapestry hosted at the Cloisters Museum, New York City. 

#BeingReiki #1000DayChallenge—Day 122: My Struggle with Power

—By Nathalie J.

I have an issue with power. Always had.

If I were a shrink I may guess the cause is that I'm the third sibling. Third siblings have little power when it comes to deciding what TV show to watch, where to go on weekends and what to eat for dinner. Most of the time, the only power we have is that of annoyance: to cry until we drive the whole family mad (I was particularly good at exercising this power by the way.)

Going back to power...

I've been reading Frans Stiene's latest book, The Inner Heart of Reiki, and enjoying the many layers and meanings of symbols. Especially CKR. I was never a lover of CKR. I did not grasp this idea of using it to "open chakras" and "put the power of the universe here or there." I'm somewhat of a minimalist and I like to keep my practice really simple. Using loads of symbols during a session would totally drive me out of my space of stillness and connection. It's a personal thing, probably based on my being slightly dyslexic. I am in no way criticizing other ways of practicing. 

"CKR is sometimes seen as an electric outlet where you plug yourself in order to practice."

But I really felt sort of upset that by calling it Power Symbol instead of by its mantra we may be depriving practitioners of the full beauty and depth of this symbol, of its qualities of grounding, of focus, of acceptance, of seeing things as they are. Of the internal work it ignites vs. seeing it like an electric outlet where you plug yourself in order to practice. 

I was ranting and ranting to myself until I started laughing. I was just angry at myself for not having done my work of digging a little deeper into my practice sooner. I could not fool myself and blame others anymore. After all, these past few weeks have been all about Seeing Things as They Are. And being ok with it. 

 

Photo credit: Napoleon in his Imperial Throne by French Painter Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, 1780-1867



 

Inspired by Reiki Practice: Letting Negative Feelings Fall Away

Anger, fear, anxiety, sadness and jealousy… As "good people," we are not supposed to feel these emotions. So we read, go shopping or indulge in food and drink to try and escape them.
Or we try to self-improve and ommmm our way out of them, with a “fix it now” attitude.

Why? In my case, I have this fixation that to be a a really spiritual person, I can’t feel negative things. Childish I know, but this thought is actually quite common.

After a few years of Reiki practice where non-judgment and non-labeling are paramount, I’ve become more accepting... and more real. It is not—after all—about having or not having these feelings; it’s about how we react to them. They are a source of energy and if accessed and harnessed correctly, they can actually work in our favor. 

How can we do that? Here are a few suggestions that worked for me:

  • FACE IT: The more we fight or run away from our negative feelings, the more power they have over us. Facing them is a scary thought, but once you do and see how short lived they are, it gets easier.
    Are you angry, scared or very sad? Sit on a chair, feet on the ground, with a straight back. Connect with the feeling. Observe where it’s located in your body. Breathe through it. Don’t try to reason it away, justify it or make it better. Feel the pain going through your body, feel how it peaks, cry if you need and then observe how… it fades away. Observe how your body feels lighter, how your thinking feels clearer. Celebrate with a warm cup of herbal tea!
     
  • GROUND IT: When we feel fear or anger, it’s almost like the feeling takes over our head: our thoughts spiral away, we become hyper excited and do things we may not be proud of afterwards.
    Time to get grounded. Whenever negative feelings take over your thinking, sit down in a chair, feet firmly planted on the ground with a straight back. Locate the feeling in your body (probably in your upper torso, neck or head area). Imagine it has a color and a word that describes it. Stay with it for just a few seconds. Then start dragging it down. If it’s in your head, lower it to your heart and observe how it feels there. Then lower it to your solar plexus. Observe the difference. Lower it once more, this time to a couple inches below the navel. Observe how it has lost most of its high, crazy vibration and it’s settling down. Keep your attention to the navel area, inhale and then exhale the feeling (with its color and name) to the earth through your root chakra. Breathe deeply and freely. And voilá!
    *During this exercise it’s important not to react to your feelings and leave the chair. Stay with it, no matter what.
     
  • SHAKE IT OUT: This one is pretty easy and pretty effective. The idea is to release the excess energy caused by stress and anxiety to regain your balance. Stand up, feet hip distance apart. Shake your right leg, then your left leg. Now shake your right arm, your left arm and then both arms together. Shake your head at the same time. Fold down, letting your torso swing while you shake your arms, shoulders and hands. Then stop, breathe deeply in and out. On the second inhale, come up to a standing position. How does that feel? A lot better, right?

I'm always experimenting on ways to connect and process feelings and ideas. If you have any modality or tip on how to do it, I would love to hear about it in the comment section :-)

Nathalie Jaspar is the co-founder at Natky927 Wellness Collective, and a Reiki Master/Practitioner based in New York City. You can reach her at natjaspar@mac.com

 

Photo credit: "Outre Songer" by Argentine surrealist painter Leonor Fini (1907-1996).

 

#BeingReiki #1000DayChallenge—Day 90: Sharing Love in Mexico City

—By Nathalie J.

Until now I had only practiced Reiki professionally in New York. It's the world's most diverse city but there is a common tread to the majority of its citizens: going inwards and spirituality are not always a priority. 
Many people have a tough time valuing the work we do as Reiki practitioners and paying our fee. They find it expensive and prefer spending the money on a nice dinner or a few drinks—which is totally valid.
During the 10 days I've been offering Reiki sessions in Mexico City, my experience has been the opposite. Sessions may be in pesos and adjusted to local income, but they still represent a very good dinner at an expensive restaurant or groceries for a few days. Here, however, most people prefer to skip the dinner and go for the session.
And they skip more than one dinner: They get their own session and then get sessions for the people they love: their moms, their aunts or friends who can't afford it at the moment. Their support to their loved ones is in itself the most healing part of the process.
Everything may not be perfect in Mexico, but the warmth of heart and feelings is just beautiful to witness. 
Feeling absolutely grateful for the chance to practice in lovely Ciudad de Mexico. 

 

Photo credit: Las Dos Fridas by Mexican painter Frida Kahlo (1907-1954).

#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)

 

 

#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!

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