#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 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 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

 

5 ways deep BREATHING can benefit your Reiki sessions

My lungs and I spent many years battling: I had asthma as a child and smoked in my 20s. When I practiced yoga, I was the person in the room who teachers addressed when they said, "Remember to breathe!"
When I started practicing Reiki, this changed. First, during my meditation practice—I had to work with my breath to build qi, which then translated into my sessions. Being aware of my breath really transformed my practice. How? 

1) Being one with my breath keeps me centered. No more, "Is this the right position? Is the person feeling it? What does that sensation in my left hand means? Is this a weird place to put my hand?" When you are one with your breath, it's almost like white noise: you create a peaceful space in which doubts have a tougher time disrupting your session. 

2) Clearer boundaries. When you are aware of your breath, it's easier to maintain healthy boundaries between client and practitioner, reducing (and with practice) eliminating that feeling of being drained or exhausted after a session. (Keeping your eyes open is also key!)

3) No labeling. When practicing a Reiki session, you follow the sensations but are not supposed to label or judge them. When you are busy breathing with awareness, it's a lot easier to let go of that instinct to classify.

4) Your session becomes more intense (in a good way). In many spiritual practices, breathing builds life energy (prana/chi/qi). The same happens in Reiki, where the ki part stands for life force. Try taking a deep breath all the way into your diaphragm/hara and then exhale slowly through your mouth: feel what happens to your hands. Notice the difference? That's what I mean.

5) Breathing keeps the little Napoleon inside at bay. During my practice, especially at the beginning, I had this little Napoleon that would pop out (hey, I was born in Europe.) He would say stuff like, "Way to go, girl, you are good, look how warm your hands are!" The shame I felt after these thoughts was so intense it disrupted my whole practice. I tried fighting my inner Napoleon, but it only made him sneakier. Breathing, however, brought calm and acceptance. As soon as he starts talking, I breathe deeply and remain centered in the now and connected to the right kind of oneness. 

 

Nathalie Jaspar is the co-founder at Natky927 Wellness Collective, a group of professional Reiki practitioners supported by life coaches, clinical herbalists and yoga teachers in New York City and Miami.  

Messages or no messages—that’s the question.

What to answer when people ask, ‘Did you get any messages?’ after a Reiki Session?

 When you take a Reiki class in one day like I did, you learn very fast—so fast that thousands of details fall through the cracks. Among them, what to do with the so-called “messages” given by spirit guides.

I’ve been practicing for close to five years and handling sessions has become easier. Handling my clients’ expectations when it comes to messages however became tougher and tougher.  

 While practicing at the JCC Reiki clinic with Reiki Master #PamelaMiles, her ‘No-Message Policy’ was easy to execute. Even when people asked we barely had time to answer, “It was our pleasure to offer you a Reiki session,” before they were ushered to the exit.

For a long time,  I tried to guide my clients' attention to what they felt, but I didn’t totally grasp the why, grasp it not only with my mind, but with guts and heart. And that probably affected my confidence when handling the matter.

It took a really awkward situation (a client literally kicked me out and refused to pay the session for lack of what she called “guidance”) to realize that I needed to understand why sharing these messages didn't feel right and communicate it clearly.

So, I did some digging.

According to Reiki masters and authors #FransStiene and #BronwenStiene, ‘hibiki’ or the sensation we feel during a "hands-on" healing session/meditation literally “means an echo. The reason why these sensations are called ‘hibiki’/echo is because they are not real—an echo is empty, like a reflection or an illusion.”

How then do we know that messages are real if ‘hibikis’ are not? Worse, what if messages are not only echoes, but also echoes that have been distorted further by our own experiences and emotions?

If, as Stiene explains, we are to experience Hibiki without labeling it, shouldn’t we do the same with messages? Experience them and then let them go, trusting the session to do its work?

Later, talking to Reiki Master #DeborahFlanagan, she mentioned that #Reiki practice was all about reconnecting with yourself. It seemed to me then that by giving messages, a practitioner may actually be getting in the way of his client’s best interest.

I gave it some thought. And what came to me was very simple.

When my clients ask for messages or guidance, they are—knowingly or not—shifting the responsibility of their own healing into my hands.  And that’s why it’s so important to gently shift it back into theirs—because, after all, they are the ones doing the work.

I’m not claiming this is a universal truth. But this works for me, for now. It doesn’t have to work for you. But I do believe that as we progress in our practice, it’s important to ask ourselves questions—even if they have been answered a hundred times—meditate on them, and come up with our own unique answer.

What’s your POV about messages*, would love to hear it.

 

* When I talk about messages in this post, I am not referring to the "there is a lot going on in your back" kind, but more to the "that person who hurt you recently? Not worth it" kind of messages.

 

Photo credit: http://purpleturtles.muzy.com/#lightbox_post_93097755