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!

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).

 

Inspired by Reiki Practice: 7 Real-Life Hacks To Create Space And Make Things Happen

Do you spend your day doing a million things just to realize you achieved very little? That your day feels like being on a treadmill: all day running without advancing one inch?

In society, we are trained to do. We believe that doing will make things happen. What they forget to tell us is that—for things to happen in life—you need to create the space and time for it to happen.

In Reiki we have a technique called “holding the healing space,” which means creating the space and holding it, so healing can take place. A concept I believe you can apply to your life as well: creating a “space” with more thoughtful doing and less busyness so magic can happen.

How? Here are 7 life-hacks that can help. But don’t stick to them. Like guidelines in Reiki practice, use them as a springboard to discover what works for your lifestyle. 

1)   LOOK AT YOUR TO DO LIST WITH FRESH EYES
A friend of mine gave me this fantastic tip:  divide your list in “TO DOs” (chores/work) and your “WANT TO” list (i.e. new paint for the bedroom, shopping, etc).
Keep them separate. The beauty of the WANT LIST is that you can do them whenever. No time pressure. Putting them into the TO DO list transforms enjoyment into duty.
One watch out: resist the temptation to fill your now lighter TO DO list with new chores in order to feel more productive, which takes us to…

2)   YOU CAN’T BE PRODUCTIVE 100% OF THE TIME.
You may want to, people may pressure you, but the reality is that not even computers can do it: they need time to render and process or they spin their wheels. Taking breaks to eat, relax and refresh is not irresponsible. It will actually make you more productive. Your brain will process better and a break of 5 minutes may allow you to do a report in one hour instead of struggling for three.

3)  ADOPT A LAZY SUNDAY AT LEAST ONCE A MONTH.
No plans, no playdates, no planned brunches. Wake up whenever your body (or children) tells you, order take out and decide what you feel like doing. For once, do things according to your mood and physical needs. Feel the difference. Enjoy it. Your brain will really appreciate one day with less adrenaline.

4)  ASK YOURSELF THIS QUESTION: DO I REALLY WANT TO DO THIS OR AM I DOING IT OUT OF GUILT/OBLIGATION.
We always feel like we can’t cancel or not go somewhere. But going out of obligation is not energetically empowering for you, your family or the people you are committed to see. If you are not feeling up to it or have already too many engagement that week, a nice “I would love to but…” note is the kindest move towards all!

5) NO COMPUTER/SMART PHONE GAMES.
You may think they help you disconnect from work, but one hour of Candy Crush or Whatever Popular Saga will only get more adrenaline coursing through your body. You’re bored in the subway? Try meditating a little bit, doing some pre-thinking on work or going through your TO DO List (to make it smaller not bigger).

6) ASK YOURSELF WHAT AM I TRYING TO PROVE…
with the perfect household, the perfect kids and the perfect job. Not an easy question but one that may lead you to relax a little your own expectations and realize that—some days—an sort of clean bathroom is good enough.

7) LEAVE BLANKS IN YOUR SCHEDULE.
Filling your calendar 100% means leaving no space for the unpredictable, the surprises, the new friendship, the new client, the new business idea, the casual coffee that gives you a new insight into your life...

Because at the end, the best part of life happens in those few moments when we are not expecting or trying to control it.

 

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: Painting "Sky Above the Clouds" by American painter Georgia O'Keeffe.

Feeling overwhelmed? Try these 3 simple herbal life-savers.

We've all been there.  Over extending ourselves with work, school, family, friends...  we stop and think long enough to say to ourselves, “next week I'll have more quiet time,” and next week arrives and our boss needs our help on an important project and the cycle starts again. 

Humans are the most adaptable animals, that means we can adapt ourselves to almost any situation, no matter how unhealthy.  Before we know it, we're fatigued, can't concentrate, feel depressed and lethargic. 

If you've been following Nathalie's previous posts, you learned about the symptoms of burnout. Below you'll find 3 herbs that are safe for long-term use that you could use when experiencing these symptoms:

  • OATS are one of my favorite foods to turn to when I have anxiety, stress and experience complete exhaustion. Oats are restorative to the nervous system and are specific for people who are too busy doing, rather than being. I have also used oats successfully to help with ADD/ADHD symptoms. You can take milky oats in tincture or glycerite form or fresh oat tincture.  Dried oats are not as effective as a nervine.
     
  • HOLY BASIL is another of my favorite herbs/foods for burnout.  I drink 3 cups of tea per day when I cannot focus, have trouble remembering simple things or other “brain fog” symptoms.  Not only does it taste great as a tea, but I also add it as a garnish to soups and food.  Many Asian recipes use Holy Basil in case you'd like to get new ideas on how to make it.  You can also use Holy Basil tincture. 
     
  • PASSIONFLOWER is another excellent nervine specific for those who experience insomnia with circular thinking or worry.   When you can't shut your brain off or are easily irritated by the slightest imbalance, Passionflower is your ally.  I've also used Passionflower for those who suffer from stress-induced headaches. A tea can be made of the leaves or vines.  Drink 2-3 cups per day.  You can also find the tincture at your local health food store.


Lauraine Velez is an experienced clinical herbalist who trained at the David Winston’s Center for Herbal Studies. She uses Traditional Chinese Medicine along with Western, Ayurvedic, Middle Eastern and Cherokee herbal traditions. She's the founder of Apothecratic Oath.

From Spain: 4 Simple Herbal Remedies to Slow Down

The first step to slowing down is to control stress in all its expressions: worry, pressure, insomnia, anxiety, depression and numbness... Here are a few allies we use in Spain to fight back stress: 

FIGHT INSOMNIA
Valerian root (Valeriana officinalis) + Passionflower (Passionaria incarnata) + Orange blossom (Citrus aurantium) + Linden (Tilia platyphyllos)
Mix in equal parts. 1 tbsp per cup. Boil for 1 minute and let it rest for 5 minutes. Take 30 mins. to 1 hour before going to bed. 

FIGHT ANXIETY
White Hawthorne (Crataegus monogyna) + Melissa (Melissa officinalis) + Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) + Lavender (Lavandula officinalis)
Mix in equal parts. 1 tbsp per cup of boiling water. Steep for a few minutes. 

FIGHT DEPRESSION
St. John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum)
1 tsp. per cup of boiling water. Steep for a few minutes. Do not take if you are pregnant, breast feeding, taking contraceptives, taking antidepressants, suffer from severe depression or schizophrenia. Check for harmful interactions if you're taking medications. 

FIGHT LACK OF ENERGY
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) + Sage (Salvia officinalis)
1 tbsp if the mix per cup of boiling water. Steep for a few minutes. 

IMPORTANT TIPS:
—Prepare whole jars of the infusion of your choice to save time.
—If you have a health condition or are taking medication, always check with your doctor before taking herbal remedies to avoid harmful interactions.
—If you are pregnant, be specially cautious when taking herbal remedies.

Based in Madrid, Spain, Eva Miquel specializes in preparing simple and safe natural remedies to balance and energize your body. She can be reached at evamn@hotmail.com. 

If YSL can't hide those dark circles under your eyes... you may be more than just tired.

You slept 8 hours and woke up tired. Your digestion is playing tricks, your mood swings are taking you on a bumpy ride, and—no matter what you do—those dreadful black circles under your eyes won’t fade.
You may be suffering from early stages of what experts are calling Burnout Syndrome, a state of emotional, mental and physical exhaustion caused by prolonged stress.

 But worry not; here are 7 tips to help you get back to your radiant, bubbly self:

 1) Forget meditation, just breathe: Sit on a chair with a straight back and your feet on the floor. Inhale deeply to the count of 4, retain your breath to the count of 4, and exhale to the count of 8. Repeat this 5 times.  Breathing patterns can help reduce stress and provide a nice boost of oxygen to your brain (and skin!).

2) Try Reiki: A 60 minute session can help you relax deeply. It’s like a natural reboot. It makes most people feel renewed, recharged, balanced and hopeful. And the best part: you don’t need to do anything, just lay down on a lovely massage table.

3) Give a clinical herbalist a quick visit to fight digestive troubles that can be ruining your mood and your skin: Herbal supplements and tinctures help balance stress hormones and support your digestive system. Do make sure your herbalist has a clinical background, especially if you take medications, to avoid any kind of negative interaction.

4) Don’t try to outrun your problems on the treadmill: Running like a madwoman will keep you from chocking those pesky colleagues that are making your life miserable and keep you fit. But it will also drain you from valuable energy at a time when, let’s be honest, you don’t have a lot to go around. Stick to gentler exercise like stretching, walking or Hatha yoga.

 5) Pave the way to a good night sleep with a Restorative yoga class: Try it on Friday evening to relax and disconnect from the workweek and get a full night of repairing sleep.

6) Try something old, something borrowed, something new: Reconnect with yourself. What small things do you enjoy? Ask your close friends what makes them tick in a good way, and borrow their secret happy routines. They may work for you. And lastly, try something new. Step our of your comfort zone and do something opposite of what you usually go for. If you always use pink lipstick, try red. If you always go jogging, try a cycling class. It will feed your brain with new stimuli and keep it active.

7) And the most important one, GO EASY ON YOURSELF: You are suffering from burnout because of driving yourself too hard. Give yourself permission to slow down a little bit and smell the roses this spring.

 

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. 

Photo credit: YSL Touche Eclat advertising.