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.
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!

Life Coaching 101: 1... 2... 3... & Relax!

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take,
but by the moments that take our breath away.” —Maya Angelou

Imagine doing something over 17 thousand times per day and not noticing it, not even once? It sounds crazy, but you do it every day: breathing. Our lack of awareness when it comes to breathing is—as my yoga teacher would say—the biggest clue that we seldom live in the moment.
Yes, breathing should happen automatically. But paying attention to its rhythm for just a few moments each day can result in incredible benefits at all levels: physical, emotional and even spiritual. 

1... 2... 3... Relax!
When I studied Life Coaching, the emphasis was in the process: the questions, the goals, the action plans, etc. Once I started coaching, I noticed my clients would arrive to the sessions in a rush, breathless and restless. Not a great place to start. 
I realized that the first step to move forward was to actually pause and catch your breath.
Now, as soon as my clients come in, I ask them to close their eyes and breath deeply, visualizing the air coming in through their nose and into their lungs. To feel their lungs expanding, then pause and exhale slowly, with awareness. I ask them to repeat this for a total of 3 breaths.
The transformation is amazing: from scattered and stressed to present and centered. 

Why breathing?
Breathing balances our body and quiets our minds so we can focus, reconnect with ourselves and—during life-coaching sessions—find honest answers to our questions. 
Physically, breathing not only keeps us alive. When we breathe with awareness, we help restore our body's internal movement and we massage our organs so they can oxygenate better.
Emotionally, it helps us to let go of limiting beliefs, release emotions and identify negative patterns. It also helps us relax and regain our center.
Spiritually, it helps us connect to the life force/energy, what some call Chi or Prana, thus increasing our level of awareness.

Ready to try?
Go ahead: sit comfortably. Be aware of your posture. How does your back feel? Your neck? Your feet? Close your eyes and inhale through the nose. Retain your breath to the count of 3 and exhale slowly through the nose. With each breath, notice how the air fills your lungs, your diaphragm... every space. Feel how it revives your strength and energy. When you exhale, notice how the air is getting warmer.
Repeat 5 to 10 times. 
I usually recommend to do this exercise twice a day, once in the morning and once before bed time. Of course if you ever feel anxious, you can use this technique to regain your balance at any time. 
I hope this exercise also helps you live more in the moment, not in a past that can't be changed, or in a future that may fuel anxiety. Because living in the moment is when things happen, things that, as Maya Angelou well said, "can take our breath away"... in a good way!


Niky Pauli s a certified Life Coach by the International Coaching Community, a Leadership Life Coach by the Sura Center and is trained as a Reiki practitioner. She's the founder of  NikyCoach, which combines traditional Life Coaching tools with meditation and energetic healing modalities.

 Photo Credit: Amanda Hirsch via Flickr

When things go awry: Just BREATHE

Breath is the bridge between the body and the mind. Regulate breath, and the body and mind will follow.

There are moments when things happens. You get so upset you get tunel vision, you start hyper ventilating and...yes, you do/say/write something stupid. Believe me, I know. I've been there. Not one. Not ten, but hundreds of times. I used to work in advertising, an industry where things got awfully bad, awfully fast and for awfully stupid reasons: a celebrity didn't like the hem of a dress, a nail got chipped, your boss hated the font you used on a presentation.

Tired of so much drama creating havoc in my body, I tried loads of methods to calm down quickly. Many sucked, but these 3 simple breathing exercises really helped me regain a certain sense of calm and balance amidst emotional chaos. And the best, they work even if you don't have a meditation or Reiki practice!

Sit down with a straight back, place one hand on your belly and the other on your chest. Close your eyes and inhale deeply through the nose as you let your diaphragm expand outward, like an inflated balloon. Let your breath spiral downwards through your chest into your ribs, filling up your lungs. If your mind starts to wanter, keep returning to the sound of your breath. Exhale deeply through the mouth, guiding the navel towards the spine and release. Repeat this for 3 to 5 minutes. 

This one is from Dr. Weil and it works wonders: it's like a natural tranquilizer for the nervous system. On the plus side, it's super simple and can be done anywhere, On the con side, the whooshing sound it creates may want to make you scramble for privacy.
Sit with your back straight. Place the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue just behind your upper front teeth, and keep it there through the entire exercise. 
Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.
Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of FOUR.
Hold your breath for a count of SEVEN.
Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of EIGHT.
This is one breath, now repeat the cycle 3 more times for a total of 4 breaths.
If you have trouble holding your breath, speed the exercise up but keep the ration of 4:7:8.

This breathing exercise is called Brahmari Pranayama. Brahmari in sanskrit means bee (you'll see why soon) and it's utilized to relieve stress. 
Choose a comfortable seating posture. 
With your index fingers, close your ears.
Hold your elbows up at shoulders level and close your eyes. 
Inhale deeply through your nose.
Exhale through your mouth while creating a humming sound like a bee (come on, don't take yourself so seriously) until your lungs empty.
Inhale again through your nose and repeat this breathing exercise for 10-15 mins.


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: Ashley Rose via Flickr