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Pulsations: The Reiki Pulse Blog
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As part of a recent Brave Blogging Link-up (before the Reiki Pulse blog was up and running), I published “This I Know: You are Whole and Complete Right Now,” a piece on my history of depression and the way Reiki helped me deeply transform.
It was, indeed, a courageous leap to share this part of my story to convey an important message. And your responses were humbling in their kindness, generosity, and shared truth-telling of your own.
But it is one thing to share a personal issue that has been safely moved to the “past” category. It is another thing to share what is still happening right now.
So here is My True Confession (not, I’m afraid, as deliciously titillating as those in the old magazine): I have ulcerative colitis, and I am in the midst of what is often called a “flare up” right now.
Yes, I am a Reiki practitioner and teacher. Yes, among other things, Reiki is a healing art. Yes, I still get sick. At the moment, pretty darn sick (though thankfully not life-threateningly so).
My feeling that this information is something to be confessed is exactly why I am sharing today. Shame or hiding can be a big signpost that reads: Your wires are crossed! You are deeply misunderstanding something. Dig into the shame and uncross your wires to let go of needless suffering.
In my case right now, my misunderstandings are stacked one on top of the other, it seems.
Many times we understand a truth intellectually, but in our whole being, we don’t really understand. We don’t know it to our core, and we can’t live it (yet!).
Our heads get it, but it’s like experiencing a piece of fruit, say a luscious strawberry, through a pretty painting of the strawberry. The painting gives the illusion of three dimensions, but we can’t really pick the strawberry up and look at it from all angles, taste the sweetness on our tongues, or feel the squish and burst of juice in our mouths.
So what is keeping me from fully tasting my fruit? What ideas am I clinging to that keep me from understanding holistically what I intellectually know to be true?
Well, let’s start with an old favorite, the idea that there is something wrong with me that I need to hide. That my body’s imbalance and unwellness are a sign that I must not be a “good” Reiki practitioner and teacher. That I “shouldn’t” be sick at all.
And under all that, I find lurking the idea that there is something inherently “better” about being healthy.
Or even that there is truly such a thing as “healthy” versus “unhealthy.”
Whew, we’re digging deep here now!
In “The Deepest Acceptance: Radical Awakening in Ordinary Life,” Jeff Foster writes:
So it is with “healthy” and “unhealthy.” Aha!
Now, don’t get me wrong. I have seen and experienced many specific stories of incredible physical, emotional, and mental healing through Reiki practice and support. I don’t mean to dismiss the potential there. Nor do I wish to dismiss the complexity of what “healing” might look like versus “cure” (a big topic for another blog post).
In fact, the system of Reiki is ultimately a completely holistic engagement through spirit that requires absolute openness in terms of desired outcome. In Reiki practice, as in life, we cannot cling to our expectations. We must allow whatever is holistically required to emerge, regardless of what we think should be true.
This, to me, is the single biggest challenge in practicing Reiki: to let go of expectations and get out of the way so that true healing can unfold, unhindered. And so that suffering can be shed, no longer needed, no matter what is happening internally or externally.
Personally, I have gotten better and better at letting go of expectations. But clearly I have plenty of letting go yet to allow, especially related to my own life and body.
Part of me just plain wants to Not Be Sick. I admit it. Seems reasonable, right? My Reiki practice helps me see this part of me clearly for what it is.
But part of me also knows – KNOWS – that what I am experiencing as “sick” is just life right now in this moment. And it’s ok. My Reiki practice helps me experience this part of me clearly, too.
Which “part” of me do you think is suffering more? Is the suffering helping me get what I want anyway?
Ironically, my best chance for the “health” I seek is to stop grasping at it. This does not mean to roll over and passively give up on action. It means to choose action from wisdom, not fear or grasping or shame. The wisdom that comes from remembering our inner light that is radiating right in this moment, not some imagined “better” time in the future.
My shame about sharing this part of my current life openly shows that I am operating from fear. The fear is understandable but ultimately not helpful. Better to take the curtains down and just live openly as who and what I am in this moment.
Even better to take the lessons of the shame and also the experience of unwellness in as part of the richness of this embodied existence. As it is.
And best to just be. No labels, no working at finding lessons, no fighting. Allow life to unfold, moment by moment.
May each of us recognize shame as it arises and look for the named ideas within it that are limiting. May we gently let go of labeling and clinging to ideas and rest in the light of being that is beyond any distinctions and names.
No matter what we might be feeling, may we accept our experiences as true and right for the life that we inhabit, right here, right now.
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An acting teacher I used to study with often said that all emotions, which are the primary tools in an actor’s toolkit, boil down to love or fear. Whatever other emotions you are experiencing, they are really just shades or colors of love or fear.
In my Reiki practice, these two emotional “categories” sometimes feel like different experiential “spaces” to me.
Fear feels restrictive.
Love feels expansive.
I no longer think of them as separate, exactly. It’s like fear is this tiny box within giant, gentle, infinite love.
When we are caught in fear, if we can open the box, we can enter the freer love space (and the love can enter us).
And if we can get rid of the box altogether, ending the habit of fear reaction, we can ultimately be nothing but love! Which is what we really are already.
Fear is humanity’s natural lens, narrowing our view.
It’s not so easy to let go of fear. But if we keep practicing, the box stays open more and more, with complete disappearances on occasion.
For me, I am more able to see the box lid come down. When I can see it crashing down, I can more easily slip a little wedge in before the lid closes completely. Which makes it easier to open the box again.
And sometimes I can see the box forming around me in time to just say, “No, thank you, box. I appreciate your kindness in trying to protect me, but it seems the love space might do a better job of keeping me safe.” And poof, no more box. Just like that.
And of course, other times, I’m just trapped in the box. I can’t see anything but the box. But understanding it IS a box helps me break out again, sooner or later.
Having experienced the love space more and more, it is easier to trust that intellectual understanding of the box even when I can’t see through it yet.
The box is ultimately made up of our notions of self versus the universe. This self-ness is an intrinsic part of our humanness.
But there is a way to exist simultaneously as self and all. This seeming contradiction holds the greatest potential for human existence: to be me and we and KNOW we are small me and great we at the same time.
A nuanced version of one of the five core Reiki precepts is “Do not be worried, fear is distraction.”
Distraction from what? From our innate universal spaciousness. From pure love.
May each of us rest in the gentle ocean of love more and more each day.
Inspiration Credit & Appreciation: Thank you to Elise of Brenner Reiki Healing for reposting the Osho quote on her Facebook page. And thank you to Osho, Indian spiritual teacher, for leaving us such wonderful teachings in simple, beautiful words.
Sometimes listening to and following your inner rhythms requires you to be a warrior.
And though it sounds like a contradiction, sometimes being a warrior demands that you radiate supreme gentleness.
Be fierce. Show yourself bold kindness and understanding no matter what your speed or spontaneous syncopation.
Allow yourself to move with glacial slowness or hummingbird swiftness based on what you truly need right now, not based on expectations from others or your own critical (and often afraid) self.
What’s your speed today? What’s your rhythmic pattern of the moment?
Dance to it without inhibition. I promise you, it and you are beautiful.
Image Credit & Appreciation: Duda Arraes via photopin cc
I wasn’t going to go there today, Father’s Day. The web and social media are already filled with many moving tributes to fathers of all kinds and reflections on relationships past, present, and future with the men in and out of our lives.
But this morning, I awoke thinking of one of my favorite Reiki sharing experiences of all time. It was with my father.
A few years after I had begun to practice Reiki, I finally shared with my parents (Dr. Mom and Dr. Dad) about this healing spiritual practice that had made such a difference in my life. My dad surprised me by his openness.
One day my Papi came to my home to spend the day with me while my husband and mom were at a gardening class together. I asked him if he wanted to try a Reiki healing session, and he said, without hesitation, of course, absolutely, why not?
I will never forget the moment during the session when I took my father’s head in my hands, cradling it there. He had this look of supreme peace and trust on his face. My breath caught for a moment as soft tears welled in my eyes.
I would be hard-pressed to name one single favorite thing about Reiki practice, but one of my top 10 favorites has to be the way we can connect with one another when we share the practice in any way.
When practiced correctly, with no sense of giving or receiving or expectation, just being together in the Reiki space, Reiki sharing is profoundly intimate but utterly safe and non-invasive.
We don’t have to talk to connect. We can choose to touch or choose not to touch. But being together in this open, universally connected way allows a bond between two people that can be light but invulnerable. The heart-knowing can be vast. And the mutual healing holds limitless possibility.
I wish this kind of connection for all fathers and daughters. All mothers and sons. Teachers and students. Neighbors with neighbors. All beings together.
It’s primal, it’s deep, it’s playful, joyful, and supportive.
Reiki helps us “just be together” on a whole other level.
Thank you, Papi, for being there with me in this way and all ways.
Allow life to soften you.
We are so afraid of softness, thinking it means we are not strong and we are unprotected.
The funny truth is that allowing ourselves to soften lets true strength flow through. We can be soft and fierce – in fact, fiercer than ever.
Not putting up a jagged barrier lets us feel serenely safe. When we block anything, everything is then blocked.
It takes practice to learn to trust being in this way. That’s okay.
May we all find our gentle strength in softness today and every day.
Photo Credit and Appreciation: Mark Eric Chapman
People often ask me if I am a “Reiki master” (or assume it’s true). But am I?
Well, yes and no. And before anyone feels judged by my words, please know that this is my current understanding for my own self. I do not blanket this viewpoint onto anyone else.
“Reiki master” is a term that was added on in the U.S. some time back by Hawayo Takata, who brought Usui Reiki practice from Japan to her home in Hawaii. It basically means someone has completed the final level of Reiki training. Generally that is considered the teacher level, although some people take it to deepen their personal practice with no intention to teach formally.
In that simple sense, yes, I am a Reiki “master.” And I have several pretty little certificates to prove it.
From a marketing standpoint, I should probably just call myself a Reiki master and be done with it. I mean, there is so much misinformation about Reiki, and I have seen many articles suggesting that someone find “a Reiki master” when absolutely any level of practitioner would be beneficial. The level of training does not necessarily indicate the level of depth, experience, and understanding of Reiki practice. Not even close. But most people don’t know that, and they Google “Reiki master” when they are looking for support.
But for me, it would go against my inner understanding of Reiki to call myself a master. If I ask myself, “So, Alice, are you a ‘master’ now?” I just think, “Wow, Alice, that is none of your business.”
I call myself a Reiki teacher, meaning simply that I teach Reiki practices. My teacher calls himself a Reiki teacher. This takes the emphasis off what can be a trap, a knowing-everything or even knowing-more trap.
Reiki is a lifelong continuing practice. To think we are done means we are done for. This is why I continue to study with an experienced teacher, as he does with his.
It is also why, when we finish a Reiki course at any level, it indicates we are just launching ourselves into the beginning of that level. The certificate, if one is awarded after the course, only indicates that the student has been given the practices and approach for that level. The student then learns, really learns, the level by practicing each and every day and allowing the practice itself to be the ultimate teacher.
And Reiki is, among other aspects, a humility practice – humility meaning we are no more and no less than anyone or anything else (we are all one beyond our forms). So the word “master” goes against the grain for me there, too.
Words, names, are simultaneously both meaningless and powerful. For now, at least, I chose for myself to respect both sides of this word game and allow the word “master” to stay out of the play.
Reiki Teacher Alice Risemberg
Ps. If you are looking for Reiki support, please do not limit yourself to Reiki masters, or Reiki teachers, for that matter. A person at Reiki Level I (Shoden) who practices daily and has some experience can sometimes be a better match and more developed than someone who has a master certificate but does not practice daily, has very little experience, or is simply someone you don’t feel comfortable with.
Ask about the person’s training and especially whether he or she consistently practices self-care. Then follow your instincts.
You might also like to ask around if you’re unsure if you have found a right match for you. I hear from people all the time who are not near me locally but need some help knowing what to look for and what questions to ask. And you might have friends who have experienced Reiki or practice themselves who can share their stories. Their needs are not necessarily yours, but it can help you narrow down what feels right and comfortable for you.
In this moment, I am suffused with gratitude.
This effortless thanks binds me on the cellular level with all beings and beyond being.
May all of you touch your genuine, unforced thankfulness today and every day. May it make your heart the heart of all beings and beyond being.
Reiki is balancing based on what you need in the moment. It subtly but powerfully supports your own self-healing process, which naturally and constantly strives to lead you back to your true nature: wellness in mind, body, spirit, and emotions.
We already have the potential for healing within us; sometimes that potential just needs encouragement and support.
May we all find and embrace the encouragement and support we need.