Image Credit & Appreciation: Thank you to David of Remarkably Retro for this dynamite photo of a vintage magazine cover.
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:
“In every label, there is an implicit judgment. In creating the opposites beauty and ugliness and then seeking beauty, we go to war with what we call ugly. In trying to be beautiful, in trying to feel beautiful, in trying not to feel ugly, we end up going to war with this present experience and trying to reach its opposite–even though it actually has no opposite! No wonder we suffer.”
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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