Recognizing How “Doing” Can Steal Our Peace
One of the toughest, and most profound things I took away from my Animal Reiki class was learning how to inhabit a space of being rather than always doing. Animal Reiki is primarily different from Human Reiki in that when you bring yourself to an animal, you must acknowledge and respect that they are more highly evolved spiritual beings than we are. They have agency, and preference, and are more than capable of deciding if they want to participate in a healing session or not, and how. The animals lead the sessions, and as a practitioner, my job is to create a space of light and love where I can radiate an “all is well” energy to remind the animals of their beautiful, whole, eternal souls. What they choose to do in that space is up to them. And some pretty incredible, revelational, humbling things happen in that space. On the other hand, when I’m in a session with my human clients, I am leading the session. As humans, we carry all sorts of static and wounding, defenses and fear. The entire first part of a human Reiki session, for me, is simply bringing my client into a space of calm and relaxation where they can open and begin to bring a mindfulness to what is asking for their attention – in their bodies, minds, and souls. It can take quite a while to get into that place since we are so accustomed to leaning forward with our energy; trying to make our lives better, trying to change ourselves, trying to change others, being hard on ourselves . . . doing. Entering a space of being can be tremendously challenging. It can feel like it goes against the grain of our very essence as humans. And yet, we are human beings.
Confessions Of A “Doer” – Why Is It So Hard To Relax?
A couple weeks ago, my fiancé, Greg, and I spent a week in Palm Desert, CA at his family casa to rest and relax. The weather was beautiful. The pool was wonderful. We ate fun, delicious food. My book was exceptional (Isabelle Allende always is). And yet I had a hell of a time resting and relaxing. I always do. When I was 15, I had a gym class where the teacher would occasionally lead us in a period-long relaxation exercise. Everyone loved it! It was painful for me. While we were all supposed to be visualizing lying in a beautiful, warm place (just like my Palm Desert vacation), breathing in and out as we relaxed all of our muscles from the top of our heads to our toes, I would be verging on a panic attack. My legs would be jittering, I was restless, my breath would come in gulps as I felt like I was wrestling a heart attack. That space of being and relaxing did not feel safe to me, and I would fight it with all my energy. One time, the teacher knelt down beside me on the gym mat and whispered into my ear, “What is wrong with you?!”. This was the same predicament I found myself in on my warm, sunny, trip to the desert. And yet I was trying so hard to relax! (It’s ok to laugh or roll your eyes here. The ridiculousness of the concept is not lost on me.). It wasn’t until we got home, and the dam broke, and I cried out all of my frustration and pain and fear and disappointment, that I came to a place in myself that was empty and still.
What Are Our Bodies Trying To Tell Us?
In his book, “Lessons in Meditation”, John Novak says, “In meditation, effort must be applied in a direction opposite what we are used to.” Change is hard for us people on the planet. And yet it is in the energy of change that we grow, and flow, and new and good things are able to come to us. We must be able to pause, and switch gears. That is very hard with a freight train’s worth of momentum behind us. For years I was aware of that dynamic in my life of doing and doing and leaving a bunch of unprocessed, manic, frantic energy in my wake. I was afraid that the second I stopped forcing everything forward and stopped to acknowledge all that I was running from, the momentum of all the things behind me would come crashing in on top of me and crush me. I had a lot of fear. That happens. But what can also happen is that we become aware of our essential need to pause the doing train and learn to be. A very beautiful and practical part of our design is that our bodies are meant to coach us on our journeys. Are your shoulders and neck so tight you’re experiencing headaches and pain a lot of the time? Your body may be asking you to bring attention to how you overthink things or suppress your emotions. Do you find yourself puzzled as to why your stomach is upset so much of the time? It could be that you are holding the energies of guilt and shame, or feeling frustrated and resentful. Or maybe you’re struggling with anxiety or catching every little illness that blows through. Your tight chest could be asking you to take a moment and check in with yourself. To be still and quiet and reconnect to you.
Self-Care And Mindfulness – Cultivating Our Sense Of Well-Being
“To be, or not to be . . .” that is truly the question. If we are seeking rest, healing, and well-being, then learning to be is something worth cultivating. Beginning a mindfulness practice where we begin to check in on ourselves can seem overwhelming, like one more thing on our ever-growing to-do lists. But the good news is that we can start as small as we need to. One moment at a time. One toe in a new direction is still an act of changing direction. A paused moment where we can recognize a tight chest or rising anxiety, and then breathe in . . . and breathe out . . . is an act of self-care and mindfulness. A moment where we are deciding to be present to ourselves and to others, rather than full steam ahead on the tracks of doing, is us applying effort in an opposite direction. And then soon, when we begin to string a few paused moments together, we may find ourselves in a space of simply being. A space where we can begin to relax and feel at peace. And as my animals are teaching me, in this space, all is well.