Rallying the (Love) Troops

Microbiome study

Microbiome study

I recently listened to this Fresh Air interview with science writer Ed Yong about his new book, I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life. His subject is the microbiome, the bazillions of tiny organisms that live in and on the human body. I’m fascinated by the recent mainstreaming of this microbiome concept and the understanding that we are “not ourselves” (or rather that we are so much more than we ever imagined).

When it comes to illness, we tend to evoke the language of war: battling, fighting, surviving. Antibiotics, as wonderful and useful as they are, tend to wipe out the helpful bacteria as cleanly as they destroy the bad. Anyone who has experienced chemo, or seen a loved one go through that, knows what a kick in the pants it is for your joie de vivre. Illness and the ensuing treatments can easily start to feel like a war zone unfolding in the body.

But I’ve been trying to re-imagine illness as a challenging journey through a thick, dark forest. Let’s say that skilled, compassionate doctors are forest rangers, peaceful troops familiar with the ecosystem they’re entering. They are prepared to implement a controlled burn (a treatment) that is unfortunate but necessary, for the health of the larger forest (the physical body).

Everyone is well-trained and working hard. Even so, there are no guarantees.

I imagine Reiki as the energizing, vital force that sustains the forest, connecting all the life that lives there as the controlled burn does its work. Maybe Reiki helps rally the “love troops” — everything in the body (and spirit) which is working fine. What if Reiki gently whispers: Okay folks, we’ve got a situation. Outcome to be determined. Everyone who’s feeling strong: take a breath, relax, and do your best to keep things going.

During a Reiki session, the body, emotions, mind and spirit are infused with Reiki. Sometimes this can help ease symptoms, side effects, or fatigue; sometimes the recipient simply feels more hopeful, more confident about and supported in their choices. Maybe the sense of humor improves, which can make a big difference.

Each person experiences Reiki uniquely, so the possibilities are as varied as humans are. Maybe even as varied as each tiny creature dwelling inside each human!


Reiki as an Adaptogenic Practice

I was recently talking to a good friend about Reiki, exchanging our experiences of the practice and musing about how it “works” for each of us. My experience of Reiki is that it supports whatever is going on. I think of it as bolstering what is working within the person (or animal, plant, situation) and minimizing negative factors that drain life force.

My friend, who is well attuned to the magic of medicinal plants, responded with this: “So you feel Reiki is like an adaptogen?” The light bulb went on in my mind (and more importantly, in my gut). YES! That is exactly how I experience Reiki.

In the world of herbal medicine, an adaptogen is a plant that meets the body where it needs support, and assists in bringing the body’s systems back to balance. Adaptogens gently tug the body in the direction of wellness and away from the effects of stress, illness, and depletion. It’s less about curing symptoms than about supporting balance and resilience, so that symptoms lose the upper hand.

Here’s another way of looking at it: we all have a friend or family member that we feel especially close with. And no matter what’s going on in our lives, we’re always pleased to be in that person’s company. He or she somehow manages to make things better, simply through their presence, and they help us adapt to whatever is going on.

Thinking of Reiki as an “adaptogenic friend” has been a good meditation: it is wise to check in often and appreciate its quiet strength–like watering an herb garden or catching up with a dear friend–and then let “the work” happen naturally.



Summer Garden Walk, June 25 & 26


Orange Flower Healing is happy to be a sponsor for the Bloomington Garden Club’s annual Summer Garden Walk, taking place this weekend, June 25 & 26. Visit 5 private gardens and the Monroe County History Center! Hours and ticket info are at the Garden Club website. What better way to top off Pollinator Week?

This photo of blooming buckwheat comes from my own rag-tag, fits-and-starts garden. Buckwheat is great for pollinators, especially honeybees, who use the nectar to make a dark honey with a potent, molasses-like flavor. I think of it as bee medicine…



Prospect Hill Neighborhood picnic


Orange Flower Healing is located in the historic Prospect Hill Neighborhood of Bloomington. Our neighborhood picnic is this Sunday, June 12 from 4-7 PM in the large shelter at Building & Trades Park on Howe Street. Bring your favorite side dish, and enjoy grilled items provided by the neighborhood association.

Psst! I’ll be offering free 5-10 minute chair Reiki sessions–just look for me at the picnic, or text me to coordinate a time.

For more information about the neighborhood, visit the PHNA website.

BOST, June 3-5, 2016


Orange Flower Healing is happy to support BOST 2016, the 5th annual Bloomington Open Studios Tour…. This free event offers the opportunity to visit the studios of 36 local artists–meet the artists, examine their materials and tools, and ask questions about what makes them tick. Then buy some art!

There’s a preview launch on Friday June 3rd, and studios are open Saturday and Sunday, June 4th and 5th. Details here.

BOST’s mission is to strengthen connections among artists, the public, and BOST supporters in Bloomington’s vibrant visual arts community.

Art is healing, ya’ll. I encourage you to get out there and see what the artists in our community are up to. Hope to see you there!

Dandy the Miniature Horse


This is Dandy Do Right. He’s a 27-year-old miniature horse, and he had a rough start to 2016: in January, three dogs jumped the fence on the property where he lives. They attacked him, viciously biting his tail and back legs. He survived the attack and is healing… but it’s been a financial challenge for Dandy’s people.

When I first heard about Dandy, I thought: that little guy could use some Reiki. I found the Go Fund Me page dedicated to his vet bills, and contacted Beth York about offering Reiki to her horse–which she was open to.

Yesterday I went out to meet Dandy and his family, which includes three other miniature horses (my inner child was about to pass out with joy–seriously). I shared Reiki for about an hour; Dandy seemed to nod off a few times, and when he’d had enough his sassy playfulness suggested that he was in good spirits.

You can read more about Dandy here. If you feel called to help out by donating to his vet bill fund, I very much encourage it!



Reiki for Earth’s Climate

earthhThis Friday, April 22, is Earth Day. Interfaith Power and Light is calling for prayers for our sweet planet at 12 noon in each time zone. I’ll be offering Reiki to Earth: healing consciousness for the waters, the land, the skies; the plants, wild and cultivated; the pollinators, birds, and four-leggeds who run wild, live as our companions and provide food; and last but not least, the two-leggeds.

Epic Earth image from NASA.

Susan Brackney’s Honeybee Garden


Yesterday I saw the first honeybees in our yard, working their way around an explosion of dandelions in front of the house. In a round about way, beekeeping brought me to the practice of Reiki, and I never pass up a chance to talk about bees.

Back in February, I had the opportunity to speak with beekeeper and author Susan Brackney, and I wrote our conversation up for Local Food Bloomington.

Many thanks to Susan, for sharing her colorful honeybee garden map….

The Orange Flower Healing studio

Reiki Room copyA photo of the Orange Flower Healing studio, located on West 2nd Street in Bloomington, Indiana.

The painting is The Spiral Dance, by Albuquerque, New Mexico artist Pat Malcolm. She creates luminous, Earth-healing artwork, please visit her site.

On the floor, under the Reiki table, is an African rug that my grandmother gifted me years ago. My grandparents taught me a lot about being present in the world, being fearless, and appreciating the small things. My grandfather passed in 2006, my grandmother in 2014; I am pleased to have one of their cherished rugs in this healing space.

Photo by the amazing and unstoppable David Ondrik.