Orange Flower Healing has moved to 357 S. Landmark, inside East West Acupuncture.
After starting as a home-based “micro business” in 2016, I’d outgrown my space and had been keeping an eye out for just the right office. Mission accomplished! When you enter the main office, I’m down the hallway in Suite B, Office 2. Depending on the day you come in, you might get to see some of the fine folks who run East West, and they will no doubt be happy to answer your acupuncture questions.
My regular office hours are Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10am-4pm, with some Saturday and evening appointments available. I’m planning an open house at the office within the month, details to come. If you’d like to schedule an appointment or be added to my email list, contact me.
In the interest of deepening my personal and professional Reiki practice, in mid-August I traveled to Soderworld Wellness Center, outside Chicago, to attend a three-day Reiki & Medicine Intensive with Pamela Miles. Miles has spent decades bringing Reiki practice to the mainstream medical community, with a no-nonsense style and an emphasis on committed, daily self practice. As she says, “Take care of your state and your state takes care of everything else.” I think this goes double for anyone in care-giving, whether you’re a nurse, a massage therapist, a teacher, a parent… you name it. We all provide care for others to some degree or another.
If you are even the least bit interested in bringing Reiki practice to people in healthcare settings, or perhaps face health care challenges of your own, I would encourage you to consider this intensive. Since Reiki is not licensed, or monitored by any associations, it is up to practitioners (and potential clients) to rigorously educate ourselves, and then make the best possible effort to be professional, practiced, and prepared to talk about Reiki without getting defensive.
Daily self practice helps. When we practice Reiki every day, we know what we’re talking about–our own, observed experience. And we also know where words just aren’t enough, and are comfortable with saying less rather than venturing into “red flag” territory. (More on that in the future.)
Looking ahead to October: You’ll find Orange Flower Healing at Olcott Center’s Pink Power fundraising event on October 4, from 5-9pm, at Shreve Hall on the Ivy Tech Campus. Tickets to Pink Power are $10, and there will be tons of fun stuff going on–you can even win a gift certificate for a Reiki session (among many other wonderful items). Call Olcott Center at 812-353-5283 for details.
I recently read Victoria Sweet’s 2017 book, Slow Medicine: The Way to Healing. Sweet is an Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of California in San Francisco, and also has a Ph.D. in history. She practiced medicine for over twenty years at Laguna Honda Hospital in San Francisco, and is a storyteller skilled at bridging medicine and the humanities. She explores the multitude of reasons people seek doctors to sustain them—not just to fix their ailments—and argues that encouraging and allowing doctors to slow down can benefit everyone: doctors, nurses, and patients alike.
“Anything that contributes to healing power should be employed; anything that takes away from it should be abandoned,” Sweet writes. How can contemporary medicine help people to heal in the least damaging way possible? By tending them s-l-o-w-l-y, is the suggestion. This doesn’t mean that medicine should give up moving quickly; rather, Sweet asserts that Fast Medicine and Slow Medicine work best together, alternating as needed. When you’re having a heart attack, you want everybody working at a clip! But when the heart attack is over, it’s time to recover, to heal and address prevention of future heart attacks. This is the time to employ slow medicine, to ask how a patient wants their life to look going forward, and what the patient can do to help their life move in that direction. How can their doctor support them in this important work? Slow medicine is partly about a doctor listening to and observing a patient to learn the areas in which the patient can be empowered.
Although Reiki isn’t mentioned in Slow Medicine, the concept of chi is referenced a few times—Sweet laments its depletion in weary medical interns. Of course, I was thinking about Reiki as I read this book, and how the very particular slow-listening of Reiki practice can serve as a powerful accompaniment to the rigors of modern fast medicine.
Sweet also writes at length about Hildegard of Bingen, a 12th-century Benedictine nun who emphasized the concept of viriditas or “greenness,” a metaphor for life force, and spiritual and physical health. (Sweet’s PhD in history focused on Bingen and pre-modern medicine.) She says the implications of Bingen’s idea, “which for me was revolutionary, [was] that as a doctor I should be not only a mechanic of the body, looking for what is broken and trying to fix it, but also a gardener of the body, nourishing viriditas, and removing what is in its way.”
Sweet does a great job of expanding this notion of viriditas beyond the individual patient, to the organizational level. What does a healthy health care system look like? What nourishes the garden of health care so that it can provide the right services at the right time, and what stands in the way of hospitals and doctors truly serving the people? I found myself thinking in new ways about the health care (eco) system.
I have previously associated viriditas with the vitality that Reiki seems to evoke, vitality that nourishes and restores balance in myself, and in the individuals I treat. Reiki practice appears to meet people right where they are, never pushing or forcing an issue, always gently encouraging the recipient to balance, however that might appear for them. I believe that Reiki practice is naturally and deeply aligned with Slow Medicine, “where relationship is key and the theme is attention, quietness, openness.”
Every once in a while, someone who is curious but skeptical about Reiki will ask if I really “believe” that it works. This can be intimidating, depending on the tone in which the question is asked. It is easy to start stammering, and to fall back on vague “woo-woo” language, which never helps. It only takes a few experiences like this to discourage one from speaking with confidence about the value of Reiki, a practice that is truly better experienced than discussed.
Recently I’ve been trying a response that feels more playful: Do you ask an aikido student if she believes in aikido?
My spouse, David Ondrik (pictured above) helped bring me to this idea. A student of taekwando for 25 years, he took Reiki I with me, and immediately saw a reflection of his martial arts training in the approach: the Grand Master/Master/student relationship; regular practice with fellow students; an individual commitment that, when combined with the commitment of others, becomes the larger community of the dojang.
Martial arts training benefits the body, the mind, and the spirit. An aikido student doesn’t believe in aikido, she practices it. More precisely, she practices because she believes in the benefits the practice brings her. It is an art she has committed herself to, and the power of her aikido practice lies in doing the work, not in talking about it. If you’re interested in what she has–strength, ease in her body, a calmness about her–then you might want to know more about how she attained those things. She may have some simple words to offer, but most likely she will encourage you to experience aikido for yourself.
“Reiki” is two things: it is universal life energy (Rei = universal, ki = life energy), and it is also the practice itself. When people ask if I believe in Reiki, they usually mean the former, universal life energy. All I can say to that is everyone knows when they see someone who is lacking in life energy; a person might seem depressed, washed out, a little blue, bored.
Reiki practice works at the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual levels (much like a martial art). We all know what physical muscles look like, but what about your emotional muscles? What constitutes mental muscle? And what shape does spiritual muscle take?
In the martial arts, testing day is often a public event. Given the task of breaking through a series of wooden planks, the student take all of his or her experience from practice—the body, the emotions, the mind, the spirit, and their sacred connection to their Master’s lineage—and brings that experience to bear on the task at hand. To an outsider, this task might seem impossible; they might not believe it can be done. The student might not even be certain they can do it. All the student can do is prepare, and then give it their best.
And so it is with the art of Reiki. I am less concerned with believing in Reiki than I am in practicing it. It is through practice that Reiki teaches me, and I can speak of my own personal experience with confidence and ease. I aspire to what Stephen Mitchell writes, in his translation of the Tao te Ching: “He who knows doesn’t talk, but words are no hindrance for him. He uses them as he would use gardening tools. When someone asks, he answers.”
I’ve been wanting to have a “Reiki in the Park” gathering for a while now, and it’s finally happening. Woo-hoo! It can be really sweet to practice under the sky, with the ground directly beneath us, and surrounded by trees. Practicing in a public place can also mean questions from curious passers-by … a great opportunity to introduce people to the benefits of Reiki. Don’t be shy!
Location and details can be found at Meetup.
Do you already have Reiki hands? Wonderful! Please come and share your practice.
Contact me with questions, or just to connect.
Happy Earth Day.
“The Mystery takes form in the glory of the Earth,” Marion Woodman assures us in her wonderful lecture series, Sitting by the Well: Bringing the Feminine to Consciousness Through Language, Dreams, and Metaphor.
Today I’m setting aside some time to send Reiki to our sweet home, planet Earth. I’ll offer healing Reiki — Universal Life Energy — to the waters, the land, the skies; the plants, wild and cultivated; the insects, birds, and animals who run wild, live as our companions, and provide food; and to the humans, whose choices impact every aspect of life on Earth.
A few minutes spent in meditation today can help connect us with our planet and the abundance of shared resources that Earth provides to each and every one of us. If you don’t currently practice Reiki, a conscious expression of gratitude will work, too!
I recently learned about the Joint Commission, and the Commission’s 2018 new and revised pain assessment and management standards for its accredited hospitals.
What is the Joint Commission? The Joint Commission accredits health care organizations and programs in the United States. It is an independent, nonprofit organization, and is the nation’s oldest and largest standards-setting and accrediting body in health care. In July 2017 they announced New and Revised Standards Related to Pain Assessment and Management, with several revisions, including a requirement that hospitals “provide at least one non-pharmacological pain treatment modality.”
What does this mean? This means that the American health care system is beginning to address the fact that some pain may be better treated with approaches other than pharmaceuticals. The experience of pain can be complicated and multi-faceted, and it varies for every person. Successfully managing pain—while minimizing risks, including addiction—may be best served by a combination of approaches.
What does this have to do with Reiki? In my work with people navigating cancer treatment, 85% of those surveyed have reported decreased pain and/or stress levels following their Reiki session. I have seen people arrive to an appointment in tears because of pain, and then watched their faces soften into relaxation as they receive Reiki and the pain loses its grip. It can be astonishing for the patient, and even as a Reiki devotee, I can still be surprised.
Does Reiki work for everybody? No. Does it work to a greater or lesser degree, depending on the individual? Yes. Is it a one-stop-pain-free-for-life solution? Absolutely not—and nothing is. But Reiki can help calm the body, the mind, the emotions, and the spirit, softening pain and offering just a little more room in which to breathe. In that space, with that breath, other options can suddenly seem viable.
I find myself encouraged by the implications of the Joint Commission’s mandate. Stay tuned for more on this topic, in future posts.
Sleep offers the body an opportunity to rest and repair. After a Reiki session, I suggest that clients drink extra water, and then go to bed a little earlier than usual. “Really?!” is the typical response to this suggestion–as if I’ve given people permission to “indulge” in something luxurious.
I have been thrilled about the recent media attention around sleep and its importance. This interview with Matthew Walker, author of Why We Sleep; the 2017 Nobel Prize in Medicine going to three scientists who study circadian rhythm; and Arianna Huffington’s 2016 book The Sleep Revolution, have all caught my attention. Huffington suggests reciting meditations when we wake up in the middle of the night, rather than picking up our phones to start scrolling. Yes!
You could also try Reiki. Whatever is causing the insomnia, laying Reiki hands on your own body is soothing, and encourages the body to return to its natural nighttime state: slumber. Reiki can feel like a warm bath for the body and spirit, calming gritty eyes, quieting a spinning brain, or comforting a worried heart.
There’s a good chance that you will fall back to sleep while self-practicing Reiki. But even if it takes some time, I always feel better just knowing that I am actively caring for myself while I wait for sleep to return.
Making sleep sacred starts with how we prepare for it each night. Consider cultivating your sleep-bed as you would a garden-bed: plant yourself tenderly but firmly! If you are fortunate enough to be in a time and place in your life where uninterrupted sleep is a possibility, make sleep a priority. (If only we could donate our sleep-hours to new mothers, like frequent flyer miles.)
Back to Reiki. Haven’t taken a Reiki class? As my friend Kim Lohan says, “Even if you haven’t studied energy healing, you can still offer yourself healing energy.” Similarly, one of my favorite yoga teachers urged her students, “Where does your body need attention? Rest your medicine hands there, and breathe.”
Your next sleepless night is your next opportunity to practice.
This weekend! FREE!! Visit over 30 artists studios in the Bloomington, Indiana area.
Studios are open Saturday, Oct. 21st from 10-6 and Sunday, Oct. 22nd from 10-4.
For details, including a list of participating artists and maps, visit the BOST website.
My art practice is nourished by my Reiki practice–and vice versa. If you’re curious about my “other work,” please stop by my studio this weekend and say hello. (There will be home made pie by the multi-talented David Ondrik!)
And if you can’t make it to the open studio, please visit my art site, beckytomato.com.