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.
Today’s guest column about Hara is by Kim Lohan. The Japanese word Hara describes both a physical and an energetic location in the human body. Working with hara is not part of the traditional Reiki training, but I’ve been curious to learn more about it since I began studying the Japanese art of Reiki in 2013. Kim Lohan has practiced energy healing from Hara Studio, near Charlottesville, Virginia, since 2012. She describes the Hara Line, and ways to strengthen it.
You can learn more about Kim and her practice at www.harastudio.com.
The Hara Line is an invisible line that runs down through your energy field. Although it is invisible, you can feel and experience being in hara, and even see it. If you have ever seen what appears to be a remarkable play in football or soccer where the player magically seems to go through every defender and find a small open space on the field to score, this is being in hara. Personally for me it shows up in ways of feeling like I’m in the zone or as if everything is lining up. When I am holding hara I don’t have an agenda, rather I have the knowing it is all working out. You may have experienced it in a workplace environment when every person in the office had the shared goal and participated for the greater good of the team. In hara you do not experience the sharp points of ego. Being in hara is like going with the flow. To describe it with only two words, it is effortless intention.
The Hara Line helps you energetically align with what you want to manifest by focusing on three specific points in the body; the tan tien, the soul seat, and the ID point. The hara line runs vertically through the body. Each point is related to a certain aspect of intentionality: the tan tien to physical manifestation; the soul seat to your longings and desires; and the ID point is your connection to spirit.
The tan tien is about an inch below your belly button and helps you manifest on a physical level. The tan tien allows you to draw up earth energy, and acts as a base by providing stability. When it’s strong you recognize and respond to opportunities as they arise. When it’s distorted you lack clarity and feel stagnant.
Moving up the body we go to the soul seat. This point is above your heart, yet below your throat. The soul seat is where you store your longings or desires: what you feel passionate about, what you would like to create. Often times your soul seat can become muffled or covered up due to criticism, negative experiences, disbelief in oneself or lack of support from your families. When your soul seat is shrouded it is difficult to know what you want in your life.
The ID Point is a few inches above your head and is where you connect to spirit. This point is where you understand your place on the earth and how to bring your gifts into the world. When the ID point becomes obstructed you lack connection to Spirit or God, and it can feel like you do not belong. If you are experiencing any of these scenarios, the good news is that your hara line can be realigned.
Here are some options to strengthen your hara line:
- Hara Healings
- Martial Arts – JiuJitsu, Taekwondo, Karate
- Tai Chi or Qigong
- Mirror Exercise – stand in front of a mirror and connect into each point along the hara line. Barbara Brennan, founder of the Barbara Brennan School of Healing, explains in detail how to do this hara line exercise in her book, Light Emerging.
Self-practice is the heart of Reiki: a full self-treatment, every day, helps maintain balance and a relaxed awareness as we go about our lives. But it can be hard to find time for self-practice, since we have to consciously choose to make time.
I sometimes meet people who, when learning that I have a Reiki practice, say: “I took a Reiki class years ago, but I haven’t used it in a really long time.”
Whereupon, I encourage them to start again.
How do we get back to Reiki practice? By placing Reiki hands on ourselves, every day. A few ways to reengage with Reiki, if you haven’t practiced in a while:
– Give yourself a mini self-treatment after hitting the snooze button: press snooze, and then place your hands. Drift back to sleep, letting Reiki flow for the next 8 or 9 minutes. If you choose to snooze some more, you can move your hands—if you started at your head, move to your heart. If you started at your heart, move to your belly.
– Practice for a few minutes before lunch, or after. Place your hands wherever Reiki is called to—if nothing speaks to you, try your belly, and imagine your body digesting well and absorbing all the nourishment available in your meal.
– Go to bed 10 or 15 minutes earlier than you usually do, and practice as you fall asleep. You may experience the best night of sleep you’ve had in a while!
Try practicing just a small amount each day for a month. A full self-treatment, every day, is what you’re aiming for, but if you get off track, don’t worry. Some Reiki is always better than no Reiki. Just notice how you feel: as you practice, when you awaken, during the events of your day, and going to sleep.
Need a refresher on the hand placements for self-treatment? Contact me about getting together one-on-one, or in a group, to practice. Reiki is safe, so simple, and deeply supportive. Once you’ve got it, it never “goes away”—you just have to remember to practice what you already know.
Orange Flower Healing is happy to be a sponsor for the Bloomington Garden Club’s annual Summer Garden Walk, taking place this weekend, June 17 and 18. Visit 4 private gardens, the Hilltop Nature Center and Gardens, and the Monroe County History Center. Hours and ticket info are at the Garden Club website….
“Touching is a very old way of healing and so we try to touch people with the same tenderness that a mother would touch a child with, because what a mother is saying to a child in that touch is: Live.”
One of my favorite things about Reiki practice is that there is no agenda. Beyond childhood, it’s rare to have another person’s hands on our body with no preconceived notion of what they’re trying to accomplish. A massage therapist is loosening tight muscles; a chiropractor is adjusting bones; a doctor is feeling for tenderness or lumps. Even a loving partner touches to reaffirm connection through comfort or pleasure, a wordless way to say: you and me.
But in Reiki, we just place our hands and let Reiki do the rest. When I share Reiki, I am not seeking to fix a problem, or to diagnose a condition—I am simply asking Reiki to flow where it is needed. I follow the traditional hand placements as taught to me by my teacher, in the tradition of Reiki Master Hawayo Takata: I gently place my hands on the head, torso and then the back, spending a few minutes in each area.
Do I have an intention when I begin a session?
No, other than for Reiki to flow, which I respectfully request of Reiki before placing my hands. Before we start, I usually ask the person, “How can Reiki help you today?” But sometimes we don’t yet have words for what we need, and that’s where Reiki can really surprise us. It goes right to the place that hungers for life force, attention, juice. It may be physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual; Reiki nourishes that place gently, with no expectations. And things shift, perhaps subtly, sometimes notably. Either way, everything around that initial shift moves a bit, too. A process has begun.
“Open yourself to the Tao,
then trust your natural responses;
and everything will fall into place.”
Tao te Ching, Ch. 23
How does Reiki work? I don’t know. I know how to practice; I know how I feel after a session; I know how others have described their experiences. But how Reiki works, or maybe I mean why, is a mystery. Since my very first session, this is what intrigued me about the practice. It seems too easy, but a few minutes and Reiki hands are all one needs. A quiet place is helpful, but Reiki can happen anywhere. In our busy, info-packed world, it’s choosing to go agenda-free–for even 15 minutes!–that might be the most challenging task of all.
Before starting to practice Reiki, I’d been practicing art for many years. This proved helpful to me when learning Reiki, because I understood the value of a daily commitment: with any regular practice, we strengthen muscles both physical and mental, and stay familiar with our tools. With daily effort, we worry less about “good” and “bad” practice, and keep the focus on consistently showing up.
One of my tools for art practice is something I call my “soft eyes.” This is when I step back and look at something I’m working on with my eyes slightly unfocused, which offers me a chance to see the work in a looser way. (I do this when looking at other artists’ work, too.) Problems–and strengths–in the image often jump out, and deciding what to do next is easier. Other times I realize it’s time to let something alone.
It took me a long time to notice this “soft eyes” effect, and it took me even longer to consciously employ it as a tool. Years later, when my Reiki teacher encouraged me to observe with “Reiki eyes,” it then took time to recognize that, for me, Reiki eyes were the same soft eyes I called on in the art studio.
Whether in Reiki or art practice, soft eyes encourage me to wait for pattern and meaning to emerge, rather than letting my mind carry me to a premature conclusion. The soft gaze of not-knowing can be an important space to hang out in, if slightly uncomfortable.
I sometimes think of art as something that I do “for myself,” and Reiki as something I offer “for others.” But I self practice with Reiki almost every day, and my art does find its way out into the world. (I’ll have some work in The Vault at Ivy Tech’s John Waldron Arts Center, in May.) Both art and Reiki help me stay aware of the big picture, while keeping a soft eye on the details.
In the last couple weeks, picking up coffee, I have overheard two wedding planning consultations. It’s reminded me how stressful wedding planning is: the dress, the flowers, the food, the family… the expenses, the opinions, the expectations. It’s a lot of pressure to place on the shoulders of two people who are standing at the sacred threshold of a life together. I recall the weeks before my wedding as some of the most anxious of my life! I didn’t know about Reiki then, but oh, how I wish I had.
How can Reiki help your wedding plans? Reiki helps people feel better. This can include improved sleep, digestion, and breathing — ahhhh. When we feel better, we think more clearly and can focus on prioritizing the tasks ahead; we communicate more clearly, let the little things go, and make important decisions with confidence.
Reiki helps us feel better by gently drawing the body, emotions, mind, and spirit back to balance. It’s worthwhile to prepare for any major life event by seeking balance at the beginning. We don’t always get that choice — think of any change you didn’t want to see, coming down the pike — but there are many things we plan ahead for: a wedding, a move, a pregnancy, a job change, a medical procedure. Why wouldn’t we choose to embark on these journeys from a place of nourished balance? To quote Stephen Mitchell’s translation of the ever-relevant Tao te Ching, chapter 64:
Prevent trouble before it arises.
Put things in order before they exist.
The giant pine tree
grows from a tiny sprout.
The journey of a thousand miles
starts from beneath your feet.