Tuesday, 12 May 2020

Equilibrium and Equanimity

Having normal life disrupted by illness is something I have experienced before: when I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.  This diagnosis put limitations on my life that I recognised were necessary if I was going to be well.  I needed to change my diet, take more exercise and manage my stress levels better.  This experience has been useful during the Covid-19 outbreak.

My life, and that of everyone around me, has been disrupted by this coronavirus.  I too have experienced trauma, stress and grieving from this situation.  Fortunately, thus far neither I nor any of my family have caught it, for which I am very grateful.  Life is comfortable when it proceeds with an expected routine.  When this routine is disrupted, for whatever reason, there can be a feeling of loss of control, which for most humans is uncomfortable, frightening and painful.

Although for 5 years I have managed my diabetes successfully, this has been by controlling what I eat, exercising and managing stress, which has not been easy to maintain during this time.  For a few weeks my sugar balance was challenged: a normal response to stress is wanting to eat more sweet things and the pandemic has certainly caused a rise in stress! Fortunately, being aware of this, I was able to make certain choices that soon returned my blood sugar to normal levels.  

One thing I can remain in control of is my Reiki practice, which has helped me to maintain my equilibrium and equanimity.  My daily self-treatment offers a time of tranquillity, stillness, calm and rest which helps my body and mind to relax, lowering the stress hormone levels, making it easier to sleep and heal.

Painful emotions that are natural when grieving.  A common response is to try to suppress them, but this can lead to imbalance.  I find that Reiki helps to find a healthy balance with these emotions.  So sometimes I do cry or shout, a necessary release that helps me to re-gain my equilibrium.  With Reiki it feels safe to feel my feelings and, from past experience of similar releases, I know I won’t get lost in the emotion, it will simply pass like a storm of rain.

My Reiki practice also includes a life philosophy that I have found helpful.  The Reiki principles bring me back to the present moment, enable me to acknowledge the emotions and thoughts that threaten my equanimity and remind me to give my attention to things around me that will lift my spirits and comfort my soul: family, community and nature.

Enshrined in Reiki practice are two qualities named by the Japanese as ‘shoganai’ and ‘shibu’.  Shogania means accept what can’t be changed, it can’t be helped.  By bringing me into the present, Reiki helps this process of acceptance, releasing me from the anxiety and sense of loss that is caused by wondering what will happen next, when ‘normal’ life might resume and how I might survive financially.  I simply accept that this is how it is and know that I am safe.  I count my blessings as Takata suggested and take things a day at a time.

This enables ‘shibu’: the enjoyment of simple things in life.  Reiki practice is essentially simple, helping me to learn and practice shibu, so that as I take my daily walk during lockdown, I notice and appreciate the wonders of Spring: bluebells, buzzing bees, bright green leaves and soaring swallows.  These things lift my spirits and ease my stress, restoring my equilibrium and equanimity.   

There are always times when life doesn’t go as we hope or expect, so I am finding in the current situation a wonderful opportunity to develop my ability to maintain equilibrium and equanimity, and thereby my health and vitality, in the face of any challenging time, with gratitude for my Reiki practice. 

Tuesday, 7 April 2020

Responding to a World Turned Upside Down

I am deeply grateful for my Reiki practice and the learning it has brought me through other teachers during this time of our whole world being turned upside down, personally, in our communities and globally.  One of the things that has
helped me is a Regenerative perspective, which I have learned about from Ben Haggard, who was introduced to the Reiki community by Phyllis Furumoto.  One of the Regenerative Thinking perspectives he introduced us to is Levels of Energy.  As Reiki is essentially ‘energy work’ I found this description interesting and it has been useful to me in making sense of what has been happening around me.  So here is my current perspective relating the levels of energy to the current situation.

The Vital level of energy is all about survival.  It’s the energy level I function from when all I can think about is my survival needs, such as food, warmth or physical safety.  I feel that my thinking comes from a quite primitive and not very clever part of my brain.  I recognise this in the overwhelming desire so many people had to but toilet rolls – a basic comfort need!  Understanding how I function when I am in this energy level gives me compassion for those who fight in supermarkets.  They are functioning at the level of Vital energy, where fighting for survival is natural!

Next is the Automatic and is how society functions from accepted norms.  It gives me a way to carry on my life without too much thought: going shopping on a certain day each week, buying certain foods, greeting friends with a hug, saying please and thank you.  Our Automatic functioning has been hugely disrupted by Covid-19 as we are required to change our normal routines to combat it.  Having new rules to live by is difficult for many because they are not automatic.  ‘Old habits die hard’.  My response to this disruption can either be to drop down into the Vital level (argue or ignore) or to raise my energy to the next level which is called Sensitive.

I have been heartened to observe many people shifting to the Sensitive level rather than descending to the Vital.  With greater empathy for those around them, people are noticing others in their community needing help and taking action to offer it, such as bringing groceries or cooking meals for those unable to leave the house.  I have enjoyed hearing so much about these acts of kindness on the news, instead of the usual focus on actions that are the result of Vital level energy.

There is what’s described as a ‘glass ceiling’ between the Sensitive energy level and the next ones.  It requires some effort to break through and most of the time people tend to function in the first three levels.  I am certainly aware that I can shift between them on a daily basis and to move to the next level I think it helps to have some form of spiritual practice, which for me is Reiki and singing!

The next level is Conscious – where I become more aware of my thinking and the results of my actions in the world.  When I am conscious, I have more choice about what happens and take more responsibility.  Covid-19 offers an amazing consciousness practice: to notice and pay attention to everything we touch when out of the house.  We might pick up the virus from anything we touch and there is so much of our interaction with our world through our hands that is normally unconscious.  If we could be aware of everything we touch we would have more awareness of the present moment. 

The next level is the Creative and I have noticed that when I am able to respond to the current challenges not by descending in energy level to Automatic or Vital but by raising my energy and awareness, an amazing amount of creativity is released.  Consciousness enables me to see what is actually needed instead of what I fear or assume and Creative energy enables me to find new possibilities.  In the past few weeks, I have been quite amazed at how much my creative energy has been flowing in response to the challenges this situation brings.  I have found creative solutions to the cancellation of most of my work, such as moving my singing sessions online.  The creative level of energy brings more benefit to the wider community, as well as giving me more satisfaction in life, no matter what else is going on. 

The next level of energy is Unitive, where I experience being part of something much bigger, in the same way I am in Reiki as I give treatment.  This has offered me the perspective that the results of this virus are part of a bigger picture where it is not ‘wrong’ or ‘a mistake’.  I am aware, for example, that nothing other than something as extreme as this could have grounded so many aircraft or kept so many cars off the road and made so much difference to air quality around the globe in such a short time.   The last level of energy is Transformative, in which there is the potential to move to a completely new way of being.  This potential is perhaps being offered to our whole planet through the pandemic. 

I know that facing the Coronavirus challenge I have moved between all of these energy levels at different times.  I recognise that being mindful about the energy level I function from, and practising Reiki to enable me to shift it, my health and wellbeing is enhanced. This means I am able to make a more useful and creative contribution to the world.  While it’s not possible to be Conscious, Creative and Unitive all the time (not yet having achieved enlightenment!) I find that when I can raise my energy levels in this way it brings me greater joy in life.

Saturday, 7 March 2020

A Lesson from a Flood

Many people have been affected recently by flooding.  We were fortunate that the only water that came into our house was down the chimney.  The last time this happened in July 2007 it inspired me to write an article
comparing dealing with the deluge to a healing process…

"The rain came down our chimney in such quantities that it created a minor flood. It ran behind the range, behind the sideboard and out into the next room. While the floor of the first room is tiled, so not difficult to clean up, the room it ran into has a wooden floor, so the black sooty water would stain it.  Aarghh!

As I was cleaning it up, I thought about how it was like the healing process people often go through with Reiki. The sooty water about to stain the floorboards was like when a crisis point is reached in our health so something must be done. I began my cleaning there – making sure the water didn’t stain any further, limiting the damage. Similarly, with Reiki, I help people deal with the immediate crisis that has pushed them into seeking help.

Once that was done, I stood back for a moment and saw that the sooty water was seeping back, so I needed to clear up the puddle
behind the sideboard to prevent it running into the next room again. Similarly in a healing process, once the immediate symptoms are
dealt with, you often find some underlying cause that will make the problem recur if not treated. For example in the case of a painful
knee: having relieved the pain somewhat you might find that the immediate cause of that pain is tension in the hip.

Cleaning up behind the sideboard involved a bit more effort: I had to move the furniture. Similarly in a healing process there can be a point when something needs to shift for healing to continue. It could be a physical shift or it could be mental or emotional – such as allowing yourself to rest more.

Taking time to breathe and review the situation again, I realised that the water was just going to keep on coming unless I did something about the large quantity behind the range. Similarly, in a healing process there can come a time when you realise that the real
cause is something deeper and will keep on causing the same problem to recur unless you deal with it. For example, a horse I treated had been badly treated in his past. His reactions to present events were therefore coloured by this experience, making him difficult and unhappy. Over a period of time Reiki healing helped him to release the painful memories and so react to the present in proportion to what was really happening.

It took a lot of effort to mop up the pools of water behind the range: getting to it was awkward, uncomfortable, difficult, and time consuming. A healing process can be just the same! Eventually the flood was under control – but it was still raining – just as life continues to happen and we have to go on dealing with it!  I arranged a bucket under the drips, which is like having the occasional ongoing treatment to help cope with life and continue the healing process.

Finally I had finished and there was a great feeling of satisfaction. The same good feelings can be experienced when you have made progress in your healing!"