The Heart of Forgiveness

Iyanla Vanzant (image from Huffington Post)

Iyanla Vanzant (image from Huffington Post)

I just finished the six-week online course on forgiveness given by Iyanla Vanzant and hosted by the Oprah.com website. She is one of the amazing life coaches/spiritual gurus Oprah Winfrey has introduced to a wider audience through her old network TV show and more recently through the OWN network. I have completed my own work on the topic of forgiveness and developed my own forgiveness practice, and have used what I’ve learned to help clients struggling with this same issue. I have a couple of forgiveness meditations I play during life-coaching and/or Reiki healing sessions to help open clients to this topic and to open this door to healing. One of the meditations goes through a series of visualizations and towards the end of the meditation, calls for you to breathe out forgiveness. I was surprised to notice with a number of clients that as soon as they were asked to do this – breathe out forgiveness – they stopped breathing. That their body, mind and spirit locked down their breathing…like they were saying “forgive you, no way, I’m not breathing out forgiveness, forget that, I am holding on with all my might “. When I asked these people after the session was complete whether they were aware they stopped breathing when they were asked to breathe out forgiveness, each and every person was not aware they had stopped breathing. It’s an amazing testament to how tightly and closely we hold our hurts, our stories about what has happened to us in our life, and unforgiveness inside of us. When I saw the opportunity to learn more on this topic through a six-week online course with Iyanla I jumped at the chance, thinking it would be beneficial to use with my clients who really struggle with letting go of their hurts and opening to forgiveness.

From Etsy.com

From Etsy.com

My understanding of forgiveness has evolved over time. I can remember reading the Dalai Lama’s book the Wisdom of Forgiveness many years ago and struggling to understand how Tibetan monks could feel compassion and forgiveness for the military personal who harmed them and their fellow monks. I wondered how you get to that place. I later realized that forgiveness had absolutely nothing to do with the people who hurt you – it was all about you. It was not about blaming or being vindicated but about acknowledging, releasing and finding your peace independent of anyone else. As I developed my own forgiveness practice and discovered a healed and neutral state of mind with old hurts, I also came to understand that you really had to be ready to surrender and be tired or sick enough of your story in order to be ready to forgive. That you had to get to that point where you really were so very tired of reliving the past, the hurts, the pain, going back there again and again, and defining yourself by your past and story, and that you were truly willing to surrender and change. Forgiveness work ventures into some uncomfortable territory dealing with an unearthing old feelings, memories, and triggers your ego, so in order to be willing to go there and be in that space you have to be sufficiently motivated by your goal of healing and learning to see your life through different eyes.

With my healing practice, I encounter people who cling strongly to their stories of what happened to them, defining themselves by their wounds and their past, instead of who they currently are. It’s our ego’s way of trying to protect us from similar hurts and taking us out of the present moment and getting us to believe that our past is more important than where we are right now. Of course what is interesting is how despite the seemingly protective nature of this mechanism, we end up repeating the pattern of our hurts over and over again when we hold onto unforgiveness, attracting the same hurts or types of people into our lives, allowing the same unhealthy behaviors into our life, and reliving and re-experiencing the same emotional hurts again and again.

So I embarked on this course believing that this work would be of benefit to me as a healer and life coach when working with my clients. I am a pretty self-aware person and have done quite a bit of forgiveness work and wasn’t at Stage One but of course found I had more uncovering and releasing to do to let some old wounds heal. As someone who has completed previous work and guided clients on this topic, I thought I would share my perspectives on forgiveness after completing this course. I would also like to share some of my favorite messages from this course that may inspire you, a reader looking for more on this topic, or one of my clients who is starting to work on or just struggling with the task of forgiveness.

My Viewpoints on Forgiveness

I have always loved Oprah Winfrey’s definition of forgiveness:

“Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could have been any different.”

That I believe is at the heart of forgiveness. Letting go of the mental, physical, emotional and spiritual anguish and torture of thinking about why did this happen, how could this have happened to me, how would my life have turned out differently if this didn’t happen to me, how could have I prevented this, or why didn’t anyone help me, and so on..”. Those thoughts just deepen the pain we experience.
In the forgiveness course, Iyanla shared the Byron Katie principle that “to deny reality, is to create suffering”. Byron Katie’s book “Loving What Is” helps guide the reader, by sharing many examples we can relate to of how when we project our beliefs and ideas of how people and the world should work or how we were wronged or treated unfairly, we create suffering for ourselves. Instead we can choose to love what is and understand that other people have different values and different ways of viewing situations and the world than we do. What unnecessary struggle and pain we create when we deny who people or situations really are or were . This concept also ties into Oprah’s definition of forgiveness, that to not accept what happened or wish it would have happened differently, just creates suffering….for you. Not for the person or people who hurt you, but for you.

forgiveness quoteNow forgiveness work is not for the faint of heart. The C.S. Lewis quote above is so true. To do this work you need to be brutally honest with yourself and not deny the reality of what happened in your life, your role in things, your beliefs, judgments, and decisions that led you down your path. If we are just starting this work we may be in denial of what we experienced not wanting to label people in our life as “bad”. Often, we have a strong tendency to grasp tightly onto our hurts and upsets in our life, filled with a fear of letting go of them and also with a fear of facing them head on. We think that if we let go of our upsets that it will lessen or invalidate what we experienced; or, we think that if we are giving in and giving up our feelings and beliefs of being wronged, that we are somehow condoning what a person or people did to us. There is also an internal struggle with our ego – a perceived risk that we will have no idea who we are anymore if we let go of our hurts and upsets because we (our ego) defines ourselves so strongly by them . Why is it that we think by holding onto and defining ourselves by our hurts, waving it like a flag proudly, that it affects or has any impact on the people who hurt us? After they hurt us, they moved on, while we go on to continue with suffering from what happened and re-experience the hurt. We seek outside validation, sharing our story, feeding off of reactions and validation that what happened to us was horrible, gaining sympathy, or resonance. But what if instead you just released your story, took the lessons from it and saw how they molded you into the person you are today, this strong, resilient person (even if you don’t see that) who survived their past, and started living in the present as the you of today – not who you were yesterday. How exciting and freeing that would be to start to embrace life from a point of excitement of not knowing what was around the corner and being delighted rather than scared of that – trusting the Universe has positive things in store for you. What about just starting a new narrative of who you are now and throwing away that old story? Letting go of the negative emotions and energy that weigh you down and starting to feel the positive energy of life and emotions you’ve forgotten. Starting to see yourself in a loving and forgiving light instead of beating yourself up for your self-imposed shortcomings, limitations, or flaws or things you could have done differently.

healed_heart

Image from godguysandthegoodlife.blogspot.com

Forgiveness is clearly not about saying whatever happened to you was okay, acceptable, or right. People experience some horrific things in their life. It’s not about saying that you are alright with the people who hurt or wronged you. It’s about freeing yourself from old beliefs and judgments so you can start to let your wounds heal instead of keeping them open, and reopening them again and again, and experiencing those negative emotions again and again. It’s about seeing you can change by embarking on a healing journey of forgiveness and truly let your past be the past and seeing yourself and others in a new loving light. Starting to unclasp your hands from your story and open to just being present and just being you.

The process of forgiveness followed by Iyanla’s course allows the participant to review the upsets in their life and emotions with them, to forgive others and themselves for their part in the upsets, their judgements, beliefs, and to liberate themselves from their stories. It has a strong spiritual basis, which I love, including content from the Course of Miracles, and connecting with Spirit, shifting your energy, and trusting the Universe and your guides on your healing path. Much thought and effort went into the course content, format, videos and supporting materials provided in the online course. They definitely had some top-notch people working on the content and presentation. Taking the course, I was awed how I could accept the Buddhist concept that a thought is just a thought and can create suffering or eliminate it if you release it, but I never thought of major upsets in my life as simply thoughts that I could choose to let go of. What a liberating concept. I also love that there were six weeks dedicated to this concept and that it wasn’t glossed over. There is online access “forever” for this course, so for those who are just starting to scratch the surface, you could go back again and again and peel those layers of your “onion” (a great analogy for healing) and get more and more out of the process, as you develop and release on your healing path. Another amazing observation I  and friends or clients who took the course made is that upsets from totally different facets and times of our life, which seemed absolutely and completely unrelated, created the exact same emotional response – it was the exact same type of upset. Kudos to Iyanla and her team for creating such an invaluable healing tool. I know some of the concepts I’ve learned will be of great benefit to my clients and valuable additions to my daily spiritual routine.

A quote of great truth from the first lesson was that unforgiveness is an act of violence against yourself. That is not an exaggeration. It seems shocking but think about it. What does unforgiveness do to you, your heart, the way you see yourself and the world, and what mind space does it keep you in? Start working on forgiveness if you are holding onto hurts from the past, through a course like this, by reading a book (Iyanla has published a book on this topic), getting a forgiveness-based treatment (like a Reiki ties-that-bind session), or seeing a therapist or life coach to help you work through and release your upsets. This kind of work raises your frequency to a higher level so you can manifest more love, happiness, and peace in your life. You can start simply with just making it a daily practice to forgive those in your life and yourself for little daily annoyances or things that happened in your day so you start to learn that forgiveness really isn’t that hard and let the healing begin.


Guide to Being Grounded

Introduction

When I work with clients during a Reiki session and scan their bodies,  I often am often guided to their feet. Energy build-up in this area is a sign that they are spending too much time in their head and require grounding.  When I share this observation with clients, they will share how unhappy and stressful they are being trapped in their mind and thoughts and will often ask me what can I do to ground myself?

The practice of grounding ourselves means just that – getting out of our minds and back into our bodies. It brings us back into the present moment. It allows us to shut off the narrative of worry, fear, and doubt or other negative thoughts in our mind and just “be”.  Being present and grounded allows us to find peace and happiness and gratitude in the present moment – instead of being lost in past regrets or fear-based future forecasting.

Thich Nhat Hanh

Thich Nhat Hanh (Image from drivingpeace.com)

Image from Etsy.com

Image from Etsy.com

I remember when I saw Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh speak in Vancouver a couple of years ago during his “Open Mind, Open Heart” tour. He used a tree as analogy for the body and mind and to represent the idea of being grounded.  The essence of what he said was that when we are ungrounded and stuck in our head, lost in our mind and emotions, we feel like we are the leaves and branches of the tree getting blown around in a fierce wind. We feel fear, like things are out of control and that we might fly or break off the tree any second.  When we ground and connect with our body and are not lost in our mind, we realize we are like the trunk of the tree, safe and solid. When we move into our body, the solid trunk, from our mind, the waving branches and leaves, the fears or sadness in our mind, the feeling of panic and worry are dismissed, because when grounded we can see these are just thoughts we’ve created in our mind.   So you can make a conscious choice…do I want to be like the leaves and branches of the tree blowing around, lost in my mind thoughts and emotions, feeling unsafe, unprotected, and lost, or do I want to be the trunk, grounded, safe and solid and present.

During my sessions, if I sense a lack of grounding, I will perform Reiki to remove blockages and energies from this part of the body, which helps balance the mind. I also often receive guidance for what is best approach for that particular client to feel grounded. Today I’m going to share some general tips and thoughts on grounding, so you can give them a try and find what works best for you to help you stay grounded and in the present.

Activities that Help you Feel Grounded

Your Breath

Mantra to repeat while breathing deeply (by Thich Nhat Hanh; image from lightstaysretreats.com)

Mantra to repeat while breathing deeply (by Thich Nhat Hanh; image from lightstaysretreats.com)

Your breath is a simple and easy way to get you back in your body and to calm your mind.  Taking deep “belly” breaths will instantly calm and balance you.  Inhale through your nose and notice the sensation of the air traveling through your nose. Let the breath travel all the way down to your belly. When you breath out, audibly exhale and feel the air traveling all the way up from your belly out of your mouth.  Repeat ten times. If your mind is overdrive with negative stressful thoughts, you can adopt Thich Nhat Hanh’s approach of saying to yourself “breathing in, I calm body and mind” when you inhale, and “breathing out, I smile dwelling in the present moment” when you exhale. Repeating this mantra distracts and quiets your mind and allows you to focus on your breathing. You can simplify this mantra further and say “I breathe in, and I breathe out” if you like. Mantras are very effective at getting us out of our head and quieting our mind by repeating some simple and positive or neutral phrases.

Meditating

Meditating is a simple way to teach ourselves that we have the power to quiet our mind.  Rambling ongoing thoughts creating stress in our life are really just a habit we have formed. We can meditate and bring peace and quiet into our mind. Relax our body.  Then we can start to bring the peace we feel during a meditation session, into our everyday lives, little by little, until we reach a state where our mind just isn’t as active and “noisy”.  See my previous posts on meditating for more tips on starting a meditation practice.

Connecting with the Earth

Going for a walk or spending time in nature and focusing on other creatures around you that you share this planet with you helps ground you and feel connected and not isolated, alone, lost or separate. So if you’re on a forest walk, focus on really connecting to each piece of grass, each flower, each plant, each bird, each squirrel you see and pass by on your walk. Acknowledge them like you would a passing person. Don’t worry about naming what you see, just look and absorb, the colours, the textures, the sounds of the wind blowing through the leaves of the trees, the birds chirping.  Expand your senses.  Be one with nature. If you’re on a beach walk, connect with the birds you see, the rocks and stones on the beach, and the waves themselves as the go in and out.  A minute or two after you start your walk, you can stop for a minute and just close your eyes and feel your feet connecting with the earth and say to yourself “I connect with the earth, the sky, and the trees, flowers”..whatever is around you and sense your energy extending in the appropriate direction. Do this again just before the end of your walk. Being connected energetically to the earth and all of the creatures around you isn’t just a concept..it’s real. Immerse yourself in that and try to see if you can sense that energy connection. When we  spend time in nature, looking around us, up at the sky, across the ocean, or into the forest, it brings the sense the world is much bigger than the little bubble we live in and it allows us to gain some perspective on our problems and worries. It also brings a feeling of peace and serenity to us.

Using Crystals and other Tools to Ground Yourself

You may read different approaches on items or tools you can incorporate into your life to feel grounded. I personally recommend the use of crystals. They vibrate at the frequency of the earth, so when we wear or hold them, they change our energy vibration and help remove blockages. Hematite or black tourmaline are great crystals for grounding, but you can use whatever feels right for you (don’t get hung up on “rules” for crystals and follow your intuition).

Some people recommend eating root vegetables. I personally don’t find this helps for grounding with me, but I do think eating more plants/vegetables in general, which again come from the earth, helps raise your energy levels.  If you adopt a vegetarian diet you will feel your energy shift and you will feel lighter.

A Couple of Questions about Feeling Grounded

Here are a couple of FAQ I get from clients about grounding:

 How do I know when I’m grounded?

Sensation of energy you might feel while grounding (image from dianalarameee.ca)

Sensation of energy you might feel while grounding (image from dianalarameee.ca)

 

As someone who senses energy, I can tell you the physical sensation of being grounded is exactly what you would think it would feel like. If you close your eyes and tune in, you may feel  either energy coming down through your feet or up through your feet. The direction represents whether you need to let go of or release something (energy draining through your feet) or you need to take up something (like love or healing from the the earth). It’s like a magnetic pull through your feet. It can also be the same sensation but coming in or leaving through the top of your head from above.

On a mental/emotional level, when you are grounded you feel present and peace in the moment – no matter what you are experiencing. Your mind is quiet and your thoughts are serene and not panicked.

 

 

Do I need to walk in bare feet in nature in order to feel grounded?

It is just our logical mind that thinks that is necessary. Certainly, it may be more likely you may feel energy or it may

Visualizing being grounded to the earth (image from www.heartsongs-crystal-wands-crowns.com)

Visualizing being grounded to the earth (image from http://www.heartsongs-crystal-wands-crowns.com)

feel more palpably “real” for you if you do this.  However,  I can feel grounding energy coming up or down during sessions in my treatment room, which is located on the third floor of my building. Just ask for grounding energy, close your eyes, and picture your feet being the base of a tree with roots extending downward into the earth. In Vancouver, many of us don’t have homes with yards, but are in condos or apartments, so you can go to your local park and put your feet in the grass and see how it feels, or stand with your back against a big tree and see how it feels..then go home and try just visualizing being a tree with roots as described above.  You don’t want to create an obstacle in your mind to grounding..that I need these perfect conditions that are not always readily available to be grounded.  You want to be able to ground yourself anywhere, on the bus, in your office, at the gym, whenever you need it.

Closing

The secret is finding what works best for you in terms of grounding exercises…what works best for your best friend might not resonate with you.  So try the above exercises and go with whatever gives you that sensation of feeling grounded and quiets your mind.

I routinely see clients who I treat with grounding energy during a Reiki treatment and start to incorporate grounding practices into their daily routines start to shift out of this habit of being lost in negative thoughts and become happier and less stressed.  As you open to incorporating some grounding exercises into your daily routine, your mind will start to shift to a more peaceful state as you start to bring awareness to the habit of being in your head too much and bringing yourself into the present moment. You will feel less tired and stressed and enjoy the quiet of your mind.  Be positive about whatever efforts you are making and don’t judge how you performed. Just bringing awareness to this issue and trying counts! Being lost in our thoughts is only a habit and no matter how long you’ve “been that way” you can change it.

 

 


Embracing the Beauty Around You and Inside You

From backinskinnyjeans.com

From backinskinnyjeans.com

Sometimes when we get focused on our path of self-improvement, growth, and healing, we get lost in the process and the “work”. We forget that sometimes we need to let go of our “work” and just be present, and breathe and tune into the blessings and beauty around us.  My post this month is meant to encourage my clients to do just that.  To enjoy the increased peace, love, compassion and positivity their “work” has brought into themselves and their lives.  To spend some time just being in that place of awareness where we are really in touch with and can appreciate and take in the beauty within us, around us and in our lives.

Beauty can be found in the simplest of things and unexpected places.  It can be forgetting your troubles and watching children play in the park and tuning into the beauty of their freedom to just have fun, not censor themselves, experience life, and play (we forget that as adults). It can be going out and really savoring a great meal, soaking in the beauty of every bite and every sip and the care that someone took to prepare it. It can be going shopping and buying an item that you are in awe of the beauty of and can’t wait to wear, use, or display. It can be the angelic and beautiful people you encounter during difficult times in your life. Perhaps, you are going through cancer treatments and are touched by the beauty of the kindest and most compassionate nurses you can imagine – that people you don’t really know could be so caring. loving and feel for what you are going through. It can be waking up to your husband kissing you on the forehead when he’s leaving in the morning.  It can be laughing until you cry with a friend. It can be reading a beautiful story of how in a difficult time someone chose love. It can be watching a stranger being kind to someone in need..being selfless.

So as you go about your day, try to look at the world through eyes of appreciation and see the beauty that surrounds you..and notice it comes in all forms. Here are some images of things that inspire me by their beauty.

It could be flipping the page on your calendar and discovering an inspiring message (about beauty).

thich quote

The beauty and art in nature is all around us. Sometimes it’s fleeting. Like a big yet fragile blossom that really is at its peak for only a day or two.

IMG_20130512_161846

The beauty you see could be a cloud in the sky or tree that you see an image in.  This tree reminds me of an angel whenever I walk underneath it.

angel tree

It could be a simply wrapped chocolate bar you open that surprises you with the artistic beauty the chocolatier infused it with (this is from Schokolade – a local company).

chocolate bar

It could be a poem a friend shares with you bravely sharing their writing talent and thoughts (on this very topic).

vanessa poem

It could be an unexpected beautiful gift you receive in the mail…like a big box of Christmas baking from a relative who lives somewhere else and wants you to know you are loved and that they are thinking of you over the holidays.

aunts baking

It could be catching your cat snoring.

IMG_20130915_000327

It could be reading a post that touches your heart and reminds you that there can beauty during difficult times. Josie Maran, a former model who runs a natural  skin care and cosmetic company, has a weekly post profiling inspiring people and their stories …that are simply beautiful. Like this one on a father who has terminal cancer and is writing a love note to include in his daughter’s lunch everyday until she graduates from high school. http://http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fon.mash.to%2FMV7NNi&h=SAQGkeC4Senc=AZPyKsNJeLB6DMnqtKxNmdDiXAwPQFz2U5PtQ7tsKqGHgXlZmlcXCG1EgE0KUi37sCNj_W_W9OFApq3TTBLs4nTrvh8A1kvD0-UUCOnxF9LAZP4fPlMhuoDWr_eB3n0G14FMdShd-Ci3IkSqUktZDGHF&s=1

dad with love notes

It could be getting snapped out of your thoughts  and what you are doing when you look out the window and see the beauty in the sky at night ..and realization of how our world is much more expansive then the room we’re in.

night sky

So look out at the world and see all this beauty that surrounds you  and celebrate it. When we tune into the frequency of beauty, positivity, and light in the world, we feel that inside us and we can then share that beauty with others.

If anyone has something beautiful they’d like to share let me know and I’ll post it. 🙂


Letting Go of Worry

I have had seen so many clients this month that have been so overwhelmed with worry (and stress manifesting from that worry) that I felt it was a much-needed topic to talk about this month.  I will share some thoughts to help change your perspective on worry and also offer some practices you can try to let go of the habit of worrying.

First a confession. I used to be a consummate worrier. I’d fret about things in my mind constantly. What happened during the day, what was coming around the corner, and the “job” I was doing on all aspects of my life.  When I was done worrying about myself, then I worried about/for everyone else in my life. As someone who has gone from being a worrier to more of a “going with the flow” person, I can tell you that the effort is well worth it. I can remember when I really couldn’t understand what “go with the flow” meant, because I was such a control freak, but as you let go of controlling your life and world it will become more natural. Your life becomes more joyous, freer, exciting and alive when you let go of worry. You can see what you can influence in your life and what you have no control of, and let go of the things you don’t have control of and have faith.  You see no matter what your past, that your life can be different in the future, but more importantly also in the present moment.

Generally, most people believe worry and stress are a result of the world around us, spinning chaotically; in reality, worry and stress are a construct in our mind created by us for us.   The beauty in that is because it’s something we’ve created in our mind, it’s something we have the power to transform and let go of ourselves.

What is Your Worry Story?

Most people tend to worry about things in the present and future. The worry may or may not be about something that is actually present or manifested in the present-day.  Firstly, I think it’s important to recognize that worrying is a habit.  I came from a household of worriers so this was a habit I was taught as a child. Almost that worrying about someone is a way you show you love them. Worrying is a mental pattern we replay in our mind. The subject of the worry may change but the pattern is the same. We manipulate the subject of our worries in our mind. We create stories of what may happen with this subject of our worry in the future. Elaborate stories. We start with a story, we go back to it, add to it, make it worse, relive it over and over again in our day.  Never recognizing it’s a story, it’s a movie we are playing over and over again in our mind, that it doesn’t exist and that it’s creating stress for us, in our mind, body and spirit, and is making us feel powerless.  If we can take a few steps back and observe that we are creating and playing this movie, if we can be in the audience, watching ourselves and seeing this pattern, we can start to separate from our worry, our story, and start to see this is a construct of our mind…and with that start to let go of it.

Think of yourself when you go to a movie in the theatre. You get absorbed and immersed in the experience of what you’re watching – the sights, the sounds, the characters, and the story. It completely occupies your mind when you’re watching the movie.  Then the movie ends and you come back to yourself and walk away to your life. When we play these future scenarios filled with worry over and over again, we get immersed in the feelings those scenarios  create and get filled with stress.  If you can start to see your worries as a movie or story you’ve created, you can see that is a false reality you’ve created and start to let go of and walk away from these worries and this habit.

Secondly, and most of us recognize this, worrying doesn’t accomplish anything for us. It doesn’t create anything constructive. It just manifests stress in our body, mind and spirit and wears us down. It leaves us in a state of mind where we are waiting for the bad things we imagine in our minds to happen.  It also gravitates us towards the negative, so when we’re watching the news, or other media form we hear the stories that mesh with our worry scenarios. We think wow if that bad thing could happen to that person, it could happen to me too.  We attract fellow worriers into our life, where we go for coffee and end up in group worry sessions.  The felllow worriers confirm our worries are possible and even give us new scenarios to add in.  We leave those sessions feeling drained and even more stressed. It brings negative elements into our life.

How to Break the Worrying Habit

Now your next question may be okay I see the habit but how do I break it? With breaking any habit, the first important step is to observe and see the pattern. Once you bring that awareness to your habit, you can start to see it when you repeat it over and over again. “There I go again”.  Then, when you observe yourself enacting your habit of worry, you can start to replace that stressful habit with something that calms you.  For example, you can see the worry, stop it, then practice some meditative breathing – taking a deep breath through your nose, down to your belly, holding it for a couple of seconds, and then breathing out. You can repeat some positive affirmations to calm and reassure yourself telling yourself  in the present “I am safe, I am okay, I am healing, I am calm, I am loved” (pick whatever works for you).  You can picture whatever you are worrying about and let it go into the air like a balloon or throw it in the garbage like some refuse you don’t want to carry around anymore.  If it’s a physical issue that causes worry, you can visualize sending a soft healing pink light to that area of your body with your in-breath and breathing out grey coloured smoke, representing your worry about your health, with your out breath. With health problems, you may also find it helpful to regardless of what diagnoses you may have received, to visualize your body renewing, as all cells and parts of our body do, and coming back in a healthy state; reminding yourself that all diagnoses have uncertainty and limitations associated with them and that your body has natural healing abilities. You use these techniques to calm and clear your mind. For more ideas on ways to calm yourself, see my blog on finding peace and serenity in your life https://justbreathereiki.com/2012/07/23/finding-peace-and-serenity-in-your-life/ . By replacing your stress-inducing worry habit with something that calms you, you start to teach yourself that you can move from that stressed place to a calm place in an instant. This teaches you that state of mind is easily transformed and unnecessary. You will naturally be attracted to this calmer state of mind and start to incorporate practices, like those detailed in my blog noted above, to help calm yourself. You will become a lighter, calmer, less-stressed and more in the moment person.

Many worriers tend to be control freaks.  We think if we worry enough about something there might be some way for us to figure out how to control it. That maybe through these stories or scenarios we create we may find a solution.  We tend to forget we are not in control of the world. We may either try to control the world or think we should be able to but we can’t. Know the one thing you have control over is you and your thoughts and perspective.  So let go of the thought that if you worry enough about something you might be able to control what happens.  Trust that whatever happens is for the best and whatever is around the corner will be wonderful.  Start to let go of the wheel and trust that your life is divinely guided. Shift your focus from the things you worry about to the things you can be grateful about and to being loving and compassionate, with yourself and others.  When we focus on worry and other negative things or scenarios we can attract that energy into our future. So shift your focus on something positive. When you are thinking of the future, think of positive things or that you can’t even imagine the amazing possibilities out there and leave your future as a blank slate of wonderful.

On that note if you tend to focus your worry on the future, you need to see that it’s your ego that likes to keep you out of the present moment. You can stop your habit of future forecasting of this is going to happen, then this terrible thing will happen by thinking of a more positive future.  The uncontrollable snowball of the horrible things around the corner becomes a pleasant meandering boat ride into the future where you are a passenger.  What if you let go of the future forecasting and instead imagine there may be some exciting and wonderful things waiting for you around the corner. That life around the corner might be amazing and realizing that your life in the present might be amazing but you’re so lost in the future that you wouldn’t even realize it.  Replace the habit of imagining stressful happenings in the future with imagining lovely things, even lovelier than you can imagine.

Worry truly is a ride we take ourselves on.  We can get off that ride at any moment and bring ourselves into the present moment into a state of calm and trust. Breaking the worry habit is something you have to try out and experience first hand to “get it”. That this worry is just a passing state of mind that I can eliminate and let go of in an instant. It doesn’t mean we don’t ever worry about anything ever again, but it means that we don’t become engrossed in worries. We become aware of this habit and when it starts to arise again, we nip it in the bud, so it doesn’t overwhelm and overtake our sense of well-being. Give it a try to become a calmer and happier being.


Finding Peace and Serenity in Your Life

Adding peace and serenity to your life is an easy thing to do and it will reward you in many ways: better emotional, mental, spiritual, and physical health, better relationships, making better decisions at work and in your personal life, performing better and being more creative and free at work, being more fun, joyful and more present…and many other ways that might surprise you. Just think simply – who am I and how do I feel when I am peaceful and when I’m stressed?  If you bring more of the peaceful you in your life, how will you and your day-to-day life  change? If you think about times when you haven’t been at your best, maybe  you’ve said something you’ve regretted or snapped at someone, made a decision in haste,  times you’ve forgotten to do something you’d promised you would.. have those things even happened when you’ve been feeling peaceful and serene or when you’ve been stressed and rushed??? Maybe your health has been suffering from being stressed – manifesting in physical, mental and emotional symptoms.  It’s time to make relaxing and destressing a priority – put the oxygen mask on yourself first and so you can take care of others later!

If you’re reading this and thinking, “I don’t have time for that..that’s for other people who aren’t as busy…I wish..you don’t have my life”. Then this post is the perfect thing for you to read – because you need to schedule some time for you to destress and relax. Finding time for peace and serenity in your life is definitely not a selfish act. Taking time for this benefits your relationships with your spouse/partner, children, family, friends, everyone around you; it also benefits your career – your job performance and creativity and ability to interact effectively with your coworkers.  Most importantly,  it benefits you directly –  your body, your mind, emotions and spirit will be rebalanced and healthier and you’ll be happier and more joyful.   Reducing stress can add years to your life and greatly improve the quality of your day-to-day life.

So how can you add peace and serenity to your life??  It’s about making time, even if it’s only for 5 minutes, to breathe deeply, relax, connect with yourself, empty your mind of worry, fear, of what you have to do, and do something you love and that relaxes you.  For me, now that it’s summer, before bed,  I love sitting under the stars at night on my balcony with some twinkle lights on, burning some coconut incense, sipping some tea and looking up at the trees, the stars, my plants lit up.  It completely relaxes me and clears my mind of the day.  On rainy days, I get out for a walk in a local park and enjoy the peaceful sounds of the rain falling on the trees, birds chirping, the lush plants and the humid earthy smells of the temperate rainforest…check out the slugs on the ground in front of me, a baby squirrel in the tree.

There are lots of ways to add these peaceful moments to your life:

  • Relaxing with Sounds  – Maybe it’s finding time in your work day to shut your office door and listen to some classical, nature sounds, or music that moves you for 5 minutes and resting your eyes.  There are many timers (http://www.reikifun.com/free-meditation-time) and apps that you can find online to give yourself a timed break so you can just relax and stop when the bell goes off.
  • Relaxing with Touch – Try going for a massage to destress.   I give Indian head massages to people to relax and destress and you can use some of the techniques I use on yourself.   One thing people love during the massage is getting their face massaged – we hold so much stress in our faces.  Try spending a minute or two squeezing your eyebrows with your fingers moving outwards to your temples.  This will instantly relax you. Another thing people love during the head massage is getting their temples massaged with peppermint oil – which instantly awakes you and helps relieve headaches.   Get a portable rollerball with some peppermint oil (you can buy one at the Body Shop, Aveda, or any aromatherapy store) and roll it on your temples – the peppermint feels great and the roller gives you a mini-massage.
  • Relaxing with Nature – go for a walk on a tree-lined street or local park and connect with the nature around you.  Take some deep breaths, focus on the trees and plants around you as you walk and their beauty, listen to the sounds of the birds chirping, watch for animals scurrying around or birds flying. If you are walking by water enjoy the sound of the water moving or waves coming in.  Just appreciating the natural beauty around you makes you relax and gives you perspective.
  • Relaxing through Movement  – Adding some movement to your day can help you release and work off stress.  Going for a walk when you’re stressed during lunch or a coffee break is a great way to destress. Just walking away from your desk and a situation for a few minutes gives you space and perspective on your situation and whatever you’re working on.  Maybe you can go for a vigorous run in the evening and listen to some inspiring music.   Perhaps incorporate doing some stretches during your workday to let the tension you hold in your body release.
  • Relaxing with Yourself – Just try sitting in silence for a few minutes.  Connect with how you’re feeling and take some deep breaths.  Become present and quiet your thoughts. Try meditating by just focusing on your breath as it goes in and out and the sensation in your body.
  • Relaxing with Other Pleasures – Maybe it’s sending the kids to bed early and reading a fun, guilty pleasure book in bed or having a bath with some candles.  Just choose pleasures that aren’t terribly addictive and doing you more harm than good (like emotional eating or gambling..)

Planning for your time for peace and serenity provides an important message to yourself: “I”m planning this for me because I am are worthy of some peace and serenity in your life and adding this to my life makes me a better person”.  At first you might find it strange to say “hey I’m going for a walk/shutting my door for 5 minutes/going to bed early”  if you’re not used to taking time to take care of yourself..but that will pass and you’ll notice that people notice the difference in you.  Maybe you’re just smiling more and easier going. Maybe you don’t react in the same way or can laugh at yourself more.  The more moments you add in your day like this..the more peaceful and serene you’ll become.  You might even want to share your special time with a friend, family member, child, spouse sometimes so they can enjoy and experience peace and serenity with you (but it’s best if you do this as a solo activity most of the time so you can turn off your mind and relax). So give it a try…the only thing you have to lose is stress.