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Thursday, December 06, 2007

Reiki, stress, and the holidays

"It's the most wonderful time of the year..."

Or so claims the incessant holiday music that fills the air in December, along with equally incessant pressure to buy, buy, buy -- for your loved ones, for yourself, and of course for the economy. Gifts can be a nice way to keep the energy flowing, but holidays aren't just about presents. They're about something far more important: presence. We gather together for the holidays, with people we love and with people we might not get along with so well.

The month of December gives us a year's worth of opportunities to answer the question, "So what are you doing these days?" Each time we have the opportunity to say, "I practice Reiki." Or not. I still remember one somewhat distant family member's reaction a couple of years ago when I explained that I practiced natural healing arts. "I don't believe in natural healing," he declared. Thanks in part to my Reiki training, I just smiled and stifled the urge to reply by asking, "So you only believe in unnatural healing?"

Fortunately Reiki does not require belief on the part of either practitioner or recipient. That's one reason it's practiced by people of all faiths, and even agnostics and atheists. So whatever holidays you may celebrate this time of year, Reiki can help make them more enjoyable for all.

Even if your family happens to be conflict-free, you may run into holiday stress while shopping, traveling, or at work.

Holidays, like emergencies, are a time when ordinary rules are broken, regular routines suspended. They're also very busy times. But it's important to hang on to at least one regular routine: your Reiki practice. Maybe you can't devote as much time or energy to your meditations and self-care during the holidays, but don't just suspend your practice. Modify it or abbreviate it if you must, but keep on keeping yourself grounded and balanced.

Holidays also mean high expectations, and unrealistic ones at that: our culture tells us we're supposed to be happy, and make other people happy, this time of year, so when we or our loved ones feel something other than happy, we're disappointed.

When frustration, disappointment, or other negative emotions cloud your holiday celebration, Reiki can help. Here's how:

Remember the precepts. If you stay humbly in the present, avoiding anger and worry, your presence will be a gift to yourself and the people around you. The Times of India had a nice article about the Reiki precepts headlined, "Invite Happiness Into Your Daily Life" just the other day.

Breathe. Use the Reiki breathing technique of your choice, or simply breathe slowly and deeply into your hara center (also known as the tanden) -- your lower abdomen.

Use your counseling skills. If you're a professional Reiki practitioner, you should have learned counseling skills as part of your training. If you didn't get that from the person who taught you Reiki, find another teacher to help you learn how to listen effectively, mirroring your client and reflecting their words back to them. Everyone will enjoy your company all the more, and keeping the focus on others may help you avoid any awkward questions about you.

For more Reiki-related ways to deal with holiday stress, check out this column in the Norwalk, Connecticut, Advocate by Reiki practitioner Kimberly K. Kristoff, and these handy hints from the Herald-News in suburban Chicago, headlined, "Let there be peace during the holidays, and let it begin with you.".

Reiki shows up in a couple of other holiday-related stories this week -- in Berryville, Virginia, a Reiki center won a prize for decorating a parking meter as a "Spirit of Christmas" tree. Back in suburban Chicago, animals got a chance to receive Reiki when "Santa Paws" and "Mrs. Claws" visited a local animal shelter. And in Nevada City, California, a local Reiki practitioner is literally painting the town for the holidays.

Before we move on to the rest of our bountiful Reiki Roundup, let's meet this week's Celeb-Reikies. First up is a second-time Celeb-Reiki, Agyness Deyn, Britain's new Model of the Year, who got her unusually spelled stage name from her mother, a Reiki practitioner. Our other Celeb-Reiki this week is award-winning Welsh poet (and Reiki practitioner) Mab Jones.

On to the Reiki Roundup. We begin this week in a spa, because Spa Finder has identified wellness treatments, including Reiki, as one of the Top Ten Spa Trends to Watch in 2008.

Next stop: Jerusalem, Israel, where Reiki is among the treatments offered to domestic violence victims.

In Lewis County, Washington, The Chronicle features an article about Reiki with some surprising information -- according to the article, Reiki is performed with "a brown fleece-type covering and a rounded pillow" and "Reiki schools don't exist in the U.S." -- that may come as a surprise to those of us who use other types of blankets for our clients, and other shapes of pillows, not to mention those of us who learned Reiki in schools or other formal group educational settings.

In Buxton, Warwickshire, in the U.K., Reiki is among the modalities being offered to firefighters and other first responders who survived a deadly warehouse fire that claimed the lives of four firefighters.

In India, Reiki gets a mention in a Hindu Business Line article headlined, "The seven pursuits of consumer India."

And in Bismarck, North Dakota, Reiki makes the television news, complete with online video, featuring a practitioner who works in Hawaii but is in North Dakota to teach Reiki at a local college.

Next week: Reiki-related gifts

In two weeks: The Carnival is coming! The Reiki Digest hosts the Carnival of Healing to finish off the year.


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