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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Facing the illusions of fear

Featured Practitioner: Deb Karpek, Reiki Master/Teacher
Franklin, Wisconsin

"You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do." -- Eleanor Roosevelt
By Deb Karpek

One of the things I love about Reiki is how it leads me to be my best and highest self. It does this in ways I’m not even aware of. I’m always surprised and delighted to see how it has gently, yet powerfully helped me to heal.

Recently I took the online class offered by The Reiki Digest. I’d been yearning for some training and one day The Reiki Digest appeared in my mailbox. I don’t remember signing up for it but there it was! I loved the weekly messages. When I saw the article about classes I was intrigued. It seemed to be exactly what I was looking for.

However, I saw that it was on a Tuesday night and realized I couldn’t participate, as I have a volunteer commitment on that night that I could not miss. Still, I inquired. When I found out I could participate by listening to a recording of the class I signed up. I couldn’t wait to get started!

The class was everything I could ask for and more. I learned some new things, but more importantly I learned things I knew in a different and deeper way. I understood. One of my challenges as a Reiki Teacher is I don’t always understand what I teach. It’s more like I am reciting it, but not owning it. This class gave me that understanding and also the confidence I was lacking. I realized I did know more than I thought but my fear was holding me back.

Another benefit of the class for me was the validation I received. Many of the things I believed about Reiki were discussed in this class, things I had felt strongly about but had never talked about with anyone before. Again, it increased my confidence.

At the end of the class I was happy to discover that I not only passed the test but I aced it! I can’t even remember the last time I took a test and was so nervous! As I was setting up the final phone conversation for the class the teacher asked me if there was anything I’d like to discuss on the call. I responded with the first thing that came to my mind, something I had not shared with anyone until this point.

This is what I wrote to her:

What I think I need the most help with is being comfortable with being a full time Reiki practitioner/teacher. I quit my job in Feb 08 to devote myself full time to teaching and practicing Reiki. I do ok but get caught up in the fear and lack mentality. Then I want to run back to the "real world' of work and do Reiki on the side. I KNOW that's not what I want but it seems to be a self sabotaging habit I engage in. I've been very fortunate to have a great space to work in, get teaching gigs on a regular basis and have a steady client base, so it's my MIND that is the problem. :)

In our phone conversation the teacher suggested I write about my fears and forms of self sabotage. At first I thought, “Are you crazy?. Why on earth would I share my insecurity, my self sabotage, my vulnerability? And then I thought “why not?”. Writing about it will help me to better understand it and hopefully it will help others struggling with the same issues.

I am extremely fortunate to be able to practice and teach Reiki full time. I started my practice in 2005 while working part time, and in February of 2008 I took the plunge and left the “real world” behind, ready to focus on Reiki. My practice was growing and I could no longer do both. It was time.

Almost since I started taking Reiki classes I’ve been building my Reiki business, even if I didn’t realize it at the time. After I received my Level 1 attunement I bought a table and began practicing on friends, family and co-workers. I loved the feel of the energy and wanted to learn as much as I could.

Even thought I never consciously planned on creating a business I’ve been fortunate that everything sort of fell into place, at exactly the time I was ready. With a few exceptions it’s been a smooth transition from that first year of practice to the full time practice that I now enjoy.

And how I love Reiki! I get to work with interesting clients and I feel that I am really able to help them learn to heal themselves. I found I am a natural teacher and am fortunate to be able to teach in a variety of venues. It is both fun and fulfilling.

So why, every so often do I feel that I want out? Why do I have this need to run away? Why do I experience this fear?

Every so often I start looking for a “real job”. I decide that I don’t like being self employed. I give myself all sorts of reasons. Too many hours, working nights and weekends take me away from my family. I’ve had a hard time getting used to being paid daily versus the weekly corporate paycheck. I start to focus on this, and use it as an excuse to go back to work. And while I focus on this I know it is not true. I am earning a good living practicing and teaching.

Excuses. These are all excuses, fueled by fear.

Fear of what exactly? I’m just beginning to figure this out. It was suggested to me that wanting to return to the corporate world was a way of feeling safe again. A way to engage in work where I have a level of competence I am comfortable with. A world that is predictable and where I know I will succeed. Similar to eating fried chicken – a comfort thing! So very true!

Other fears are emerging. Fear of the unknown. I remember when I started this path I would hear in my mind “be comfortable with ambiguity”. I never knew what this meant and it’s only now that I’m beginning to understand what it means in my world. I was a meeting and conference planner in my former job. I planned ahead. I knew what to expect. Things were black and white.

Not any more! Now I live day to day, in the moment. Reiki gives me the opportunity to practice mindfulness. Think about when you are doing Reiki. You are completely in the moment, tuned in to what is happening right then and now. You are not planning ahead or thinking about yesterday. You are there.

This mindfulness extends into other aspects of my life. The quite time of mediation, walking in the woods and yoga all bring me to a new level of thinking. Things bubble up. These things are not always pleasant and peaceful. My shadow self appears and wants healing. My usual MO is to bolt. Leave! Walk away! It used to be so much easier to tuck those thoughts back in. Now they are front and center. It’s time to acknowledge them, release them, let them go with love. Show myself some compassion and forgiveness.

Instead I get scared and want to run! It was so much easier back then I think. I’m going back to work, to a world I know! A world where I’m too busy to think. A world where my head is full of other things so I don’t need to deal with this!

Another thing I tend to find fault with is the marketing aspect of Reiki. I get scared when I have to go to networking meetings, health fairs, classes and other areas I participate in to grow my practice. It feels as if I’m always walking uphill, trying to convince people to come to Reiki.

Yet, this too is an illusion, created by fear. The truth is that I love talking about Reiki, I love introducing people to Reiki. I especially love sharing how Reiki has changed my life in so many positive ways. I love to educate others in the healing aspects of Reiki, especially the newbies, those who have never heard of Reiki. I remember back to when I discovered it and how I was just a sponge wanting to know as much as I could!

The fear stems from my insecurities. When I let my ego and personality get in the way I start to worry. I worry that people won’t like me, will think badly of me. It really challenges my people pleasing tendencies. If someone is not sure about Reiki or if it does not resonate with them I take it personally. Now I KNOW it has nothing to do with me, but at times my emotions take over.

It also speaks to my fear of public speaking and being around groups of people I do not know. Prior to my involvement with Reiki I preferred to be in the background. Now I’m putting myself out there, teaching, educating, guiding others.

Another thing that sends me running to the want ads is cancellations and changed appointments. This seems to come in clumps. Last week I had 3 cancellations and a number of people requesting changed appointments. This drives me crazy! I planned my week! Now they are wrecking it! This is how it begins, with frustration. It quickly segues into fear as I focus on lost wages for the week and the open ended time.

Again, this is an illusion. Time is such a gift and cancellations afford me time! I can do desk work, go for a walk, take a nap, write, mediate. Why not focus on the more positive aspects of it? As far as the lost income I have found the cancelled client almost always reschedules or a new client pops up. It’s my fear of lost wages, not the reality. I need to focus more on this.

And for all of those folks who are turned off by Reiki there are a hundred more who love it and are willing to try it. For all of those mistakes I’ve made with clients and students who might walk away with a bad taste in their mouth about me or Reiki, there are many, many more who have gotten what they needed. I have to remember that I always do my best and that’s all I can do. Keep my ego and personality out of it. Not everyone is going to like me or what I do. This was a reality in the corporate world and it’s a reality in the Reiki world. It’s something I need to deal with. It’s an opportunity for healing and growth.

Isn’t it amazing how Reiki works? Things I need healed that I’ve prayed about and asked for healing for now show up in my daily life. Reiki is leading me to my best and highest self. Reiki is helping me to shed my people pleasing tendancies to gain the confidence to speak in front of others, to “put myself out there”. It’s helping me to learn to love all parts of myself, to feel that I am worthy to help others. It’s changing my relationship with money and with how I view what I do.

I have found that when I am at my best, when I can lose the self consciousness and just be myself, without worrying about what others think is when things flow. When I am not focusing on lack I flourish. Instead of fearing being a “teacher” I think of it as sharing what I love, honestly and enthusiastically. Energy doesn’t lie – it comes through fresh and real this way.

I had another aha moment while pondering these fears. One of the things I miss about the corporate world is the community, the energy, the feeling of camaraderie with like minded souls. The mindful world of Reiki is quite and meditative. As an extrovert I tell myself that I miss the energy of the workplace, the creative ways I engaged my brain. I tell myself this is a good reason to go back: community and creativity.

After meditating about this I realized that I DID miss community and creativity, but going back to the workplace wasn’t the only way to fill this void. I had a huge AHA moment and realized that a lot of my restlessness WAS due to not being in balance. In the upstart years of my Reiki practice it was all I focused on. There was no balance. I consumed myself with all things Reiki. While this is not such a bad thing (!) I realized I had neglected many other aspects of my life. I was seriously out of whack. I longed for the old days because I was longing for something I no longer had: balance.

I realized in that moment that I love what I do. I love teaching an practicing Reiki. I am so blessed to be able to earn a living at this. This is my job. This is my real world. This is not just something I am trying out. This is my new life. It is my challenge now to overcome those fears that have prevented me from enjoying it fully. Now that I am aware of my self sabotaging behaviors I can work to heal them.

To that end I did a couple of things to bring balance back to my life. I joined a gym, enrolled in a writing class and committed to a number of spiritual psychology classes, something I’ve wanted to do for years. It is also my goal to not only offer Reiki shares, but to participate, where I can meet new Reiki friends.

All of these endeavors will certainly take me out of my comfort zone. I may want to run back to the “real world” as my issues arise, but now I am aware that this is an illusion based on my fear. It is not real. It is not something I need to act on, rather understand what it means and continue to move forward. This is the healing power of Reiki – helping us get to that place of love, where we are free. I am so very grateful to have it in my life. Onward!


Blogger Grace said...

Right in girlfriend!!! Thanks for sharing from the heart. Look forward to the next article!

6:10 PM  
Anonymous Kim said...

Such an honest look at the fears that hold us back from doing the the things we truly love. Deb's "lesson" can apply to all types of creativity and dreams that we set aside so we can live in the "real world" -- whatever that is!

5:17 PM  
Anonymous Mary Rettig said...

Great post for I can identify. It's nice to know I am not alone. We all face fear but as stated we do not have to run from it.

12:13 AM  

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