Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Inspirational Yogis

I am so inspired by our chair yogis. 
All of these kind-hearted folks have come to our Tuesday morning Chair Yoga class because, for some reason or another, they are uncomfortable with getting up and down for work on the floor.  So we practice either sitting in chairs or standing beside them.  We work together to find ways to modify the poses for reconstructed hips, tender shoulders, and arthritic ankles, using the ties and the bricks and the chairs.

Today we sang "Happy Birthday" to Esta, who just turned 87.  She says, "You hurt as much if you stay home than if you come out, so you may as well come out."  Her philosophy: "Just keep moving." And she feels better at the end of class having worked out some of the kinks.

One of the most common reasons I hear for not trying yoga is "I'm not flexible enough."  Fortunately,  we don't begin with perfection in yoga.  You just start where your own feet are today, whether you are 87, just feel 87, or you want to be like Esta when you're 87.  

Today we watched the cardinals in the garden as we practiced our tree poses.  The crocuses are up and I'm happy we have this morning class. We enjoy sharing this morning of peacefulness and camaraderie, encouraging each other for the week ahead of us.

I hope that you all keep moving, that you decide to come out anyway and just start where you are today. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Ashes to Ashes

I don't really go out dancing very much anymore - especially not on a Tuesday night.  But last night was Mardi Gras and I met a few friends for drinks where my friend's band was playing classic rock with a few New Orleans tunes thrown in for the holiday.  We had fun, people watching, singing loudly, and we even got up and danced for a couple of songs.  I left feeling happy, glad I didn't just hit the couch and grab the remote.

That mid-week merriment means that today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, the day of making a sacrifice that will remind you over the next 40 days of the suffering of Christ.  Lent was never part of my childhood tradition.  My Fundamentalist upbringing avoided doing anything that might be Catholic, so we never did ashes or Lent or even candles during worship.  My young observation of Lent was that the Catholics went out for seafood on Friday night.  I couldn't figure out how lobster related to Jesus. As I grew older, Lent seemed to be a bit like a renewal of failed New Year's Resolutions: I'm giving up candy, or soda, coffee, wine, fried foods.... Most sacrifices seemed dietary.

But considering how much I enjoyed just an hour and a half of fun with friends last night, I've decided to give up not making time to enjoy life. I'm sure, like all vows, I'll have lapses where I'm working all day, on the weekends, crowding out space for joy.  I'm going to count on my children and my friends to remind me - even if I do have to schedule it on the calendar weeks in advance.

But fortunately, joy doesn't have to be time consuming. I can find simple moments of joy when I release myself - even momentarily - from the tension that arises from expectations: expectations about the helpfulness & motivation of my children, expectations about my productivity, expectations about my body. Not that I won't nag or write lists or eat cake, but for Lent, I am giving up my attachment to expectations of perfection. I will breathe deeply, letting my exhale blow those expectations away.  I am an imperfectionist.  Much easier than it's opposite. 

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Karuna® Reiki

Saturday, I completed level 1 & 2 of Karuna® Reiki. It was an all day class, surrounded by 8 other Reiki Masters.  It was an amazing experience.  Reiki is a Japanese healing technique discovered by Dr. Mikao Usui, a seeker of the healing ability that Jesus passed on to his disciples.  Dr. Usui felt that Jesus would not have passed on this ability to folks on earth if He did not want it to continue, so he made it his life mission to discover what happened to it.  After many moons of searching.. and fasting on Mount Kurama, he had a divine enlightenment and became a powerful healer, legendary in Japan.

I have been a Traditional Usui/Tibetan Reiki Master Teacher for a few years now.  That means that I have been attuned to 4 degrees of Reiki, attaining the highest level of the Usui practice, given the ability to attune and teach others, in addition to being taught Tibetan style Reiki for teaching purposes.  I have been amazed at the miracles I have witnessed in my Reiki journey, never having dreamt of some of the things I have seen.  I am astonished at watching the changes Reiki has created in my students lives and feel supremely blessed to have been given such a gift.

Karuna® Reiki is a system developed by William Rand, a Usui Reiki Master/Teacher who felt led to explore beyond Usui Reiki.  When I first heard of it, I felt it was just a gimmick, just a way for Rand to make money, something made up for when students were finished the attunement process.  I felt that the Usui lineage was pure, the healing perfect, why try and improve upon perfection? But when a class became available in my area, I was intrigued.  I'm a learning nut, perhaps I needed to continue on... why rest on my laurels if there was a possibility of continuing to refine myself? Maybe I was being too judgmental.. or maybe Rand was just crazy.  I waffled back and forth, even posting on facebook to get advice from my buddies, who were all united in the feeling of what did I have to lose? (except a couple hundred bucks LOL)

The long and short of it is: it's amazing. Karuna® is referred to as the Reiki of compassion since it uses symbols from other traditions representing peace, love and wisdom. Karuna is a sanskrit word meaning compassion.  All Reiki works with symbols, sort of a way to really focus your intentions quickly.  Think of drawing a heart in the air.. instantly you feel love, it's a conditioned response.  In Reiki, our symbols condition us to hone in on what our client needs.  In traditional Usui Reiki, there are 3 symbols in level II,  a master symbol in level III and 3 more in the teacher level.  Each time you are attuned to a symbol, it raises the vibration of your energy a bit more. On Saturday, I was attuned to 8, that's right, 8 more symbols.  Lordy.  All in one day.  Each one really refines the original Usui 3.  They are not meant to replace Usui, in fact, they are quite an enhancement.  Usui symbols sort of remind me of the Christian tradition of Father, Son, Holy Spirit.  Karuna® reminds me of  the Hindu tradition of different gods for different purposes, Karuna® is love, peace, wisdom, grounding, etc. Together they create a full circle of healing.

We had a Reiki Share today that was so wonderful. Our Healers got the opportunity to work on some new brave souls who had never tried Reiki before. They got to work on each other. Everyone was exclaiming all day about how powerful the energy was today, even more so than usual.  What they didn't know was that before they got there I had infused the room with both Usui and Karuna® symbols. I think this is going to be a wonderful addition to our practice.

Now if I could just figure out how to shorten my "title".  Traditional Usui/Tibetan Reiki Master Teacher &  Karuna® Healer seems a bit excessive, don't you think? :)

Love & Peace coming your way...