The Secret to Inner Peace? Turn Off Your Phone and Take a Walk

walking

By Anya Light

 

We live in an age of paradox. On the one hand, we have at our fingertips more information than ever before. We are connected through social media. We have the power to spread our message to the far ends of the globe with a single click of a key. Wow! So incredible!

 

And yet…we are also more disconnected than ever before. When you observe people walking down the street, what do you see? Most likely, you will see many people with their eyes cast downward at their phone. When you stand in line at a grocery store, what do you see? People on their tablets and smartphones. People not speaking with each other. People not noticing their surroundings. Each person in their own little private bubble.

 

OUR PHYSICAL BODIES ARE AWESOME!

 

For a few years now, I have wondered if I was a curmudgeon. I have noticed these changes in people, and it makes me sad. I’ve often asked myself: Do I hate technology?

 

The answer is no, however. It is simply that part of my life’s work, my healing work with humanity, is to encourage people bring awareness back into their sacred body. I am a kind of counterbalance to the intense mania our society is experiencing with regards to technology. I am the voice of harmony. A whisper to peace.

 

People often ask me: What is the secret of happiness? What is the secret of inner peace? While I by no means claim to dwell in these states 24/7, I will say that I have done some very persistent and often challenging work to understand and occupy these states quite intimately. In my life now there are more peaceful days than stressful days. There are more happy days than sad.

 

In my healing work, I’m continually reminding people about our basic human needs for hugs, touch, tactile sensation, deep expression of emotion, quality verbal communication, and the infinite spiritual growth that can be perceived through our physical vessel. Our bodies are awesome!

 

An overuse of technology, however, is causing many to increasingly lose touch with their inner body-awareness and with their face-to-face social skills. Recent studies have shown, for example, an increase in social anxiety among plugged-in students and adolescents.

 

In my own life, I have witnessed an increase over the years of colleagues, family, and friends seemingly losing their social skills. For example, when they attempt to initiate in-depth, highly emotional conversations via text message. These are situations that are, in my opinion, totally inappropriate to the flat medium of text messaging. For example, a new potential lover broaches the topic of whether we will take our relationship to the next level via text. What?? Seriously?? In order to have a conversation about a significant “big” matter, we need to be able to have all the tools at our disposal, a range of bodily input: we both need to see body language, the emotion in the eyes, and we need to have the possibility of a hug or an encouraging pat on the hand available. Using a flat screen to communicate is a severely limited medium.

 

SOME TIPS FOR REGAINING BALANCE

 

No, I’m not a luddite. In fact, I love technology! I adore and treasure my Macbook. I appreciate my GPS. I am grateful for the power of Google to answer any factual question I dream up. I appreciate the fact that the blog you are reading right now is an amazing tool that helps me spread my words to folks in Pakistan, Romania, Poland, Finland, Mexico, England, China. I love the fact that I have friends and colleagues all over the world. However, I temper that appreciation by making sure I have a balance of plugged-in and unplugged time. I don’t go overboard.

 

Here are three of examples of how I maintain this balance in my life.

 

The ringer on my phone is perpetually set to “off.” Some people think this is insane, but I think it’s the one of the things keeping me sane! The only exception to this rule is that I will leave my phone on if I know in advance that I am going to receive a call at a specific time.

Keeping my ringer off allows me to gain focus and concentration throughout my day. If my eyes and ears were continually drawn to my phone with every beep and whistle, how could I sustain any sort of momentum or flow in my daily tasks?

 

I take at least one day per week to be totally unplugged. On these days, I put my laptop away in the closet. I turn off my phone and put it in a drawer. Out of sight, out of mind.

During these unplugged days, I focus on embodied tasks: cleaning my home, flossing, exercising, inviting a friend over for tea, preparing an intricate dinner with my own two hands, baking bread. I dance in my living room. I bend into yoga shapes. I breathe. I take a walk out in my neighborhood and smile at my neighbors. I make conversation and eye contact. I breathe. I look at the sky. I look at the birds. I feel the precious Earth under my feet.

 

I make sure to exercise every day. On the days when I am plugged in, I make sure to move my body as much as possible, and I limit the time I spend sitting at my desk staring at my monitor. As an Aries with an abundance of fire energy, this is vitally important to my wellbeing—however, any person can benefit from this, whether you have fire in your astrological chart or not.

If we sit motionless for too long and stare at screens all day, there are life force energies inside our bodies that become stagnant. This breeds stress, anxiety, and illness. We need to remember to move our bodies to keep the energy flowing. With a flowing energy, we are open to life, and we can more easily perceive the sacredness of each moment. We can feel peace.

 

MEDITATION AS DAILY LIFE

 

Meditation means to be present in the actions of everyday life. It means to feel our breath. It means to feel the movement in our limbs and the sensations in our face. Sometimes it means laughing and sometimes it means crying. It means having an awareness of the pains and discomforts we sometimes feel. It means feeling the sheer joy of being alive, of being contained as consciousness within this beautiful physical vessel.

 

Meditation comes in so many different forms. Yes, seated meditation is wonderful, but equally wonderful is movement meditation. Yoga is a powerful form of this, but there are so many other ways we can do it that don’t necessarily involve a teacher or having to pay money.

 

What is a secret to peace? It’s as simple as making the conscious choice to bring a balance between enjoying our screens and enjoying our bodies and the physical world around us.

 

Dear friend, make the choice to unhook yourself—at least a little bit every day—from the persuasive pull of technology. Come back into your beautiful body and come back into communion with the beautiful physical world. Put your phone down. Go outside and take a walk. Say “good morning” to your neighbor. Ask them about their day. Stop and smile at a squirrel. Be in your body. Be in your beautiful life.

 

 

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How to Heal Your Panic Attacks

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By Anya Light

 

It is easy to heal panic attacks once you understand what a panic attack truly is.
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A panic attack is simply a message from the universe. It is a wake-up call.
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The next time you feel panic coming on, if you can remember the words I’m writing to you here, I assure you that the feeling of panic will begin to dissipate.
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I am here to tell you that you can heal your panic attacks, permanently and completely!
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Before I share the details of how to heal, please know that I deeply empathize with what you’ve been going through. I struggled with panic attacks for over a decade, stemming from a long battle with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I have now reached the point in my life where I no longer have panic attacks.
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So, my friends, what is a panic attack?
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Well, on a surface level, a panic attack appears to us as a seeming loss of bodily and mental control: rapid heart rate, sweating, weakness, dizziness, nausea, shaking, unexplainable feelings of paranoia and impending doom, racing thoughts, and a wish to retreat from others and hide in a cave.
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Panic attacks feel awful and scary. They make us feel like we are our own worst enemy—like we can’t even trust our own bodies or our own minds.
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It’s a feeling of total distrust. It is fear and horror.
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But what is a panic attack, really? What is a panic attack at the deepest level?
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Dear friends, a panic attack is a message. It is an invitation from the universe to go deeper into ourselves.

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Quite simply, a panic attack is the universe’s way of saying:
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Dear one, it is time for you to come back into your body.
Dear one, it is time for you to come back into your body.
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Yes, my friend, it is indeed time for you to come back into your body. That is why you have been drawn to this article. You have reached the point where you are ready to heal.
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Panic attacks happen when our spirit (some people also call this “soul” or “life spark”) has been living primarily outside of our body for a period of time, and the pressure has built up. When the pressure builds to a certain extent, the universe brings us a panic attack, so that we are forced to retreat from the company of others and go be alone. It is through this aloneness that we begin to feel ourselves, from the inside, for the first time in a long while—or perhaps for the first time in our lives.
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A panic attack signals we have lost our mind-body connection.
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A panic attack reminds us to bring mindfulness into our lives.
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Through the seemingly “negative” experience of a panic attack, we are forced to bring our attention inward to the body.

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Even though it seems negative, a panic attack is actually a good thing, because it forces a moment of mindfulness. Even though it feels scary, we are suddenly paying a lot of attention to our body’s physical sensations. We are noticing our rapid heartbeat. We are noticing our fast and shaky breath. We are noticing our dry mouth and queasy stomach. We are noticing the weakness in our limbs. We are noticing all these different sensations.
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It is the sheer act of noticing that begins to heal the disconnection from our bodies.
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Perhaps, at first, it may seem nonsensical to hear that your spirit has not been fully living inside your body. How is that possible, you ask? If I have been alive and walking around, how have I not been in it?
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Well, if you have experienced any form of abuse, trauma, chronic illness, or severe pain in your life, there is a good chance that your spirit (the indwelling spark that is uniquely you) has felt very unsafe and has tried to protect itself by not fully occupying your physical vessel. You have been, instead, hovering near and around your body. You have been near your body, but not often fully in it.
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Another scenario that can provoke the spirit fleeing the body is our genetic or karmic histories. If you have suffered in an extreme way in a past lifetime—or if your genetic heritage includes extreme trauma such as war or violence, and those core wounds have not yet been healed—then those past energetic wounds have led you to not feel safe enough to fully occupy your body. Genetic and karmic histories explain why some people who’ve had easy, pleasant, or even wonderfully pampered life experiences still have unexplainable anxiety and panic attacks.
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Another reason why you may not have felt safe inside your body is that you are an empath or a naturally gifted intuitive, but you were raised in an environment where your gifts were suppressed rather than nurtured. Thus, when you were a child, you unconsciously shut down certain chakras and partially fled your body.
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There are many, many reasons why we don’t feel safe in our bodies. Your reason(s) may be one of the ones I just listed, or it may be totally unique to you.
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Regardless of the reason, however, the point to understand is this: if you’ve been experiencing panic attacks, then, most assuredly, for some reason or another, your spirit has not been fully dwelling inside your body. In other words, your mind-body connection has been severed.
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So, how do we move forward?
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What does it mean to fully occupy the body?
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To be firmly rooted in the body is to have attention focused into the body consistently and at various intervals throughout the day. This is what mindfulness is all about: feeling the sensations of our bodies without mental judgments or mental labeling.
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To be firmly rooted in the body is to feel you are truly safe there, to feel that it is your home.

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When a panic attack strikes—or if you feel anxiety building—you can prevent a panic attack, and you can heal your anxiety. Simply take a few deep, slow breaths and say the following mantra yourself:
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I am safe to come back into my body.
I am safe, here, inside my body.
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And, then, simply look down at your body. Notice your hands and feet, your legs. Notice your arms and torso. Gaze at your body while breathing slowly. Bring your attention to all the various sensations within your body: the aches, the pains, the shivers, the tingles, everything. Imagine in your mind’s eye that your soul is entering your body and fully occupying it. Imagine that you are taking up residence there, inside your body, and that it is fully safe to do so.
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Our culture teaches us to neglect our body. It teaches us to poison ourselves with unhealthy foods and unhealthy lifestyles. Our culture teaches us that what others say or think about us is more valuable than what we feel within.
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Our mainstream culture is a fear-based culture. It wants to enslave us with thoughts of lack, competition, scarcity, and violence. No wonder we have panic attacks! It can feel pretty scary living on this planet right now. Even if we did not experience any major abuse in our childhood, all of us were raised on a planet where there are some people who starve to death while some people live in mansions. That is emotional abuse, plain and simple. And this emotional harshness affects us deeply and creates lasting (often subconscious) feelings that it is not safe to be here in our bodies here on planet Earth.
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All of us, to some extent, leave our bodies from time to time. We get carried away in daydreams. We sit in front of the computer for hours at a time and lose all connection with our breath and the sensations in our limbs. We stay indoors watching television and forget to go out into the rivers and forests for exercise and deep replenishment.
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We all get disconnected from time to time; we all get disembodied from time to time.
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So, when a person has a panic attack, it is a very clear and loud wake up call from the universe.
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Yes, panic feels frightening; it feels awful, yes—but that’s only the universe doing its best to grab our attention.
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My friend, you are being protected and cared for by the universe.

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Because of your panic attacks, you are reading this article and pondering deeply about what it means to be a human being and what it means to be alive in a body. These are deep issues. These are issues that not everyone has the courage to explore.

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And while this may seem odd to hear, I want to congratulate you for reaching this stage of your evolutionary journey. You have now thoroughly explored the land of anxiety and panic, learned all its corners and routes and territories, and now you are ready to emerge from it: deeper, wiser.
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Eventually, you will grow so confident in the fact that panic attacks are a past issue that you will feel an urge to share your wisdom with others. You will teach. You will help humanity heal.
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Thank you for being you, and blessings on your journey back into the body.
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Many thanks to the awesome folks at elephant journal, who also published this article.

Yoga Mats, Spirituality, and the “Mundane”

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By Anya Light

 

Yoga doesn’t have to be complicated. We can practice yoga in a simple, barebones fashion. We can go minimalist: with nothing but the green grass under our feet, the blue sky over our heads, and the inner wisdom of our heart to guide us.

 

Yoga is simple. Nevertheless, it sometimes can be super exciting to discover resources that open up new dimensions to the practice.

 

 

FINDING YOUR SOULMATE YOGA MAT

 

Lately I’ve been thinking about yoga mats. Because my hands and feet sweat super easily, the yoga mat I currently own (which I picked up for a few bucks at a grocery store) is not that wonderful. It’s a piece of crap, actually. I need better traction. It’s frustrating trying to hold downward dog correctly when my hands are slip-sliding all over the place!

 

Recently, the Universe magically brought me into a lovely email exchange with Jericka Lambourne, writer and researcher over at Reviews.com. And I discovered her recent geek-fest with yoga mats.

 

Seriously, someone should give this woman a PhD in Yoga Mats! She spent over fifty hours testing over thirty different mats in various temperatures and conditions, such as carpet and hardwood floor; interviewing yoga teachers and studio owners; and researching the technology and history of various brands.

 

If a yoga mat is on your Christmas list this year, I recommend checking out Jericka’s research. It’s pretty cool.

 

 

THE FALSE DISTINCTION BETWEEN SPIRITUALITY AND THE MUNDANE

 

Why the heck am I talking about yoga mats?

 

Am I getting distracted from more “spiritual” topics?

 

As you know, my friends, spirituality is my life. It’s what I eat, breathe, drink. It’s the reason I was able to heal myself from life-threatening chronic illnesses and dig myself out of the holes of PTSD and suicidal depression. However, I also have learned that some so-called spiritual teachings, spiritual teachers, and spiritual paths don’t always lead to the most fulfilling places. The spiritual landscape is not perfect here on this Earth. After some rather disheartening experiences, I am now quite vigilant about spotting fake gurus, false “feel good” materialistic teachings, and other detours. I’ve been fooled in the past and I don’t want to be fooled again.

 

With that having been said, I do believe there is a lovely balance that can be struck.

 

Too often in our spiritual journey we make the distinction between the mundane and the spiritual. Between the material and the spiritual. Real life versus everything else. Consensus reality versus higher ideals. 3D versus higher consciousness. And yet what does this categorizing really accomplish? Does it truly help us?

 

Sometimes these mental distinctions can actually get in the way of living our lives in the most authentic way possible. Sometimes these categorizations can actually block us from experiencing flow and harmony.

 

I honor and deeply appreciate how external “things” can often aid in the enjoyment of life. A shiny new outfit can bring a burst of confidence during a job interview. A new knife can bring an added sense of ease and harmony to the cooking process. A new pillow made with organic materials can bring higher vibrational dreams. Crystals in the home can serve to protect and rejuvenate empathic people. A quality yoga mat can help us hold certain postures more effectively, more deeply.

 

Is it materialistic to want a new yoga mat? No, not unless such a wanting takes over and becomes a compulsive obsession. Is it materialistic to want money or intimate relationships? No, not unless such preferences take you away from the enjoying the present moment of exactly where and how you are now.

 

 

THE AWESOMENESS OF EVERYDAY LIFE

 

In my view, the objects of “everyday life” can certainly be enjoyed, relished, and savored—with mindfulness.

 

Perhaps this is more of an advanced lesson than some would like. That’s okay. If what feels right to you at this time is shunning the entire monetary system altogether and making a beeline for the nearest commune, monastery or cave, that’s okay. But if you are where I am, maybe the thing for you to do is to strike that oh-so-delicate balance between “the mundane” and “the spiritual.”

 

When we think about the worth or value of an object like a yoga mat, we must remember that objects are not just objects…they are more. Every plant, animal, mineral, person, and supposedly “inanimate” object is made up of chiti (a Sanskrit term meaning consciousness). Everything is alive. Indigenous cultures have known this forever, and if you’ve ever participated in a plant medicine ceremony or a shamanic journey, you’ll have had direct experience with this truth.

 

Every part of the Universe, from the tiniest atom to the brightest star, is a living reflection of the Divine Source. Everything is God.

 

While it is certainly good to avoid being trapped by the shallow mindsets of our overly-materialist mainstream society, it can be just as detrimental to remain ignorant of the power that objects have to affect our consciousness. We are all energy. Each thing has life, a vibrational force that subtly (or greatly) affects us. For example: if we fail to take care of our possessions and allow our home to become dirty, dusty, and cluttered, we will feel this as a certain subtle heaviness in our daily lives, a certain sadness or dullness. If, on the other hand, we take care of our living environment with regular tidiness and cleaning, then there will be more flow, order, and peace in our daily lives.

 

The external is the internal; the internal is the external.

 

All is one.

 

Everything is spiritual.

 

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The Moment of Surrender

baby-1151351_960_720

 

I am the quiet

 

the end of your quiet day

 

I am the noisy

 

the end of your noisy day

 

I am the noisy

I am the quiet

 

The end of your day

 

 

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I Am

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I am the robin

the vulture

 

I am

princess

pirate

rebel and square

 

I am never

always loved

 

yin and yang

bad and better

 

castle of forgetting

and valley of forever

 

I am

dream in the streaming clouds

 

and

sparrow in the grass

 

 

I am, I am, I am

 

 

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Amma

 

Mata_Amritanandamayi

In morning

She rises

To the sound of water

 

In evening

Her repose

Is the clear light of day

 

(and

always always

the innumerable Hum:

of

I AM

flooding her brain)

 

 

One morning, though,

there will be no rising…

One morning, though,

No clear light of day.

 

One morning

One morning

Her children will instantly (somehow) know:

Ah, she has dropped the body.

Ah, the butterfly soul!

 

 

Oh dear sweet mother,

how long are your days with us?

Oh dear sweet Amma,

how long can your hands hold?

A New Way of Using the Reiki Symbols

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When I first opened my Reiki studio, I believed that the Reiki symbols were tools for healing clients.

During my training, for example, my mentors had taught me that the purification symbol (Sei He Ki) was meant to be drawn atop a client’s body, helping them to detoxify their organs or cleanse “negative” energy from their aura.

As I continued my learning journey, however, I realized something extremely important.

Reiki symbols are most powerful when they are used by the practitioner—for only the practitioner.

Back when I began my practice, I had a lot of sadness when clients would come to me with their various woes. I showed sympathy, which may have soothed their egos…but, ultimately, my sessions were not that effective at a core, soul level.

Now when I work with clients in session, things are different. My objective is to see them in all of their Divine purity, strength, light, and perfection. My aim is to see them as already healed. As already brilliantly glowing with high-vibrational energy and free-flowing bliss.

I see what is underneath all the drama. I see my client’s soul.

To put it simply: their issue or “problem” does not exist to me.

This is compassion at the deepest level.

This is healing at the deepest level.

Of course, if my clients feel the need to voice their struggles or heartaches prior to the session—that is fine. I will listen with all my being. Yet, once a session begins, I become a pure channel for the energy and all their stories disappear. All their woes and disease vanish. When this energy is flowing, I see only a Divine Being in front of me, already whole and healthy.

I teach my Level 2 students that one of the most important things they can do during a session is to view their client as already perfectly healed. (Acknowledging during the session that there is anything imperfect about them is a subtle reinforcement of the reasons for them coming to the session in the first place.)

We, Reiki healers, are truly masters of manifestation! And we do this manifestation most strongly when we see others as already healed.

When working with another person (or animal, or plant, or whatever), I recommend you visualize their body as brilliantly radiating with golden light. Visualize them as happy, smiling, energized, joyful, blissful, free. Visualize their prosperity, with money in the bank and money overflowing their wallets. Visualize happy relationships for them. Visualize wisdom flowing to them from the Divine. Visualize them skipping through a field or running on a beach. Visualize them laughing with joy. Gaze at their face and see an angel. See the utter beauty in their ankles and toes and every strand of hair. Worship them as perfect.

In this fashion, we have no reason to use a purification symbol (or any other symbol) on them during a healing session. (Note: An attunement is a different story. If you are a Reiki Master giving attunements, yes you will of course place the symbols in your student’s aura.)

So, if we are not using the symbols on the clients, what exactly is going on during a session?

During the session, there are three main things that are happening:

  1. We simply enjoy viewing the client in all their majestic glory!
  2. We allow our ego to step back and allow the Light to effortlessly flow through us. We breathe, we are present, and we watch the wonders unfold as a witness.
  3. We monitor our own mental/emotional state and keep it as high-vibrational as possible by using the symbols on ourselves, as needed. For example, we would use the Cho Ku Rei when we are feeling a bit tired or doubtful. Or we would use the Hon Sha Ze Sho Nen to help facilitate connecting to the Light during a long-distance session.

The Reiki symbols are very good for helping us as practitioners to gain extra faith, clarity, power, peace, and relaxation.

They can be spontaneously used to center, ground, and focus our mind. They are wonderful for manifesting the internal states we desire during a session. When I use the Sei He Ki, for example, I choose to think of it as a relaxation technique, rather than thinking there is any “dark” or “negative” energy that needs to be purified.

Even if you were taught to use symbols on clients, it is very easy to make the switch.

It only took me a few weeks to get the hang of the new way—and now I cannot even imagine going back!

I see that my practice has gained tremendous strength since making this transition to using the symbols on only myself. I see more miracles. I feel more joyful and happy now that there is nothing “dark” or “ill” to release from my clients. I genuinely enjoy the process of healing sessions more.

And I am now, more than ever before, allowing the Divine to use me as a vessel where only the eyes of Love exist.

 

Funny Yoga

yoga adriene

Lately I’ve been reflecting on my yoga journey. I’ve come to some cool realizations.

One of the things I’ve realized is this: Yoga is always always awesome, but it can be even more awesome when we have wonderful teachers to guide us.

Today I’d like to tell you about one of my humble yoga guides.

Her name is Adriene.

(Note: In case you were wondering, this is not a paid endorsement; I am simply passing along my enthusiasm.)

 

YOGA WITH ADRIENE

On the spiritual path of yoga, it can be all-too-easy to fall into the trap of Mr. or Ms. Serious Pants. We can forget that the practice is meant to bring ease, joy, and even bliss.

During the past year, I’ve fallen absolutely in love with the Yoga with Adriene on Youtube.

What I love about Adriene is the incredible unique light she shines! She makes puns! She talks about farts! Her dog makes random cameos. Her wacky, oddball, irreverent brand of humor is perfect for me, making me laugh and helping me get out of my head.

When we are laughing, we simply cannot be stressed!

Laughter literally brings us right into the present moment.

I love Adriene. She is the Cosmic Clown in my living room, ready at a moment’s notice, helping me smile and breathe from one asana to the next.

For many years, I have tried many, many yoga teachers on Youtube, but have never found a teacher that really stuck with me. I always found in-person teachers far superior.

But now I am hooked on Adriene. I actually haven’t paid money to attend a yoga class in months.

Adriene’s become my yoga pal. Her adorable, encouraging voice is now permanently stuck in my head. “Find what feels good” is her mantra, and that is so wonderful for me, a person who has only recently learn to love her body after a long battle with trauma and chronic illness. For me, it’s imperative I find what feels good and to make my daily yoga “discipline” full of pleasure and lighthearted joy.

And I love Adriene for more than just her humor. Her routines are always unique, fresh, intuitive, and easy to follow. Furthermore, she is simply a master at perfectly describing body placement with her voice so her viewers can stay present with their bodies and keep their eyes off the screen. It’s wonderful. How online yoga should be.

Hands down, she is the best online teacher I’ve ever found. I would bet that someone with absolutely no yoga experience could watch one of her beginner classes and actually begin a solid home practice. (In fact, I invite my readers to watch one of her videos and tell me what you think in the comments below! I want to hear about your experience with Adriene!)

While my beautiful teacher doesn’t dive too deeply into the more esoteric aspects of yoga, such as Sanskrit, kundalini awakening, chakras, or spiritual enlightenment, what she does bring to the table is exactly what I need on those rather stressful days when I have accidentally become Ms. Serious Pants.

Her vibrant, fun energy is a perfect reminder for someone like me (who tends to take life wayyyyy too seriously) to Lighten Up!

Find what feels good!