“You know? I’m just not feeling the way I should be feeling at Christmas time this year. I can see it all around me, but I’m not connected to it at all.”
Joe’s tone of voice caught my attention, and I looked across the restaurant table at him. For my heartful, sweet and deeply optimistic partner, this was the closest he’s been to seeming depressed. Although Christmas means very different things to each of us, I, too, was struggling to feel connected—not just to the season, but to my own sense of openness and engagement with the world. I nodded in silent agreement, feeling my mood slip further.
And in that moment, when I dipped my toe into the pool of despair on whose banks I’d been standing since the presidential election, my heart responded with inspired resistance.
“What if we’re meant to respond to this feeling of disconnection?” I asked. “Many others are feeling it too.”
So many people are feeling afraid, angry, and betrayed by this election, and that December those feelings were still so new and raw. The energy field around all of us was, and still is, pulsing with it. With a shock, I realized that my subconscious and energetic self-defense response had been to shut it all out, to begin to shut down connection to those feelings. But in the process, I was shutting everything else out as well. “You can’t selectively numb emotions,” Brene Brown teaches us in The Power of Vulnerability.
The disconnection from joy that I was experiencing is a personal wound that also wounds us collectively and politically. It is through the gaping hole of our disconnection from life that tyranny and fascism can be insidiously implanted, like a parasite that thrives within an already unhealthy body.
To build our spiritual immune system, we must stand for our beliefs from the point of intersection between that which the world needs and that which brings us joy and allows us to express our true selves. As a Reiki practitioner, therefore, resistance for me began with offering what I knew, what I love, to anyone who needed it. Joe and I decided to put out an open offer of distance Reiki sessions (Reiki sent to someone at a distance rather than in person) to anyone who was feeling overwhelmed or disconnected for any reason. It was a spontaneous decision made out of love for ourselves and others that profoundly changed us and brought us back into alignment with our purpose, our community and our joy. It strengthened our spiritual immune system so that we could jump out of despair and back into the flow of life—with all the uncertainty and difficulty of today—with a strong and confident stroke.
If you, too, are struggling to understand how you are meant to respond to all that is occurring in the world at this time, how you are meant to engage from the lens of joyfulness and authentic self, I wish to share what I learned when we gifted twenty one Reiki sessions in fifteen days, to anyone who asked, to anyone who said they were struggling.
1. The creative innovation that comes when you step out of routine:
Joe and I have been doing Reiki, separately and in our own ways, for a long time. We have our preferred ways of working, our established routines that grew out of the different training we receive and our own development of the work. Routines that are effective for us, but that in ways we didn’t even see, limited us in touching more of the vast possibilities that exist with energy work.
Within the first two of these twenty one sessions, we knew we needed to find a different way to work. In essence, we needed to be more closely aligned with each other energetically as a team, and we needed to be more creative in our approach to the widely varying intentions and needs that people brought to us.
And so, on our third session together, we decided to toss out much of our routine ways of working, and open ourselves entirely to the unique moment of each session, of each soul we interacted with. This break from routine, and openness to the moment, blew open a creative spirit that neither of us had experienced in our Reiki practice for some time. The innovations that arose from that spirit were joyful to discover, and have become deeply valuable aspects of our practice moving forward.
What aspects of your work have become routine? And in what ways can you step outside of that routine and open yourself to creative flow?
2. When you let go of the need to always be compensated with money, the Universe finds more important ways to compensate you:
I have to confess that, even in the midst of my inspiration to make this offering, there was a somewhat loud and bossy voice inside me that lectured me on the folly of giving away for free something for which I normally charge money. After all, I am working hard on establishing HeartScapes so that my passion and my vocation can fully intersect. For that, I need this work to become fully income generating. The fear that it might not creates a scarcity mentality that actually works against my goal of freedom and sustainability. For when we narrowly define what it means to be compensated for our work, focusing only on monetary compensation, we cut ourselves off from equally (or even more) valuable forms of reciprocity that the Universe and our sisters and brothers in this world can provide.
Here are the things Joe and I received as divine reciprocity for those twenty one gifts of Reiki:
- A greatly expanded understanding of, and fluency with, distance Reiki as a method; and a rapid expansion of our skills in this area;
- Profound connection with the recipients of these gifts, and priceless feedback from them validating our experience;
- Deeper relationship with our Reiki guides, spirit helpers whose purpose in our lives is to help us do this work;
- An increased confidence in, and excitement about, our work together;
- The ability to make this work accessible to anyone who needed it;
- By casting a wide net beyond our current circle of colleagues and friends, we made connections with people that go beyond Reiki and are even now beginning to take root in other realms of our lives.
All of these gifts, I now find, were worth more than the money I may have collected for Reiki sessions. That is not to say that money is not important, it is just to say that it is not the only important thing. This lesson sank in so deeply for me, that I incorporated into HeartScapes’ services a free monthly wellness offering to organizations that are engaged in social justice work of any kind. If you are connected to a social justice organization or group whose members could use a moment of rest and loving kindness, learn more and register here.
Where in your life and practice might you be able to innovate the forms of compensation you receive? How might that change the way you do your work?
3. Open yourself to people you don't think you can:
The thing about casting wide an open call is that you don’t know exactly who will respond. We were overwhelmed with the response we received, and in some cases surprised. People who I never would have expected to be open to Reiki, or to reach out for help with difficult emotions, raised their hands and said, “Yes, please!” I had the opportunity to face some of the biases I carry with me. It was a humbling and painful gift to see the ways in which I can close myself off to the experience of serving people. To then be embraced and acknowledged, to open my heart and hands, was a deeply healing experience for me that I am grateful for. This was an invitation to me, which I extend to you, to continue to do the internal work necessary to uncover deeper layers of my own immunities to change and barriers to connection. And connection is why we’re here, Brene Brown reminds us. “It’s how we’re neurobiologically wired.”
Are you ready to release your own barriers to connection?
4. Find the song you are meant to sing:
The first time I felt an urgent call to respond to the political happenings of the day was at the outset of the Bush administration’s Iraq war. I was politicized hard and fast after 9/11, and spent those years in fervent opposition to the administration, to the wars and to anyone who disagreed with me. I was dogmatic and self-righteous, even cruel in my dealings with those on the right. Deep down this was not aligned with who I am, but for a long time I was unaware of the deep spiritual and emotional injury I was inflicting on myself by acting out the anger and fear I felt all around me. I was singing a song that was not mine, and it burned me out entirely. And when I burned out, I withdrew from all of it, walked away from fighting for what I believed, not because my beliefs had changed, but because I was caught in a response to them that was entirely misaligned with who I am.
I allowed this misalignment because my view of resistance was too narrow. I could not see any way to sing my own song in a way that would help the political movement I believed in. My song is to make art, to sit quietly with people in pain, to meditate, to connect with nature. But I believed these things were not enough in the scheme of war and injustice. The paradox is that, yes, it's not enough. AND, it's exactly perfect and whole. Those whose souls are naturally aligned with political organizing, protest, debate, policy work, advocacy, investigative journalism and other critical roles, absolutely need support. They need others to hold space for their pain, provide moments of rest and renewal through meditation and energy work, to create art that inspires and refills the imagination, to walk with them through nature. I am meant to create those spaces for you, so that you can be whole and well and strong in doing what your soul is meant to do.
What does your soul answer when you ask, "What am I meant to do?" Each of us must find the specific song we are meant to sing, or perhaps the specific melody we are to add to the song we are all singing.
And so, for Christmas 2016, Joe and I gave ourselves the gift of vulnerability, opening to the pain inside and around us with an offering of love and connection. In doing so, I found a deeper level of intersection between that which the world needs, and that which makes me come alive. I found my song of authentic resistance.
**If you are seeking your own authentic response to the world, please join me for one or more of the SoulCollage® series “We Were Made For These Times.”