Waiting to Exhale: What Reiki Taught Me
By: Shannon Green
I laid there on the massage table in a small room fully dressed and belly up. To my left was the altar adorned with crystals and soft lights. The wall at the foot of the table held up 3 affirmations, beautifully framed. To my right, there were colorful tapestries that you could get lost in. Finally, at the head of the table, a young woman telling me to close my eyes and gently placing her warm hands on the crown of my head.
I have to admit. I walked into my first Reiki session with zero expectations or prior knowledge. I waited until after to do a little digging. I learned that Reiki is a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing. The practitioner places their hands in a series of places on your body, generally associated with specific chakras, to facilitate healing and the allocation of energy. Did that sounds confusing to you? Okay, cool...me too! I can read all day and night and still be confused about what Reiki is and how it works. The best way to learn about it, is to experience it for yourself and take what you need from it.
I was feeling stuck in life before my first session. As the young woman told me to close my eyes and placed her hands on the crown of my head, I got a heavy feeling in my chest. I was highly aware of my breathing and I noticed that my lungs never fully expanded. My breaths were shallow at best. I took more control and forced myself to take more quality breaths. The area that she laid her hands on was associated with the crown chakra, a chakra linked to serenity, joy, and deep peace about life. I wouldn’t say that I’m unhappy. I experience happiness everyday. But Serenity? Joy? Peace? I haven’t felt that in a while.
The other place where I felt a lot of activity was when she laid her hand on my back, in the ‘solar plexus’ chakra. I felt a sense of heaviness in my ribs and chest and took keen notice of my breathing again. The ‘solar plexus’ chakra rules our consciousness of decision, creative expression, personal power, will and autonomy. While discussing my experience with her, she took notice of my attention to my breath and heaviness in my chest. She asked me a question that shook me. “Do you feel like you’ve been holding your breath in life?” I’ve been at this crossroad where I feel like I’m sitting still. Waiting. Stuck. Literally holding my breath. I’ve started a small company and I’m grinding while holding my breath and waiting for it to grow. I still have a full time job where I feel undervalued and I’ve been holding my breath while waiting on my shot at a promotion. I’ve been financially responsible for my family while my husband completes his PhD and I’ve been holding my breath waiting for him to finish. Even the best swimmers can’t hold their breath as long as I have. I constantly felt like I lacked autonomy and personal power.
This constant state of not breathing has been a thief of joy and peace in my life. I did not learn this from merely laying on the table and experiencing Reiki; I learned this by paying attention to my body during the session, giving the practitioner feedback on what I experienced, listening to her interpretation, and being honest with how I’ve been unknowingly living in the future. Though my body is here in the present, my mind was constantly in a future place where I assume I’ll be more happy. I was missing out on the joys of the present.
The next steps were to come up with a plan to help me focus more on the here and now while still working toward the future. Some of these we came up with in the session, while some of them I came up with upon more reflection.
Write it all down. Sometimes one of the best ways to get out of my own head is to put it all on paper. I can find a blank page and freestyle, follow the prompts of a guided journal, and/or incorporate a gratitude journal.
Speaking of gratitude, the best way to kick moments of anxiety and uncertainty in the butt is to practice gratitude. People who experience real joy practice gratitude. While thinking about the future, I forget about how far I’ve come and all of the beautiful things I have going on right now.
Create a reminder. Being present can be really difficult and sometimes I need a nudge. The same type of nudge we give ourselves when we notice our minds wandering during meditation and reel our thoughts back to the present. Some people like to use a sticky note or literal reminders/alarms on their phones. Those are both great options that I like to one-up with a diffuser bracelet. I use my favorite essential oil on the diffusing beads and I remember my goal and the peace I’m striving for every time my bracelet wafts past my face.
I’d be a liar if I said my ambition or anxiety will never get the best of me again. I’m not even sure how to work toward a goal without thinking about it. But, I do know that I’d be doing myself a disservice by letting the future consume me and missing out on right now. The woman who performed my Reiki is Nya Wilson, founder of Dialogue Nyne, LLC. She is based in Brooklyn and can be reached via email (Nya@dialoguenyne.com) or instagram (@dialogue.nyne).
Until next time,
About the Author
Shannon is the Founder and CEO of Welstand Boutique, a website dedicated to promoting proactive wellness through blogs and free resources. She also creates natural products for the mind, body, and spirit for Welstand’s online shop. She enjoys spending time with her husband and toddler, traveling, trying new foods, and watching way too much TV. Her guilty pleasures are ice cream and all things Beyonce. You can follow her on instagram @WelstandBoutique or shoot her an email to say “hey!” at: firstname.lastname@example.org