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Why work is so exhausting. March 27, 2014

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“It is not so much work that tires us, but ego-driven work. When we are selfishly involved, we cannot help worrying, we cannot help getting overly concerned about our success or failure. The preoccupation with results makes us tense, and our anxiety exhausts us.”

—Sri Eknath Easwaran, Words to Live By

What Sri Eknath is discussing here is results-driven work, which is pretty much the only kind there is here in the U.S. Everything depends on how well we perform, on success, on getting a great performance review. Work for its own sake is inconceivable (unless you’re a researcher working on a no-strings grant). And yet, how incredibly liberating it is to simply follow Usui Founder’s Reiki Principle (aka Precept, Ideal) to “Work hard” and let the results take care of themselves! To forget about “how am ‘I’ doing” and simply lose yourself in the doing is incredibly freeing. Time, stress, and worry drop away, which makes it much easier to follow another of Usui Founder’s Principles, “Don’t worry.”

Just for today, work hard and don’t worry.

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The little things. March 25, 2014

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Yesterday, I was finally able to get a haircut. Nothing fancy, just an inch off the bottom, but it had been four months since my last cut and my hair was looking scraggly and tired. With the extra weight and stressed hair off, it bounced up and looked full and alive again. I knew this would be the case, so why did I wait so long?

Well, because my car has been trapped in an ice floe in our parking square for four months. My partner Rob has repeatedly tried to jump it, but with our freak subzero temperatures, it wouldn’t hold a charge, especially since I couldn’t actually drive it, and this despite my attempts (when the ice didn’t make it too hazardous to climb the slope to the parking square) to run the engine every day. In effect, I’ve been imprisoned in the house for four months, getting out on Saturdays when the weather permitted to run errands with Rob and try to stock up on groceries for the week.

I work from home, so this isn’t as bad as it sounds. It also isn’t as bad as it sounds because my home is full of wonderful things, things I love to look at and read and listen to, not to mention our beloved pets. But I’ve never experienced this level of isolation before, and to make matters worse, a couple of weeks ago my computer stopped allowing me to send e-mail messages, though it still allowed me to read incoming e-mails. (God willing, I’ll be able to haul it to the computer wizards this week.)

Encased in snow and ice, cut off from the world, it’s been a still, silent time. I’ve tried to view it as a retreat, a time to deepen my Reiki practice. After all, I’ve had what I needed, and companionship when Rob returned from work. But I’ve never been so happy to see the return of spring, to hope to have the choice of whether to stay in or venture out (assuming we can finally get my car going). And oh, the joy of finally getting that haircut!

Just for today, be grateful for the little things.

Not taboo. March 24, 2014

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“Sickness and death are not taboo subjects. They are realities that we must face…”

Pope Francis, @Pontifex

I was reminded of this while attending a “welcome spring” Reiki feast on Saturday night with members of my Reiki share. Our host, who also hosts the share in her home, is a superb macrobiotic cook who had pulled out all the stops to make a lavish spread. Wine and sake were poured and we all assembled at the table to enjoy each others’ company and the bounty spread before us.

But, as my partner Rob pointed out, the theme of the evening’s dinner seemed to be sickness, death and dying. People talked about their parents’ and in-laws’ struggles in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities. They talked about pets who’d recently died or were dying. One member of the share was on his second kidney transplant and talked about that and how he was recovering. A nurse talked from her perspective about caring for the ill and terminally ill.

It wasn’t what most people would think of as a cheerful or festive conversation. But Reiki people are healers, and no one seemed even slightly put off by the conversation or tried to change the subject. We all get sick from time to time, and we’ll all die. It’s how we confront those situations in ourselves and others that define us, as Reiki practitioners and as human beings.

Refusing to talk about or acknowledge sickness and death won’t make them go away, and increases the fear and stress we experience when we think of them. Usui Founder told us “Just for today, don’t worry.” Making these topics as ordinary as any other integrates them into life and helps us prepare for the inevitable.

Reiki helps in other ways as well. When we work on our Reiki self-healing every day, and aren’t shy about asking others for hands-on or distant healing if we aren’t well, it raises our Reiki level and helps us heal. And when we “work hard” (another of Usui Founder’s Five Reiki Principles, aka Precepts, Ideals) on our Reiki practices, it helps us truly see our connection to the All, which is the breakthrough of enlightenment, satori.

If you aren’t a separate entity, an ego swimming alone in space, but rather part of the whole, you know that death isn’t really a big deal, just a giving back to the All for what had been given you. And really, there’s nothing scary about that.

Just for today, don’t be afraid to talk about it.

The most fearful place. March 23, 2014

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“You don’t give up, you keep going straight, because through your practice you will inevitably confront yourself. This is how you refine your life, and at some point, by practicing this way, you may realize that you’ve gone beyond even the most fearful place in your mind: fear of a nonexistent self.”

—Jakusho Kwong Roshi

Just for today, work on your Reiki practice.

Be a good blogger. March 22, 2014

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I was horrified this morning to stumble on a blog, searching for memorable quotes by one of my favorite Zen masters, that had a statement posted on its home page that, in my view, negated the whole point of blogging: creating community.

The statement basically said that the blog author appreciated the earnestness of people who felt compelled to comment on the blog, but couldn’t be bothered to respond to the comments. Now, this wasn’t a Reiki blogger, and Usui Founder’s directive to “be kind” clearly wasn’t on his/her agenda. Basically, this person was telling readers, “I’m going to drone on here, and I don’t care what you have to say about my posts, I don’t have time to take your comments into consideration or even read them, much less respond to them. Clearly you worms have no importance to me, only my own pontificating.” The person even ended the tirade with “Thanks for your understanding”!

I don’t understand anything about this kind of attitude. The interactive nature of blogs is what makes them so wonderful. If you’re lucky, you attract readers who respond to what you write with their own perspectives and insights. I love seeing that readers have returned, that we’re building community. I love it when people take the time to comment on my posts. And I always take the time to answer them. It’s the least I can do to show how much I appreciate their choosing to spend some of their precious time here on The Reiki Blog with me. If we end up having a back-and-forth, so much the better. I always learn something!

So please, everyone, feel free to speak up. I’ll be so happy to hear from you! And you’ll always be sure of a response. To me, that’s just a simple matter of showing respect. And it’s a gift. Thank you.

Just for today, I’m grateful.

Take those glasses off. March 21, 2014

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“The deepest flaw in the mind is what Einstein called the ‘kind of optical delusion of consciousness’ that makes us see ourselves as separate from the rest of life. Like a crack in glasses that we must wear every moment of our lives, this division is built into the mind. ‘I’ versus ‘not-I’ runs through everything we see.”

—Sri Eknath Easwaran, Words to Live By

For the sake of all life, for the life of this beautiful earthly paradise we are fortunate to call home, please remember that we are part of, not separate from, the All. From the leaf swaying on the branch to the calf sprinting awkwardly through the field, from the seaweed swaying in the ocean waters to the stars in the night sky, from the newborn puppies that fit in your hand to the earthworms tilling the soil, we are part of the web of life, not some monstrous overlords whose sense of self begins and ends with the physical limits of our own bodies.

We are infinite, because the All is infinite. What an incredible thrill! If you’ve ever felt yourself moving through space/time while your body lay still, you know what I mean. If you’ve ever felt your mind expanding in space/time, you know what I mean. And if you’ve ever forgotten your “self” completely while watching a sunset or painting a watercolor or playing guitar, you know what I mean.

Just for today, take those glasses off.

Finding the truth. March 20, 2014

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“If you are unable to find the truth right where you are, where else do you expect to find it?”

—Dogen Zenji

“Each being is itself pure source, and pure source is nothing but each being.”

—Shunryu Suzuki Roshi

“I believe in person to person. Every person is Christ to me, and since there is only one Jesus, the person is the one person in the world at that moment.”

—Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta

“Be here now.”

—Ram Dass

All these spiritual teachers, and many others, such as Eckhart Tolle, author of The Power of Now, understood this great truth. Enlightenment does not come from outside, it comes from within. It comes from being fully present to each moment, to everyone and everything that presents itself to us.

This is much harder to do than to go on a spiritual pilgrimage to “find” the truth, to find enlightenment, satori. How great to head off to Sedona or Stonehenge or the Vatican or a Buddhist temple or Zen monastery or Reiki cruise or you name it to find peace and enlightenment. How terribly hard to be a dishwasher in a restaurant, working over scalding water on your feet for hours, paid minimum wage and expected to work as fast as humanly possible, and find truth where you are. How hard to be Mother Teresa, pulling maggot-eaten, abandoned, starved bodies from the gutters of Calcutta, and find the face of her Lord in every single one.

To be here now, to find the power of now, which is truth, freedom, and enlightenment, you must learn to give all of yourself in every moment to the now, to what is before you, be it a body in the gutter or a boring colleague who’s droning on and on, or making tonight’s supper or watering plants and dusting shelves or doing hands-on Reiki or reading an uplifting book.

To help you focus and go deeper, to slow down time so each second stretches to infinity, Usui Founder gave us the Five Reiki Principles (aka Precepts, Ideals). He began them with “Just for today” not just because he realized how hard it was to actually practice them, but to remind us to be in the moment, in the now. Maybe we forgot and got angry a moment ago, or we caught ourselves worrying about that performance review or a bill coming due. But Usui Founder in his wisdom reminds us that we shouldn’t waste time beating ourselves up, we should just get back to the now, the present moment, and try to focus on the Principles.

The past is past. The present is here. We are who and where we are. Let’s look for the truth right here, right now, inside ourselves, and in everything and everyone we encounter moment by moment on this earthly plane.

Just for today, find your truth.

Three good things. March 19, 2014

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Three good things:
Trees full of song,
Spring’s high, splashing stream,
Winter’s last fire.

Just for today, think of YOUR good things.

How to love. March 18, 2014

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“What we take in by contemplation, that we pour out in love.”

—Meister Eckhart

Just for today, contemplate the Reiki Principles.

Anxiety sickens us. March 17, 2014

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“For the majority of us, uncertainty is worse than disaster, because disaster comes to us only rarely; worry depletes us often.”

—Sri Eknath Easwaran, Words to Live By

No wonder Usui Founder placed “Just for today, don’t worry” in his Five Reiki Principles (aka Precepts, Ideals). Reiki self-healing strengthens us, calms us, builds us up, gives us space to expand. Worry, as Sri Eknath says, depletes us, contracts us, obsesses us, makes us smaller. Let’s choose expansion, not contraction.

Just for today, don’t worry.