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Give love this Christmas. December 9, 2014

Posted by ourfriendben in Reiki, Reiki wisdom.
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“Wheresoever we seek our own, there we fall from love.”
—Thomas a Kempis

“There is the tendency to place ourselves and our ambitions at the center of our lives. This is very human, but it is not Christian.”
—Pope Francis, @Pontifex

Yesterday, I received a Christmas card from my Aunt Betty. At this season of the year, most of us are either thinking about what we want for Christmas or what our family and friends might want for Christmas, or what we’d better get the boss and the office gang, or our kids’ teachers and coaches, or our secretary, or God-knows-who for Christmas. Or how we’ll ever afford Christmas, with all these ever-more-expensive presents for everybody and shipping costs getting more outrageous every year.

But not Aunt Betty. She gets presents for those in need and sends them in our names. In past years, we’ve gotten cards saying that a needy family in, say, the Andes has received a (live) chicken in our name through Heifer International, so they can get nutritious eggs. (You don’t need a rooster to get eggs.) This year, she donated to Doctors Without Borders, those brave individuals who risk their lives to share their expertise where it otherwise wouldn’t be available. People we’ll never see or know will have a better Christmas this year. Thank you, Aunt Betty!

What I think she’s trying to tell us is that she thinks we have enough “stuff” and don’t need any more from her. (And she’s right.) Whereas these organizations help people who lack food, shelter, warmth, medical care, and other basic necessities, much less toys, video games, the latest athletic shoes, and the like. I suggest that you think of an organization that speaks to you this Christmas, be it a local soup kitchen or homeless shelter, The Salvation Army, The Southwest Indian Foundation, Habitat for Humanity, or any of the hundreds of others, and donate in a family member’s or your office’s name this Christmas. (And don’t forget that you can volunteer your time as well, including giving free hands-on Reiki sessions.)

Obviously, I’d never suggest doing this when children are involved. But you could get them a book or toy and donate in their family’s name, and the family could start teaching them the meaning of sharing and giving. Think how much better you’ll feel knowing you’re helping others on Christmas than ripping open package after package of stuff for yourself.

Just for today, don’t fall from love.


Give what people want. December 26, 2013

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Today, the day after Christmas, I saw two articles that made me think back about the most distressing Christmas I’ve ever experienced. One was a brief mention that a reporter had asked Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, about her infant son George’s first Christmas. She’d replied that he’d apparently enjoyed the wrapping paper more than the gifts. Bright, glittery, beautiful wrapping paper? Why wouldn’t a baby be attracted to it?

The other thing that caught my attention was an op-ed piece about conspicuous holiday consumption. The author of the piece was struck that his infant great-nephew was far more intrigued with the “throw-away” tag attached to his present than with the gift itself.

This all brought back, in the most painful manner, the last Christmas I spent with my partner Rob’s family and his extremely schizophrenic sister, Cindy. Throughout her life, her parents forced Cindy, a very pretty, very sensitive child, to participate in the family’s “superior” heritage, as Pilgrims and Puritans on the Mayflower and grandees in Dutch New York, long before the Revolution. Sweet, childlike Cindy was forced to join every organization like the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) while her parents ignored her increasing psychological incapacity.

Eventually, when Cindy’s paranoid delusions became overwhelming, when she spoke daily to at least 14 different Jesuses, some of whom she’d married, when her behavior was so aberrant that people living in her apartment building started calling the police, even her parents had to acknowledge that she wasn’t their Great WASP Hope after all. But it appears that their delusions were more enduring than hers.

That final Christmas, the year after her mother had died from dementia, Rob and I went down to spend Christmas with his father, Cindy, and their schizophrenic brother Dick. To my horror, what Cindy’s father had chosen to buy her for Christmas were beautiful designer cocktail dresses, obviously assuming that she would stop this silly mental illness and take her place in Society as he and her mother had envisioned.

Cindy dutifully opened each and every present. She looked at the beautiful, expensive, stylish dresses, wadded them up, and hurled them into a corner. And then, like the infant Prince George, she lovingly, wonderingly took up the wrapping paper and held it close. That glorious, glittering, shiny paper was the best Christmas present anyone had ever given her.

Cindy died the next year, just entering her 40s. We have tried to keep her spirit alive in our celebrations since, honoring simplicity over ambition, reality over ego.

This year, I urge you to think about what would actually make other people happy, even if it’s just a box of crayons and a sheaf of drawing paper, rather than something that would make your ego happy at the expense of the person involved.

Just for today, please be perceptive and kind.

Take Joy! December 25, 2012

Posted by ourfriendben in Reiki wisdom.
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In 1513, Fra Giovanni, a Franciscan friar, sent what today we would call a Christmas card. On it he wrote this prayer, which is one of my all-time favorites. I hope it brings each of you joy this holiday season!

Fra Giovanni’s Christmas Prayer

I salute you! There is nothing I can give you which you have not, but there is much that, while I cannot give, you can take.

No heaven can come to us unless our hearts find rest in it today. Take Heaven.

No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in the present moment. Take Peace.

The gloom of the world is but a shadow; behind it, yet within our reach is joy. Take Joy!

And so, at this Christmas time, I greet you, with the prayer that for you, now and forever, the day breaks and the shadows flee away.

Reiki gifts for the Christmas season. November 27, 2011

Posted by ourfriendben in Reiki, Reiki Tips, Reiki wisdom.
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Today is the first Sunday of Advent, the official start of the Christmas season. Maybe you’re already getting out your Advent calendar, putting up Christmas lights, shopping for a tree. Maybe you were one of thousands of Americans standing in endless lines on a cold Friday morning waiting to battle crowds on Black Friday to save a few bucks on Christmas gifts. Maybe you’re already panicking about how you’ll find the time and money to buy gifts this year for everyone on your list, or wondering if you’ll finally manage to send out Christmas cards this year. And what about Christmas itself? Will you stay home, have guests or head to parties, go to your parents’ or in-laws’, find yourself sad and alone?

All this can be stressful enough, but in this economy, you may be panicked about how you’ll manage to pay for all those gifts and the “good cheer” without spiraling further into debt. Or, if you’ve maxed out your credit, how you’ll pay for them at all. This is the perfect time to put Reiki in the picture.

First, create a clear picture of the season’s requirements: Who do you plan to present with gifts, send cards to, entertain, visit, invite to stay in your home? What do you plan to do/buy for this year’s decorating? What do you plan to cook for parties, office gatherings or exchanges, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day? Who will you need to call to wish a Merry Christmas? What are your travel plans? What are your contingent plans, at home or on the road, if the weather turns nasty? How much time off are you (and your spouse/partner)  planning to take, and how will you catch up on your work when you get back? What about your pets?

Once you’ve made your lists and checked them twice, add Reiki to the mix. Do Reiki self-healing, an essential step so many Reiki people skip because there “isn’t enough time.” Make time. Physician, heal thyself. Once you’re calm and centered thanks to Reiki self-healing, consult the Teachers (Usui Founder, Hayashi-sensei, and Takata-sensei), and appeal to the Holy Ghost who is the source of the “Ghost Energy” that is the literal translation of Reiki. Ask them for wisdom, guidance, and support this season. Then sit quietly and listen, let them touch your mind, your heart, your soul.

Now, you should be calm and centered. Look at those lists again through Reiki eyes.

Do you really need to buy your coworkers, cousins, etc. gifts you can’t afford and they, most likely, don’t really want? Do you need to burden them with an obligation to get something for you that they can’t afford? Instead, consider the intangibles and have a frank discussion with them now, early in the Christmas season. What about doing something instead that’s free and will benefit everyone, like creating a walking group, exchanging child care or petsitting, offering advice in your area of expertise, be it garden design or clutter control?

Consider who would appreciate your gift of Reiki as the treasure it is. Certainly, other Reiki people would love to receive the gift of a hands-on Reiki treatment from you. Talk about a treat! So many Reiki people are focused outward, and even those of us who do take the time to do regular Reiki self-healing are seldom afforded the luxury of a hands-on treatment by another practitioner. Aaaaahhhh!!! What a wonderful gift. Family and friends who are open to Reiki would benefit more from one or a series of treatments than from any other gift you could possibly offer.

Beyond hands-on Reiki, of course you can send distant healing. But you can also add Reiki as a potent gift to anything you’re giving anyone. Fill each gift with Reiki energy before you present it to its recipient. Reiki each package before you send it on its way. If you’re making a gift, such as a scarf, collage, illustrated original story, or cake, infuse it with Reiki through every step of the process.

Remember that the Christmas season is neither about giving nor receiving. It’s about celebrating a blessed event. Celebration requires no investment and no debt. Celebration is what this season of joy is about. Think about how you can replace the material with the joyful this season, and how you can replace stress with love. Let Reiki, the Teachers, and the Five Reiki Principles (aka Precepts, Ideals) help you refocus on what really matters, at Christmas and throughout the year.   

Just for today, be joyful.   

Excerpted from Living Reiki. All content © copyright Red Dog Reiki. All rights reserved.