When I was a kid I used to love Fall and the inevitable retreat to the indoors as the weather became cold and icy. An occasional snow day never hurt either. Yet, as I’ve gotten older my mood just tends to sink as Summer fades, the leaves drop and the Holidays approach. With all the work I’ve done between my therapist, exercising, meditation and relaxation I’m at least more aware of when my life spins off center.
Self awareness is great but it takes a good deal of work to keep on a more centered path, head up, breath steady, heart open and mind clear. In addition to spending a good deal of time outdoors this year, with the intent of sleeping under the stars and meeting new friends, I also pursued meditation classes where I could. One such session at a Yoga shop in Grandview was all about the “Elephant meditation.” The instructor provided us with a work sheet, a sachet full of things like chamomile flowers and rose petals and a piece of rose quartz. The idea was to draw a bath, throw the herbs and crystal into the bag, strip down and dive in for a quiet moment of reflection on balance.
With Thanksgiving travel to NYC approaching, some pretty stiff deadlines at work and taking care of my friend Nick’s personal life as he recovers from a stroke while we fight an uphill battle to get him retired and into some sort of care situation long term… I can say, with certainty, that my stress levels are in the red area right now. The bath was great as were the moments alone with time to think about where my mind/heart is. I’m not an overly spiritual man, deep trust issues after suffering a bout of Baptist upbringing there, but I am leaning toward thinking that there might be something to this energy thing. Even if it’s just the physiological effects like we see with breathing exercises where things like your heart rate slows, blood pressure drops, creativity spikes and so on… I guess keeping an open mind is something I’ve had to embrace as well this year.
On a similar path I’ve been trying things like Reiki, or energy healing, in addition to massage, both at Uban Village Massage and Open Sky Day Spa, as a logical evolution to the meditation work I started last year. From what I read online Reiki was developed in 1922 by a Japanese Buddhist monk. While I have been exposed to the idea of what “chi” energy is it’s really interesting that all these paths I’ve been following post heart attack have led to our bodies interaction with the world around us. Both internal and external.
The first Reiki session with Daniel Sernicola took some getting used to as it was unclear what was actually going on. I had no idea what to expect. But it was effective enough to book a second appointment. Now the second time I think I could feel a measurable difference. In fact, I had an incredibly difficult task to do that afternoon. I was to meet my friend Nick’s family to discuss some complex, and very personal, financial topics. The talk lasted for four hours and at the end of it, I was exhausted, but everything, and everyone, was on the same page and happy with the outcomes. While I may have just had a good day, I really think that the Reiki session helped to clear my head by even 10%. It was that edge, or perhaps the removal of my own edge, that helped me to carry myself with more compassion and better listening skills while I arranged a complex agreement with another man’s family. As a result, I’m not so skeptical about the practice of energy healing or Buddhism as a larger topic I’d like to explore in 2018 given the chance.
Can I prove any of this? Physically measure it? Analyze the metrics? No. But I am feeling steadier handed now even though I can tell I’m already trying to hold off another round of depression as the cold weather moves us closer to the indoor prison of Winter.
In the spirit of the Holiday, I want to thank my teachers, guides, new friends and family for their companionship, guidance, and the meaning that they help me to find within myself and in others. It’s people like my aunt Lora who, way back when I was a teen, grabbed a virtual crow bar and pried open my very tightly closed brain to new ideas. That and a life time of mistakes, biases and lessons learned that have weathered me and my points of view like so many rivers that have carved out deep canyons across the world. If nothing else, I’ve come to value working toward keeping an open mind. Maybe that’s what these Elephant and Loving Kindness meditations, the running, baths with crystals and herbs and, yes, the Reiki sessions, have reminded me of the most.