Stress-Busting Strategies From a Reiki Practitioner
By Eve Marx
Life, as we know it, is filled with stress. In our younger days, like when we were in our 30s, we imagined that when we (and our children) got older, the things that caused us the most stress – personal relationships, work issues, money – would be go away once we (and our children) reached a certain age and stage.
Instead, reasons why we feel tense and anxious continue to abound. Our adult children may be struggling. We may be caring for our more quickly aging spouse or our parents. We might be selling our too-large-for-us- now house. We might be getting divorced. We could be widowed. Even more frustrating, retirement, despite the hype, isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. If we even can retire.
Reiki, an ancient tool for energy healing, is an excellent way to reduce stress in situations like these. The word Reiki itself is made up of two Japanese words – Rei, which means “God’s Wisdom or the Higher Power”, and Ki, which translates as “Life force energy.” Although Reiki techniques and symbols have been around for centuries, it wasn’t until the 1940s when a Japanese healer named Mikao Usui popularized and named the Reiki system and spread the word in Japan. Usui’s attuned students went on to spread the power throughout the world. Today millions of people turn to Reiki practitioners to aid their body’s natural healing process and to release stress.
While it’s optimal to experience Reiki firsthand by a trained professional, there are quite a few Reiki inspired things anyone can do specifically to release stress. Stress is a silent killer and yet at the same time there’s no avoiding it completely. Nearly every living, sentient being experiences some degree of stress almost every day of their lives! Even doing supposedly stress-reducing things like planning and taking a vacation can be stressful.
A person would have to have zero interaction or contact with the world to avoid stress, and even then, many people find being alone extremely stressful. The trick to dealing with stress is to recognize when we’re stressed and then do things to contain the stress at a comfortable level. You’ll never get rid of stress entirely or be able to completely avoid it, but by using these Reiki-inspired tips you can stop or prevent scary panic attacks and stress-induced depression and anxiety. Using these Reiki-inspired tips, you can create your own sense of calm and lower your blood pressure to smooth out the jagged edges.
The first step is to breathe. It may seem obvious, but the first step to managing stress is to keep breathing. Yes, breathing . Inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale, inviting oxygen into your lungs so you can breathe. Breathing sounds natural, but when we’re anxious, frightened, or nervous, most of us hold our breath. Inhale and allow your chest to rise as oxygen fills your lungs. At the exhale, warm air should flow steadily from your nose or mouth (it doesn’t matter which.) While doing any series of stress-reducing breathing exercises, the longer your exhalation, the better. What you will feel is restored and balanced. If you are in a state of acute anxiety, try this deliberate breathing, consciously saying to yourself, “I’m going to breathe my way through this.”
Assess the stress-producing situation and acknowledge what you can and can’t do to alter it. It’s very stressful to feel events and things are happening that are out of your control and even worse to feel there’s nothing you can do about it. It’s a tricky concept for many people to accept, but sometimes the best thing to do in a difficult situation is to do nothing. Our society has been hardwired to believe that action and reaction are our only course, but often no action is the correct action and response. Remember the old Beatles’ song, “Let It Be”? During times of trouble you might try singing the song to yourself and repeating the refrain “Let it be.” Because letting something be often is the right energy.
Place your hands palm down just above your head and close your eyes. Calmly breathe. The area of the top of your head is called your crown chakra. Your crown chakra, many healers believe, is your direct connection with a higher power. This strong connection we have to a higher power is what inspires us and leaves us open to possibilities and new ideas. When this Chakra is off or unbalanced, we may experience migraines, depression, skin issues, and muscular disorders, all of which are symptoms of stress. Placing your hands palm down an inch or two above your crown chakra even for a few minutes will alter the energy of that chakra, healing it. The movement of lifting your hands above your head will also shift the energy in your chest (solar plexus chakra), unblocking it. Blocks in this chakra often evidence themselves in the body as low energy, stomach problems, gallstones and nervousness, which are also medical issues associated with chronic stress.
Listen to calming music. Music, especially music based on the sounds of nature and music that is performed without words or lyrics, can go a long way to relieving stress. As many excellent but amateur musicians now, playing their instrument when they are feeling stressed about something else is one of the fastest methods to chill out, calm down. For those of us not gifted with musical talents, we can rely on our ears. When you are feeling stressed, stop talking or type-talking (i.e. texting friends and family or engaging in combative conversations on social media) and turn on the sound. Some excellent music for calmness can be found free on many websites. Look for stations marked as Reiki music to get you started finding your perfect calming sounds.
Seek out good company. A tried and true way to reduce stress is to spend time in the company of good friends. A night out with the girls, a morning out group quilting, babysitting your favorite grand-niece or grandchild, these activities are all energy altering. Laughter, it’s true, is the best medicine. While solitary walks and meditating done on a regular basis are beneficial for reducing stress, there’s nothing like spending time in the warm embrace of close friends and loving family members to take a load off your chest.
Sleep. Sleep is healing. Sleep is what replenishes us, refreshes us, gives our bodies and our minds a chance to recuperate. Without sleep, you lack reserves, which means you’re extra vulnerable to stress. If you’re having trouble sleeping and the usual homespun remedies such as warm milk, a warm bath, a lavender scented pillowcase, a boring book, aren’t doing the trick, talk to your physician about sleep inducing medications he or she might recommend.
Try these Reiki-inspired tips to help adjust you to new, stressful situations. You may always find reasons to quarrel with your daughter in law. There’s nothing fun about finding the right assisted living facility for a family member. And that old dog that keeps piddling on the rug? Well, being kind to it is another way of paying forward. Remember, we all experience stress. It’s how you handle it that makes the difference.
Eve Marx is an author and journalist writing about relationships and Reiki. She is a Reiki Master Third Degree, attuned in the Usui Method.