I learned to practice Reiki in 1998. When my dog Dakota came over and sat on top of my feet during my first Reiki self-treatment, I had two incredible realizations:
1) Dakota liked the feeling of Reiki so much that he couldn’t bear to be even one foot away from me as I practiced.
2) Dakota seemed to be able to tune into the healing power of Reiki, without my having to “give” it to him. It was as if he was already fluent in a language much too subtle for me to sense!
With these two realizations, I began a long, miraculous journey of discovery and healing in my life.
Tonight’s New Moon reminds us that times are a changin’. With 2017 almost here, we know that there are so many new beginnings ahead of us. Reiki can help us release those things that hinder us and create a beautiful healing space for new things to enter.
Reiki meditation can help us to become balanced and centered amidst all of the change. Instead of descending into worry about the newness ahead, we can practice Reiki and find our courage again. Instead of being angry at things that are beyond our control, we can practice Reiki and remember all of the things we are grateful for in this moment.
So you’ve bought your meditation cushion and chosen your favorite meditation position. You’ve contemplated and picked your mantra or visualization. You’ve found a quiet time of day to practice. You’re ready to start meditating, right?
Maybe not. What if you were missing the most important piece that could improve your practice quickly and easily? I’m talking about animals, and why it’s so important you invite your animals to sit with you while you meditate.
It may sound strange at first, but consider these five reasons why you should be meditating with your animals every day:
In 1967, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. nominated Buddhist monk and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh for the Nobel Peace Prize. In his letter to the committee, Dr. King wrote: “I do not personally know of anyone more worthy of this prize than this gentle monk from Vietnam. He is an Apostle of Peace and Nonviolence.” Though he did not win, Nhat Hanh continues to work tirelessly for peace and enlightenment.
Now 89, Nhat Hanh, who lives in the south of France and travels internationally for speaking engagements, offers regular retreats at Plum Village, the largest Buddhist monastery in Europe. A bestselling author, he’s published more than 100 books, including The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation; No Mud, No Lotus: The Art of Transforming Suffering; and Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life. Following are just a few of his most inspiring, life-changing quotes:
On opening our eyes:
“We have more possibilities in each moment than we realize.”
“Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the whole earth revolves.”
On truly living:
“Many people are alive, but don’t touch the miracle of being alive.”
On finding joy:
“There is no way to happiness—happiness is the way.”
“Compassionate listening is to help the other side suffer less. If we realize that other people are the same people as we are, we are no longer angry at them.”
“You are a miracle, and everything you touch could be a miracle.”
“Buddhist practitioners have practiced vegetarianism over the last 2,000 years. We are vegetarian with the intention to nourish our compassion towards the animals. Now we also know that we eat vegetarian in order to protect the earth.”
“Because of your smile, you make life more beautiful.”
“We have to walk in a way that we only print peace and serenity on the earth. Walk as if you are kissing the earth with your feet.”
“The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.”
On knowing ourselves:
“Listening to and understanding our inner sufferings will resolve most of the problems we encounter.”
On finding peace:
“Peace in ourselves, peace in the world.”
Which quote inspires you the most?
With the holidays now upon us, many of us are beginning to feel the stress of this time of year. So how can we make the holidays more mindful? How can we get back to truly enjoying this time of year? I plan to approach this holiday season with a more mindful mindset than in years past. So along with baking holiday cookies, sipping tea by the fire and wrapping gifts, I plan to add these five reminders to my holiday to-do list:
1. Practice gratitude. I think about the concept of gratitude a lot, especially this time of year, when we’re bombarded by advertising and crowds and the expectations of others and an overly full calendar. When that overwhelmed feeling begins to creep in, it often helps to count the many small blessings in my life. Because the holidays aren’t really about buying the coolest, hippest gifts—they’re about being grateful for things both big (my health) and small (my daughter’s smile over waffles on a Sunday morning).
2. Embrace the moment right now. We are all pulled in so many directions during the holidays—from potlucks and decorating to shopping and parties. These things are fun, yes, but they can be stressful, too, especially when you are trying to fit them around an already busy schedule. When I can slow down and savor and embrace this moment right now—and put aside my worries about my to-do lists—I can connect with my inner happiness and peace again.
3. Eat mindfully. I do try to eat mindfully on a regular basis—and as animal-friendly as possible—but so much temptation surrounds us this time of year. Even though I intend to try my best, I must also practice compassion for myself if I eat too many cookies or too much chocolate (which I’m pretty sure is going to happen).
4. Take time for yourself and your animals. Our animals find happiness in the most simple things—a warm bed, a clean bowl of water, a soft pet on the head. Let us all remember to take breaks for ourselves when we feel overwhelmed, and also to look to our animals for inspiration. Spending one-on-one time with them, either walking a favorite trail or cuddling on the couch with their favorite blanket, can calm our frayed nerves and bring us back into balance.
5. Breathe. And meditate. I am hoping my daily meditations will help me if I begin to feel overwhelmed by those myriad holiday stresses (difficult though well-intentioned relatives, busy parking lots, a sky-high pile of dirty dishes). Of course I feel like I have even less time now to meditate, but that’s when it’s more important than ever to keep it a priority.
6. Remember that this is a special time to enjoy. How easy it is for us to forget. I want to try my best to truly savor what matters most in my life—love, kindness and sharing with an open-hearted presence. I find this Dr. Seuss quote from How the Grinch Stole Christmas! perfect and inspiring for this time of year: “Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more.”