Meditation Musings – Changes

Guest blog by Jim Barrett – Serenity Community Member

 

We Sit.
We Sit because it is what we do.
We Sit without thought of goal or gain.
We Sit.

This is the beginning of my morning meditation and has been for longer than I can remember.

This is the Way I was taught, many years ago. Meditation is something I do because I am a meditator. It requires no other justification. I am a meditator for reasons even I don’t understand. I know only that it is a part of me. It is what I do.

However, while this attitude is wonderful and embraces meditation as a pure practice, the fact of the matter is that my Way is not the only Way and many people would like to have a reason, a goal if you will, for doing something on a daily basis. Even if the reason for Sitting is simply to enrich the spiritual aspect of one’s life, many people feel that if they invest several hours a week in a practice they should get something more out of it.

And, yes, even as I speak the words, I understand that if I have no other purpose my meditation completes me and that is a goal and/or gain.

So, let us move from the ideal to the practical.

True meditation, on a regular basis, often brings insight, patience, and balance to one’s life. Just sitting quietly in the Now can cause one to see and feel things in ways that most non-introspective people don’t understand.

When we have made that connection between our conscious and sub-conscious mind by using meditation there are many places we can go and things we can do with this connection.

After the phrases mentioned above my meditation turns to my affirmations, those things I wish to emphasize in my daily life. Experience has taught me that affirmations should typically be short and positive in their wording:

“I live a life of kindness and compassion.”
“I recognize and accept that all creatures wish to experience happiness and avoid suffering.”
“I enjoy making healthy choices.”

Affirmations of this nature can remind you of what you want your life to look like and when you start or end your day with these positive statements they often stay with you as you move out of the zendo and into your world.

When someone cuts you off in traffic, instead of reacting with anger and outrage, your remembrance of the fact that you live a life of kindness and compassion is an antidote for the negative emotions you might otherwise feel.

When faced with the unexplained actions of someone close to you, remembering that all creatures wish to experience happiness and avoid suffering might help you in your search for the true context of the actions that puzzle you.

If, when ordering food in a restaurant, you are reminded that you enjoy making healthy choices, it becomes easy to order a salad rather than a burger. It’s been my experience that if I’m going to argue with myself about such a choice I might just as well make a good choice, and even if I choose the burger I’m doing it mindfully and the next time I will most likely make a good choice simply because I’m aware of what I’m doing and know that making healthy choices is better for me.

And so, after a while, the affirmations become a part of you.

You don’t have to try to live a life of kindness and compassion, it just happens. And when you engage in thoughts or activities that don’t reflect this pattern you recognize it and realize that you are acting in a manner that is not normal for you. This often leads one to contemplate, perhaps in the next meditation session, why you reacted in such a manner and, when coupled with the gentle persistence we use in meditation, could allow you to identify a larger issue or situation that might need to be dealt with.

There are many sources for meditations that use a variety of affirmations. The easiest is your own mind. Decide what your affirmations will be and recite them to yourself on a daily basis during your meditation. If your desired affirmations are common you might be able to find a generic meditation recording that will allow you to absorb them as you listen. If your affirmations are unique to you or your situation you might wish to find someone who can make a recording that is tailored to your specific needs.

When I craft a custom meditation for a client I always start with an interview, either in person, by phone, or via email. Questions are asked in order to understand what the client wishes to accomplish with their meditation. I am also searching for phrases, attitudes or experiences that will help me craft the message in a way that makes the most positive connection possible. I explore when and how the client meditates, including what they are usually doing both before and after Sitting.

Once this interview is completed I create a recording that is specific to the information gathered. A custom meditation typically has three components: the affirmations, background sounds, and brain entrainment beats.

Affirmations have been discussed and often the client provides some or all of the affirmations, they need only be tweaked to place them in a short, positive manner. While affirmations can be made sub-audible, or subliminal, recordings provided by my label, Indigo Sangha, usually have audible vocals

Background sounds, usually nature or environmental sounds, are crafted to help the listener relax and connect with themselves in a comfortable manner.

Brain entrainment beats are designed to help the meditator move into a receptive frame of mind, usually leading them to a mental state that helps make the connection between the conscious and subconscious mind. If one meditates in the morning, after hearing the affirmations, the mind might then be led to an active, engaged state. If meditation is done at night, before bedtime, the mind might be led, instead, to a sleep or pre-sleep state. Entrainment beats can be audible or sub-audible and their construction is determined by information gathered in the initial interview.

It should be noted that this process only suggests to the brain that it go into these states. It is still necessary that one be receptive to the entrainment and a proper time and place should be provided. Entrainment beat recordings should never be listened to while driving a car or operating machinery.

Whether one uses generic or custom meditation recordings the technology should always be seen as an aid to our Way and not a substitute for proper practice or contemplation. Even with the use of this remarkable technology one should still remember that the process of being mindfully in the Now is what separates meditation from all other activities.

Namaste,
Jim – Serenity Community Member

Open House – Welcome!

I want to take this moment to invite one and all to our Open House!

Monday, November 15th
3-7pm
13825 West National Avenue
New Berlin, Wi 53151

Your Hosts

Serenity
Wisconsin Ovarian Cancer Alliance – WOCA
Café of Life Chiropractic
New Berlin Chamber of Commerce

Also Featured
Mary Kay Cosmetics
Shorewest
ANEW
Insight
Miche Purses
Tupperware

…and more

This will be a great opportunity to sample services, ask questions and learn about wonderful services and products.  Some of the services and products featured will be:

Life CoachingReikiHypnosisAnimal ReikiMeditation
Vitalistic Chiropractic Care – Cosmetics & Skin Care
Spiritual Coaching – Biofeedback – De-toxifying Footbaths …and so much more!

Wrap up your holiday shopping with the purchase of products or gift certificates.

We look forward to seeing you on Monday.

Namaste,
Sandy

Hypnosis – Will It Make You Quack Like A Duck?

I’ve always been fascinated with hypnosis. I suspect too much time watching old B movies when I was a kid gave me some interesting though way off the mark ideas.

As years went by I learned bits here and there about hypnosis. I learned that hypnotherapy was a valuable and very real option to help one improve their life. Everything from weight loss to stress management. But I still had some thoughts and ideas about hypnosis that were very inaccurate. Maybe fun to think about but not even close to reality.

Wanna quack like a duck? That’s the first thing I wanted to ask anyone who questioned me about hypnosis when I began learning about it. Of course, the actual fact is that I can’t make anyone quack like a duck, sing like Sinatra or play football like Favre unless it’s something that they want to do already. Hmmm…perhaps I should make that just a bit clearer. If deep down you are willing and would like to quack like a duck then you will do your best rendition of quacking when asked to do so under hypnosis. Will you sound just like Donald Duck or a mallard? Probably not, but you would quack away to the best of your ability. Again, only if it is something that you choose to do.

That’s a pretty important fact. Here are a few other pertinent and often misunderstood facts about hypnosis or hypnotherapy.

* Anyone with a normal mind can be hypnotized. So much for the theory that ‘my mind is too strong to be hypnotized’. That simply isn’t true. In fact, anyone who is able to follow simple directions and focus their mind for a short period of time is capable of being hypnotized.

* We go easily into hypnosis all the time. Did you ever arrive at a destination while driving and not remember some or all of the route? You were most likely involved in highway hypnosis. You were intently focused and simply chose not to notice outside events. In the event of an emergency, you would have reacted accordingly, someone pulling in front of you or stopping suddenly. It is a light trance.

* You cannot be hypnotized against your will. This one is a very big deal to me. After all, I don’t want anyone putting me into a trance if I choose otherwise. You are fully capable of resisting and simply not going into trance if that is your preference.

* A hypnotist cannot, simply cannot, let me repeat that one more time just for the sake of clarity, can not make you do something that is against your will. For instance, if you do not want to rob a bank, if that is not something that you would choose to do, perhaps you are morally or ethically opposed to this suggestion, then rest assured this is not a suggestion that any hypnotherapist can give you that will work. Just not the way our brains work, hypnosis or not. And may I say I am very grateful for that!

Learning about hypnotism, and working with clients using hypnosis has been wonderful for me and I hope for them as well. Each time I work with a client using hypnotherapy I am amazed one more time at how hypnosis can help us to make our world a happier place.

Being hypnotized feels great. Not much different than the way I feel right now typing this blog. There are several levels of trance, but I want to assure you, that you are always able to come out of hypnosis any time that you choose. You can’t get ‘stuck’ in hypnosis. Another fact that made me very happy. For instance, if you were to be under hypnosis, or in trance and your hypnotherapist walked out of the room and simply didn’t come back, you would have nothing to worry about. You would either gently fall asleep and take a nap or you would easily come out of the trance and be able to simply go about your business.

Needless to say, I will have lots more to say about this topic in the future. I have recently added hypnosis as one of the services available in my business, Serenity. It’s truly my pleasure to use hypnosis as one more valuable tool to work with clients to achieve their very best life.

So, no worries. When we work together with hypnotherapy, you don’t need to be concerned. You will not leave the session quacking like a duck. Unless of course you really want to quack like a duck. Let’s talk.

Namaste,
Sandy

When I Grow Up I Want To Be More Like My Dog

I’ve decided that my dog knows quite a bit about living life to the fullest. When he’s tired, he simply heads to his favorite spot in the sun and takes a nap. When he wants his belly rubbed he comes and makes it clear just what he wants. When Indy’s hungry there is no doubt that he would like a meal. You know when Indy’s in the mood to play because he simply starts playing. Smart guy!

Because Indy is so clear about what he wants he is seldom disappointed. Indy is a brilliant life coach! He’s teaching me lessons every day and I’m doing my best to learn from him.

When I work with clients, whether life coaching, Reiki or meditation, I am always encouraging them to practice excellent self-care. While I may forget to practice this myself from time to time, my buddy Indy offers gentle reminders. If I’m a bit too serious, he reminds me that life is to be enjoyed by showing my just how much fun there is to be had in a short wrestling match.

One of the life coaching lessons I continually strive to learn better is to embrace and express certain emotions. While laughter and joy are very easy for me to share other thoughts and emotions are more difficult for me to express. Fear, anger and grief are very difficult for me to share with others or to simply release. In the past I have found that I had a tendency to stuff or simply deny these feelings. Here’s the thing, although I may prefer to deny these emotions they do still exist. The body, mind and spirit has a full range of emotions, and whether I like it or not, my body, mind and spirit will find a way to express these emotions. They are not intended to be denied, bottled up or stuffed. They are there for a reason! A full range of emotions keeps us healthy and it’s vital that we each find a non-destructive way to express these emotions.

What do you do? For me, writing is therapeutic; digging in the dirt, walking and of course being with my buddy Indiana is extremely helpful. When Indy’s sad or upset he doesn’t hesitate to come to me and indicate that he simply wants my company. Sometimes it’s enough for him to just hang out with me, other times he needs some real exercise. I have a lot to learn from my dog.

I am learning, though to be honest I am sometimes a slow learner. At the very young age of 49, I am slowly becoming more comfortable sharing feelings, thoughts, and emotions that I have always accepted in others easily. Life coaching, Reiki and meditation have all helped me to understand that being sad or angry is no more destructive or negative when present in my life than they are in anyone else.

This is a good time to acknowledge and appreciate not just my resident life coach Indy, but also dear friends and family. These folks not only allow but at times even gently prod me to share as much as I feel comfortable. I’m so grateful for that. Equally as important, they do not demand that I share; they simply hold the safe space and remind me that all emotions, thoughts, and feelings are welcome and safe. That’s powerful stuff and I can’t say how grateful I am.

Indy reminds me every single day that it’s okay to have a full range of emotions and to share those emotions with others. You will have absolutely no doubt when my buddy is happy, that nub of a tail wags so hard that I’ve often thought how remarkable it is that it’s still attached.

What do you do to express yourself? Do you dance? Perhaps you retreat to a private place with your thoughts…maybe writing is your thing. There are so many ways to express yourself, talk to a loved one, call a friend, laugh and or cry at a movie. Exercise or take a bath, read a book and let your emotions pour themselves out. I don’t know what’s right for you and you may not know at this moment either. If you can’t figure it out by yourself, give me a call and I’ll be happy to help you figure it out.

I’m going to keep studying and allowing my own personal life coach to assist me in this growth, Indy’s really quite good at this whole process. I encourage you to find discover what allows you to express yourself. In the meantime, I will continue to strive to live life more like my dog. In the moment and expressing all emotions to the fullness that is appropriate this very moment.

Namaste,
Sandy

In Reiki the Only Absolute is No Absolutes

The first time I experienced Reiki it changed my life. Sounds a bit dramatic doesn’t it? Well, for me it was just that. I had been experiencing severe shoulder pain for quite some time.

I vividly remember being on that Reiki table and as the hour neared ending I was getting very concerned, actually, I was preparing to be angry. You see, at that time lying still for a period of time usually ended with me being in quite a lot of pain. I had gone through two shoulder surgeries which resulted in my shoulder operating properly but left me with chronic pain. Visits to my doctor had led me to believe that I would simply need to live with this pain, nothing else could be done.

The pain was not all that had led me to seek Reiki. At the time I was experiencing stress from several fronts and really was not being successful in releasing that stress on my own. My son Jeff advised, implored, nagged and generally badgered me to try Reiki as it had helped him with stress. Finally, I caved and went to check this out for myself. And if I admit the truth, I wanted to have a reason to ask Jeff to be quiet.

During our pre-session chat, I asked questions, I wanted to know just what Reiki was going to do for me. The practitioner that I was visiting was very patient. She explained that Reiki is Universal Life Force Energy and that it would assist me to release negativity which no longer served my highest good. She went on to explain that this would assist me to heal on whatever level I was ready. Despite my many questions, or more accurately I might say that despite my badgering her to tell me precisely what to expect, she simply smiled and told me that my experience would be unique for me. She could not and would not tell me absolutely what to expect. Okay, I decided to give it a whirl.

That first experience was unlike anything I had ever encountered. As I relaxed, my mind quieted, bit by bit. I felt myself becoming calmer and I thoroughly enjoyed the downtime. However, as I said above, as the session neared its end I found myself becoming a bit nervous about the pain I knew I would experience when I got off the table. The shoulder pain I continually experienced was worse when I was still for an extended period of time. I fully expected to be in quite a lot of pain when I got up from the table. Imagine my surprise when instead of being in pain, I felt better than I had in quite some time. What happened? What was this Reiki that I could feel so much better? Had Reiki achieved this miracle? Would Reiki accomplish this calming effect each time I went for a session?

So many questions filled my mind and I asked each and every one of them after this first session. What the Reiki Master who was my practitioner told me, quietly and gently was that Reiki had allowed me to calm and relax and I was healing to the extent that I was ready. While I accepted that response, it didn’t feel concrete enough for me. So I persisted. I began reading books, visiting websites and questioning anyone and everyone I knew who either offered Reiki or had gone for sessions.

Eventually, I came to accept what I had been told after my first experience. No matter what the level of the Reiki practitioner, from Reiki level one to Reiki master, the Reiki which flows is offered to the recipient by the practitioner, but the level of healing is up to the recipient. There are absolutely no absolutes when discussing Reiki.

There have been times when I have been profoundly moved while receiving Reiki, tears of emotional release have flowed. Other times I have wanted to giggle I have felt such joy. Deep relaxation is not unusual, nor is it an odd event for my mind to flit from one topic to another. The only constant is that I now know, Reiki is flowing from practitioner to recipient and it is entirely up to the recipient to use in the manner which serves their highest good.

Mental, emotional, physical and spiritual. Reiki works on all levels, but it’s not for me to say to what degree at any given time. The intelligent energy of Reiki works on the level which we are prepared to accept. I find it exciting and reassuring that I do not know just what will happen. For me the trust is everything.

I know that Reiki only works for the highest good. I know that Reiki works on the level that the recipient is ready to accept. I know that Reiki is complementary with all medical treatments, that it can never do harm. What will that look like to me or to you? I can’t say for sure. That’s why once again I offer when working with Reiki, there are absolutely no absolutes.

I encourage you to experience Reiki for yourself. The experience may simply offer you an opportunity to relax and recharge…or it may change your life.

Namaste,
Sandy

Teaching Reiki

Twice a month I hold Reiki classes. One full day to teach Reiki level one and another to teach Reiki level two. You will always find the scheduled Reiki classes on my calendar. However, I’m also happy to hold classes to accommodate the schedule of anyone who is interested in learning Reiki and receiving their Reiki attunement.

I remember when I was growing up that I thought I was destined to become a nurse. That’s what almost all of the women in my family did, they went into nursing. Seemed like a good idea, but a part of me balked at the idea, all of those bodily fluids I suspect. While I thought I was supposed to go into nursing, another part of me wanted to be a teacher.

Well, that’s simply not the way the cookie crumbled. For one reason and then another, I traveled a different path. It’s been a bit twisted, I even doubled back on more than one occasion and the truth is that I stumbled and even fell more than once. Still, it’s been interesting, fun and most fabulous.

Eventually, I found that the path brought me to Reiki. Once there, I found myself wanting to experience the blessings that come with Reiki more and more. Marvelous! Of course, this led me to continue practicing and learning until I had become a Reiki master/teacher. Ahhhh, that felt very good. Now I was not only able to share this blessed healing energy with others, but I was able to share the gift of Reiki in still one more fashion. Being a master, teacher I now had the ability to pass along the Reiki attunement which ‘switches on’ one’s ability to channel Reiki.

Again and again, I have heard others refer to me as a healer. Again and again, I remind myself and them (very gently of course) that I am most certainly not a healer. The energy of Reiki is healing and allowing the receiver of the Reiki energy to heal themselves. I am simply the channel, a bit like the faucet in the kitchen. The water does not come from the faucet, but is channeled through the faucet, see my point?

It recently occurred to me that becoming a Reiki master/teacher was what I was intended to do, at least in part. I know that more is coming. I suspect that the part of me that thought I was supposed to become a nurse was the part that knew I would be offered the opportunity to share this healing energy with others at some point in my life. The little girl who wanted to become a teacher is satisfied each and every time I discuss Reiki with others, and most specifically when I teach and attune others to Reiki.

When you take one of my Reiki classes it may be a bit different from what you experience with other teachers. We all have our own style of course, which is why I encourage you to learn with as many as opportunity allows for you. When I teach it’s really not about me lecturing you, it’s much more interactive than you may expect. I’m excited and very interested in your Reiki experiences and I am happy to share mine. We learn from one another in the most wonderful way. Of course, I will teach you what I have learned about the history of Reiki, traditions and the beliefs which hold true for me. Mostly, I will encourage you to trust, allow yourself to be guided by your own intuition, your gut if you will. You already have most of the answers; I will do my best to teach you to learn how to listen to those answers.

You will be encouraged to experience, question, and share. Each of us takes a unique journey; we all have very different experiences with Reiki. If there is anything at all that I hope to teach you when you take a Reiki class with me, it is that once you have been attuned with Reiki, you have it, it can never be taken away and will never dissipate no matter how much or how little you use it. First, last and always, it’s about trust and intention. If you intend that the Reiki be offered with love and for the highest good of the receiver, the Reiki will do all of the rest. You may be a newly attuned Reiki practitioner or someone who has been Reiki for years when you offer Reiki it is all the same.

Teaching Reiki gives me more reason to smile. It’s simply one more wonderful blessing in my already silly happy life and I am grateful to be able to share this with others. Reiki does the teaching; I’m just along for the wonderful ride.

Namaste,
Sandy

Peace at Last

My father died on Friday, December 29, 2006. It was much more painful than I expected.  

My father and mother divorced when I was very young. My mom soon married again to the man who raised me, the man I have always considered and referred to me as my dad.

I was raised to respect and care for my father. While I grew up in Wisconsin he lived and worked in Louisiana. Generally, I saw him once a year, though sometimes it was less often. He made regular phone calls while I was growing up and I’m sure he did the best he could to build a relationship. But as you might expect it was never as close as I somehow thought it should be and always hoped it would become.

I grew up, married and had a family of my own. My father continued to call fairly regularly and to visit when he would be in the area. As he had been raised in northern Wisconsin he made visits to the Milwaukee area most years.

This was always a tough relationship, looking back I think it was tough for both of us. There’s no doubt that I could have and should have tried harder on my end. I always thought that he could have and probably should have tried more as well. Sadly, when I think about it now, I realize that I had no idea how to bring about the relationship I desired or if I even knew what I wanted. I always just sort of felt that there was something missing. Frankly, I don’t know even now if he was satisfied with the way things were either, or if he thought there should be more as well.

My father’s two younger brothers died a few years before him. After their deaths, I had the strong feeling that he was much more aware of his mortality. He definitely made more of an effort to connect with me and my grown children than he ever had before. He spent a few weeks at a time in Wisconsin and made much more of an effort to connect. While I appreciated this effort, and we had some very good times, the truth is that it was often very strained. Still, it was progress.

The phone call came in September of 2006. My father told me that he had terminal cancer. I knew it was now or never. We kept in touch much more frequently and I drove down to Louisiana to spend a few weeks with him. I’m so glad that I did. Still, in the manner of people who have full hearts but do not feel comfortable expressing their emotions to one another, we left much unsaid.

When I learned of his death I thought that I would be able to close that particular chapter of my life. We had cared about one another, but truly not known each other as well as we probably could have. I really believed that it would be a matter of shedding some quiet tears and saying goodbye. Wrong.

What I found out was that I cared much more deeply than I knew. I relived and experienced feelings of loss and grief from my childhood on. I thought about the experiences that we had missed out on, the fact that he hadn’t attended my wedding and had never held any of my children when they were babies. I had to acknowledge the anger and resentment that I had felt at never feeling like I was a priority in his life. I had to acknowledge these feelings and allow myself to truly feel them before I was able to let them go. Of course, that meant that I also had to acknowledge my feelings of shame and guilt, I had to honestly take ownership of my part in this relationship. The finger pointing and blame game was not acceptable anymore. It was important to acknowledge and apologize for not making my feelings clear to him while he was still here.

Reiki helped me so much as I went through this process. After I went through the blame and anger I was finally able to acknowledge that someplace deep inside I had always known that my father really did love me very deeply. He simply did not demonstrate it in the manner I had somehow expected. Receiving Reiki on a regular basis and practicing life coaching skills helped me to move into a place of love and forgiveness, for both of us. To be honest, it took an awful lot of thinking about him, praying and meditating to be sure that he was aware now in the afterlife that I had always had very deep affection for him as well. Eventually, I was able to come to a place of peace.

So, here I am. More than two and a half years later I am now able to think about my father and smile. The bitterness, anger, and hurt needed to be allowed, acknowledged and finally released. Now there are the feelings of forgiveness and acceptance for both of us. There is the acknowledgment that few people live storybook lives where emotions and feelings are demonstrated to the expectation and satisfaction of all involved. Most of us feel that others should say or do things in a different manner to be most effective, but emotions and feelings are complicated and the should of, could of is irrelevant in the end. That’s just life.

I have no doubt that some of these feelings will resurface from time to time. Occasions of one sort or another may make me think about the way things actually happened or the way I wish they had been. But now they are much easier for me to deal with. I realize that while we both had our shortcomings, we actually did the very best that we could at the time. I have no way of knowing what was in his mind or heart in the past, but I am sure and always have been sure that he only wanted the best for me. That makes memories and resurfacing emotions much easier to allow and to move through with love, forgiveness, and blessings.

For me, it’s very important to remember that my memory is selective at best. My thoughts and emotions at the moment have always colored my memories and they always will. I can’t change the past, so I choose to appreciate and be grateful for the lessons I have learned. I choose to live in the moment. At the moment I choose to feel good. I choose to forgive myself and others. I choose to love. I choose peace at last.

I wish you a day of forgiving and allowing yourself to be forgiven. I wish you a day of love and blessings. I wish you a day of peace.

Warmly,
Sandy