Retreats as a regular practice

HarmonyDawn
After dinner walk at Harmony Dawn Retreat Centre in Hastings, Ontario

Several years ago, I attended my first yoga retreat with my friend, Kellie.  I loved everything about it: attending yoga classes; eating tasty and nutritious meals; spending time with a dear friend; meeting friendly and interesting people; relaxing in a hammock, by a fire or in a sauna; reading, walking and even napping!!!   For me, it was a blissful break from parenting and full-time employment.

Since then, I’ve made it a regular practice to go on retreat, having learned the hard way that to be an effective parent, spouse, friend and employee, I need to care for myself first. I have come to understand that there is nothing selfish about this.  After all, every plane safety talk includes a reminder to adults to place the oxygen mask on themselves first, before assisting children or others in need of support!

Today Kellie is a popular yoga teacher and the owner of the AwareYoga studio in Stirling, Ontario.  I’m thrilled to regularly offer reiki sessions, workshops and courses at them. See upcoming retreats for details.

Apache story

A reiki session with photographer Mark Tearle vividly surfaced an historic Apache story which illuminated Mark’s present-day feelings and motivations.

The story arrived as a jumble of images, sounds and emotions. At first, they seemed random, but gradually, they resolved into a coherent narrative.

The first was like a video clip.  Mark was terrified.  He was running, panting and checking back over his shoulder for pursuers.

Next, I saw the village he had fled, which was a collection of Native American tipis.  I felt the warmth of a vibrant community, and saw him dancing in a low squat stance with a group around a bonfire, accompanied by a drum beating.

I voiced the rhythm:  chum-tika-te-te-chum-tika-te-te-chum-tika-te-te.  Startled, Mark exclaimed that one of his favourite songs began with the same beat!

Then, I understood that this village had been attacked by “the others.”

village-attack
“Attack on the Village” (October, 1885) Harper’s Weekly

When it seemed safe, he had returned home, only to find everything burnt. Smoke was still rising in various places where the dwellings had been, everyone from his community killed or taken.

Heart-broken and alone, he collapsed in grief.

He lay there for a long time, shattered, the passage of time measured by the rising and setting of the sun.

Little by little, through his haze, he came to see the reliable cycle of nature as a message from the spirits of his departed people.  They showed him that life persists, in spite of everything.

This truth gave him courage and a reason to live, in the face of overwhelming grief, guilt and loneliness.  As the sole survivor, he felt he had a responsibility to remember his people, and honour their memory.

First, he painted their images and stories, but he realized it was important for the stories to be more durable than the village that had burnt, so he began to carve images in rock. Planning, gathering materials, creating and retelling became his raison d’etre.

I noted how this drive to observe, document and create played out in his life through his passion for photography.  He seemed deeply moved by this connection, later reflecting, “Our session opened a door for me, a door into my spirit or soul. I always seek to understand things, and your “diagnosis” about my sense of beauty and creativity helped me to understand my creative impulse without diminishing the sense of wonder at the mystery that is creation.”

I heard a name, and struggled to say it.  Was it his name?  Paw-chee? Patchi?!  ….Apache?!!?

I asked Mark if he knew anything about the Apache. It turned out that he had read of their history and ways. He shared a series of recollections, including that the Apache had lived in the desert in the south-west of America and were forcibly resettled to Florida wetlands.

After our session, I googled Apache.  I discovered that they had indeed lived in tipis.  I also found an article, Petroglyphs, Pictographs, Rock Art: Mysterious Images On Stone by Jay W. Sharp.  I emailed a link to Mark with a note, “I feel you were compelled to remember your people through art, like this.”

He replied, “Many thanks for sending me the piece on rock art, it has given me much to reflect upon. I felt a physical rush when I saw it.”

Since being attuned as a reiki master, I find stories such as this appear regularly, though not in every reiki session.  They seem to appear as needed, to support the recipient with insights into life patterns and / or motivations.

Emotional & physical healing

flowOne of the first things I was taught about reiki energy was that it is intelligent and flows to where it is needed.  Naturally this was difficult for me to grasp until I experienced it for myself.

I had promised reiki to my friend and colleague, Jean Nielsen, before her foot surgery.  By the time we coordinated our schedules, I was a reiki 2 practitioner and Jean had resumed walking, with the support of a cane.

Jean and I were both thinking about her foot as I began the session.  I started at the head and moved systematically through the hand positions as I had been taught, down towards the feet.

This steady progress was interrupted at Jean’s hips, where I was suddenly struck with a visceral appreciation of what it feels like to lose mobility.  I gasped, “This sucks!”  “…This is even worse then losing a driver’s license!” “…This is simple, everyday tasks like walking to the washroom!!” Eyes tearing with frustration, I wailed, “This really sucks!”

Pausing to grab a tissue, I looked at Jean, seeking confirmation.  “That’s right!” she agreed, bemused at how her pain was causing such a reaction in me.

Then she apologized for making me cry.  I assured her that no apology was necessary.  To walk a mile in Jean’s shoes, I needed to feel extreme frustration!  Besides, I explained, I wasn’t attached to the emotion because it wasn’t mine; it was hers!

Resuming at Jean’s hips, I sensed something even darker.  “It’s so scary!” I exclaimed.  Losing mobility for Jean was forcing her to face her own mortality; first the foot, then the legs, then the hips…  “…A slippery slope,” I elaborated, “…the beginning of the end!”

I asked Jean if she’d been fretting about these things or had a good cry about them.  She agreed it had been troubling her and was sometimes a major source of frustration and even anger; she had been expecting to be reasonably pain-free and mobile again after her operation and hadn’t expected the pain to move to other spots.  Because she was walking unevenly with a cane, her hip had actually been giving her more grief than her foot.

She said she tried not to wallow in these feelings, but she sometimes feared that things were getting worse instead of better.  My talk of mortality and the ‘slippery slope’ was exactly how she had been feeling.

She also said she hadn’t been talking about this to anyone and was extremely surprised when I picked up on it.  Our discussion helped Jean realize that it was time to start taking action by consulting with a chiropractor and/or physiotherapist.

As I completed the session, I didn’t observe any noteworthy sensations at Jean’s feet… so what we had both expected to be a primarily physical, foot-focused treatment turned out to centre around blocked emotional energy in her hips!

I saw Jean again that evening.  She reported, with surprise, that her hips were feeling much better.  A couple of days later, she texted that she was, “amazed at the difference. I thought I might feel ‘fresher’ but didn’t realize the pain would actually go away!  Hips are so much better.  A little pain creeping back but nothing like before.  Thank you so much for taking on my problems and throwing them away!”

Having a sunny outlook is a blessing and I have no doubt about it supporting healing.  At the same time, Jean’s session illuminated the value of surfacing and releasing negative emotions.  I believe that seeing me reflect her distress helped Jean acknowledge how frustrating and scary losing her mobility really was.

In Jean’s and other reiki sessions I have experienced, sometimes I rant, sometimes the recipient cries, and sometimes we rant and cry together.  It doesn’t seem to matter who expresses emotions as long as they are acknowledged and cleared.

Jean’s session also convinced me of the intelligence of reiki energy.  I trust it to flow where it is needed.

The peddler, the bird & a magical gift

Often during reiki I receive healing images, messages and stories.  A session with Kellie Dearman, a Stirling yoga teacher and ladies’ wear store owner, included powerful images of a travelling peddler, a messenger bird, and a magical gift from a grandmother who had passed away decades earlier.

The first image was of Kellie in another life as a male peddler who traveled from town to town with all of his wares on his back.  The work was physically demanding and often lonely, but ultimately rewarding.  People were always happy when the peddler arrived, knowing he brought goods they wanted to buy as well as news they wanted to hear.

photo of travelling peddler sculpture
Travelling Peddler sculpture

Sure enough, physically demanding work, travel, and being a bearer of news/information and goods are all patterns in Kellie’s present life.  Although she has a yoga studio in her home, she travels to teach many of her classes in the neighbouring town of Belleville.  In addition, she frequently drives distances to facilitate yoga retreats and to restock and promote her store.

Kellie reflected, “I related very much to the image of the heavily burdened traveller, although I surprisingly did not find that image to be stressful to me, just a reality check. I found my reaction quite interesting, in that I just simply accept my “burden” as a part of my job/role in this life! And confirmation of that was actually very good. No matter how difficult the journey is, I am pretty ok with it, as long as I am of service.”

Next, at Kellie’s heart and solar plexus, I sensed sadness.  Knowing she had lost both a mother and brother earlier in the year, I assumed that feeling was grieving for them. However, checking in with herself, Kellie found, “I did not feel intense grief…. about my mother and brother, and as I suspected, I have actually come to peace with both their passings.”

photo of owl eyes
Messenger bird eyes

Yet still I sensed sadness.  The next image I received was a bright-eyed messenger bird.  At first, I thought the bird had arrived to take a message from Kellie to the loved ones who had passed, but Kellie was confident that she’d already said what she needed to say.

I then communicated an impression of Kellie as a little girl brimming with joy, but lonely.  She agreed the description was, “so bang on,” elaborating that, “as a child I was very happy, but also very introverted in some ways.”  Revisiting her younger self surfaced deep-seated grief about her grandmother.  She explained, “my grandmother was my best friend and ally, someone who loved me unconditionally and supported me in every way. Her fairly sudden illness and loss when I was 12 was completely devastating for me. I fell into a deep chasm and had no real way to deal with my grief. I just felt abandoned in so many ways.”

photo of a cup of pink
A drink of pink

Then I noticed that the bird had brought a special gift from Kellie’s grandmother.  It was a bottomless cup.  Receiving it, Kellie saw that it was filled with a warm, sweet, thick, pink liquid and she knew that she should drink it.

She took a sip and the liquid flowed straight to her heart, filling it with her grandmother’s love, radiating out to fill her whole body.  In fact, her body became so full that her entire being pulsed with the energy, so full, the surplus extended all around and beyond her being, pouring out her palms and soles of her feet.  It was beautiful!

Still holding the cup, and sated, Kellie said she was going to slip it into her pocket. We giggled as we pictured the cup flattening and softening, like a wineskin.  Kellie  knew she could carry it with her, always, and take a swig of the bottomless drink of pink whenever she needed.

A few days after receiving reiki, Kellie reported, “I went for a yoga class and had an experience during sivasana: as I lay resting, the light in front of my closed eyes turned deep, bright pink and I felt filled with love and joy!!! and sprung some tears 🙂 This feeling lasted at least several moments.”

scan of Grandma's Poem by Donna M. Bussey

Recovering from a concussion

Early in my practice, I witnessed reiki’s ability to gently support the release of physical and emotional trauma from a concussion.

image of car after getting hitI was a reiki 1 practioner when I found myself at a conference sitting next to Lynn Reed from Sarnia.  She looked dazed, and explained that she’d been in a car accident the previous week.  Another driver had gone through a stop sign, slamming into her car, knocking it into a cement pole and throwing her head against a window. The pole was wiped out, the minivan badly damaged, and Lynn received a concussion.

So what was she doing at a weekend-long conference 4 hours from home?!?  She explained that she had registered months earlier and had really been looking forward to it.  After the accident, as the owner, leader and trainer of a busy Pampered Chef business and mother of two young children, she knew she’d get more rest staying at a hotel than she would at home!  Indeed, she had slept for most of the day and left her room only for dinner and to see the keynote speakers.

I wondered if reiki could help and offered her a session.  Lynn looked relieved and immediately accepted; she seemed open to trying anything!  So after dinner we began.

The sensation I felt at Lynn’s head was “buzzy;” a description she agreed with.  Soon she reported a tingling, electrical type of sensation running down her body.  A short time later, her whole body started to shake!

We were both very surprised.  Searching for an explanation, I recalled that in my reiki 1 course, I had given reiki to a woman who had received kidney transplants three times. During the session, she had also shaken, and my teacher explained it was one possible way of releasing physical trauma.  Remembering this, I trusted that all was well and continued.  Lynn kept shaking as I worked my way down her body.

By the time I reached Lynn’s lower body, I was picking up emotions.  I appreciated and felt overwhelmed by the weight of Lynn’s struggle to hold herself together after the accident.  In spite of her physical injury and accompanying emotional shock, she had continued to care for her family, manage her business, and deal with the added pressures of liaising with a garage and her insurance company!  What an incredible woman!

Profoundly moved, I told Lynn I recognized her bravery and all that she had done.  I was compelled to let her know that she was appreciated, and loved.  By the end of the session, Lynn had stopped shaking and fallen asleep.

screen capture of Lynn's Facebook postWhen she got home, Lynn sent me a lovely thank you note, followed a few days later by a public expression of gratitude on Facebook, “Kimeiko Hotta Dover helped clear part of my concussion symptoms with a Reiki treatment last week. Looking for someone in Sarnia to have another one done. Referrals?”

After I attuned to reiki 2, I was able to send Lynn distance reiki to support her healing.

Lynn notes that, “studies are being done on concussions and how long they last. And getting all the help you can.”  Since her accident, she has been doing just that: making regular visits to a homeopath, massage therapist, chiropractor and physiotherapist, and getting lots of rest.

Professionally, Lynn’s leadership has been recognized and she has a new title: Pampered Chef Independent Director.  In terms of her health, she is, “working on increasing energy levels and endurance,” and says, “I’m doing much better and almost fully recovered.”

Yay, Lynn!

Introduction to reiki stories

People seek reiki for a variety of physical, emotional, mental and spiritual reasons including curiosity, personal development, stress release, interpersonal issues, anxiety, depression, addiction, trauma, grief, phobias, physical aches and pains, as well as chronic and serious illnesses like fibromyalgia and cancer, and more.

Some reiki benefits I have witnessed include:

I honestly never know what will happen in a reiki session as each is unique and the experience varies from person to person and session to session.  Regardless of how an individual’s reiki journey unfolds, I’ve learned to trust reiki to prioritize each recipient’s most critical healing needs.

I hope you enjoy reading my reiki stories as much as I’ve enjoyed experiencing and reporting them.

kimeiko
xo