Category Archives: spirituality

The Value of Silence

silence

Here is an odd idea for a blogger: silence.

I mean silence in the larger sense, a practice that includes not only verbal but also written communication.

Expression. Express yourself. Talk about your feelings. We are told this is the key to feeling empowered, understood, and self-actualized.

My friend, Laura, who is a Reiki practitioner and creator of her business Reiki Fusion, once told me that expressing yourself can be seen another way–like popping a boil. You don’t want to express yourself all over someone else.

Communication, however, is a two-way sporting event. Volley and serve. Listen and speak. Give and receive.

Lately, I’ve been expressing myself all over everything and everybody. Like I’m addicted to it. Like I have this (wrong) belief that if I somehow get my thoughts and ideas and opinions out there in a large enough volume, I will make a positive difference in the world. I’m beginning to see that perhaps a little opinion goes a long way.

Like salt. A pinch is good on your potatoes. A cup would be disaster.

It doesn’t help that I’m finally getting paid for producing words. Instead of using up my expression/communication energy, my job seems to be feeding it. So now I seek balance. I am trying, struggling really, to curb my addiction to voice. It is hard. I fail often. I remind myself to just stay quiet, to let the ideas and feelings stay inside my brain and heart or else find other, non-verbal outlets for releasing the pressure. Dancing. Meditating. Walking. Creating images. Still, the words come. Here I am, right now, producing words, words, words.

I am drawn to the idea of taking a vow of silence. I now see the value in such a commitment. A week of silence. Even two days. I long for a vacation from the sound of my own voice.

rumi

“In Silence there is eloquence. Stop weaving and see how the pattern improves.”
― Rumi

Two Sunday Morning Poems

Dear Reader:

A couple months ago, I wrote a poem about sitting outside on a glorious, summer Sunday morning. I called it “Sunday Morning.”

This week while organizing my filing cabinet, I discovered an old poem I wrote around 1996. Guess what it was called? “Sunday Morning.”

I see so many similarities between these two poems, and it kinda freaks me out. Has my inner landscape changed so little in sixteen years? No wonder I still feel twenty-something!

I will share both of these poems with you this morning . . . this Sunday morning Outside the Box.

SUNDAY MORNING (2012)

Outside, the pollen drops
from the trees, and dew
sparks tiny fires in the grass.
Shadows and heat
play tug of war
on the lawn while a lone
madrigal, solitary musician,
lights the air with sharp,
clear notes. The branches
of beech trees are lines on a page
and the bird’s song rides
up and down–
earnest, imperative composition.
“Find me, please, find me;
I am here, see, I am here, here, here.”
The dog pants hot on the porch.
A hummingbird sips
from the buds of pink Salvia
in the garden box.

I write while the others sleep
tucked into upstairs bedrooms.

SUNDAY MORNING (1996)

The faint whisper of some inner voice
left over from childhood
like dislike of beets
tells me I should be, oh, somewhere
in church nodding with the pious
over a particularly strong invective
from the pulpit
or else joining in a thunderous “AMEN!”
meant to shake the devil
from my very soul; I ache

instead to plunge wrist-deep
into this potting soil;
damp, dirt smell filling my nostrils,
sliding over my skin
like a caress
or a good baptism.
I worship these newborn flowers
petals sprinkled
with earth I tamped around them
and leaves still damp
from the fecund humidity of the greenhouse.
Infant pansies not yet come to bud
and flushed-pink impatiens
the color of a baby’s mouth.
Geraniums, dianthus, basil.
Lettuce leaves frill against the tiny
white-lace blossoms I cannot name.

One of the cats stalks
among the flower pots, sniffs
from each one delicately
before settling down for a wash.
I try to clear my head
of voices that can wait
’til Monday.
This is my Sunday morning
spent with many flowers and one wish–
to write my quiet moments into existence
before moving on to other worlds.

Hot Summer Color: Orange!

You are seeing it everywhere–in the fashion magazines, in clothing stores, in home furnishings, and in beauty products like nail polish and even lipstick. It is the color of our favorite citrus fruit, of exuberent daylilies popping up in gardens and naturalized on the sides of country roads, and of Creamsicles frozen desserts. It is the color orange, and it is just about time for it. A little research into color psychology sheds some light on this bright color and why we might be drawn to it at this particular time.

According to the Empower Yourself With Color Psychology website at http://www.empower-yourself-with-color-psychology.com/color-orange.html, orange is both optimistic and uplifting. When we are feeling down and in despair, orange with it’s combination of safe red and sunny yellow can lift us out of our feelings of doom and gloom. With wars dragging on, an economy that is sluggish at best, and what seems to be a perrenial case of the “dooms” infecting the media, who can blame us for being drawn to a color that is like an electric charge to our psyche?

Orange is said to be an extroverted and unihibited color, as well, stimulating both appetite and conversation. A social color. Perhaps we are craving orange because we are craving more open conversations with each other, less selfish “me-ism” and more “we-ism.” Perhaps it is a recongition that we will need to work together to solve the very real problems we are facing. Forget Red States and Blue States and even Purple States…how about Orange States?

In the Reiki system of thought, the color orange corresponds to the sacral chakra–the pleasure chakra. This is the energy center that, when open, allows us to fully experience and enjoy the pleasures of life. (What could be more pleasurable than a Creamsicle on a hot summer day, I ask you?)

Orange nails

In our own lives, we can maybe get a burst of creative energy and optimism when we pull on a pair of orange pants or paint our nails the color of carrots! Wearing orange takes a certain boldness, a willingness to be seen and heard. Orange also is said to help us understand and incorporate new ideas and to throw off our inhibitions. Whether you are ready to take the plunge with a new outfit or simply want to test the waters with an orange-colored pedicure this summer, give orange a try. At the very least you’ll be sporting the most fashionable color of the season.

Tea Bag Wisdom

Catch more health and beauty information when you read the Nurturing Tranquility Newsletter from Nurturing Tranquility Salon & Spa Retreat in Limington, Maine. Go to http://nurturingtranquilitysalonandspa.com/ to visit the salon & spa website and sign up for the newsletter!

Gratitude

Crabapples

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” –Melody Beattie

Dear Reader:

At this time of Thanksgiving, I thought I would share an article I recently wrote for a friend’s newsletter. You can read the entire newsletter at the Nurturing Tranquility News link here. In honor of Small Business Saturday (heck, let’s make it Small Business MONTH), if you are in the neighborhood, consider buying salon products or gift certificates from this wonderful salon & spa.

Gratitude.

There are many ways to view the commonalities of life that we all experience; we fit these commonalities into patterns or schemas that allow us to organize them, contemplate them, analyze them, and then act according to them. One of the many schemas available to us is the concept of energy centers or chakras. In this short article, we will talk about chakras as they relate to a system of healing known as Reiki. Reiki healing is based on “ki” or life force that comes from your higher power, whatever your higher power happens to be. For you, that may mean God. For someone else, it may mean simply their highest self. For a Star Wars fan, it may be The Force.

According to the Reiki system of thought and healing, the body has several “energy centers” called chakras. Each chakra has certain characteristics and affects corresponding areas of the body. These energy centers can become blocked, causing physical and spiritual problems. A Reiki practitioner can use gentle hands-on healing techniques to open the energy center, allowing the ki, or life force, to flow freely. Individuals can also nourish and open the chakras with meditation and focus. And that is what we are going to talk about this month–opening the 2nd chakra with gratitude.

Stream

The 2nd chakra is located in the lower abdomen and is known as the pleasure chakra. It is here that we experience joy, creativity, sexual pleasure, enjoyment, and sensuality. This is the center where, if open, we are able to take pleasure in life and all it has to offer us. We can enjoy the beauty of a pink sunset, the taste of chocolate on our tongue, the way our partner’s eyes crinkle in the corners when he/she laughs, the rhythmic beat of our favorite piece of music, etc. Blockages at this chakra can produce feelings of apathy, dissatisfaction, and depression. You may feel tired. You may do things out of a sense of duty rather than creativity and pleasure.

One way to open and nurture your 2nd chakra is to practice gratitude. At this time of year with Thanksgiving just around the corner, this is a wonderful time to give gratitude some thought. Taking time to appreciate what you have–even the smallest things–opens that old 2nd chakra and makes way for more good feelings and energy to come your way. This concept is related to “the power of attraction” we’ve heard so much about lately. If you focus on what is pleasurable in your life and feel grateful for what life has given you, you are likely to attract MORE good things to you.

You don’t have to be a Reiki practitioner to recognize the universal nature of this concept. Most religions teach about the practice of gratitude–praising God or making offerings of thanksgiving. Seems that on some level there is a universal understanding that appreciation, gratitude, and thanksgiving are healthy for human beings. Focus on what is good in your life. Focus on the flavors of the food you eat. Focus on the pleasures of touch. Focus on the sounds of your favorite music. Use all your senses. Then, think:

“Thanks, Life (God, Gaia, Universe, etc.). This is really, really wonderful (delicious, gorgeous, tasty, mind-blowing, fabulous, etc.)!”

You may be surprised at how fulfilled and joyful you feel. Gratitude really is the “magic” ingredient for a more joy-filled, pleasurable, creative life.

Second Chakra Orange

I wish all of you, my dear readers, a happy and healthy Thanksgiving and the beginning of a joyous winter season.

Days 52-57: The Temple of My Familiars

Library of Congress

Dear Reader:

The title of Alice Walker’s book, THE TEMPLE OF MY FAMILIAR, has been running through my head since Wednesday when I finally visited the Library of Congress, not because the Walker book has anything to do with the library (except I’m sure a copy is housed in the vast stacks) but because the building, named the Thomas Jefferson Building in 1980, feels like a temple to me. A temple of learning. A temple of collective knowledge. A temple of books.

Outside the Library

Books As Familiars

According to Wikipedia, a “familiar” is the name given to spirit helpers, often taking the guise of animals, in the practice of witchcraft or other magical practices. If I have any sort of familiars, they take quite a different form than the usual cats or owls or toads.

My familiars are books.

Stephen King, in his book ON WRITING, speaks of writing as the only real form of magic he knows. A writer has a picture in his mind. He puts down words on paper. A reader picks up the book and voila! A picture forms in the reader’s mind. The book (or article, letter, Facebook post, text message) is the vehicle the magic uses to pass knowledge or ideas or images from one person to another without actually speaking. Writing is magic. Books, familiars.

The Great Hall

History of the Library

So how did this temple to learning come to be? The library was established in 1800 as a resource for Congress and was housed in the Capitol building. It was destroyed (burned, of course. Why is it that books, like witches or heretics, are always being burned?) by British troops in 1814. At that time, Thomas Jefferson had one of the largest, most comprehensive personal libraries in America, a collection he’d been gathering for fifty years. He offered his library to Congress, arguing for the inclusion of many types of literature, languages, and ideas that went beyond the usual legislative materials. Congress appropriated funds for the purchase of the library in 1815. The current building, constructed in the Italian Renaissance style, was finished in 1897. It now houses 144 million items!

http://www.loc.gov/about/history.html

Minerva Mosaic

Minerva

Beyond the functionality of storing so much knowledge, the building itself is architecturally gorgeous and decorated with classical imagery. Take the lovely Minerva, for example. My photo does not capture the beauty of the mosaic depicting the Roman goddess, Minerva, the guardian of civilization. Click HERE to see the mosaic in all its glory. Minerva is known as the goddess of poetry, wisdom, medicine, commerce, weaving, crafts, and magic. (Wikipedia) She is often depicted with an owl (a familiar!) to symbolize wisdom.

Gets me wondering: what would our Puritan forefathers think of all this pagan symbolism in the heart of our nation? I have the feeling they’d be right here with the pitchforks and torches claiming they were ridding the Capitol of satanic forces and restoring it to Christianity. (See Salem Witch Trials). Which also leads to me wonder if it is really possible for ONE deity (even divided into three parts) to symbolize all the concepts we hold dear. Is is really so very wrong to picture Wisdom as a beautiful goddess, especially one who holds a spear in hand, ready to defend civilization?

Painted Ceiling

Library Card

It’s all well and good to peer up at the painted, vaulted ceiling and heave an admiring sigh or two (or a hundred), but what about actually using the library to, well, research something? The doors to the main reading room were tantalizingly near with a “Do Not Enter” sign standing guard. Obviously, casual, walk-in visitors to the library are not allowed entrance. We were able to climb some stairs and look down into the main reading room with its wooden reading tables, red walls, soaring rotunda ceiling and tantalizing glimpses of stacks surrounding the area. No photography allowed, though. Click HERE to see a photo on the library’s website.

Speaking with a docent, I asked “How do you get to use the library?” She explained about signing up for a reader identification card which allows you to visit the reading rooms and to request materials for study. The thought of actually sitting in that room, searching the databases, requesting materials from the stacks, and reading beneath that rotunda makes me giddy. And what must it be like to work here at the library with all its collected knowledge organized and housed and available for anyone who wishes to learn? The website says there are openings for volunteer docents, and if I were going to stay here in D.C. that is something I would seriously consider. If this is a temple to wisdom, would working here make me a priestess?

Fountain of Neptune

This day, our visiting friends (D.J. Donny Bess and Sweet Caroline who flew down from Maine) and I looked around at some of the exhibits and then headed back outside where Neptune guards from his fountain perch overlooking the East Front of the Capitol Building.

Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress

Walking across the street and looking back, I took a final look at the temple of my familiars.

Beautiful.

Day 13: Museum of the American Indian

Outside the Museum

Dear Reader:

After another slow start to our day (this has been a lazy summer schedule for sure) the Teen and I visited the Museum of the American Indian. The curvy, light-colored stone exterior is surrounded by native plantings and some outdoor structures that look like teepees and other dwellings. When we entered the building, we were struck by the sense of space and roundness, very welcoming and soothing and wonderful. The rotunda is open all the way past the four floors of exhibits to a center dome with a sky light and displays four examples of boats–birch bark and seal skin kayak and woven reed and a beautiful wooden example from the Hawaiian Islands.

Boats "Floating" in the Rotunda

I loved this carving “The Beaver and the Mink, Susan A. Point (Coast Salish), 2004.

The Beaver and The Mink

Our travels have this way of connecting. When we visited Seattle, we were exposed to the Northwest Indian art like this carving. When we visited Hawaii, we saw examples of native Hawaiian boats. Now in D.C., these and many, many other examples of American Indian culture are brought together under one dome.

Allies in War, Partners in Peace

I was struck by how important this city is as a repository of American culture and history–defining history in this case as the history of the land. We can go all the way from prehistoric mammals of North America in the Museum of Natural History, through the history of the native peoples who have been here the longest of all of us, up to the pivotal (and certainly destructive for the American Indians) moment of discovery and exploration and settlement by the Europeans here in the Museum of the American Indian, and on to the birth of our nation and the subsequent timelines and historical moments in the American History Museum–including the lives and times of the colonists, the founders, the African peoples brought here as slaves, the immigrants who came here for more opportunity, and even the current popular culture that we all swim in today regardless of when or how our ancestors arrived on these shores.

We decided to start on the fourth floor in the Our Universes exhibit which focuses on Native belief systems. Most of these beliefs revolve around the idea of connectedness between the Earth and everything on it. Communion with nature, not conquest.

Mayan Calendar

The Mayan Calendar on display was beautiful and fascinating. . . and I’m thinking this must be drawing more interest as we head toward the year 2012 and the supposed “apocalypse” or “change” that is to come based on this calendar. Click HERE to read a basic article about the end of this particular Mayan “era” in 2012.

Beautiful Drum

The objects on display were so beautiful and artistic, from exquisitely embroidered clothing to drums such as this one.

In The Garden quilt by Marie Watt, 2003

The third floor houses the Contemporary Art exhibit.

"Weh-Pom and the Star Sisters", Judith Lowry, 2004.

We were struck by the beautiful blue color against the dark background and the swooping lines of the images.

Foods Based on Native Plants

Downstairs on the first floor, just outside a cafeteria offering Native foods, was this case full of food products based on plants native to North and South America.

Another Outside View

We browsed for a bit in the museum store (I found a pretty red glass bead/juniper berry necklace) and then headed outside to look at the fountain before going home for the day. Of course, I want to go back and see some more exhibits. There is so much to learn!

Precious Substance: Water

I came away with my convictions about the need for sustainability, the interconnectedness of life, and appreciation for the world with all its diversity strengthened. If you are ever in D.C., put this museum on your “must see” list.

Ephemeral Spring

Crabapple Blossoms

Dear Reader:

So we’ve had one of those kind of springs. An overcast, rainy, drizzly, foggy, chilly, turn-on-the-furnace, will-the-sun-ever-come-out, I’m-gonna-stick-my-head-in-an-oven-if-it-doesn’t-clear-up-soon spring. Despite the lack of sunlight, I fell in love with Spring this year. The beauty overwhelmed me.

The budding leaves on the trees glowed neon green. Every window in my house framed dazzling squares of bright, yellowy-green glaze, and every trip into town offered views of wide, verdant expanses from the ridges overlooking lush valleys of oak and maple and birch and beech trees budding out after a long, snowy winter.

My Reiki instructor reminded me that green is the color of the heart chakra, the energy center that corresponds with compassion, unconditional love, forgiveness, faith, receptivity, and acceptance. Either all that green was feeding my heart chakra, or my heart chakra was so energized I was drawn to all that green, or perhaps the energy and the color and the season were all just aligned for me this year so that despite the rain and gloom I was able to feel hope and love and faith for a brighter future.

Later in the season, the light color will deepen into emerald and forest and moss, but this early spring . . . well, it was all golden-green, the color Robert Frost wrote about in his short poem “Nothing Gold Can Stay.”

Nothing Gold Can Stay

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

Award-winning poet, Dana Gioia, wrote an excellent essay about Frost’s 1923 poem. In the essay,“On Robert Frost’s Nothing Gold Can Stay,” Gioia contrasts this type of short poem with more the formalized forms of sonnets and epigrams. He talks about the construction of the poem, simplicity of the words Frost chose to use, and the movement from nature themes to philosophical observation about the passage of time.

Exuberant Rhubarb

This poem could be depressing, like the rainy weather, a note on the ephemeral qualities of youth giving way to duller attributes. Okay, true, but here’s the thing about life–it goes in cycles. Yes, this rainy yet somehow bright green spring will yield to summer and heat and dust and shady spots beneath the mature leaves of the trees. And, yes, the leaves will dry up and fall in autumn, and the branches will seem bare and dead through another long winter, but then . . . Spring, once again!

Lamium Maculatum

Nowhere is this more apparent than in my perennial flower beds. Year after year, these plants die back in the fall and then come back to life once again in the spring, bursting out of the cold wet ground and spreading themselves up and out to catch the fall of rain and (theoretically this year) the rays of sunlight.

Most of these plants are divisions from friends’ and my mother’s flower beds, and because I’ve never been too interested in the science of horticulture (I’m more interested in having pretty gardens) I rarely even bother to find out the names of the plants. A quick search this morning for “purple flowers ground covers” brought up pictures that seemed to match my bunchy cluster of purple flowers with heart-shaped leaves that grows on the north-east side of my front steps. If I’m right, this is Lamium maculatum, a ground-cover than does well in partial shade. It has come back bigger and better than ever each year. I highly recommend this hardy perennial if you are more of a putterer and less of a horticulturalist in the garden.

Another Lamium

This is another Lamium, with the more characteristic dark-rimmed silvery foliage and pink flowers. I love the way it looks against the rock, so delicate and pretty.

Trillium erectum

Meanwhile, out in Nature’s garden, otherwise known as “the woods” or “the side of the road,” this red Trillium briefly blazed like the red star she is. My friend Sandi (check out her Waughtercolors artwork on deviantART) and I noticed these beautiful ephemerals while on an early-morning bike ride one cloudy-but-not-quite-rainy spring day. Spring ephemerals are woodland plants that bloom and go to seed very quickly. Like Frost’s spring gold, they quickly fade to something less spectacular, but while they are here, oh boy! Beautiful. And maybe all the more appreciated because of their ephemeral quality?

Like youth and poetry. For me, a poem is an ephemeral thing, capturing a brief moment in time, a fleeting feeling, an impression.

When I was newly graduated from the University of Maine at Farmington, I got it into my head to write a sonnet sequence. I was inspired by Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s SONNETS FROM THE PORTUGUESE.
I was young. I was in love, newly married. I wanted to chronicle that time in my life. So I wrote 48 poems. Three are lost. I think I sent them to a magazine and when they were returned in my SASE, I failed to put them back in the pile. I didn’t know back then that my urge to create poetry would fade, like the browning blossoms I wrote about that spring in 1992. Lately, though, that poetic part of me has regenerated, perhaps part of a creative cycle like Gaia’s seasons?

Anyway, most of the sonnets are horrible (I keep them for sentimental reasons), but I’ll share one not so horrible one that seems appropriate to the season. Enjoy this brief season, Dear Reader. Summer is right around the corner.

A FEW BLOOMS BROWNING

I

I used to climb into the apple trees,
their white-pink blossoms browning in the heat
of waning spring, and dangling dusty feet
and toes in childish peace among the leaves,
I began to dream of love. The breeze
that swayed the branch was new and sweet
with whispers I would blow to meet
the wind. How easily it was to please
the innocence of me until I sighed
another moment at the solitary sound
a songbird made upon an upper bough.
Weighted with the song, I sat and cried
because that sad and sudden beauty tore
from me the child that I had been before.

How’s Your Ki Today?

Squirreling Away

Dear Reader:

The squirrels have formed a regular food court underneath my bird feeder and the flower bed near the beech trees. Twenty times a day, my poor little dog, Delilah, jumps to the window and barks to be let out, races out the door when I open it, and charges over the snow. Unfortunately for her, but infinitely fortunate for the squirrels, Delilah never manages to capture one of the furry, grey mauraders of bird sustenance. The squirrels know the quickest route up the beeches. They know she can’t chase them across the road. They high-tail it, wait for her to retreat to the house, and then they resume foraging, taking time off to chase each other across the crusty snow and past the compost bin in fits of squirrely joy–or maybe in a less benign territorialness.

While I find squirrel culture mildly fascinating, I am much more amazed by the variety of sub-cultures present in our society. There are the usual circles with which we are all familiar, i.e. political groups, motorcycle enthusiasts, wine lovers, church-goers, and those guys that jump into icy water in the middle of January in nothing but their Speedos. There are goths and DAR members, needle-pointers and Beanie-Baby collectors, people whose aim in life is to tattoo every square inch of their body and people who go to ashrams to learn meditation practices. Whole non-profit organizations have been formed for comic-book lovers, STAR TREK fans, and romance novel writers. It’s a wild and wonderful world out there. No matter who you are, you can probably find likeminded individuals who have organized themselves to some extent. If I were to become a journalist, I might make exploring all these sub-cultures my life’s work. Who needs to travel to India or Venezuela or some island off the coast of Africa in order to study another culture? The United States is a smorgasboard of social rituals, symbolic adornments, lexicons, taboos, and ceremonies.

Just recently, thanks to one of my current writing projects, I’ve been introduced to one such sub-culture found here in America and around the world–the Reiki community. Reiki (pronounced Ray-Key) began in Japan in the early years of the twentieth century when a man named Mikao Usui fasted and meditated for three weeks and either received or developed (depending on your view of these kinds of things) a system of energy work that he used to heal people–spiritually, emotionally, and physically. Click here to peruse the FAQ section of the International Center for Reiki Training website.

Reiki is a concept that includes the belief in a creative force (what some call God), a higher intelligence that acts as a guide for the universe and for the individual and a belief that everything is made up of energy, material things being simply a denser form of energy than say, air . . . or the soul. Reiki teaches that individuals can be more in tune to this energy, can use it to manifest peace and health for themselves and for others. Meditation is a big part of this process. Those who have studied and practiced are also believed to be able to help others by placing their hands on a client during an “attunement” which clears any blockages in the clients’ energy centers. For practical purposes, these energy centers are often referred to as “chakras” and are symbolized by the colors of the spectrum, but this is just a way for practitioners to visualize the concept, not necessarily the reality of the energy itself.

A quick journey around the internet reveals hundreds of testimonials from people who claim to have been helped/healed by Reiki. Spas regularly offer Reiki attunements along with their hot-stone massages, seaweed facials, and French manicures. Hospitals encourage trained Reiki volunteers to work with their patients–including the terminal ones.

“No way,” you might say, shaking your head. “It’s just the placebo affect. I don’t believe in any metaphysical energy mumbo-jumbo.”

I say, “Maybe . . . but so what?” If patients are getting some benefit from it, no matter what the underlying reality is, then great. If someone is feeling depressed and stressed out and goes to the spa for a Reiki treatment and comes out feeling calm and happy, does it really matter why? Maybe her energy centers were cleared or maybe she needed some quiet time away from the hassles of work and kids and the daily commute. Either way, she gets to go home, make a nice dinner, and not scream at her husband for leaving the tiolet seat up again. Everyone’s happier!

Can these results be accomplished without Reiki? Of course. Whether or not the energy concept is reality or a mirage, I believe the pschological affects of concentrating on various aspects of your life can be liberating. Too often we travel through life without analyzing where we are going, why we want to go there, and where we want to end up. We mindlessly cram food and alcohol into our mouths without taking the time to enjoy the flavors or ask ourselves if what we are eating is good for our bodies. We feel angry and upset and lash out, but we haven’t practiced analyzing why we are reacting in that way, dealing with the analysis, and then letting go of the emotions that bog us down. We strive after more . . . more money, more prestige, bigger houses, fancier cars, status jewelry and clothing . . . not realizing that greed is maybe just another form of insecurity, that stopping and appreciating what you already have can fill that space that thinks it needs more and more and more.

The Reiki energy centers, as I understand them so far, correspond with psychological concepts that a counselor or pschiatrist might discusss. Taking the time to focus on first, the basic survival instincts, and then moving on to the higher levels of our psyche–communication, intuition, spirituality–can be of great benefit to the individual, to the community, to the country, to the world. When we begin to realize we have enough, we will stop mindlessly trying to get more. We’ll be healthier. We’ll be happier.

Maybe Reiki is just one of many schemas that provides a design for understanding what is real and common to all of us. The Rei of Reiki may be just another way of talking about God. The Ki of Reiki may be just another way of talking about the id of psychology or the strange attractor theory of modern physics. The point is, if you keep an open mind, life lessons can come to you from many different directions . . . Outside the Box.