The Quest to De-Stress

(In full transparency, I was planning to book a paid Reiki session with Michelle of Purposeful Guidance Healing. She had approached me about a partnership and provided me with a complimentary session in exchange for this blog post. That said, all thoughts and feelings are entirely my own because I keeps it real.)

When the daily grind of having the kids home all day every day over the summer Wore me down, I used to console myself with the fact that school was starting. For five days a week, both kids would enjoy a few hours learning both academically and socially in ways I lacked the energy to teach them. And me? Well, I had fancied myself a lady of leisure with the time to keep an immaculate house, cook gourmet meals, all while wearing “real clothes” with a full face of make-up every day.

Turns out I’m more like this as I drive at a harried pace from errand to errand, un-showered, and wearing workout clothes.

Yes, I realize that I am lucky to have even a few hours to myself to run errands without towing the kids, take time to squeeze in a quick workout, throw in a load of laundry, clean a little, prep dinner, lunches, and maybe even shower. But if you’ve ever had to do ALL THE THINGS in a three-hour time period then you know that it can be stressful AF because the time goes by so fast and it is far from relaxing.

This, combined with the fact that I have a tightly wound personality to begin with, led me to thinking about ways that I could look to unwind and de-stress. A simple solution would be to stop trying to do all the things. However, the reality we face as moms and parents is that if we don’t do it, it won’t get done.

Then, as luck would have it, I met Michelle, the mother of a boy who attends my son’s school. She immediately gave off sorts of good vibes: kind, genuine, and down to earth. She exudes a positive, laid-back nature and is an extremely easy person to talk to. Through our social media and real friendship, I soon discovered that she had become a Reiki master and was looking to practice. Reiki had made such an impact on her life that she decided to pursue it as her passion in addition to role as mom to two beautiful kiddos.  Coincidentally enough, my own mother had recently become trained as a Reiki master and I took this as a sign that the Universe needed me to calm the F down and book a session with Michelle. I told her as much when we had a serendipitous run-in at Target while the kids were at school. See? Even Target wanted this to happen for me.

At this point you’re asking yourself – what the heck is Reiki? (pronounced RAY-KEY) If you’re like me, then maybe your only exposure to Reiki is through Bravo’s delectable series Vanderpump Rules. Lord of the douchebags, Jax, sets out on his own quest to not be a douchebag by employing the help of a Reiki master. She taps on his forehead, calls him Jason, and unfortunately just brings out more of his douchebag-ness with each interaction. #teambrittany for life.

But as we all know, reality TV is not reality, so from Michelle’s mouth, here is an abbreviated version of what Reiki is:

Reiki is an energy therapy that promotes tranquility in the body. Reiki helps to balance stress through relaxation and assists in enabling the body’s natural healing response. Reiki does this by channeling energy through the practitioner’s hands when placed on certain Chakra points on or above the client’s body, which help to facilitate the body’s natural healing process. It is able to lower stress levels and clear blocks to allow for a more steady flow of energy. Reiki is non-denominational and isn’t attached to any religion. It is intended to be a gentle and relaxing experience.

Some of the benefits include lowering stress, boosting your body’s immunity, and reducing blood pressure. Not to mention there is the added benefit of getting to lay down on a comfy table with tranquil nature sounds playing for an hour. Michelle could have sold me on this alone.

Prior to the session Michelle was extremely attentive and dealt with all of my rookie Reiki questions. Like my text “will I have my clothes on?” (the answer, yes. Phew! I don’t have to wash my good underwear before this!) Her concern for my comfort was evident in every interaction and only helped me to feel calm going into our session.

Walking into her home and seeing her space immediately relaxed me. It was warm, inviting, and of course, pristine. She explained to me again what she was going to be doing – placing her hands on or above different points of my body that align to specific chakra points. Prior to our session Michelle shared some ways that Reiki had impacted other people she had worked on before. I wasn’t sure what to expect or if I would feel anything at all given that Reiki can affect everyone so differently. After explaining again that we could stop at any time if there was anything causing me discomfort, she placed a weighted compress over my eyes and began the session.

For the record, Reiki is not something I thought that I would ever do. I have never mediated or even sat still for extended periods of time. My personality bristles against stillness and mindfulness because I have this need to constantly be moving and doing. That said, my current approach clearly isn’t working, so I tried to focus on my breathing and embrace the experience for what it had the potential to do for me.

Michelle began with the chakra points on/around my head. As her hands lingered on those areas I did start to feel a little heat and intensity emanating from her hands into my head. It wasn’t so intense that I wanted to stop her, even though I felt comfortable in doing so, but it was clear that something was going on and I needed to bear down and ride it out. With my eyes closed, I saw violet blobs moving in and out of my line of vision that were very distinct and happening in conjunction with the warmth I was feeling. I tried to focus on those instead and felt some calm in that.

Once she removed her hands from those areas, all of those hot/uncomfortable feelings dissipated almost immediately as she moved on to other chakra points. That was a big A-HA moment. Reiki was doing something to me! I wasn’t sure exactly what but it was having an effect on me.

As she moved forward with the session, I was clueless as to where Michelle’s hands were. She had told me that with some of the more sensitive areas – like your solar plexus chakra (aka stomach/groin) – she hovers her hands above you to draw the energy out. Apparently this is where her hands were when my stomach began grumbling and growling nonstop. At the time I was mortified. I had eaten before I left! Stomach, I know you like to eat, but I really need you to shut up right now. This continued on for what felt like forever, but was probably only 5-10 minutes max. Oh how my body had betrayed me! Thankfully I felt Michelle’s hands move on to my legs and the stomach gurgling faded away and didn’t happen again for the remainder of the session. This was yet another thing I made a mental note of because it seemed so strange to both come on and stop so suddenly.

The remainder of the session was what I would call “uneventful” in that I didn’t have any extreme sensations and thankfully no more embarrassing body noises/functions. However, the moments after that were probably some of the calmest and most relaxing for me. I felt my head droop to one side and I thought for a moment I was going to fall asleep. During this peaceful portion of the session I finally felt myself begin to relax. I wasn’t mentally calculating my grocery shopping list or thinking about the 101 other things that needed to get done that day. Michelle continued to work on me and I simply let myself be in that moment, which is a huge thing for me.

As the 60-minute session ended, I slowly came to and Michelle fetched me some water. I felt as if I was coming out of a dream-like state and needed time to wake up and come to.  Once I had my bearings, I had a lot of questions for her. I find things like this to be fascinating and wanted to get her take on what she got from me during our session.

First, she assured me that not all of my chakras were closed. Listen, I’m not entirely sure WHAT a chakra is, but the type A competitive side of me was going to be very disappointed if I was so blocked with stress and negativity that none of them were open. She laughed and assured me that no, that wasn’t the case. The violet blobs I had seen were a positive thing and associated with the crown chakra. That’s linked to spiritual awareness and creativity (as well as a bunch of other things that I read on the internet). I don’t think I am remotely close to being spiritually enlightened, but the creativity element was interesting for me as a person who fancies themselves a writer because they have a blog.

For her the big thing were the stomach gurgles, which weren’t occurring because I didn’t have a complete and balanced breakfast. These gurgles were triggered when her hands were placed over my solar plexus chakra, which according to Michelle “deals with personal power, making decisions, and setting the direction for your life. It rules our will power, self-discipline, and the actual momentum to move forward and realize our personal desires and intentions in the world. It deals with our power in manifesting what we wish for out of our lives.” She told me that in assessing me and my energy that she felt drawn there. Not necessarily because I was in or out of balance, but her intuition guided her there. The stomach gurgling was actually the release of energy to clear that chakra and not some embarrassing digestive issue that I need feel ashamed about. I explained to her that as a stay-at-home-mom with two kids in school (albeit not for long periods of time) I had felt this pull of “what am I going to do with my life?” more than I had in the past. I struggle with finding something more intellectually stimulating without giving up the flexibility and availability for the kids. These thoughts linger in the back of my mind and it was sort of crazy to see how these worries had manifested its way into my spiritual and physical energy. Michelle listened patiently and I can sort of see how the role of Reiki master is part spiritual healer / part therapist.

Following the session I was infinitely more relaxed, but also a little tired. Apparently the release of energy blockages can take a lot out of a person, even if you’re laying on a table swaddled in comfy blankets. While I wouldn’t say I was totally transformed by a single session – but are you in the best shape of your life after going to the gym one time either – I absolutely could see the benefits of doing Reiki on a more regular basis to calm and center myself.

I think for me that’s the most important benefit. As moms, we are the low man on our very own totem poles. Our needs and our physical/mental well-being take a backseat to the rigors of everyday life. There is never enough time to do all the things nor is there even the time to tell someone else how to do all of the things that you would inevitably do yourself because it’s just easier that way. The weight of having to carry thousands of these little burdens is immense and takes its toll after awhile.  I’m not here to convince you to do Reiki. I realize that it may even sound a little “out there”. But I am trying to convince you to do something for yourself. Whether it’s five-minutes of mediation, a quick jog, or driving in your car with Britney Spears blasting. My Reiki session with Michelle was a win for me and I look forward to carving out more time for it so I can continue to mom on for my family as the best, less-stressed me possible.

If you’re interested in learning more about Reiki, you can read more about it on Michelle’s website : https://purposefulguidancehealing.com/

For local New Jersey moms, you can also book a session with her directly through her website.

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