Recently I sent love to a small herd of goats. Sending love to goats sounds a little weird, right? Maybe… but I wanted to experiment with sending out a vibe of unconditional love and acceptance. I have been thinking about how often humans hold onto feelings of greed, anger, hatred, and jealousy. It’s the kind of thing you see every day in the people around you, at work, on the highways, and in the news. These feelings that people hold onto are sometimes seen in obvious manners when they make rude comments or say nasty things about someone. More often, though, these feelings are seen in not so obvious ways, or may not even be seen at all, but rather just sensed.
I recently attended a class on Reiki. Reiki is a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing. It is administered by “laying on hands” and is based on the idea that an unseen “life force energy” flows through us. If one’s “life force energy” is out of balance, then we are more likely to get sick or feel stress, and if it is balanced, we are more capable of being happy and healthy.
I had scheduled to take the class a couple months earlier, while I was still unemployed. It seemed like a great time to take it as I had plenty of free time. The Saturday morning of the class, I checked my email at the last minute. (I don’t usually check email on the weekends, maybe my intuition was speaking to me.) I received an email from the instructor canceling the class because her son was sick. I was immediately struck by the irony of the Reiki healing class being canceled due to illness. But, I figured it wasn’t my time to attend that class yet.
A few months later, I was working again, and my weekends were full with family activities. It just happened to be that on the one Saturday I had free, another Reiki class was scheduled. Looks like my time had come. I pondered the timing of this. I believe everything happens for a reason, and I often like to search for the reasons. I figured it must be an experience that I should share with the readers of my blog. At the time of the first class I hadn’t started blogging yet. I think I was partially right, but I later found out the full reason for my delay in taking this class. I’ll come back to this in a minute, first I want to share some of the experiences of the class.
The class wasn’t at all what I expected. I expected a room full of people practicing the hand positions used in Reiki. Instead there were just two students and Christine, our teacher. We sat in her living room and started out by just talking. The setting of the class and the tone of the conversation was very calming. After some introductions, we moved on to the Five Principles of Reiki.
The Five Reiki Principles
• Just for today I will not anger.
• Just for today I will not worry.
• Just for today I will be grateful.
• Just for today I will work honestly and diligently.
• Just for today I will be kind to every living thing.
These are such great principles. We spent quite a bit of time discussing each principle and what they meant to us. The conversation flowed easily between all participants. I was really enjoying my time being around like minded and positive individuals.
After the discussion came the attunements. The attunements are supposed to allow the student to tap into the life force energy. The teacher and I sat facing each other, and the attunement took just a couple of minutes. After the attunement, she said that she sensed I needed clarity. I thought about this briefly and realized that is EXACTLY what I needed to hear. I was at the exact point in my life when I needed to get very clear on what I wanted, yet I hadn’t realized this on my own. This is the reason my class had been delayed by a couple months. I wasn’t ready for the message I was to receive.
I was in a job that I wasn’t completely satisfied with, yet I didn’t know exactly what I wanted. I was plugging away at my blog, but wasn’t exactly sure where I wanted it to lead. I had dreams to strive for, but no clear way of achieving them or even of exactly how I wanted those dreams to turn out. Clarity. It’s exactly what I needed.
The class wrapped up a short time after the attunements and some discussion on the messages we received. I hopped in my Jeep and headed home, thinking of clarity. Over the next few days, I began to get very clear on what I wanted. I laid out in my head the job that I would like to have, and a short time later I was called for an interview which led to a job offer. I’ll be starting this new job in January, and it’s exactly what I had pictured once I got clear on what I wanted. I got clear on what I wanted out of my current blog and a couple others I plan to start in the near future. I also got clear on my dreams. I wrote a short story describing my dreams and goals in detail. I took the message of clarity and ran with it, and things are beginning to fall back into place.
Up until this point, I had been riding my roller coaster life, and just going with it. This worked very well for a while, and was the right approach at the time. As life began to stabilize, I needed to refocus and get clarity on my wants, desire, goals, and dreams.
My wife and I have a running joke about falling asleep. We’ll sometimes go to bed real late, and I’ll mention that I’ll probably fall asleep right away. She laughs a little, because I fall asleep very quickly every night. It’s funny now, but it wasn’t always like that for me. I’d like to share my method and the story of how I learned to sleep.
Falling asleep seems so easy, but millions of people have trouble doing it. It’s easy to see how big a problem it is in the US, with advertisements for sleep aids plastering TV and radio. I learned my method when I was in the ninth grade. This was a big year for me, as it’s also the same year I learned to stop worrying. This realization that worry serves no purpose helped with my sleeplessness. But it wasn’t the only factor.
Quiet the Mind
The main factor was to quiet the mind. To stop all those random thoughts from popping in my head as I was trying to fall asleep. I thought about all kinds of things, from school, to boy scouts, to family, to friends. The mind just kept going and going.
A few years ago, I read a book called The Accidental Buddhist, and they referred to this as Monkey Mind. Basically the mind is jumping from tree to tree rather than sitting still. I’ve come to find out this is a fairly common term in Buddhism and Yoga.
So, back to my quest for sleep. I didn’t know anything about monkey mind or how to quiet it back then. But, I did come across a page in a book that discussed meditation and the quieting of the mind. I believe the book was Dianetics, but it was so long ago, I can’t be sure. It’s rather interesting how I came across it. I didn’t read much back then, and, in fact, I rather disliked reading. But, I saw a book on the coffee table, and read one single page. That single page happened to discuss meditation and quieting the mind. It discussed focusing your mind by repeating a single phrase over and over again in your head.
The phrase they recommended was “I Am One.” This is actually a rather powerful phrase if you think about it. It encompasses our oneness with the world around us. We are each a part of the whole; a part of humanity, a part of earth, a part of the universe, and a part of God. We are one with everything around us. In a physical sense, we are all made up of molecules and atoms. These same atoms make up everything around us, so even in the physical sense, we are one, all built from the same basic building blocks of nature.
The phrase “I Am One,” really worked for me. Of course you are free to choose your own phrase or mantra. Any short phrase that holds some importance to you would work. Perhaps “I am happy” or “I am that I am” (a phrase that my dad likes,) or “Life is beautiful.”
Once you have your phrase picked out, you will repeat that phrase over and over in your head as you are falling asleep. If your mind wanders from the phrase, that’s ok. Just recognize that it wandered and get it back on track repeating the phrase again. Minds do tend to wander, and part of what we are doing is training our mind. Thus you just accept that it wandered and get right back to business.
Now that you have your phrase picked out, and you are repeating it over and over, let’s synchronize it with your breathing. For me, I would think “I Am” and breathe in, then think “One” and breathe out. You could also use the entire phrase on the breath in and the breath out, or just on the in, or just on the out. Do whatever feels right to you. The important thing is that you synchronize your phrase with your breathing. This will steady your breathing.
Here’s the quick list of the steps:
- Choose a phrase or mantra, such as “I Am One.”
- Repeat that phrase over and over again, and synchronize it with your breathing. “I Am” as you breathe in, “One” as you breathe out.
Pretty simple huh. Now a couple more questions may come up. Why does it work, and how long does it take? It works for two reasons. Repeating the phrase or mantra focuses your mind, and keeps your monkey mind from jumping tree to tree. In a way, your mind becomes bored and you get sleepy. Also, the steady breathing helps to relax your body, making it easier to fall asleep.
How long does it take? Well, the first few times you do it, it may still take you a while to fall asleep. If you practice this every night, you will gradually learn to fall asleep faster and faster. The key is to keep practicing every night for an extended period of time. It really does take practice, I can’t stress that enough. I began seeing results in a few weeks, but it took about a year before I could drift off as soon as my head hit the pillow.
After practicing for a long time, you won’t even need the mantra and breathing anymore, you will have learned to fall asleep.
I’d like to hear from you. Do you have trouble falling asleep? Do you have another technique that worked for you? Let me hear from you in the comments section!
Photo by kaibara87