Tag: Reiki

New Age Ethics and Taming the Reiki Frontier

The ethics of energy and spiritual work is a topic I bring up often, not because I want to push a specific viewpoint, but because we don’t discuss it enough.  A component of the imperialistic western mindset, particularly of Americans, is that if something is available, we have the right to use, repurpose, repackage, and redeliver to consumers whatever we so desire. This truth also pertains to the acquisition of esoteric insight in the New Age. 

In classes that I teach, I speak very openly about the many routes on my shamanic path, one of which is Usui Reiki. I’ve discussed in prior blogs my concerns around the New Age handling of Reiki, though I’ve never clearly stated how I came to it, why I incorporated it into my practice, how I do so, and how I bridge its cultural differences.  I’m not Japanese, that I’m aware of.  I’m also not Shinto or Buddhist, per se, though am well-informed of both. I was, however, firmly on my shamanic path when I sought to learn Reiki, and was very familiar with cultural appropriation. For those of you who may not know, cultural appropriation is taking a component of a culture not native to one’s own, and adopting it in some fashion. Why on earth, then, was I attracted to Reiki?

Initially, an off-the-hook co-worker told me about it, and invited me to attend a community Reiki Share in Raleigh. A group of about a dozen people sat in circles of wooden chairs (because the Reiki Master refused to allow us to sit in metal chairs. When I asked why, she said it interfered with the life force.  When I asked how, she said. “It just does.”).  Vague peculiarities aside, we opened the space and the Master came to everyone in the circle and allowed Reiki for whatever each needed.

When she came to me, tremendous pressure fluttered in my chest .  My heart cracked open in a metaphoric break. I was overwhelmed with an indescribable emotions, something I referred to for years as “The Great Sadness.” At that point I’d never allowed anyone else into that space, and I wasn’t intentionally allowing the Master, then. That breach was new territory, and so overcome with sadness and embarrassment was I that she could feel it, too, I shook.

She stepped back from me and said, “You have a lot going on there,”  intimated that I really needed a lot of work, then went on to the next person.  Pressured to believe the healing she had done and the summary of it was this precious treasure, in reality I felt violated and abandoned to deal with its aftermath alone. Of course in hindsight, I realize that unfortunate experience was a great example of what not do so as a group leader, particularly as a responsible facilitator of healing, and what the Master was doing stopped being Reiki the second she opened her mouth (if it ever was). I also learned later that it wasn’t an appropriate “Share.”

I swore I’d never approach Reiki again, and that I wouldn’t attend garden variety energy work stuffs on the whim of lesser-informed friends.

A couple of years later, in my shamanic work I felt led to expand my knowledge of energy healing approaches. I didn’t know of another avenue, so I completed the Shoden and Okuden attunements (Another unsavory interpersonal experience, but a brilliant joining with Universal Life Force.).  I asked that teacher about the cultural appropriation of Reiki, and I had to explain to her what that meant.  She informed me Reiki was for everyone. Shortly after, I completed the Shinpiden level under another Master, via unorthodox means. For those who don’t know, it’s a big no-no to switch Reiki teachers (or was then). Part of the reason I did is despite that my final teacher didn’t directly address cultural appropriation, she incorporated original Shinto and  Buddhist tenets into the study.

That’s how I got to Reiki. How it came to me is something other.

I knew from the peacemaking and culling of personal truth in my shamanic education that I had to go through the same process with Reiki. One thing I never encountered in my shamanic learning is the concept of secrecy, that there are some truths meant to be kept from others, those who are not initiated on the same path.  Being a middle class American with no awareness of gentry and little respect for elitism, this made no sense to me. I honored that one must be ready for certain truths, though the shroud around Reiki–that the attunements, symbols, and process must be kept hidden–gave me pause.  Often such secrecy comes from oppression, or it has elements of control.  Maybe both? I don’t know, because for me, wandering down the path of clarifying such points is going away from the work I want to do, which is in engaging who in the spirit realm will walk with me, regardless of tribe, etc.  Of course I can’t say what tenets of Reiki are true to Usui’s original teaching.  The thing is, nobody else can either. Even if there are surviving originals with perfect branches from Usui’s original roots, they are lost in a sea of disinformation as much as misinformation and ego. Maybe it is all supposed to be a secret, and perhaps that is a cultural separation that I can’t understand. I can say that having worked with Reiki for 20+ years, the personal relationship to it is key.

After my attunements, something still felt wrong. Going back to my shamanic roots, I realized I needed to approach my unrest the way that I had everything else–by going directly to its spiritual manifestation. I asked the spirit of Reiki how I can make peace with it not being my culture, and if I could still incorporate it into my work.  The being, itself, was fairly indifferent, yet there was this spirit of the people who originated it–and it was plural, not just Usui (in how I felt it), and it was long, not just the handful of years that was his life and work.   I was told by that more earth-connected spirit to teach it that way.  That if I would teach the cultural appropriation part of Reiki, and interject that tension and question of privilege that I was permitted to teach it.
So I do.  In my Reiki classes I raise the really uncomfortable questions, as I do in my shamanic classes, for how we each make peace with these concerns, and how we honor them not just in ideology, but in the work, how we make that agreement manifest.

As with all spiritual paths (renegade ones, in particular), my experience is that humans supply the ethics.   My experience is that once I breached beyond the earth nature/spirit layer, no delineations exist.  There’s no gender, no ethnicity, no regional boundary, no belief system, not even deity.  That’s the place my spiritual path started in, literally, when I began to intuit my own origins and drive in this plane.  It was a lesson for me to come back into these earthly layers and understand the pride and lineage of certain practices.  I still source my work from that One space, but I tread carefully among  the delineations   I respect the people who uphold them, the lines, and the legacy they represent. Likewise, I practice what my experience has been, whatever it bears similarity to something.  I don’t claim any traditions, when it comes to spiritual legacy.  I feel certain ones in the mix, and I resonate with specific paths, but I wasn’t raised in them. I wasn’t given permission by the elder of a line, even my own, to work in a certain way.  I also realize I wouldn’t have walked into most of the learning that I have, spiritually speaking, of my own volition.  So much has been led, without regard to how it would retrofit into culture.

Regarding Reiki, it was presented to me as fair game, yet that never felt right.   Not once in my educational experience did Master directly address cultural appropriation. I chose to take that on as my peace to make.  Going into Reiki, I erroneously assumed that addressing cultural ownership would be part of the teaching, because every Reiki Master I’ve known enjoys pointing out their descent from Usui, as in, “My teacher was so and so, who was taught by Master so and so, who was the student of  Ms. Takata (the woman credited with bringing Reiki to America)…”  Cultural titles were taught, not heritage, not the rich traditions that birthed them.

For those who want to learn Reiki in a deep and provocative way, I will be teaching the first two levels in early Summer.  Contact me for details. For those of you blazing your own renegade spiritual trail, remember to ask the spirits not only for direction along your way, but for permission to go there.
And for the record, elementally speaking, what correspondences you work with for energy healing (metal vs wooden chairs) can matter.  Every component of a room becomes part of the space created for doing sacred work, and being aware of how these elements affect the work is important.  Sometimes you just work with what you’ve got and sit down.


Reiki – Simple Healing, Powerful Ally

Hi Kelley. Some of my Reiki friends get upset because I use Shamanic techniques during my Reiki practice. These same friends, however, will use “psychic surgery” techniques including the psychic extension of their fingers to reach into a client’s etheric/physical body to dislodge or remove energy blocks. My question is: isn’t this “psychic extension of digits” essentially the same as shape-shifting? If so, that is a shamanic practice. If not, I can see little difference between the two, other than degree of transformation of the energetic/physical body. Thanks, R.

Just for today –
I will not worry.
I will not be angry.
I will do my work honestly.
I will give thanks for my many blessings.
I will be kind to my neighbors
and all living things.
The Reiki Principle, Dr. Mikao Usui

Thanks for your inquiry, Roger. Before going into the specifics of your dilemna, I’d like to tell readers a bit about Reiki, as it may not be familiar to them. I describe Reiki as a Japanese form of hands-near energy healing. I’m a Reiki Master and have worked with two different forms of Reiki for many years, one form of which is the original Usui practice, and another called Ascension Reiki (ask me why two approaches in another inquiry). The word ‘Reiki’ translates roughly to “spirit healing.”

There are many takes on the history of Reiki, leaving it steeped in a bit of conflict. As best I can tell from the divergent perspectives on the modality’s origins, it began in the early 1900s, when Japanese ascetic Mikao Usui had a vision that led him to powerful healing. Not an uncommon story in the halls of enlightenment, Usui’s experience spawned a great following that continues to captivate those interested in energy healing.

Heavily influenced by Shintoism, the religion predominant in Japan prior to Chinese influence, Usui honored the spirits behind symbols, believing that incorporating them with other components of etheric healing allowed the practitioner to embody a Universal life force capable of healing. Usui formalized his ecstatic experiences into a system of energy healing called Usui Reiki Ryoho, originally comprised of three levels of study.

Usui’s practice moved into western culture in the mid-1900s, where it took off like wild fire. Today it is likely the most-taught “New Age” healing practice. At best, we in the west practice hybridized Reiki, though that statement attracts all sorts of speculation. There is much argument around what Usuis’s true teachings were. That it is a spiritual practice and energy healing modality taken out of its native space, elements, and teaching, shaped in the form that best adapts to our culture–is what we know, and adapt it has. There are as many forms of Reiki as you care to look into. Given that, Reiki is culturally appropriated, a fact that goes without mention amongst many modern energy medicine circles.

To answer your question, my understanding of Reiki is that it is an alignment with the true self–in other words with All Things–in such a way that there is no ego involvement. There doesn’t have to be. Working at that level of awareness there is no intellectual process driving what is done during healing. The job of the Reiki Master is to be out of the way and merely allow the life force to move through.  In that light, that means no elements are brought in from any healing practice, belief system, or viewpoint, because Reiki happens well above the level of those things. I think this unconscious (?) need to bring other modalities into Reiki is why other forms of it were created.  Is it that we can’t stay out of the way of Source?  Must we project ourselves into/onto it?  Or do we need to custom fit healing methods to what best suits our elements, our space, our teaching?

It is not my experience that you can lift a single technique out of a culture, bring it into another, and expect it to behave the same way.  This has been a concern around the appropriation of tribal healing practices for centuries.  This consideration generates questions like is it respectful to the originating practice to append your beliefs/symbols/deities/methods to it?  Is it respectful to the culture from which it came not to honor it at all in your application of the modality?  How do you honor the originating culture if you occlude it with your ego? Are you doing the same “kind” of healing if you change the foundation of the technique?

These are personal questions that require deep contemplation before you undertake working with clients, IMO, and are components that I teach in my Reiki classes.  To me Reiki is a spirit ally, much as a totem or fetish is.  It is a tool that allows us to connect with the Divine in a way that we can consciously process–symbols, movements, chants, often all at once–what might otherwise be too foreign to hold.  Reiki engages both hemispheres of the brain; thus, brings us fully present in our power. It allows us to be part of the process without having to worry about the process. I do not tell my allies what to do. In fact, I do what they tell me, and Reiki tells me to step aside. Can it tell each of us different things? That is the question, though given Usui’s original teachings, we’d never even ask that.

There are striking distinctions between Reiki and shamanism that should be noted. Part of the role of a shaman is to be active in the process.  Reiki in its true application is only passive. The Reiki Master embodies the life force, and that is the only role. A classic quote is attributed to Usui, though I’ve never read that he actually spoke it: “We do not master Reiki. Reiki masters us.” To me, that is what this quote means. We surrender.

Shamans have many roles, depending on what is needed, and those roles call on active knowledge of plants, animals, elements, symbols, so that we can engage our knowledge with our soul work. In shamanism, we engage the physical layer with the etheric. We spend years distinguishing between being active or passive in our work, as needed.   In short, we know the difference and we fall back on the best tool for the job.

Despite difference, these approaches to healing are very compatible. In terms of actual healing and benefit, I find that a combination of modalities is required, each in its own time. Reiki is often best-suited to people who are early in their healing process–those recovering, gaining strength, not ready for the full marathon. In the presence or absence of Rekik, at some point in the healing process, though, we must all become active participants. At that point Reiki gracefully steps aside for more involved techniques.

That said, I don’t mix modalities; rather, I do them in separate sessions.   I am in the camp that the whole point of Reiki is that I am not part of the process.  For me, Reiki is THE go-to tool that I don’t have to consciously direct.  I don’t drive it or tell it where to go, what to do, or how to do it.  In reality, this passive healing is a very Eastern (feminine) approach to accessing All Things, which flies in the face of the typical western push to be the active (masculine) principle in everything we do (which I hasten to add, “forcing” healing is common in modern shamanism, though ancient and indigenous cultures honor more of a balance–again, another article).  Perhaps this is the real reason that mutations of Reiki permeate western culture? As well, perhaps Usui shaped Reiki as a more passive system in an effort to promote healing without threat of spiritual emergency.

In short, I’m not in favor of psychic surgery or the use of shamanic techniques in Reiki sessions, especially if a client doesn’t understand the distinction, or hasn’t expressed a more active approach to energy healing.  There are plenty of energy healing modalities that do allow us to engage, use our intuition, be an active part of the process.  I reserve Reiki as a gift that is just sweetly here to use, without my or anyone else’s interference.

When we decide to go down any healing path as someone who will work with others, we have to consider the origins of the techniques we are learning, how honoring the originating culture factors into our work every time we use that technique, and how we can find integrity in upholding that heritage without undermining our own innate truths. Moreover, we have to consider when we’re doing none of the above.

Learn more about Reiki and energy healing from the following resources:

Gift of the Dreamtime – Awakening to the Divinity of Trauma, revised second edition now available, with a foreward by modern shaman, Christina Pratt.




Soul Intent Arts – Ten Years, Ten Observations of an Animistic Soul – #1

Soul Intent ArtsIn 2000, I created my neoshamanic practice, Soul Intent Arts. I’d worked with others for two years, and had crafted a personal animistic path with strong shamanic influences for ten years prior. Making the transition from spiritual seeker to committed shamanic practitioner was a huge step. Twenty-two years of experience seeing life through a shamanic lens and working with others has given me insights that feel right to pass along at this auspicious time. To celebrate Soul Intent Arts’ presence in this plane and this exceptional dance we’re doing toward this Winter Solstice, I’m closing this momentous year by listing my ten most poignant observations of personal shamanic work and maintaining a shamanic practice, and will present them over the next few days.

Thank you to all of the readers, clients, students, confidantes, comrades, and spaceholders who have contributed to Soul Intent Arts’ sustaining life force. Bless all of your dear hearts.

  • Passive and active healing each have a place on the journey to balance, which is what we call wellbeing. I’ve trained in modalities of healing that merely require me to be actively present as the life force works, such as Usui Reiki, and I’ve also trained in modalities in which I am required to observe and move life force, as in theta healing, shamanic techniques, and general chakra balancing. There is a time and place for both. The biggest distinction between the two is realizing that there are forces available in the Multiverse whose role is simply to support us when we ask. Other forces require us to actively step into the role of healer of ourselves. Thus, passive healing cannot sustain us, and neither can active. There must be a balance of both, as elaborated upon in the article Etheric Eating – When Spiritual Emergency Becomes Physical Sabotage.

To Heal or Not to Heal: Shamans in the New Era

“Rivers know this; there is no hurry, we shall get there some day.” – Winnie the Pooh

“Too many times we confuse motion with progress.” – Albert Einstein

A growing pain in the maturation of neoshamanism is the instinct to heal everything, that where there is energy imbalance it must balanced. Imbalance can occur in a person, a place, an animal, or an era. The inclination to heal at all cost can be viewed as a proactive model of health and wellbeing, no doubt the mindset many modern shamans bring to soul work. To indigenous healers, the ‘must heal’ mindset is very modern, and it embodies fear, isolation, even aggression. Because of its emphasis on the healer, the instinct carries with it arrogance, presumption, and idealism; thus is incomplete. It perpetuates the notion that imbalance is something to be viewed as broken, something unnatural, ideas that disregard the constantly changing state of Earth consciousness and experience. We are always in flux, and most of us realize profound growth not from balance or being out of balance, but in the process between the two. A task of the modern shaman is to embrace the full circle of Life, and in doing so, to impart that while perhaps uncomfortable, no facet of it is unnatural.

PageLines- peacock_feather_300_rotated_small.gifThe starry promise of restoring full functionality throughout daily life omits Shadow. Shadow is no one thing. We tend to think of it as bad and what should be avoided, as western culture has demonized anything that doesn’t dazzle with quick results. In fact, Shadow is usually the thing we most need to address in order to progress in the creation of ourselves. In the case of the ‘go-fix-resolve’ mentality, Shadow is forgetting to allow. Allow what? Whatever. No object is needed, when we are open to whatever is needed most. In that passive receptiveness the seed for healing blossoms into its unique destiny. We often forget how challenging it is to be passive, and those who practice it in meditation understand that to be passive doesn’t mean to do nothing. It means to allow, not to stand in the way of. The full spectrum of everything must be honored, and frequently the best way to honor it is to stop naming specific outcomes. When the emphasis becomes a specified outcome, the focus is on the healer, not on the highest outcome for the client. The ego pursuit of assuming that something needs to be done usurps the passive healing power gifted us by the Multiverse. The notion that everything broken must be fixed separates us from our connection with All, implying not only that we can control everything and should attempt to, but that undesired outcomes of our actions are failures, mistakes, or weakness. In some cases, the best prescription to resolve symptoms, release pain, or balance the etheric field is death. Yet many modern shamans still view death as the result of healing methods not working. In many modern practitioners, the natural healing properties of death are considered failure.

There are schools of thought that all energy or spiritual healing is good. While the argument is strong, it’s not that the work is good or bad. What is in question is the intent behind it. When we assume work should be done for a client based on intuitive observation–which for some shamans occurs instantly without journeying–lacking the consent of the client and/or impeccably clear direction from the client’s guides to do that work, we are operating outside the connection of All That Is. Outside that bond, nothing good can come. In some cases, if energy is shifted without examining the wider picture, more harm is caused than good. For instance, if a client has a terminal illness, just extracting the illness can make the “sick” cells more aggressive. The body, in this case, has forgotten how to function without the offending cells. Other supportive healing must be done first, and if it becomes possible, the imbalanced energy can be removed. Soul retrieval is another example. Returning soul aspects the individual is not ready for psychologically or emotionally can exacerbate the reasons the retrieval was done. In such situations, active intervention actually diminishes healing.

Some argue that the question of intent is, in part, why we have passive healing modalities such as Reiki, the Japanese healing art providing passive rejuvenation of life force, and hosts of spirit guides to call upon for aid. These are approaches to healing in which we express need to them then step aside, allowing their work to be done. They are an opportunity not to have to control everything, to honor the connection with All, and allow Multiversal support to work as it will.

Ultimately, healing isn’t about what symptoms go away, what miracles happen, or what death occurs. It’s about being connected to All Things and having a sense of peace that regardless of what occurs, we are well, we are in good company, and we are loved. As shamanic healers, we are often a final destination along a client’s path toward healing. Traditional modalities, even more accepted alternative ones have been tried with little or no results. It is sincerely challenging to look into the eyes of someone who has struggled to find healing and tell that person that all a shaman can do is facilitate allowing, between the client and All That Is. Yet that is our express obligation. We guarantee no specific outcomes, only that All listens and delivers. In the connection, we know when our influence is needed and when we should refrain from acting. The cradle of healing rests in that balance and that is the best comfort we give.

Mother, Social Worker, Inspiration

Kelley, I am a single mother of five teenagers, the youngest of whom has Down syndrome. I went to school to get a master’s degree in social work, but haven’t found a job, partly because I don’t want to travel far from the kids; and because the youngest can’t be left alone. I also care for my mother and quadriplegic brother. I don’t feel like doing anything. I’m worried about finding a job because child support will soon taper off. If I take a part time job, I risk losing the Medicaid. I’m worried about Social Security, because I’ve hardly worked outside the home, and have school loans to pay off. I’ve always been able to get myself out of a depression in the past by trying to help others. This time I don’t want to do anything. Do you think I will ever get to the point of getting excited about something in life again? Do you think I will ever find a job that uses my degree? Thanks, Melissa

Thanks for your note, Melissa. You have a pattern of giving away your power. It’s no wonder that as you approach the point in life that dependencies diminish, you’ve exhausted your own deeper resources. It’s also no surprise that as some of your dependencies become self-sustaining, you collect new ones to have to care for. This pattern is symptomatic of an exhausted will. Like attracts like. Your needs are as great as those relying on you, and yours aren’t being met. That’s enough to quell excitement.

When I gather a circle for you, a proxy of yourself says, “I don’t want to move on.” I ask her what it is she doesn’t want to release, and she tells me that as long as she’s the family social worker, she doesn’t have to face the consequences of feeling ineffective as a social worker for the general populace. There is a belief threaded through your etheric field, that as long as you are the primary caregiver of your family, you have control over the effectiveness of your efforts to care for them. The fear is that in serving a general population, you won’t be able to stomach the many ways in which the system, families, and patients thwart care. You are very used to being the one who, despite a very busy and sometimes chaotic home, brings solitude. You are used to being the one who can bring balance to the concerns and pains of others. This is a very good thing, but there is an inherent control device driving it, that is preventing you from facing fears about actually doing social work. To that end, you have not tended your own pains. Until you do that the Universe can’t manifest the things you want of job and security.

Keep in mind that you can only hold so much of yours and others’ “stuff.” The Universe could deliver the most perfect, amazing gift in answer to your request, but if your hands are full, you can’t take it. Balance is key. If you’re taking on too much in one area, you can’t expect a peaceful clearing in others. It’s all related, and getting the area of your life most out of balance into shape will allow all other areas to be more quiet and prosper. There are definitely boundaries to be learned and drawn in giving those you care for their freedom, but the area most out of balance for you is in self-care. You dole out so much for other people, that you don’t have the energy to accept what the Universe has on reserve for you. If the dream job came knocking on your door right now, that would resolve your career and financial concerns, it would fry you, because you have not learned to put you first.

The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron

The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron

In that light, the proxy of you isn’t avoidant–she’s wise. She knows not to put the cart before the horse. You have all of the Universal support and opportunity you need in the wings. This is the time for you to really tend to yourself. You do not have to rush out and find a job this minute. Use the time you have to remember how to be excited for you. Your worth is not rooted in how much you selflessly do for others–family or patients. It’s in how much you genuinely, wholly connect with All That Is as an active participant, which is the ultimate act in supporting all that you love. Your kids are ready for you to do this, even if it means uncomfortable changes for them. It’s time for them to take on greater roles in household management. They need to see you revive your passions, so that they understand that adults get in ruts, and they get themselves out. I highly recommend energy work, Reiki, or some gentle, benevolent healing that will support you through this shuffling of priorities. I can do that remotely if you like, though finding a local practitioner is helpful. Something I feel will help you reignite your passion and get that book written is The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. She presents a grounded approach to reconnecting with inspiration, particularly for those of us who have set it aside in the care of others. In that light, yes, indeed you will find excitement again, and the job that fits your statement of need to the Universe will respond, when you and that job are an energetic match to each other. Take the time now to raise your life force and nourish yourself, so this match can occur. You will inspire yourself as much as your family and future patients. Be well, Melissa.

Reclaiming “Bless Your Heart” as the Southern Namasté

“Be Impeccable With Your Word.” Don Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements
“Bless whatever you can with eyes and hands and tongue. If you can’t bless it, get ready to make it new.” Marge Piercy, What are Big Girls Made of?

Bless your heart. It’s a Southern staple, old and rife with colorful implications. Although commonly heard, it’s an expression that I never found authenticity in; thus, I forewent using. Last year I had an experience that solidified my thoughts of it, and of the necessity of differentiating between judging people and their behaviour, and honoring shadow truth. With thoughts of word choice and how we use them at the fore, this feature isn’t intended for young readers.

Engaging the True Self Class, Image by CarbonNYC at flickr2I never liked the expression. It was too Southern, too religious, too… pitifully cloying, disempowering. In reality, I’ve rarely heard it used with sincerity. Most often it’s insinuated into an off-color remark, such as, “She shouldn’t be wearing those pants, bless her heart,” or “Bless his heart, I can’t believe he spent money on that.” An expression of righteous indignation, the judgemental piety somehow transmutes the fact that its heart is an insult. Ever the wordsmith, that twisted intent never set well with me.

As I began my own lessons in speaking and discerning truth, and learning not to judge, I re-examined the phrase. While not necessarily religious, it should be uplifting. It should be kind and inspiring. It should be a reminder that ‘they’ are no different from ‘us,’ such that the speaker and recipient walk away from the exchange better than they entered. As it stood, the expression was a dead metaphor; no one seemed to remember its original reverence.

My cause to avenge clearly laid out, I began voicing the affirmation. I specifically used it in situations that challenged my truth, such that I genuinely intended a wish of Universal improvement to the situation, the person, the ailment. Then I made a disturbing observation. Whenever I said, “Bless his heart,” the response of those around me was to snipe about the person/situation, or to chastise me for speaking ill. I discovered that the phrase was so badly misused and misunderstood, that even when used with high intent it was poorly perceived. Because the words had long been so carelessly bandied about, no one recognized my heart-centered use. It was perceived as just more glib gab. The reaction of my “community” left me wondering if I perhaps I didn’t understand that the phrase was meant to be double entendre, and that any commentary on ill-behaviour or situation is judgemental regardless of honorable intent. I thought my cause was lost.

A year ago I was working with a longterm client, a gifted Reiki Master who has observably immense compassion. We were engaged in a fairly deep conversation on his experience of recently being hurt by someone. His perspective toward the offending person was intensely stirring and radically calm, which is in keeping with his overall passionate but gentle disposition. In his closing assessment of the altercation, he held up his hand in the Reiki beaming position and said, “I just said, ‘Love and light, motherfucker. Love and Light.'”

My initial reaction was muted laughter. After working together for years, we’d spoken candidly, comfortably. Despite that, his northern need to romanticize my southern gentility most often pre-empted colorful interaction; read, he was more self-conscious than I was. Yet, when he said those words, I understood that was his “bless his heart.” My quest on speaking with intent clarified.

I realized that there is implied assessment in honoring someone after reproach, not for no reason. We must be able to distinguish behaviours that support our truth and those that do not. That distinction can be made without judgement. There is a huge difference between saying, “You hurt me and that was unacceptable,” and saying, “You hurt me and you’re a bad person.” Likewise, we must be able to express anger when our truth is not honored. For most of us that expression comes in the form of potent speech. However expression is manifest, remember that it’s needed. What is stuck creates imbalance inside and outside. Recall as well, that once voiced, words can’t be taken back. Speak truth.

We must be able to bless, without damning, what we don’t like. On some level we are all acting in our best capacity. That recognition doesn’t mean have no boundaries. It doesn’t mean be a doormat, and does not offer license to be mean to someone who has offended. It means cultivate the ability to send love and light to what angers or hurts us most. Don’t overlook its true nature, which may have no one’s best interest in mind at all. Be aware of it, step away from it, bless it, and don’t become it. The challenge is to find the means of interacting with shadow dynamics without falling prey to our own. This isn’t news. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” “An it harm none, do what ye will.”

In the end it isn’t about judging the behaviour of others, but what we can honor within our own actions when we’ve been offended. It’s about our intentions, regardless of the words coming out of our mouths. I use the phrase copiously now, as a self-check when I’m really annoyed about something, with the hope that my intentions for “blessing” someone might help them in some way, and with the hope that I may be a trendsetter, yet.

Indeed, love and light. Bless your heart.

The Power of Moving On

Hi Kelley, My husband and I have been apart since 2004 and I still have no resolution. We have not talked other than him telling me that he will make my life a living hell, and he has done so. He is planning on marrying the woman he left me for in 2010. I still see him on the highway on my way to work. That man was my heart. What happened to make him hate me so? Thanks ~L

Thanks for your note, L. I can’t get core insight about your husband without his permission. I can tell you that from the imagery I see he felt for a long time like a starving, impoverished person, though the circumstances of his despair were self-induced. He is on his own path of creating conflict for himself as a means of learning self-reliance and empowerment. As he treats himself without care, it is no surprise that he would treat you with even less. Consider it beneficial not to be with him any longer, in that regard. How he cares for himself is his choice and his process for this time.

What concerns me is your process. There is great danger in staying locked in a victim mindset over circumstances you can’t change, instead of focusing on the things you can change that will benefit from your attention. It seems that you are steadily giving away your power to many others, leaving little for yourself. Put yourself first. You need to care for and raise your life force now more than ever. If you do not have a regular meditative practice, even if it is visualizing random colors of light moving through and around your body, such will improve your health and your outlook. Finding an energy worker to help you raise your life force–a Reiki master, shaman, holotropic breathwork practitioner… will vastly help you heal your life force, your body, and your heart.