Own Your Strengths

If you’ve seen some of my recent posts, you know that a theme for me lately has been allowing myself to be seen. During the quarantine, I finished up a long-standing project and published my first memoir. In addition to that, I’ve been making the videos that I’ve been telling myself I’d make for years. And it hasn’t been easy.

Starting my own business, Fair Winds Reiki & Mindfulness, was like a calling for me. Once I did my Reiki training, I fell in love with it and wondered “Why have I never heard of this before?” The truth is that I had… but not from the right person at the right time in my journey. Once I embraced Reiki, and allowed it to embrace me, I wanted to help others experience this amazing healing art that’s still a miracle to me even after all these years. And with that, Fair Winds Reiki & Mindfulness was born.

This business has evolved, and pushed me to own and utilize all of my strengths and experiences to be of service to others. Two roles that have always been dear to me, but forever beyond my reach were artist and author.

I’ve been drawing and crafting with my mom for as long as I can remember. I even studied fine art in college because I loved it so much. But as I studied the masters, Michelangelo and Da Vinici in particular, I compared myself to them and came up very, very short. How could I ever call myself an artist?

My love of art delivered me to a new love, travel, and I changed track and started teaching ESL as a means to travel the world and help my students reach their goals with English. I set aside my charcoal and paint brushes, but I continued to write. I kept journals and wrote poetry which I hoarded away from prying eyes who might judge me. While living in Turkey, I started a blog to let my mom know that I was OK. I was shocked when colleagues started complimenting me on my writing and referring to posts I never expected anyone but my mom to read.

When I came back to the States, the story of that year in Istanbul burned in my mind, begging to be shared. I began to write, usually during NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). I wrote, and rewrote, and edited, and added… for six years. I don’t know if I ever really intended to put it out in the world.

A year or two after I came back to Reno, I started my Reiki practice while teaching ESL full-time at the university. Slowly, I learned how to bring my strengths into my business. Instead of teaching mindfulness through meditation (which is widely available), I realized that mindfulness through creative expression is what I know and love. On the Reiki side, at first I struggled to share my voice. What did I have to say compared to people who’ve been practicing Reiki for years? I was always looking for someone ‘wise’ to give me the answers. Not because I didn’t have them, but because I didn’t trust myself. I built my confidence and I’m no longer afraid to lift my voice or step into those roles. I am an artist. I am an author. I am a business owner.

We all have our strengths, and when we have the courage to own them in the service of others, magical things can happen. We can change the world.

There’s someone out there who needs your light. Are you willing to shine?

The Compassion in Forgiveness

When I heard the news that my father was terminally ill, I was terrified.

My family had had more than its share of cancer in the preceding year and a half. With each new diagnosis, my sense of safety was shaken. I found myself struggling with feelings of powerlessness and confronting the same thought over and over. This person doesn’t deserve this. She’s too young… she’s too kind… they have so much more to do. The truth is that no one “deserves” cancer or any other disease. Yet mortality is part of the human condition.

When we found out my dad had inoperable tumors in his lung and brain, I reached a new pinnacle of fear. Part of it was the finality of the diagnosis and the beginning of the count down. With the other cases in our family, treatment was possible. Healing was possible. A future was possible. The other reason I was so scared was that I feared I wouldn’t be able to love him well through those final months. I was holding on to too much anger.

My dad and I had a strained relationship. He was an extremely hard worker, and he was my hero growing up. He would do things like clear the snow off a windshield, fix a flat tire, and gently care for their kittens. At those times, it was easy to see that he had a good heart. But that kind spirit was often eclipsed by anger and a need for control. I didn’t always like the way he talked to my mom, or me. When other family members were ill, it was easy to spoil them and show them how much I cared. I love my dad, but I wasn’t sure if he would be able to see that past my impatience and frustration. But I didn’t want to lose him with all of these bad feelings between us. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to forgive.

Fortunately, Reiki has taught me a lot about forgiveness. I have had the opportunity to share Reiki with people I had problems with in the past (including my dad). I found that to share Reiki under these circumstances, I needed to see past my own judgments to reach a place of compassion. I’ve learned that people are doing the best that they can in any given moment, myself included. In a different set of circumstances, I could be just as angry and controlling as my dad. From that understanding, I could share Reiki with the soul underneath the trauma, and I could love that soul unconditionally with compassion.

I set out to spoil my dad rotten and show him that he was loved and appreciated while I could. My mom had told me that he was always cold, so I decided to buy him an early Christmas present: a soft, cozy blanket to bring him some comfort. In the hospital, he didn’t want to use it because he was afraid of getting it dirty. I told him we’d wash it. We compromised, and he kept it over his legs. I never saw him without it, and my mom told me he would ask the nurses for his blanket if they took it off for some reason.

I visited him often in those last days and shared Reiki with him when he let me. I took a deep breath and sought patience when he got angry or agitated. I knew he was scared and did my best to remind him that he wasn’t alone and that he was loved. One day, as I was leaving, he said, “Thank you for being such a good girl.” I was taken aback… he wasn’t much for that kind of talk. I replied, “Thank you for being such a good dad.” And I was surprised to hear the ring of truth in my own words.

When he passed, I was shocked by the sense of loss. It felt like a safety net I had never been aware of disappeared. I was able to see how much I had always relied on him. I’m thankful beyond words that God helped me be there for my dad in the end, and that he showed me how to forgive both my dad and myself.

Your Beauty

Learning first-hand how Reiki can help people, I quickly decided that I want to share it with others. I completed all three levels of Reiki training to become a Reiki Master Teacher and started Fair Winds Reiki & Mindfulness. Through this effort, I hope to introduce many others to the solace that is Reiki.

You are a work of art,

crafted by the same force that scattered the stars in the sky.

Your curves are the gentle curves of nature,

echoing the rounded waves of a calm sea.

Your edges,

angles of strength and persistence,

echoing the rising mountain peaks.

Your features were painted

by the one who paints the sunset.

You are a unique soul

learning,

growing,

becoming.

And it’s beautiful.

I see you, behind your walls.

Behind your fears.

Behind your loss.

I see you,

and you are beautiful.

You are the butterfly, struggling from its cocoon.

You are the bloom, emerging from its bud.

You couldn’t be more beautiful.

You can only be more you.

 

LLJ 2019

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*Written for my mother.

For more about me & my Reiki Journey, please see: Waiting for Reiki to Find Me

Contact Fair Winds Reiki & Mindfulness
email: laureen@fairwindsreiki.com
site: www.fairwindsreiki.com
phone: (775) 784-8880

Compassion on the Dance Floor

It’s not uncommon to find a dance inspired post from me around this time of year. (Last time it was Self-discovery through…salsa dancing?) This is because once a year I immerse myself in a world of Latin dance as a volunteer and participant in the Reno Latin Dance Fest for a weekend of workshops, shows, and social dancing.

This year gave me the opportunity to finish a conversation that has been two years in the making. Two years ago, a friend/dance instructor I had met at the festival told me, “If you’re not into touch, maybe dance isn’t for you.”

As you may have guessed, at the time I was struggling with the amount of touch involved in a particular style of dance. In reponse, I hid my pain behind lowered eyes and kind of shrugged my shoulders. But that conversation wouldn’t leave me, and I knew there was so much more to say. I just didn’t have the strength at the time.

The truth is that my distrust and dicomfort with some forms of touch are the result of trauma I experienced and reflect an attempt at selfpreservation. (I know I’m not the only one. Did you know that nearly 1 in 5 women in the US is sexuality assaulted in her lifetime? And that is just one form of trauma. We’ve all faced difficulties in life that have changed us, and while those changes serve a purpose at the time, they’re not always helpful in the long run.) Dance has helped me heal on a physical & an emotional level, but only because I found friends, dance partners, and teachers who were patient with me and respected my boundaries while still pushing me to become better on my own terms. In other words, I found people who show compassion, and I learned to have more compassion for myself as well. If I had listened to people like this instructor, I might never have found the freedom, strength, beauty, and joy that can come from dance. By pushing me beyond the boundaries of my comfort zone, dance has helped me confront some of the limiting beliefs that have kept me from living my life to the fullest. I’ve found that I’m capable of much more than I ever would have believed, on and off the dance floor.

Semantics – What ‘Resonates’ With You?

Tears poured down my face during my first Reiki attunement. The attunement itself is painless, and quite beautiful, but I was confronting so many longstanding fears in that moment. Would becoming attuned mean offending God or alienating those that I loved? What if being attuned for Reiki attracted things that I had spent my whole adult life convincing myself were just figments of my imagination? What if I couldn’t “do” Reiki?

I could have walked away right there and stayed in the “safe” little world I had created for myself. But I wouldn’t have grown. Instead, I clung to the guidance my Reiki Master offered: find what resonates with you.

But what does that mean exactly? How can something resonate with you?

Each of us has our own intuition. Unfortunately, many of us learn to disregard our intuition as a baseless feeling. (How many times in my life have I been told that I’m “too sensitive”?) Intuition is much more than a feeling. It’s a knowing that at times defies logic. It’s the language of the soul. When something resonates with you, it sounds, and feels, right to you. It strikes a chord within you. If something doesn’t resonate, it clashes with your intuition, creating discord and making you uncomfortable.

I have learned time and time again that ignoring my intuition can be disastrous. One example is when I decided to get to know someone better, even though I felt a little uncomfortable around him.  I had just come out of a difficult relationship, and I was doubting my own judgment, so I decided to try something different. I invited a guy who had always been extremely thoughtful and respectful, but with whom I felt no connection, over to my house for dinner and a movie. Our dinner conversation included his confession that he suffered from mental illness and had once followed a girl home with the intention of raping her. I spent the entire movie trying to figure out how to get him out of my house without incident. I was successful, and I never saw him again. I don’t have any bad feelings toward him, and I hope that he got the help that he needed, but I wasn’t prepared to offer that help myself. By defying my intuition, I had put myself into a dangerous situation.

Happily, using my intuition to find what does resonate with me has helped me to build a much more meaningful life. I have prayed my way through each step of my Reiki journey, and I’m still learning to listen for the reply, from God and from myself.

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For more about my story: My Reiki Journey

For more about the terminology used to discuss Reiki and the possible connotatios: Semantics – The Power of Words and Semantics – What is energy?

Please feel free to join the discussion through comments! See something you like? Please let me know! 🙂

Contact Fair Winds Reiki & Mindfulness
email: laureen@fairwindsreiki.com
website: www.fairwindsreiki.com
phone: (775) 784-8880

Cultivating Compassion

Earlier today I happened upon a video of a little girl who was crying as she watched a cartoon because the little dinosaur was sad. Her parents thought her tears were so cute, and they were touching, but I also worried that this little girl probably has a rough road ahead of her. I was a sensitive little girl just like her, and I have been ridiculed for it most of my life. Our world is one that, instead of valuing compassion, perceives it as weakness. Some people prey on those with compassion, taking advantage of their hope and love and manipulating them into impossible situations. I can attest to that.

This weekend I also saw an example of the exact opposite of that tear filled video. I work with international students and we took a trip to the lake together. On a crowded public beach, there was a group of mothers who wanted to have a section of the lake just for themselves and their kids. Rather than teaching their children to share, they told them to splash and fire their squirt guns at anyone who got in their way. Luckily, their victims didn’t understand the intent behind the kids’ splashing and they took it as play which they quickly joined in. In the end, they all had fun, but I knew the intent behind it all, and I wondered what’s in store for those kids in the future if they continue to receive life lessons like these.

Even though it’s difficult to be compassionate in the world we live in, it’s actually a strength, and it is so worth it. Compassion is the basis of unconditional love, and without it, life can quickly become devoid of meaning. But we need to cultivate it in ourselves and others if we want it to grow. Yes, it was difficult to grow up with a compassionate heart. I have loved deeply, but I have also hurt deeply. Truth be told, I built up some walls to protect myself, only to find that they sometimes hinder me now. Unfortunately, it took me a long time to learn to have compassion for myself first. With time I have learned to put my own needs on equal ground with the needs of others. And that innocent, compassionate heart? It continues to beat within me, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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For more about my story: My Reiki Journey

For more about the some of the terminology used to discuss Reiki: Semantics – The Power of Words

Please feel free to join the discussion through comments! See something you like? Please let me know! 🙂

Contact Fair Winds Reiki & Mindfulness
email: laureen@fairwindsreiki.com
website: www.fairwindsreiki.com
phone: (775) 784-8880

 

Waiting for Reiki to Find Me

The first time I became aware of easing someone’s pain using energy, I didn’t even know what energy was.

There’s a saying among Reiki practitioners that you don’t find Reiki, Reiki finds you. As for many people, this was true for me, and it began long before I ever heard the word Reiki.

The first time I became aware of easing someone’s pain using energy, I didn’t even know what energy was.  I was working on a cruise ship at the time, and a dear friend had hurt his ankle. He had job responsibilities all over the ship, and had been working through the pain for a week. He had been to the ship’s doctor, but still hadn’t found relief. I hated seeing him hurting.

One day he asked me to rub his ankle. I tried to talk him out of it, unsure how I could possibly make it better and fairly sure that I would make it worse. (I have the most annoying habit of touching people exactly where they’re hurting, as if I’m unconsciously drawn to those places. I used to think of it as a curse because I would end up causing them pain with an innocent hug, pat, or poke.) He asked me to please try, so I sat and lightly (extremely lightly!) rubbed the injured ankle, all the while watching his face for signs of pain.

After a while, I asked if that was enough. He gingerly moved his foot around and announced that it felt better. To be honest, I thought he was just teasing me. I really hadn’t done anything other than humor him. His words didn’t convince me, but his lack of a limp did. I didn’t know what I had done, or how I had done it, but he was pain free again.

The memory became a joke that we shared when reminiscing about ship life, and it remained a mystery with a bit of the fantastic about it. I think it was that memory that allowed me to embrace the idea of  Reiki, or at least be open to it. (That and years of learning to be open through travel and working with people from all over the world.) With experience I learned that it was not Reiki that I had used, but my own energy given in compassion and love. Reiki is given in the same way, but from the infinite energy that surrounds us rather than from our own finite stores.

I talked to my old friend more recently about why he asked me to rub his ankle. He said, “I just knew that you would be able to help me.”

He knew before I did.

Fortunately, Reiki found me. And now I know, too.

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For more on energySemantics – What is energy?
Wondering how this fits into diverse belief systems? Try: A Question of Religion
For more of my story: My Reiki Journey

 

Contact Fair Winds Reiki & Mindfulness
email: laureen@fairwindsreiki.com
website: www.fairwindsreiki.com
phone: (775) 784-8880

Semantics – What is energy?

In a discussion of the terminology used to describe Reiki and similar practices, it seems logical to start with a word that can make explaining Reiki difficult because of its connotations: the word energy.

In a discussion of the terminology used to describe Reiki and similar practices, it seems logical to start with a word that can make explaining Reiki difficult because of its connotations: the word energy.

Before being trained in Reiki, I used this term to describe how tired I was (or wasn’t). The thought of opening myself to an outside energy, or sharing energy with others, did not seem possible. (And if it was, it certainly didn’t sound wise…)

Through Reiki training, I have developed a new lens through which to examine my life’s experiences. The clearest example of energy that I can think of is the power of someone’s stare. Have you ever looked up, for no apparent reason, and locked eyes with a stranger from across the room? Without knowing it, you were probably reacting to the energy of their gaze. Another example that I like to use is the energy of nature. Many of us have visited places that have a relaxing, restorative effect on us. This is not simply due to the beauty of the scenery. It’s the energy of the place that can be felt.

Science tells us that everything is energy, which is fine in theory, but difficult to get one’s head around in reality. “It followed from the special theory of relativity that mass and energy are both but different manifestations of the same thing — a somewhat unfamiliar conception for the average mind.” – Albert Einstein, 1948. According to Nikola Tesla, “If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration.”

Through logic and science, we’ve talked ourselves into a world without miracles, yet even some of our most respected scientists believed that there was more to our reality than meets the eye. Reiki, the sharing of divine energy, is a miracle to me every time, and I’ve been blessed to see the amazing benefits it can have for those who receive it.

Reiki cannot be seen, but it can definitely be felt. Only through personal experience can this energy truly be understood and appreciated.

More on semantics:Energy Quote

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More on semantics: Semantics – The Power of Words

Please feel free to join the discussion through comments! See something you like? Please let me know! 🙂

Contact Fair Winds Reiki & Mindfulness
email: laureen@fairwindsreiki.com
site: www.fairwindsreiki.com
phone: (775) 784-8880

Semantics – The Power of Words

Some of the words we use when discussing Reiki and mindfulness can alienate people based on their connotations. Unfortunately, the result is that people sometimes miss out on experiences that could potentially improve their quality of life.

I remember getting frustrated as a university student because, in each new field of study, I had to learn terminology to describe the most basic ideas. It seemed that language was being used to build egos and divide people rather than to communicate and exchange ideas.

Fast forward ten years and you find me at the same university, now exploring language use as an ESL Instructor. I try to teach my students how to weave words together in English to express themselves and make their wildest dreams come true. A major part of this is understanding the connotations of words. Take, for example, synonyms for the word ‘different.’ On one side, we have the word ‘rare’, which implies that something is more valuable because it is different. On the other side, something can be ‘alien’, inspiring fear, distrust and perhaps revulsion based on how different it is from the norm. (I don’t love the use of this term when talking about those from other countries.) We have different connotations for words based on our experiences, but we also have shared connotations that influence how we instinctually react to what we hear.

Some of the words we use when discussing Reiki and mindfulness can alienate people based on their connotations. Unfortunately, the result is that people sometimes miss out on experiences that could potentially improve their quality of life. This easily could have been me. I love traveling and having new experiences, so when a friend told me about a class she was going to take on Reiki and how it was related to meditation, I was thrilled to join her. That class changed my life.

But the truth is that if she had told me that she was taking a class on energy healing, I probably wouldn’t have gone with her. The connotations that I had around the words energy’ and ‘healing’ were tinged with fear. I wouldn’t want to explore anything that was against my core values. The problem would have been if I didn’t take the time to learn enough to find out if it actually was against my core values. In the end, I found that Reiki is completely in keeping with everything that I hold dear. It has deepened my own beliefs while reinforcing my commitment to respect the beliefs of others.

In coming posts, we will explore some of the language used in Reiki and mindfulness in an attempt to demystify these life-transforming practices that are available us all.

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For more on semantics: Semantics – What is energy? and Semantics – What ‘Resonates’ With You?

Please feel free to join the discussion through comments! See something you like? Please let me know! 🙂

Contact Fair Winds Reiki & Mindfulness
email: laureen@fairwindsreiki.com
site: www.fairwindsreiki.com
phone: (775) 784-8880

A Question of Religion

Reiki is simply a part of our natural world. It can be photographed, and most importantly, it can be felt. The question then becomes, how do you explain our natural world? What is your creation story? That is where you’ll find Reiki, and you’ll find that it’s available to all.

How many times have I heard suspicion enter someone’s voice as the topic of Reiki came into a conversation? It’s fairly easy for me to step back from the subject when I’m talking with a stranger, but it hurts when I hear judgement in the voice of a friend or loved one.

It wasn’t that long ago when my grandpa, who had been dealing with some serious health issues, kiddingly said, “Laureen, if you have anything that could help me, I’ll take it.” In that moment, I found myself facing one of the most difficult situations of my life. We had been talking about essential oils at the time, but I knew that I did have something that could help him, but I didn’t know if he would be willing to accept it, or me, once I mentioned it.

I took a deep breath, tried to steady my voice and hold back my tears, and I told him about Reiki. It led to some of the most beautiful moments that we’ve ever shared.

There are many reasons why those who describe themselves as religious may look on Reiki with suspicion, but it need not be that way. Reiki is simply a part of our natural world. It can be photographed, and most importantly, it can be felt. The question then becomes, how do you explain our natural world? What is your creation story? That is where you’ll find Reiki, and you’ll find that it’s available to all.

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For more about the connotations surrounding the terminology used to discuss Reiki: Semantics – The Power of Words

For more on energy: Semantics – What is energy?

Please feel free to join the discussion through comments! See something you like? Please let me know! 🙂

Contact Fair Winds Reiki & Mindfulness
email: laureen@fairwindsreiki.com
site: www.fairwindsreiki.com
phone: (775) 784-8880