Thursday, April 1, 2010

Spring cleaning

Yes, it's spring cleaning time. For most people that means dusting, window washing and cleaning the carpets in their house. I hate cleaning my house. I avoid it as much as I can without allowing it to get so bad that my friends call an intervention and try to get me on Hoarders. I'm talking about a different sort of spring cleaning. I'm cleaning out my body, sort of. No high colonics or anything gross like that. It's more of a physical, emotional and spiritual purification of sorts. And I have a lot of purifying to do . . .

I'm embarrassed to say that last year I started smoking. Okay, the truth is that I started smoking two years ago with a few months of not smoking in between. Disgusting and expensive habit. I think smoking was one of the ways I beat myself up for "failing" as a wife. For hating - and then losing - my very lucrative job as a lawyer. And feeling like I failed my kids because I couldn't keep my marriage together. I didn't deserve to be healthy.

I've been on anti-depressants for about 10 years. I think. I can't even remember when I started taking them. I've been on several different kinds. Sometimes more than one at a time. I couldn't even tell you if they helped at all. I sure wasn't happy during all those years I took them. I finally got myself down to one small daily dose of one anti-depressant. And one or two daily doses of Adderall to treat my ADD symptoms. I've wanted to get off of the anti-depressants for awhile but every time I tried to stop, the withdrawal symptoms would get so bad I couldn't deal with them and I'd start taking the drugs again. And my anxiety would skyrocket. I didn't know whether I was anxious because I couldn't seem to get off of the drugs or whether I had an anxiety disorder that needed to be treated by the drugs. I was confused. And I'm sure the Adderall - which is an amphetamine - didn't really help the anxiety much. It helped me think a bit more clearly but that's it. I was still a confused, depressed mess. I felt like crap. Looked like crap. I knew it was time for a change but I didn't know what to do. Then I found Reiki.

Reiki is a form of energy healing and balancing that anyone can easily learn to perform on themselves and others. I had heard about Reiki over the years but had never had a treatment. I was skeptical about whether the simple "laying on of hands" could actually do anything worthwhile. The fact that Reiki practitioners can provide distant healing was something that sounded like bunk. Even more difficult for me to understand was the idea that in order to learn Reiki, you had to be "attuned" by a Reiki Master. You can't just read a book to learn it. You have to pay over $100 to take a class. I thought that all seemed fishy at best; a moderately expensive hoax at worst. But despite my reservations, Reiki kept popping up in my life. People would talk about it. I'd stumble on articles and websites. I'd randomly think about it for seemingly no reason at all. But still I resisted it. I figured that I would learn about it during my studies to become a massage therapist. It was something that I would maybe do later. The universe apparently had other plans.

A few months ago, my father got sick. And then he got sicker. One morning I woke up after a dream in which I saw my father as a shaman - a healer. He was crying and reaching out to me. He asked why I hadn't learned the "lessons" yet. He needed me and I hadn't done what I was supposed to do in order to help him. I jumped out of bed and immediately started searching for Reiki lessons. It just so happened that there was a "Reiki share" that night where I could learn about Reiki and get a free mini treatment. I was hooked as soon as the practitioner placed her hands on my head. I could feel the energy transfer between us. That night, I signed up for the Level One certification class being held later that week. The next day my father found out he would need open heart surgery. I knew I was doing the right thing.

I got my Level One certification* the week before my Dad's surgery. I gave him treatments every day that he was in the hospital. I really have no idea whether the treatments provided any measurable benefit from a physical standpoint. (The surgery went great and he was out of the hospital 5 days later. He's at home and recovering well.) I know the treatments relaxed him and he enjoyed it. Giving him those treatments allowed me to feel as if I was doing something concrete to help him. And it let him know how much I care about him. Now I'm practicing on my kids (when they let me) and my friends. I plan to get my Level Two certification at the end of the month and hopefully start getting some paying clients.

I knew that giving myself Reiki treatments would probably help me reduce my stress levels and maybe help me get rid of headaches or other aches and pains. But it had an unexpected effect. Almost immediately after my attunement, smoking made me a little sick. It wasn't bad enough to make me quit but I was smoking less. And then a few days ago - about two weeks after my attunement - I started smoking a cigarette, took two puffs and put it out. The same thing happened the next day. And I haven't had a cigarette since. No cravings. My body just won't allow me to smoke any more. At the same time I decided it was time to give up the anti-depressants and the Adderall. I won't lie - the withdrawal symptoms from giving up the anti-depressants are kicking my butt a little. But I found a technique for dealing with that (which will have to wait for another post).

I just know - on something other than an intellectual level - that I need to be a clear channel for healing energy. And with the nicotine and the other drugs coursing through my system all the time, I was anything but a clear channel. Hence the spring cleaning. (Except for allergy medicine. This time of year, without a little Claritin, I'm not a clear channel for anything except mucous). I'm not following any sort of well-thought out plan here. I'm simply listening to my inner guidance which is telling me - loud and clear - that I need to clean house. So I am. And I'm feeling better every day.

Last year I decided that I want to become a massage therapist and get involved in alternative health care strategies. I'll be starting school in July (hopefully). But I've realized recently that my real calling - what I know in my heart of hearts that I need to do - is to be a healer. Becoming a massage therapist - without any of the spiritual healing, "woo woo" stuff - would have been a big change in my life. Add in the idea of being a "healer" - with all the "woo woo" crystals and auras and stuff - and you're talking about a HUGE change from my old life. I have no clue what my life will look like when this transition is over. Not. One. Clue. And it's scary. And incredibly exciting. Just writing that made my heart beat a little bit faster. But I've never been happier in my life.

*There are three levels of certification in Reiki. After Level One, you can perform it on yourself and others but you aren't authorized to charge money for treatments. After Level Two, you are authorized (but not required) to charge for treatments. You also learn how to do distant healing. At Level Three, you become a Reiki Master. At that point you can teach classes and attune others.
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