A partner with chronic illness
My partner is a member of a group which offers many forms of support to people living with chronic illness. This includes an annual shindig in a beautiful chateau near to where we live in Belgium. For the past three years, he has been the token male at the five-day residency held in March.
Holistic vision of how to live well
During the stay there are a variety of workshops themed around a holistic vision of how to live as well as you can with a chronic illness. But they could just as well be for those fortunate enough to be in good health to offer guidance on how to live as well as you can.
There is meditation and mindfulness, hypnotherapy, dancing to the five rhythms, Tai Chi, Qigong, music workshops (organised by G), creating Japanese gardens, as well as communal cooking, eating well, dining with people with similar hopes and fears, learning about vibrations and auras, chakras and… Reiki sessions.
When I went to pick him up last week, he was fast asleep on the couch in a gigantic hall-cum-living room. Two group members greeted me, Framboise (Françoise, really – but when she first met our kids, she told them to remember her name by thinking of a fruit – ‘raspberry’ in French) and a woman I’d not met before. Let’s call her Clementine. They were going to give me a Reiki session at G’s request.
I was all ready with my excuses.
‘I’ve still got a bit of flu. We need to be getting off. We’ve got so much to do.’
But they took no notice!
I didn’t really know what Reiki was, but had a vague idea of it being something to do with energy and healing with no touching. Although I used to be a complete sceptic of most things ‘alternative’, as I grow and learn, I am becoming far more open to the wonderful world of the ‘woo woo’, whether it be meditation, yoga, or even tuning in to ‘spirit’ and higher energies.
‘The word Reiki is made of two Japanese words – Rei which means “God’s Wisdom or the Higher Power” and Ki which is “life force energy”. So Reiki is actually “spiritually guided life force energy.”’International Center for Reiki Training
Anyhoo, they led me to a couch at the other end of this spacious room, and told me to sit or lie down or do anything I wanted as long as I was comfortable. It did look inviting. A plush two-seater which was just sturdy enough without being too bulky. I hadn’t been lying when I’d said I was feeling pretty rough, and this particular sofa just exuded ‘soft’. Maybe the magic had already begun because as Goldilocks might say, it looked ‘just right’.
On the couch
So without further ado I lay down and put my feet up on one of the arms.
My limited instructions were, ‘Make sure you’re comfortable (check!). Cry if you feel like crying (yeah, right!). Laugh if you feel like laughing (why would I do that?). All you need to do is welcome whatever comes up.’
I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’m not sure I expected much.
I closed my eyes.
What did I hear?
With your eyes closed, your hearing becomes more finely attuned to the sounds around you. I could hear that the small gathering of participants, at the other end of the hall, were talking in loud whispers, probably for my benefit. The faint noise of traffic in the far distance joined muffled sounds in the middle distance.
And as often happens when I’m being quiet, my tummy decided to gurgle madly. For the entire session.
Could it be because that is where my Sacral chakra is? The chakra that represents connection and the ability to accept others and new experiences? Or would it be the Solar Plexus chakra, representing pearls of wisdom and clarity?
The cynic on my shoulder
Or was it simply because I’d eaten a late lunch before coming out?
Welcome whatever comes
While I was listening, and trying to ‘welcome’ whatever was coming, I kept peeking a little. Clementine was standing with her hands over my head and Framboise was kneeling next to me, her hands outstretched towards me, eyes closed.
I thought I might as well relax.
And then I began to remember.
My Nana – who passed away over 20 years ago, and who had a lot of pain and various illnesses in her later life – was not one who believed in a holistic approach. They were different times. Yet in her final months, a Reiki healer visited her home. I was once present in her living room – where she used to sit and gaze out of her window onto the world outside – when he worked on her with energy. I remember him putting his hands towards her body, towards her pain. Did he even touch her? I think so… After some minutes, her body seemed to relax, I could sense a feeling of relief. We didn’t talk about it afterwards. But it happened.
During my time on the couch, I felt my Nana’s presence like I’ve never felt it since she died.
I was in that room with her again and I looked into her pale green eyes (I’ve just realised, that’s why I wanted that colour green on my bedroom walls!). I saw her face once more, looking at me. Her intelligent expression, always wanting to learn, to experience something new. I missed her in those moments. And at the same time, I felt that I was once again with her.
And I also remembered that I had been there with her for those last few months. Whenever I could manage a trip home (I lived in France at the time), I did. We spent time together, sitting, chatting. I made up her trays and counted out her pills. She didn’t like taking her pills (who does?), and used to joke that she rattled, but she bravely swallowed them all. One particular day, it had been a particular effort. She looked at me triumphantly when she’d finished her small half-glass of water that we’d put the final tablet into. I couldn’t bear to tell her when I saw the pill was stuck to the side of the glass.
I think that the energy I felt during the session reminded me that I was kind to my Nana. At a point in time when I am feeling helpless, with loved ones around me struggling with their health, with pain, and when my partner attends chronic illness workshops, this is a time when there’s no denying that we are all mortal. I remember that kindness counts.
And also, my belief in energy, in us all being connected, grew in those moments. The connection between me and my Nana will always be there, somewhere in time, somewhere in the energy of this world. In our memories, yes, but more than that.
What did I feel?
Not quite heat. Not quite a tingling. I suppose that it was energy. And it doesn’t feel quite like anything else.
What did I see?
Towards the end, I could see intense colours in red and yellow. It looked like an amazing swirling vacuum of powerful light. I was fully in the experience, yet I wanted those colours to change into blues because I thought it might look pretty. But that wasn’t happening. The energy was most definitely yellow and orange and red.
I read afterwards that each chakra has a colour associated with it. Is that the reason I saw those colours?
The cynic on my shoulder
Or was it because they are the colours you’d naturally ‘see’ with your eyes closed (the back of your eyelids are going to be pinkey red I’m guessing!).
And back to reality
When Framboise and Clementine had finished, they told me to take my time. I opened my eyes, ready to gently wake up, get up and carry on.
But then my eyes became wet. Tears crept out of the corners, and I missed my Nana. It made me sad that she has gone, but I was happy to have felt connected with her. And we’d shared a strong bond of love. I’d like to write that in the present tense. We share a strong bond of love.
After the session, I woke up G from his reverie, and as he went to grab his bag, a bit late in the day, I asked Framboise and Clementine, ‘What is reiki, anyway?’
This is what they told me.
We are all connected by energy. It is all around us, and Reiki practitioners request a higher being to allow them to be channels for that energy, so the energy passed through them to me.
And it did make me feel better. I’m still sniffling, but I feel more accepting and more at peace. My Reiki session gave me what I needed at that particular time.
Here’s to energy, peace and love!
And a bit of Reiki!
Do you have any experience of Reiki healing?
What are your thoughts on energy?
Are we all connected by energy… and where do memories come in to it?
I’d love to hear any thoughts… 🙂