Friday, May 23, 2008

Calling All Reiki Stories!

As a Reiki Master Teacher I am privileged to watch my Reiki students learn, grow, and change. And part of the beauty of their journey and mine are the awesome opportunities we are presented with to use Reiki in our lives on a daily basis. Out of those opportunities arise some incredible stories, stories like the following from LeAnne Livingston, a Reiki Level II practitioner, and diver.

Sea Star Reiki

"Tuesday evening, out for a swim in my favorite 'salt bath,' the Edmonds Oil Dock. After about 1.5 hours goofing around in the currents and tides of the water it was time to come back to land. Walking up on to the beach, I laid my fins and mask down on a log and noticed a large wash of shells, kelp and various other sea accessories on the beach. Amongst the tangled trove of goodies a pale flash of blue caught my eye; a sea star had been washed up with the last high tide and left in a somewhat inhospitable environment for one of its kind.

"Kneeling down, I greeted the creature and did a quick appraisal of its energetic and physical condition. It had a feeling of exhaustion and resignation, but looked physically intact. From the little bit I do know about our Universe, one thing that has been strongly impressed upon me: we are not in charge of the outcome of another's journey. I'm good by that. Still wanting to provide any assistance for its highest healing good, I offered Reiki. It was accepted in a very easy kind of way.

"Gently picking it up, one hand underneath holding the main body, another resting very lightly on top; I turned and walked into the water, immediately feeling my hands warm and the sea star respond. Standing waist deep in the light surf, I glided the creature in the water and washed off some of the debris that had partially covered it on the beach. With its body relaxing, the creature began to move its five arms around and touch my extended fingers and exploring the back of my hand. First time I'd ever shaken "hands" with an echinoderm. If I didn't already have such a profound love, respect and awe of the sea and her creatures that would have tipped me over the edge.

"Hanging out in the water for a few more minutes, enjoying the quiet joyful connection with the little cousin, I asked if it would like to be placed somewhere underwater below the next low tide mark. The offer was accepted as its five arms slowed their exploration of my hand. Making my way into chest deep water, I went close to the rocks and pilings of the dock. One last prayer of love and light for the sea star as it was placed on a hospitable looking rock and left to continue on its underwater journey."

—LeAnne Livingston, Reiki II

LeAnne's latest beautiful marine critter Reiki story made me yearn to hear more, once again, and finally galvanized me into action on a project that has been on the back burner due to lack of time. However, I just can’t wait any longer, I have to have more Reiki stories!

In class and at the monthly Reiki Review I listen as students share powerful experiences, and all present are inspired, not only in new applications for Reiki in different situations, but by the sheer beauty and wonder at the loving and healing energy that we call Reiki. Hearing those stories inspires me to be a better teacher, practitioner, and person in my healing and teaching practice as well as my life, and I want to share that experience with everyone. If ever there were a time in history that our world needs inspiration of that nature it is now.

So I’m sending out an appeal to all Reiki practitioners, of any level: send me your stories, and I’ll collect them into an e-book. They can be any experience related to Reiki you have had, whether a healing response when working with an animal or person, an encounter that involved Reiki, a sudden personal aha! that changed your perception or your life, etc.

You do not have to have been a student of mine to submit a Reiki story, either. I welcome stories from practitioners of all Reiki trainings, and from all levels, beginner to Master, so feel free to pass this along to Reiki groups.

You can send your stories to me contained in an email or as an attached Word document. Please include your Reiki level (level I, Level II, Level III, Master) and contact information (address, email, phone) in case I need to clarify something. Also state how you would like to be attributed, i.e., Jane Doe, Jane D., J. Doe, etc. If your story is included in the book you will receive a free e-copy as a thank you. If you have photos that go with your story you are welcome to submit them as well.

Your submission constitutes permission to include your story in the book, but does not guarantee its inclusion. I reserve the right to edit as needed, but will try to preserve the original tone of the writer. Stories must not have been published previously. Deadline for submissions is July 31, 2008.

Know someone who has great Reiki stories? Then please, pass this request along to them.

So, bring them on, let’s inspire the world with incredible Reiki stories!

Rose De Dan
Wild Reiki and Shamanic Healing LLC

P.S. The photo, "Reiki Paws," that accompanies this article is of my cat, Saqqara, who often helps instruct my students in the proper art of hand placement at my Reiki classes. He has quite a few Reiki stories of his own!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Video, Two Dogs, inspired by Dalai Lama

My fledgling video effort, "Two Dogs, a story of compassion and animal communication" is up on YouTube!

“Two Dogs” is the true story of two lost dogs, and this video lovingly portrays the miracles that can happen when you communicate from your heart, and features my reading an excerpt from my new book, "Tails of a Healer: Animal, Reiki and Shamanism," to my dog, Puma. Two of my cats, Kiya and Saqqara, also make cameo appearances.

The making of "Two Dogs," produced and directed by Reiki Master Rhonda Hanley, was inspired by the Seeds of Compassion press conference video that His Holiness the Dalai Lama made prior to his recent visit to Seattle, Wash.

My intention was to see if I could get the video widely distributed, perhaps raising consciousness about compassion and communication from the heart, especially among children, our hope for the future of this world.

You can help spread the word by passing the link to the video on to others, and by rating the video with stars and leaving your comments, it helps to increase traffic and viewership.

Enjoy, and thanks from all of us!
Rose De Dan, Puma, Kiya, and Saqqara
Wild Reiki and Shamanic Healing LLC

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Dancing the Shamanic Jitterbug

Well, I have survived my first book reading, and I am happy to report, I actually had fun!

When I arrived at SoulFood Books in Redmond, and toted in my shamanic gear, I got my first look at where I would be reading, and seriously questioned if I knew what I was doing. For some reason I had imagined that I would be ensconced in an armchair somewhere among the bookshelves (perhaps I had delusions of being Alistair Cook on PBS). Instead I was led over to the café area and a STAGE, complete with a chair, spotlights, and a microphone on a stand. More the kind of setup I would expect for a musician, rather than an author, and indeed there was a guitar case lurking nearby.

So riveted was I by the idea of having to appear on that stage that I completely overlooked the overhead sign announcing “Rose De Dan, Author.” If I had not been so deer-in-the-headlights I might have taken a moment to appreciate the first-time joy of seeing my name, if not in lights, at least paired on a chalkboard with the lovely title “author” for all to see. Instead I can thank Rhonda Hanley, who documented the evening photographically, for the opportunity to at least savor it in private later.

While setting up and greeting some familiar faces kind enough to support me on this maiden venture as an author, I recalled a long-ago experience as a child, my first and last voluntary venture onto the stage as a performer.

My best friend at the time thought it would be a great idea for us to participate in the church play. Never shy, Lisa painted a rosy picture of the fun we would have. The reality of it was entirely different for me, merely setting foot on stage, even for rehearsals, raised my normally shy nature into the realm of the panic-stricken, rendering me completely wooden as an actress.

I do not recall the name of the play, but I do recall my part, a little old lady who knitted and was blind as a bat. My stage fright was so bad that they put scotch tape over the prop glasses that I wore in order to take away most of my ability to see the audience. It also made it more believable when I stumbled into things, as my character was supposed to do. I can clearly recall understanding at the time that my character was important to the play in her physical comic relief, and knowing that I was unable to loosen up enough to deliver, never mind being able to say my lines in any relaxed or funny fashion.

The night of the play’s actual performance passed in a blur, my lines (mercifully few) were inaudible and no one laughed at the parts of my performance that should have been funny as I am certain everyone could see me shaking with sheer nerves. It was a wonder at the time to me that I did not actually throw up. I felt very clearly that a career as an actress was not my path, and promised myself to never attempt something like that again.

It was ironic to me in those moments setting up that—despite having engaged in one of the world’s most solitary pastimes, writing—I now found myself on stage—and on stage, alone. It was a one-woman show, or was it?

Didn’t I now have years of Reiki and shamanic training and teaching under my belt? Hadn’t I done major personal healing work, and wasn’t I a different person now than that poor, terrified child who had wanted to have some fun on stage? And wasn’t my mesa with me, all those many stone friends connected to places of power such as oceans, earth, mountains, rivers, and so on? And wasn’t She Walks there, spirit guide who takes up residence in a bobcat pelt when visibility is needed? I was not alone on stage—I had the entire Peruvian and Reiki lineage standing with and behind me. As a matter of fact, now the stage seemed smaller than before—would there be enough room for all of us?

Suddenly it was time to start, and as I sat down in the chair and faced the audience fully, for the first time, I felt my sense of humor bubble up, and I could not resist smiling at them, and sharing, “I feel like I should have a guitar in my hand.” They all laughed, breaking the ice, and I took my first tentative steps into the world of book and shamanic performance art.

I had chosen five pieces from “Tails of a Healer: Animals, Reiki and Shamanism” to read, and began with “Two Dogs,” a relatively simple story, but powerful in its message that if we focus on our hearts we can communicate with other species.

The audience seemed attentive, so heartened I launched into “As the Stomach Churns,” and while I read I made a conscious decision to lighten up and let that small child finally have her fun on stage. The piece, if told well, is humorous, and I began to focus on the funny parts, playing with timing and delivery, and lo and behold, they laughed, in all the right places! I could feel that inner child smile.

I followed with “The House That Love Built,” the story of the death of my father and the events of 9-11 that followed directly afterward. I had never read this piece out loud before, and I suddenly found myself connecting emotionally with a part in the story regarding my father, you could clearly hear the tears in my voice. I could feel the audience respond sympathetically, and I thought frantically, “I can’t cry onstage!” I took a deep breath and there was a significant pause as I grounded and rebalanced myself, and then, bless the universe and the spirits, into that emotional pause burst the outrageously loud sound of the expresso machine being turned on. The timing was so perfectly absurd that everyone laughed, including me, the tension broke, and I was able to continue without incident.

It was with the fourth piece, “Guns and Mesas” that I had originally determined to include something that I suppose I can call shamanic performance art. The first part of the story involves my detainment at the airport while returning East, four months after my father’s death, for my youngest sister Claudine’s wedding. As I read the part in the story where my shamanic items are lifted from my travel bag to be inspected by airport security, I physically brought same items forth on stage: first, She Walks’ pelt, then my mesa, and finally my Florida Water.

Now for the climactic part, the shamanic wedding blessing I gave at my sister’s wedding. With a swirl I donned my shamanic cloak and gave the actual blessing, all while juggling microphone, bottle of Florida Water, and gourd rattle. That was actually the hardest part, to remember to shake the rattle, and not the microphone, all while speaking, and blowing sprays of Florida Water. I can honestly say it was a challenge, but it seemed to come off fairly well.

I concluded with a relatively sedate piece, “At the Edge of Two Worlds,” which paints a picture of the beauty of the Alki shore and the awe I felt in my encounter with two seal pups I met there, and then opened the floor to questions.

The audience was very supportive and curious, and thanks to insightful questions from people that knew me, some of whom were also mesa carriers, I think that the rest of the audience learned a few things about the nature of shamanism and its relationship to the natural and spirit world. By this time I was feeling a lot more comfortable, and why not, wasn’t all of my shamanic gear spread around me? With my mesa open the spirit world was having a party on stage, it was getting quite lively.

Then, for me, the best part of the evening happened. As I was packing up, a woman who had asked me questions about a stone that she had found that insisted on coming home with her, approached and asked if she could touch She Walks. I told her I had to ask permission, and when I did She Walks said, “Hand me to her.” As the woman took her she cradled She Walks in her arms, holding her lovingly, and began stroking her soft fur. Then she looked up at me, eyes wide, but shining with the light of discovery, and exclaimed, “It’s like she’s alive! It’s like she’s breathing!” And I smiled back at her with answering joy and delight, for I well remembered my first connection with the being I call She Walks and how that changed my life. So taken was the woman with the energy that I had to gently extract She Walks in order to finish packing.

So, I feel that my first book reading was a great success. I literally brought who I was to the stage, both personally and professionally, and the audience responded by embracing that energy. My inner child is still dancing with delight; it appears that we have now transformed the "First-Time Book Reading Jitters" into the Shamanic Jitterbug!

Monday, May 5, 2008

First-Time Book Reading Jitters

I will be appearing at SoulFood Books in Redmond, WA this Thursday, May 8 from 7:00-8:00 p.m. reading excerpts from my new book Tails of a Healer: Animals, Reiki and Shamanism and answering questions from the audience, of which hopefully there will be at least a few!

As a first-time author new to the book reading circuit I thought I should research my role online and perhaps pick up some tips on how to make a decent presentation and not bore my audience.

One article entitled “Tools of the Trade: Readings” by Charlie Stross made me smile with Rule #1: “The audience is not your enemy.” It had never occurred to me to think of them that way, but the author went on to make a good point—we are not performance artists. Writers are unaccustomed to creating in public, writing is a very slow and private undertaking which would bore most people silly to watch take place. A reading of your book (especially mine, which chronicles the amusing, and hopefully sometimes inspiring progress of my adventures in healing with animals and people) is an airing of your innermost thoughts in a venue where the audience can SEE you and make observations about you not just your work. Great, never that comfortable with public speaking to begin with, Charlie has now made me more nervous than ever!

So, how to turn my angst into a source of strength? Charlie continues with the information that “to start with, people who turn up to your reading with be either friends, fans, or the randomly curious, in descending order of probability.” Hmm, while not a native of this area having emigrated here in 1999 from the East coast, I have called the Alki neighborhood of West Seattle home for seven years. If I think of everyone from this geographic region as my neighbor that should help (note to self, I will clear the popular Seattleite reference to Redmond as “the Evil East side” from my mental storage compartments). So, I now have my plan of action, in my mind every person in the audience will be a friend or potential friend.

Now, on to the program, what do I read? An hour does not seem like a long time until you are the only person speaking. Although my years of teaching Reiki and shamanic classes to captive students has given me some ability to hold the attention of my audience at least until that last cup of Seattle coffee necessitates a bathroom break, I can’t rely on the same techniques, this event is not for paying students invested in learning a healing modality, this event is free to a more general audience. After deliberation I decide that I should choose an eclectic mix, something for everyone: humor, suspense, pathos (sometimes all in the same story!), with perhaps a strong leaning toward animal lovers (not a difficult choice considering the book contents).

So far I plan on including a reading of “Two Dogs,” a true story of two lost dogs that found their home again through an emotional appeal to me and the kind efforts of two elderly neighbors. For me it was an early experience of the validity of animal communication before it became a part of my professional life. Then perhaps a segue into my move here from Massachusetts entitled “As the Stomach Churns,” a comic chronicle of the madcap adventures of moving with animals. To honor my connection and appreciation of the beauty and wildlife still present in the city, specifically in Alki, I think I might read “At the Edge of Two Worlds,” a story of my first encounters with seal pups on the beaches of Alki and the use of Reiki for babysitting. Still a toss-up whether to stick to the humorous with “Guns and Mesas,” a recounting of what happens when a shaman encounters a security check at the airport and the shamanic wedding blessing that the guests at my youngest sister’s wedding will never forget (and I can include the use of props which should qualify for performance art), or to get serious with “The House That Love Built,” a story of my father's death and my revelations about his life which coincided with the events of 9-11. I am leaning toward getting a bit serious in light of the situation in Tibet as well as other hot spots around the world, but perhaps there will be time for both.

In any case, no matter what I read, I will actively use what I have learned from my healing and teaching practice: I will send Reiki to the situation so that I will remain calm and that my words may be heard as I intend, and that the listener will receive whatever they need. This means that I must let go of attachment to outcome and simply be present and available. I will do my best, and set my intention toward welcoming many new friends and neighbors (Eastside and Westside) to my first book reading event, SoulFood Books, here I come!