Friday, April 24, 2009


Here's the view from my window: it's Spring in Seattle! I want to plant seeds and dig in the dirt, and jump on my bicycle and fly thorugh the bright air on two wizzing wheels!

But my heels hurt when I work in the garden and I have no bike. Nor have I had energy or time to buy one, even though I had planned to this week.

This Friday afternoon has me feeling tired and a little blue, probably because I did not do what I hoped I would this past week. I had thought I would be writing and having fun. Instead, I spent the week going to doctors and feeling pretty exhausted. The conclusion: I need to ramp up my Lyme medication. Tomorrow I start plaquenil to kill the Lyme in its cyst form and in a few weeks I will change my penicillin injections for a stronger antibiotic.

For the past five months all my spare energy has gone to fixing up and renting an old, neglected and needy house. At long last, it is rented, the tenants are set to move in Saturday, my work on the yard ended on Tuesday. (Nevermind that on Thursday I realized the pipes to the upstairs bathroom were leaking. My builder Sean was there last night to fix it.)

As I labored through the winter and early spring, I longed for nothing more than time to sit down and write-- all the imagined blog entries that occurred to me at odd moments, and the short story that has been shelved for months on end. I knew it would be the first thing I did once the house was finished. Instead, as I put away my trowel and screw driver and made the last phone call to Sean to fix the pipes, my body has been screaming out for attention. That is the nature of this illness. Once again I'm coming to terms with that. And it is OK.

Next week I will be on new meds, but I will also have no doctor appointments. I will buy a bike, I will ride it, I might even plant some seeds, and above all I will write.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


And therefore as a stranger give it welcome.
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
--Hamlet, Act 1, scene 5

Several weeks ago, my friend Shifa taught me reiki level 1. Taught is a bit of a misnomer. In fact, the word that reiki practitioners use is attunement, which evokes tuning in, as to a radio station, or a frequency that is already out there. This is a closer approximation of my experience, although to me it seemed more like-- well, like being handed magic powers.

According to the text Shifa gave me, "reiki is the laying on of hands with positive healing intent," and "the traditional modality of reiki practiced today is transferred through a series of energetic attunements that open the receiver to become a channel for reiki energy." (from "reiki scroll" by Anna Dorian.)

So you may be wondering what this all means. When I have been on the receiving end of reiki, the giver simply has simply laid her hands gently on different spots on my body. I usually experience a warmth and tingling in the place of contact, and I become extremely relaxed throughout my body. The hands of practitioner can also feel hot to me, but I have been told that is the heat from my own body, or that it is the reiki energy that I am feeling.

Afterwards an overall sense of well being and blissfulness can remain with me for hours, and I sleep very well.

By undergoig the attunement, I was becoming a novice reiki practitioner, so that I would be able to do reiki on myself and others.

On the day of my reiki attunement, I was excited. I had a little more energy than usual, despite not having a good night's sleep in several weeks. I cleaned and tidied the apartment so that when Shifa got there it was looking its best, and I cooked food for us to eat afterwards.

We placed a chair in the middle of the living room, facing the picture window, for my attunement. Shifa instructed me to hold my hands in prayer position in front of my forehead ("my third eye") while she stood behind me and drew symbols in the air over my head. She then came around to face me and blew air in a vertical line from my heart up to my forehead. She repeated these steps three more times, and the attunement was complete.

I had expected that if I were to experience anything unusual, it would be during the attunement, but up until this point I felt nothing in particular. I couldn't even see the symbols Shifa was making over my head, so as far as I was concerned it had really only been sitting in a chair for a few minutes, holding my palms together above my face.

I was not inclined to get up from the chair, however, and within a few minutes a heavy sensation filled my feet and progressed slowly up my body. Then I felt very light, and felt laughter surging up in my chest. A moment later there was a comforting warmth between my shoulder blades, in the spot where I carry perpetual knots of tension. A moment later tingling filled my lower legs and feet, and a prickling seared the place on my heel where I'd had tendonitis for the past three months.

At last I got up and we both drank water. Shifa then showed me where to place my hands on myself or on another person to give a treatment, and we talked a little about the experience. She told me to practice by giving myself a reiki treatment each night as I went to sleep.

I felt slow and heavy after Shifa left, so I got into bed early. I tried the reiki on myself and was happy to feel a tingling spreading throughout my body. I was indeed able to channel the reiki energy, and I slept better than I had slept in a month.

All this raises the question: what energy?

There are several answers to this: 1) the energy that is out there (duh!)
2) universal life force 3) divinity 4) I don't know.

Personally, I prefer the last one. This is one of those questions, along with "do people have souls?" and "does god exist?" that most of us have gone back and forth on more than once and have even stayed up late into the night discussing with our college roommates. These questions are, ultimately, unanswerable. It is impossible to prove definitively that god does or does not exist.

Most of the time I don't believe in god, but I also recognize this comes down to a matter of belief; two of the people whose hearts and intellects I hold most dear do believe in some kind of divinity, and I respect that.

So much for god, what about the energy that I have absolutely, unquestionably felt when receiving a reiki treatment and after the attunement? The same energy that I am now able to channel?

I know it exists because I have felt it. For me the encounters with this gentle force have been, on the whole, positive. As to what the energy is, where it comes from, or where it is going, I can only say I haven't a clue. As usual, no has said it better than Shakespeare: There are more things on heaven and earth... Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

The energy is there, I am glad of it, and I am humbled by it.