Category: Blog

A Reiki Story: The Old Woman and Me One Night

I wanted to sleep so badly, but some part of my inner essence sought wakeful and conscious connection with the wisdom of the ‘old woman of love and harmony’. The old woman wanted to speak with me as my soul did with her – but I had been too busy. The details of life were equally calling to be accomplished. Deadlines and more deadlines.

I didn’t really recognize the ‘old woman of love and harmony’. She came in the night and in the darkness. She came in the hours at the same time when the ancestors gathered to speak with those who listened. I lay there, eyes open. Darkness around me. “Look deeper,” the old woman of love and harmony said. “Your truth lies in the heart.”

Obvious, I thought. Everyone knows this. I told myself I’m already living my truth. But I didn’t know. I didn’t know that I had to go deep into the part of me I most sought to put behind me and avoid.

She (this part of me) came to me in the middle of the night, the old woman explained, so that I could more clearly see this part of me I denied. Her light could shine on this part with great contrast, so I could see the inner face of this part I denied. “Why? Why do I have to see this part of me?” I asked the old woman. “There can be no good in going back to retrieve this essence of me. There is no one who sees value in this part of me.”

“But you must,” she said with the purest of love and harmony flowing from her eyes and extending from her hands. Her hands touched my mind and my heart together. It was such a transforming touch, so gentle and loving. My body breathed deeply in relief and freedom. “You must see the value of this part of you,” she repeated with an ancient sense of knowing.

But it’s just a part of me, I thought. How could it be that important. No one had ever truly validated this part of me before. No one cared for this talent from me before. Why do I need to go back and claim this part of me? And why in the middle of the night? Why not come in the day when I am already awake and can be more alert to problem-solve?

“It will not cost you anything to go and speak with this part of you,” the old woman of love and harmony said, as though reading my mind. “Of course, it may cost you your sleep tomorrow night, if you do not attend to the part that is seeking your love at this hour.”

Begrudgingly, I decided to speak with the part who I deemed was being both a nuisance and withholding the truth from me. My truth. The truth that I thought would let me finally be fulfilled and happy.

“What do you want?” I asked.


“Speak kindly to her” the old woman gently prodded me.

I realized I would need to speak in the manner the old woman was speaking with me. I tried again. “What do you really want that you awaken me in the middle of the night?” I asked with all the kindness I could access within me.

“Love,” this part said. I sensed a deep yearning amid a deep and old sadness.

“Love?” I inquired. “Like you want me to have someone love you that isn’t loving you right now?”

“Yes,” this part answered. “I want you to love me.”

I breathed in and noticed my breath. I breathed out and noticed my breath. I could feel the emerging resistance to know this part and to listen for what she really wanted. I wanted to object. I wanted to create stories, rational and believable stories about why her request for be loved by me was unattainable and unworthy of my attention and effort. Does this part of me not understand how daring and discomforting her want for ‘love’ is?

And yet the divide, the lack of love and harmony, the lack of unity in the diversity of our wanting had worn me ragged. Too many nights awake. Too many nights visited by the old woman and her light. Too many moments of frustration and despair because I couldn’t manifest the life I was supposed to be living in my mind.

Unbeknownst to me, another part of me was listening to our conversation. She quietly and kindly interjected, “maybe there is another life you need to be living. Maybe the vision in your mind is no longer the vision of your soul. And if this is so, then how can you know this vision if you do not have love for this part of you, regardless of your past with each other? You must value this part of you which you have habitually denied. It’s the only way through this chronic inner conflict that wears on your mind and energy and power.”

My heart softened. I recognized my resistance, my objections and even my fear that wanted to barricade the softening. It’s an old and familiar part of me, a default state of defensiveness. A meta state of protecting my ‘rightness.’ But with the presence of the old woman of love and harmony, my heart softened. I knew I would be safe to love.

“You have my love,” I gently whispered to the part of me seeking my love. “Breathe with me,” I told her. “Just breathe with me and breathe in the state of love”. Though I had learned this phrase many years ago, I couldn’t imagine speaking it softly to this part of me in the middle of the night. But here, in the darkness of the new moon, I suddenly experienced the value, the true and beautiful value of this part of me I for so long had denied and despaired of in my mind.

The old woman joined me. We started breathing love. “Breathe in my love,” I repeated to this part of me. She must have done so because suddenly my inner world lit up. It was as though the whole room lit up. I looked out the window to see the night’s light, but I was reminded it was a new moon. It was completely dark out. The light came from somewhere within. So radiant. So warm. So filled with love.

And so I asked this part of me, “Now that my love is available to you, pure love is accessible to you – as you only need to breathe it in with me – what do you want that is even deeper and more important?”

I paused.

“Heaven on earth” this part of me said. I stumbled around to find a thought. I was stunned. “Heaven on earth” she repeated calmly and firmly.

And there was silence. No words. No thoughts. Some images of Nature restored, of children laughing and playing, of people swimming in the rivers, of animals plentiful and unafraid, of ceremony and feast celebrated. A moment of bliss entered my inner world.

The ‘other’ within me, the irreconcilable diversity of the ‘other’ had come into love and harmony with me. A unity prevailed in this inner state of heaven on earth that seemed beyond understanding. I knew the old woman had something to do with this moment. She had gifted me some kind of healing, a magic I couldn’t quite grasp. The old woman of love and harmony winked, pulled the covers back up around my neck and I fell asleep. In love and harmony, I fell asleep.

Shirley Lynn Martin, from the “Reiki Stories of Healing” series

Why Learn to Forgive?

“Forgiveness means giving up hope for a better past.”

Lily Tomlin

The past. Wow, what a trip we can take with the past. There are pleasant trips down memory lane which fuel our joy and remind us of who we are, where we have come from, and the roots that nourish us through life. The past is the link to our ancestors who remain with us, offering support and guidance and showing us where love can flow anew.

There also are trips down memory lane which fuel our resentment and invite us to “tame the ghosts in my head, that run wild and wish me dead”, as Mumford and Sons sing in Lovers Eyes. These trips down memory lane darken our minds and entrench us in the mental-emotional judgements and punishments that destroy relationships, first with ourselves but also with others, even those who we love most.

Recently, I was reminded of the vast difference between the story in my head about someone I loved and the actual, lived connection that was expressed in a wonderfully, ordinary visit. The difference between these two realities was clear for me that night. It was a distinct fork in the road. I could walk in the path of resentment and an unforgiving heart, or let go of my emotional attachments to ‘the hurts of the past’. I chose the latter – I needed to walk forward freely. I chose to release the resentment limiting me from fully experiencing the gifts and flowing love possible in the here and now, and into my future.

The past is done. Ruminating on the past again and again will never change what happened. As my mentor once said to me, “I can wish today that the ice storm didn’t happen two days earlier making my flight delayed, delaying me…I can wish and wish, stomp my feet and demand it didn’t happen. But it did.” What happened in the past is like the weather that happened. It’s done.

Yet, most of us walk in our present life, unconscious of the past that we are in bondage to, bound by decisions and resentments that limit our perspective and choices available to us here and now.

Learning to forgive is about releasing our resentments about what happened in the past … to be free to be, to live in the here and now.

There are definitely gems, wisdom and insights to be gained from the past. We need to understand what happened then so that we can make different and better choices that reflect our values of today. Bringing forward the strategies of success from the past and applying them here and now may also be incredibly useful, if these strategies are still relevant. However, in the path of deep transformation (that forgiveness opens us up to experiencing), many of these strategies need to be evolved.

As I read and observe, weep and grieve for all the hatred spewed across the globe in heightened and carelessly aggressive ways, it tells me how deeply we carry the past in our consciousness, ‘ghosts in our heads that wish us dead’. Forgiving ourselves, our ancestors, others around us, our enemies is no longer something we’ll get to some day (when I’m less busy, when the kids are gone, when I’m not working full time … ). That some day is here and now. The cost of all this poison is making us so sick, making the planet so sick that we cannot justify bringing it forward into our future with us.

The ego argues, “Oh, but don’t take away the resentment that protects me and is my shield so I don’t experience such hurt and trauma again. I really need that to keep me safe.”

I have found nothing joyful and light-filled about resentment. There is nothing free that comes with resentment. Resentment has a deep cost to the soul. It costs you your happiness. It costs you your health. It costs you connection and love. These inner states are the fundamental desires and needs of the human condition. When we give up these fundamental desires and needs in order to ‘cherish our resentment as our safety valve’, we actually destroy our inner sense of security, of belonging in the world in our very unique place. Resentment destroys us at the root of who we are. And I believe this is why spiritual leaders from any tradition call upon us to forgive.

Steve Jobs died a billionaire, with a fortune of $7 billion, at the age of 56 from pancreatic cancer, and here are some of his last words… “In other eyes, my life is the essence of success, but aside from work, I have a little joy. And in the end, wealth is just a fact of life to which I am accustomed.” … “At this moment, lying on the bed, sick and remembering all my life, I realize that all my recognition and wealth that I have is meaningless in the face of imminent death. You can hire someone to drive a car for you, make money for you – but you can not rent someone to carry the disease for you. One can find material things, but there is one thing that can not be found when it is lost – “LIFE”.

If you want your life back, then learn to forgive. If you want your health back, learn to forgive. If you want to be free from your loneliness because you ran away from all your connections, then learn to forgive. Forgiving will bring you your life, because forgiving is the essence of loving another.

Let me repeat this ancient wisdom … forgiving another is the essence of loving them. And this goes for yourself as well. Forgiving yourself is the essence of loving yourself.

Let’s Forgive, so together we can …

Free up our energy
Free up our creativity
Free up our love and joy

and make this world and planet a better place, where Spirit can abundantly flow once again.

Shirley Lynn

upcoming workshops this fall

The Art and Practice of Forgiving – Discover the Freedom to Live
Saturday, September 14 @ 9:00 am – 4:30 pm

This one-day workshop is for anyone who wants to learn an effective and simple method to let go of the resentments that bind us to our past hurts and block us from our joy. We also will examine what interferes with forgiving and how forgiving is distinct from grieving a loss or healing a trauma.

Compassion and the Art of Self Forgiveness
Saturday, November 30 @ 9:00 am – 4:30 pm

This one-day workshop is a follow up to the Art & Practice of Forgiving Workshop This time, we will explore how shame and guilt are often confused in the self forgiving process and how we can resolve this confusion and move on with our lives.

Reiki Training (Level 1)

Friday & Saturday, October 4 & 5th & Saturday, October 19th @ 9:30 am to 4:30 pm

Begin your path to self-healing and spiritual development with Reiki. Awaken to its power and mystery. Deepen your journey by joining an active community of supportive and like-minded fellow seekers and Reiki practitioners.

Ethical and Legal Considerations for the Reiki Practitioner

Saturdays September 28th and October 26th, 2019 @ 9:00am – 1:00pm (both days)

Pre-requisites: Reiki Ryoho Level II
This 8 hour workshop is for Reiki practitioners who wish to have those uncommon discussions about the ethics and legal considerations when providing a professional Reiki healing service. For those of you who also offer other modalities, this will still have relevance. *with special presenter, Jennifer Godwin

Peace Matters: Why Do the Inner Work?

Peace matters. This affirmation and ethic holds deep meaning for me. It pulls me toward my life’s work, my life’s joy and my life’s commitment (purpose). One might even say it is my destiny. The simplicity and clarity of this affirmation and ethic is deeply woven in my heart’s consciousness, serving as a guiding force for me.

When I liken this affirmation to the flow of water, I can easily distinguish when I am aligned and in the flow of my true nature – or when I am stuck in the mud or an overgrown algae swamp, as reflected in the mental struggling and uninspired thinking circling in my mind.

Over the years, I have contemplated the word peace and what value and meaning it has for me. It certainly has evolved, more from an experiential understanding than in any conceptual framework. Through my Reiki meditation and inner path of self-knowing (we call this okuden in Reiki), through my professional study and training, through my life experiences of successes and heartbreaks, and through my grassroots involvement in the All Nations Grand River Water Walk over the past two years (and more to come), my understanding of peace matters has become as valuable to me as breathing.

Now, when I use the word peace, I can embrace an inner stillness, a serenity of heart-mind (kokoro as it is known in Reiki meditation), and a joy of contentment in the persistent meaning of my life. My understanding of peace embraces a sense of confidence in the prosperity of Spirit’s abundance and how it flows in and out of my life, connecting a golden thread to the larger wholeness in the Universe. I can even embrace a deeper patience (this has been a big learning!) in the gentle confluences of many flows that take time to appear for a real movement of change to take effect. And I understand the health of deep relaxation and the relaxation that restores health – which is why peace, deep inner relaxation of body, mind and spirit, is the ultimate healer (also a Reiki teaching).

Perhaps the greatest understanding I have become enlightened to is that peace requires my inner work. The Fourth Precept is Reiki calls us daily to work diligently, to work on ourselves, to do what is ours to do. Not ‘try’ to do. But ‘do’ what is ours to do. Not other’s inner business. Our inner business.

For me, there are three core disciplines to experiencing this inner peace, and necessary for living peace matters (other disciplines exist, but these have arisen as core for me). These tasks have a simplicity to them, yet it has taken me decades to understand them, to embrace them and to begin to live them.

  1. Open to love—let love in. Let love flow (like water). This openness to love is the big ‘YES’ to life, to Source itself and all the Infinite Goodness that flows. The easiest path to open to love is the practice of genuine gratitude for me, a gratitude felt and experienced in the heart. Not just something I think about. The latter is a concept. The former is an embodiment of a vibration and feeling that changes emotional states and perspectives of reality.
  2. Release my emotional attachments to what steals my inner peace (really, my health and inner contentment/happiness). A major task here is the work of forgiving, of releasing emotional attachments to the resentments that keep me out of love and trapped in the darkness of the past. Releasing purifies our body, mind and spirit. Releasing emotional attachments creates boundaries around us/our energetic essence and what is healthy and imbued with radiance and vitality.
  3. Be kind. Have compassion. This practice of kindness requires great moral courage and inner empowerment. Choosing to respond in kindness when someone is behaving rudely, or in a passive-aggressive manner, or even with a racist insult, requires deep inner presence, moral fortitude, creativity and compassion. Having compassion keeps our feet on the ground and our hearts seeing the equality in another, even when the other’s wounds, hurts and anger, expressed violently and with hatred, are the cause of significant pain and injustice.

Kindness is more expedient to the path of inner peace than is the rumination of anger and fear. So is opening to love and releasing emotional attachments to what no longer serves or is functional. Kindness serves as a graceful existence. Peace matters is a path, a way of being that “I don’t want to take because the work to experience it requires ‘giving up too much’,” says the ego.

And as the last living Nuremburg prosecutor of WWII, Benjamin Ferencz, who witnessed and prosecuted the atrocities of Nazi genocide, says: “Well, if it’s naive to want peace instead of war, let ’em make sure they say I’m naive. Because I want peace instead of war. If they tell me they want war instead of peace, I don’t say they’re naive, I say they’re stupid. Stupid to an incredible degree to send young people out to kill other young people they don’t even know, who never did anybody any harm, never harmed them. That is the current system. I am naive? That’s insane.”

When I keep peace matters in front of me, and I practice these three disciplines, I experience the peace the spiritual masters speak of, although sometimes only briefly. It’s an evolution toward maturity and one, I suspect, which will take me the rest of my life to master any of these disciplines to their potential. Peace matters is NOT a passive way of being. It requires the active engagement of heart and mindfulness to what really matters in the present moment. It is a higher order of human interacting and living in harmony and respect with all our relations. ALL OUR RELATIONS. Peace matters is deeply transformative. And it becomes the healing and joyful work of a lifetime.

I hope you notice that my workshops, trainings and individual sessions all arise and come home to peace matters and the disciplines that support us to live peace, within and with others.

This fall, I will be offering The Art and Practice of Forgiving – Discover the Freedom to Live, Reiki Ryoho Levels One and Two, Compassion and the Art of Self Forgiveness and other Reiki Ryoho courses. I invite you to join me in fleshing out and learning the simple truths and practices of restoring the inner serenity and calm you seek.

Let this summer be a balm for your soul and let your soul awaken to peace matters.

Shirley Lynn

Self Kindness Response: Self Care in the Midst of a Fire

“The house is on fire.”

Greta Thurnberg, a 16 year old Swedish student said these words to the World Economic Forum just one day after the Notre Dame Cathedral’s roof was on fire in Paris. She was pleading them to address the runaway climate crisis plaguing our globe and is calling for “permanent and unprecedented changes to take place in all aspects of our society.”

Not only is our climate crisis calling to us, so is there a crisis of our social fabric — a moral and cultural crisis, and even a spiritual crisis as we see hate and religious intolerance on the rise. This is often when clients seek my help … when their house is on fire. They are in crisis — emotionally, in their values, even spiritually.

Frequently, what they initially want is to make the flames less hot, to make the symptoms go away. But they fear leaving ‘what makes the fire’. It is their place of ‘residence’, what they are familiar with deep in their minds. Some feel trapped inside, powerless to get up and run out of their burning house. Others want to stop the fire, but as soon as the fire is stopped they return to playing with the sparks in the same habitual and mindless ways. The permanent and unprecedented changes seem to be too daunting and hard to make.

In late 2016, Phap Dung, a Buddhist monk of Plum Village, interviewed by Eliza Barclay, used a similar metaphor. His response to her question:

EB:  What is the best way to manage deep uncertainty and fear in a moment like this?

PD:  We see the mind like a house, so if your house is on fire, you need to take care of the fire, not to go look for the person that made the fire… .

When our house is on fire, when our hearts are in crisis, we clearly need to attend to making ourselves safe and, to take care of what is first needed. This is clearly the first task of self kindness. Taking necessary action to preserve life and give ourselves breath. Find our calm so we can take action to upright ourselves again, to get out from under the overwhelm.

As Phap Dung says:  Take care of those emotions first; it’s the priority. Because anything that comes from a place of fear and anxiety and anger will only make the fire worse. Come back and find a place of calm and peace to cool the flame of emotion down ….

Once the fire is out in your mind, what does self care, rooted in compassion and kindness look like then? Here begins the more challenging work of cleaning up the rubble of old hurts, resentments and unhelpful emotional habits that are the mindless sparks igniting the fires.

Gabor Mate, in his book When the Body Says No, highlights four personality traits that tend to increase stress levels in the body. Over time, he argues, this physiological stress leads to disease. The personality traits include:

  • people who don’t know how to say no,
  • people who are rigid and compulsive, perfectionistic, expecting themselves to be perfect in everything,
  • people who don’t know how to express their experience of anger in a healthy way,
  • people who compulsively and automatically take care of others and don’t think of their own needs; these people are physiologically stressed, whether they know it or not.

Mate argues that stress is the thing that leads to disease or leads to conditions for it and certain personalities are more prone to this stress. For these people, their boundaries will be invaded but they won’t know it. They’ll be extending themselves and they won’t know it; they will work when they should be resting.

Self care requires a self kindness that has the power to say ‘yes’, ‘no’ and ‘not yet’ where appropriate and necessary. And in the midst of a fire, we need to be well-versed in these small and powerful words, so we can use them swiftly and safely.

Similarly, with our planet ‘on fire’ – we need to practise self care with a self kindness that has the power, strength, resilience and wisdom to make “permanent and unprecedented changes” in every area of our life and relationships. Learning how and where and when and why to say ‘yes’, ‘no’ and ‘not yet’ is no longer a skill for sometime in the future. It is needed here and now.

Your boundaries, whether energetic, emotional or spiritual need to evolve and reflect what is needed to keep you healthy, whole and safe, even in this environment of ‘the house on fire’. Your boundaries need the strength and flexibility to navigate the complexities of human tasks at hand to put out the fire (whether in our minds or on the planet) and rebuild a sustainable human community on this planet.

Our personal boundaries are connected to this greater story of the Earth on fire. And the Earth’s story and the social fabric ills are massively impacting our personal story.

Phap Dung writes: “The future is built with the present moment and how we take care of it. If you are fearful, the future will be fearful. If you are uncooperative, the future will be divisive. This is very important. The future is not something that will come to us; the future is built by us, by how we speak and what we do in the present moment.”

So let us do self care with kindness and in an aura of social cooperation and harmony, for this too is boundary work. Let us remember to speak and act clearly with what we need to do, for this too is healthy boundary work. May our ‘yes’, ‘no’ and ‘not yet’ be clear enough to put out the fire in our minds and habits, for this too is self kindness and boundary work! Then let us be brave enough to also make unprecedented and permanent changes so all living beings can thrive and return to wholeness.

Wouldn’t that be the greatest kindness and boundary work, that we choose to live the values of what gives life, offers respect and sustainability to all organic life on this planet—personally and socially?

Blessed be.

Shirley Lynn

An Invitation to the Reiki Path

When we first start practising Reiki, many of us have amazing stories to share. The healing releases we first experience remain with us for a lifetime! After 20 years of Reiki practice with myself and others, I am still in awe of this incredible gift I received when I was attuned so many years ago. It is very simple. There is an initiation – an attunement we call it. There are 5 precepts. There is the practice of opening and receiving, like with receiving grace. And it centres around gratitude, kindness and letting go to the process of purification of habits, mindsets and attachments.

For me, the greatest challenge that remains after 20 years – Release control. Open and receive. Release your attachment to your intentions, your outcomes, your illness, your discord.

Release control. Release control.

In this simple journey, the colours, textures, dimensions, layers get richer and more profound with time. Yet, simply, without ego.

Please enjoy this beautiful reflection by my friend and colleague, Elyssa Matthew’s open letter to anyone wondering if Reiki practice is for them, even if they have been attuned for a long time:

An Open Letter

Dear new fellow Reiki practitioner (or maybe not so new, but just ready to begin again),

Welcome to a magical path, as magical as any new path may be – whether marriage, maternity, a craft, an art, a skill, or a course of study – only perhaps more so, as you will discover, should you pursue this path every day with an open mind, open heart, and open will, for it has the power to transform all other paths and bring you to another way of being beyond anything you may have ever hoped for, wished, or even imagined.

Feeling intrigued? Or excited? I hope so.

But as excited, curious, and ready as you might be, know that no path is without challenges, subtleties, or demands, and that, when it comes to Reiki, many before you have wandered away. It is almost hard not to. So here are a few thoughts you might like to ponder and a few words of encouragement.

Let’s start with the beginning.

Before Mikao Usui Sensei sat at the top of a mountain outside Kyoto, for three weeks, nearly one hundred years ago, he had decided that the purpose of life was enlightenment, and to this end, he had been practicing Zen meditation for a number of years. Sensei was seeking this radical transformation of consciousness which in Japanese culture has been known as satori. Nothing else was going to do anymore. It was do or die – “one life, one arrow”, a steadfast attempt to put all his energy and deep yearning into sitting, fasting, and meditating for as long as it would take for “lightning” to strike, since “enlightenment” the wise say, “is an accident, and practice makes one accident prone.”

The story, as recorded on his memorial stone in Tokyo’s Saihoji temple, tells us that Sensei got his wish
– that after twenty-one days, Grace whisked him away to a place within himself from where he could experience his identity with fundamental consciousness. Mental formations, like clouds in the sky were cleared away, and his sense of self was re-positioned within inner spaciousness, allowing fundamental radiance, like a sun, to shine through. All this happened as he felt a numinous presence engulfing him. He called it reiki (using a word which had always been in common usage).

Following his experience of self-realization or satori, Usui Sensei also discovered that something new had spontaneously become possible for him – the ability to radiate coherence and invite harmony and balance in the mind and the body, in himself and in others.

This was the beginning of what we now know as Usui Reiki Ryoho.

When Sensei began teaching Usui Reiki Ryoho, it was with these two goals in mind: health and well-being in everyday life on the one hand, and spiritual awakening on the other, the two possible end results being intertwined – as the light of our essential nature shines through and dispels suffering and obstructions, so healing of the body-mind can clear energetic pathways for natural intelligence to flow through and take us in the direction of realizing the source of healing and of all creation, and our identity with it, not as an idea, but as a deeply known certainty. And as this happens, we become more fully human – more open-minded and more big-hearted, more enlightened versions of ourselves, and also more effective healers. Sensei found that Reiki makes all this possible and so, Usui Reiki Ryoho was offered as a practice of nondual healing and awakening.

So if you are new to Reiki, or ready to start again, keep this in mind, and if you are not so new and may already have had an inkling of any of this, keep going. And in following this path, follow the founder’s example – commit fully and practice daily with deep sincerity, putting your heart, mind, and body into your practice. From your own end, that’s all you can do. The practice requires non-ambiguity, and steadfastness as well as trust and surrender. And know that these attitudes pay off. They did for Sensei.

It is up to you, then. But not only. Reiki itself, the core of your being, the natural rhythm and flow of your unfoldment will take care of the rest. Just do your personal practice (either your hands-on practice or your Reiki meditation practice which Sensei would introduce at level 2, if you have been taught that, or both – both would be best). Then see what happens.

Having said that, keep in mind that Reiki is not only an individual practice, but also a practice of togetherness. We are all in it together and we need each other in this practice. And not only when it comes to receiving an attunement (no attunement, no Reiki practice), but also subsequently, as we keep going on the path.

In Usui Sensei’s time, students would attend weekly gatherings since in order to grow, one needed to receive “reiju” (what has come to be called “attunement” in a more elaborate form) as often as possible. This practice is still in effect in the Gakkai, the original Reiki Society created by Sensei. Not that the one time Reiki initiation we are all familiar with is not enough for a new student to begin practicing, but that something happens every time in the space of resonance between a teacher and a student, between somebody who is further along the path and a new initiate, something which can lead to further unfoldment. For the same reason, the members of the Gakkai have also been practicing since Sensei’s time, “Reiki mawashi”, a group process which allows Reiki to flow from one person to another as they stand linked in a circle, everyone benefiting from the magnified effect. Something happens when two or more are gathered together in Reiki.

Reiki practice then, is not just about receiving an attunement, or collecting attunements. It is not just about an attunement having a transformational effect. That is a fact, but it is only the beginning. There is further to go in this practice, and again, this can only happen if after taking a class, one commits to personal practice daily and to group practice as often as possible with the aspiration to attain satori, or to become as good a healer as one can be, or both. And it is to personal practice and group practice, that we add the practice of treating others.

Personal practice and group practice reinforce each other. As we do the personal practice and grow, we may find ourselves in a better position to be of service to others as healers. As Japanese Reiki Master, Hyakuten Sensei, succinctly puts it, “Me, first. Then, you and me together.” On the other hand, as we practice with a group, we may find it easier and be more inspired to do the practice on our own, at home – we may develop the interest, confidence, or enthusiasm to keep going every day.

Lastly, consider this: whether we do the practice alone or with others, the numinous presence of Reiki is enough. Togetherness with Reiki is enough. Surrender is enough. This practice undertaken with the proper attitude of trust, sincerity, and non-ambiguity is enough. Nothing else is needed, for what is there that can be more real, more profound, or more healing than the beauty and power of fundamental consciousness, of the light that shines throughout Reality experienced as Reiki itself and our own essential self ? What is there that is greater than that?

Reiki practice needs no external support. It is full and complete, in and of itself. One’s wandering (or is it wondering) mind might want to make the practice more complicated or bolster it with all manner of “additives”, from objects to techniques, as prompted by one’s insecurity, confusion, resistance, attachment to outcome, expectations, idle curiosity, self-importance, or just simple restlessness and addiction to haste… (The list could go on.) The challenge in Reiki practice is to let go of all that. And this has been a challenge for many people who after taking a Reiki class or two, have rushed on to the next exciting modality, rather than committing to practice (either personal practice, or group practice, or healing practice, as they are all intertwined), or have been tempted to clutter the practice with techniques learned elsewhere, or with various kinds of objects, misguidedly believing that something else is needed aside from surrender and trust, that is aside from an open mind, open heart, and open will.

So, dear new fellow Reiki practitioner (or maybe not so new, but just ready to begin again), try practicing this way, and then let’s see what happens.

You may just find that the path begins to unfold and to transform you and your way of being beyond anything you may have ever hoped for, wished, or even imagined.

Wishing you big blessings,

Elyssa Matthews

If you want to learn more about Reiki, to walk a journey of mystery and grace, of groundedness and truth, of healing … simply … of health, happiness (inner peace) and freedom, please contact me.

Reiki Level Two starts this weekend. Don’t miss it.

Shirley Lynn

Keep What’s True in Front of You!

“Keep what’s true in front of you, Old Man said. You won’t get lost that way. I was asking about making my way through the bush. He was talking about making my way through life. Turns out, all these years later, it was the same conversation.”
Richard Wagamese, Embers, One Ojibway’s Meditations


Keep what’s true in front of me.

“What is true for me?”, I ask myself. This is what I know to be true:

Love is.

My dreams are filled with love.


So that’s what I’m supposed to keep in front of me— Love. And my dreams that are filled with love. Not the definition of love. Not the concepts. Not the science of it. But the experience of love in all my relationships. And the vision of life being better than it is for all my relations.

When I keep my experience of love and my vision, my dream where love makes life better, in front of me, I am not lost. I have a compass with my North Star clearly visible or felt for me. To keep love in front of me, then I also keep the truth of what I value in front of me. And then as Rumi says, I am in a position where I am ‘silently drawn by the stronger pull of what I really love … for it will not lead me astray.’

Love speaks the truth. Love offers freedom. Love creates harmony even in diversity. It does not invade my privacy, nor does it require me to be someone I am not. Ah, the truth of what I genuinely need and am passionate about can be in front of me. I don’t need to alter it, minimize what I need, lie about my needs, dull it, displace it, project it, or make them ‘acceptable’ in the eyes of others. Love seeks to be true and free and respecting.

Love in front of me. That means with my family and ancestors. That means forgiving them and being at peace with the past. Seeing love freely flowing from the stranger in front of me who smiles and says a kind word to me.

When I keep love in front of me with its foundation of truth and freedom, then I can keep my heart open to the flowing of love to me and from within me out, here and now. I can keep my heart open to my dreams, even when my dreams feel distant and unachievable.

Keep love in front of me. A mantra. And suddenly or slowly and gently, I’m recognizing:

  • love being shared in the heart-felt conversations with my personal coach.
  • love when my heart opens and connects with the beauty and power of Nature, the bald eagle who flies down the river behind me.
  • the sun which radiates through the trees and bounces off the backs of my dogs running through the grove of trees in sheer delight.
  • the mystery of love from a client or friend when I have failed to be at my best.

Keep what’s true in front of me. Higher Love is true.

Love calls me to participate in sharing and receiving. Moment to moment. Day to day. Its present to me. Calling me into freedom. To return home to my truth, my soul centre. The more I keep Love in front of me, the more I find myself, here and now. Grateful for what was. Grateful for what is. Even grateful for what will be.

Love is not dominance. Dominance is about power. Dominance and power becomes politics. Who gets what and how much. The relationship becomes about politics, not about truth and freedom. When relationships become about politics, about power, then what’s in front is the same thing as what is behind. Conflict arises.

I will fail, falter and fumble. I will forget to keep what’s true in front of me. But I know now. When I keep what’s true in front of me, higher love, then my dreams will be my guide, my core values will be the lens for my choices, my truth will light my darkness. I will know where I am, no longer lost.

When I am with higher love, expressed in the ordinary and deliciously simple moments of life, then life is blessed and I am home. Peace.


Shirley Lynn

The Reiki Way: Simplify Your Spiritual Practice

    • A friend of mine shared with me a teaching he received from his mentor – his mentor said to him, I cannot teach you about being awakened or enlightened, but I can teach you about being honest. This deeply resonated with me. Being honest is my path to freedom, happiness, inner peace and health. Live honestly. Work honestly. Speak honestly. Relate honestly. I don’t always get it perfect, but I do know that truth and honesty are grounding for me. If I’m feeling ungrounded, the first thing I check is if I’m being emotionally honest with myself.
    • Recently, I read a remarkable teaching by the late Richard Wagamese from his book, EMBERS: One Ojibway’s Meditation, which best describes my own experience of Reiki practice. It reads: “What defines me is not what I do, but what I receive. Out of a deep spiritual yearning, I have received sobriety, recovery, and a working relationship with the god of my understanding—so that I have received grace. Out of that same yearning, I have received community, belonging, home and the opportunity to be productive—so that I have received prosperity. Spiritual yearning has brought me friends, fellowship, brotherhood, family and a life partner who expands me—so that I have received love. That same yearning has brought me calm, peace, prayer, compassion and forgiveness—so that I have received joy and freedom. What defines me is not what I do but what I receive, and I have received in great measure.” (p.155)
    • Above all, be kind. These are words that came to a member in our Reiki community during our two-year in-depth study of the Reiki precepts. Whether one understands it as loving-kindness, compassion, love, or ‘unconditional positive regard of all sentient beings’, choosing kindness in any situation requires a great level of discipline, courage and humility. Respecting our common humanity and treating one another with the golden rule with regularity, takes the strength of 10,000 suns (an ancient way of speaking about infinity).

These teachings are simple spiritual practices: honesty, kindness and being open to receive from the god/dess of your understanding/the Universe. Living these practices as a daily habit is incredibly challenging and brave. To live a spiritual life is to surrender and say ‘yes’ to receiving from the god/dess of your understanding, from the Essence of All Life, from the Universe/Cosmos.

Surrender, open and receive.

That’s as simple as it gets. That’s all I do in my Reiki meditation. You might think that is easy enough to do. What it requires, however, is releasing all and every need for control of outcome. And that is a most difficult thing to do each and every day. As I practise ‘surrender, open and receive,’ I become more honest. The layers of defenses, hurts, karma and fears all begin to fall away. I encounter my true nature, my authentic being, my diamond soul … naked, revealed.

We yearn to know and be our true nature, yet we fight against the honesty it requires. We yearn for compassion and kindness, toward ourselves, in our families, communities and in our world. Yet, in a flash of a moment, our emotional triggers and memories become activated and we have fed our anger, our resentments and our judgements, shaming and guilting ourselves or projecting this shame wherever it lands.

The simplicity of my Reiki practice as a spiritual practice often takes my breath away. There is nothing I need to do. A colleague shared with me a teaching from our Reiki Master/Teacher, Huyakuten Inamoto: “Not thinking is good. Not doing is best.” Open and receive. Become your honest self. Be compassionate.
The incredible irony is that I cannot open and receive except in love and gratitude. To open and receive is to be gifted in grace. The only appropriate response to this gift is gratitude, right here, right now. And in this experience of grace and gratitude, a gift unimaginable on some days, I find myself doing what I must do. Living purposefully. Living with focus and clarity of heart, doing what is needed. Humble discipline.

And with this gift, this receiving of Reiki, we find ourselves doing what we never imagined. We start following our inner guidance, living in the spirit of the moment, listening to the awakened heart and learning to love it all. And somehow, in the journey of all of this, I receive my health, my happiness and my prosperity.

I wish this for you as well. If you are yearning for a deepening of your spiritual life, a betterment of your health, join me for the next Reiki Level One class starting on January 25th, 2019.

Shirley Lynn

Winter Solstice: An Extraordinary Path to Peace

You think this is just another year in your life? This year has been given to you – it’s the gift you have been living all year. It has given you a unique opportunity to cultivate peace in your relationships and in your world. What did you do with this gift? … I have been asking myself these questions as I’ve been pondering the closing of 2018 and opening to the seeds of 2019.

This past fall, I have supported others in their grief and losses and have also experienced my own. Facing the death of loved ones is a certainty, a reality of life from which we cannot be spared. In fact, every fall and winter season, we are given the opportunity to prepare ourselves for this experience of death and letting go. The leaves fall off the trees. Plants go dormant or die. Wildlife patterns shift with migrations. Temperatures drop and people move indoors, a form of preparing for the darkening and wintry days.

Nature teaches us to let go. To surrender. To let ourselves die in some manner. We often convince ourselves we are outside of Nature – that we don’t need to follow its laws, its flow, the changes it ceaselessly undergoes. But we do.

Each year, we enter this season of dying and death whether we understand this principle and activity or not. We try to skip over it and go to the birth, to Christmas and its pageantry, to the holidays, to spring without ever opening to and surrendering to the death that calls us. However, the order is clear. Birth and life and death cannot be separated from each other.

Now what is the grace in this? Where is the grace in death? How can death be sacred, holy even, when it requires that we let go of those we love and dreams we cherish? I’ve lived with this question since I’ve been 10 when my father was killed, over 40 years ago.

The grace I have experienced has gifted me with the deep inner knowing that as Father Thomas Keating says, ‘in the death is the resurrection’. And Leonard Cohen sang ‘there is a crack in everything, that is how the light gets in’. In the grace of the Universe, death is the birth to new life. It is the path of transformation. The water, the fire, the air/breath, all return to the Source to be utilized in all of creation’s pure spirit.

As I have mentioned above, this fall has presented numerous deaths around me. I am also have dying conversations with others. I have also realized there is a dying happening within me. There are moments when fear comes knocking. Yet, when I deeply enter into my heart and open to the love between the heart-spirit, I realize that love transcends all death, and I am pulled into a sublime joy and peace words cannot convey.

When fear knocks, I remind myself to go deep within where the light is. As Richard Rohr writes: “What’s dying is not the deepest self, but our dependence and over-identification with the mental ego and its projects, and our cultural conditioning and over-identification with it, including our roles in life.”

The gift of grace in this dying is that already I can glimpse the joy of becoming fully alive. Some might say that I cannot prove that life exists beyond death. And they are right. What I do know from my own heart’s experience is the joy of resurrection/new life through the purity of love, spirit to spirit, a profound mystery to experience through the doorway of death. Whether it be my father’s spirit, my animal companions, my friends, my ancestors, Usui Sensei, their love and kindness, their compassion and guiding presence calms my spirit, restores hope and purpose along my journey, and grounds me in the life I have here and now, fully and completely. And so, love and hope become a healing balm to grief.

As Father Keating says, one aspect of creation is that, once you have been born into this world, you never die because, as the Hindu religions teach, each of us possesses deep within us an inalienable spark of divine love. [The Song of Songs says that love is stronger than death (8:6).] That spark is the same energy that created the Big Bang.

Shortly, Winter Solstice, the longest day of the year will be upon us. This day is a ceremony of letting go and surrendering to the death of what is now done and a time of going within to connect with the divine light deep within. It is a ceremony of the death of a mental ego projection and conditioning if we surrender to it. And it is a ceremony of planting a new seed, having trust and confidence that new life, a fresh and vital life will be resurrected as the days of light grow longer.

I believe we desire and yearn for ceremony, for the seasonal rituals, observances, and sacraments that bless us with vitality, with meaning for our humanity, with deep mystical moments that unite us with the cosmic presence and beingness of love and peace beyond our capacity to fully grasp it all. It is simply something we open to, surrender to and say ‘yes’ to. I am saying ‘yes’ to this death (yes, it has had its challenges!) and I will plant a new seed of peace for 2019.

I have been shown again this fall, several times, that the freedom and joy in death is not to be feared but to be celebrated, inspired by the love and compassion so profound that it powerfully can hold us in our grief, in the journey of acceptance of what is now forever transformed to new life.

This year of my life I have lived in community with all of you. You each connect me to my truest self, the place where I can drink from my holy peace. And so I invite you to this year’s Peace Circle: Planting a New Seed of Peace on December 19th. More details are available on my website.

For those of you who wish to join me in gratitude, in hope, in confidence that we can let die what is done in us, and then let the seed of new peace be born in us, flow out into our world, do so in your own good way.

May this Winter Solstice offer you something magical, fresh and new in the death of what is already done. Nature is showing us the way. We are not lost if we follow Her deep into our own inner light of peace. May the deep inner light in you be experienced, intimately known, as though you are discovering it for the first and wondrous time. May it be cause for joy and celebration!

I close with this poem as a blessing!

Settle in the here and now.
Reach down into the centre
where the world is not spinning
and drink this holy peace.
Feel relief flood into every
cell. Nothing to do. Nothing
to be but what you are already.
Nothing to receive but what
flows effortlessly from the
mystery into form.
Nothing to run from or run
toward. Just this breath,
Awareness knowing itself as
embodiment. Just this breath,
awareness waking up to truth.
~ Danna Faulds

Forgive the Past. Remember it Wisely

We all have been wounded and hurt—the heart broken or seared by the pain of betrayal, abuse or neglect.

I too can remember a deep betrayal, a lie told me late at night, far away from home. Where does one go at that time? Where is one’s ground when the ground has been collapsed underneath by deception? What to do with the sense of vulnerability washing over one’s being? And what are the choices in the moment that align with the path of peace, of peace-building, of love and kindness, first towards oneself and then towards “you and me together”?

I remember that fateful night clearly and with great detail. It’s not that I try to remember the details. They are simply etched in my memory. What has changed, however, is the anger, the resentment of being placed in such a vulnerable situation, feeling powerless to stop the reality that was unfolding. Even as that night turned to morning, a primary question I asked myself was: What does it mean to be a peaceful person and acknowledge my anger and deep hurt? What do I choose to do with my anger and hurt? I already knew I did not want the choice and behaviour of another to change the true nature of who I was— a kind and peace-building person.

My anger was real and deep. My hurt was raw and vulnerable. But to heal was to forgive. To forgive was to be in ‘love’. To remain in love was my path to peace. I knew the benefits of forgiveness. I had read them before. I knew what steps to take. I knew that forgiving the person who broke my heart in their lying would free me to create a larger narrative about who I was and the way I lived love and joy. I new forgiveness would be my gift and I knew, in the words of David Whyte, “Forgiveness is a skill, a way of preserving clarity, sanity and generosity in an individual life, a beautiful way of shaping the mind to a future we want for ourselves; an admittance that if forgiveness comes through understanding, and if understanding is just a matter of time and application then we might as well begin forgiving right at the beginning of any drama rather than put ourselves through the full cycle of festering, incapacitation, reluctant healing and eventual blessing.”

To forgive is to assume a larger identity than the person who was first hurt.
David Whyte

This experience profoundly altered my sense of my future at the time. And in working through the pain and hurt, I realized that my grief, my trauma, my anger and resentment all needed to be worked through. I learned the skill of forgiving in a new way. I learned how to hope again. And I learned how to heal the trauma in my life.

Some believe that forgiving others is a process. Perhaps. Grieving was a ‘process’ and it’s different than forgiving. Healing from trauma was a process too and it’s different than grieving and forgiving. But when I learned the skill of forgiving, the skill of releasing the resentment of the past, forgiveness was a singular event. When we learn how to transfer our wisdom out from the anger (which reveals how deeply we care about ourselves and what we value) into our vision for a better future, we can learn that forgiving the present drama need not take long.

I learned in my forgiving, that I can mature my sense of self and my capacity to imagine a preferred future. The narrative of who I am becomes richer and larger and more compassionate. Truly forgiving another is a profound act of compassion – both to oneself and the offender.

I am convinced that forgiving another is a skill, a skill we must practise often. I am convinced that forgiving another strengthens our capacity for creativity and imagination. And I am equally convinced that we can forgive and remember. In the words of David Whyte: “Strangely, forgiveness never arises from the part of us that was actually wounded. The wounded self may be the part of us incapable of forgetting, and perhaps, not actually meant to forget, as if, like the foundational dynamics of the physiological immune system our psychological defenses must remember and organize against any future attacks — after all, the identity of the one who must forgive is actually founded on the very fact of having been wounded.”

I remember clearly what happened those years ago. I remember clearly how I felt. But I no longer feel the hurt and the anger of that betrayal. And there is no way that the past can be different than what it was. No amount of resenting what happened will change it. No amount of demanding the past to not have happened the way it did will change the past. My best recourse was to forgive in the greatest act of compassion for myself and the one who hurt me. It is my freedom to create a just and good future for myself. And that, incredibly, is my greatest blessing.

Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.
Paul Boese

If you seek to forgive, to be free to live a new and enriched future, I invite you to register for my upcoming new workshop The ART and PRACTICE of FORGIVING: Discover the Freedom to Live (November 17, 2018). Or if you think you cannot forgive, come and learn ‘how’ to forgive. Develop the skill to forgive and change your life and your relationships.

Shirley Lynn

Are you listening to what your body is telling you?

Listen Up!

Last fall Jennifer Bodenham, a team development coach, and I sat down to create a 3-part podcast series about Boundaries. Throughout these podcasts, we explored why we need boundaries, what they are and we included an exercise that will help you can get started towards living a life that is more kind and joyful.

The wonder and value of self-kindness, health and maintaining connection with others, even when it starts to get difficult are mutually possible. The podcast series begins with In Conversation with Jen about Boundaries for Healthy & Joyful Living, listen to it first to catch the flow of our conversation. I hope you enjoy this series and feel free to share them with others.

Listening to our Bodies: A Path to Relating Peacefully

In a conversation with a colleague we found ourselves sharing what we had learned about listening more closely to the cues our bodies were telling us. We each had a story of a physical injury that occurred because we didn’t listen to our bodies when it essentially said ‘enough.’

It compelled me to reflect back to a workshop I had attended with Dr. Gabor Maté, author of When the Body Says No, where he identified key characteristics of the stress-prone personality including:

  1. Difficulty saying No;
  2. Automatic and compulsive regard for the needs of others without considering one’s own;
  3. Rigid and compulsive identification with duty, role, and responsibility rather than with the true self;
  4. Habitual suppression or repression of healthy anger and assertion.

As I read this list, a couple of things stand out for me. This list is about lies we tell ourselves and about compulsive behaviours to please others or to live within the status quo we assume others expect of us. –And we wondered why we got sick or injured when we ignored our bodies’ cues?

What struck me even more as I began to examine my own life is how we find it acceptable to lie with casual regularity. We lie to others when we say yes to them, but we really want to say no. We lie to ourselves saying we aren’t worthy enough and so we push onward when our bodies need to relax. We lie about our real needs and who we really are, compulsively rushing to the needs (and perhaps drama) of others (or our own). We lie about feeling angry at the boundaries that have been trespassed and then stay silent and perhaps punishing our partner or child or friend because of all the feelings we have lied about inside.

Lies create stress and conflict, both internal and external. Conflict disrupts our peace and our health. When we lie to ourselves and disregard the messages our bodies send us, we inflict a hidden emotional stress on ourselves and our bodies.

Just as good relationships with others keep us healthy and can heal us, good relationships with our bodies keep us healthy and can heal us. Good relationships require healthy boundaries that support our sense of true self and protect us against what drains our essential vitality. Healthy boundaries are like a good immune system—protects against what takes life and sustains our essence so we can participate in our purpose and what is truly life-giving.

We are hard-wired to need closeness, to need connection and belonging with others. We are equally hard-wired to need to express ourselves, to know who we are and then to be seen and respected. In other words, we are hard-wired to be authentic. When these two needs are in conflict or when they are incongruent over time, we are at war with ourselves. This war leads to illness. As Dr. Maté writes, “illness is not random”.

If you are like me, listening to your body is a daily task I have to remind myself to do. What is it my body needs to eat? What kind of exercise does my body need today? What decision do I need to make in my work that is congruent with my life purpose so I can stay healthy? What anger must I be honest about and what must I speak up about in my intimate relationships to increase my own sense of inner peace?

If you struggle with finding the joy of the body you have and so you ignore it even more. If you find yourself suppressing your own needs to look after other’s needs making you depressed, injured or always living in chaos, consider my upcoming two-day workshop on June 1-2, 2018 – The Self Kindness Response: Healthy Boundaries for Healthy & Joyful Living!

The following comment by a previous workshop participant really speaks to the substance and richness of this workshop. Please consider it for yourself too!

Just taking the boundaries workshop was an act of kindness towards myself. I learned to tune into my body to get a sense of what is a healthy boundary for me. Instead of going into my head, I feel how my body feels about something. There’s no arguing with the body! Even if there is another way to assess a situation and respond, it doesn’t matter because my body is telling me MY truth, MY healthy boundary in that situation, and that’s all that counts. I love the sense of certainty this has given me because I know my body is trustworthy. I have gained a stronger sense of myself and a feeling of being on solid ground. It was also helpful to work with a partner afterwards to keep working on what we’d learned at the workshop. Such a beautiful workshop space, too! T.H.

Peace & Namaste,
Shirley Lynn