Where the mind flows energy goes.

The brain does not interpret the difference between 'imagination and fact when sending chemical signals to the body in 'reaction' to a real or perceived threat... it reacts to your thoughts, however they arise. Think worrying thoughts and your body will react (Ready to deal) Your blood pressure will increase, your heart-rate will increase, your immune system & digestive functions alter in a reaction to stressful thoughts (and that is just a few examples of the effects we can have on our own bodies). This system is in place for a reason, it will give us what we need in truly stressful situations - but we all over use it with 'monkey mind' thoughts and worries. To help your body 'be the best it can be' the mind is required to work in tandem with body - to inform 'brain' that all is well, and therefore body can work in a balanced way and 'get on with what it does best' rather than shutting certain systems down and ramping up others. Even more amazing is that we can focus attention and energies to where they are required most...our body does listen... iI can't perform miracles.... but it is most definitely miraculous

 Use it (mind and body) to your advantage! Help you r body to be the best healer it can! There are many ways to achieve this... and a number may suit you... Meditation, Reiki, Yoga, positive imagery (a form of meditation in its own right), Thai Chi, hypnotherapy.... The list is endless. Find a few that suit you!

STOP!....and just breathe....
Yes... just breathe! sometimes we get so caught up with our mind chatter (and all the stress and anxiety that can bring), we forget to really breathe! Don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting we turn blue - then think 'oh' must breathe' ... but! I am suggesting that we dont 'consider' our breath.
When you're all tense and stressed, stop - become aware of your breathing , is it shallow and slightly laboured? ... Now, let go of that tension... roll your shoulders back and consciously try to relax - note how your breath follows... deeper, slower. Continue to watch your breath for a short while... The mind is already beginning to 'join the party'...the 'chill fest' where your mind goes, so too does your breathing - and vice verse.
Being uptight and stressed 'triggers a change in your breathing - and this in turn ramps up the stress... a vicious circle! The mind is preparing the body to react to 'the stressful event'. The one that you created in your mind! You are already 'giving it life' making it 'tangible '... and your breathing is following the minds lead! (Never forget that your mind is a powerful tool). Just by being aware of the cycle, by becoming conscious of 'the breath' you can take control.
Becoming aware of your breath is already distracting (and refocusing) your mind. You are taking the driving seat. Your focus allows your breath to become more even, slower, deeper and more complete... without any real effort - you will become calmer, less 'strung out' - and more tranquil.
So next time you feel 'stressed or anxious, remember to. ...
Just breathe!
Zen Reiki

An education by children.

Meditation, reiki and other techniques can help us connect to our 'soul'  our  'wise inner being'.    Reiki has many similarities to meditation... focus, energy and ultimately, physical and emotional healing, though our minds amazing ability to restore our physical and emotional selves.

Take a look at this picture of a four and six year old meditating - I asked them to sit quietly and focus their mind on just one thing.... their favourite flower, to just picture it in their mind and hold it there, notice everything about it. Surprisingly they both managed this (They are very 'lively' boys!). They not only enjoyed the exercise,but did in fact, both sleep in for an hour longer than usual the next morning (Usually early risers!) Coincidence? who knows, but I will be trying it again the next time they are staying!

I looked at the photo (below) I took during this first attempt and noticed a few things that surprised me. Firstly the serene look on their faces (Especially the eldest). The special effort the youngest put in - and not only that but the pose he took up without any suggestion or guidance. He took the 'Gassho' (Hands together) pose... used in many cultures - a 'mudra' (Sanskrit word for 'sign' or 'pose').  This 'Gassho' otherwise known as 'Anjali mudra' (And similar to a prayer pose of western world), is used in many eastern origin practises including yoga and some reiki energy exercises such as Haturei Ho.

Gassho (hands together), is said to achieve a number of benefits. It is to help you achieve focus, to centre you and reduce stress and anxiety - enabling you to achieve a more meditative state...It is no wonder it is used so widely!

The way a four year old created this pose instinctively, when trying to focus is testament to this pose having ability beyond being'somewhere to place our hands'.  It's an education (by children) in 'how our natural instincts work'  and that our own inner being 'knows best' if we are willing to 'quieten the mind' and listen. (We just forget how sometimes).

'Mind over matter'

The miracle of mind IS your secret tool for increased health!

The mind is an extraordinary and powerful tool. Did you know that a French psychiatrist (Chertock) once used hypnosis to produce blisters on his research subjects - just by suggestion that the pen he touched them with was a 'hot poker'... showing that our brains can affect our inflammatory response.

Our mind has the ability to affect our physical body.. This works both ways!  Stress and negative thinking can make us ill - and positive thinking and stress reduction will help to improve our health, happiness and general feeling of wellbeing.

There are many ways to reduce stress - and help keep your mindset positive... find one (or more)  that suits you. Health is something we all value. Never forget the power of your own mind... Make every thought a happy one!

'Worried Sick'.....

Have you ever stopped to consider the expression 'worried sick'? Worry literally makes you ill! We're not just talking about that feeling in your stomach'.. (though that is part of a physical process initiated by a mental state).

Negatives states of mind such as anxiety and worry cause chemical changes that cause any physical responses including altering sleep patterns and reducing your immune response. Literally making you more likely to succumb to illness. Reducing stress and inducing relaxation can improve not just your mental wellbeing - but physical and emotional wellbeing too.

Next time you find yourself allowing things to get the better of you - recognise your needs and seek ways to manage and reduce stress. It is not just 'uncomfortable mental chatter... The mind is a powerful tool - make it work for you - not against you.

The truth about stress (and its effects).

Stress is something we all need to manage, even on a good day... There is always something or someone that will 'rack up the stress levels'. It could be finance, time constraints, work levels, family commitments or juggling more than one of these. What we often forget is just how damaging stress can be!

Stress is fine when it is managed - when an issue raises itself and it dealt with - problem over.... But, there are times when stress is more of a constant. Chronic stress is damaging to our physical and mental wellbeing.

Cortisol levels are raised when we are stressed (It initially helps us to manage situations, help us deal with them),  Ongoing stress causes the balance to be lost - cortisol levels remain high and if not managed (Reduced by some means of true relaxation) then we risk physical and mental deterioration that will   cause...yes - more stress.

Stress and anxieties can be managed a number of ways. The secret is finding a natural way to reduce 'mind chatter'  that fits in to your own life. For some it is meditation, some yoga or other energy related gentle exercise such as Thai Chi, for others it is having reiki treatment (Which itself is often described as 'assisted meditation'). Other, more strenuous exercise suits some people (And does also raise levels of 'happiness chemicals). Some choose a mixture - and is possibly the best way.

The important thing is to realise when to address the balance (before we are made physically unwell). Everyone needs to find a way to manage this 'curse of modern day life'....and not to believe that being slumped in front of the TV is enough to reduce our stress, especially when it is becoming an ongoing issue. True management of this inner turmoil comes from taking time out to  clear your mind and relax.  . As previously mentioned, there are many ways to achieve this, it is about finding one, or a combination, that is right for you.

Stress equals a change in our chemical balance. It raises (among other biochemical's) cortisol levels, this in itself reduces the amount of seratonin and dopamine in our system.... (when cortisol is high dopamine and seratonin are reduced). Dopamine is a complex naturally occurring chemical that helps with many things, including movement, as one example - (there is a reduction in dopamine in those affected by parkinsons), it is also shown to give you a 'feel good factor'. Seratonin could be described as 'the calming sedative' chemical, it enhances emotional wellbeing (It is the focus of many anti-depressants) it also helps you sleep. Melatonin (a sleep enhancer) is made from seratonin.  SO you can see just how important it is to keep stress levels to a minimum. We all want to feel good, happy, focused and calm.

There are a number of complex actions related to all three of theses naturally occurring chemicals, all of which can affect our daily lives and if left out of balance and unchecked for considerable time, will cause major issues for us both physically and mentally. Changes in the balance of these chemicals includes sleep pattern issues, immunity, mood, pain levels, ability to focus...to name but a few. (I will elaborate on particular examples and why another time). It is suffice to say though, that the above just highlights how stress affects so many areas of our lives.

It has been shown that meditation, exercise' (Which has been referred to as 'meditation in motion' as it helps you forget the worries that eat into your mindset), reiki (refered to as 'assisted meditation'), yoga and many other stress reduction techniques have a real positive effect on our ability to deeply relax and therefore give us that opportunity to bring the body back into equilibrium. It is no wonder these amazing tools make us feel so very calm, balanced, focused and ...healthy! We can all benefit from remembering these natural methods when we need to bring back the balance.

Of all these methods, reiki is the only one that is left entirely in the hands of another - the emphasis really is on the therapist to initiate your relaxation. It is often a good way to start when you feel you 'just can't' get there because you are 'too strung out'.

Find a way or ways that work for you!

Sue - Zen Reiki

An article (of my own) published in 'Resonance' Magazine,  the UK Reiki Federation Magazine (Edition 29).

An Attitude of Gratitude.
How reiki & meditation refurbished my bathroom.

Sounds about as ludicrous as ’ Freddy ate my Hamster’ (For those who are old enough to remember that headline).  WELL, it’s true!! Since taking the plunge some time ago now, into Reiki and then its natural progression into more meditative practice,(including 'Hatsurei Ho') things have changed.  

Anyone who is a regular reiki practitioner (on themselves and or others) and or meditates regularly, will know that it opens up a whole new way of thinking and ’being’.

 One such attribute of the new ‘mind set’ is ‘gratitude’ & appreciation’.   Another is ‘clear thinking’.  

There is no denying that for many,  many people, the past few years have increased the awareness of the difference between ‘want’ and ‘need’.   More people are in debt or struggling just to pay for the roof over their head etc.   But, we also create our own vast emptiness by thinking we 'need' things that we really just 'want'. (Consider your one bed flat or bed-sit. It is a palace to be appreciated and loved, compared to 3rd world examples of home).  Only recently myself, I started to ‘worry’ about how I would EVER be able to change and refurbish my ‘terrible’ bathroom.        

 Four years previously, I promised myself I would save up the vast amount of cash required for a complete ‘bathroom refurbishment’ and quite honestly - the bathroom WAS hideous!! My bathroom consisted of an unusual maroon 80's four piece suite (yes I can wash my feet in one of those bidet things), lots of pine accessories, including toilet seat (Which really clashed with the maroon!) and vast amounts of dark maroon painted wooden boxing and panels, a very corroded set of taps, rusting flaking radiator and brown and cream tiles… (You definitely needed ’sunglasses and a sense of humour’ for this room!!

One day recently I went to run my bath and ’BANG’ there it was!!  ’Clear thinking and gratitude’  I thought back to my trips to India. ….. BATHROOM!! I have one!!! Suddenly I considered myself extremely lucky to have a bathroom at all.   I’ve seen first hand and in the media how some people hare having to live in 3rd world environments / countries.  

I lay floating and pondering, then dwelling on the fact that I have  a bathroom. I then felt ‘a little guilt’. This swiftly changed into gratitude and more ‘clear thinking’.  I really should show my love and appreciation by making the most of what I have.

I started to feel true appreciation for my bathroom.  More than this, I started to love it enough put some effort into changing it without vast sums of money to refurbish it.

I made my plan.  I recycled (removed, rubbed down and painted) all the accessories (Except the toilet seat, which I replaced with a more fitting one (there is a limit!). I repainted the boxing in a neutral colour. Bought some cheap (in the sale) taps and covered the old mirror tiles that I could not remove (without risking the whole tiled wall coming down). I purchased recycled paint from the local 'recycled paint project' and mirrors from charity shops , then refurbished them to match my ‘new scheme’. Basically - I ended up resurrecting it’ and like a phoenix from the ashes came a new and much loved bathroom. (Charity shop and recycled paint projects later). I now LOVE my bathroom!!

So I now try to carry this appreciation around and continue to love my new 'attitude of gratitude' and all that it has given me. (It really is the gift that keeps giving). I can not deny I have had some amazing adventures and realisations that all enrich life, bathroom resurrection included! Reiki & meditation really does allow you to feel 'brave enough to believe in yourself and your dreams'

Sue Gwynne
Zen Reiki. Cambridgeshire.

This lovely picture was created for me by my very talented niece, Hannah.  I love the way this picture so accurately reflects the serenity of Reiki.

Reiki and meditation (And a little advice on a simple, basic meditation technique)

Reiki and meditation have similarities. Using simple breathing meditation you will not be chaneling 'reiki energy', but you will be inviting a stillness,  with an energy of its own, creating that calm head-space that occurs, and that is such a big part of stress management!

I often suggest that Reiki could be viewed as 'assisted meditation'. Meditation is not the easiest thing to manage (Especially when you are stressed). That solitary effort is not always easy - especially at first and definitely when you are stressed - as that mental 'chatter' is very difficult to sweep away. No sooner than you wipe it out , it returns! With reiki you are receiving that soothing energy and having someone else be responsible for your relaxation.

Reiki has a very similar action on the mind to meditation in that it quietens and soothes that mental over-active 'nagging' in our head. The lists, the worries, the wondering and the recalling of how things went previously and expectation of future problems that have not even occurred yet! Worry is a very poor use of creativity....Think about it!!! Meditation can help you to remain in 'the present moment' if practised regularly.

Meditation is aided by aiming at having a particular focus. Many people think that meditation is about 'emptying your mind' and not thinking at all... (nice idea!) but this not quite the case. Meditation is about relieving yourself of all that mental stimulus and constant inner voice. It is about 'retraining your mind'.  It is often achieved by focusing the mind on just one thing. It will mentally and physically relax you.  Meditation is best practised in a comfortable seated position (And at least not where and how you sleep) as meditation is not usually associated with sleep.

To meditate, you just need to be comfortable,  laying, or, ideally seated on the floor, a cushion  or on a chair with your hands folded, one into the other, right over left in your lap. Then start to relax. First think about the top of your head. Then move on down through your body ensuring you are without tension...Head, neck, shoulders and so-on.  tighten each group of muscles - then relax them, let the tension go. Once you have reached your toes, then repeat the tension and relax exercise all in one go (tighten every part of you - then relax), you then remain relaxed and aim to concentrate on just your breathing (Breathing mediation). Other thoughts may (and probably will) enter your head. Just try to let them float away and KEEP coming back to focus on that one thing...your breathing. Breath in and out through your nose only and concentrate on the cool air at the tip of your nose on your in breath, then on the slight warmth as it is returned out. This is one of the first meditation techniques most people are introduced to... there are others. But all rely on focus. It could be a feeling - happiness, or love for example. But first things first... It does become easier with practice. Before you knowit, you are able to just 'be' with your breath. 

I encourage you to try meditation to help you to hold onto a little of that feeling of peace and calm that is achieved with reiki, in-between sessions.

Zen Reiki

Stress and a little thought provocation, in the form of another short story

The weight of the world A Professor began his lesson by holding up a glass with some water in it. He held it up for all to see & asked the students “How much do you think this glass weighs?” 50gms! 100gms! 125 gms, the students answered. The professor said he was not sure of the weight.  Then continued.  "What would happen if I held it up like this for a few minutes?”…. . ‘Nothing’ …..the students said.. "Ok what would happen if I held it up like this for an hour? " the professor asked…."Your arm would begin to ache", said one of the student. “You’re right, now what would happen if I held it for a day?” “Your arm could go numb; you might have severe muscle stress & paralysis & have to go to hospital for sure!”, Ventured another student & all the students laughed. “Very good. " But during all this, did the weight of the glass change?” Asked the professor.  No, Was the reply. “Then what caused the arm ache & the muscle stress?” The students were puzzled. “What should I do now to sole this problem” asked professor. “Put the glass down!” said one of the students. “Exactly!” said the professor. Life’s problems are something like this... Hold it for a few minutes in your head & they seem OK. Think of them for a long time & they begin to ache and take over our mind.  Hold it even longer & they begin to paralyze you. You will not be able to do anything.  It’s important to think of the challenges or problems in your life, But EVEN MORE IMPORTANT is to ‘PUT THEM DOWN’ . That way, you do not become excessively stressed, you are able to think clearly & can handle any issue, any challenge that comes your way! Author unknown.

I like this analogy, though sometimes it can be difficult to ‘just let our worries and fears go’. Reiki can often help with this difficult task. The longer your stress has been with you, the more difficult it can be to let it go. What is worse, any problems that need dealing with can appear insurmountable. when things are getting on top of you.

Reducing stress is often helpful not just in making you feel less tense, etc but because it will leave you feeling more balanced, clear minded and able to meet your challenges. Many customers state that during a session is like being in a dream like state but not asleep, or that you become very relaxed and weightless. Some say they feel physically weightless! Others mentally 'uplifted’. or in a meditative like state.

A very common remark is, a feeling of deep relaxation and even long after the session, a clear minded (without that mind chatter that was previously filling their every moment - 'weighing them down'). With ongoing stress it can take the cumulative effects of multiple sessions to really manage stress.

Like meditation, one attempt may leave you feeling a little better, but using it regularly can have a real positive impact.  There are a number of different methods of stress management and sometimes it is good to take a 'multi pronged approach'.  Gentle exercise (Such as walking), healthy eating and taking time just for you using your favourite method or methods.


Zen Reiki

A little fable to share.

On my last day working at Manjushri buddhist & meditation centre, I went to the world peace meditation & service Whilst there we were told a lovely fable I’ve not heard it before, but think its a great one.

A teacher walks into a classroom & silently places 2-inch rocks in the jar until no more can fit.  He asks the class if the jar is full and they agree it is.  He says, “Really?,” and pulls out a pile of small pebbles, adding them to the jar, shaking it slightly until they fill the spaces between the rocks. He asks again, “Is the jar full?”  They agree.  Next, he adds a scoop of sand to the jar, filling the space between the pebbles and asks the question again.  This time, the class is divided, some feeling that the jar is obviously full, but others are wary of another trick. So he grabs a pitcher of water and fills the jar to the brim, saying, “If this jar is your life, what does this experiment show you?” A bold student replies, “No matter how busy you think you are, you can always take on more.” “That is one view,” he replies. Then he looks out at the class making eye contact with everyone.  "The rocks represent the BIG things in your life – what you will value at the end of your life – your family, your partner, your health, fulfilling your hopes and dreams. The pebbles are the other things in your life that give it meaning, like your job, your house, your hobbies, your friendships. The sand and water represent the small stuff that fills our time, like watching TV  or running errands". Looking out at the class again, he asks, “Can you see what would happen if I started with the sand or the pebbles?"

Zen Reiki


 Why is reiki such an all encompassing therapy? As we know, reiki is an energy transfer technique. It has numerous benefits and is based on enhancing and balancing energy centres in a similar way Thai chi, meditation or Qi Gong/Chi gung work . All channel energy- (called 'chi',  in Chinese, 'ki'   in Japanese  or 'prana'  in Indian),  with the aim of bringing harmony to mind, body and spirit resulting in healing and balance). What is a more 'scientific'  explanation as to WHY reiki is such an all encompassing practice? It helps with physical and emotional issues, physical pain, emotional upheaval, stress, sleep disorders, accelerate healing of many physical ailments, heightens mental focus - to mention just a few reiki attributes!

One answer is all in the simplicity of the therapy. It is deeply relaxing! This is one of the ways reiki can truly be of help to anyone in any situation. The cumulative effects of regular 'true' relaxation. That does not mean being slumped in front of the TV with a drink (Or bar of chocolate) and a moment or two worrying about how Eastenders or Emmerdales latest drama will unfold!

Complete relaxation will reduce stress hormones that have accumulated in your system. Meditation is an alternative way to reduce stress, though many people can not or will not manage this. There is always the excuse of something else to distract you. Reiki is something a client books in for and is then permitting and committing to. The therapist is then in control of initiating and continuing a state of relaxation, during the session. Most people leave a session feeling absolutely wonderful, clear headed and very, very relaxed (something they have not truly achieved in today's 'rush rush' society for a very long time).

A tiny piece of the science behind stress.....Cortisol is raised in the presence of stress. Cortisol serves a purpose. It aids your circadian rhythm (Sleep patterns), raises blood pressure, reduces select immune responses to name but a few physiological changes in response to this hormone. In the short term these actions are helpful and aim to concentrate energy and activities to those essential to react to immediate danger. Issues arise when excess cortisol continues to circulate and stress continues to be an issues.... this is a vicious cycle that where 'chronic' (ongoing) stress is concerned, cortisol and other stress chemicals are released but not utilised, so balance is lost. One example of the effect of raised cortisol is raised blood pressure! Great for when needed in a momentary stressful situation, but we do not want or need this on a continued basis. This is just one example of how stress (physical or emotional) can cause physical changes. This is why stress is known to cause many issues and why stress reduction is so important.

So why is reiki just so very helpful in so many situations?

One answer at least, is that reiki is a simple and effective way for you to (or a therapist to help you) manage stress.

Sue Gwynne
Zen Reiki