Dare to Dream

dream text on green leaves

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“What dream would you dare to dream if you knew you could not fail?”  This was my answer to that question when I was asked it over 20 years ago:

“I’d want to feel as I had taught a class where everyone had gotten something out of it.  I’d want to do the same for counseling-that my clients had really heard me and began taking steps to improve their lives.  I might like to do some stand-up comedy-making people happy through my own tragedies with a twist-at least then I might feel they were worth living through.  Perhaps pursuing acting for the same reasons.  I would like to take part in building a center for healing, picking out the colors, textures, classes, people, food-creating a public healing sanctuary (PHS).”

I found this handwritten in a stack of papers I am going through in working (again) on my next writing project.

I had to just take a step back and realize that I had in fact accomplished all those desires, including pursuing 2 years of acting study and a brief stint with stand-up comedy (although I’m tempted to take a jab at it again and see what happens).

I do believe in writing down what your intentions/goals/ideas are in order to have those concepts be held somewhere in physical space (on the piece of paper in this instance).  It also makes those intentions more ‘real’ by writing them down and also beginning to hold you accountable to them.

So I encourage you to answer that first question, do some writing on it for 5 minutes and then put it out on your desk, in your kitchen, etc. where you can see it as you move forward through this next week and month.  Be prepared to be surprised!

Copyright 2020 Eileen Dey Wurst

Keep calm and stay informed

downloadToday was not an ordinary day in Seattle.  I turned on the news in the morning and the first story I heard started off with the death toll and active cases of COVID-19.  Of course by now, all the local officials are declaring states of emergency in reaction to this medical crisis.  That news, well, that’s enough for anyone.

But then, as many in this metropolitan area are already experiencing, schools and companies have closed for the day, days or even the week while they are being sanitized, even if only a few employees have been exposed to someone who was infected.

Containment is the goal, but the news has said our area has most likely already been exposed over the last six weeks and still, the estimated toll of this pandemic on the population in Washington state, or the rest of the US for that matter, has yet to be revealed.

Ok, so like a lot of folks in Seattle, I was wishing this was the script of some apocalyptic movie, but it is not.

So, I offered to remotely talk with my clients today, but bearing all of the above, they all chose to seek solace in the personal company of myself as their caring counselor.

Going into the office where other massage therapists, acupuncturists and naturopaths work, we nodded to each other in solidarity.  A level of caution was felt for the first time in this holistic healing environment.

I prepared myself by centering and doing some self-Reiki before I saw my first client.

In session after session, the impact of this crisis is revealed at all the levels it effects:  companies curtailing domestic and international travel, instead, utilizing the existing infrastructure of telecommuting.   Large events are being postponed.  The stock market in flux.

One client called it ‘the new anxiety’, and I’d have to agree.  It’s a state of both anxiety and fear of the unknown and not being in control.

But instead of spiraling into despair, I encouraged my clients to rally around previous similar experiences and how they were able to come through the adversity,

I mentioned to my client to recall that after the events of 9/11 there was much uncertainty and fear and it took awhile before a sense of familiarity returned.   But despite the tragedy of the event, it was almost 20 years ago and so I encouraged her to recall something more recent.

I asked her to think of how she handled the recent summers in Seattle when we were engulfed in the choking wildfire smoke of British Columbia and advised to stay indoors and limit exposure to the air.  Those summers were not our ‘normal’ and many things were cancelled.  We all felt frustrated, disappointed and of course grateful when it resolved.

This situation has elements of both past traumatic events but in itself is a totally new experience of traumatic change.

I was honest with her.  I told her, in the coming days we will learn that there are more people infected and there will be more changes.  Much of it will be inconvenient and err on being conservative and prudent.

We talked about what we both had noticed in the grocery stores: empty shelves of water, cleaning wipes/hand sanitizer, medical supplies, and how the parking lots were more than half empty.

So what’s next?  Well, I would advise what the CDC guidelines are issuing forth, and also to be prepared with prescriptions and extra food/water because there may be more ‘mass buying’ as well as delays with distribution of supplies.

If you are feeling anxious, remember that is normal.  These are uncertain times.  Seek support for your emotional and mental health if you need to.  I am facilitating an online Reiki and meditation group March 4th at 7:30pm if you are interested.  The password is 789141

This was my experience of March 3rd, 2020

Copyright Eileen Dey Wurst, M.A., LMHC

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Musings from the Spiritual Path

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I remember in 1991 when I first visited Seattle on a family vacation how radiant and lush the landscape and views were.  I had travelled many parts of the globe by then, and yet touching down here at that time, I felt a deep sense of home.  The land whispered to me, “Come back”.

It took eight more years, a marriage, a divorce, a graduate degree and being introduced to Reiki before I was ‘ready’ to begin to grow roots here.  This internal preparation with external transition was the first manifestation of my spiritual journey.

The first decade in Seattle was about clarifying my vocational vision and stepping into the role of leader in establishing the Reiki Training Program.  Along that path I explored  much of the NW back country and became attuned to the seasons and weather here.  My artist self gained traction through various creative pursuits.  I travelled through Asia and South America with expanded awareness of other healing traditions.

Personal relationships ended, deepened or started anew.  My Reiki work and fellowship began to expand with the publication of my first book and guided meditation CDs.

Over this last almost-decade, a whole new spiritual path has begun.  It did require me to professionally ‘own’ both my counseling and Reiki paths with the state’s requirement of licensure.  That path has provided me with a whole other world of gratifying healing work and experience I never would have gotten from the Reiki path alone.

My home went through multiple transitions from becoming a public workshop and healing space for students and clients into a humble but creative ceramic arts studio.  Family health crises dominated these years, but developing sober strategies enabled an ability to drop further into witnessing.  Despite those tragedies, travel also occurred, to the Mediterranean and all throughout the Baltic.

Again, personal relationships ended, deepened or started anew.

I’m taking a moment today to just catch my breath, looking back with clarity and looking forward with fresh and curious eyes as to what lays in store.  I couldn’t possibly have predicted any of the profound experiences I am grateful to have had when I first walked this land.

I am prepared to be surprised at what comes next.  In gratitude for the journey…..

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Copyright 2017 Eileen Dey Wurst

The happiness of being a counselor day 31

lucyI’m reminded of the importance of the human need for connection and support when I put in a full day of counseling.  People often feel alone and isolated when experiencing stressful life circumstances.  Having that safe space where one has a present and compassionate witness can make all the difference in how you navigate adversity.

The work I do as a counselor is challenging.  This is even more so than when I am seeing clients just for Reiki.  Counseling involves critical thinking, assessment, active listening, sorting out truth from false beliefs, being mindful of boundaries as well as trusting my own intuition when to push and when to pull back as a client relays their story.

But although this work demands much from both my education and experience, it’s incredibly enriching.  I see it make a difference in my client’s lives.  I know it does, because they come back week after week.

Everyone’s story is different.  Some people face health challenges, job/life work challenges, relationship difficulties.  Some are dealing with addictions, some are trying to raise their children as single parents, others are dealing with the criminal justice system.

A counseling session doesn’t necessarily ‘fix’ the existing problem, but it gives it space.  When a problem is acknowledged in a safe space it has a chance to transform.  When it’s being held tightly, when it’s not being shared, it only festers within.  The problem will then affect the balance of one’s life.

Often, a client has outmoded beliefs around their circumstance or unrealistic expectations.  These ways of seeing the world may be long standing patterns, passed on from generation to generation.  Sometimes we have to let go of these beliefs in order to find a new path.  This is one of the most challenging and yet rewarding aspects of the work I do.  Helping others see that new path.

I might see the new path before they do.  But giving advice doesn’t work.  It’s not embodied wisdom.  Advice is external.  The client needs to find their path through their own searching.  Then it comes from within.  When it’s internally discovered, it is embodied.  They own that realization.  And that’s where the magic of counseling occurs.

This all takes time.  And incredible amounts of patience.  And despite this not being Reiki, there are similarities in that as a counselor I am constantly ‘letting go’ of my own ego when I work with clients.  It’s their journey, not mine.  How can I help them see the path more clearly?

Powerful.  Enriching.  And incredibly rewarding.  The quality of happiness that comes from this work is a long and rich sustained song.

Eileen Dey 2014

Reiki and Insight Reiki (Formerly BWCounseling-Bodywork Counseling)

Reiki has always encouraged me to be present to the flow, the force, the Buddha, God. Every time I give someone Reiki I go into a state of mediation, unless I am describing what I’m doing in a class. But in those quiet sessions, I’m just holding space for the client, practicing egolessness, stepping aside so the client can feel their true essence and not be influenced by me.

I do the same with BWCounseling, although that’s often more challenging because my rational mind becomes engaged in the session. I’m always mindful of not controlling the session, not directing it any one way. When that impulse arises I default to silent Reiki. BWCounseling does take a client away from the meditative state a silent Reiki treatment can promote, but offers a gentler way of releasing trauma, pain, fears than the traditional method of analysis. There is often much time where nothing is being said during the session, so the client and therapist can both be engaged in just being present with each other.

Having a background in which you’ve offered help to others-volunteering, professionally doing social work, nursing, etc. assists the process of learning BWCounseling because you’ve already encountered the necessity of having ‘bodicitta’ (loving kindness) when working to help someone. If you’ve never had this opportunity, then before you go out and see clients, I recommend at least a year or more of working with people in this capacity-giving Reiki at Reiki circles, volunteering through hospice or nursing homes, etc. (I’ll expand more on Bodicitta and what it does to you when you work with it).

When its just been you and your world, reachingout to theirs might take some time to master. Issues around you wanting to control the situation will come up because inevitably, when you welcome the human factor of compassion into the equation, most of us haven’t had enough compassion given to us in our life, so then what occurs in the therapist-client relationship is really beyond what can be predicted.

Yes, you could go to graduate school and study psychological theories and this helps to get a general idea of what might be someone’s reaction when you show compassion and love (i.e. if they came from a broken home, they might have a difficult time of relating at first, it may take several sessions before they open up, etc. or, due to cultural differences, you may be perceived as the expert and if you put the authority back on the client, respecting their inner healer, they may be quite out of sorts, not used to such empowerment.

I don’t feel I’m doing anything wrong by teaching people some basic skills on how to help people in their lives open up to the greater truth within themselves. Because a BW counselor comes to the session with Reiki as their base, they are coming in being familiar with what it means to have faith in a Universal Energy. That is love and light and it is what guides the session so much more than the counselor.

BWCounseling can do no harm-emotionally or physically to a client. It can bring up repressed emotions, painful memories, fears and trauma and these experiences can be painful in the moment to the client-and the processing may still continue after the session. It is important that the client have adequate support following emotional releases of any kind-following up the next day with a session or phone call is helpful and in many times appropriate depending upon the material generated.

If you approach each session with a full and open heart, surrendering over to Reiki as your guide and follow the basic protocol for opening and closing a session, then what happens in between is Divine, it is an honor for you to bear witness to.

It may be that your client falls asleep and experiences a half hour of deep rest or it may be they release deep fears and come to realize the true nature of the path they are walking on. Whatever happens needed to occur (4 laws..).

What makes BWCounseling different than other body-oriented therapies is its ability to be taught to a beginner, someone without extensive psychological training in just a weekends time. The mastery of the material is what takes years and many sessions of practice, but the basic method can be learned and applied in a short period. The method can also be used on oneself to an extent, although having the facilitation of a counselor aids the process more expediently and encourages and individual to confront their ‘edges’ than if they were left to their own process.

Nevertheless, I foresee BWCounseling being a useful tool to be taught to health care professionals who do not intend to go on to graduate school and pursue a master’s in counseling-massage, physical and occupational therapists, chiropractors, acupuncturists, nurses, and Reiki practitioners. It is also a useful tool for counselors and social workers, although depending upon their work setting may not be fully instituted due to policies regarding touch and non-touch of clients.

Eileen’s sessions
After teaching BWCounseling for a number of years, my students are finally getting around to being proficient and now as I take sessions from them I begin to realize the profundity of this work.

Prior to my session, the left side of my neck had twisted and developed a kink in the muscle the day before after singing for several hours. I had been in my second marriage, which was a loving partnership, but one in which we were both in a phase of individuating, culminating with my husband going on overseas trip for nearly four months. In the meantime, I continued working on my practice and my teaching and to my surprise, my voice.

I had been doing a monthly event for some time which combined live music with Reiki and the lead musician approached me and asked if he could record my voice to combine with some of their music. I was flattered and a bit intimidated. I mean, I can project my voice teaching, and others have told me I have a pleasant speaking and singing voice, but now I was getting a signal to have it recorded! Put down, a place of reference. Similar to this book. Get it down, leave an imprint for students to follow.

I was quite stunned, but, not being too shy, I took the musician up on his offer and proceeded to sing for several hours. Just as it concluded, I turned my head and my neck went ‘click/snap’ and I could feel it begin to tighten and lock up.

So, needless to say when I went into the bodywork counseling session, I was looking forward to the Reiki assisting the relaxing of the muscles. I never expected all the other material that came up to come up. And I teach this! So, my student, who now is a very competent practitioner, is guiding me along my body, allowing me to get in touch with the sensations, all of which seem to be pretty peaceful and tranquil except for the heat and tightness of my neck. As she moved his hands to cup my neck and shoulders, it felt as if he were keeping my head from falling off my body. I told her this. She affirmed that but also stated that my head was not going to fall off my body. She encouraged me to allow my breath to continue expanding the tranquil feeling I was experiencing in other areas of my being.

What I love about this method, like in Reiki, is that it begins to take on the energy of the person it is coming through. In this practitioner’s case, she is an chi gung student and familiar with the concepts of positive and negative ki. So, she used these phrases in my session, encouraging me to allow the positive ki to continue to flow in, from my own sense of it in the tranquil feeling, releasing any tensions, negative ki through the soles of my feet.

As I did, memories of being sixteen years old flooded my mind and body. A sense of care freeness, of being an ‘untainted’ adult, full of life, creativity, joy, freedom. Not committed to anyone, engaged solely in the pursuit of enjoying life, friends, breathing each day anew. My last year of high school, my first year of college were like this. I embraced all of these feelings into my body at her guidance, I felt my being lighten, the tightness in my neck soften, a sense of ‘coming home’ to what is already there-the true essence of who I am, not defined by the expectations of a marriage or a partner, but defined by what the creator has expressed through my own being.

I started to cry, not so much out of regret for that lost youth, but more out of not wanting to ever forget that sense of joy, angry that I can sometimes loose sight of the 16 year old that is the spirit behind all the work that I do in the world.

The session was less than an hour, but in that time I had spanned more than half of my adult life up to the present. I felt renewed and rejuvenated and the kink in my neck had lessened quite considerably.

I felt determined to continue this path of publishing the experiences and methods of this work, to serve as a tool for the practitioner and the layperson to incorporate this method into their lives to allow for a great sense of their own connection to the inner, wonderful being they are.

Another session I had with a bodywork counselor allowed me to get in touch with the lower back pain I had been experiencing and link it to perceived thoughts of financial insecurity due to the potential of leaving a partnership in which two incomes would be reduced to one. Yet, in the emotional realm of the low back, I also realized there was intense energy available, abundance energy available to support me, in ways beyond what money or other tangible resources could provide. I was supported by the great love that is in everything for me just being me. The creator saying to me as I connected in with my body, “Eileen, thank you for being you…please continue to do so, even more than before. Be fully who your soul is, which is God, allowing the manifestation to come through in everything that you do”.

Going back to the concept of the method enhances the strengths of the practitioner. The above practitioner started her bodywork career as a massage therapist. This is the method to which she ‘defaults’ to. Its very obvious in session, that moving the muscles and body are part of the therapy she has developed. And in the session I received, it was quite profound, how honing in on my lower back and ‘working’ that area, opened it up to release the fears that were presenting themselves as physical blocks.

Cases

S. was a young 3—year old who was referred to me by her naturopath as supplemental care for the treatment of her chronic fatigue and illness patterns. S. was married young and had her 5 year old daughter when she was….She and her husband were ‘struggling artists’ but determined to share their art with the world in Seattle. But sharing art requires perseverance and energy. S. was lacking in both due to her physical condition that seemed to respond somewhat to the naturopath’s course of treatment. On our first meeting, S. appeared listless, tired, and was just getting over a cold, which she seemed to catch very frequently (every month or so). In receiving the Reiki treatment, her body relaxed and S. stated that after that first session her mind felt clearer even if her body was still tired. 2 weeks later, a very different S. came into my office. She was focused, energized and determined to work on promoting herself and her art. We came up with tentative marketing plans and outlets to showcase her work. She stated that the Reiki seemed to have allowed her body to come back to a sense of ‘center’ rather quickly.
Yet, I could begin to understand the naturopath’s frustration with this case when another 2 weeks later S. appeared in my office in the same state in which she had first come-listless, tired and was now in the throngs of a cold. For the session, we piled her up on many pillows, so that she wouldn’t cough due to all the drainage occurring in her sinuses when she lay flat. Propped up and supported on the table by these pillows, I made the comment she looked like royalty, even if she didn’t feel it. She stated that Reiki felt like it could support her in feeling like royalty. This session was a very ‘hot hands’ session in that the sensation of Reiki flowing through my hands is quite hot and fast and going into a client’s body at an accelerated rate, probably due to the need for healing energy when the body is so weakened. Our sessions were spaced 2 weeks apart, and on our last meeting, S. was more like the second meeting, energized and motivated, yet now she was attempting to become emotionally centered due to a fight she had had with her husband that morning. We talked about relationship and parenting skills to assist in her living situation and what started to become revealed was her need for her own space and being supported in that space to fully allow her body and mind to heal. We brainstormed some possible solutions (since her living space was small, some portable objects, like a shawl and mat she could put and sit on while meditating, doing yoga, etc. that were just for her use). Again, she stated that the Reiki treatments were assisting her in getting her strength and energy back to function in all the multiple roles she was engaged in: mother, artist, wife, etc.

B. was a married 23 year old who was interested in focusing on helping to heal her own perceptions of her body image. Since entering adolescence, she had had issues with her weight, when she went away to college, she gained the inevitable ‘freshman 15’, but upon graduation began an earnest program to loose that weight. Since then, she had been quite obsessed about the way she looked, and in her own words, attending ballet for a number of years didn’t always assist her as many of the dancers where overly concerned about their own body image. During bw sessions, B. was quite sensitive to energy and would often perceive other entities and phenomena that seemed to propel her further into an altered state. During one session, B. was discussing wanting to be able to fit into a size 0, and we explored what it meant to be wearing a ‘no size’. Her own self-love was seemingly absent and through that session, it became revealed that during her later teens, she took various drugs to help offset the insecurities she was feeling about her self and also to numb the sense of not being loved and supported by her family. She had been raised by her grandmother, even though she lived in the house with her mother and sister. Her parents had divorced ?? During many bw sessions she would become quite despondent over not being able to spiritually connect with her grandmother and began to realize that inevitably, even though she was in a loving marriage, she was alone. We began doing the deepest work from here, allowing her to connect in with both the sense of an inner aloneness but also a sense of inner strength as she began to realize her own ability to continue to persevere even though many of her behavioral patterns had held her back in the past.

K. was a 51 year old married man who had worked as a petroleum engineer in many parts of the world over the last seven years. He had recently returned from a position in China and with extra weight and the unhealthy habits of smoking and drinking in the business circles there, he and his wife had begun to start their new life in Seattle. He came to me because he wanted to work on redefining who he was and what he could do with his life. Working as an engineer had been monetarily profitable but emotionally and physically draining. K. had been a practitioner of meditation and yoga off and on over the years and also enjoyed swimming to help ‘clear his mind’ and exercise his body. While receiving Reiki during the bw session, he often likened it to the mental state he would experience doing the various activities mentioned, yet, by him getting in touch with his breathing and his feeling in his body he expressed he was able to go to a deeper level than before. In between our sessions, K. explored some supportive career transition books, but it wasn’t until our last meeting when he realized on the table that he might have to confront his own fear about becoming what he had started out to be ten years ago-that as a registered nurse, for which he had gone to school and had received a degree for, but for whatever fears that arose at that time, also obtained a degree in engineering, and took that path instead. He was quite clear in stating his intention that he would explore the possibility of entering into healing work. He attended a Reiki level I workshop I taught to further assist his confidence and competence in walking in the shoes of that inner healer.

N. was a single woman in her 20’s who came to me to assist her in dealing with her depression. She had stated that her family of origin had been ambivalent towards spirituality or the concept of something like Reiki and so that for her to come to session was a major stepping stone. As she relaxed into the bw session, N. began to get in touch with the processes occurring with her body. She could sense areas in her body where she perceived ‘blocks’ and also could see with her inner vision colors and forms of these blocks. She was amazed at this inner vision and proprierception (I will explain). After each session, she felt a sense of balance, integrity and clarity, which she later had stated assisted her in making several decisions on relationships. The Reiki also seemed to allow her to sense portions of herself that she was not in contact with on a daily basis.

Cases

S. was a 35 year old single male who had come to me seeking clarity in his career direction. He was a pilot by training and had his degree in engineering. He was working for a large aircraft manufacturer. He had lived in various parts of the US working as a commercial pilot, and had been in the air force as well, but took the position with the current manufacturer because initially it required him to work as a test pilot for some of the aircraft. Then, 9-11 occurred, and the industry went through a number of changes and so S. was still kept employed but transitioned into a ‘desk jockey’ engineer as he called it. He felt he was a pilot first, engineer second, yet in the years that he saw me, the industry was recovering, and opportunities for him elsewhere looked meager. Over the course of our sessions together, S. would enter into a meditative trance where he would connect in with that inner healer and the wisdom for that month (i.e. send my resume to this company, pursue this lead, etc.) would come through. He was able to begin to trust his intuition, despite his well-developed analytical mind. As time went on, he started to get a clearer focus of his passion for flying, and began targeting companies that would honor the skill and verve he had for that occupation. In our last meeting he had stated that a company in the Midwest had made him a very attractive offer that would allow his own wings as a pilot to soar. We have kept in touch briefly since his move, but he seems to be acclimating to life on the Plains and continues to pursue Reiki treatments for stress reduction.

D. was a 30 year old single man. He was in transition from living in Seattle and wanting to find an acupuncture school in another state in which to pursue his studies. His family seemed supportive, but he was insecure about taking this next step. He had the grades, he had the intelligence, but stepping through the door of a new path was frightening to him. Before he came into session I had been consulting with a colleague on another client of mine who was suffering from a bleeding uterus, she called it the ‘weeping womb’ and was seeking medical attention for it. Then, to further mirror the Tao (which I will explain in another section), When D. came into session he mentioned he had been having dreams about his birth. I worked in collaboration with my colleague during D’s session. Lying on the table face up, he let out several loud tones, releasing pent-up energy and frustrations from his body which caused it to slightly shake and then settle further into the table. Continuing to prompt him further into the exploration of his process, his body started to contort and shift position. His legs now bent at the knees came up towards his torso and spread open a little, the posture reminded me of a woman giving birth. That insight then further assisted the session in which his toning became very similar to the moans of a woman giving birth if her legs were up in stirrups. He was breathing and moaning and his legs had very much energetically continued to hold the posture of the birthing process. My colleague and I held his shoulders and his lower torso to continue to assist the process. It was truly amazing and inspiring. At the end of the birth process, signaled by D reclining back on the table, beads of sweat trickling off his brow, we rested our hands gently on his mid-section and shoulders and held him in that silence for several minutes. As his breathing returned to a regular rate, he slowly sat up and gave both of us a hug and felt we had been ‘midwifes’ of his new birth. Several days later he told me he had decided upon the acupuncture school he was to go to with confidence.

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