Category Archives: Reiki

Hara Release – Unblock Energy From Your Core

By Michael Hurley, L.Ac., Co-Founder, Cup of Life Healing Center

Energy Gets Stuck in Your Core
Hara Release MassageAs humans living in a competitive society, we tend to have a lot of anxiety and we do not express our emotions as much as we should. In fact, we tend to push our feelings down either to avoid confrontation or just because it is not convenient or “appropriate” to show them in all situations. We are taught at a young age that we should be tough and push through pain. We should not show people that we are scared. We need to “beat” Cancer or “kick that bug.” The fact is that all of these are normal processes of life and should not be hidden.

Our emotions are what make us human and not expressing our emotions causes a breakdown in the machine that we call our body. When we do not express our emotions, we push them into our center or our abdomen where they become stagnant. We think we can control them there because they are surrounded. This is why we “get a sick pit in our stomach” or we feel “butterflies” when we need to give a presentation or performance.

The stagnation that occurs as a result of pushing down our emotions results in dis-ease. When we are in dis-ease, our immune system is compromised and no longer able to perform its function of defense. When this happens, we are more susceptible to catching seasonal illnesses, illnesses due to toxins in our environment, skin infections, and physical injuries. This stagnant energy in our abdomen can cause many musculoskeletal disorders as well.

Many of the muscles in our hips and legs are attached to our lumbar and sacral spine. Stagnant energy in the lower abdomen can affect the states that those muscles are in and cause tight muscles, nerve impingements, vascular problems in the hips and legs, and fertility disorders. Stagnant energy in the middle abdomen can cause digestive disorders because the organs of digestion cannot perform their functions properly. Stagnant energy in the upper abdomen can lead to problems with the heart and lungs. It can also cause headaches, nasal congestion, neck tension, and even toothaches. Many of the main meridians as explained in Traditional Chinese Medicine travel through the abdomen. This explains why when energy is stagnant in this area, so many areas of the body can be affected.

Hara Release Technique – An Eastern Technique for Releasing Stagnation
Now that I have talked about many of the things that can go wrong in the body due to stuck energy in the abdomen, let me tell you a little about something that you can do about it as well as some of the specific medical conditions that this modality can relieve. The technique is called Hara Release. It is a modality commonly used in Eastern cultures, and in some Western cultures, as a means to balance the body and emotions.

A partial list of benefits to Hara Release include treatments of medical conditions such as IBS or irritable bowel syndrome, sluggish hepatic and biliary function, gastritis, poor assimilation, gastroptosis, constipation, inflammatory bowel disorders, asthma, chronic bronchitis, chronic prostatitis, interstitial cystitis, mild to moderate incontinence, vulva pain, menstrual pain, infertility, retroflexed uterus, blocked fallopian tubes, neck pain, back pain, shoulder pain, pelvic pain, release of adhesions, as well as other physical health problems. Many emotional health problems can be relieved by Hara Release as well. These include but are not limited to stress and anxiety, insomnia, bipolar disorders, and depression.

What Happens in Hara Release Treatment?
I think it is always helpful to educate a client as to what they will be receiving. Hara Release is performed with the recipient in a supine (face-up) position. Ideally, the recipient will have eaten a small meal an hour or so prior to receiving their treatment and will have emptied their bladder. Doing this will reduce any discomfort.

The practitioner will then prepare the abdomen with soft, rhythmic, circular motions with his or her hands. At this time, he or she will also instruct the recipient of what to communicate during the session and will synchronize the breath. After the abdomen has been “softened”, the practitioner will begin a series of slow, deep, loving presses choreographed with the recipient’s breath until a desired depth is reached. Each press will be held for a period of time to ensure a proper release of that area. This series of presses could go on for 30 minutes to an hour depending on what each individual recipient needs.

The recipient can experience a wide range of feelings and emotions during a Hara Release session. In the physical realm, feelings like pressure, movement, warmth moving to various areas of the body, and sometimes various levels of discomfort. It is important to convey this information to the practitioner especially if there is ever a sharp pain felt. A dull and achy feeling is acceptable and most times beneficial but sharp is not.

Emotionally, the recipient can experience a variety of things. Some people feel nothing. Some feel a sense of relief even though, they are normally overwhelmed. Sometimes old memories or emotions get accessed and the recipient experiences a much needed emotional release. The important thing to remember is that all of these experiences are right and will be supported by the practitioner. I personally use Reiki and my natural compassion to support my clients through this process.

Just like any massage or medical treatment, the frequency of sessions needed to address the individual condition will depend on the severity of the disorder as well as how long the recipient has been suffering. If the issue has only been around for a few days, one session may be all that is needed. If the issue has been endured for several years or even decades, a long-term treatment plan will most likely need to be discussed.

Spring Cleaning – A Spiritual Lesson

Spring is nearly upon us, new life, new growth, budding trees and plants, everything fresh and new!  Spring for many also may herald a time of spring cleaning, cleaning out of closets, attics and garages.  Doing seemly simple household tasks such as preparing for a garage sale or giving away items to charity can give us interesting spiritual insight into our own willingness to let go, to stop holding on to things that are no longer needed or no longer serve us.

The first lines of the Reiki Ideals ask us to let go of anger and worries and to count our many blessings.  In parallel, the yogic concept of Aparigraha (non-hoarding) beckons us to let go as well, to not grasp or hold onto things so tightly and to trust in the abundance of the Universe.  At least for me, there’s nothing like spring cleaning that makes me realize how much I still have to learn in applying these concepts.

Our family recently had a garage sale and, boy oh boy did we have lots of stuff to sell!  In the preparation and even in the selling process, I began to realize how emotionally attached I was feeling to things that we no longer needed or used.

Much of what we sold was outgrown child’s items and toys that have accumulated as our daughter has grown.  Really, my 7 year-old will never again wear 6-9 month clothing or newborn booties!  Yet somehow, releasing even the obvious at first pulled heavily on my heart.

Ultimately, I was able to pause and see the beautiful opportunity to once again apply spiritual practice to a common everyday situation, to even send love and Reiki blessings with each item we sold, but at first, the answer was not so obvious.

And how does a simple exercise like giving away our physical stuff translate to personal and spiritual growth?  Well what about our willingness to release our emotional “stuff”, our habits, patterns and tendencies that no longer serve us, the ones that keep us from seeing our beauty, our inner light, our Divine self?  Are you willing to let those go?  Or in some way how much are you still clinging to the obvious?  Can you find your own mental pause button?  Can you catch yourself in your own pattern and turn it around by applying these principles?  What will you let go of today?

Getting to the Root Cause, Finding Inner Truth

Some days are wonderful.  In those days, life is good and we don’t have a care in the world.  We never really wonder when those days are going to end.  We just enjoy them in the moment.

Some days are quite the opposite.  Some days it feels like everything is going wrong or circumstances arise that trigger our “less pleasant” emotions such as worry, fear, anxiety, depression and so on.  It is often in these times we not only wonder when the intense emotions will end, but in those moments, it also can feel as if it’s “always going to be this way.”

I recently had series of those “darker days.”  And even though my mind had all the logical answers and even though I knew what I “ought to do”, it seemed every attempt that I made to force these uncomfortable feelings away had no effect.

I ought to:

  • Turn this around to what gifts and lessons this situation brings
  • Just stop worrying and be happy
  • Trust in the Divine order of things and know these situations have a greater purpose, a lesson
  • Take these circumstances as a clear message from God as to the direction I need to be taking (sometimes closed doors point the way to the right path)
  • Just think positive thoughts and continuously repeat them to myself
  • Pray and ask for help
  • Meditate
  • Do something outside to get my mind off things

I analyzed to death the patterns I was finding myself in.  I had pinpointed every little piece of the patterns I was falling into where I may have learned them along the way in my life. Yet even this awareness did not make a shift.  I meditated, I prayed, I asked God and Guru to help me to apply all the things I knew I ought to do to alleviate these feelings.  NOTHING.   And then it came, as a “last resort” I picked up a pen and my journal and just began to complain.  Complain about everything that was wrong, complain that I knew what I should do but just couldn’t seem to get it, complain that “nothing was working”  I asked for help dissolving worry, fear, anxiety and depression yet none my “pleas to God” seemed to be answered.

And then, out of the middle of seemingly nowhere, the answer came:

“All of these things you are asking for, I cannot take them away without them easily returning as you are asking me to simply alleviate your symptoms.  No matter how many times the symptoms subside, they will always come back if you do not address the root cause.”

Right then and there,  I asked, I prayed – “Please help me heal the root cause of all of these ‘issues’.”  In that moment, a wave of peace washed over me.  My “symptoms” almost instantly vanished and I knew I had tapped into something extremely  important.

You see there was and is nothing wrong with the circumstances that had presented themselves (the so called cause of my worries).  There was nothing wrong with the reaction I was having.  What the ultimate “solution” pointed me to was this deeper understanding of how we resist life’s lessons and how easily we can get caught up in our own pain.

Yet the root cause of all of it seems to be something bigger than “my mom did/didn’t do ‘X’”;  “I had a difficult life”; Name any thing that you think is the source of your misery and I guarantee that it is not even close to the root cause.  In my experience, once I get past identification with the so called difficult circumstances of the past (things outside of myself) I realize that the root cause is this notion that we are somehow separate from Source that something “out there” is doing these things to us.

Perhaps in truth, it doesn’t even matter what the root cause is.  Following this, we begin to realize that it is definitely not any of the symptoms that we experience on a day to day basis.  Whether you know the root cause or not, addressing healing, addressing issues at their source, alleviating the strain where the it starts is a sure way to help the symptoms subside as well.

It is like the story of the woman whose “check engine” light kept turning on in her car.  She had been to the mechanic multiple times for this very same issue.  Each time it would appear they had found the issue, her car would be returned and a few weeks later, the light would come on again.  Getting quite tired of the woman’s complaints and quite tired of working on this car, on her last an final visit to the shop,  the mechanic simply took the light bulb to the check engine light out and returned the car to this woman.  She was happy – the light no longer came on, but was the problem really fixed?

Time and time again, we do this in our lives – solely relying on cessation of the symptoms, treating of the symptoms as starting points and the focus of our healing, missing completely the underlying disconnection with Source with our Divine perfected Self, with our true nature.

This new found awareness, of asking for healing at the root of the issue, has brought incredible amounts of peace and equanimity into my days.  It is from this mindset that I now give and receive Reiki healing sessions. It is from this mindset that I approach all so called challenges throughout my day.  It is from this perspective that I offer all of myself to the highest and greatest good each and every day.  It is from this space that I approach my meditation practice each morning – knowing and trusting that my practice is bringing me closer and closer to my true roots – my divine Self, one who is in yoga, union, yoked with the Christ consciousness within – something that is accessible to all of us if we choose it.

Reiki Supporting Life Transformations and Sponsoring Susan G. Komen for the Cure Walker

Today has been one of those stand-out fantastic days.  Morning meditation, followed by teaching yoga to some of the sweetest souls I have ever met, chaperoning a field trip to the fire department with my daughter’s school and last, but far from least, sharing Reiki in a fundraiser event to support a truly amazing woman and breast cancer survivor Diane Richmond as she prepares to walk the Susan G. Komen for the Cure 3-day walk.

This sweet, sweet soul embodies the essence of yoga and Reiki.  It was her own inner knowing, her own inner wisdom that alerted her to the cancer’s existence in the first place.  She went through the Chemo, she went through the radiation and now she walks for others.  The highlight for me of her story – the deeply yogic act she took when she found out the cancer was gone – an act of wisdom, an act of courage.  She took her family, her loved ones to the beach – the each collected rocks on their journey on this amazing day and gave them names – the rocks names were things like fear, anger, disease, cancer… And what did Diane and her love ones do with them? They tossed them into the ocean; they asked the waters of this earth to wash these things away.

What came back – love, peace, inner wisdom, trust, health, harmony!  My sweetest new found friend found the gift, the blessing the strength through her trials, through her hardest times she found the silver lining and lives to hold that strength and journey of discovery for all of us to take a moment to pause in our own times of challenge.  She did the most yogic and healing thing I can think of – she paused and allowed herself to discover amidst a most difficult lesson, her gifts, her love, her life.

As I Iooked around the room this evening, at the close of a 2-hour restorative class, infused with Reiki and healing, I saw a room filled with friends, family and even mere strangers who all came together finding healing for themselves, finding and supporting healing of others, perhaps finding a fresh perspective on their own story, a beginning on finding their own inner strengths.

Our innate ability to heal ourselves, to change our perspective is the embodiment of what yoga and Reiki practices are all about.  There is nothing outside of ourselves, nothing “out there” that will make us whole again.  It is all within us, waiting patiently to be reawakened.

We read story after story about personal triumph from cancer survivors , to those like the now famous Bethany Hamilton who survived and thrived after a shark bit off her arm, to those like you and like me who have seen the light in our own journeys.  Every story I have ever heard of personal triumph over “against all odds” circumstances points to this innate ability within each and every one of usthe courage to persevere and the courage to let go all at the same time.

The gift that Reiki brings is that it helps to shed away the “overcoats”, the layers of self-doubt and discouragement that cloud our vision of the amazing and wonderful beings that we all are!  This energy comes from the highest of energies, from the highest of heavens and it is here for each one of us, waiting to be awakened, awaiting to facilitate life transformations, if we choose it.  The beauty – Reiki can be learned by anyone, it can be learned quickly. And, if you incorporate it into your daily life, it can make a HUGE difference in our response to the little and big things – transmuting, transforming fear into trust, worry into courage, anxiety into hope and joy.  All things are possible if we just simple change our perspective.

Today’s fresh perspective has inspired my practice.  Now and throughout November, for each person that  mentions Susan G. Komen for the Cure when they book a private healing session, I’ll be donating 20% of the session fee to sponsor the lovely Diane in her 3-day walk.   It’s just one small way I choose to give back to the highest and greatest good of all beings!  Namaste!

Pregnancy, Yoga and Reiki Changed My Life

My first introduction to yoga came in early 2005, toward the end of my pregnancy with my daughter. A few of the women in my neighborhood suggested it would be helpful to reduce stress and it was wonderful in preparing for child birth. The truth is, the first class I ever took, I didn’t really get it. The moves were awkward for me, I had no idea where to put my hands and feet and it all seemed a bit foreign to me. Yet somehow, when I was done I felt more relaxed.

Quite some time after my daughter was born, I happened upon an extremely gentle yoga class. I would say, “This yoga stuff, it really seems to help me relax.” Next thing I knew, Saturday morning gentle flow was my weekly haven to relax, de-stress and let go of the work week. Amidst a most challenging time in my life – attempting to juggle a full-time corporate career, marriage and motherhood – it was one of the few things in my week that was truly making a difference in the quality of my life.

In 2008, I chose to leave the corporate world, to focus on my health and my family. At the time I remember saying – “I don’t know what these changes will bring. I just know I want to do yoga and meditate a lot.” I had no idea these words and choices would RADICALLY change my life forever, for the better!

My introduction to Reiki came also during my pregnancy with my daughter – through a wonderful massage therapist who happened to also be attuned to the Reiki energy. All I knew at the time is that no massage I had ever received felt the same as when this sweet, sweet woman would work on me. I used to say she had “magic hands”. It was only after I received my 1st Reiki attunements in 2008 that I began to realize it was the transformative energy of Reiki (and the sweet spirit of this now dear friend) that made all the difference.

2008 truly marks the year my conscious transformation of my life began. Looking back on it now, it all seems obvious that these life changes needed to occur. But at the time, this fact seemed to feel like the furthest thing from the truth. Doing yoga and meditating a lot lead to a series of multiple yoga trainings. It lead me to my first Reiki teachers. It lead me to daily practices of yoga, meditation, Reiki, that helped me understand and live life more fully than I ever had. I learned that life is about being in the moment, enjoying, Being. Now, anything outside of that seems like I’m just missing the point.

Yoga calls for equanimity, santosha (contentment in all things), detachment. Reiki says to try it, just for today. I say try it, just for this moment, and if it works, try it for the next moment too. Life transformations don’t happen overnight, but when you take them by simply putting one foot in front of the other – the next thing you know, you’ve walked a mile!