Reiki: the Path to Inner Peace

The primary goal of having a personal Reiki practice is the discovery of an inner peace so beautiful and calm that we no longer react to life’s stresses, we simply act out of love; we live our lives, love ourselves and love others to our fullest potential because there is nothing that can hold us back; we experience more joy and have healthier bodies because we have taken control of our minds. One of the objectives of Reiki is called Tsutome (duty)- Do (work) which means our duty is to work on ourselves.1

How can Reiki make all of this possible?  A personal Reiki practice helps clear the energetic blockages that are holding us back from achieving the inner peace we all strive for. These blockages are a result of old wounds, fear, anxiety and suppressed emotions that have manifested as a physical discomfort, disease or an emotional issue. Our issues are stored in the body in layers, with the most recent traumatic events being closer to the surface and the oldest, childhood or past life issues, being buried deep within us. In this article, we will cover a few of Reiki’s tools and techniques that can help us deal with and release the newer or the right now issues that are hindering us from living that peaceful and joyful life we all crave and strive for.

One of the principles of Reiki is “Just for today, I will not get angry.” The “just for today” part helps train our brains into focusing on the present moment when changing a habit or thought. This mantra can be helpful tool as we strive for inner peace from a right now, in this moment, issue. For example, if Blake struggles with road rage, he can repeat this line before driving: “Just for today, I will not get angry at the other drivers. Their actions do not affect my mood.” Another Reiki principle is “Just for today, I will not worry.” Let’s say Jane is afraid of spiders and saw a big one in her office yesterday. Today she is stressed out and worried about seeing another one. Her personal mantra could be “Just for today, I will not worry. I am safe.” Repeating whatever “just for today” affirmation that we need will reverse our thought process and begin to create inner peace. To go along with this principle is the Reiki concept of detachment, especially from the outcome an event. When we are detached from the outcome, we tend to stay focused on doing the best we can with the task at hand. This concept brings us closer to inner peace because we it teaches us to live and be in the present moment, realizing that we cannot change the past or manipulate the future.

Sometimes, we have too many thoughts going through our minds for an affirmation to work. When that’s the case, we can use Reiki to calm, ground and center ourselves. The healing energy of Reiki works on and for ourselves when we lay our own hands upon our body.  It benefits us on both the emotional level and the physical. For emotional self-healing, use it during meditation, first thing in the morning, just before going to sleep, whenever the need arises or whenever there is a quiet moment. Simply place each hand on the Chakra of choice and chant “Shanti.” Shanti means peace and when chanted naturally creates a shift in consciousness from stress to peace. A daily practice of self-treatments will retrain your mind to be peaceful, even amidst chaos. Reiki self-treatments can also be used on minor physical discomforts by laying your own hands on the place of discomfort and using the symbols or a healing affirmation and continuing until the discomfort has subsided. It is just as important to clear the right now emotional and physical discomforts as it is to clear the layers of blockages we have been carrying for years. For non-specific self-care, we can get into a meditative state and use our mind’s eye to scan our bodies, sensing any areas that feel different, then doing a self-treatment to balance those areas.

The universal life force energy is in everybody and every living thing. Tapping into and utilizing your internal Reiki energy for self-healing, which opens the gateway to inner peace, is one of the best investments you can make in yourself. Reiki trainings are called attunements, which awaken dormant energy channels and gives you another valuable tool for self-healing and inner peace.  Are you ready to take the next step to inner peace, to open your mind and heart to healing and to start living consciously? Reiki is an amazingly easy technique to learn and the principles and concepts are valuable base tools that last a lifetime.

References:

1 The Spirit of Reiki by Lübeck, Petter and Rand 2004

About the author:

Beverly Bates of Holistic Butterfly Studio is a Massage Therapist that has been studying energy healing since 2003. Her training started with Polarity Therapy, she became a Reiki Master in 2008 and continues to study and integrate a variety of healing techniques to form a unique style that she calls Reiki Fusion, which also includes Sound Therapy, Chakra Balancing, the use of Essential Oils and Crystal Healing.

Originally published July 2013, updated Feb 2021

Find a Penny, Pick It Up

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“I was seldom able to see an opportunity until it had ceased to be one.” by Mark Twain

Have you ever had something great happen in your life that you could trace back to a trivial event, something so seemingly insignificant that you said “yes” or “why not” to? I call these events pennies. Just like real pennies, by itself, there’s not much value to it nor is its potential obvious. However, if invested properly, one penny can turn into hundreds of dollars, just like a small act of kindness, a business opportunity, or a personal activity can lead to great adventures. Joining meetup.com was a penny for me. Many great opportunities resulted from following up on the referral to that site, joining, then attending events sponsored by two groups. Another personal example is when CoSozo unexpectedly asked me to write an article on Reiki. I said yes to the opportunity, even though I had my doubts. One year later, you are reading my fifth published article, I was the featured author for the March 2014 edition, and I’ve discovered a passion I did not know existed within me.

Sometimes, we consciously take action in our lives in hopes of a positive outcome. For example, a stay-at-home mom decided to go back to school so she could re-enter the workforce in the same, ever-growing field she left 8 years ago. Even though the hope was there for a good job, she had doubts about her hire-ability, especially because of her unique scheduling needs. Immediately after graduation, she was approached and hired by a company that can accommodate her scheduling needs. The job is fun, challenging, and allows her to express her creativity on a schedule that fully supports her being a full-time mom.

The common denominators to the unforeseen opportunities and the projected ones are trust and faith. When we trust that the Universe has a plan for us, we can relax into every intentional decision we make and every unexpected turn life throws our way. Having faith that we are exactly where we are supposed to be and that everything happens for a reason overrides regret. The stronger our trust and faith is in our life’s path, the less regret and fear we will have. Regret keeps us in the past, worrying about events we cannot change. That time and energy is better spent on trusting the process, enjoying the present moment, having faith in our future and being grateful for the lessons and the blessings along the way.

Life is NOT “Supposed to be Fair.”
Know that there is no single way that life is “supposed” to be.
Demanding that life meet our expectations
is a sure fire recipe for a miserable existence.
Life is a game with no rules.
Life just happens to us regardless of our best intentions.
Our only path to happiness lies in being open
to receiving whatever life throws at us –
with Gratitude. Have NO Expectations of life.
–  by Jonathan Lockwood Huie

The more we trust the Universe, have faith in ourselves and the journey, and express gratitude for even the smallest of blessings, the more we become aware that every event and action, no matter how seemingly small or insignificant, will open the door to many more blessings. Invest in yourself, pick up that penny, say yes to those opportunities, especially the ones that spark fear and doubt, for they will bring the most rewarding blessing. Say yes to the opportunities that seem too good for you. Pick up that penny, you will be pleasantly surprised by the pennies that follow. Nourish your investment with genuine gratitude and watch your pennies multiple. Not taking advantage of an opportunity of any magnitude because of fear, doubt and/or unworthiness, is equivalent to telling the Universe “No, I am not interested in improving my finances, my relationships, my personal growth or my life.” We all have a least one friend that is constantly complaining about poor health conditions, a lack of financial freedom, and unhealthy relationships but rejects every opportunity for improvement and has a hundred excuses why he/she cannot pursue his/her dreams, let alone improve his/her daily life style. Fear is paralyzing. All the excuses are ultimately based out of fear. To succeed and be happy in life, we must push through the fear or at least keep going despite it. The joy we seek is on the other side of that fear. Trusting and having faith in yourself will temper the fear. The more often you face your fears, the easier it becomes to reduce or overcome them. The less intense your fears, the more opportunities you are apt to take. The more positive outcomes you experience from saying yes to life, the more likely you are to say yes again. The more times you say yes, the more opportunities the Universe will offer you. So, the next time fear and doubt tries to stop you from saying YES to an opportunity of any capacity, gather up your trust, faith and gratitude, take a deep breath, say “yes” and push through the fear. Your future self will thank you!

–Beverly Bates

Originally published Aug 2014, updated Feb 2021

The Layers of Self: Techniques in Mind-Body Healing

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Even if you are not a handy-person or a mechanic, if you have a loose handle, you can easily fix it with a screwdriver. If you have a leaky pipe, you might be able to fix it with a wrench and some caulk. However, if your car stops working, it does not matter how many fancy tools you have in your garage, if you are not a mechanic, you are not going to be able to fix that car.

What’s the missing element? What’s the key to fixing anything? The knowledge in how to correctly use the tools you have is what produces the results you desire. The same holds true for healing our mind-body connection. We have a plethora of readily available tools, i.e. books, classes, workshops, mind-body techniques like acupuncture and massage, meditation, church services, counselors, and best friends, just to name a few. Knowing how to apply these tools is what helps us to achieve the level of healing that we all desire and deserve. We can attend all the healing classes and read all the self-help books in world, but without conscious application of the techniques, we are just collecting tools. How do we begin the task of consciously applying the techniques offered by all of these incredible tools? By choosing to look within!

Remember, healing comes from within and we are responsible for the direction of our lives.All the tools in the world cannot heal us if we are not willing to do the work. This article will help you become aware of how our thoughts are the catalyst for a healthy mind-body connection. It will give examples of how negative self-talk and a negative outlook on life can hinder our healing. By becoming aware of how we view ourselves and the world around us, then making simple yet powerful corrections, we can begin to live happier and healthier lives.

Regardless of the nature of an issue or its source, all issues have layers like an onion and each issue is a separate onion. The core of the issue is the most important part and usually the most challenging to get to and the most painful to relive. You MUST be ready and be brave enough to confront your issues—over and over again, peeling away at each of the layers. Here are some universal techniques that you can apply to heal the various layers within your own issues. This shift in thinking can and should be used throughout all stages of healing and in conjunction with the external tools.

In healing our mind-body connection, it is important to pay attention to the words that we speak and the thoughts we think, especially about ourselves. Do you belittle yourself, constantly tell yourself that you cannot do something, or tell yourself that you are not good enough? Do you say things to yourself or about yourself that you would never say to your kids or your best friend?  If a friend spoke to you the way you speak to yourself, would he or she still be your friend?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, even if it’s just occasionally, cancel-clear those self-limiting thoughts immediately, and without (further) judgment, replace the thoughts with positive, affirming, and loving thoughts. One of the keys to happiness and healing is self-love. Be aware of your thoughts and ask yourself “does this reflect self-love or self-loathing?”

For example, Jo believes she looks like she is having a seizure when she dances, even though she loves doing it. This self-criticism prevented her from going out dancing with her friends. One night her friends finally convinced her to go out and she received several compliments from strangers about her dancing style. Now every time she dances in public she becomes a little more confident. She is now aware that her unhealthy self-talk prevented her from having fun with friends, getting exercise, and meeting new people. She has replaced her old belief with “I am dancing because it feels good to me.”

Just as important as the words we speak about ourselves are the words we put out into the Universe. How many times have you started a sentence with “this is going to be hard,” “this is going to suck” or “I hate this”? Regardless of your spiritual beliefs, the Universe is designed to give us what we ask for and what we expect. If you expect a task to be difficult, aren’t you setting the stage for it to be that way? Unfortunately, yes. For example, Ann was taking the steps in finding a new home for the family dog that exhibited destructive behavior and was disobedient. Ann’s primary concern, however, was how her daughter was going to react to the news. Her unconscious yet verbal expectation was that the situation would be difficult and her daughter’s heart would be broken. Once she became aware of her words and the instructions she was giving the Universe, she cancel-cleared it and re-evaluated her way of thinking about the situation. The end result is that the dog remained in her home and everyone was happy. So let’s consciously expect the best out of ourselves, situations, other people, and life!

The power of our word also relates to the food we eat. Do you realize the negativity you put into your food if you say or think “this is going to make me fat” or “this isn’t good for me” then eat it anyway? You are putting out into the Universe what you expect to happen when that food enters your body. Give yourself permission to eat that double chocolate chunk cookie, but instead of cursing it and punishing yourself with “oh, this is so bad for me, I’m going to gain 10 pounds” say “I give myself permission to enjoy the sweetness of this cookie. I give myself permission to eat this simply for the pleasure of tasting it.”

Another powerful healing tool is to cancel-clear complaints. Complaining about things that we cannot change is pointless and a waste of our energy. Is complaining about how someone else is living his/her life improving yours?  No, it’s a distraction from your own life and healing. Is complaining about the weather going to change it? No, you are giving it power and priority by putting your attention on it and feeling like a victim to it, which distracts from your joy.

When we complain about our life, in essence we are telling the Universe that we do not appreciate what we have. When we are grateful for what we have, we become more aware of and open to the tremendous gifts we’ve already received and as a result, attracting more simply through the resonance of that energy of gratitude. For example, a responsible parent would not continue to buy gifts for an ungrateful child. So why would the Universe continue to bless us when we do not appreciate the gifts we have been given?

Complaining is also a direct reflection of desperation, discomfort, and/or impatience with a specific situation or with life in general. Desperation, discomfort and impatience usually occur when we are focused on the past, the future, or what we do not have. This thought pattern leads to stress, fear, and anxiety. 

There are so many reasons people complain and so many things we complain about. Become aware of your triggers and evaluate the reason for the discomfort. Do you need to speak your truth and say no to something expected of you but not important to you? Are you being stretched outside of your comfort zone and/or needing to face a fear? Or do you just need to relax and take care of your responsibilities with gratitude?

Relax into your life as if you are floating in a warm bath. Take life as it comes, one day at a time, one hour at a time. Live in and appreciate the present moment. Realize that complaining is stealing energy from your joy and preventing you from receiving the gift of being fully in your present moment.

One of the most powerful methods of healing is forgiveness, which encompasses a shift in self-talk, the elimination of complaints, and the elimination of identifying yourself as a victim to others, to circumstances, and even to yourself. Forgiveness frees us from the bonds of our thoughts, the past and the pain associated with both.

“Through forgiveness, we create new realities that allow us to experience greater love and freedom. Forgiveness sets the stage for a new act in our lives to begin. Holding on to judgments about experiences and people keeps us in limitation.” –Iyanla Vanzant.

Forgive for your own well-being. You have control over your thoughts, beliefs, and emotions. So when we realize the power of our thoughts and consciously shift our thinking from self-limiting ones to self-empowering ones, the healing is escalated. Whatever stage of healing path you are on, remember to be gentle, kind, and loving with yourself. Practice forgiveness for yourself and for others. As you do this inner work, working your way through your issues, layer by layer, you’ll find that you are blossoming in your life and in your world much more fully and freely. As you practice more gratitude for the generous gifts that you have already in your life, more gifts become clear to you. You may even find gifts in the presence of your issues, which are there as invitations to discover deeper, richer parts of yourself.  As your awareness and gratitude increases, you’ll discover that the complaints will decrease. You will experience a tremendous sense of freedom and joy in your life as you watch your life change for the better. Enjoy the process of discovering and releasing your layers!

“No man is happy who does not think himself so.” –Publilius Syrus

By Beverly Bates

Originally published March 2014, updated Feb 2021

Slay Your Dragons, Face Your Fears

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We’ve all heard the fairy tales where the beautiful princess is locked away in a room that’s in the highest and farthest corner of huge castle that is protected by a fierce, fire-breathing dragon. If the knight wants to marry the princess, he must rescue her by first slaying the dragon. Well, I’d like to offer you a different, more life coaching interpretation of this story. Let’s say that, in this game of life, you are the knight in shining armor. That dream, desire, goal or wish that you want to accomplish or possess is the princess. The castle represents the steps you must take to achieve your desired goal, object or person. The dragon is your fear. It does not matter if your dragon is big or small, fire-breathing or just bites your ankles, you still must slay it to get that princess. If you are cleaver, you can trick the dragon into thinking the two of you are friends and use it to your advantage. We’ll call this action taming your dragon. Either way, what you want is on the other side of that dragon! What are you going to do about it? Let the dragon keep you from even trying to reach your goal? This option gives someone else the opportunity to be what you want to be, have what you want to have. I don’t know about you, but I would rather get slain by the dragon attempting to reach my goal, than to live forever knowing I was too afraid to even try. In most circumstances, once you finally step foot into the castle, you realize the big scary dragon is really a harmless gecko that is more afraid of you than you are of it. In other words, once you begin to actively pursue your dreams, you will realize things are not as scary as you originally thought. So what if you are brave enough to enter the castle only to be slain by that dragon? Since this is a fairy tale, you get another life to either continue attacking this dragon or celebrate the fact that you tried and move on to slay the dragon protecting the princess next door. Whichever option sounds more appealing to you, keep battling the dragons! The more dragons you slay, the easier each sequential battle gets.

Fear is paralyzing if you let it consume your life or let it influence your decisions. Not only do you miss out on the element of your desire, but you miss out on so many unknown opportunities along the way.  Opportunities that otherwise would not be available. Haven’t you ever done something despite being scared, then had an awesome experience, perhaps even something unexpected, result from that experience? I have. Recently, I had a dream of acting in play. When the opportunity to audition became available, I was overwhelmed with fear. I had two weeks to decide if I wanted to slay that dragon or walk away. I chose to slay the dragon and pursue my dream. After I made the decision, that intense feeling left me. On the day of the audition, I was only a little nervous. There’s a big difference between being nervous and having fear. I felt good about my audition and so proud of myself for doing it. As I’m leaving the building, I notice a sign on a billboard announcing that the same theater group is looking for writers to submit plays about Goddesses or women of influence. I CAN write about Goddesses and women of influence! By the end of that day, my play was completely written and I submitted the next day! Had I allowed my fear to paralyze or consume me, stopping me from attending that audition, I would have never known about this amazing writing opportunity.

One of the most controversial rap artists of our times wrote a song that relates to this article and speaks to anyone faced with a rare opportunity to do something different, amazing and life changing.

“Look, if you had one shot, or one opportunity
To seize everything you ever wanted. one moment
Would you capture it or just let it slip? …
He better go capture this moment and hope it don’t pass him.
You better lose yourself in the music, the moment
You own it, you better never let it go
You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow
This opportunity comes once in a lifetime…” —“Lose Yourself” by Eminem

As I mentioned earlier, there is a difference between fear and nervousness. There is also an outstanding difference between fear and danger. On certain occasions, these three emotions may feel similar in our bodies, causing similar sensations or physical responses, however, they are completely different. Nervousness is a form excitement. Your adrenaline is going, your heart rate increases and you may even have a little doubt about the situation, but not enough to hinder the activity. This is a common reaction to doing something new or challenging. Fear, as I just mentioned, is paralyzing, comes with a significant amount of self-doubt and may halt further activity until calmed or resolved. Fear is in our heads, it is imagined, it is not real! Danger, on the other hand, is real and threatens your safety. These 3 words are not synonyms. I would also like to mention a fourth scenario, where sometimes contentment is confused with fear. This is where non-judgment and acceptance of others becomes relevant. During a recent trip to Chicago, I had a conversation with a man who stated that I could make more money if I moved my massage therapy practice to the Windy City. My response to him is that I’m not a big city girl. He instantly labeled my preference as fear. My contentment, passion and love of the Lansing area, which includes the friendships I’ve made and the business I have created, is not fear based. Chicago is a great place to visit, but I don’t perceive it as home. On the flip side, I assumed a self-employed friend was experiencing fear when she was perfectly content having a part-time, low key business.

The lesson that I share with you is this: just because someone’s dream is different than yours, does not mean he/she has fear around that subject or object. However, someone with a genuine fear should be supported and encouraged along their path, without judgement. When that someone is you and you are faced with a decision, it is important to know yourself well enough to distinguish and discern between nervousness, fear, danger and “this is not right for me.” Honor your nervousness, respect and avoid the danger, celebrate your passions, let go of what does not suit you then face your fears and slay that dragon!

by Beverly Bates

originally published Sept 2014, updated Feb 2021

When Emotions get Physical: The Effect of our Thoughts on our Bodies

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“The cells in your body react to everything that your mind says. Negativity brings down your immune system.” Anonymous quotes like this are all over Facebook, we like them, but do we really understand how these negative thoughts affect our bodies? Every emotion, thought and belief, whether helpful or harmful, gets stored in our bodies. All harmful emotions, at their core, can be categorized as either criticism (also known as hatred), resentment (also known as anger), guilt, or fear. Each specific emotion has a matching body part, and each body part represents a unique and specific aspect of our life. For example, the right side of our bodies represents our masculine side or the giving side. If Joe has anger and resentment towards his father, there will be pain or dis-ease on the right side of his body. More specifically, if Joe feels overwhelmed caring for his ill and grumpy father, he will have physical pain on the right side of his neck and the right shoulder.

The longer the harmful emotion goes unresolved, the more severe the physical aliment. If we are aware of how our bodies feel at any given moment, we can sense when something is wrong immediately and can reverse or correct the culprit behavior or thought. Disease occurs when the issue is allowed to continue for many years. Since everyone is unique, the severity and amount of time it takes for an unhealthy thought to manifest into a disease will vary. An example of an unhealthy belief that is ongoing yet easily resolved is Kim’s story. As a child, Kim never felt like her parents paid enough attention to her. When she started going to school, she felt as if her teachers did not notice her. In her teenage years, she could not find a boyfriend. Kim’s ongoing feelings of rejection lead to chronic nosebleeds. Once she began to love herself and feel that the attention she was getting was enough, the nosebleeds subsided, as if they never happened. An example of how an unhealthy thought that goes unresolved can lead to a disease is Bethany’s story. As a young person she never embraced her femininity, she was adamant about not having children, she avoided bonding with children, she was constantly frustrated with her menstrual cycles and she subconsciously believed that her feminine qualities were a curse. In the young adult years, she experience troublesome periods. As time went on and those harmful beliefs continued, she developed several large uterine fibroids which worsened her periods. Once she began to embrace her inner-woman, feel more feminine, began to enjoy being a woman and began to truly experience the love a child, her fibroids began to shrink and her menstrual issues slowly eased up.

As mentioned previously, each body part represents a unique aspect of life. As in Kim’s case, she experienced nosebleeds since the nose represents self-recognition, which is what she lacked. In Bethany’s story, the uterus is the ultimate symbol of femininity and thus the most logical place for disease to manifest when a woman’s femininity is challenged. Oftentimes, old sayings hold relevance in the location of our issues. In the case of Joe’s shoulder pain, he was “carrying the weight of the world” with his caregiver role. His father was also grumpy, therefore his father was “a pain in the neck.” Some examples of obvious coordinating ailments and physical locations include the eyes representing the ability to see clearly, the ears representing emotional hearing, the blood representing joy flowing freely and the legs representing carrying us forward in life.1

Not all physical ailments or diseases that we endure are caused by emotional dysfunction. However, it is a common belief that we create ALL of the illnesses in our bodies and in our lives. Some conditions are lifestyle related, for example the quality of our food intake, the amount of exercise we get, our sexual habits and our use of drugs (illegal, over-the-counter, and prescription), alcohol and tobacco. We have a choice on the types of food and substances we put into our bodies, the amount of exercise we participate in and the type of sexual activity we participate in, therefore we create our own health status. Some diseases are karmic, meaning we did not completely resolve an issue in a past-life so it has manifested as a disease in this life. The healing of these issues happen simultaneously with the healing of our everyday thought patterns. The last cause of physical disease is accidents. According to Louise L. Hay, “Accidents are no accident.” We have the emotional distress that attracts accidents to us, such as anger, built-up frustration, rebellion against authority, guilt, and attention or sympathy seeking.2 We may also have a lesson to learn from the experience, that could include compassion for self and others, being content with our current situation or trusting life’s process. Our thoughts are powerful tools that can either hurt us or heal us. Being consciously aware of our self-talk and beliefs, striving for the most authentically positive and loving perception of our circumstances and always communicating from a place of love, joy and respect will bring us a life of peace and good health.

“Watch your thoughts, they become your words watch your words, they become your actions watch your actions, they become your habits watch your habits, they become your character watch your character, it becomes your destiny.” -Lao Tzu

1 Heal Your Body A- Z by Louise L Hay

2 You Can Heal Your Life by Louise L. Hay

By Beverly Bates

Originally published Sept 2013, updated Feb 2021

Lighten Your Load! Releasing Emotional Baggage

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Imagine stuffing a duffel bag, a backpack, a laundry bag, a large purse AND a handbag full of personal items, food, shoes, clothes AND trash, then carrying all of it around with you at the same time. What if the emotional bag we carried around with us looked like this. Would you hang out with someone like this? Would you work harder to heal your wounds and lighten the load? This article is intended to create an awareness of your emotional baggage so the healing process can begin.

All of us have old wounds that arose from painful situations from our childhood, painful remarks from a stranger, heartbreaks from past relationships, acts of unkindness from a former lover or friend, and wrong doings from a boss or co-worker. We also have self-inflicted wounds stemming from guilt, fear and self-criticism. The problem is not with the wounds themselves, but in how we deal with them. Do we allow the wounds to control our everyday lives? Do we allow these wounds to dictate our current relationships? Are we judging ourselves based on the opinions or actions of someone we no longer have contact with? Are we living to our fullest potential or up to the limits set by our parents, an ex-partner, or ex-friend?

An example of emotional baggage stemming from a heartbreak is the story of Stephen who is still carrying around the pain of his divorce that happened five years ago. Every conversation he had with a new female friend revolved around the ex-wife leaving him, what he lost when she left or what happened when they were together. It was like he opened his mouth, spit out the pain and sat it on the table for all the world to see. When asked why he had not healed his heart after all this time, he said he did not have time. In actuality, he had not made healing himself a priority. Instead, he chose to put his hurt in the proverbial baggage backpack and carry it around everywhere he went; taking it out for anyone who would listen, not realizing that no one wants to listen to him cry and complain about something that happened five years ago. 

Let’s take a look in your baggage backpack. Is there a painful experience that you pull out and share with every new person you meet? Listen to yourself, become conscious of the stories you tell. Also pay attention to how you tell your story. Are you playing the victim? Owning the role of victim in a life story means you have not completely learned your lesson from the experience. Remember, what happens to us is not as important as our reaction to it. Holding on to old hurt and playing the victim keeps us from the joy of the present moment and can push people away from us.

An example of how the experiences of our childhood can cause emotional baggage and hinder joy is in the story of John who was raised by a verbally abusive stepfather, Peter. John internalized Peter’s angry and demeaning words, allowing his self-esteem to be crushed to nothing. He also stood idle as Peter verbally abused John’s mother. John never sought counseling or any other type of healing modality to heal from this abuse. Instead, he harbored a tangible hatred for Peter, carrying it around in his baggage backpack. Unfortunately, he did not realize he was also carrying Peter’s paternal attitude in his backpack. Years later when John marries a woman and has 2 children, the deep wounds of his abusive upbringing get projected onto his family. To this day, John is in denial that he is an abuser. Moral of the story: in order to heal, we must first be consciously aware that we have emotional baggage in the first place. Our unhealed baggage affects our everyday lives and the people in it. So then the question becomes, how do we heal wounds that we are unaware of? Awareness comes when we listen to the multiple people (or sometimes just that one special friend) that point out the same unhealthy or annoying behavior. We can be become aware of our issues when we attract people with similar issues and discover that we don’t like those traits, even though we possess the same ones. These people are called mirrors, as they reflect back onto us what we project out. Awareness also comes when we continuously experience the same or similar unfortunate events, thus finding ourselves asking “why is this happening to me again?”  Another cue is when you repeatedly tell the same “oh woe is me” story for longer than six months after the event occurred.

So those are two major examples of baggage, however, the minor wounds can be just as detrimental. Jane was once told that she could not sing; she has not sung since that day, which was over 30 years ago. Bob’s mother would always ask him: “are you sure?” whenever he made a decision. Now he does not trust that he can make an accurate decision. Shane was once called gullible then stopped believing anything anybody said to him after that. The examples of emotional baggage are endless and the same event can effect individuals differently. Listing all the possible scenarios that create emotional baggage is not as important as the awareness and recognition of the old wounds and hurts that lie dormant in your baggage backpack. Awareness is the first key in the healing process. Like the commercial that asks: “what’s in your wallet?” Consciously and regularly ask yourself “what’s in my baggage backpack?”  Taking action is the second step to healing. There are numerous beneficial ways to heal, both traditional and alternative, new age methods. What works for one person may not be effective for another. I recommend journaling. First write out the scenario as the receiver. Secondly, acknowledge your role in the situation, taking responsibility for your actions and reactions. Thirdly, write out what you learned, gained and appreciate from the situation. Then lastly, consciously choose to no longer carry these feeling around with you. This is the forgiveness process.  

by Beverly Bates

Originally published Feb 2014, updated Feb 2021

No More SIN

No More SIN

When you hear or read the word sin, your mind automatically knows the meaning and you can easily imagine several examples of sin based on this definition. For me, sin is an acronym for Self-Inflicted Nonsense, which is any thought, action or belief that emotionally or physically harms or limits oneself or generates any feelings of discontent. This phrase first came to me after leaving my second husband. I vowed to myself that I would recognize and remove myself quickly from any situation that did not bring me joy. “No more SIN” became my new motto. A short time after that, I had been attending a small church where the members were bickering with each other and I found myself caught up in some drama. As soon as I finished a project that I promised to do (and really wanted to do), I walked away. No way was I going to stay in yet another situation that did not feed my soul, fill my heart with joy AND soothe my mind with peace. The “no more SIN” motto is a way to practice radical self-care and self-love. We are all seeking happiness and peace but participating in situations where feelings of anger, fear and/or frustration are the dominant emotions is doing yourself more harm than good and blocking your joy.

Sometimes, the SIN situation can be simple or just mildly annoying but removing yourself from it is still a big deal. As an example, I really dislike getting the puff of air/glaucoma test at the eye doctors. Several years ago, I had an appointment and told myself that I was going to be strong and “put on my big girl panties.” After the first attempt, I realized that being a “big girl” meant that I was NOT going to allow the doctor to do that test on me. Saying no felt so good! Now it’s easy to tell the doctor that I’m refusing that exam. Seems simple enough, but for some people or in certain situations, we find it challenging to speak up for ourselves; we put our comfort on the back burner. Are there any situations in your life where you are allowing someone else to do things to you that you are uncomfortable with? Practice “No more SIN.”

Sometimes there are those situations when you really want to say no but you say yes, that’s SIN. There are times, however, when a compromise is necessary. Only you can determine the difference between SIN and a compromise. What’s a SIN to one person may be a simple compromise to another. You may make the same compromise several times before it becomes a SIN.

“You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage—pleasantly, smilingly, nonapologetically, to say “no” to other things. And the way you do that is by having a bigger “yes” burning inside.” Stephen R. Covey

Is your “yes” radical self-care or SIN? Is your “no” radical self-care or SIN? How does your answer and response to a situation make you feel? Be careful not to confuse guilt or fear with making the “wrong” decision. Practicing self love means setting boundaries. If you know you made the right decision for your highest good, let go of the guilt. Radical self-care may sometimes feel like selfishness, but they are different.

Webster’s Dictionary defines selfish as: “1: concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself: seeking or concentrating on one’s own advantage, pleasure, or well-being without regard for others 2: arising from concern with one’s own welfare or advantage in disregard of others <a selfish act>”

The definition of radical self care is putting your well-being first while considering other people’s feelings and circumstances; consciously evaluating your feelings and the situation to make the best decision for yourself.

Without radical self-care and self-love, you can become a doormat, easily manipulated, taken for granted and taken advantage of. All of which create a breeding ground for Self-Inflicted Nonsense. Radical self-care is you taking care of you first, so that you can take care of others later.

Are there situations in your life where the drama is unbearable? Where you feel stressed out or extremely uncomfortable around a specific person or group of people? Where you feel anxious or frustrated even just talking about the situation? If you can separate yourself from the situation but have not, you are practicing SIN. One of the best things about self-inflicted nonsense is that you have the power to stop it! You are in control of your life, your actions, your misery and your happiness. Some situations, like a job or co-workers, may not be as easy to walk away from. In those situations, change your perspective. Practice self reflection to see where your judgments are clouding how you see the circumstances. Sometimes the issue is with us, not the situations that are frustrating us. Only you can determine whether the situation at hand is SIN or an opportunity for personal growth…or both if you are lucky.

Always remember: You are the most important person in your life, so respect yourself enough to walk away from SIN. Seek peace, love and joy in all circumstances, no matter how difficult it may seem.

Tilt Your Head – Change Your Perspective

Tilt Your Head – Change Your Perspective

In my last blog, I talked about forgiveness of self and briefly about forgiveness of others. I didn’t spend a lot of time talking about forgiveness of others because, in most cases, the issue is really ours. Those feelings of betrayal, heartbreak and anger are really about us, not them. So what if I told you that forgiveness of others is unnecessary? What if I said the biggest problem is how YOU perceived the situation? I will share with you how changing your perception can eliminate the need for forgiveness of others. *Please note this information is only pertinent to non-violent and non-criminal activities and/or situations.

Our pain, heartbreak and disappointment comes from our expectations not being fulfilled. No person, thing or event has to turn out the way we expect it to. So why do we blame others for our desires not being met? We are the only ones responsible for our happiness, but yet we place that duty on our loved ones and other outside circumstances. We our disappointed when others do not behave in a way that we deem appropriate and then judge them or their behavior as bad. These are the people and situations that wind up on your forgiveness list. So I challenge you to pick a situation in which you feel someone did you wrong, look at it from a different perspective and honestly see where your expectations, desires and needs obscured your judgment and resulted in unnecessary turmoil.


Here’s a real life example of how changing your perception on a “that’s not the way I planned it” situation and forgiveness works. As you may know, I am a massage therapist. I was self-employed and recently decided to expand my practice and hire an employee. I hired a friend, Tina, who was still in massage therapy school. For reasons still unknown to me, Tina’s work performance quickly began to deteriorate and I was left with no other choice but to fire her. I was PISSED off and complained a lot about Tina’s disrespectful behavior and how unappreciated and used I felt. To say that I was angry and hurt was an understatement. However, knowing what I know about forgiveness and gratitude (I practice what I preach) I finally calmed down and realized that I was the one with the problem. I began looking at the situation from a non-blaming, non-self righteous angle. That’s when I realized that I had unmet expectations of Tina and her job performance. It was MY unfulfilled expectation that resulted in MY anger, frustration and disappointment. I wanted Tina behave in a certain way and when she didn’t, I reacted from the hurt feelings. Realistically when someone is hired for a job there is an expectation of performance and professional behavior BUT the problem, in this case and what we tend to do in life, is that I internalize her behaviors. I made Tina’s behavior all about me when I complained of feeling used and under appreciated. I played the victim and adopted the “how dare she do this to ME” attitude. We cannot assume that Tina’s actions were ever about anything or anyone except herself. Playing the victim only takes away my personal power and gives it to the other person or the situation. If we are the only ones responsible for our happiness, then why do we make other people responsible for our misery? So here’s where the forgiveness comes into play. I realized that my expectations were not met and that’s why I was angry. I forgave myself for over-reacting and concluded that maybe Tina was struggling with something that wasn’t my concern. I sent her loving thoughts and showered myself with gratitude for the lessons, emotional growth and the new opportunities that awaits me. Notice how now there is no need to forgive Tina, at least not in the traditional way. There’s nothing to forgive because her actions were not of any wrongdoing to me. Everything was my reaction to and judgment of her actions that caused the problem. Once I took ownership of my feelings, I felt peaceful again.

In addition to projecting our feelings onto others, judgment and labeling circumstances as right or wrong and good or bad is also part of the problem. The situation is what it is, but our judgment of how it SHOULD be is what causes hurt feelings, anger, resentment and/or hatred. In this story, as long as I labeled Tina’s actions as wrong and bad, I was miserable. Once the label was dissolved, I was able to move on and find my inner peace again. That feeling of inner peace, regardless of the outside circumstances, is so important to our well-being. Why do we hold on to the past? It happened and it cannot be changed. Our perception can be changed and our feelings about the events can be changed though. Don’t you want to be happy NOW? Let go of the old baggage holding you down, even if it just happened yesterday, work through the feelings, tilt your head to get a new perspective, forgive, breathe in gratitude and love and step forward into a happier life!

Here’s the forgiveness technique I shared with you last month:

The RELEASE – This technique is best done in a relaxing pose and with no outside distractions. Once you have mastered it, the technique can be done in a matter of seconds and even while you are with others. It will just look like you are taking a deep breath or taking a moment to gather your thoughts.

Put your attention on your heart and imagine a door leading to a cozy room. You open the door, enter the room, then comfortably position yourself on the floor in front of the deity of your choice, your higher self or even a healing fountain. Ask to know what forgiveness feels like. Once you notice the shift in sensation, visualize that the harmful thought that you entered with is just melting off of you and is instantly healed. Realize that you did the best you could at that time. You made a decision or performed an action and now it is done. It cannot be undone, so stressing about it is pointless. As this situation is washed away, you are showered with forgiveness, gratitude and love. Be thankful for the experience and the personal growth. Send yourself love. Feel your deity, higher self or healing fountain send you love. Now REPLACE those harmful thoughts with its opposite loving thought, using one or more healthy I AM statements and affirmations. Stay in the your healing heart space as long as you want or need to. When you are ready, give thanks and leave knowing that you can return as often as you like.

I recently discovered a modification to this technique that works really well: the heart space is a shower and the unnecessary thoughts are being washed away by a shower of forgiveness, gratitude and love. I encourage you to find the visualization that works best for you and your healing journey. Share it with me if you choose. Until next time, peace and love!

Forgiveness, Gratitude, Love

Forgiveness, Gratitude, Love

Forgiveness, gratitude and love are simple words with complex meanings that create a challenge for most people. Sometimes the mere mention of the word forgiveness can evoke anger, resentment and resistance. If that’s the case for you, find a more comfortable word or phrase like “letting go.” Complex concepts are easier to understand when broken down into simple, easy-to-use ideas. Let’s take forgiveness and separate it into two categories: self-forgiveness and forgiveness of others. Starting with self-forgiveness, we need to assess if it is even necessary. Ask yourself: Have you ever “beat yourself up” or obsessed over a decision that had less than the perfect outcome? Do you criticize your actions or call yourself bad, mean or disrespectful names when you make even a small, easy-to-fix mistake? Have you ever done something that you regretted and continue to punish yourself for it years later? If you answered yes to any of these questions then keep reading, you need to work on self-forgiveness. The keyword here is “work.” Forgiveness is a process that takes conscious effort to achieve. If you follow my writings, you’ll notice that I say that a lot. It’s true about life and healing on all levels. You must give yourself permission to take as long as you need to reverse a habit. In this case, we are reversing the habit of self-abusive behavior and thinking. It didn’t happen overnight so it won’t be healed overnight. If you remain dedicated to interpersonal healing, you will find that your challenges have layers. I have discovered that forgiveness, gratitude and love break through those layers a lot faster than any other thought process and it is easier to forgive and love others, when we forgive and love ourselves. So now that you know why you need to forgive yourself, we must discover when forgiveness is necessary and use an easy to remember formula that I call Recognize, Release and Replace. The first step is RECOGNIZE when and that you need to forgive yourself. Going forward, pay attention to your thoughts and reactions to the circumstances around you. If your response is anything less than kind, supportive and loving, you will need to forgive yourself. The more loving we are with ourselves, the easier and quicker it becomes to forgive. The next step is to RELEASE those thoughts and that energy and then to REPLACE them with a healthy and helpful affirmation.

The RELEASE – This technique is best done in a relaxing pose and with no outside distractions. Once you have mastered it, the technique can be done in a matter of seconds and even while you are with others. It will just look like you are taking a deep breath or a moment to gather your thoughts.

Put your attention on your heart and imagine a door leading to a cozy room. You open the door, enter the room, then comfortably position yourself on the floor in front of the deity of your choice, your higher self or even a healing fountain. Ask to know what forgiveness feels like. Once you notice the shift in sensation, visualize that the harmful thought that you entered with is just melting off of you and is instantly healed. Realize that you did the best you could at that time. You made a decision or performed an action and now it is done. It cannot be undone, so stressing about it is pointless. As this situation is washed away, you are showered with forgiveness, gratitude and love. Be thankful for the experience and the personal growth. Send yourself love. Feel your deity, higher self or healing fountain send you love. Now REPLACE those harmful thoughts with its opposite loving thought, using one or more healthy I AM statements and affirmations. Stay in the your healing heart space as long as you want or need to. When you are ready, give thanks and leave knowing that you can return as often as you like.

During your daily adventures, use your new affirmations whenever possible, but especially when you RECOGNIZE yourself going back to old habits. Remember healing is a process so you may need to re-enter the heart space with the same issue several times before it is healed. That’s OK! Give yourself time to heal and permission to do it at your own pace.

Forgiveness part two, forgiveness of others. As you may have heard before, forgiveness is about you NOT the person that you are forgiving. Forgiving them does not excuse what happened. Forgiveness is about letting go of the harmful feelings (anger, bitterness, resentment, mistrust, hatred, judgment, etc…) and allowing yourself to heal. Carrying around all that pain is only hurting YOU! Use the same heart space meditation until the feelings are gone. Forgiveness allows us to feel joy, love and happiness more fully and consciously. It allows us the opportunity to enjoy, appreciate and discover all the wonders of this life that we couldn’t see because of the hurt. You deserve happiness, heal the pain!

So the title of this article is Forgiveness, Gratitude, Love. Let’s talk briefly about gratitude. It is so easy to be thankful for a fun, exciting and/or safe experience. However, when we are going through a crisis, it can be difficult to be grateful for the experience. Remember that everything happens for reason and everything is a growth opportunity, so practice gratitude for all situations and life events and watch how your world changes for the better. The more you express gratitude, the more things you will have to be grateful for, it’s the law of the Universe. Love…love is the glue. Love is the foundation. Love is the beginning, middle and end of all things. The less you hate, the more you love. The more you love, the less you hate. The practices of Forgiveness, Gratitude and Love are inseparable, they are one. Forgiveness and gratitude are both expressions of LOVE. So love yourself, love one another, love life!

Happy Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine’s Day! We all associate this greeting and this day with lovers and with children. Do you realize that with the kids, everyone in their class is their Valentine’s? Think about it, no one is left out. Either as the parent, the teacher or the child, you brought enough cards, decorations and treats for EVERYONE. My invitation to you is to love everyone. If love is too strong of a word for you, let’s use ACCEPT. In order to love and accept all people, let’s first explore the opposite feelings: hate and judgment. Let’s also define ALL PEOPLE before continuing. ALL PEOPLE is defined as anyone of the same or different gender orientation than you; anyone of the same or different complexion, race, color or ethnic background than you; anyone living in the same or different area (neighborhood, city, state, county, region, country, continent, hemisphere, Earth) than you; anyone who was born in a different area than you; anyone who practices the same or different religious or spiritual beliefs as you; anyone who speaks or doesn’t speak your language; anyone whose body has extra parts, is missing parts or who has different parts than you; anyone who dresses differently than you; anyone who has political views, opinions or affiliations that are different from yours; anyone born in the same or a different year from you AND anyone who sins, behaves, thinks, speaks and looks differently than you. Whew, what a list! I think I successfully covered everybody and the reasons they are typically judged or hated.

The reasons people hate and/or judge another falls into four main categories:

  1. They feel physically threatened by them.
  2. The other person has traits or habits that the hater doesn’t like about himself or herself, therefore projects their self-hatred onto them.
  3. The hater feels inadequate to, intimidated by, jealous of the target.
  4. The hater has confused hate with a lack of understanding or compassion.

Can you see how with all 4 reasons, the issue lies with the hater and not the target? If not, I shall explain it to you.

With the first category, the optimal word here is “feel,” as in perception or belief. One way this feeling exists is through a vicarious experience where one person is the perpetrator and every one else that fits that description gets labeled as a threat. Sure Stacy was attacked by a purple man with 4 arms, but that doesn’t mean all purple men with 4 arms are bad, threatening, dangerous or deserve to be hated on. This is the kind of hate and stereotyping that our society feeds on. It doesn’t matter whether or not the media is playing on people’s fear, or if the fear of danger is just so strong that it naturally consumes people, it is simply not fair to punish or hate anyone who remotely looks like the members of a specific group of criminals. How is this behavior humane? Is this what “love thy neighbor as thyself” looks like? One bad apple doesn’t make the whole bushel bad. Recognize if you have fallen into the trap of mass- stereotyped vicarious hatred that our world is so accustomed to, then stop…just stop. Oh, and the Stacys of the world, they have some forgiveness work to do. You’ll have to wait for my next blog to learn about my favorite forgiveness techniques.

Category two is a direct result of the lack of self-love. It was 1996 when I first heard the quote: “What you most dislike about someone else is what you most dislike about yourself.” I began to witness that I frequently judged skinny girls. Oh wow! At the time I was in my early 20s and weighed all of 95 lbs. I had been slim all of my life and was teased a lot. Unfortunately, I internalized the teasing and that led to self-judgment which I then projected onto others who fit the same description. At that moment of realization, I began to consciously appreciate, accept and love my body more and more everyday. Not once was anyone else but me responsible for my feelings. I am the only one that needed to change. The skinny girls I hated on didn’t need to gain weight or stay in hiding so no one had to see their bodies. I changed my perception of myself, then my perception of them automatically changed. Homework: become aware of your little judgmental voice. Is that thought a projection of how you see yourself? If yes, accept and embrace that quality about you and every day, love it more.

The third category is also a direct result of the lack of self-love. Any time someone feels inadequate to, intimidated by or jealous of another person, healing needs to happen. Is the issue with the hater or with the target? Always the one with the issue is the one that needs to heal. The hater needs to discover his/her own self-worth. The target does not need to change, be less successful or less beautiful so that others won’t feel insecure around him/her.

With the fourth category, can you see examples in our society where certain groups of people are judged mainly because they are misunderstood? To those that confuse hatred with a lack of knowledge, a lack of experience and a lack of compassion, let me just tell you this. Every single person on this Earth has a personal struggle. Every single person is looking for love, acceptance and safety. Each of us has a least one thing we are really good at and at least one thing we just cannot figure out. At our core we are all the same. However, if we looked alike, spoke the same language or behaved the same way, life would be boring! Our uniqueness needs to be celebrated and honored not hated or shamed. No one is superior to anyone else. If you don’t understand someone’s way of life, ask questions to members of that group or their friends or do some research (preferably from a reliable, unbiased source, not a hate group). Holding onto hatred hurts you, not the target of your feelings. Acting on your ignorance reflects on your personality and hurts those that you are hating on. Social hate affects everybody! The best way to feel compassion for another human being is to put yourself in his shoes. So right now, imagine if everyday you had to live with hatred these examples of hatred. Take a moment to really experience what each one would be like. How would you feel if people called you hurtful names as they walked by you? How would you feel if someone beat you up for being yourself, for living your life out loud, simply expressing your individuality? How would you feel is someone killed your lover because of how you look (same gender, different race or both)? How would you feel if you were constantly being judged by your religious or spiritual beliefs? How would you feel if you were prohibited from visiting certain businesses or using public facilities based on race or sexual preference? You get the point? It doesn’t feel good. So do whatever you need to do to spread love, not hate. Love, understanding and acceptance doesn’t hurt anyone and it’s FREE. On a personal note, I am truly blessed to have friends, acquaintances and clients from all walks of life who show me how we are all the same and how to appreciate our differences. Which came first, the acceptance or the friendships? It’s a circle, no beginning and no ending. My openness to make friends with someone different than me leads to acceptance, which then leads to being more receptive to making friends with all kinds of people.

So this Valentine’s day, I invite you to spread love to everyone! I invite you to not only show love to your friends and family, but also to someone different from you. I invite you to be more open to make friends with (or least being nice to) someone you normally wouldn’t talk to. Hold the door for someone. Say hi to a stranger. Wave at a child. I invite you to love yourself more and more everyday!

With love,

Beverly V Bates

Holistic Wellness Specialist

Certified Holistic Life Coach