Caring for the Caregiver

Self-care and treating

One of the useful things about Reiki is that when the practitioner is channeling energy for healing, it isn’t their personal energy being

Liber Divinorum Operum - Hildegard von Bingen

Liber Divinorum Operum – Hildegard von Bingen

used it is energy that is being brought in from the surrounding environment. That “universal life force” which is talked about so much with Reiki.

Because you aren’t using personal energy, and aren’t depleting reserves, this means that you can theoretically treat yourself. And for the most part, this holds true. Self-treatments and meditations are an integral part of a Reiki practice.

There are times however when self-treatment isn’t the most appropriate course of action. It is at these times that even the most skilled of Energy Healers will seek out healing from another skilled practitioner.

Healers are lousy about seeking help for themselves.

Doesn’t matter what kind of healing work they do. Mainstream or alternative, I have yet to speak to a Healer who could tell me they have no problem in seeking help from another when they need it. “Oh, I know I should see someone, but…” The excuses are as varied as the people, but the underlying reason is remarkably similar across the board.

How can I call myself a good Healer is I can’t heal myself? People will think I am not any good at what I do if I have to ask for help.

Letting go of Ego

It’s preached over and over again, but can be the most difficult part of doing healing work. The practitioner needs to let go of the urge and need to control outcomes. As a channel for healing, we provide a flow of energy which the recipient uses for healing. Some describe this as being a straw or a hollow bone. In no ways does this detract from the importance of the Healer in the healing equation. Just try sucking up your soft drink without a straw sometime and you’ll know why the straw is needed even if it is only there “to allow for a flow of liquid from cup to mouth”.

Even so, when doing healing work we need to be able to let go of the need to control the outcome. We need to try to maintain a level of detachment and we need to keep our own Ego out of the equation as much as possible.

Even the most skilled practitioner can sometimes find it difficult to let go of Ego when working on others, especially when doing healing work for family or friends. It can be downright impossible when doing healing work for the self.

And the more intense or deep the healing work needs doing, the more difficult it can be to let go of the urge to direct outcomes.

My personal healing work

While I don’t speak of them much over the past decade I have been contending with my own personal emotional and physical health problems.

There is an idea in some circles that if one uses or practices an alternative form of healing this means foregoing all types of allopathic medicine. Nothing could be further from the truth.

There is absolutely no reason why allopathic and alternative medicines cannot complement each other. We see this is some hospice and cancer units where nurses trained in Reiki provide Reiki treatments as well as standard medicines and nursing care. We see it in mental health units where shamanic work is being used along side standard therapies to help those dealing with depression and PTSD and other mental health issues.

medicine catThere are some disorders I have which I need to take medicines for each and every day. Not to bring me to a state of “normality” but in order to function as a person. Not taking anti-depressants and anti-arthritic pharmaceutical medications is not an option for me.

Even so, I complement those therapies with self-healing work, and also by seeing other Healers on occasion. Like many other Healers I am very good at telling others they should seek out help when they need it, and lousy at actually following that advice for myself.

The past few months when I have gone to my Healing Guides to ask them what work I need to do now, they have told me there are a few things I need to do.

I need to practice being “inside” my body. Not doing, just being. Because of childhood abuse and trauma combined with some sensory processing difficulties associated with being autistic, I don’t spend a lot of time being mentally present inside my own body. On the one hand, this does help me to cope better with chronic pain, on the other hand, it leaves me a lot of the time feeling out of sync with my physical self and uncoordianted. Imagine going through life with your physical body in one space and your emotional and mental body being about 2 inches to the left. That’s what much of my life has been like for me.

I need to learn to listen to my body’s needs. Again, for all the reasons above I find it very difficult to hear the internal messages that my body is sending to me. Simple things like “am I hungry, am I thirsty, do I need to go pee?” I find it difficult to hear these messages until my body is practically screaming, and I am busting my bladder trying to get to a toilet!

I need to undergo a warrior’s healing. I describe to my therapist a huge back hole of crap that I can sense inside my gut, an accumulation of many years of abuses. I’ve no idea what is in there, but I know it needs to leave. I also know that I can’t just have someone yank that hugs ball of darkness out of me without having something else there to fill in the resulting space. Otherwise, at best I will be left feeling incomplete and empty inside, and at worst something even worse may move in to take up that space. I am a healer, but with all that I have battled my way through (successfully) over the years I am also a warrior. Hence the need for a warriors healing.

So, what am I doing to help heal myself?

I take the medications I need which make it possible for me to function on a daily basis. Anti-depressants keep my mood stabilised so that I can get out of bed each and every day and face the world. Anti-arthritics help to minimise the damage from rheumatoid arthritis on my joints, so that I am not in so much pain I can’t function every day. Plus, anyone who has chronic pain will know just how wearing that can be on you emotionally and physically.

I see a therapist weekly, and I am working on being as honest as possible with her (and with myself).

I’ve just started taking a Tai Chi class. This is a new venture in doing physical bodywork to help me learn to recognise what it is like to be physically present within my own skin. I have found that many physical activities recommended to help in being present don’t work for me. I’ll zone out and be soaring way out in the upper reaches.

I’m taking a few minutes several times a day to just check in with various internal bits. Do I have pain anywhere? Do I need to go pee? Am I thirsty? I may or may not choose to act upon that information, but I am at the least checking.

I am honouring my need for solitude. I tend to be somewhat of a recluse. I can easily go days not talking to anyone in person except my sons. I also spend a lot of time working alone (while in public) on my writing. The only regular socialising I do outside of immediate family is through a knitting group I meet with twice a week. 3 hours, twice a week, is more than enough time spent conversing with other people. I was asked a couple months back, do you get bored or lonely? No, I don’t.

Over time, I may add or subtract things from this list, but these are what I am doing right now as part of my healing work.

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