When receiving a gift, a friend of mine would quip, the Universe loves presence.
I have a regular client who took the time out of her busy schedule to see me in person for a reading—she usually does phone readings. As we worked toward trying to find her answers, it became increasingly apparent that she needed more time for herself. She was raising three kids, working full time, managing the household, and her husband worked full time. She said that the only time she had to herself was her commute home. This was unknown territory for me since I’ve always had time for doing the things that I love. She said she couldn’t even take 5 minutes to try to meditate or light a candle. I was truly stumped as to how to help her. So I came up with a variety of ways to find presence in less than a minute a day.
1. Reiki Precepts
For Today Only:
Do not Anger
Do not Worry
Be Honest in your Work
Be Compassionate to Yourself and Others
This is the practice that I use every day. Hyakuten Inamoto, one of my Reiki teachers, says that to increase your energy you need a spiritual practice and that the precepts are the spiritual practice in Reiki. The principles are simple, but difficult to achieve on a daily basis. But the more we bring our awareness to these things the more we can let go of anger and worry, stay in a place of humbleness and gratitude, engage with life from a place of truth, and forgive ourselves and others when we fail in these goals.
Because it’s just for today, it takes off some of the pressure, and also brings us into the moment—just right now, this one time, can I let go of this anger or worry? Learning to be in the moment is one of the most important steps toward anshin ritsumei, deep inner personal peace that approaches enlightenment.
Learn more about the precepts, including hearing them said in Japanese, at the International House of Reiki or by Hyakuten Inamoto.
I Love You, I’m Sorry, Please Forgive Me, Thank You
I learned this simple technique a few years ago from a friend. It’s an ancient Hawaiian practice that seeks healing by confessing and asking for forgiveness for errors that we have made. To me the process is very powerful and simple, invoking connection through relationship, the responsibility of confession, asking for forgiveness, and expressing gratitude.
3. Ave Maria (Hail Mary)
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
I learned this at an aunt’s funeral when I was a kid. A bunch of us sat in a chapel and said these words over and over for what seemed like hours! I never knew praying could be so utterly tedious and boring. But somehow, despite my lack of appreciation or understanding, the words took hold of me and got into me.
I was driving to work a few years ago and got cut off in traffic by someone with a bumper sticker that said “Pray the Rosary.” Luckily I was a Reiki practitioner by this time and could let go of anger! And I realized that praying the rosary was not a bad suggestion. I started doing the rosary while driving, counting out my Hail Marys with my fingers on the steering wheel and doing an Our Father for every ten Hail Marys. Traffic problems disappeared (a great side effect of meditating while driving). More than that, I eventually began to feel a very close personal relationship to Mary the Mother of God.
I think one of the benefits of religion that gets lost in more universal (and generalized) spiritual practices is the one-to-one connection that we can experience with a specific aspect of the Divine.
4. Metta Bhavana
May I be well, May I be happy, May I be free from suffering
One day I noticed that my Insight Timer had a link for guided meditations. I looked through the featured ones and found a meditation for cultivating lovingkindness (metta bhavana) by Scottish Buddhist monk Bodhipaksa. I had learned the practice a few years previously and was glad to be reminded of it. I had often tried to recommend the practice to friends, but had forgotten what it was called!
Metta bhavana or cultivating lovingkindness is a Buddhist practice done in five stages. First, we cultivate kindness towards ourselves, repeating the phrase “May I be well, May I be happy, May I be free from suffering” for several minutes. Next we do the practice for a person we feel affection toward, repeating “May you be well, May you be happy, May you be free from suffering” for a few minutes. We continue, saying the words for a person we have neutral feelings toward, then to a person with have difficulty with, and finally we send lovingkindness to the whole world. I think too often people want to jump right in to healing the whole world, but this is a wonderful reminder that we must always start with ourselves. His Holiness the Dalai Lama said, “We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.”
This practice is simple and effective. Regular use can allow us to call up a feeling of compassion for ourselves or another just by saying this simple phrase.
I’m a huge fan of using symbols, glyphs, sigils, ideograms, pictograms or any kind of simple and meaningful character that can be drawn on paper or traced in the air. One of the initial things that drew me to Reiki was learning that it incorporated symbols.
One of the first symbols I learned was the Neo-pagan pentagram for invoking or banishing energy. Drawing the invoking version of the symbol can bring in positive energy or set up a field of protection. Using the banishing symbol will clear and release negative energy, also creating a space of safety and protection. Symbols can be drawn with the hand in the air or written on paper and placed in appropriate spots. It can be fun to develop your own!
Japanese Reiki practitioners place their hands in gasshô, or prayer position, before and after meditating. This anchors the energy of the meditation so that it can be recalled immediately upon doing the gesture at any time during the day. Many spiritual practices have small but important gestures that can be done to return the mind to the Divine.
7. Saying Grace Before A Meal
Giving thanks before a meal is universal to all cultures. Whether you say grace, Reiki your food, thank your host, take a moment of silence to be aware of your body and how this food is about to fulfill its needs, or participate in any of a multitude of other family or cultural practices, you are spending time in presence and gratitude.
8. Being in Nature
When I worked a full time job as an admin assistant up near Genesee Park, the first thing I noticed on arriving at work, as I opened my car door, was the amazing scent of pine.
It was a lovely location. Every day at the final stage of the long commute, as I crested the hill on I70 and the mountain vista opened before me, I would think, I am so lucky that I live here in Colorado and that this is my view on the way to work.
In the summer I occasionally would drive up to a wooded area and sit outside to eat my lunch. Unfortunately, I didn’t always have time for this and the weather was not always cooperative.
But one thing that had to be done every day, rain, snow or shine, was the mail. I loved the chance to take the mail out to the mailbox every day at 3 pm. I would walk outside and through the parking lot to the mail box, deposit the mail, and usually circle around the upper part of the parking lot just to get a few more steps in. This only took a few minutes, but it had to be done and it was so pleasant to be outside.
Taking just a minute or two to find pleasure in your daily routines can have an enormous impact on your well-being.
9. Personal Affirmations
Affirmations are a short phrase or sentence that is said in the first person, is positive, and is stated as if already accomplished, and something that you can readily believe. I don’t use affirmations a lot, but when I do, I focus on something that is already true for me, so that I don’t ever have any experience of fleeting disbelief when I say the affirmation. Years ago I was a regular participant in a monthly qabalistic meditation group, we always did an affirmation practice as part of the cycle of prayers, poems, and spiritual texts the leader provided for us. He liked to use the affirmation “I love my friends and my friends love me.” That always made me smile!
10. Gratitude Practice
I don’t practice this one in this manner per se, but I have observed a lot of friends on Facebook taking a moment every day to post the things that they are grateful for at the end of the day. This can be done as a practice you share, like posting on social media, or can be done privately in a journal before you go to bed (or first thing when you wake up, to commemorate the previous day, if you’re too tired at night). Examples would be, “Today I am grateful for my family and friends.” “Today I am grateful I had time to accomplish an important task.” “Today I am grateful I watched the sunset.”
Scents are very powerful memory triggers. In many ways our society is over-perfumed and a lot of people have sensitivities to scents, but if you’re one of the lucky ones who don’t, then you can shift your state of consciousness almost immediately with incense, smudge or essential oils. I mix up a simple room spray with water and rosemary oil that I use in my office to clear the energy of the room, either when I arrive in the morning or between clients. I also occasionally burn sage that was gifted to me by a friend.
We are constantly inundated with noise: non-stop talking, music, TV, traffic. Even in our cars, we have the radio playing or our iPod hooked up. Taking a moment every day for complete silence is a powerful technique for connecting with your own inner truth.
It is important to note that any experienced practitioner of any of these practices—myself included—would only very hesitantly advise using these techniques out of context of a daily spiritual practice. Even as I write some of these down, I can hear in my mind George Costanza’s father, played by Jerry Stiller in the TV sitcom Seinfeld, screaming “Serenity Now!” while his blood pressure shoots through his ears.
The benefit of using one of these at a moment’s notice is in many ways due to the experience of using them as part of a longer meditative practice. The short phrase or action shown above simply brings the practitioner back to the regularly repeated ritual of finding stillness and connection.
If someone were to try to do one of these practices out of that context– if, for example, that person waited until the completely obnoxious co-worker started in with the harassment again and then suddenly tried to use the H’oponopono or the Metta Bhavana—there’s a good chance this misapplication would actually connect the practice to the feeling of stress, anger, or frustration felt at that moment. Frank Costanza’s affirmation only served to compound the problem.
But there are moments for each of us, every day, when we feel relaxed, happy, comfortable, present. At this time, if you can take one minute to put your hands together in gasshô, say one of these simple prayers, or engage in one of these short techniques, you will anchor this pleasant emotional state to the practice. Eventually, you will find that it is easy enough to do this practice two or three times a day (such as remembering to say grace before each meal). As it becomes more of a ritual for you, then these practices gain in power and can be used when you are in a state of imbalance to return you to balance.
How do you find presence in the midst of daily chaos? And what presents do you find in it?
Joy Vernon specializes in Traditional Japanese Reiki and is a certified Komyo Reiki Shihan (Teacher). She studied with Komyo Reiki Kai Founder Hyakuten Inamoto in 2011 and 2013. She is also a Reiki Practitioner and Teacher in the Usui Reiki Ryôhô lineage through IHR. Joy was first trained in Usui Shiki Ryôhô/Usui Tibetan Reiki in 2003. She is the Organizer of the Denver Traditional Reiki Meetup and is a member of Shibumi International Reiki Association and the Healing Touch Professional Association. Joy is also a Certified Professional Tarot Reader. Learn more at JoyVernon.com.
© 2014 by Joy Vernon. All rights reserved.