I gave this talk to the Ithaca, NY Summit Chapter of Business Network International on April 16, 2020.
As long as I have been in BNI – almost two years now – I have used the same secret to success: put one foot in front of the other. That sounds sort of … plodding, so what do I mean by that? To answer, I present the difference between a maze and a labyrinth.
A maze is one of those games where you have to wend your way through a complex set of pathways. There is a way out but there are also a lot of dead ends where you can get stuck.
A labyrinth, on the other hand, has one path. That path winds back and forth, around and back until you come out the door you went in. Walking a labyrinth laid out on the ground is calming, meditative. You just keep walking until you have wound your way into the center and then wound your way out again. There is no way to go wrong. The way OUT is THROUGH.
That works well if you are walking a pattern on the ground but what if you were immersed in the labyrinth and could not see outside its limits? Suddenly the game changes. You would not be able to get oriented by anything outside the pattern and making all those 180 degree turns induces confusion and disorientation. Now the danger comes if you stop, because then your brain starts questioning whether you are going in the right direction after all. You turn around, look back, turn around again, try to remember how many times you’ve turned around, and suddenly the labyrinth is multi-dimensional. NOW the way to solve the labyrinth – and this is by design – is to find something in yourself that you didn’t know you had. That is where we are now. We have been flung out of our Ordinary World and into a strange new world where we don’t know the rules and no one else does either.
On Tuesday the New York Times had a video article called “What Disease Are We Treating?” in which doctors speak frankly about how strangely CoVID19 is behaving. “This disease has challenged everything that we believed six weeks ago,” one doctor said. Another said, “I’ve been unable to sleep because I’m trying to wrap my head around it. This goes against anything I’ve ever believed.” And, “It’s just — you have a disease we don’t understand that is very deadly, with patients that are scared and staff that are scared…”
These quotes are a very good description of what it is like to be in a labyrinth that has come to life. They are disoriented by what they are seeing. What has always worked, what they KNOW will work, is now working only SOME of the time. So do they hold the line, work the plan that has always been in place, or revise the plan based on circumstances they don’t even fully understand?
We are all facing some variation of this dilemma. For first responders the stress level is acute. For those of us who can only help by self-isolating and social distancing (we weren’t using terms like this a month ago) it is more a low-grade anxiety that is as debilitating as a low-grade fever. And while we fear the virus and learn the sexy new skills of hand washing, mail quarantineing, and door knob disinfecting, anxiety is taking its quiet toll. Anxiety weakens the body’s immune response, leaving it vulnerable to whatever attack may be mounted on it. Anxiety shuts down the body’s ability to heal. Anxiety leaves us disoriented and confused, subject to mood swings and disturbed sleep.
Reiki is ideally suited to address anxiety. Even if it is just for a short time, Reiki allows the body to take a break and find its own resilience. It is also ideally suited to complement other modalities, supporting the calm that encourages the body to respond to hospital treatments. And it can help smooth the transition from the world we took for granted only a few weeks ago and the new world we can’t imagine right now. For now we are still walking the path in that labyrinth and we don’t even know how far we have gotten.
I can’t put people on a table now, but I can send Reiki remotely. This may seem strange, fantastical, but it works. After all, we accept that our cell phones transmit signals that translate into comunication and we don’t have to understand how they work to use them every day. A Reiki practitioner serves as a kind of transmitter, directing energy to a particular recipient.
For a remote session, I have my client make an appointment, as if they were coming to my office. At the appointed time I call them and we clarify their intention for the session. Then they lie down or sit quietly in a private space. They can light a candle or play music to help quiet their mind but that is not required. Meanwhile I will be in a quiet space as well, focusing on them with the intention of supporting and strengthening. I follow my usual protocol, as though they were there in front of me, visualizing each step as clearly as I can. After about half an hour, I check in with them. Invariably they report responses that are similar to those reported by my office clients. They dropped into a deep quiet or felt a tingling or warmth as they drew the energy in. My hands always pulse just as they do in my office.
Reiki helps with the stressors we are feeling now – the virus itself, our families, sleep disturbances, the weirdness of being cooped up – and I encourage my clients to honor all these feelings and not to struggle against them. We do not know how long this will go on but we do know that even when it is by some definition ‘over’ our lives and the lives around us will not be the same. So for now we can only be as present and vibrant as we can be every day and Reiki supports that, too.
We will survive this and we will emerge from our labyrinths changed by our experiences. The way out is through. Just put one foot in front of the other.