Sunday, December 21, 2008

finding a greater place of calm

What do we do when emotions swirl around us? In hospice, we feel emotions of our patients and families, and, at the same time, we feel the stress of our own realities, the stress in our own lives and those of our friends and co-workers, the stress of the regulatory process, the stress of an under funded Health Care system.

There is a major economic recession, Global warming and terrorism. Uncertainty brings fear, fear lapses into anger and we can be drained.

Reiki is not a faith, it does not replace our religion, it is a method to help ourselves, to help our patients, and to project compassion into the world.

While Reiki healing is seen as Spiritual energy coming from our hands, how do we access it? We start by controlling the most basic of functions, our own breathing. By controlling our own breathing we can find within ourselves a place of greater calm. Before we heal, before our Intuition reaches out to feel and touch Spiritual energy, we "ground ourselves" in a place of calm. Mikao Usui taught a method that begins with simple precepts : 1) i will not worry just for today 2) i will not be angry just for today 3) i will be thankful just for today 4) i will try my best just for today and 5) i will give compassion to others just for today.

But the defining moments of hospice sometimes require a different formulation of those precepts. I recall, on a visit to Ireland, talking with our Inn Keeper about the changing weather, and how in Ireland, the changing weather really focused me on "one day at a time." He started laughing and said, "here it isn't one day at a time, its one hour at a time."

And so it can be in Hospice. We can face so many currents of emotions, be buffeted by so much fear and anger, that in helping others and giving them the gift of compassion, we must center and ground ourselves by "slowing down time" - in keeping Usui's precepts in mind we must breath and seek a peace that states: 1) i will not worry just for this moment 2) i will not be angry just for this moment 3) i will be greatful just for this moment 4) i will do my best just for this moment and 5) i will emanate compassion just for this moment.

After 30 years of doing end of life care, what i can reflect on is that, if only in the moment, i can find my place of inner peace and emanate compassion, that, the effort of the moment will not drain me, that, somehow, there will be energy to face the next moment. Helping one patient at a time, one family at a time, one moment at a time.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

hospice uses more than medication

I just sent an email to my Hospice team, responding to a request for sedation for anxiety for a patient with non curable cancer living at home. My team was having difficulty with medication control, and one of my nurses calmed the patient using a Reiki treatment.

I was reminded of a State Survey, where i was defending a nursing home's care of a resident who did not respond well to our pharmacologic approach. Mr Vaughan, Head Nurse of our State's Office of Health Care Quality asked of the nurses and myself, "what non pharmacologic remedies did you try?"

Our Hospice has been using Reiki extensively to help patients as the near what traditionally we calll death and Reiki refers to as "transition." Many non pharmacologic approaches can help, i have found Music therapy very powerful. Sometimes simply a volunteer with a calm and caring human voice and human touch can help.

One wisdom i have learned is that medications such as lorazapam and haloperidol do not take away the fear of the unknown, the fear of death. One of the central tenets of hospice has been our capacity to help patients and families "connect," and to be more comfortable in living the later portions of their lives. Sogyal Rinpoche, a famous Buddhist author, wrote of seeing one of his teacher's near death, who said, " i want every human being not to be afraid of death, or of life; i want every human being to die at peace, and surrounded by the wisest, clearest, and most tender care, and to find the ultimate happiness that can only come from an understanding of the nature of mind and of reality."

We want to relieve pain, absolutely of course, but, in facing anxiety, let us not view that as a symptom to be only medicated. Our patients have a very limited remaining opportunity to come to understanding, to make connection in their own path, to convey love and compassion to the world, and, in addition to medication, we should try other reasonable skills and modalities which we have at our disposal - we should be aware that, in giving a medication we may suppress the anxiety, but also, take away the few precious remaining moments of clarity, in which patients can live in a meaningful way.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

When a soul is transitioning

Friday, May 30, 2008

When a soul is transitioning
A P Sinnett (1840-1921) taught in "Esoteric Buddhism" (1883) that we needed to avoid being drawn to the delight of communicating with the departed unless it serves the benefit of the departed to deal "with some unsatisfied desire".... for the purpose of "smoothing its path of spiritual development." We may argue that if the beloved person is delayed a little on his way to Heaven by talking with us, he or she would be willing to make that sacrifice for our sake. By diverting the (departed) souls attention from its own proper business ....we may be doing it serious harm.'Diverting the departed soul may unintentionally leave it “earthbound”. Sometimes when the pull on this plain is strong enough a soul will not or cannot depart and it ends up stranded. Such theories are not new. We see them in Egyptian tombs where elaborate doors along with possessions and even special paths are carved to assure that the dead find their way from this earth to their destination. Mayans also had elaborate rituals to assure the passage of the dead. In many cultures earth bound spirits were feared, and it was thought that these spirits once bound here became malevolent, seeking revenge on those that kept them here either by intent or by lack of knowledge. In this area we are simply dealing with an unknown. Without knowing fully the implications of such a diversion, it’s important that we then respect the process of transition and while we can help facilitate it, we should not in any way interfere with it.The Reiki practitioner seeking to bring Upekkha Reiki (c) to a person nearing the end of life, should be careful to invoke channeling consistent with the life and visions of the patient. The joy of being a Reiki practitioner should come solely from sharing the moment. Insisting on a soul’s thanks or ongoing recognition or attachment for any reason is not healthy at this time.By Dr. Harold Bob and Robin Littlefeather in collaboration

Reiki form and function

Friday, May 30, 2008

Reiki form and function
Amy Roland's book, "Traditional Reiki," is both important and extremely helpful. One of its many facets is drawing a clear focus to the fact that for traditional Reiki energy, "anyone can do Reiki." While for highly intuitive people, exact method may not seem critical - prior to formally training in Reiki it has been clear to me that with permission, and with contact, i can perceive "switches" and "blocks" and reach Chakras anywhere in the body, from almost any point of contact. Nonetheless, in teaching Reiki, it is critical to use the "proper" and classical positions, because, not everyone is equally intuitive, some students can only learn to do Reiki learning the proper positions and methods, and in the learning stages of dealing with energy, proper grounding is critical.There is something about following form and function that as well allows the person to be anchored as well as proficient. Imagine a person who is learning to play a piano. In order to become proficient, one must first learn the form and function of how to play. One must learn how to read notes, then to sight read. One must also learn the different beats, scales, and various harmonies that go into the mastery of the piano. It is only after learning these basics, and practicing them relentlessly, that one can become a virtuoso. That being said there are some that are born with the innate talent to be a virtuoso. Mozart was five when he created his first symphony. I have no doubt though that even a virtuoso or prodigy still has to adhere to technique. In the same vein Reiki technique sets the foundation for a Practitioner. The stronger the foundation the better the Practitioner. Once this foundation is laid, then this is where intuition can take an ordinary Master Practitioner and turn them into a virtuoso Reiki Master Practitioner.In facilitating Reiki for the dying the importance of proper technique becomes magnified. Imagine a water pipe or conduit, and as water flowed through it, one could vary the quality or pressure of the liquid. In normal flow situations, the pipe would be secure, and could hold the water. When the flow is magnified in this manner the concern would be energy "leakage." Specifically when we speak about leakage, we are talking about fear based energy that affects the Practitioner. Fear can produce adrenaline response along with other disquieting symptoms such as dizziness, faintness, and or a sense of disorientation. While Reiki does no harm in itself, the fears that we have are capable of great harm not so much to the client, but to ourselves. We have to leave this at the door in order to effectively channel Upekkha Reiki ©. It is natural to fear the unknown, and death to some is a fearful concept. However if we can stand aside as channels and vessels of love and light, leaving our preconceptions at the door, then we have the greatest honor, which is to help a soul transition from life to death. The idea is simply being in the moment grounded and without fear. Because of this proper grounding and technique learned in traditional Reiki, becomes more critical when even the most highly intuitive person. In summary channeling Upekkha Reiki © requires a conduit, that has resilience and flexibility. In assessing the strength of a channel, it is not simply "force" that matters, since a "strong" tree can crack and shatter from a hard wind, and a tree that is resilient and flexible may sustain the strongest wind passing through it without harm.Part of what it is so important to learn is that with Reiki for the dying, one really wants to be, needs to be, must be "only a channel." While in traditional Reiki, we are taught to be channels, many wonderful, compassionate, talented and intuitive Practitioners knowingly or unknowingly add something of themselves, or modify the spiritual energy passing through them. Again we want to stress, even modified Reiki will do no harm, and will turn itself off. It is for the best and highest good of the soul seeking healing. However in Upekkha Reiki © we are dealing with dying and death. As this is an intensely personal process to the person dying, we want to make sure we do not in any way hinder the dying process, or the process of transition. Hindrance of this passage could lead to unknown consequences, and this is why this process must be approached with respect, reverence, and as well with all our preconceptions safely at the door. This is why we stress over and over that it is critically important with the high spiritual energy involved in transition, to function solely as a channel, and to resist the temptation to allow energy to stick to us, or to change the energy in any way that is being channeled to the patient.Dr. Harold Bob and Robin Littlefeather in collaboration

Symbols, designs and the meaning of geometric motifs

Monday, June 9, 2008

Symbols, designs, and the meaning of geometric motifs
On my recent time away, i visited la musee de civilization" in Quebec. (Civilization Museum). There was an exhibit that i would like to ask everyone to think about, in terms of spiritual healing. In an exhibit of pottery made by Women in North Africa, there was a focus on the design and meaning of geometric motifs (or symbols) - painted onto the pottery. Reiki, deals in some regard with very specific ancient symbols. When someone has a disease that cannot be cured by Traditional Medicine, there is a long human tradition for Caring when we cannot cure. There is also a long human tradition for reflecting on the nature of the human soul. For all that we have accomplished in Traditional Medicine, we have not moved forward (and in some cases have lost) accumulated wisdom from the human oral tradition. The exhibit commented "geometric motifs that adorn the pieces have endured since the neo-lithic age, and are rooted in magico-religious intentions; self and species preservation; fertility; cult of the dead; and protection against evil." The women making the pottery often do not remember (or will not discuss) the meanings of the motifs. Wikipedia comments on Carl Jung "Jung emphasized the importance of balance and harmony. He cautioned that modern people rely too heavily on science and logic and would benefit from integrating spirituality and appreciation of unconscious realms."Evidenced based medicine is critically important to us, but, in its use we should not give up on our imaginations. This is especially true in Hospice, where evidence based medicine has been certified as unable to cure a patient, and our mission is to provide care when we cannot cure using a "traditional medicine" format.As we find symbols, or "geometric motifs," that are ancient, it is helpful to have an oral tradition that provides us with a structure for viewing the symbols, and for connecting and integrating to our common spiritualities. Reiki is such a format or structure, that connects to Spirituality without attaching to a specific religious or devotional format. It is simply focused on healing and providing compassion.Beyond that, in looking at ancient symbols, we always have our imaginations. The challenges of facing the unknown, being alone, facing fear, and suffering pain have not been abated as yet by the scientific method. When we use our imaginations, we can place ourselves in a state, "as if we were there," in another time and another place. By imagining what that "might be like," we can bring some wisdom back to our own state of current consciousness.By Dr. Harold Bob

Working with Patients

Working with Patients by Dr. Harold Bob
In seeking a Reiki Master/Teacher for myself, I spoke with many Reiki practitioners and Reiki masters who were highly talented in their intuition. It became apparent that in teaching Reiki in the traditional way, teachers sometimes do not deal with the significant differences that occur for highly intuitive people who can channel naturally. Understanding what they can do, and why some things which can be done should not be done, is more important for more intuitive channels. And then again, higher level masters working with spiritual energy can sometimes attain incredible, seemingly miraculous results.In asking patients for permission to work with them and provide Reiki, I also ask prior to starting Upekkha Reiki © about their own spiritual beliefs, or religious orientation. It is critical in end of life to work with the strengths and values of the patient, and zero out the belief structures of the Reiki Practitioner. This is a part of the grounding that must be done in preparation when we facilitate Reiki for the dying.Recently I worked with a patient who was dying, and asked for her permission to perform Reiki for her. I asked her if she had religious training, and it turned out that she was a devout Catholic. As I began to work with her, she experienced intense warmth channeling through my hands, and i assured her it was not coming from me, and asked her if she was experiencing Jesus or Mary, the ascendant beings who she had prayed to her whole life. She closed her eyes, and started speaking - though not to me, "Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen. "There is an Apache tradition that, as human beings enter the world, the Great Spirit chooses their tribe. God chose for me to be Jewish, and that is what I am in my own private moments, and with my family. Yet, when i am a channel for another human being, especially a person near death, i channel only for them - whatever is occurring is not about me - it is only passing through me.Not so long ago, I was at a patient's home, and the patient was dying of Parkinson's disease and dementia. There was no cure that we could use within traditional medicine, the patient's neurologist had told the family he was dying. My task was to make him comfortable, and work with the patient and family in coping with the transition and the loss. The family was very religious and wanted to speak about God, as they passed through "the valley of the shadow of death." As I left, they said to me, "we are so glad we could finally speak with a Dr who is a Christian." I had no need to talk about my own identity in that moment - i was there in service of them, in accord with what Hospice and Chaplaincy and Upekkha Reiki (c) mean at end of life. It is reminescent of the surgeon who saved President Reagan's life (he the surgeon a life long voting Democrat) saying after surgery, "right now we are all Republicans."In working with Jewish patients, respect of Jewish tradition and values is important. A Jewish person may connect directly to God, or through the "bond of Eternal life" with the Patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) and the Matriarchs (Sarah, Rebecca, Leah and Rachel). I (Dr. Bob) have seen Christian Chaplains leave aside their own ministries, and serve instead the ministry of God the Creator, who in her/his wisdom made us each in a different way, and served Jewish tradition. And Islamic and Buddhist values must be respected and valued. The point being, in living the last part of one's life, near "transition," if a Reiki Practitioner can assist in channeling Upekkha Reiki ©, it should be only in accord with the life and values of the consciousness that is evolving on.To be a witness to such a moment, to be allowed to be present, is itself a great and humbling honor. The importance of being a humble channel, of being properly grounded, of having respect for the soul and consciousness who is in transition.

Celebrating Rosh Hashana

Friday, October 3, 2008

Celebrating Rosh Hashana by Dr. Harold Bob
This week Rosh Hashana was celebrated - (understanding that in the Bible prior to Abraham a "year" is not exactly a "year" as we know it) - roughly speaking for Jewish people this was the 5769 th birthday of the world. Every year for me this is a time of reflection, on many subjects.Many of our dilemmas are fundamentally based on linguistic dualities. Right and wrong, good and evil, dark and light - we make much of this, and - more importantly - we use many of these dualities to teach and to learn. So - the fact that Newtonian physics has been shown to "not work" is a sub atomic world (we need "Quantum mechanics") - does not invalidate Newtonian physic for day to day things. Likewise, the points here - are at special times - and - those wisdoms that are important for day to day life still are important. Birth and death though are, from an energy perspective - special times. We focus a lot on morality, integrity and rules - if only we get the rule right we are "good," but - at times - the rules cease to matter. When a child is born - the circumstances surrounding the conception of the child no longer matter - it is correct to view each child that is born as a soul sent into the world by God, and, each child should be viewed for their positive energy and potential. Likewise, as a person approaches death, the "sins" of their life become meaningless. This sounds stunning from the perspective of traditional religion - but - from a Reiki perspective - it is important and quite "normal." As energy of the soul or consciousness transitions from the body to merge with the Spiritual source, we need to assist as we can, but largely - get out of the way and not foment attachments that hold the spirit to the material world.Their is actually, a lot of support for this concept - within traditional religion. A central prayer of Jewish faith quotes from Isaiah, the Angels or Seraphim singing back and forth in Heaven, "Holy Holy Holy is the Lord of Hosts. The whole Earth is filled with his Glory." From the Hebrew here, Glory can truly be understood as the "substance" of God - matter and energy and soul (or consciousness) - those qualities that make up the universe and the people in it - are all part of the substance of God. In a major Rosh Hashana prayer, we recite a list of our sins, and pray for forgiveness. From a Jewish perspective, this prayer is part of the heart of our faith, and no doubt, from a Christian perspective, one can only imagine Jesus of Nazareth reciting this prayer - but - on reciting all the sins (to such a point that we realize that all human beings are sinners - and - we are taught - in Heaven one sin does not have higher standing than another, thus, all mortal beings are sinners) Avinu Malkeinu - or "our father our King" ends "our Father our King, act for your sake if not for our sake. Act for your sake and save us. Act for the sake of Your abundant compassion. Act for the sake of your great, mighty, and awesome Name that is proclaimed upon us. Be gracious with us and answer us, though we, have no worthy deeds; treat us with charity and kindness and save us."There is a Talmud story of Manasseh, son of Hezekiah, who is rumored to be the most sinful man who ever lived. He turned the whole Jewish people to Idolatry. This action was felt worse than his murder of the prophet Isaiah, or his forbidden sexual acts done in the Holy of Holies. When he died, he repented, but the angels closed the gates of heaven to him. God, acted, and opened a new Gate to Heaven - Why? It was to teach the Angels a) not to judge - only God retains the right ot Judge for God contains Mercy that exceeds his attribute of Justice and that b) God forgives all who repent regardless the Sin.Now there - stunningly - are countless Bible stories oft ignored by religious teachers - on this exact topic - and, for day to day life, it is understandable that we teach the lessons of Justice, Integrity and right behavior. However, as a human being approaches death, all these factors become meaningless - no one really "deserves" to suffer, and, God's intent is for human being to improve and evolve their Spirit or Consciousness - And so for the Health Care worker, and especially for the Reiki practitioner, the time near "Transition" or death, is one that requires special training and skill, since, we need especially to be well grounded, check our own egos at the door, assist the soul in transition - and understand that it is not about "us" or about "judgement" (which belongs only to God), but about like birth, a natural phenomenon that we cannot fully understand, that we can only assist, and for which we can ask no thanks. When we cannot "Cure" we can - at the least use Reiki to assist as the Spiritual Energy of a person returns to its source. Spiritual Energy permeates the Earth, "the whole Earth is full of its Glory"

Upekkha Reiki (Reiki for the dying)

Announcing Upekkha Reiki

We observe that the spiritual need at the end of life is of a special vibrational quality and reflect on the special needs of person's near death. In assisting a dying patient we wish to accomplish what Reiki Masters have referred to as "transition," we perceive the capacity to channel energy of a special and pure vibrational quality which we refer to as Upekkha Reiki (c).
Barbara Ray began her book, "The Reiki Factor" (1983) "Every day of your life represents an opportunity for a new beginning. Every breath you take is a rebirth,drawing in a new round of air connecting you to the universal vibrations of that particular moment. Exhaling is a letting go or releasing of what has now become the past, and the new breath again keeps you in the "here now" - the "eternal present".
Yet at the moment of death, or transition, ther is no next heartbeat, no next breath, only what his Holiness the Dalai Lama refers to as the "mind or consciousness" which "comes into being as a result of it's previous instants."
In the Western World, Traditional Medicine is split from Spiritual Healing,both are gifts from the same source, and should be used in a complimentary way, Sogyal Rinpoche writes, (The Tibetan Book of the Living and Dying") "For all it's technological achievements, modern Western society has no real understanding of death or what happens in death or after death...people today are taught to deny death, and taught that it means nothing but annihilation and loss. That means that most of the world either lives in denial of death or in terror of it.
It is in response to this reality, that we in Traditional Medicine who wish to Care when we can not Cure, must be aware of the power of the attunement to Upekkha Reiki (c) and, the assistance we can bring by channeling this specific vibrational energy.Upekkha translates roughly as, Equanimity or "evenness of mind under stress." However it can encompass much more. Ven. Nyanaponika Thera describes equanimity as "perfect unshakable balance of mind rooted in insight." He notes that, "to the degree that we forsake "mine" or "self" Equanimity will enter our hearts. Such is the capacity of Upekkha Reiki (c) to assist the patient near death ("transition"), by channeling Spiritual energy that brings an unshakable calm, and in the stressful time before the severing of the bond between the consciousness and the body, prepares the soul to evolve forward, rather than to be held back by fear.

Near the end of life, the body is often failing and emaciated. While a physician may need to examine the body, in doing Reiki the comfort of the patient and the family in this moment does not require it. As the consciousness is preparing toleave the body, the need to unify all the Chakras is no longer as critical and the opening of the Crown Chakra allows the channeling of Spiritual Energy most useful for Equanimity and for transition. Prior to death we see the bodily functions of the root, second, and third chakras shutting down. With death, the heart ceases beating, and respiratiosn occuring in the chest and through the throat stop.
The Medical Personnel perceive death as occuring at that moment, however, as a final step, the spirit departs the body through the Crown Chakra. The beautiful transition of the Spirit can be perceived by the attuned Reiki Practitioner. Depemding on the grounding and attunement of the Practitioner, this can be an uplifting and beautiful experience, but, it can if faced with fear and without adequate grounding leve perceptions of disorientation and fear.
During this time of transition it is important that the Practitioner remain grounded and in prayers. Revernce and respect for this process is extremely important. by being a facilitator of the transition between life and death, we are stepping out as it were of the realm of life temporarily. In the capacity of facilitator we are in effect holding that person's spiritual handas they transition out of their body.
Deep grounded breathing, staying focused, and remembering to shield our own spirits will be of tantamount importance as we do this. We cannot allow fear to take hold at any point, as fear is simply negative faith. We have what we manifest, and what we want to manifest is peace and the Spiritual Energy of Equanimity. In order to maniest this, we first have to have this same spirit working within and without of ourselves.

Abide with us in healing & wellness...
We offer a symbol that we attune to for the basic level of Upekkha Reiki © that represents our connection to the Universal Spirit, our grounding to Gaia, and the Pwer symbol at both our wrists to allow energy that has entered through our own Crown to pass into the client, but to prevent the passing of invasive energy retrograde into the Reiki Practitioner.
It is important that the flow of energy through our own Chakras be unified, grounded, and without feaqr. We are not ourselves intended to treat or interfere with the transition of the "consciousness", but simply to act as a Channel for the Upekkha © energy which assists in this transition.
While we present our Master symbol it ought not be used without attunement to the Master level of Upekkha Reiki © and the basic level symbol ought not be used without attunement to the basic level of Upekkha Reiki ©.
The Reiki Practitioner who with humility is able to serve in such a momen ti s her/himself vibrationally transformed and will never be the same.
Taught exclusively by Robin Littlefeather and Dr. Harold Bob for the purpose of transitioning from life to death. Copyright 2008 All Rights Reserved