Sunday, April 6, 2008

Reiki for Grief

"Knowing is not enough; we must apply.
Willing is not enough; we must do."

- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

April 06, 2008
I traveled recently to Pasadena to take some classes and visit my family. It was a great time in all respects, then I found myself back in the Burbank (Bob Hope) Airport flying north again. Clocks are not abundant in this airport and my first attempt to board was thwarted by a loud buzz, like getting the wrong answer on a game show. “Sorry ma'am, this plane is going to Oakland, you’re headed for Las Vegas, try the next flight!” Huh!? I had reached my gate and the flight was boarding so no wonder I got in line. Thankfully my next attempt to board was welcomed with a resonant *ding* as I handed over my boarding pass.

Knowing I must change planes in Las Vegas, I sat unusually forward in the cabin. Picking the first row with a couple of friendly faces and an open overhead bin. These flights are generally full now and boarding often requires settling for a middle seat between strangers. Friends and family find themselves strung across aisles and in (hopefully) adjacent rows. As the last passengers boarded I noticed a mother-daughter looking pair, eyes reddened and faces blotched, requesting someone exchange seats so they could sit together.

My first thought was someone had died. What else would cause this look of fear and shock? Like the universal symbol for ‘loss of a loved one,’ their eyes spoke volumes to me, the neighboring passengers, and flight attendants.

I chatted briefly with the woman on my window side, returning to Ohio after attending a wedding. She was pleasant and friendly, yet not demanding my attention either. As the plane prepared for take-off, I focused my inner attention on the tearful pair. A girl about 12 or 13 years old and her mother, accompanied by a man seated across the aisle. I pondered the cause of their emotional trauma. The mother chatted often with the man, she could not relax. The girl sat silently, tears streaming down her face. The two held hands tightly.

Once we were in the air, I moved unconsciously toward the edge of my seat, wondering what I might offer this family, and how I could offer it. My seat-mate noticed my unsettled appearance and asked if I needed to go to the restroom. No, I told her, I do massage and healing work and wanted to help these two. I just didn't know how or when I could approach them. They were shell-shocked and fragile.

Just then the girl got up to go to the bathroom accompanied by her mother. 'Ohio-woman' leaned into me and said, “now's your chance!” I may have chickened out of the whole thing, as I have plenty of times before, but now I had another kind heart holding me accountable to my intentions. As the mother stood by her seat awaiting her daughter's return, I introduced myself.

"I don't know what your trauma is, and I don't need to know. I am a massage therapist and energy healer and would like to offer my services to calm you and your daughter and teach you some things you can do to care for yourselves during this difficult time." She told me her daughter's father was dead, but she had not told her yet. (Gulp, an unimaginable burden for a mother to bear.) Once back in her seat, she asked the girl if it would be okay if I did some massage on her and the girl quietly nodded her assent.

Tenderly and with great respect I placed my hands on her head, and began my Reiki therapy (a form of healing energy that is delivered through the palms of the hands, it often provides the recipient with a sense of deep peace). I silently offered prayers for support and healing for this soon to be grief-stricken child.

Across the aisle, another passenger asked me if I was doing Reiki, and I nodded yes. She told me she also knows Reiki and immediately moved in behind the mother and began to offer similar light touches and healing energy. On a Southwest Airlines flight somewhere high above the Mojave Desert, we created sacred space for this family. No one else knew what was going on; the flight attendants seemed relieved that the family was being cared for.

As I try to place meaning to the events of my life, it sure seems like God/Higher Power/Grace placed Leslie (the other Reiki practitioner) and I on that plane, next to this family, to bring them comfort where no comfort is possible, distraction on a flight where minutes felt like hours, and hopefully, tools to get through the coming minutes, hours and days.

That saying about wanting to go to my grave thoroughly used up... this was one of those days that has surely left its mark. J.D.

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