Planting a new seed
Although I am a passionate gardener, and have been rescued and fed by the earth, body and soul – see Blooming in the Shadows – one thing I have always been bad at, is planting seeds. Somehow, they just don’t want to germinate for me, and my strike rate is poor. So when someone brought me back a precious packet of specialist wildflower seeds, all the way from Canada, my heart missed a beat. I was sure that nothing would come up. But I was wrong. They took their time, but by the end of the summer, I had a little window box full of blooms, of which the yellow beauty pictured above, is the finest example. Result! And 2018 was a blooming year in many respects, with our uncharacteristic English heatwave – and, coming right alongside it, pregnancies among many of my colleagues and friends. Some of them welcome – yet quite unexpected. Nature works in mysterious ways.
Knowing hands, secret bodies
One of the first people to come along to Reiki in Leeds for a hands-on reiki session with me, was a wonderful young musician called Fran Wyburn whom I regularly work alongside, creating classes with writing, movement and music for people living with dementia .She is an energetic and upbeat individual, so I was a little surprised when she dropped asleep almost immediately, as I started to lay my hands on her body. Everything seemed calm and quiet in her, with “lots of space and light”, as she said – except for her abdomen, which was tight as a drum. A little “jumpy”, I put in my notes. And no wonder. There was a lot going on. Although she had no idea, and neither had I, she was in the very early stages of pregnancy. A much wanted baby, yet one she had not expected to manifest quite so soon. But bodies know what they are up to. And her body – and the tiny nascent life within it – certainly seemed to appreciate the gentleness that reiki offers.
The ocean of life
Says Fran, “My whole body relaxed so much, I felt like I was floating and I became very calm. I feel the reiki helped me give into what my body needed. Afterwards I was rejuvenated and felt an enormous release come over me.”
Reiki – like T’ai Chi and Chi Kung – tunes you in to where you are at the time. It soothes – but it also tells the truth. And the truth was, she needed to rest. Never is a female body more busy – except perhaps in labour – than in the first three months of pregnancy. The tiredness, as I remember, 25 years on from my own newly-forming baby, is positively oceanic. And surrender is the best and healthiest option.
From cradle to grave
Reiki has a quiet and special part to play, both at the beginning and at the end of a life. Recently it has been my privilege to visit a friend who is resident in a local hospice. The hospice movement particularly respects reiki for its non-invasive presence. Sitting alongside someone who is in the last stages of their life, either with reiki hands on, or near, their body – or simply sitting still beside them, is a small but tangible gift. A responsibility too. It seems to me that the veil is very fine, between this life, and whatever comes after it; and also – what comes before. The seed. The germination. The flower – and the petals gently falling. The beginning and the end.
The pregnancy challenge
Fran Wyburn, meanwhile, is still very much at the beginning of her particular journey into motherhood. The baby is yet to be born. And let’s not kid ourselves – being pregnant can be tough. Sickness, vomiting, continuing fatigue. At six months pregnant, she had another reiki session with me. She had been having a tough time with persistent nausea. And whilst reiki supports – it never claims to ‘cure’. Still, at least she could have a little respite, and this is what she reports: “It had the same calming, soothing and rejuvenating effects on me. I feel that both times, it has helped my body and mind re-align to the enormous changes that have been occurring inside me. It has given me the space I needed to reconnect with myself – and, the second time, also with my baby – away from all the other things I have been coping with, too.”
Gently does it
When I had my own baby, I was determined to give birth as naturally as possible. It certainly started out that way, but ended up being about as high tech as it could be, barring a caesarean. Suspected breech birth – baby stuck in the birth canal – last minute epidural – lengthy transition from first to final stage – and a ventouse delivery. Plus one very tired and sore mother at the end of it. But with a perfectly healthy baby. Life happens in its own sweet way, and with all the best planning in the world, things can turn out differently than expected.
But I do wonder how things might have been, if I had had the same midwife all the way through my labour – and if that midwife had included reiki in her repertoire.
The very first reiki session I had myself, some years back, was from a friend who was a midwife herself. “Do you give reiki to your labouring mothers?” I asked. “Not officially”, she said, with a twinkle in her eye. Lucky them, lucky them.
One of the pioneers of the gentle birth method, Dr Gowri Motha, is a great advocate of using complementary therapies to assist in pregnancy and in birth. And why ever not? All these graceful and non-invasive techniques – reflexology, ayurveda, cranio- sacral therapy, reiki – can only help and support, both baby and mother. Of reiki itself, Dr Motha writes, in her book the Gentle Birth Method:
“Reiki can be received at any time during pregnancy, as it is so gentle and safe. It is one of the safest treatments you can have in early pregnancy….
“Reiki warms and relaxes the body and facilitates gentle healing by attracting lymphocytes (the immune system cells) to the affected area…It is very common to feel deeply relaxed and even fall asleep during the session.”
Better to do as much sleeping before the birth as possible. As precious little of it will be available, once the baby is born!
Sweet song of self
Soon my musician colleague will be back for another session, as she nears the end of her pregnancy – a pregnancy during which she has been constantly singing and making music, both for work and for pleasure. So one thing’s for sure – this coming baby, however and whenever s/he chooses to make an entrance, has tuned into the deep and nourishing melodies and rhythms of life, right from the very start.
To book a reiki session with me, go to my Reiki in Leeds page on this website. You can find links to my other blogs on reiki there too.
Fran Wyburn’s new album is called Wood for the Trees.
‘The Gentle Birth Method’ by Dr Gowri Motha and Karen Swan MacLeod is published by Harper Collins