We are stardust, we are golden
We are billion year old carbon
And we got to get ourselves back to the garden
SOMEONE in our road has bought themselves a cockerel. Now, we may have a little wood barely a hundred yards away – and North Leeds is known for being green and well-wilded, but it is, nonetheless, a built-up and urban environment. So it feels distinctly strange to hear this bird cock-a-doodle-doing at all hours of the day (though never at dawn, to my knowledge). Strange, but comforting and calm. He is a distant memory of countryside holidays as a child. A jaunty reminder of haystacks and farmyards. A full-throated connection to all that is green and pleasant and good in my imagination. He was crowing today, when I walked out into my sunny February garden to do a bit of digging and tidying up. And I was pleased to hear him, alongside the busy sparrows that are starting to build their nests in the high hedge by the Reiki Room door.
Escape to Earth
I learned to garden late in my life – was forty before I had my own little patch of land and rambling allotment. The garden came to me at a time of great sadness and loss and it helped me heal, no question. I wrote about it in a memoir – A Handful of Earth – and in a recent blog – The Art of Stillness . The exquisite pleasure of digging the earth, the rich smell of the soil, the sturdy beauty of emerging shoots, of lacy patterned leaves and richly coloured blossoms, filled my senses and restored me to strength, both physical and psychological.
Then, as the years went by, and a new life began to unfold – one of theatre and travel and writing and teaching – the garden retreated in my mind. There is a season for everything: and I was starting a mid-life season in the city. Leeds. London. Paris. Budapest. I had “no time” to garden, and it became, for a while, a place of quiet rebuke. Overgrown hedges. Weedy borders. Pot bound herbs with sorrowful, drooping foliage.
Reiki and Remembering
But over the past couple of years life has changed, once again. A broken shoulder – depleted stocks of energy – and a new inward-turning direction, as I have turned sixty,* has taken me away from all that external adventuring, at least for a while, and has made me quieter… Brought me back to the garden. More specifically, it is Reiki that brings me there. Reminds me. Settles me back, closer to the earth.
For the one thing Reiki does is tune us into our “true selves”. (Reiki master Frans Stiene has written about this in his book “The Inner Heart of Reiki”. See On Books and Being). Embarking on Reiki treatments – and even more so, being attuned and trained as a Reiki practitioner – is deeply calming, but also precipitates great change. It brings us more in line with who we are really meant to be. Shines a quiet light towards our own truth, whatever that might be. And the truth for me is – I am becoming a gardener again.
The Fresh Air Cure
Reiki helps enormously with anxiety and low mood (See Reiki and the Anxious Mind). Warm hands laid on your body, through clothes, in stillness and with kind attention, is immensely reassuring. And it turns our focus towards ourselves: seems to ask the silent question, how can we care for ourselves better, once the Reiki treatment is finished?
One sure way to restore both mood and health, is to be outside. Drinking in some fresh air. Feeling the sun – or wind and rain – on your face. And, if you have a garden, planting something in the ground, as if you are planting yourself back in the earth. Without your own garden to play in, there are still walks to be had, parks to sit in (like our local Roundhay Park, pictured above – and bonny in every season). There are always trees to stroke, and the sky to gaze at.
My T’ai Chi teacher has the tiniest garden, on an inner city road in Brixton, South London. His front yard can be seen from far and wide – the small wall shored up with earth and planted with all manner of abundant green. “If I had no garden”, he told me once, ” I would plant seeds in the palms of my hands.” He was speaking in metaphor – and the image has remained powerful in my mind.
No more so than now: when my own hands flow warm with Reiki – the so-called “universal energy”, accessible to all, if we choose to tune into it – and I find myself not just being guided to work alongside other people, in therapeutic endeavour; but being led back to the garden, too. I feel the urge to enjoy whatever natural resource I can, whenever I can. It’s all there, all around us: earth, sky, water… Crowing cockerels! Food for the soul. And a feast for the senses. A great aliveness in the world around us, in every waking minute.
To book a Reiki session with me go to my Reiki in Leeds page.
*In Japan, home of Reiki, sixty is seen as a particularly significant age. Called kanreki – kan = circle; reki = calendar of years – this age marks the full cycle of the Eastern zodiac calendar. It is a time to celebrate one’s achievements – and to forget life’s troubles. One is said to enter a new stage of life, having thrown off earlier shackles, and bearing now all the joys and possibilities of a newborn.