The Healing Power of Reiki

As a practicing psychotherapist and Reiki Master, I am often asked, “What is Reiki? Why should I try it?” Reiki (pronounced RAY-kee) has been gaining popularity and recognition as a versatile energy healing method over the past few decades. From the Japanese words Rei (meaning higher intelligence, Source, or spirit) and Ki (meaning life-force energy), Reiki is spiritually-guided life force energy. Because so much of what we struggle with and experience in our lives is energetic, or below our conscious understanding, I love to practice Reiki and offer it to my clients.

Reiki energy is highly beneficial to everyone, for both emotional and physical healing; because Reiki energy will go where it is needed, it is available to the conscious and unconscious mind, the soul or spirit, the physical body, and the energetic body (also known as the aura, or human energy field). There are very few healing modalities that are so universally helpful!

Are you interested in scheduling a Reiki session? If you’re curious but unsure, consider the following potential benefits of Reiki:

Relaxation. The number one benefit of a Reiki treatment is the deep relaxation that occurs while you are on the table. Reiki energy is often described as a warm, pulsating, tingling, or soothing sensation. It is my belief that our beings (mind/body/spirit) actually crave this energy, as our systems are built to move toward homeostasis, or balance. Too often, we leave no time in our busy schedules to relax, and what passes for relaxation or reward (TV, rich foods, alcohol) is not always what our bodies need. Giving yourself the gift of a Reiki treatment is providing your whole system a dedicated time to receive healing energy, with no need to do anything else.

Reawakening. Reiki energy is a clear channel, a gateway to the spiritual dimension, which can have a profound healing impact all its own. Many clients reports feeling as though they are ‘floating,’ leaving their bodies, or as one client put it, ‘entering the cosmic waiting room.’ Some have reported feeling very close to God (however they define that presence/experience), or seeing spiritual guides or gurus. Others describe waves of color or light, similar to a lava lamp. Regardless, having a mystical experience during a Reiki treatment is almost universal. Reawakening to the knowledge that they are spiritual beings is often the biggest thing that clients take away from a session.

Release. Within the holistic framework of energy psychology, it is understood that when we experience distress, dysfunction, or disease, there is always an energetic component to the issue. By intentionally allowing Reiki energy to move throughout the physical and auric bodies, places of stuck or blocked energy can begin to release. You may experience this as a physical sensation (a whoosh, as I like to call it), a noticeable decrease in tension, a twitch or tic of the muscles, or just a deepening of relaxation. Energetic release is a core part of healing from trauma, emotional distress, and other chronic conditions.

Relief. An additional benefit of releasing is the relief that comes as a result. Relief is subjective, of course, but is often experienced as decreased stress, tension or pain, increased energy or movement, or a sense of calm and serenity. While Reiki does not treat or cure any ailments or disease, it is often foundational in preparing the body to heal through medical intervention. Distracted by our daily lives, we usually don’t realize how much pain and tension we’re carrying in our bodies until we experience this welcome sense of relief.

Are you ready to see what Reiki has to offer you? Make an appointment today!

2014: Cracking the Heart Wide Open

Some of the most beautiful and profound experiences of my life occurred in 2014. As I sit in reflection, letting memories and moments float up organically, the impact of said experiences grows and grows…until I find myself literally grounded, on my knees, in awe and humility. This year…wow.

‘Humility’ is not merely the art or the act of being humble…as that word too often implies weakness, smallness, or insignificance. To me, it has come to mean the embodiment of grace…the recognition that I am both tiny and infinite at once. It is being awash in a pool of gratitude so deep that it surpasses any words to describe it. In this sense, it is humility that cracks the heart wide open.

I have changed so much, even in the past six months, that it’s difficult to remember the barriers I had constructed around myself. I peer at their odd details, their remnants, and struggle to recall why they were there to begin with. It’s hard to remember the fear I had, the resistance to my own inner voice. I knew that Hypnotherapy training was the next step in my career as a psychotherapist (and coming to that knowledge was a journey in and of itself)…but for months, I felt stuck. I was learning the way, I was given the tools…but I simply couldn’t make myself DO it. Why wasn’t I ready? If I had to wager a guess…I didn’t believe I had the right to be powerful. I didn’t think I could really be a healer. And my own lifelong fight for authenticity (usually manifesting as perfectionism) made me doubt. I wasn’t sure I could facilitate my own healing, let alone the deep spiritual journey of another human being. Talk therapy is one thing; hypnotherapy, regression, energy medicine and soul work is another realm entirely.

I believe it now. I believe in myself. I believe in this work.

What brings me to tears are the memories of my sessions with clients, colleagues, and friends this year…the profound effect of witnessing another’s spiritual journey: the healing of old wounds, the remembering, the awakening. The relief and the comfort of meeting a wise adult, of feeling ushered and guided through life, of realizing I was never alone. The amazement of encountering a higher power, a force that shows up in a virtual kaleidoscope of forms. The immeasurable joy of learning to comfort your own inner child, to heal wounds you never believed could heal, to reconstruct the origin of false beliefs, and reclaim the self as whole and pure. And that is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg…

We are all, as flawed and embodied beings, under the illusion that we are separate, that we are bad, that we are alone. Heart-Centered Hypnotherapy® offers the opportunity to burst through this illusion and, yes, touch the stars. Burrow into the womb of the earth. Revisit our past and create new decisions about who we are and what we are meant to be in this life. Within the sacred space of Trance, anything and everything is possible.

For those who have already trusted me to be your guide, to accompany you on the journey to your highest self…my deepest thanks to you. To my teachers, my mentors, and my tribe, who continually challenge me to open, release, and BE…I cannot express in words how you have changed my life. To those of you who have yet to decide if this work may be meaningful or right for you…thank you for landing on this page. Thank you for your curiosity and your questions. I firmly believe this work is for everyone…that there is no one who can’t benefit from connecting deeply with their own soul. But ultimately, that is for you to decide for yourself.

Wishing you joy, healing, fulfillment, and peace in 2015. Oh, the places we’ll go…!

New group starting this fall!

I’ve been doing a lot of additional training this year in “alternative” forms of treatment, primarily based in Energy Psychology. I’ve decided to start a group for clients interested in exploring some of these modalities, and all that they have to offer in terms of healing trauma and enhancing our mental health and well-being. I’m very excited about sharing these powerful techniques with a wider audience!

If you are interested in registering, please contact me at cassie.salewske@gmail.com or 206-595-8621.

Tools for Healing flyer snip

If Pining had a Purpose…

One of the biggest topics in therapy is also one of the biggest topics in life: relationships. Love, to be more specific. The amount of time we spend analyzing, pondering, ruminating, obsessing, fantasizing, and reflecting on this topic is staggering. If our romantic pining could be measured in physical reality, I’m sure we could each circle the globe several times over.

Why do we do this to ourselves? While there is no simple answer to this question, I believe it has a lot to do with our need for connection. We are meant to be in relationship…not just romantic partnerships, but all kinds of relationship. And when a connection isn’t there, or love is unrequited? Well, that energy has to go somewhere. Thus, we pine, we yearn, we wait…for someone or something outside of ourselves to fill that void. In many ways, it seems the pursuit of connection takes the place of the real connection.

In this state of love-limbo, it is easy to feel as though your heart is no longer your own. It can seem as though the reins of Love have been given to the object of your affection…but it occurs to me that this is a dangerous thing to say. The human heart is an amazing source of personal power, energy, and connection. How interesting that the common vernacular around romance always includes ‘giving our hearts away’…when it seems that is really the last thing we should do.

For all of us, but for women in particular, there is an expectation that we will regularly give of ourselves without expecting much in return. We are conditioned to believe that the more we give out, the more we will receive…and in an energetic, “Law of Attraction” kind of way, that is true. But what if we keep giving, pursuing, and pining, with no return? When is enough, enough?

I can’t help but wonder how much this focus on the love object, the Other, is really a misplaced longing for connection to spirit. We want to bond, we long for intimacy and understanding…and we forget that our hearts are already pre-filled with love. Our heart is our connection to spirit…or at the very least, that is how we most directly experience it. Asked to describe what joy or love or happiness feels like in the body, most of us will point to our chests, saying “It feels like my heart is going to burst,” or “I feel light and tingly,” or “My chest feels warm and expansive.” Our heart center is our emotional compass…but too often, we forget that we already know the way.

A few months ago, I had a revelation in the middle of the night. I’d been feeling blocked, scared to move forward with some huge personal and professional changes. I’d also been spending a lot of time in the fantasy portion of my head, struggling to create a relationship from crickets and crumbs. Something shifted in me that night, causing me to close that metaphorical door and decide to move on. Within an hour, I noticed I was feeling restless. My chest felt hot to the touch, and my thoughts were jumbled and racing…which was distressing, until I realized I was experiencing a rush of creative energy. I was having ideas again, my heart felt full, and I was excited. Could it be that I had spent so much time imagining the possible-maybe-someday occasion when I would get to start to connect and love openly, that I didn’t realize I was already, inherently, able to do so? Yikes. Instantly, I knew it was so.

Like most people, my ideal life is one where I have it all…love, companionship, intimacy, creativity, friendship, community, purpose, deep spiritual meaning and connection…and great coffee! But in the interim, in the absence of ‘all of the above,’ it is important to remember that we are not empty. Something is not necessarily missing. Pining is a sign that we have forgotten who we are, believing we need romantic validation from someone else in order to feel whole. I can see now that my heart has always been mine…a lesson learned, paradoxically, by falsely believing I had given it away.

New Year’s Absolutions

The interwebs are positively buzzing at the beginning of a new year, both encouraging us to set ‘resolutions,’ and simultaneously telling us we’re doing it wrong. Beware the Ides of January, folks…as it only takes most people a couple weeks to give up on their new year’s resolutions. This is, of course, according to the internet…the truest source of truth (ahem).

I’ve written myself a set of resolutions many times over…some years, my list has been lofty, idealized, and almost silly (complete with hearts and smiley-faces). Other years, I’ve tried to be realistic and pragmatic. Most recently, I’ve foregone lists for a ‘Vision Board,’ which appeals more to my creative side, and focuses on positive intentions for the coming year.

In looking at the types of things I’ve resolved for myself in the past, it occurs to me that they all presuppose that something is missing or wrong in my life. Why else would I want to lose weight, get healthier, fall in love, travel, save more money, pay off debt? These are all positive things, in theory, but the fact that I’ve written them down year after year means I never feel as though I have achieved them. I’m forever “not there yet,” which can easily become “not good enough.”

That doesn’t seem like a great way to start anything, let alone the next twelve months of my life.

Don’t get me wrong: I love words. Words are powerful, not only in how we communicate with each other, but in how we narrate our own experience. But ‘resolve’ has an air of drudgery about it, no? And ‘resolution’ is no better…at the new year, it is used to describe our goals, and even more so, our determination to stick to them. But most commonly, we use the word ‘resolution’ to depict a solution to a problem. We use it to describe a legal process or decision. We use it in mathematics and measurement. Resolution is a way of describing the quality of our digital images and television screens.

Is that really the best framework for pausing and reflecting upon our lives at the beginning of a new year? If so, let’s just simplify our list to the following:

1. Solve all problems that I haven’t figured out how to solve yet.

2. Do everything I haven’t gotten around to yet.

3. Measure up to whatever/whomever I’m comparing myself to.

I have a suggestion. Let’s try out a new paradigm in 2014. How about we absolve instead of resolve? This year, how about we let ourselves off the hook? When we look at our lives through a lens of absolution, we free ourselves from guilt, blame, and punishment. We forgive ourselves for our mistakes, our unmet goals, our lapses in judgment, our messed-up priorities, and our own human fallacies.

I admit…to absolve instead of resolve seems a little harder, doesn’t it? To me, that is a reflection of its importance…to do what is right is seldom easy. The real work often lies below the surface; for example, I want to lose weight this year. But more importantly, I need to learn to love and accept myself as I am, and stop obsessing about my appearance. If I am able to absolve myself of the shame and self-punishment that surrounds my weight…I’m pretty certain that “lose weight” will no longer appear on my list, come January 1st of next year.

So let’s try it, shall we? I propose the following New Year’s Absolutions for all:

1. I forgive myself for (this mistake), (that character flaw) and/or (these imperfections).

2. I also forgive (so-and-so) for (grr-that-was-terrible) and/or (that hurt my feelings).

3. I will no longer make decisions or set goals out of guilt.

4. I will stop punishing myself for (unmet goal), (past loss/trauma), and/or (regrettable decision).

5. I will love myself as I am, and love others as they are.

Happy New Year!

 

 

8 Reasons to Get Some Therapy

(Because really…I think everybody needs it)

1. Nobody is normal. Seriously. Normal is a myth that is meant to make you feel bad about yourself. A therapist has actually studied human behavior, and can routinely remind you that ‘normal’ doesn’t exist. We are all operating as if the rulebook of whatever dominant culture(s) we belong to is sacrosanct, and that is simply not true. While certain trends and patterns in human behavior are indisputable, we burden ourselves tremendously by constantly comparing ourselves to others. Our level of happiness or contentment depends upon how readily we embrace our own uniqueness, flaws and all.

2. Everybody is crazy. At some point, everyone has done something crazy, or something offensive, regrettable, mean, stupid, reprehensible, illegal, or indicative of one or more mental disorders. Everyone has felt depressed or anxious, or unable to sleep or function or care, at various times in their life. That’s because as humans, we are supposed to be imperfect, flawed, and messy. We all have a freak-flag to fly in some form or another. Therapy is not just for ‘crazy’ people…it is for people who want to grow. And growth is essential for a meaningful life.

3. Pain is inevitable. It’s going to happen. And it is incredibly helpful to have someone to talk to about it. Therapy provides a framework for identifying and processing the terribly uncomfortable emotions that no one wants to feel…but that all of us must learn to manage. To consistently rely upon negative coping mechanisms (denial, avoidance, escape, addiction, to name a few) is to condemn yourself to suffering…or at minimum, being one of those people who wonders ‘Why is this always happening to me?’ As the common denominator, no one can answer that but you. You will not be able to avoid pain in your life…but hopefully, with professional support, you can avoid suffering.

4. Talking feels good. We are verbal, social, emotional creatures. We want to be seen and we want to be known. Many people go through life never knowing what it feels like to have someone really understand them. Hopefully, that is not you…but regardless how much love and support you have in your life, telling your story is cathartic. To say things out loud is powerful. Gaining insight into something from your past, realizing how you’ve grown or matured…these rewards are a product of storytelling. Therapy is an affirming reminder that ultimately, you are the author and creator of your own story.

5. Spare your friends. Another benefit of therapy is getting the objective viewpoint of someone who isn’t a stakeholder in your life. This is not to say that your friends don’t care, or your friends shouldn’t listen to you. By all means, your support system is essential. But your friends are not impartial witnesses to your feelings and your experiences…they care about what you do, and often, their ‘stuff’ gets mixed up in yours. Some may disagree, but I think even friendships have limits. Keeping some of your deepest, darkest details out of your friendships can actually make them better. Let your friends be your friends and your therapist be your therapist.

6. Bootstraps are for boots. And that’s it. We are not designed to pick ourselves up, figure out problems, untangle our dysfunctional family systems, or become successful and healthy on our own. We need help, and we need each other. It is perfectly okay that you cannot figure things out on your own, despite what you may have been taught. Asking for help is not shameful or weak…asking for help is brave. It is a step toward wholeness.

7. Go, Fight, Win! Your therapist (ideally) should challenge, question, push, and poke at you…but it should be in the context of a safe and supportive environment. When we are attempting to change an ingrained pattern or get through a rough patch in our lives, we need a cheerleader. We need to be inspired and encouraged. This is an integral part of the therapeutic process. When life is getting you down, your therapist is a person who holds a space for hope, and tells you it is going to be okay. And you know what? It will.

8. A Mechanic for your Life. Therapy is like a garage filled with tools for you to use in whatever way you need…is it a tune-up, or a complete engine overhaul? The versatility of therapy is something that makes it a universally helpful service. Many people find themselves overwhelmed by a current stressor, situation, or loss; they benefit from having short-term, intensive therapy for a few months or a year. Once they have adjusted, they are able to move on. For many others, having a lasting therapeutic relationship is what they truly want. As with other long-term relationships, having someone who has seen you through the good and the bad, watched you grow, and helped you through a range of life events is priceless. It is impossible to have that relationship without investing the time and commitment it needs. The same is true for your life. Therapy itself allows for multiple uses and experiences, but at its core, it is an investment you make in yourself.

Are you ready to see how therapy can help you? Contact me today!

Don’t live in Seattle? I recommend the following online therapist directories:

www.psychologytoday.com

www.goodtherapy.org

www.openpathcollective.org

Putting the Thanks in Thanksgiving

As soon as Halloween was over this year (and in fact, a few days before), the stores filled with Christmas. Decorations, wrapping, gifts, lights, cards, trees, ornaments…you name it, and it was filling the aisles. Although I am accustomed to the hype and commercialism of our retail culture, it is starting to feel as though Thanksgiving is being overlooked. These days, it seems like Thanksgiving is treated as the starting line for the Christmas shopping race, and not much more than that.

This makes me rather sad…not just because I love to cook, or because Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It makes me sad to think that our culture gives no more than a cursory nod to Thanksgiving, as we mow it down on the way to the checkout line, Black Friday purchases in hand.

All political commentary on the origins of Thanksgiving aside, it is supposed to be a time of gratitude and reflection. We gather with family and community, give thanks for the blessings in our lives (however we define that), and share with one another…food, company, warmth, hospitality, comfort. I have to wonder about the overshadowing of this holiday, and if it is deliberate on the part of big retailers and the corporate culture in general. After all, we Americans do not live in a culture that values gratitude and humility…we live in a culture of BUY MORE NOW. Perhaps it is no coincidence that Black Friday has gradually become Black Thursday Night, and then Black Thursday Evening…will Thanksgiving be crowded out completely?

As a therapist, I’ve read multiple articles and studies about the power of gratitude, and how it can impact our lives in measureable ways. Gratitude is incorporated into so many psychological theories and techniques that dissertations could be written on the topic. The biggest reason for this? It works. Employing an “attitude of gratitude” helps to alleviate depression, decrease anxiety, strengthen relationships, and improve overall mood and outlook.

Not sold on the idea? Try it! As Thanksgiving approaches, spend a little time each day being aware of the good things that are happening around you, no matter how small. Notice when someone lets you merge in traffic, when a barista doesn’t charge you for the extra whipped cream, or if someone holds the door open for you.  Notice the love that is present in your life, and take an extra second to cherish laughter, hugs, conversation, smiles. I have no doubt that this will help you give more sincere and joyful thanks as you sit down to your holiday dinner…because truly, there is always something to be thankful for.