Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it. ~ Rumi
My mother and I are in her bedroom.
I have the rare opportunity to administer healing energy to her, an act that will draw us together—physically, emotionally, spiritually. We are awkward about touching one another; emotionally, we rarely open up with matters close to the heart. The idea of God and a Higher Presence is strictly private.
This is the nature of our relationship, dictated by her upbringing.
Overwhelmed at the prospect of laying hands on her, I instruct her to lie down on the bed. I think of several occasions when I needed her support and love, needed her to tell me how things are—when I first got my period, the aftermath of boyfriend breakups, in the midst of broken bones and excruciating pain.
Her apathy and convictions, tainted by my bouts of rebellion, are as big as a mountain.
I underwent Reiki training when writer’s block saturated every molecule of my body. Explaining the premise of the healing art to my retired and conventionally-minded parents was like conveying Einstein’s theory of relativity in Swahili. In due course, my mother and father reflectively gazed in my direction, deflected their eyeballs to one another and then found solace staring into their respective laps.
I could read them like an open book.
They figured that, like my memoir writing, practicing Reiki was my escape from reality: another endeavor in the form of an excuse to keep me from returning to the workforce and putting up with a bunch of turkeys. But despite their somewhat-credible belief, I didn’t dare supplement my explanation by demonstrating the various Reiki positions on them—I felt ridiculous, self-doubting and defenseless against their skepticism; this most recent act to sabotage their “please-just-do-the-right-thing” campaign.
On top of it, my dad mispronounced Reiki. No pun intended, he called it “wreck-ee.”
But the whole notion of “healing energy” must have taken up residence in my mother’s mind.
My mom and a handful of my friends spent this afternoon at Salem’s Hawthorne Inn attending a fundraiser for hospice. As Mom and I later pulled into my parents’ driveway, that quiet, curious notion resident in her mind surfaced. She asked me to do Reiki on her.
Reiki? On her?
Slithering down the driver’s seat like Bugs Bunny doomed in fighter aircraft, I became a stuttering puddle. Opting out of this fantastic opportunity to prove that I really did possess a gift for something, I blurted, “Oh no, Mom, I can’t do Reiki on you. I don’t have my massage table.”
“That’s okay,” she told me. “I’ll lay on my bed.”
“Oh no, Mom,” I replied. “I don’t have my iPod and playlist with spa music.”
“No problem, we’ll do it without it,” she said.
“But, Mom,” I insisted, “I don’t have my sage candle.”
“I don’t need a sage candle,” she shrugged.
“But, Mom, I don’t—”
“Let’s try it anyway,” she interjected.
We entered the house; it was perfectly quiet with my father out on an errand. The place was all ours. I tagged along after Mom through the kitchen, into the foyer, up the stairs and to my parents’ bedroom—a charming and spacious room painted robin egg blue, decorated with Victorian furniture and “delicate things.”
Sunlight poured through the dressed window; beyond it, birds chirped, fountains burbled. Mom walked over to the four-post bed, removed a half-dozen lacy pillows and piled them onto a nearby settee.
I fretted; splaying out my hands thinking, Here’s my big moment, the opportunity to impress her with these healing hands.
I regarded my digits glittering in the sun’s rays like roman candles. Then a shadow cast across them, extinguishing the little lightning bolts as sunlight ceased to beam through the window. I looked up. Mom was blocking the window, standing in between the settee and bed waiting for my direction.
Feet towards your pillow, I tell her, head close to the foot of the bed. Relax, I add, a strange thing to say to my mother. She closes her eyes and settles in.
Standing before her I gaze down, our faces upside down relative to one another. The weight of her skin flattens wide on her face, her body pressing into the duvet.
I go about my business—warming my hands, rubbing them together. While studying the features of her face, I describe the various Reiki positions; where I’ll be placing my hands and advise that I’d be doing this initial treatment for 20 minutes.
I take a deep breath as I lay my hands in a V on the crown of her head, crushing her frosted, poofy hairdo; I’m praying her skepticism will melt away, that she’ll leave the room with me in tow having experienced peace and healing.
She is instantly receptive to my touch. Her trunk and appendages sink deeper into the 500-thread Egyptian cotton duvet. I, too, relax; I feel grounded in healing light, my hands growing warm with the energy. The moments elapse, lengthening, slipping us into a realm of peace.
I the giver and she, my mother, the receiver.
Love and light…
It emerges from a great distance away, perhaps all the way across the Atlantic, an outer, invasive stimulus. It repeats, drawing closer, skimming the surface of the sea, its frequency pricking up the hairs of my inner ear, its volume increasing in decibels. It is tearing a hole in the veil of peace, popping it stitch-by-stitch up the middle, bringing me back to the place I left several minutes ago—the sunlight, the blue bedroom, the depiction of my mother’s body impressing into the duvet.
I shake it away—my higher self resisting it, swatting at it with my tail as if I were a horse with a fly on my hindquarters—my head writhing, my lips bristling.
“Hello?” It sounds all too close, at the bottom of the stairs. “Helloooooo…?”
No, no, no, I think, my hoof clomping three times.
Please, Dad, I scowl in my head, occupy yourself elsewhere. You seem to enjoy spending a great deal of time in the bathroom. Why not do that now?
He keeps calling helloooooo—as if my mother has gone beyond the 900 square foot perimeter of the second floor and escaped into some magical fairyland through the guest room crawlspace.
The sixth iteration comes on the wind. This does it. Showering my mother with spit, I shout, “Jesus, Mary and Joseph! We’re up here doing Wreck-ee!!!”
Things quiet down again. Dad is mostly likely smoothing his balding head with his open hand in a gesture of acknowledgement, embarrassment even. His work boots walk the rest of him down to the family room.
Taking a deep breath, I hone my concentration back on Mom. She has, despite the disturbance, remained still and relaxed: a state of being that happens to be a normal response to my father’s corny greeting, and any other of his inquiries for that matter.
I continue doing the Reiki, my head bowed, envisioning golden energy entering and circulating in my mother’s body.
When I squint an eye open to read the bedside clock and whisper that the 20 minutes are up, Mom awakens as if from a deep sleep. For a few moments, we say nothing. Then, she surprises me: she begins to speak about her experience, excitedly. A surge runs through my insides.
Was the Reiki a success?
Does she have something good to report? Something compelling?
How should I react?
Listen, act respectful, stand to receive, a voice in my head tells me, all the things I usually don’t do in front of my mother.
I try to be at ease, squeak out a smile. She isn’t aware of my nervousness, the punch of credibility her testimony could bear.
“Oh,” she begins, making a sweeping gesture across her forehead, “when you placed your hands on my forehead, my mind quieted—the thoughts just scattered. I felt so peaceful.”
Victory! That’s totally what Reiki’s supposed to do, Mom! I want to say, clapping my hands together in praise. See, I really know what I’m doing!
Mom appears astonished, blinking at half-speed. She is speaking into the air before her as if I’m not there. “When you placed your hands on my belly,” she says, “your hands felt hot, almost too hot.”
That’s right, little woman! That’s the energy Libby fired up in me through the Reiki attunement! I want to say but think I’ll lose her in the mysticism.
“When you held your hands around my ankle,” she continues, “a wave of energy radiated at my knee and shot down my shin and out my big toe!”
Yes, yes, Mom! That’s the healing energy of Reiki, not Wreck-ee! I want to say and jump up and down. Do you believe me now? I want to say.
But my ego slips away as I look at my mother’s poofy hair listing to one side, her incredulous grin, and feel something heavy disintegrating: a mountain crumbling.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Author: Lisa Mae DeMasi
Volunteer Editor: Kim Haas / Editor: Caroline Beaton