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Reiki Helped Me Mourn The Loss Of My Mother

Coming into 2019 alone, I battled a bankruptcy, a divorce, and then lost my mother two weeks in. It was unexpected.

Her Voice

I'm not a religious person. I love God but am more spiritual than religious. I haven't been to church in years. I don't know when or if I'll go again, but healing has always been important to me because I have been through some things…sometimes all at once.

Coming into 2019 alone, I battled a bankruptcy, a divorce, and then lost my mother two weeks in. It was unexpected.

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Even though she had stage-4 small c cell cancer, all tests had confirmed the mass in her body had shrunken and was almost undetectable. They failed to do a scan of her brain, where the cancer had decided to go straight to and move in. At 3 a.m. on a Friday morning, the police came to my door and said they'd found my mother wandering, lost and unable to find her way home. Together, we begged her to go to the hospital even though she dismissed it otherwise. Finally, she went. She would never come home.

The next couple of weeks were spent handling her affairs, cleaning out her house, etc. But there was no time to take for myself and I proceeded to go back to work, since everyone suggested it would keep my mind off things.

Spoiler alert: It didn't.

By chance, I found a Facebook page called Remember Reiki, which aimed to heal individuals of trauma stored in the body that caused other issues – aches and pains, depression, and anxiety, etc. I filled out an online form and got a call back from Sarah, the Reiki healer, and set up an appointment for the upcoming Sunday.

The last Reiki healing I had took place in 2015 while on a yoga retreat. In that session, we worked through emotions that stemmed from the death of my son. When she put her hand on me to heal me, I cried. It was like a spiritual pimple she was popping. After that, I could talk about my son without crying – which had been impossible for years.

I want to pause right here because, in order to explain the importance of this, I need to at least give you some sort of understanding as to what Reiki is, if you are not already aware.

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Reiki is a form of spiritual healing. It is a Japanese technique administered by the "laying of hands" to increase and engage the life force energy that flows through us. The idea being, if your life force is low, you are likely to have effects including stress, depression, sickness, etc, which can also manifest itself into physical pain in your body as well. The idea is to heal your spirit through a transfer of energy, or, as En Vogue said, free your mind and the rest will follow.

So off I went, on a rainy Sunday to a little office building in Scottsdale, Arizona, where a Himalayan salt lamp lit room is set up with a massage table made up like a bed and instructions to get comfortable and lay on my stomach on the table, under the blanket. My healer Sarah and I were off to a good start, so I did as instructed.

Every Reiki healer is different in terms of what services/practices they offer. At this particular place, the reiki sessions range from 60-90 minutes and include the following:

  • Traditional Reiki: As described above
  • Crystal Healing
  • Hot Stone treatment
  • Chakra balancing
  • Breath work
  • Aromatherapy
  • Lymphatic Massage

She explained to me that the session, essentially, would be a huge realigning and unblocking of my chakras, where aromatherapy and breathing techniques would be intertwined with the Reiki treatment and other treatments listed above to help release and heal trauma and anxiety from my body. She knew my mother had recently passed away and that I'd been through a lot at one time recently, and was confident this would be of great help to me.

As the treatment started, she began with my lower back, legs, and feet, all related to the root chakra, which is supposed to be what grounds you. If you do not have a strong root, then how can you stand? My mind immediately went to my mother, who had undoubtedly been the root of my life and kept me upright through the many times I'd stumble through this life and the tears came to my eyes almost immediately. As she rubbed my feet and legs, the tears continued to flow, and at the same time, I felt the actual tightness there begin to relax.

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You have to understand, I don't like to cry. At all. But there I was, on this table, breathing and crying.

A chakra is assigned to each segment of our body, going up the spine, through the heart and throat, to the third eye and the crown of the head. A blockage of a specific chakra can cause certain negative effects, such as physical pain or negative characteristics. A closed throat chakra, for example, can cause neck pain and corresponds with an inability to speak your truth out of fear.

As she incorporated different treatments and instructed me on the different chakras, feelings, meditations, and breathing techniques, my mind continued to settle on my mother. The pain of her death was the most prevalent, moving through my body trying to escape the healing as it moved up, eventually, to the crown of my head.

At that point, I had a literal headache at the top of my head, in my crown chakra. Sarah explained how this chakra affected what we saw/how we interpreted things/our connection to the universe. I asked her if that would affect what I'd see about my mother, and she said "yes." I had replayed my mother's last moments over and over in my mind and in that moment I shut my eyes and began to sob. Not cry. SOB. I'd cried when she died but even now it was different. There was no attempt to hide the sheer pain and as I let go, I felt myself finally release what I didn't even realize I had been holding in for the days since her passing and the months of her illness.

Now, on the surface, I realize that one, this is probably tripping some of you out and two, even if it's not tripping you out, you have absolutely no idea what kind of space age foolishness I am talking about. Which is fine, I get it. But this isn't so much about the type of healing as much as it is about the need for it.

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We have all heard that stress can kill us. We have all seen suicides on the rise. We don't realize how much pain and trauma we hold on to and what damage that can do.

I felt the pain move through my body to escape the healing that was going on. It wasn't just an emotion or feeling, it (the pain/trauma) was a living, breathing thing inside of me and who knows what that could manifest into? We are in the midst of a world of self-help books and lists of 247 ways to love yourself, but we don't realize that all of the books in the world won't matter if you don't take the actual time to do the work.

Maybe reiki isn't for you – and that's absolutely fine. But if you know you are holding on to that which isn't serving you, you need to find a way to let it go because if it doesn't serve you, it will soon eat you up.

I have already decided I will do another session soon, there's still a lot I have to process. And based on what I felt yesterday…I think my mother approves.

xoNecole is always looking for new voices and empowering stories to add to our platform. If you have an interesting story or personal essay that you'd love to share, we'd love to hear from you. Contact us at submissions@xonecole.com.

Featured image by Getty Images.

Originally published on March 7, 2019

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

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