My twin brother has always been a very quiet person. There is no compulsion to speak. He’s never been talkative, and as we get older, he becomes even less so. I’ve always been the opposite. Overactive throat chakra syndrome is how I think of it. I read a lot about the throat chakra. It’s our communication center, and it’s where we interpret our feelings and our truths. I often hear people say things like, “I can’t wait to go home and be quiet.” Or, “I just need some space and silence.” But typically, when that home-alone situation happens, or I’m sitting by a tranquil pond with only the sounds of the breeze and the birds, restlessness overcomes me. There’s a compulsion to be DOING something ALL of the time. Checking email, Googling something, texting, reading my horoscope, reading an article about astrology, reading the news, reading a menu, watching a show, Googling an actor on a show to see what other shows they’ve been on, watching the news, having a conversation, playing a game, cleaning, primping, plucking, driving, walking, purging, or spending. It never ends. The struggle to say and do nothing is real. In class, when it’s time for Savasana, there are always a couple of people struggling to get comfortable, to stop moving, to just rest and be in their bodies.
Years ago, an old friend of mine initiated the three of us—Martha Marcom, Marcia Miller, and me—into Reiki. Then we began practicing together faithfully, each of us dipping into the mysteries hinted at when sensing energy flow in ourselves and one another, sensing that unfamiliar aspect of the world…obvious when sought, largely ignored otherwise. To sense energy in the world was not part of our normal cultural training and we were on new ground. We decided we wanted a guide through our experimentations so Marcia approached a long-time student of hers, Katherine Dufrane, who trained as an energy healer at Barbara Brennan’s college and went on to develop her own approach to healing through years of working with clients as a psychotherapist and energy worker. She asked Katherine to guide us.
Katherine refused to do so in the normal fashion, as an authority imparting wisdom to inexperienced students, but she agreed to lead us in mutual explorations of any questions we proposed to address as a group, and that has been the bedrock of all the work we have done since. Even learning to form open-ended questions took practice because the tendency is to ask a question that does two things—imply a judgment and narrow the query.
For example, suppose I am at a confusing and distressing juncture in my life and I want to know what to do. I’ve been schooled in the jargon of yoga and I propose a question like this one, “How do I know right action?” This seems open ended. It isn’t as small as, “Should I leave my current job, or how do I confront my teenager about his dangerous behavior or how do I cope with a diagnosis?” It’s not as small as, “How do I get rid of this fear, this grief, this anger that’s stopping me from doing what I think I should and from being a better version of myself than I am today?” But it still implies a judgment, which is “I don’t know right action; therefore, I am small, confused, and prone to wrong action.” And it implies a time line, I don’t know right action now but I want to in the future, how do I get there?
To open the question up, it could be rephrased, “What is the nature of right action?” While my life’s dilemma is not specifically addressed in that question, it’s held in its embrace. As a group, we would decide on a question and “enter the energy” together—that is we would draw the Reiki symbols and enter into an open state of awareness, each of us contemplating the question personally, but the impersonality of the question inviting a large response, not one so bound up in our desires and convoluted by our conditioning. And, in this example, “right action,” is present now, not held for the future and some more perfect variant of ourselves. At the end of the contemplation, we would talk as a group about our experience, and each person’s vision would enrich all of us.
When working with open-ended questions, there isn’t one right answer for everyone, and any one person’s answer will change over time. The questions matter, not the answers. A “final” answer simply stops the inquiry. If you have a “final” answer, why look further? Why not see simply what you have seen before? Living with questions lets you see things from different perspectives—the answers to your questions can change, mutate as you work with them, evolve with your understanding and experience.
Answers are just echoes, they say. But
a question travels before it comes back,
and that counts. 
Energy work is well suited to learning to work with open-ended questions, side-stepping linear thinking and receiving intuitive insight into the nature of things. Insight that can inform life’s challenges, that can be taken back to the small, personal world as a reminder that we are more than our limitations, maybe even that we are not just this body/mind. Working with questions is part of the Reiki Masters training at Yoga on High and part of the training in the 9-month pranayama course. To learn to sense energy and to contemplate open-ended questions, you are invited to join these groups. Also, Marcia Miller works with students one-on-one in contemplating questions in Reiki privates.
At this stage in life, Linda teaches pranayama, iRest yoga nidra (meditation) and co-leads silent retreats. Her next pranayama training starts in February, 2016. The 2016 silent retreat led by Marcia and Linda is in April. Their Reiki Level 2 training is scheduled for August.
 From the poem The Research Team in the Mountains by William Stafford
For years yoga was all about the body for me. Long limbs, thin frame and a habitual over-achieving perfectionist, I was built for yoga. Early on, mind-body connection was, for me, the fullest expression of a pose driven by ego. The more physical the practice the better. I sought out the hottest rooms with the loudest music. “Centering” was the few minutes I had to settle down to organize my day and solve work issues. I inhaled and exhaled when instructed. I pushed myself to the fullest extent of every posture; to me alignment was never about safety or ease. Alignment was the right shape. During savasana I reflected on my “performance” during class or wandered into whatever room my mind took me. Dripping with sweat, I left the studio feeling cleansed, detoxed and sensational. Soon those feelings passed and I found myself settled into the familiar chaos of my life.
Looking back, I don’t recall an opening or space or realization. No shining beam of light illuminating my heart. Or any other woo-woo moment. I see an erosion. A chipping away of the expectations of myself. I had begun asking myself two questions. May I greet my body with kindness? May I soften where life invites me to harden? When questions became statements, I began practicing Yoga. May I greet my body with kindness. May I soften where life invites me to harden. I don’t recall where or when I first heard these powerful statements. I’d never have come up with such a mantra on my own, I’m sure I owe a teacher somewhere credit. Today these two statements feel like gifts and are part of my daily practice. Fostering ease of breath, self- acceptance and hope. Three of the many things that have transformed my practice on the mat and encourage me to live my yoga off the mat.
When I entered yoga teacher training in Atlanta, Georgia, in 2005, I wasn’t ready. My practice was okay, but not especially great. I leapt without looking, as was (and still sometimes is) my inclination. Before teacher training, I enrolled in an advertising portfolio school full-time while working at the District Attorney’s office. Busyness kept me from really taking a look at myself. I left the DA’s office to work in advertising, and despised my job from day one. Hives broke out all over my neck, and my appetite went away, both firsts for me. Lasting just a month before quitting and going back to my old job, I was humbled, disappointed, and confused. When a teacher I greatly respected encouraged me towards teacher training, I was blown away. Well, my ego really liked it, that I know. So, I went for it, not really thinking about why I wanted it.
During the silent retreat for my 200-hour teacher certification, I experienced iRest each day led by Linda Oshins, E-RYT 500. I was five weeks past breaking my fibula while hiking in a rocky creek bed. On the third day of iRest I re-experienced the fall that caused the fracture, and my left leg straightened and lifted from the blanket supports. That movement might have prevented the fibula injury during my fall but placed my upper body and head at greater risk. I could picture and feel exactly which parts of my body had felt impact in the fall and finally understood the pattern of bruising that had followed. And while I gained this insight into the accident, I felt no pain nor any rush of adrenaline. I was calm and peaceful, lying with my fellow trainees in the dimly lit assembly hall as my neocortex made sense of the event.
From my training and practice in psychiatry, I knew that this was a form of flashback, a healing form that allowed me to integrate the previously frightening and hurtful episode into my conscious understanding. And then I smiled and thought, “iRest works! ” I thought of the clients I had been unable to help with medication and the many people I knew who had survived loss and painful events. And I smiled more broadly because I knew that relief for them was possible in a way I had never expected. Read More…