Ways of Seeing by Barbara Clearbridge: Little acts can make big changes
Lately a lot of people have been talking about feeling despair. They say that our society’s problems are so big that nothing one does can help. They feel powerless and hopeless.
Before I offer an idea, I want to share this quote: “In these turbulent days of uncertainty the evils of war and of economic and racial injustice threaten the very survival of the human race. Indeed, we live in a day of grave crisis.” This was said by Martin Luther King Jr. in the preface to his book “Strength To Love” in 1959.
What gives me hope is that in between that time and this, we elected Barack Obama. There have been many wonderful changes. So we’re not trudging around in a useless circle; it’s an upward spiral. We have gained ground, though far less than a lot of us yearn for. Most of the time there is a loss that follows progress because opposing forces fight back. However, we never fall back as far as we have come forward.
I want to suggest something simple that can make a huge difference. It is something you can do for your loved ones and friends, and yes, I do believe that helping the people immediately around you can cause changes even to the big picture. In fact, I know it does.
Most of us come in contact with a lot of people each day. If we feel healthy or loved we might react to defuse a conflict instead of contributing to it or not getting involved. That result can ripple out, making a large impact in surprising ways. A good mood can be infectious, influencing those around us. As they go on to be with others, again it can affect people far from our own circle. “Random acts of kindness” (a phrase coined by Anne Herbert) have a big impact, and we’re not likely to be able to do them if we’re ill or depressed.
Here’s what happened:
I was visiting out-of-town relatives when I found out my elderly uncle had a head injury and had lost his sense of smell, along with a number of other problems. The doctors didn’t hold much hope that he’d get it back. His wife was in the room with me as I tried doing some energy work to help him heal. It occurred to me that perhaps she could help. “Join me,” I said to her.
“What do I do?”
“Just put your hands where you feel you want to, and let your love flow through them to help him heal.” She sat next to him and put her hands on his side, which was as far as she could reach. I sat at his head. This was the first time I had invited a family member to help with a treatment. Together we let healing energies pour into him.
I’ll never forget the look on her face. It was a mixture of love, delight, joy and awe. It hadn’t occurred to her that there was something practical she could do for him. My uncle, too, was transformed by the experience. And yes, he recovered his sense of smell and everything else, to the surprise of his doctors.
I had been teaching energy work healing skills for many years, including one technique called Reiki, as a way to empower people. I’d had children as young as 6 and adults up to their 80s learn to do it. But no training is actually needed, only loving intentions. We all have healing power in our hands, especially when we care about someone. I encourage you to try it, even if you have no idea what to do.
Your children, too, can do this. Imagine a woman on the couch with a headache. Her 6-year-old comes in, stands behind her mother, puts her hands on Mommy’s brow, and concentrates on helping her. She sees her mother’s worry lines relax, hears her sigh of relief.
It’s an incomparable way to relate to each other. Children who do this have self-esteem and unselfishness that warms the heart and serves them for their whole lives. How often can a child materially help a parent in an adult way? It changes everything.
Imagine your child is sick in bed. Dad curls up next to him, puts his arms around him, and lets the loving, healing energy flow out of his hands. The child quiets, breathes more easily, cools down. It’s like magic.
Some people feel heat or coolness or tingling or bubbles or something like waves moving inside their hands when they do this, or in their bodies when they receive it from others. It can be frightening to feel this. Our understanding of reality can be broken by this. How we think the world works will certainly change, for both participants.
Be careful, though, it’s addictive. One woman was in church with her toddler. In the midst of the quiet service, the child’s voice rang out, “Mommy, I want some Reiki!”
With a little courage, you can always help.
Barbara “shulamith” Clearbridge offers interfaith Spiritual Direction and energy work healing. She lives in Middlebury. She is the author of Finding God/Prayers & Spiritual Practices from Many Traditions), Natural First Aid & Simple Health Solutions, Heal With Your Hands, and Recovery: Women’s Words About Healing After Trauma. Her website is: www.FeelingMuchBetter.org.