“How Dare You Charge?”

I haven’t heard the exact words I used for the title of this post, but I have heard similar. A number of times. There are plenty of people out there who believe that someone who practices energy healing, or channeling, or readings, or anything along those lines has no right to ask others to pay for their services. After all, those skills are a “gift from God,” right?

Well, sort of. First of all, that’s presuming a practitioner believes in God in the first place. I believe in a higher power, but not in “God” the way some religions mean. I don’t belong to any of those religions. Nor do some of the other practitioners I know. The person from whom I learned Chios and channeling in the first place didn’t believe in any higher power at all; he was a staunch atheist. It’s worth remembering that not everyone believes in the same things, even among people who practice the same things.

Second, maybe the ability to practice energy healing, channeling, etc. is a gift, but that doesn’t mean a person who possesses those abilities is automatically able to offer them to other people. I believe you need to learn how to effectively use those abilities if you plan to make those practices into your life’s work, just as someone who’s born with a talent for singing won’t make it to professional level without vocal training. The ability might be a gift, but you need training and education to have the skill.

Some people spend years learning the skills they need to offer their talents to the public. Even those who don’t spend quite that long still devote time and energy to learning effective ways to do what they do, and the best ways to offer those things to others.

If practitioners choose for themselves not to charge for their skills, that is entirely their choice, and there’s nothing wrong with it. The issue comes when those who choose not to charge start vilifying those of us who do because we’re “dishonoring” our gifts.

The thing is, money, at its base level, is an energetic exchange. We are exchanging our gifts for abundance energy in the form of pieces of paper, or other types of currency. If we give our energy with nothing in exchange, a vacuum is created, and negative energy loves to fill vacuums. But if we receive some form of exchange, whether that’s money or a massage in return for an energy healing session or whatever, there’s no vacuum.

Practitioners don’t have to charge outrageous sums of money. Some do, but some keep their rates lower, and some accept barter in addition to money. The point is to have that exchange.

Everyone’s different. Everyone has a different view of the things they’re able to do. And, as far as I’m concerned, no one’s choice is wrong as long as they aren’t taking advantage of their clients. It would just be nice if we could accept each other’s choices instead of having loud debates and insults when we disagree.

Disclaimer

This post is not a disclaimer. Though the previous sentence might be.

As a holistic practitioner, I have to be very careful about what I say on my website, to clients, and in marketing materials. Laws in my state–and in most states, I believe–regulate holistic practices to some extent. If you claim to be something that falls under those laws and you aren’t licensed, you’re going to run into problems.

More importantly, the government regulates websites, and one of the things they look for is a claim of medical practice by someone who isn’t a doctor. There have been cases of energy healers and other practitioners being sued, either by clients or the government, because wording on their site implied or flat out said they practiced medicine.

Someone asked me why I repeat the phrase “energy healing is not a substitute for traditional medicine” so many times on my site, along with stating that I am not a medical or mental health professional. The possibility of being sued or accused of fraud is why. I’m not a doctor. I’m not a licensed anything. I am a Certified Chios Master Teacher and have a diploma in Life Coaching, but that doesn’t make me a trained medical or mental health professional. It makes me someone who has studied to the point of knowing what I’m doing, and more importantly, knowing what I can’t do.

One of the testimonials on my Chios Energy Healing page is slightly revised, with the client’s consent, from the version I received. Their version included the word “diagnosed,” as in “Kim diagnosed an issue I was having.” (That isn’t an exact quote.) That’s a red-flag word; diagnosing is something a doctor does. So I had to rewrite it.

I’ve also had to change some of my website copy. I have had a client tell me their blood pressure dropped to normal for a few days after a session, but I can’t say that on my site, because that implies I’m practicing some form of medicine. Instead, I have to focus on the other effects, such as feeling calmer and more relaxed.

To some people, it might seem like I’m going overboard with the disclaimers on my site, but I don’t feel that I am. Chios and other techniques I’ve used help my clients. I want to be able to continue to give them that help. And that means being careful about who and what I say I am.

What Is Energy Healing, Anyway?

If you’re interested in energy healing, or curious about what it is, this post might be for you.

The basic idea behind energy healing, at least as I was taught, is that energy is everywhere. Whether a living thing or an inanimate one, whether natural or man-made, everything has energy. The “everywhere” energy is sometimes called universal energy, and in addition to this type, each person or thing has its own individual energy. For humans, this energy takes the form of a system of seven major energy centers, or chakras, a seven-layer energy field, and a number of minor chakras. (Different systems of belief and explanation differ on how many chakras exist, and some may differ on the number of layers in the energy field. I’m describing what I was taught.)

When someone is injured or traumatized in any way, their energy is affected. This might cause blocked energy flow or holes in the energy field, blocks or other defects in the chakras, or other issues.

In energy healing, the practitioner becomes a conduit or channel for the universal energy. Using this, they’re able to heal or repair the damage caused to the energy system of the client. In turn, these repairs can help relieve pain, illnesses, and other physical and mental issues that are tied to the energetic damage. It isn’t medicine, per se, nor is it intended as a substitute for traditional medical and mental health care. It’s another tool in the health and well-being toolbox.

Several different forms and modalities of energy healing exist. The most well-known is probably Reiki, which has thousands of practitioners worldwide. Chios, the modality I practice, isn’t as well-known, but for me personally, it’s proven more effective and easier to learn.

Chios was introduced fairly recently, but is the result of about two decades of spiritual work along with research and testing by its developer, Stephen Barrett. Most, if not all, the techniques in Chios are exclusive to the modality, and were only included after tests showed their effectiveness.

Chios includes techniques for removing blocks in the energy field and chakras, for rebalancing and repairing the chakras, and for “charging” the energy field. It also includes techniques and modifications specific to certain chronic diseases, explanations of how to modify for children, the elderly, and people with short-term illnesses, and a technique for healing and repairing damage caused in past lives.

Like anything else, Chios won’t resonate for everyone, and it won’t work for everyone. I’ve seen amazing results from it, both in my own energy system through receiving Chios sessions from others, and in my clients through the sessions I’ve done with them. It’s exciting to hear a client tell me about positive changes in their health or emotional state after a healing session, and I love being able to provide that for my clients as well as teach others how to use the modality.

Introducing Your Practitioner

I’ve always been a healer. I just didn’t always realize it. I was about four or five when I realized that if I had a cut or bruise, if I put my hand over it and let my hand get warm, the injury stopped hurting. I tried to explain this to my parents. They told me I was imagining it.

I’ve also always wanted to help others. Whenever I saw someone who was in pain, whether physical or emotional, I felt it, and I didn’t like that they had to feel it. I wanted to stop it. Not that I’ve always know how to stop their pain. Sometimes, especially when I was a child, there was nothing I could do. But I wanted to.

And then there are my “invisible friends.” Not imaginary friends. As a young child, I was very specific about that. They weren’t imaginary; people just couldn’t see them.

They’ve been around for as long as I can remember. Several of them; at one point when I was in elementary school, I think they numbered around forty. All had distinct names and personalities. All told me things that I couldn’t have made up, because I had no way to know them. As I got older, I read in my mother’s women’s magazines that children outgrow their imaginary friends, often by the time they’re in school. I was ten or eleven. The number had dropped from forty to five or six, but even so, my invisible friends weren’t going anywhere.

That worried me. I already knew I was weird and different, where “different” was very definitely not a good thing. The whole hand-over-an-injury thing was something I’d learned not to talk about. So was what I referred to as “remembering something that hasn’t happened yet.” Those things exasperated my mother, upset my father, and gave my peers extra reasons–as if they needed any–to make fun of me. And I learned not to talk about my invisible friends either.

I went through my teens and into adulthood. People told me I was a good listener and made them feel better. I didn’t understand how, but I was glad to help them. My invisible friends kept telling me things I couldn’t have known on my own, like when one of them helped me through a math test in eleventh grade. I had consistently failed or gotten D’s on every assignment in the chapter, and I didn’t understand any of the concepts or how to solve the problems. But with my “invisible friend” talking me through the problems on the test, I got a B.

I got married. I had kids. I continued “remembering things that hadn’t happened yet.” People kept telling me I made them feel calmer, though that seemed to upset some of them. One or two even told me they were afraid of me because of how I made them feel. That didn’t make sense to me; why be afraid of someone who made you feel better? But I learned to just accept that some people just couldn’t accept me.

I continued wanting to help people without knowing how. And then I met someone who taught me how. He and I became friends, bonding over a shared love of reading and writing, and over time he started telling me about energy healing and channeling. Finally, my life started to make sense. The way I’d made my injuries stop hurting as a child was basic energy healing, done instinctively. My invisible friends weren’t at all imaginary; they were my guides. And the energy healing and channeling my friend did for me helped me work through trauma and abuse from my childhood, as well as helping me grow and gain the strength to leave a marriage that had become increasingly toxic not only for me, but for my children as well.

My life hasn’t been a straightforward progression from there. I struggled as a single mother, and was not always the parent I wanted to be for my children. Issues from the past and from that marriage reared their heads from time to time, causing problems for me and the people around me. I found a new spouse, but wasn’t always able to accept how well he treated me, because it wasn’t what I was used to.

I’ve kept working, though. New skills and tools I’ve found have helped me in my ongoing work to release the effects my past has had on me. I’ve kept working to improve the skills I learned from my friend, and to strengthen my bonds with my guides.

Most importantly, I’ve found ways to use those skills and tools to help others. I’m far from the only person who has experienced bullying and verbal and emotional abuse, or the only person whose past has impacts on their present that they might not even be aware of. I still hate seeing someone else hurting, but now I can see ways to help them deal with and even release their pain, whether physical or emotional. As I learn and grow, I also learn how to help others grow. And that’s what I’ve wanted to do since I was a child. Through River Flow Healing, I’m finally able to do what that little girl wanted to do but wasn’t able.

Breathing New Life

I haven’t posted a blog on here in longer than I care to think about. For that matter, I haven’t done much work on River Flow Healing or any other business aspects.

Life tends to throw monkey wrenches and curve balls when we least expect it. Last year, I thought I was on the right track with this business. I had plans and ideas. I was going to do things the way businesspeople do things.

Except it didn’t work out that way. My plans and ideas weren’t fully formed and didn’t have sufficient structure for me to actually put them into practice. That led to me feeling discouraged and overwhelmed, which led to less ability to effectively plan and structure and implement. While I was wading through that, some situations arose in my personal life that required a lot of my time and energy, and I didn’t have any left over for River Flow.

It’s been several months. I’ve gotten through the personal situations, and conversation with business coaches and others have given me clarity about what this business is actually intended to be. I know where I am, and I’m pretty sure I know where I’m going, though I’m leaving room for more monkey wrenches and curve balls just in case.

So this is the inaugural blog post for the new and hopefully improved River Flow Healing. Stay tuned every Monday for further developments and thoughts.

Perception

One of the things mental illness can do is cause you to perceive things incorrectly. You might think someone has said something they haven’t actually said, or assign a meaning to someone’s actions that simply isn’t there.

That’s something I deal with a lot. Because of people I’ve dealt with in my past, and the resulting PTSD, as well as depression and anxiety, sometimes my brain filters someone else’s actions or words through a distorted lens. I hear something in their words that they didn’t say and didn’t mean, or I believe their actions are for a reason that has nothing to do with why they’ve actually acted that way.

This makes communication extremely important for me. I am usually aware when my thoughts are getting away from me and when my perception is off. In those moments, I can choose to continue with the incorrect perception, and let my thoughts spiral into darkness, or I can choose to go to the other person and say, “I think I’m perceiving this wrong. Can we clarify what you meant?”

That isn’t always an easy choice to make. Sometimes my belief about what the other person has said or done is so strong that my emotions take over. I might be too angry to try talking to them, or might not be able to get the words together. Sometimes I’m afraid to ask for clarification because I worry that the other person will be angry with me for having an incorrect perception. But under the emotions, I know that the only way to resolve the situation is to speak up.

Misperceptions are going to happen. To be honest, I think it’s part of being human, regardless of whether mental illness is a factor. Learning to recognize when you might be perceiving something incorrectly, and learning to communicate and clarify the situation, might not be easy, but it’s important.

Giving Yourself Time

For over a month now, I’ve been having a tough time getting past my mental roadblocks. Even knowing as many ways as I do to conquer those roadblocks, and even getting advice and suggestions from friends and coaches, I’ve had trouble shaking the blocks.

For a while, I tried forcing my way through. I sat here at my computer writing stories, blog posts, and articles, but my heart wasn’t in them and so neither was my effort. Mostly, they were poorly written, and sometimes I was convinced I wasn’t saying anything anyone would want to read anyway.

When you have depression, as I do, it really gets in the way of anything resembling living. I felt like I was in a deep pit with no way out, and at times I wasn’t sure I wanted to find the way out. That darkness and lack of much of anything eclipsed the part of me that cares and wants to be better.

To some reading this, that probably sounds like a cop-out. A lot of people believe that all you have to do to get past depression is decide you’re going to get past it. To some extent, that might be true. For example, on the days when all I want to do is hide in bed, I still manage to get up, shower, and put on actual clothes that I could wear out of the house. I don’t always make it out of the house, but I could if I chose.

But depression is an illness, and as with all illnesses, overcoming it isn’t only a matter of wanting to. It isn’t just a matter of getting off your butt and going for a walk in the woods or on the beach, at least not for all of us. It’s a lot of effort, and sometimes just making that effort is so exhausting you can’t do anything else.

Because I was struggling so much, and because it was affecting my work, I chose to step back for a while. I stopped worrying about doing blog posts and social media. I didn’t write any articles or do any Facebook Live videos. I needed to go into hibernation mode until my mind and body were ready to come out of it.

As I write this, I’m looking out the window at sunshine and a bright blue sky. And way more snow on the ground than there ought to be when tomorrow’s the first day of spring. This is the second blog post I’ve written today. For the first time in over a month, I’m feeling hopeful and positive, and I want to do things. I’m coming out of the self-imposed hibernation and starting to live and work again.

I’m not going to get down on myself for needing that time to regroup. I think most people, regardless of mental health, have times when they just need to step back and take care of themselves. The past month or so has been one of those times for me. And that’s okay.

Tomorrow…

Friday, February 23, I’ll be speaking at the Provincetown Public Library about acceptance and being true to oneself. I’m a little nervous about it; this will be the first public presentation I’ve done in over seven years! But I’m also looking forward to it.

If you’re in the Provincetown area, I hope you’ll stop by. My presentation begins at 3pm. I’m hoping to have it recorded, at least bits and pieces, so I can share it here, and I’ll blog next week about how it went.

No Small Parts

When I’m teaching theater to the elementary school kids I work with, sometimes they’re disappointed with the roles they get in the plays we do. They might only have one line, and for some of them, that’s disappointing.

I remind them of what an actor friend of mine told them when he came in to speak about acting. No matter how small your role is, it’s important to the play. Whether you have one line or a few hundred, your part helps make the play what it is.

The same applies in life. You might believe you haven’t been around someone enough to make an impact in their life, but you impact almost everyone you come in contact with, even if only once. The impact might be small, but it’s there, and it can be very important to that person. Something as simple as saying hello to someone you walk past on the street, or smiling at a cashier in a store, can change things for that person.

Everyone is important in various ways. If we view our lives as a play, everyone’s role matters. It can change the play entirely, even if it’s only one line. One word. Even if nothing is said.

So don’t discount your part in other people’s lives. You might never know how much of a difference you make, but big or small, your part helps make their life what it is.

Refocusing

I’ve found that where I was focusing my energy previously wasn’t exactly where I wanted to be.

This surprised me. I thought I wanted to be a coach or mentor to those who are on journeys of healing and trying to gain self-love. It’s something I studied, and something that I do informally in a few venues, and I love the feeling of knowing I’ve helped someone. More, I love seeing them gain insight and make positive changes in their lives.

Deciding I wanted to coach was a change in itself. When I originally conceived this website and business, the plan was to do energy healing and guided readings. Then I realized that when I did healings and readings, I ended up informally counseling my clients anyway, so I looked into becoming a counselor. That would have required a degree I was unwilling to invest in, so I looked at life coaching/mentoring instead. And that became something I found myself more drawn to than energy healing or readings.

So the next chapter of this business was meant to be coaching, or holistic mentoring. I created an eight-week coaching program, and realized that interested me more than ongoing, less structured mentoring. Then I created a talk to go with that program, and realized that what I really wanted to do was become a transformational speaker.

So now I’m focusing more on speaking, and that’s what I feel the most drawn to at this point. That and teaching theater to children, which doesn’t seem to connect with the other things, but that’s how passions are sometimes. Transformational speaking to large groups is on hold for now while I work with smaller venues, including schools where I discuss my message of self-acceptance and living one’s truth using one of my young adult novels as a springboard.

Many of these changes have occurred in just the past month, as I’ve looked at and refined my goals for 2018. Maybe I shouldn’t have tried to do the full year in advance.

Life isn’t a static thing, and sometimes that means plans change even when you don’t expect them to. My eight-week program, which is now a six-week program, is still part of my work, and I’m building the speaking side of things. And I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next.