Meditation reduces cardiovascular events

These days there are frequent references in the media to the power and the benefit of regular meditation. 

In the video below, Mimi Guarneri, a well known cardiologist speaks about meditation and that a study published late last year shows that people who meditation for twenty minutes twice a day experience a 48% reduction in cardiovascular events. 

The results of the study were so compelling that the American Heart Association recommends that people with high blood pressure should be meditating regularly.

How Jin Shin Jyutsu and Family Constellations Support Us

How helpful to have self-healing tools in times of need.  How helpful to use these tools when there is no particular need - perhaps using them keeps problems from materializing in the body.

In the video here I talk about Jin Shin Jyutsu and demonstrate some techniques one can use for wellness.  I also talk about Family Constellations and how the work is of benefit to us.

Natasha from Princeton Community Television on Vimeo.

One of my favorite meditations

A class I taught yesterday at the Center for Relaxation and Healing in Plainsboro, NJ, centered on one of my favorite meditations to share with people.  It is from the Kabbalistic tradition and is 200 years old.  

My first exposure to this particular meditation came 15 years ago.  Rabbi David Cooper included it in his book, God is a Verb:  Kabbalah and the Practice of Mystical Judaism.  I encountered it again perhaps seven years ago when Rabbi Laibl Wolf, a fellow Australian, was teaching a class in Yardley, PA.

The meditation is named the Archangel meditation and is attributed to Rabbi Nachman of Breslov.  It is a practice that brings comfort and peace to those who work with it. 

Archangels represent attributes or qualities of Divinity.  They have no will of their own and exist to carry out God's instructions.  According to Kabbalistic thought, when a human calls upon an angel, that angel (attribute) must appear. 

The process of the meditation is to call upon the four primary Archangels one at a time.  So we place the qualites of loving-kindness, strength, healing and Divine light around us. The last step is to allow ourselves to be surrounded by Divine femine presence. 

The people with whom I share this meditation often report vivid experiences.  This practice is not passive and yet we have the sense of being held in deep peace and nurturance.

The task of preparing material for the class brought delight and fascination as I delved more deeply into the background of the meditation than I had before.  My knowledge was expanded and I believe this translated into a more rich experience for my students who were certainly enthusiastic in their feedback after the class.

Now to prepare more classes.


The power of mindfulness meditation

Can I say too much about the benefits of meditation?  Of course.  But it's been quite while so I remind readers that meditation is really good for us. 

The claims are heady and supported by science.  So you can believe me when I say that regular mindfulness meditation improves cognition (so students, you'll get better grades), reduces the effects of stress on the body, helps us handles stress, reduces pain perception, improves focus, and helps us regulate our emotional responses.  Believe it or not, regular meditation practice measurably changes our brain within 8 weeks of daily practice.

Many people are familiar with the term mindfulness meditation but don't know what it is exactly.  We can define it as the act of paying attention with no judgement to one's experience in the moment.  And like a new food, we can't know what it is like until we try it.  And like a nutritious food, it is very good for us.

Getting started with mindfulness meditation takes just a few minutes.  That's the easy part.  Staying with it is difficult.  It's gets difficult because we think we are not doing it well, or not doing it properly.  It's hard.

Yes, it's hard but it's also easy.  It's gets easy when we are able to let go of our judgements about ourselves and how well or how badly we are meditating.  So we aim to simply allow the experience to be as it is.  And even experienced meditators tell you that they struggle with meditation. 

The point of meditation is not to do it well.  The point of meditation is to do it.

Here's a video that details an innovative mindfulness meditation program created for the students at York University in Canada called the Healthy Student Initiative.




Kerry Kay's healing practice expands to New York

I am pleased to announce that I am opening an office in New York. 

As life takes me from Princeton to Manhattan at least weekly, my community there increases.  So it makes sense that I bring my work with me. 

In early September, 2013, my New York practice launches at 80 E. 11st Street, just below Union Square. 

The office is in the St. Denis building on 11th Street between Broadway and University Place and is conveniently located to the subway.

The building is well-known and has an interesting history.  In 1853, it opened as the St. Denis Hotel.   Among the guests were Mark Twain and Ulysses S. Grant.  A New York Times article claims that General Grant began writing his memoirs at the hotel and Twain gave him guidance.  P.T. Barnum, Colonel William “Buffalo Bill “Cody and Sarah Bernhardt also took rooms at the hotel.  Alexander Graham Bell's first demonstration of the telephone happened here in 1877.   After 50 years the hotel became an office building.  One of its tenants was Marcel Duchamp.

Today the St. Denis is home to healers of many kinds.  I am pleased to be among them.  My intention is to offer individual hands-on healing sessions drawing from my "kit bag" of Jin Shin Jyutsu, Reiki, Hellinger's Family Constellations and Integrated Kabbalistic Healing.  More information about these modalities is found at my website.

To schedule a session in either New York or Princeton, where I continue to work, send me email:




New Jersey will require energy healers to be licensed in massage therapy

Here in New Jersey, on August 31. 2013, energy workers who place their hands on their clients will be required to have a massage license.  Although the State of New Jersey has been debating this issue for 15 years, this news is catching a lot of healers unprepared.  Many professional healers have been scrambling to understand the new law and it implications for their clients and themselves.

Those New Jersey practitioners who were aware of the coming change have been hoping that the State would not follow through.  Others have simply not known about the new law as it is not exactly front page news.  After 27 years as a resident of New Jersey, I know I still am poorly informed about developments in my state's current affairs.  I often wonder if it is peculiar to New Jersey given the amount of decentralization that exists here.

The change in the law puts a lot of healing practices in jeopardy.  Many of us who earn our primary living through our healing work will have to meet the new requirements or close down our practices.

Practitioners have the opportunity to meet the education requirement through a grandfathered clause that requires instruction in a State-approved program.  There's not much time in which to do this.  The hours need to be achieved before August 31st.

Luckily for my clients and for me, I am able to meet the new requirements through a massage course that is especially created for Jin Shin Jyutsu practitioners. 

My healing office will be open over the next month while I complete the education requirements.  Appointment hours will be restricted of course.

The good news for clients is that I will have a new skill to offer.  Adding massage to my current healing modalities willl be of great benefit to the people I work with.





Jin Shin Jyutsu Holding the Fingers

Jin Shin Jyutsu is a powerful healing modality.  It is a form of gentle acupressure that was developed in Japan.  I love to teach Jin Shin Jyutsu self-help techniques to people.  As a healer and a meditator, it is very satisfying to witness the individuals and the groups become relaxed and still as I lead them through simple self-help holds.

After their first Jin Shin Jyutsu experience, people are surprised by how much better they feel.  They regularly report less pain, reduced nausea, reduced anxiety, and an overall sense of improved well-being. 

Holding the Fingers is a simple series of holds that can address a multitiude of issues or projects - the preferred term in Jin Shin Jyutsu land. 

Holding the Fingers - How to do it

Simply wrap the fingers of one hand around each of the fingers of the other hand, one digit at a time.  I usually start by wrapping the fingers of my right hand (since I am right handed) around the thumb of my opposite hand, covering as much as possible of the thumb and subsequents digits.

Use a light touch and hold for several minutes, for 36 breaths, or until you feel pulsation in your fingers.  Then move on to the next finger.  When you finish with the first hand, move on to your opposite hand.

After holding each of your fingers,  touch the center of your palm with your thumb.  Switch hands after several minutes.  You have completed Holding the Fingers.

Use this practice whenever you don't have to use your hands - while going to sleep at night, upon waking in the morning or in the middle of the night, in meetings, watching TV or a movie, waiting for an appointment, riding in a car or a plane.  Find other ways and places to practice.

Work with it and see what works best for you.

Organs and Attitudes Associated With Each Finger

Jin Shin Jyutsu is about balancing the body's energy system.  The fingers are energetically connected to major organs.  Holding the fingers harmonizes these energies and improves our emotional states or attitudes.

Thumb        Stomach, Spleen                Worry

Index           Kidneys, Bladder                Fear

Middle         Liver, Gallbladder               Anger

Ring             Lungs, Large Intestine      Sadness

Little             Heart, Small Intestine        Try To

I think therefore I breathe

Lucky me.  I was recently in Europe, partly for work and partly for fun.  The work was in Helsinki, Finland where I facilitated the Family Constellations work with my dear friend and fellow healer, Kristiina Kurki-Suonio. 

There was fun in Helsinki and also in Spain where I spent the greater time.  Once in southern Spain, it didn't take long to adjust to a slow pace.  How easy it was to sit for hours at outdoor cafes sipping cafe con leche people watching or just staring into space - a new meditation practice for me!  How fun to explore new sights.  How warm and welcoming were the locals, even in the tourist areas. How delightful was the weather.

"I want to live here," often popped into my mind.  Then in the next moment came the reminder that vacation does not equal the reality of living long term in a place no matter how lovely.  Such disappointment that particular thought would bring.  Was my life in New Jersey so bland compared to life here in Granada or Sevilla?  Sure.  Take another breath.  Wow, that church on the plaza opposite the cafe is magnificent.  Breathe.  Nice to not have a schedule today.  Breathe. 

How do you say breathe in Spanish?



Schedule your creativity

A new study finds that our creative thinking might be most effective outside the time we consider our most optimal for work and thought.  This finding seems to be related to our circadian rhythms.

The study, conducted by the Department of Psychology at Michigan State University, suggests that if we wish to do our best creative thinking, we should perform such tasks outside the time of the day when we consider we do our best work.

This means that if you are a morning person, do the work that requires focus and analysis like doing your taxes in the morning and do your problem solving and creative work at night.  The oppposite is true for those who are more alert in the evening.

This seems counter-intuitive.  However, it seems that the less focused we are, the more open we can be to other ideas and solutions.  What often follows then is inspiration and insight, key ingredients to creative thinking.

So, if you're looking to write, paint, or solve a sticky problem, rethink the time of day when you might do your best work.



Smiling reduces the stress response

This information is old now as it was published in August, 2012 but it bears repeating here.

Researchers at the University of Kansas discovered that smiling during stressful experiences reduces the body's response to stress and might also help the heart.

The smile can be a standard smile (only the mouth is in a smile) or a full-face smile (mouth and eyes engaged in the smile).  The researchers found that even though the smile is forced during a stressful event, the recovery rate of the heart is lower than test subjects who used a neutral expression.  

So perhaps there is something to be said for us to grin and bear it.

Time to get back to work.  I'll put a genuine smile on my face.

Here's the link to the article:

Smiling Reduces Stress And Helps The Heart

The Many Ancestors Behind Us

I am an Celtic Anglo Australian-American.  My ancestral roots in England, Ireland and Wales.


In my healing work, I sometimes use a body of work called Family Constellations or Hellinger work (named for the primary developer).  Hellinger work looks to our ancestral roots for answers to perhaps vexing life questions and to put us back in touch with our resources and our strength.


An exercise that I do from time to time, especially when working with healing clients, is to imagine that behind me stand my parents, my father on the right and my mother on the left with my grandparents behind them.  I add my great grandparents and successive generations to as far as I can imagine in the moment.  It might sound strange to hear this, but I do feel benevolence, love and strength flow towards and through me and this is a great support to me in my work and in my life.


I was curious to know how many people stand behind me so I created a spreadsheet.  Going back through time, I calculated the number of people in each of the generations and related those numbers to the data I found online for estimated world population at various times in history and to the population of Britain and Ireland.  The numbers staggered me.  


Picture in your mind’s eye, your two parents; behind them your 4 grandparents; behind your grandparents are your 8 great grandparents.  Now place your 16 great great grandparents in the back there.  Bring in your 32 great great great grandparents.  Can you see that the number of individuals in each previous generation doubles?  


It gets crowded back there as you explore further back.  By the time you get to the tenth generation around let’s say, 1730, there are 2,046 people standing behind you.  At around 1500, there are there are over one million with a half million in that one generation born then.


Some things don’t add up though.  For example, 750 years ago, the number of my ancestors exceeded the estimated world population by 130 million.  Where did those extra people come from? Does that mean there was a lot of inbreeding back then?  There must have been a lot people mating with multiple partners to produce all those offspring thus comprising numerous family connections.  


When I look at Great Britain and Ireland, around 1430, the size of my past generation born then about equalled the entire estimated population of that region.  That’s 580 years ago.  Does that mean that each person in those countries at that time was directly related to each other?  Each person one passed on the street, familiar or not, was kin and closely so - a parent, offspring or sibling?


Are my data and reasoning flawed?  Or do I need another way to look at this data?  For now, I don’t have many other conclusions to draw other than that somewhere back in time we are all related.




Wellness Center opens in Kendall Park, NJ

Central New Jersey's newest Wellness Center is now open in Kendall Park.

The Sand Hills Community Wellness Center has an unusual genesis as it is the vision of Community Presbyterian Church of the Sand Hills in Kendall Park. 

The Wellness Center's mission is to provide programs and services that enhance the growth of body, mind and spirit to the community.

Already the schedule is filling up with 18 classes a week in yoga, tai chi, Qigong and meditation.  Additionally, weekly Reiki share and healing circle is offered.  Monthly group sessions in Jin Shin Jyutsu, Family Constellations, sound therapy, full moon sound healing and Argentine Tango round out the opportunities for learning and experiencing in a group setting.

Practitioners also offer individual massage and Reiki sessions by appointment.

Visit Sand Hills Community Wellness Center for more information.


Amma, the Hugging Saint of India in New York

Amma, known as the Hugging Saint of India, is in New York this week.  I'm heading off to see her today.  The last time I saw her was 7 or 8 years in New York when two friends and I received hugs from her.  The effects were dramatic for one of my friends we learned later.  Several years previously, my friend was diagnosed with an inoperable brain aneurysm.  A brain scan several months after our visit to Amma showed no sign of the aneurysm.  Coincidence?  I don't know but life is mysterious.

Amm'a North American Tour Summer 2012

Uncomfortable With Certainty

A friend asked me what I saw myself doing in five years. That's the kind of question to which I usually don't have an answer. Planning long term, longer term has never been my forte. Perhaps this has something to do with the many sudden moves I experienced as child. My response to the question was that I'll probably continue to follow my nose.


Here are words from Parabola magazine's emailed newsletter of June 24 that serve to reassure me about my MO:


Another way of putting it would be (without knowing Chinese) to
propose this new translation of the first line of the Tao Te Ching:
A way that is entirely laid out, no, it is not the way. I told you
that I have encountered in my life a true teaching. One of the signs
of its truth, for me, is that it never proposes an entirely
prescribed path. No, at every step the entire dilemma is revisited.
For me, nothing is resolved once and for all. And what I have always
loved in you is your refusal of a prearranged path, and that is
important to me because alone one can't sustain such a position. We
must be a number of people to help each other, to awaken one

Rene Daumal from a letter to Georges Ribemont-Dessaignes, November
1941 from PARABOLA, Fall 2009: The Path.

Indra's Net

I had an interesting experience recently while leading an ongoing meditation class at Onsen For All in the Princeton, NJ area. After some time of sitting in the quiet, my children came to mind and I was drawn to noticing the connections between them and around them. The around them connections, those to their parents, friends, other family members, teachers, fellow students – the list goes on, grew and grew. More and more layers of connectedness appeared until there appeared a dense multi-dimensional living web of grey filaments. At each junction there was a nodule that become quietly jewel-like. Ah! Indra's net.


Indra's net is a Buddhist metaphor for the inter-connectedness of the universe. It is a splendid image in which a multi-layered net hangs over the palace of the god, Indra, infinitely stretching out in all directions. At each junction, a multi-faceted jewel sits, reflecting each of the other jewels in the net. It is said that when a change occurs to one facet of one jewel, it is reflected in every other jewel throughout the universe.


In the image held in my mind, several of the nodules or jewels disappeared. There was immediate widespread disturbance as the wounds appeared in the web. After a little time, the web seemed compelled to repair itself. Irrevocably changed, the web continued on in its way, each piece playing its part. A metaphor for life.

Is it voodoo?

Even though I've now put my hands on several thousand people, most of them when I was worked at  Morrisotwn Memorial Hospital's Integrative Medicine program as a hands on healer and have seen "stuff" happen under my hands, I still have moments of doubt about my ability or anyone's ability to effect change in another person.

Perhaps I am not really doing much.  It certainly doesn't look like I'm doing much as I sit or stand very still and am mostly silent as I work with a person.  Maybe when I put my hands on a person I'm simply giving their system a jumpstart, a gentle prod, a quiet wake up call.  It's said by many healers that the body's desire is to be in equilibrium. 

In Jin Shin Jyutsu, the hands are jumper cables, much like a car's starter system, giving one's energetic system just enough of a boost to get itself working more smoothly.  And we can do that for ourselves.

In the Reiki healing system, the energy the healer transmits to the other knows right where to go.  How is that?

It's like magic, right?  Or voodoo?  But if it helps a person to feel better, does it matter if it's voodoo?

The gazing healer

Recently on a trip to California, I had the chance to see Braco, pronounced Braht-zo, a healer from Croatia.  His way of working with people is different to all the healers I've met or worked with or even heard about to this point.   It is certainly different to the way I work with people.   Braco's way of helping people is to simply gaze at them, but not necessarily individually.  Usually, Braco gazes at a crowd of people, hundreds of people.


Braco does not call himself a healer although many healings are attributed to him.


On a recent Sunday morning I parked the rental car near the Holiday Inn on Van Ness Street in San Francisco.  The line for the 10:00am session (just one of nine daily gazing sessions) was already hundreds of people long.  I did some math.  If the cost of a session is $8, how many people can be seated here in this ballroom?  My quick and conservative estimate was 600.  Times  nine sessions is a lot of money.   I wondered how many books, DVDs and gold necklaces are sold daily.  I noticed my inner skeptic was very much alive and active.


I felt irritated by the young, attractive, blonde hostess's buoyant remarks about Braco and the apparent miracles that result spontaneously during and after the 10 minute gazing sessions.  Volunteers helping with seating and other aspects of the organization spoke to the audience about their own experiences of Braco's gaze.  Still my inner skeptic was active.  Indeed, it was hyper-active.


At some point after Braco appeared on the stage, I decided that I could try to hold my skepticism while also remaining open to the possibility that I might also have a healing experience.  After all, I call myself a healer.  Rather than holding the two states simultaneously, I might have been oscillating between the two instead.


As this long haired man with a sweet face and presence stood silently turning his head from side to side as he seemed to take in all of the people standing in front of him, I wondered, "Why him?"  Why isn't the person next to me, or even myself imbued with such apparent extraordinary power?   What about mass hysteria, mass hypnotism?  Finally, I reflected on the idea of all time being present all of the time.


If past, present and future are always with us in the moment, then if I was to be healed, I might already be healed.


Words cycled through my mind, “I will be healed, I am healed, I was healed.” “I was healed, I am healed, I will be healed.”


The realization came, that I am fine as I am.  And for a while afterward I could know that.