Archive for Rick Vrenios

The Number One Obstacle (and Gift) to Success and Getting More Out of Life… It’s Got To Do With Empathy!

Whether you are an employee, a self-employed entrepreneur, or run a company with a team of employees, there is a clear standout obstacle to success.  This obstacle causes stagnation.  It causes self-doubt and hesitation.  It is at the heart of distraction and falling behind on your goals.  It can create overwhelm that leads to frustration, escapism, and lack of achievement.  It can be the thing that keeps you from your hopes and dreams.

At the same time, this same obstacle is also an incredible gift.  It makes life far more meaningful.  It deepens our connections and relationships with people, places, and events.  It increases our intuitive knowing.  And, it adds richness to life that otherwise would be impossible without it.  It can also be the thing that connects you with your hopes and dreams!

What is it?

This beautiful gift and difficult challenge is Empathy.  Empathy is our innate connection with each other and with life itself, and yet it is often deeply misunderstood.  The deeper symptoms of empathy frequently go unnoticed or are felt but not associated with Empathy.

womanbusy25 We all have busy lives.  There is no doubt about that.  When busyness meets a compassionate, empathic personality, the result is often a struggle.  As an author and educator frequently feeling that I have far more ideas than time, I vividly remember hearing a first-time published author reminiscing about his journey.  It still echoes with uncomfortable familiarity even now, years later.  Maybe you too will relate…

At the release party for his new book, he said, “12 years ago, I decided to become an author.  Had I just written 2 pages a day, this party would be for the release of my sixth book.  Not my first.”

How many of us have dreams that never seem to get done?  If those dreams are so filled with joy and pleasure and possibility, why do they always seem to come last on the “to do” list?

It may sound like an over-simplification, or it may sound like excuses or rationalization, but often the underlying force behind this stagnation is empathy.   Empathy is a subtle, yet powerful force of feeling.  It pulls us out of ourselves and into what we feel.

CrisisWe feel the desires, expectations, intentions, judgments, and bias of others, and our “feeling” nature wants to live up to those external pressures.  We get pulled by the next “shiny object”.  We feel obligated to contend with the latest crisis, except one crisis is always followed by another.  It seems like we are a crisis magnet!

Now that I’ve said all that, let me be a little more complete… a little more correct.

Empathy itself is not the problem.  The problem is our relationship to our empathic feelings.

So what can we do?  We can change our relationship with our empathy.  We can make a decision about what is important, and then do something about it.

In any area of your life, you can turn the tables on your empathic tendencies.  The key is to commit.  The key is to “decide”.

The origins of the word “decide” means “to cut off” all other possibilities.  It means to make your choice the only possibility, and the only reality you will accept.

More simply, if you want to break the cycle of distraction and failure, the essential act is to choose a goal and just complete it!  Dedicate time.  Make it the priority, and go for it.  In fact, simply moving forward on your vision will start soothing the drives coming from within you.

When distractions come up, choose when you will handle them.  In most cases, you really don’t have to drop everything.  When crises arise, be conscious of their priority.  Pretty soon, the number of distractions and crises start to decrease, and as a result, we have established our position as the driving force behind our life… not the Pavlovian reactor to life.

Schedule into your day time to handle those issues, and then, have the integrity to make sure you handle them when you promise.   The mind is a powerful thing.  If you build a relationship of trust with your mind, it will know when to bring up issues and when not to.  It will know that it can trust that you are paying attention, and it will have confidence that its needs will be handled as well.  If trust is built, the mind’s screams for attention will grow less and less.

Empathy-Burnout-c-209If you want to know more about Empathy, all the ways it affects your life, and how to master it, consider attending my upcoming one-day workshop, Empathy Burnout: Survival Training for Compassionate People.


Details can be found here:

Nike had it right… Stop dreaming, stop planning, stop wishing, stop waiting for the right time, and Just Do It.

Great News for Compassionate People

Empathy is the ability to feel the ambient energies and emotions in your environment.  It is our natural connection to everything around us, and in that way, it is an “6th sense” that is available if we know how to use it.

The Tao or Yin & YangJust like anything in our world, empathy is a polarity.  It can offer just as many beautiful and important blessings as it offers challenges. The difference between those who “suffer” from empathy and those who are blessed with empathy is entirely based in the relationship with it.

Empathy is often a signature of compassionate people.  They tend to be energetically open and “feel” others.  Unfortunately, the openness leaves an unclear boundary, blurring our ability to differentiate between personal energies and emotions versus “outside” energies and emotions.  As a result, many people with strong, innate empathy feel like they are internalizing the emotions and energies of other people within themselves, and the result can be a series of symptoms ranging from feeling drained, nauseous, headaches, irritable, to lethargic.

In fact, there are studies that show the significant effects of “burnout” in the caring professions.  Medical professionals, mental health professionals, massage therapists, energy workers, social workers, and even teachers and customer service representatives are often attracted to their professions because they are empathic, feeling people.  They are what I call the Compassionate Warriors trying to help and be of service to humanity.

Good Listener words on a name tag sticker to show you are sympathetic, empathetic and understanding

Oftentimes, people don’t even realize the side effects of their empathy.  The impact of unmanaged empathy can be a significant “piling on” of subtle influences.  For example, naturally empathic people might find these conditions…

  • Easily distracted, even to the point of ADD/ADHD
  • Tendency toward clutter in their lives
  • Stubborn excess weight regardless of efforts to change
  • Greatest contentment when alone or inside your own thoughts
  • Desire to lose yourself and disappear into mindless activities
  • Low energy — feeling drained by people around you
  • A long and growing list of unfinished projects
  • Shiny object syndrome — too many pulls on your attention
  • Undiagnosable physical pain or other symptoms
  • Lack of clarity of who you are and your life’s vision
  • Sense of being lost or not fitting in
  • Depression and/or malaise
  • Difficulty making your own decisions
  • Feeling repressed by the opinions of others
  • And so much more.

A lucky few have had teachers or mentors who offered some insight into defending against the forces of empathy.  Unfortunately, those helpful defenses too often let us down when we need them the most.  Or, they create dynamics of separation and withdrawal, and that experience is in opposition to the nature of empathic, compassionate people, that the solution is actually a cause of new problems.

The good news is that there are ways to manage your empathy while still being fully present and fully engaged in the world, not withdrawn, not hiding behind an emotional barrier.

When I first started, I had to learn to manage my empathy the hard way.  Over time, I had teachers who taught the usual methods, even though I found out they didn’t always work.  Then, I had teachers who sparked insights that helped me to solve my problem.
== Slammed by Empathy ==
Years ago, I lived right on a large park, and one night I decided to go for a walk.  My attention was drawn to bright lights on the far side of the field, so I decided to investigate.  As I approached, I was hit by powerful sensations of sadness accompanied by headaches and mild nausea.  It was a beautiful summer’s night, and I wasn’t sure what was happening so I continued closer.  The feelings intensified with each step.  And then, I saw it.

The Traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall was in the park.  Imagine slabs of black granite engraved with the names of tens of thousands of military men and women killed during the war.

Consider that Black Granite is a type of crystal that absorbs energy.  The wall itself became the embodiment of all of that sadness for family members and military personal who lost friends and family in a lost cause.  They had come to the wall to grieve, and the crystalline structure of wall accepted the burden of their emotions.  Being open and curious while enjoying a beautiful evening, I was completely susceptible to all of this.

I was completely unprepared, and not able to defend against this powerful immersion in all of this emotion.  By the time I had implemented my “self-defense” barrier, it was too late.  I had immersed myself in the energies and it was impacting me.  Even with what I had learned at that point, the residuals of that experience affected me for the next 2 days.  The memory is still vivid.

While not every experience is that intense, that’s empathy.

== A Monumental Cleansing ==
A few months ago, Linda and I visited the 9/11 Monument on a trip to New York City.  Different from the Vietnam Wall experience, we both knew the depth of the emotions that had been unleashed into that area that awful September, and we were prepared.  We did what we knew to do in order to experience this place and offer our prayers.WTC-Memorial

To our amazement, the architects of the monument did something brilliant in their design.  The monument is a pair of square sunken pools, each outlining the footprint of the two buildings destroyed at the World Trade Center.  The center of each pool is a square opening descending into the depths of the earth, and the outer walls are waterfalls.  The water cascades down the sides to the floor of the pool, and then the water flows across to the central opening where it falls into the earth.

Why is this brilliant?  Water absorbs energy!  The waterfall absorbs and carries the emotions and horror as it flows away from those standing at the edge.  The feelings I expected to have standing there did not rise up.  The monument itself, intended or not, was processing the emotional energies.  The area had a somberness to it, and definitely a reverence, but not the negativity one might expect.

The point to me sharing this is that often as empaths, we feel as if we are subjected to the battering and draining of sensations arising from the people and places around us.  However, that doesn’t have to be the case.  There are effective ways to manage empathy without sacrificing our own experience and connection with the world.

While most of the techniques and methods suggested by teachers work some of the time, they have downsides to them.  They either cut us off from being fully in the world, or they fail us when we need them most.

== Water… The Quick “Solution” for Empaths ==
When dealing with powerful residual energies, water can be an excellent tool to absorb and hold those energies.  When you feel sticky or heavy or notice symptoms after an encounter, simply washing your face and arms and hands in cold water will quickly resolve the issue in most cases.

A shaman I met while visiting Mexico taught me a way to be proactive with challenging clients.  She shared that if you want to proactively avoid having a space filled with heavy energies or emotions, place a bowl of clean water (or having decorative fountains) in the treatment room, and it will automatically gather and cleanse those energies for you.  It is important to periodically change the water, but pour it into the dirt so the earth can process it and not on your plants.

This is just one of many external methods for spiritual and emotional protection.  To me, thought, the ultimate goal is have the protection as an inherent part of who you are.  It can come from within, so you never have to worry about whether your devices are in place and ready.

== Want to Learn More Effective Tools to Manage Your Empathy? ==
Managing your empathy is as simple as learning to help yourself become more aware of those times when you are feeling forces outside of yourself.  You can easily learn to implement outer methods while developing the inner methods of empathic protection.

The beauty of the inner process is that it is not based in separation.  It is based in clarity.  When the inner methods are used, many of the side effects of empathy begin to dissipate.  Even better, when the inner methods are used, the beneficial gifts and blessings of empathy begin to take hold.Empathy-Burnout-c-209

If you would like more information about these tools for empaths, you might consider a one-day workshop called “Empathy Burnout — Survival Training for Compassionate People”.  You will learn to immediately use both the inner and outer methods so you can

free yourself from the challenges of empathy and awaken the gifts.  Click here for details.

In one day, I will teach you…

  • What is empathy, and what is true compassion… it’s not what you think it is!
  • Why the usual methods don’t work when you need them most and what does
  • How to find your boundaries and seal the leaks with quick and simple 2-minute exercises
  • How to recognize when empathy is affecting other areas of your life and how to take back control
  • Effortless self-defense for the empath
  • How to “clean up” when you “miss” and get hit empathically
  • The art of Compassionate Listening… without Self-Sacrifice
  • Contending with Energy Vampires
  • Extra prevention steps for ultra-intense situations
  • And more.

Even better, I’ve extended the Early Bird Registration Period to Wednesday night June 24, 2015 at midnight Central.

The Mystery Teachings

A Colourful Spiral Galaxy in Deep SpaceA Higher Energy grew out of a need.  Many people had a solid spiritual foundation, but they wanted to go deeper.   Serious students of healing and the Inner Path were asking for a way to accelerate their journey of embracing their spiritual core and natural gifts.  They wanted to be more effective and get even more out of their practices.

The key difference between where they were and what they wanted was the direction of focus.  If the intention and need was set externally (what can I influence, who can I do healing work for, or what techniques can I learn and use), a “glass ceiling” would be formed naturally blocking the path of progress.  Often times, the initial progress would be fast and dramatic, and then it typically would slow and stagnate as we hit the ceiling. 

However, if the intention is directed internally (what am I becoming, what is my best self, who am I really, and what limits do I impose upon myself), a powerful shift occurs.  There is no glass ceiling formed, because instead of going “up”, you are going “in”.  Instead of “learning”, you are “remembering”.  Instead of lacking in certain areas, you are already whole and learning to light up the resources that are already in place and readily available.  They are simply as yet undiscovered.

A friend, who was a Jesuit priest, once shared with me that the word “educate” came from Latin.  It means “to lead out”.  The knowledge we need is inside of us.  We only seek to remember.  We find teachers and mentors who can help us with the process of drawing out and trusting our inner knowing.  In my experience, the best mentors I’ve had didn’t give me all the answers.  They guided me in the discovery of my own truth.

In my Hawaiian Training, it is said that with the first 20 years, you become a beginner.  In the Traditional Japanese Reiki teachings, the concept of a Reiki Master is the same… to essentially become a beginner.

What this means is that the objective of the teachings is to know enough to set aside the ego, to set aside desire, and to set aside our need for the external so we can begin the path to the internal.  The quest for the Divine becomes a search for divinity.  The search for learning requires the humility and the self-mastery of being a true novice.  The teacher is no longer outside of us.  The teacher is inside of us.  The learning of spirituality is the living of life.  Growth requires change, and change requires the letting go of attachment to what we know and think and have so we can see what “is”.  It is the recognition of what we are and what we are not.  There are no excuses.

Shinpiden, the Master Level of Traditional Japanese Style Reiki is both a completion and a beginning.  It is a level of expertise and a step into the willingness, the openness, and the innocence of a beginner, supported by a lifetime of experience.

The word “Shinpiden” means the “Mystery Teachings”.  It is very apropos for the course.  The “mystery” is life itself.  To become a master is to begin learning how to really live.  To really live requires the humility to be nothing more and nothing less than what you already are.

If you’d like guidance on your journey, let’s talk and see how we can help.


The Traditional Japanese Reiki Shinpiden (Level 3) Course is March 8 & 15, 2015.  Space is limited.  For details, go to:


The Heart & Science of Bodywork


Over the Fall of 2014, I had the awesome privilege of training close to 1400 professional Massage Therapists all across Illinois in less than 4 months. In doing so, I got to meet and work with people of all skill levels, all levels of knowledge, all backgrounds, and a massive variety of views on the world of bodywork. Some were still brand new in their careers, and I was amazed to have so many attending who were 20, 30, and even a couple of 50+ year veterans in the field.

Working with these talented therapists, I was called to look even deeper into myself, and deeper into this work of healing. Teaching is always about growing – the teacher and student. With each training, the words of my mentor echoed in my thoughts, reminding me of the separation between one who is a highly skilled technician and one who is becoming, or has become, a master of their art.

There are many things that differentiate the two – a technician and a master, and the answer can be as complicated and specific as you like. Or, the answer can be quite simple, and within that simplicity resides realms and realms of wisdom.


Heart-Pages-2Time and time again, I am faced with a powerful question that refuses to allow a simple answer. What are we trying to accomplish?

As massage therapists, we know that as soon as our clients get up off the table, they are reverting back to their postural habits and re-engaging in the backward slide into old pain patterns. So, why encourage people to come spend their money if the physical results too often don’t last?

Nutritionists know that no matter how good the plan provided is, it’s not the total answer. Medical professionals know that patients resist change. So why do we do it? What are we trying to achieve?

As energy workers, we know that once the session is done, life’s stress and fears and angers will draw people back out of their optimal state. So what does this mean about the work we do?

It means people are not just what they eat, the tension and holding patterns in their body, and the state of their thoughts.

Over the years, artists and musicians have come to my trainings to learn about working with energy. Their goals often have nothing to do with seeing clients for treatments. No. They want to learn how to get more “fire” in their music, more passion in their movements, or more life in their art. As artists, they want to “move” people, to “inspire people”.

Perhaps that’s the key. Maybe people only intellectually seek “better health”, “less pain”, “improved mobility”. Maybe that’s the easy answer to distract us from the more challenging path.

When people come in for a massage, they finally feel safe. They finally get to narrow their attention to simply being in the moment to feel, and experience, and live. When people want to “eat better”, what they are really saying is I want live more. When energy moves more fully and more freely, life happens.

That’s the magic of artistry. It is helping people to really feel, and to really live once again, even if only for a moment. When that moment happens and is embraced fully, we enter into a space where magic happens. We find that place where transformation is possible. We find that place in which healing has occurred. The client truly lived in that moment and faced the choice of whether to stay or re-enter the world in the same way.

Life-350When we look at the healing arts as less about change and more about transformation and creating moments of possibility, we can no longer be just physical in our approach. Even if our technical skills are extraordinary, they fade in comparison to the results evoked by a moment created within the convergence of body, mind, spirit, and divinity entering into a unified space of feeling… of being.


This year, my goal is to focus my courses on awakening masters rather than developing skilled technicians. It is a lofty goal. It is a difficult goal. It is a goal to help move you out of what you know and think, freeing the possibility to shift into what you are. It is a goal to end the external search for knowledge and technique, by discovering how to use technique to expand more fully into possibility.

Whether through energy healing, Reflexology, Craniosacral Therapy, the shamanistic healing practices of Hawaii’s Medical Kahuna, it is all available. The path itself doesn’t matter.

This transformation will be the hardest thing you will have ever done. All of your relationships will change. You will never look at life the same way. There is no guarantee that you will complete it, and there is no guarantee that you will survive it. If you have the courage to look inside, I will guide you through this journey and have your back while you become all of who you are with no limits.

Are you willing?

The Sound and Form of Healing

Sound Waves

Our physical body is a complex organization of rhythms, flows,

and cycles.  Our breath, our heart beat, the pulsations of blood through our arteries and veins, the undulation of our digestion, the tidal movement of fluids, the impulse patterns of our neurology and emotions, the emergence and quiescence of consciousness, and the rising and falling rhythms of our etheric are together an elaborate orchestration of movement.

With that movement, the many rhythms of life express as a magnificent unification into music.  The rhythms and patterns become the sound of life coursing through the form.  And extending beyond that, the musical sounds join with harmonies of the world and the cosmos around you and the actions you take become the melody in the song of life.

Over and over again, the expression of life and the subtle harmony of existance work together to find purity of form.

Many systems of natural healing utilize sound to reawaken primal memory of life and vitality.  Sound healing bathes the body in waves of vibration to stimulate and to invite new states of being.  Gong Baths, chakra bowls, and tuning forks are all examples of this work.

We think back to our most natural instincts to calm a baby or even ourselves is to gently sing.  In that sharing of heart and voice, the energies soothe the spirit and the body.

The power of music is in the reawakening of memories.  We connect times of joy and sadness with the songs that we love.  We remember the sense of freedom, of hope, of limitless possibility with the songs of our lives.

Sound is a powerful healer, because it is so much more than simply lyrics and chords.  Sound is movement.  It is an interconnecting vibration.  It is a union of the heavens and physical life.  It joins heart and mind and breath with the spirit of now, the spirits of those with us, and the spirit of the one generating the sound.

In these joinings, there comes an alignment into a pure, timeless  state of wholeness. 

In the older traditions in the Art of Reiki, sound and form become tools for remembering.  They help us to remember our original nature.  Within the vibrations of those primal sounds found throughout nature – the chirping of birds, the babbling of a stream, that patter of rain, the rustling of leaves, we reconnect with nature within us.  We connect with the most pure elements of life.

When we make these connections, our own life takes on the process of cleansing and clearing, bringing ourselves more in tune with life.  We remember the truth, and the blockages we have created emerge to the surface for us to see more clearly.  As these blocks surface, they are freed to dissolve into the world around us or become a source of strength moving forward.

Sound and form are intrinsicly one.  To learn to use the power of sound and form, we invite you join us for Okuden: Traditional Japanese Style Reiki II – The Inner Teachings of Reiki.

The one-day training is Sunday April 13th and the foundations of prior Reiki 1 Training is required.  This course will provide you with a lifetime of study and self-discovery.

Plus, below is the full schedule of classes for April-May-June 2014.  Or, you can get all the details at:

We look forward to seeing you soon.

Why Angels Don’t Expect “Please”


Your angels are around you, and they are paying attention with all of their love and compassion.  They hear your prayers for guidance and direction.  They hear your requests for help as you meet the struggles of life.  They stand by your side during the times of celebration and celebrate with you.  They stand by you during times of tears, and they cry with you.

We all experience those moments when the presence of the angels is so clear, and then we spend the rest of the time convincing ourselves that we never feel them or hear them.  Miracles happen in our lives, but what we pay most attention to is the long periods of silence that span the time in between.

But, what if those long periods of time in between aren’t just silence?  What if that time of silence is a time of observation?  What if it is a time of them listening to us?

A wise astronomer once “bucked” the conventional wisdom that outer space is a vacuum saying that outer space is filled with an energy that we cannot yet measure.  What if the silence in between is the activities of the angels doing work that we can’t yet perceive?  Or better yet, what if that expanse of silence is the period of the angels saying, I’ve done my work.  Now you do yours.

Spiritual wisdom recognizes a duality of forces – a natural flow between heaven and earth and back again.  The cycle moves and dances symbiotically and even interdependently as one supports and nourishes the other for the good of the whole.

In this vision of the goodness of the whole, there is no space to say “please” do this for me.  The word “please” means to do a favor, which is to make an exception, or to override what is already true.  From a spiritual perspective, allowing for “please” is a recipe for chaos.

However, what if there was a spiritually correct way to say please?  What if there was a way that worked with the natural order of creation?  What if that opportunity was the silent time when we’ve been waiting for the angels to do something else?

Our world changes when the angels do what they do and create miracles.  So, what is a miracle?  The angels commit themselves to a stance.  They commit themselves to a way of being, accepting what is right and true.  Based on that, they act.  They don’t “maybe sort-of” act and hope it’s going to be ok.  They act.  They do what must be done.

The angels don’t come forward to us and say, “I see we are about to get into a devastating car accident that will likely end our life.  May I please intercede on our behalf?”  Remember that our personal angels are our spiritual partners and have mutual investment in this life.

The angel’s “please” comes from the soul agreements made coming into the life.  It stems from a full commitment for the best spiritual growth of the life.  Therefore, to not act, would be to fail in the duties and soul commitment of the angel.

On the other hand, for each one of us, the “please” is the act of vision and courage to first plant the seeds for the solutions or way of being we want to be before asking for help.  The “please” is the demonstration that clearly states “these are the seeds I have planted and to which I am committed to giving life.” 

By bringing to action a new set of values, a new commitment to health, a new resolve to kindness, a deeper search for knowledge or whatever the choice, the momentum of your earthly action opens a space in the heavens that can only be met with an equal response.  The tide flows from the earth to the heavens and back to the earth.  The answers may not look exactly as we want them to look, but the answers will come.

There are so many ways to communicate with your angels.  Having a direct voice to voice interaction is a blessing of such depth.  But even when those channels are not as open as desired, we can always find ways get the messages traveling back and forth.  When the silence comes, perhaps it is your turn to do the “talking” with your words, with your actions, and with your heart.

In the One Light,
Rick Vrenios


If you would like to learn Rick’s method to open the pathways to angel communication, check out the Reaching through the Veils Workshop available both in-person and online webinar simulcast.

Living Life

Every man dies.  Not every man truly lives.
~ William Wallace – Braveheart Movie

Perceiving Our World

We don’t see things as they are.  We see them as we are.
~ Anais Nin

Meditation – Bridging Spirit & Physical (Part 2)

In this second part of “Meditation – Bridging the Spirit & the Physical”, let’s explore the “whys” and “hows” of meditation.

First, though, let me say that there is no wrong way to meditate.  In fact, there are countless methods ranging from strict fasting in silent solitude to quiet contemplation to active movement such as Tai Chi, Yoga, or other exercise.  Even walking can be a meditative practice when done with the correct mind-set.  Regardless of which style you choose to incorporate, it is important to keep in mind that your personal practice and the methods you use will evolve with you as a process of spiritual self-discovery. » Read more..

Meditation – Bridging Spirit & Physical (Part 1)

Sunset Meditation


Today, I want to share with you Part 1 of a 2-part article I wrote about a year ago, but never published.  It is about the role of meditation as the bridge between the spirit and the physical consciousness.

Meditation is one of the greatest and most generous gifts you can give to yourself.  The benefits affect every part of your life, and the applications of meditation are endless.  If you are willing to dedicate just a small part of your day to reconnecting with the spiritual part of yourself in this conscious, on-purpose way, you will find yourself becoming more at peace, more confident, better able to make good choices, and so much more. » Read more..