Just Relax!

If you are trying to get pregnant and it’s taking longer than you’d hoped, Just Relax!

Ha ha. That was a joke. A little infertility humor, if you will. Because you will hear those two words over and over again. Doctors and practitioners love giving this advice. As do friends, family, and acquaintances. Years ago, when my friend Kari* was having trouble conceiving, I took her aside and told her the story my parents told me. They had tried and tried for a baby and couldn’t get pregnant. At the doctor’s office, the M.D. said, “Just relax.” So my parents took a vacation. Ta-Da! Here I am today. So I told Kari, “Just relax.” She graciously nodded. Inside, she must’ve been ready to clobber me. Sorry, Kari. Now that I’m in similar shoes, I not only realize that you probably heard those words 1,400,073 times before, but that you were relaxing–and it still wasn’t working.


This is me, about two weeks ago, experiencing my first Reiki treatment. Do I look relaxed? I’m not. Lying on the table, I wanted to crawl out of my skin. It’s hard for me to sink into a place of stillness.

Reiki is a Japanese healing technique for physical ailments. You settle onto a massage table (clothed) and the practitioner places her hands on (or above) your body. Through the light touch, Reiki subscribers believe that the practitioner channels energy to restore wellbeing. I have mixed feelings about the therapy, but I do think it can help bring people into a state of deep relaxation (which is important given all the anxiety, insomnia, and stress that can accompany infertility).

I stumbled upon Reiki unexpectedly when I was in Chicago on business. Chicago happens to be the city where Pulling Down the Moon is headquartered, a holistic fertility center that works with patients going through advanced reproductive technologies. I was there to meet one of the founders, Beth Heller. After spilling my guts to Beth about how much trouble I’ve had getting pregnant, she offered to have Lisa Espinosa, a Reiki practitioner, give me a treatment.

I climbed onto the table and closed my eyes. Lisa has a soothing voice, and she began talking about the energy in my body as she moved her hands over me. I melted into the sheets. My breathing slowed. I was on the verge of drifting off when . . . Whoa! . . . I had an urge to hop off the table and shake my body. I was itching to jump around, but I wasn’t sure I was allowed to move. That made things worse. I froze and my muscles tightened. Lisa assured me I was free to shake my hands, stretch me legs, and wiggle around. So I did. But it got me thinking: when I tried acupuncture, I always got restless right at the point where I was about to cross over from being sorta relaxed to really relaxed. And in yoga class, Savasana (resting pose), is difficult for me.

Walking out of Pulling Down the Moon that day, I realized that I still have a big lesson to learn. How to Just Relax. So maybe it’s good advice after all.

Related Reading: Reiki for Life by Penelope Quest (Tarcher/Penguin; 2010).

*Today, my friend Kari has three beautiful children.

About Jenny Rough

Jenny Rough is a lawyer-turned-writer. Visit her on the web at www.jennyrough.com

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