Archive for October, 2015

12 animal quotes that will inspire you

I got to pet a super soft koala bear for the first time this week while visiting Featherdale Wildlife Park in Sydney, Australia. This trip Down Under—seeing the native wildlife, helping shelter cats and teaching Reiki classes—has allowed me the opportunity to slow down a little and reflect on the vital role animals have played in my career and life. I’m so grateful for all of the lessons they’ve taught me through the years, and all of the heartful connections I’ve been able to make. So as my Aussie trip winds down, I’m reminded of my favorite, most inspiring quotes about animals. I’ve always loved the sentiments behind these 12 quotations (do they make you smile, too?):

“Cats are angels with fur.” – Sark

The greatest gift we can give to the animals

Have you ever wondered: What is the greatest gift we can give to the animals? Things like providing them a safe home, healthy food and access to veterinary care come to mind. Those are all wonderful things. Now imagine if you had a million dollars—you could give all that money to your favorite animal shelter or sanctuary (or even start your own).

Unfortunately, all of those things cost money. What is the greatest gift we can give to the animals that doesn’t cost a thing? (Aside from the obvious answer: love.)

The answer to that question came to me during my years of Reiki work with animals. And it is quite simple, really: to be in the moment. That really is the biggest gift we can give to the animals—to be present and with an open heart, right here and right now—without anger or worry or ego. And meditation can help bring us to this peaceful place.

Meditation helps you find that space where the animals can reach out to you and connect with you.

This isn’t always so easy to do, but luckily, animals will really help us. A lot of my students come to me and say, “Oh no, it’s a meditation with your animal? But I hate doing meditation. I can’t meditate. My mind won’t quiet.”

And I say, “Well, do you meditate by yourself?”

“Well, yes.”

“OK. Instead, try meditating with your animal. Ask your animal to help you meditate. Ask your cat. Ask your dog. Ask your guinea pig. Ask your rabbit. Go out in the pasture and ask your horse or your cow or your goat or your sheep. Ask your bird. Ask your lizard. Ask your fish.”

When you share a meditative space with an animal, it is much easier to let go of that monkey mind because animals’ minds are much quieter than ours. So when we open up and share an energetic space, they teach us how to let go and just be. They do that already very easily.

A wonderful meditation to use is the Joshin Kokyu Ho meditation, which involves Hara (lower belly) breathing. With this meditation, we breathe in through the nose and connect with the Hara, and then breath out and expand. Inhale and connect, exhale and expand. This meditation is a traditional Japanese technique, and it helps us to get in touch with the Hara—our center, grounding and stability.

This is why I encourage my students to meditate as often as possible. Meditation helps you find that space where the animals can reach out to you and connect with you. Meditation helps us quiet our minds and go inward—and that truly is the greatest gift we can give to the animals. Of course, depending on how you look at it, that is also one of the greatest gifts the animals can give to us.

Excerpted from How to Help Animals With Reiki by Kathleen Prasad

Debunking 5 of the most stubborn myths about pit bulls

Pit bull discrimination is a terrible problem in our society. It wasn’t always this way. Historically, pit bulls were celebrated. Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson had one; so did Fred Astaire and General George Patton. And consider Petey from Little Rascals or even brave Sergeant Stubby, a stray who won many metals and became a celebrity after helping wounded soldiers on the battlefield during WWI, locating them, boosting morale and warning soldiers of poison gas attacks. He even captured a German spy!

“Pit bull” isn’t even technically a breed; the term actually refers to the American Pit Bull Terrier, the Bull Terrier, the American Staffordshire Terrier and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. But over the years, these dogs increasingly became involved in dog fighting (thanks in no part to terrible humans), and the media began writing sensational stories. So today we have a problem where “pit bull” equals “monster” to most (uninformed) people.

Luckily, we have wonderful organizations around the world, like Out of the Pits—And Into Your Hearts, dedicated to helping educate the public about the truths of pit bulls, and hopefully rescue more of them from shelters. The statistics don’t look good. Unfortunately, 33 percent of animal shelter populations are made up of pit bulls, and only 1 in 600 will find a loving family. The rest will be euthanized. And every year, 1 million are put down. One million!

Only 1 in 600 pit bulls will find a loving family

My hope is that someday pit bulls can regain the respect, compassion and love they deserve. Until then, here are five of the most stubborn myths about pit bulls—debunked:

Myth #1: Pit bulls are not safe family pets. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, did you know they are not recommended as guard dogs because they are too safe and trusting of strangers? Their great love, gentleness and compassion for people earned these dogs the nickname “nanny dog” in the early 19th and 20th centuries. Go here (and scroll down) for a very cool infographic showing the history of pit bulls. Here’s a wonderful video that captures a sweet and loving rescued pit bull relaxing into one of my Reiki treatments:

Myth #2: Their jaws lock shut when they bite. Where did this myth begin, anyway? It’s just not true, as anyone who has studied basic dog anatomy would know. And as this professor of veterinary medicine at Cornell puts it: “There is no such thing as ‘jaw locking’ in any breed.”

Myth #3: Pit bull fighting dogs can never be rehabilitated. Not true! Overcoming abuse is difficult for any animal. But this is a dangerous myth, as these dogs can be turned around, and there are countless success stories out there. Here’s just one, an inspiring story about Little Red, one of Michael Vick’s fighting dogs:

Myth #4: Pit bulls are naturally dangerous. Actually, pit bulls are naturally intelligent and loving. And they are also perfect choices for service and therapy dogs. Here is one inspiring organization rescuing pit bulls from shelters in Chicago and pairing them with military veterans: Pits for Patriots.

Myth #5: We need laws banning pit bulls to protect people. Shame on you Denver and the more than 700 other communities that have banned pit bulls and euthanized thousands of dogs based on their physical appearance. Family pets are killed or hidden away (with no access to local veterinary care), and Animal Control “decides” which dogs are pit bulls or not. Even veterans within the city limits have lost their service dogs! Studies show that Breed Specific Legislation, as it’s called, fails to decrease dog bites or ensure public safety. It should be made illegal now. Here’s a petition you can sign to demand Colorado stop killing innocent dogs.

So let’s never forget these beautiful souls can also be thought of as heroes, service dogs, therapy dogs, best friends, family members and cuddle bugs. And make sure to mark your calendars for Saturday, October 24: National Pit Bull Awareness Day! Do you have a special pit bull in your life? Share your stories below.

Why I love the Cat Protection Society

Here’s a wonderful nonprofit animal shelter I’d like to share with you today: the Cat Protection Society in Australia. I can’t wait to see the cats (and hopefully some of you) at my special one-day workshop at this shelter next Monday (click here for more info).

Cat Protection Society, which has been rescuing and rehoming cats since 1958, does such amazing work. Here are some fun facts about this wonderful shelter for cats:

BASED IN: Newtown, New South Wales, Australia

cat protection 1

How positive affirmations can transform your life

Affirmations are a great way to keep your energy high. Any time you have a negative thought, just turn it around and say the opposite. At first, it may feel like you’re making it up, but your mind is very suggestible; it believes whatever you tell it with your inner voice.

Unfortunately, most of us go around our whole lives saying all kinds of negative things to ourselves. We tell ourselves, “You can’t do that. You can’t do this.”  Perhaps it is something we carry from our childhood or the way our culture influences us. Our inner mind believes what we teach it. Our inner self believes what we practice. That’s why it’s so important to choose what to teach our minds and practice in our thoughts! When we start to think the opposite (something positive) it feels a bit weird and strange at first, and it feels like we’re making it up. Things can’t possibly be positive, can they? Nothing that good can ever happen to me! But guess what? Over time, you’ll notice that you’re feeling better. Over time and with practice, when you say an affirmation, it will start to feel true. “I can do this. I feel good. I feel happy.” You will begin to recognize that simple positive words have shifted the energy has within you.

It’s as easy as saying an affirmation as soon as you catch yourself with a negative thought; this simple practice can help you to be in a more positive space. Animals really sense it, too, and this is key. Even if you’re not doing Reiki or mindfulness meditation, if you’re actively doing affirmations, you’re going to see a shift in the way animals feel about you. More animals will come to you. More animals will be drawn to your good energy.

I can do this. I feel good. I feel happy.

In my life, I have seen that affirmations really open doors. When I am stuck, I just start with affirmations, and it may take some time but change will come. First, I try to visualize and see in my mind what the affirmations are saying to me; as soon as I can visualize and see a potential for something, then I can go deeper with it and start to feel it emotionally. Then it becomes easier to make it happen!

We know that everything that’s ever happened physically in this world has always started in somebody’s mind and in somebody’s thought process. Nobody ever accomplished anything good and amazing without first seeing it in the mind. So affirmations are a way to train our minds to that potential of goodness, of happiness, of joy and of all good things coming to us. When our minds begin to see the good, then we open the doors to helping positivity manifest in the physical world. And even better, lots of animals will want to be around us to watch it all unfold!

What are your favorite affirmations?

Adapted from How to Help Animals With Reiki by Kathleen Prasad