With the new year just around the corner—in a few hours it will be 2016!—it got me thinking about my hopes for the coming year. 2015 was a mixed year for the animals—we lost Cecil the Lion, but the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service finally added African lions to the Endangered Species List. My parents lost their beloved black Lab, and my sister her cherished kitten following a deadly illness, but I also have many friends experiencing great joy by opening their homes to welcome new animal companions. New Jersey passed a comprehensive dog-fighting law, but the state, like many others, still allows bear hunting. Oklahoma and Pennsylvania boosted penalties for harming a police dog; meanwhile, France lost a brave 7-year-old police dog named Diesel, who was killed in a raid on apartments following the Paris attacks.
I suppose that with every year, for animals there is good along with the bad—but sometimes, when we lose animals we love or witness cruelties or abuse to animals, it can be hard to focus on the good. With that in mind, I would like to wish all of my heartful tribe a happy 2016 filled with the peace and light of Reiki and the companionship and wisdom of your favorite animals. Here are some of my wishes for 2016, a year that I hope holds more good than ever before for our animal friends:
Wish #1: Compassion. Meeting Gene Baur of Farm Sanctuary this year was such a tremendous honor for me. Knowing there are articulate, passionate animal advocates such as Gene gives me real hope for the animals of our world. I know people who aren’t “animal people” are not going to change overnight. But my hope for 2016 is that we can continue to work toward changing people’s collective consciousness when it comes to animals. Maybe one day, animals will be regarded with the same dignity as humans—and 2016 can be a true beginning to meeting that goal. Helping children learn to love animals is a start. The Meat Free Monday movement is another small change that can greatly impact the animal world. I yearn for a time when people realize they need to bring their animals inside during inclement weather, and not leave them panting in hot cars. I hope we can begin to awaken to the understanding that perhaps animals are not products for us to consume, but rather beings worthy of our respect and protection.
Wish #2: Gratitude. My wish for 2016 is that everyone (myself included) can remember to find gratitude in each day, even when life feels like it’s falling apart around you. That we can look into our animal’s eyes and feel grounded again, at least for that moment. That we can make time to count our blessings and feel in our hearts that each day truly is a gift, because it may be our last. Life is such a blessing; may our animals help us to realize this each and every day.
Wish #3: Unity. When I spoke at the ARC International Reiki Convention in Australia in October, I was struck by so many Reiki teachers from different lineages coming together for a common goal. The experience actually inspired me to create World Animal Reiki Day, which will fall on February 5 in 2016 and beyond. Make sure to mark your calendar—animal lovers around the globe will be coming together on this day to celebrate and honor all animals as our spiritual teachers.
Wish #4: Generosity. Animals are often forgotten when people open their pocketbooks to give money to charity. According to the most recent statistics available, charities classified as “animals/environment” received just 3 percent of the $358 billion donated in the U.S.—compare that to 32 percent given to religious institutions. My wish for 2016 is for generosity toward animals. That more people will remember the animals when they think about which organizations they want to support. To those who argue that nonprofits helping people need to be the top priority, I answer: They already are. So now it is the animals that need us so much. They are living beings who share this world, too, after all.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year … for plenty of us. But the holiday season is not a happy one for many of the world’s winter animals, which increasingly face a variety of threats, from extinction and oil spills to hunting and habitat loss. I’ve rounded up a few of my favorite winter animals, along with some smart ways we can all help winter animals survive and thrive for generations to come:
Like many of the winter animals on this list, the Arctic fox is threatened by climate change, which changes the snow line and pushes them into new areas lacking prey. But they face another danger, too: the fur trade. You can help Arctic foxes and other animals used for their fur by living fur-free and just saying no to fur. PETA offers this pledge on their website; you can also tweet your support with hashtags #FurFreeFriday and #FurFreeForever. Learn more about the arctic fox here on the WWF website.
Mark your calendars: World Animal Reiki Day is February 5, 2016! This special day, organized by me and the volunteer members of my Shelter Animal Reiki Association (SARA), is a wonderful opportunity for all of us to help make a better future for the animals in our world. And what better way to bring people together to honor animals than through peace, healing and compassion?
There are so many ways to celebrate! Here are just a few ideas. You can:
Light a candle to honor your animal teachers.
Sit in silent Reiki meditation with your animals.
Perform an act of kindness or compassion for your local shelter or sanctuary.
Share your special messages and photos on the SARA Facebook page.
Tweet messages and pics using the hashtag #WorldAnimalReikiDay.
Organize an animal Reiki event in your local community via workshops, radio interviews, school visits and the like.
Join me at BrightHaven in California from noon – 3 p.m. on February 5 for a special World Animal Reiki Day event. Email me for more details.
Join me on Google+ for a live message of healing and light for the global Reiki community (details to follow on my website and Facebook page).
Enter my Facebook photo contest starting February 1 (watch our SARA Facebook page for details), and win a free treatment with me or signed copies of my books.
Say “Happy World Animal Reiki Day!” just for fun throughout the day anytime anyone says hi!
World Animal Reiki Day is celebrated on February 5 to honor Dakota Prasad, the special puppy I rescued in 1992 from animal control. Dakota was my best friend, my first animal Reiki teacher and the inspiration behind SARA. You can see how special Dakota was in this memorial tribute video:
Thank you for joining us on this special day of love and compassion for animals. Tell me, how will you be celebrating World Animal Reiki Day?
Though we sadly lost self-help guru and bestselling author Wayne Dyer in August, his inspiring quotes will live on forever. Here are a few of my favorites, which speak to his empathy, persistence and peaceful nature:
“Change the way you look at things, and the things you look at change.”
“How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours.”
“You are not stuck where you are unless you decide to be.”
On being critical:
“When you judge another, you do not define them, you define yourself.”
On living the life you always wanted:
“Go for it now. The future is promised to no one.”
On keeping the peace:
“Conflict cannot survive without your participation.”
On starting anew:
“You leave old habits behind by starting out with the thought, ‘I release the need for this in my life.’”
On following your passions:
“There is no scarcity of opportunity to make a living at what you love; there’s only scarcity of resolve to make it happen.”
“Loving people live in a loving world. Hostile people live in a hostile world. Same world.”
On never giving up:
“If you believe it will work out, you’ll see opportunities. If you believe it won’t, you see obstacles.”
Do you have a favorite Wayne Dyer quote? Share it here!
What could be more merry than shopping for holiday presents for the kids in our lives? While it’s super fun to make their holidays magical, don’t forget to balance out all that consumerism with some charitable giving—specifically, teaching children about the spirit of giving and helping those less fortunate during the holidays. With that in mind, here are five easy ways kids can help animals this holiday season:
1. Focus on their favorite animal. Does she love horses or dolphins? Does he love K-9 dogs? This is a perfect time of year to foster that love and show them how they can help the animals they love most in this world. Find a relevant sanctuary sure to interest them, then find ways to make it real and really bring the issue home. You can sponsor an animal in their name (which usually comes with photos and updates on the animal’s progress) and even plan a visit to a local rescue where they can see these animals being helped.