Animal Communication and Animal Reiki: Recognizing Differences
These days, many animal communicators have their training in the system of Reiki and find the two go hand-in-hand. So, you may ask: what is the difference between an Animal Communication (AC) session and an Animal Reiki (AR) session? And why does this difference matter in a professional context?
AC and AR, for many people, intertwine and interconnect, and many say that Reiki enhances their communication work with animals and vice versa. Although complementary in many ways, the two techniques are not identical: they have different aims. It’s good to remember this if you decide to practice both AC and AR professionally, so that you can have a stronger and more clear intention in your work with the animals. Keeping the two modalities separate will help you be at your best for each, and will clarify for your clients and students what to expect for each kind of session.
With Animal Communication, the goal is to create a dialog between the communicator and the animal: to listen to what the animal has to say as well as sharing that information. Communicators provide feedback to the animal’s human companion about issues that may be going on. In other words, communication is about interpreting the animals messages. Animal communicators advocate for the animal, as well as give support to the human companions by clarifying issues that are confusing or unknown (for example surrounding unknown behavior problems, the dying process, or lost animals). AC, like AR, begins with a meditative process, but the goal is different in that communicators create an active dialogue with the animal.
With Animal Reiki, the practitioner’s goal is to become as quiet and open as possible so that they can hold a space of peace and compassion for the animal. This peace and compassion have a very profound healing effect. Practitioners do not need to know what the animal’s problem is, as they do not direct the healing or manipulate energy towards this or that problem. Sometimes, knowing what the animal’s issue is can actually create an obstacle to AR connection, since it’s important to keep one’s state of mind open and not focused on what is “wrong.” The animal leads the session, deciding if, when and how to connect with the healing space created. Scientific studies show that Reiki activates the parasympathetic response, bringing balance, stress-relief, pain-relief and a sense of wellbeing to the client.
AR practitioners may or may not receive intuitive information as a result of the deep energetic connection created during the treatment: such information, when received, is merely a by-product of the deep connection, but is not the goal or purpose of the treatment. By focusing on meditation, AR practitioners work on being peaceful and fully present, without expectation and with an open, compassionate heart. In a nutshell: AR begins with a meditative process, as does AC, however the goal is very passive: practitioners simply “hold space” to support animals to heal themselves.
For many people who practice AR, it becomes clearer and easier for their intuitive information to flow. For others, the energetic connection of the AR treatment may not result in receiving any intuitive information. Either way, intuitive messages are not indicators of whether or not the AR treatment was successful. For AC practitioners, if information comes through during an AR session, nothing needs to be done with this information. It often simply indicates a shift towards balance or an energetic “echo” of a past experience as it heals and releases. In this case, if the AR practitioner also practices AC, they can suggest scheduling an AC session at a later time, when they can fully focus on these messages with an active intention.
What about doing both AR and AC together during the same session? As a practitioner, being active and passive are two opposite ways of approaching a situation. It’s impossible to do them at the same time, and very difficult to flow from one to the other, back and forth, within the context of a single meditation session. In my experience, mixing AC and AR becomes very confusing in many ways.
Confusing for AR students:
Although I started out practicing AC and AR together for several years, I made the decision to focus on AR in my professional practice. This was because I no longer wanted to divide my meditation focus and intention. I believe my decision to specialize has greatly improved my AR practice. Many students now come to me thinking AC and AR are the same. Some even think that by learning AR, they are automatically becoming an animal communicator. Others feel disappointed if their AR practice doesn’t result in receiving psychic messages from the animals.
Confusing for Animals:
One of the beautiful benefits of the AR experience for animals is that they can truly let go into the wide open space of peace and compassion. In this space there are no words, just the light of the universe, the light of love and the light of healing possibility. To allow the animals to completely and fully experience the healing power of this light means we have to stop talking to them. Expectations for dialogue during this sacred quiet time may confuse them. Should they relax into the space, or should they respond to our questions? Should they let go of their issues, or should share them with us so they can get a message across to their humans? It is very difficult for an animal to fully relax into the Reiki space if we have AC expectations.
Confusing for AR and AC Clients:
It can also be confusing for clients who don’t understand the differences between the two modalities. I’ve had many experiences where clients ask for an AR session because they want me to talk to their animal and find out what is going on. I then have to explain that this is not what I do, that I only offer a healing space for the animal, without any kind of dialogue. These confused expectations usually result from the client receiving a past AR session which included an extensive AC reading (as part of the AR–something many professional practitioners do these days). On the other hand, if a client has had an AC session in the past that included energy healing, this would cause expectations for a healing session being included future AC sessions. This is problematic because not all AC practitioners practice AR.
Confusing for Animal Organizations:
I’ve had two separate situations where AR was banned from an animal organization because an animal communicator (mixing AR and AC) shared psychic messages from the animals that made a negative impression with the staff. Both situations involved a communication that went directly against the veterinarian’s health plan. Despite my attempts at explaining that this was AC and not AR, both organizations stopped welcoming AR classes, and one had the supervising veterinarian stop all volunteer AR sessions for the shelter animals in their care. I know that both of these situations involved an AC session that overstepped ethical bounds (AC ethics do not condone going against vet advice), but this situation would not have affected me or my students if AC and AR were understood to be separate from one another.
All in all, to be clear with animals, students, clients and the public, to recognize each of the professions in their own right and to acknowledge the training, skills and intention that each require, I highly recommend keeping AC and AR separate from one another, in discussion, in teaching and in practice.
Photo © Lexie Cataldo