When our animals are sick, it can be very difficult to stay positive. The more upset and emotional we become, the more it weighs upon our animals, as they are so sensitive to our inner states. Here are four ways to shift into the positive when life gets us down:
1. Look inward.
Through your own personal daily meditation practice, you will heal layer upon layer within yourself. As you shed these layers, like peeling an onion, you will uncover your bright and beautiful inner light. And, yes, there may be tears. 🙂 But they are good tears of healing and release. The more you can see the bright light in yourself, the more you can recognize it in someone else. You will begin to be able to see animals in a different way! This all starts within your own experience—only then can you share it with others.
2. See with your “Reiki eyes.”
In other words, see with your heart. See more deeply than the surface of things. Realize that the true essence of the animal is always perfect, no matter what physical issues may be faced.
3. Notice the silver lining.
In any situation, there is always a positive. Sometimes, while sitting with a very sick dog in a chaotic shelter setting, I would look up at the sky and admire the beauty of the clouds and be grateful to be alive and healthy enough to help someone else in that moment. Or when sitting with a hospice animal at BrightHaven, I would realize the blessings of love and peacefulness surrounding the animal—how wonderful they managed to come to BrightHaven for his or her final chapter in this life.
4. Find an affirmation as a mantra.
Pick a positive word and use that to focus your mind when it begins to turn toward fearful or emotional thinking. For example, if you are sharing Reiki with a fearful dog, try using the word “love.” If you are sharing Reiki with an animal who is in pain, try using the word “peace.” Bring your whole heart to this word and chant it to yourself each time your mind begins to focus on what is “wrong” in that moment.
The more that our energy releases fear and sadness, the more we can radiate love and compassion. This beautiful positivity radiates all around us and will help animals to remember their own self-healing power. Animals will be drawn to be with us even when they don’t feel well because they feel our positive energy. We can walk this journey of healing side by side. The most powerful healing gift we can give to them when they are facing illness is our clear sight: seeing them as they really are—as beautiful perfect bright lights!
Do you have any secrets for staying positive when your animal is sick?
The concept of “mindfulness” has been on my mind a lot lately. Not just because it’s splashed across headlines and gaining wider acceptance in the U.S. (even corporate America is embracing “mindfulness”)—but also because I spend so much time with animals in my work. And as I’ve written about before, animals are mindfulness masters who teach us important lessons about living mindfully every single day.
But with so much out there in the world about mindfulness these days, I’ve noticed absolutely no one is talking about a vital ingredient to living a truly mindful life: the heart. In other words, I believe you cannot be mindful without also being heartful—feeling and embracing the abundance of emotions and feelings in one’s heart. Without the heart component, mindfulness leads to a calm and aware state of being, yes, but also a state of indifference or detachment.
You cannot be mindful without also being heartful.
In Japanese, the character “kokoro” means mind and heart (the same). So in Japanese tradition, your mind has to unify with your heart for you to be in the “right” space for healing. This idea—a fusing of heart and mind—fits well with my Reiki work with animals. When we sit or walk mindfully with our animals, our hearts open so we can radiate our inner compassion. And with our furry friends by our side, offering their unconditional love and acceptance of us, we are able to access our inner peace more easily. The heartful thinking that follows promotes generosity, openness to others, healing and more.
So next time you think of living mindfully, remember the importance of living heartfully, too. Instead of falling into old patterns of thinking—that the mind and the heart (thinking vs. feeling) merely battle one another—embrace the possibility of heart and mind existing as one and in partnership.
I’ve said before that animals are our greatest teachers. My beloved dog Dakota was my first animal Reiki teacher. And the animals I’ve worked with over the years have taught me so much about compassion and even guidance on meditation. But the other day, as I caught sight of my dog Mystic napping contentedly in her little dog bed, I realized the animals teach us other important lessons, too. Do any of these spiritual lessons from animals sound familiar to you?
1. Unconditional love. Mystic loves me when I’m in my PJs, grumpy, sick and even if the house is messy. No matter what mood I’m in, she’s there for me without judgement. It’s definitely a perk when you share your life with a dog, isn’t it? You can just be yourself. And it’s always been the same for the other dogs I’ve shared my life with, too (and also the cats!). Even my horses love and accept me for who I am. They don’t tell me, “Be different. Change who you are.” The wisdom of animals in rising above and embracing their humans (warts and all) is something for me to remember, learn and carry over into my life and those I share it with.
I’ve realized something about myself this past week: It’s really, really hard for me to let go of “stuff.” Even if said stuff is crammed into every nook and cranny of my closets, garage and cupboards and I haven’t seen it in ages.
But thanks to the inspirational (and doable) tips from author Marie Kondo in her bestselling book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, I’m happy to report that paring down is getting easier by the day. And the benefits really are life-changing: I’m feeling newly inspired in my business. I feel mentally “lighter.” And the serenity of this experience has reminded me, again, how we have much to learn from our animals.
When I first heard about her book and the so-called KonMari method of tidying up and its connection to happiness, I immediately thought: I have to try this. But where to begin? This book is showing me the light. After just 2 days of organizing, I’m already seven large bags (ready for Goodwill) lighter, three closets more organized and two bookshelves cleaner. Awesome!
The basic idea is this: Every item in your home should “spark joy,” and objects need (and even want) to serve a purpose. We imbue the objects around us with our energy, so if they don’t bring us happiness, they weigh us down—and it’s time to say goodbye. It’s as easy as saying a simple, “Thank you,” to those objects for the joy that they brought you (or the use they fulfilled) in the past, and then … let them go. I love the positive focus the book has on the things we keep, rather than the things we get rid of. As I began the process, little did I know I was embarking on a life-altering experience full of raw feelings tangled up with old junk.
Out with the old …
I started with my master bedroom closet. But my excitement for getting organized soon deflated as I realized the contents before me had transformed into a Pandora’s box of negative emotions. I’m talking really heavy emotions—emotions surprisingly attached to things.
As I dug through a too-high pile of shirts, pants, dresses and the like, the clothes transported me to places in my past. Sometimes, places where I didn’t want to go. A lot of these clothes, I realized—which I wasn’t currently wearing—were from my long months of cancer and radiation treatments. Guess what? Whenever I saw them, which was virtually every day, they sparked bad, negative feelings inside of me. They always reminded me of my cancer—and who wants to think about that?! So I got rid of them. But remembering all of that was painful.
With those dumped into garbage bags, then I noticed: Wow, a lot of my new clothes are Pilates clothes—and let me tell you, these ignite happiness within me! They make me feel strong. I never thought I’d lift weights again—but here I am, able to do just that. I sorted through everything, memories of my past and hopes for the future. Now everything in my closet is something I love (bad memories begone!). I’m so much happier when I look in my drawers now. I feel practically weightless.
It’s amazing to me how such a small thing can resonate deeply the way this has. Perhaps that’s why Kondo’s book has connected with so many people. It gives real tips to help you achieve an emotional positivity that you can’t really put your finger on. But it’s there.
- My new, serene closet
- Happiness in a drawer
- Only books that I absolutely adore
This part amazed me. After cleaning out my closet, I was able to, finally, revamp my Equine Reiki Manual, which I’ve been wanting to do for a few years. I just didn’t know how I wanted to change it so it just sat in the back of my mind. But then it totally came to me in a magical moment of inspiration after going through this process, throwing out tons of stuff, and bringing more Zen into my daily living space. This is not a coincidence, my dear readers.
Again, the animals are our teachers
I’ve said this before, but it’s so true: We have much to learn from animals. My dog Mystic doesn’t need to surround herself in a mountain of material items to find inner peace and happiness. She’s content with a small box of toys, a collar and leash, her brush and food dishes. And on top of that, she gets a lot of love and hugs and special doggy time from her family. This experience reminded me the importance of paring down to be more like Mystic. I cannot wait to tackle the rest of the house.
Have you tried the KonMari method? I’m excited to hear your story here.
Last week, I invited you to join me on my 5-3-1 Happiness Challenge, a simple way to bring more happiness to your life. The idea is a wonderful one: Each day you spend five minutes in meditation, write down three things you’re grateful for, and do one act of kindness. I couldn’t wait to get started! But that was before my week turned upside down …
I started the challenge last Tuesday. I meditate every day anyway, so that part was easy. I thought of some things I was grateful for. I saved a spider as my random act of kindness (though I can’t say I did it without screaming!). And then, the very next day, my horse Kodiak colicked.
Colic is a serious problem in horses and has the potential to be fatal. I was really worried as I raced over to the barn right after my trainer called. I dropped everything I was doing to be with him and help him through this difficult time—in whatever way I could.
I spent the whole day at his side, and then a long night at the barn. I stayed awake all night to watch over him. If his condition worsened, I would have had to take him to a nearby equine hospital. I offered Reiki to him for many hours while waiting and waiting for signs of improvement. I realized I didn’t have the mental resources to “do” the Happiness Challenge I had just promised myself I’d do.
But then a funny thing happened. Although the Happiness Challenge didn’t turn out the way I’d thought, looking back on this week, I realized it actually still helped me in the end. I had gone into this week intending to do acts of kindness … but here I was in a difficult time, and someone did an act of kindness for ME! My trainer, Susan, literally dropped everything she had planned the day Kody colicked. She stayed with me, walking Kodiak, massaging him, staying with us as the vet arrived to treat him. When the tube the vet put through his nose into his stomach caused Kodiak a terrible nose bleed, Susan hugged me as I cried. She even stayed at the barn until the evening, watching over Kodiak, so I could run home to grab dinner before I drove back up for the night. Her selflessness reminded me how powerful kindness is in this world; how it really can help to get us through the tough times. (And it showed me what a wonderful friend she is, too!).
Also, during the darkest part of the first night he colicked, the Happiness Challenge reminded me of the importance of focusing on gratitude instead of giving into fear. It’s at our most difficult moments that it’s most important to remember this! During the extended periods of Reiki meditations in the barn that night, I kept my mind positive by remembering many more than three things about Kody that I was grateful for. I thought of how Kody really helped me so many times in my cancer recovery; how back then, I couldn’t wait to be well enough so I could ride him again. That was one of the goals I focused on during my difficult, painful recovery. And now it was my turn to do everything I could to help him. I kept telling him, “We are going to get you through this. You are going to be ok.” I’m so happy to report the impaction finally resolved without needing further veterinary treatment! It took both Kodiak and me a few days to recover from the emotions and stress of it all. I think the worst part for him was when he started feeling better but had to be on a restricted diet. That horse loves to eat!
So while I may not have followed the Happiness Challenge to a T, because it was at the top of my mind and intention, I had a deeper realization of the importance that meditation, gratitude and kindness have in our everyday lives. I think it’s important to remember that when things are running smoothly for us—someone else out there is having a horrible, terrible day, and maybe one small act of kindness on our part can help them find hope and strength where they couldn’t see it before. And maybe all of us can become just a little bit happier.
I still love the idea of 5-3-1, and I want to keep incorporating this idea into my daily life. For those of you who followed the challenge with me, thank you. Now tell me: How did your week go?