Expand your state of mind to help your animal

“Judge nothing, you will be happy. Forgive everything, you will be happier. Love everything, you will be happiest.”  ~Sri Chinmoy

In my business, I help guide animal lovers all over the world to peace and wellness. Through the meditative techniques of animal Reiki, my students learn how to connect with their animal in profound ways. But sometimes our own humanness can get in the way of helping our animal. Let me explain.

When we are offering Reiki to our animals, sometimes we can sense certain things in our hands or emotional feelings/intuitive information. It’s very easy to find ourselves in a place of judgement and interpretation. However, the best way to help our animals is to let go of these impressions and open our minds to healing possibility.

In Japanese these impressions are called Hibiki—which means an echo. Thus, when we sense something from our animal, it is not a true experience, but rather our impression of the animal’s true experience. This is a natural occurrence when we share Reiki, because Reiki cultivates heart-to-heart connections. In this connected space, we often sense many things, but we must remember our impressions are always filtered through our own perceptions.

When we experience these impressions while we are offering Reiki, we have two choices:

1. We can focus on the impressions themselves and interpret them. Or,

2. We can thank the animal for sharing with us (thus focusing on gratitude) and then let the impressions go.

The first choice will involve us focusing on things like “this or that is wrong” or “this is what needs to be fixed” and “this or that needs to be healed.” Inadvertently, we end up focusing on the negatives of the situation. By doing so, our mental state becomes very narrowed and small. Animals feel this. I sometimes call this our “pointy” state of mind because we are unwittingly poking the animals with our negative thoughts. We can see this in their uncomfortable behavior with us, or they may say no to connecting with us.

Focusing on what’s wrong can also give rise to pity. Pity can sneak into our minds when we are working with, for example, shelter animals who have come from a bad situation. They can feel this pity inside of us and it can also cause them to not want to connect with us.

The second choice creates a spacious mental attitude of gratitude. We can acknowledge and thank the animals for sharing with us, and then let the impressions go like clouds floating by in the sky. We want animals to feel our positivity, our openness, our light and our gentle way of being. Choosing this open and expansive state of mind will help attract animals (rather than repel them).

Letting go of judgments is also a way to see your animal as the empowered perfect being that he or she is, even in that difficult moment. In this way we are focusing on the positive. Think back on a difficult time in your life and remember how wonderful it felt for someone to hold positivity for you!

When we offer Reiki to animals, it’s most important to stay in a place of openness and love in your heart and mind. Remember that all things are possible. The following quote is a great reminder when we feel discouraged:

“You will face your greatest opposition when you are closest to your biggest miracle.” ~Shannon L. Alder

10 simple ways to help animals this Earth Day

Happy Earth Day! What are your plans for tomorrow? I would like to remember the animals this Earth Day, so that inspired me to put together this list of 10 simple things we can do tomorrow (and year-round!) to help our planet’s animals. Read on for my ideas, in addition to a special Earth Day Meditation:

1. Volunteer at your favorite animal shelter. Spending an afternoon with animals in need is a wonderful way to give back and boost your spirits at the same time.

2. Take your horse on a trail ride through the forest. Your horse will love the extra attention, and meanwhile you can take this quiet time to enjoy the beauty of the trees and nature around you.

How to honor a beloved animal that has passed

When my dog (and animal Reiki teacher, and best canine companion) Dakota died a few years ago, I was absolutely devastated. He was old, and of course I knew he couldn’t live forever, but still, I didn’t want to face the inevitable. And when he finally passed, my world fell apart, and my heart broke into a million pieces. It was months (and maybe even years) before I started to find my way back and life began to feel “OK” again.

During those dark times, I wanted to find a way to cope but didn’t know how. I wanted to honor his memory but nothing felt right. Slowly, as days unfolded into weeks, I began to find solace in a few small things. And looking back now from a place of strength, I see that these three little steps, which seemed so inconsequential at the time, actually helped me on my journey toward peace and acceptance. Here’s what worked for me:

1. Create a lasting memory: One of the first things I did was go through all the hundreds of photos I’d taken of Dakota throughout his life, from his rescue from animal control as a puppy all the way up through my toddler daughter petting and hugging him. But most of these photos had ended up in a box gathering dust. Then I realized: I could use these photos and create a lasting memory of his life and share his amazing self with the world by making a tribute video thanking him for all the love and joy he brought me for so many years. After many hours and help from a video production company, I have this beautiful video that still brings me to tears when I watch it. I have to thank Natalie Merchant’s record label for allowing me the rights to use her song “Kind and Generous” as the background music. The lyrics perfectly fit my Dakota.

2. Make a dedication: I have always turned to meditation for help during difficult times, but after Dakota died, I felt lost and found I literally couldn’t meditate; he had always been by my side and now all I felt was emptiness. But then my Reiki teacher told me of the Buddhist monks who dedicate their meditations to their teacher after he passes. Something clicked within me and I thought, “I can do that, too!” And so I began to dedicate my meditations to Dakota and his memory, and I was able to meditate again. It doesn’t have to be a meditation; you can dedicate anything that is meaningful to you to your animal’s memory.

3. Statuary: There is something so peaceful and beautiful about statuary. After Dakota’s death, I found a statue of St. Francis petting a wolf, and it looked so much like Dakota. I placed it in my yard with a rock engraved with “Pups,” which was his nickname. And now, several years later, every time I look at it I think of Dakota. And when flowers grow around it, it looks so beautiful. My sister Charlotte tells me she also uses a beautiful Persian cat statue in her yard to honor her feline soul mate Sterling, who passed after several years fighting Polycystic Kidney Disease. It is a daily reminder of his beautiful life and a special place she can adorn with flowers in his honor.

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Sterling

As a side note, I want to mention there are a multitude of resources for pet owners coping with the loss of their animal. It’s important to remember you are not alone, and there are others going through the same thing as you. Petloss.com, the Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement and the ASPCA all offer a multitude of resources.

I would love to hear: What ways have you honored your beloved animals after their passing?

Happy Heart Day from Kathleen and Charlotte, the “sister team” at It’s a Heartful Life 

From Kathleen …

Happy Valentine’s Day to all my readers: students, Reiki friends and animal-loving supporters. Thank you for being a part of our Heartful Life community. Today is a day where we celebrate love in all its many forms, and today I want to celebrate a very special person in my life whom I love, and who also makes this blog so beautiful: a talented writer, mommy to a toddler and a Persian: my best friend, my number-one cheerleader, my beautiful sister, Charlotte.

Our sister history as Kathleen remembers it …

I have two amazing sisters and I am the oldest! I was only 4 years old when Charlotte was born. I still remember my parents bringing her home on Halloween. It almost seemed like she was just part of my mom’s costume! 🙂 But no, she was there to stay. Over the years we have seen each other through thick and thin. We have laughed and cried together, and laughed till we cried together. We used to fight, too, when we were small. I’m not sure she will ever forgive me for ripping her Ghostbusters nightgown once in an early morning scuffle. 🙂 But as we grew, our age differences faded and we became close friends! It seems we never run out of things to talk about, and we share a deep love for animals and nature. Happy Valentine’s Day to my dear sister! My deepest gratitude for all your support over the years!

From Charlotte …

Happy Valentine’s Day to you all! And very special Valentine’s Day wishes to my big sis Kathleen. I am thrilled to be working with her on the Heartful Life blog, a project we literally talked about launching for years. In my “former life” working in the corporate world, I spent more than a decade talking to successful entrepreneurs, sharing their stories and curating topics to inspire business owners nationwide. And then my sister became one: She dove headfirst into entrepreneurship. I’m so happy our sister bond and love of animals (OK, and technology!) now allow us to work together across the miles and time zones.

Our sister history as Charlotte remembers it …

As the middle child, I am so lucky to have two wonderful sisters! Of course my big sis Kathleen has been there for me since our mom brought me home from the hospital on Halloween (even before my earliest memories!). We played so much together that by age 3, I remember missing her so much when she went to school each day. We fought sometimes but had a lot of fun, too. And then when she went off to college when I was 14, here I was missing her all over again, just like when I was little! As we got older, we’ve been able to travel together to Vegas, Miami, Seattle and even Hawaii. (We hope Europe is next one of these days!) The visits are fewer now that I’ve left California, but we’re always looking forward to our next time together. So here is a virtual Valentine’s hug to Kathleen, who was with me the day I adopted a special kitty named Sterling, who has great shopping karma (since I always find something amazing when she’s with me), who’s a great listener and supporter for me always, and who makes the best chocolate-chip cookies (just like our grandma’s). Xoxo!

Reiki shared … 

Several years ago, Charlotte’s cat Sterling (RIP sweet boy) became very ill with polycystic kidney disease (PKD). To support his healing, Kathleen taught Charlotte Reiki, and Reiki became an important part of Sterling’s wellness program. Charlotte also learned firsthand about Kathleen’s work in helping people help their animals through meditation.

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Charlotte’s cat Sterling

Why did we start blogging?

Charlotte worked for many years as a magazine journalist and has always shared her talents in support of Kathleen’s writing projects. Unfortunately, we live far apart—Kathleen in California and Charlotte in Indiana—but we talk on the phone almost every day. We are so excited to be finally working on a project together—one where we can combine our energy and enthusiasm in honor and love of animals. Plus, it’s another excuse to talk on the phone or Skype!

The future of this blog …

We want to share the love every day, not just on Valentine’s Day. If it’s good news and has to do with animals, we will find it! Stay tuned for more reasons why it’s a heartful life!

{Photos © Charlotte Jensen}

New food trend: faux fish

Dear friends, what are you up to this weekend? Tomorrow and Sunday I am excited to be teaching Reiki 2 at BrightHaven (though we will miss little Joey so, so much). Here are a few interesting and important links from around the web of things I’m grateful for today:

1. A vegetarian alternative to fish: Whether or not you’re a vegetarian, overfishing and mercury levels are real problems when it comes to consuming your favorite fish, whether it’s ahi, bluefin or even unagi. Now enterprising chefs and companies across the nation are experimenting with savory, visually appetizing alternatives to your favorite fish dishes. Vegan options and veggie-based foods like “tomato sushi” (which looks and supposedly tastes like the real thing) are starting to roll out. Though demand is still small, I love this idea and can’t wait to try some of these products. Read more here on the flourishing faux-fish trend.