I don’t really do New Year’s resolutions—but a new year does always feel like a fresh start in some ways and an opportunity to check in with my big-picture goals: What do I want to achieve this year? Is there anything in my life I want to do differently? Am I as happy as I can be?
For me, happiness is intrinsically connected to living with purpose and meaning. I work with animals every single day because that adds value to my life. My dog, horses and even the shelter and sanctuary animals I encounter remind me the importance of kindness, of mindfulness, of compassion. And of the goodness in this world (which sometimes feels very hard to find). So with the animals as my guide, here are my five goals for a happier 2017:
I am a Reiki teacher who works with animals. Some might ask me if I’m an “animal healer,” but I don’t like that term: Partly because I respect the wisdom and power of animals too much to claim that I’m the one doing the helping, and partly because of what some amazing cats in my Reiki journey have revealed to me.
For those of you new to Reiki, the word itself literally translates as “spiritual energy,” which points toward our inner self. I see Reiki as our beautiful light of compassion, or our “heart.” Reiki meditation helps us remember that we are all connected, and in that place of Oneness, all healing possibility exists.
Tonight’s New Moon reminds us that times are a changin’. With 2017 almost here, we know that there are so many new beginnings ahead of us. Reiki can help us release those things that hinder us and create a beautiful healing space for new things to enter.
Reiki meditation can help us to become balanced and centered amidst all of the change. Instead of descending into worry about the newness ahead, we can practice Reiki and find our courage again. Instead of being angry at things that are beyond our control, we can practice Reiki and remember all of the things we are grateful for in this moment.
Thanksgiving is a beautiful opportunity to celebrate peace, kindness—and turkeys. Each year, I try to find a way to celebrate compassion on this special day. Last year, I joined Gene Baur and Farm Sanctuary at the Celebration for the Turkeys in downtown San Francisco. This year, I plan to share an array of delicious homemade vegan dishes with my family and friends.
Though some people may give you a strange look when you mention you plan to celebrate a vegan Thanksgiving, keep in mind you’re in good company: Beyoncé, Russell Brand, Ellen Degeneres, Liam Hemsworth, Jared Leto, Alicia Silverstone, Gwen Stefani, Carrie Underwood and Kat Von D will be enjoying a cruelty-free Thanksgiving, too.
Animals make the best meditation partners. It’s true! Their natural, calming presence helps to anchor us “in the now,” and they approach life with unconditional love, a real challenge for us humans. Next time your cat rests with its eyes closed, or your dog takes a snooze on your lap, don’t just think about how cute they are (because, of course, they are), but think, too, about what we can learn from them to improve our own meditation practice. Animals are natural meditators, with peaceful, nonjudgmental minds and open hearts. They remind us what we should all strive for whenever we meditate.