Five Reiki Lessons from my Animal Teachers
Animals. It’s always been about the animals for me. As long as I can remember, there has been an animal in my life, at my side, walking with me through thick and thin. Animals have always been my best friends, and since I was a little girl, I have understood them well, in fact, often better than my fellow humans.
I initially learned Reiki as a tool for self-healing. It was my dog, Dakota, who expanded my understanding and first helped me make the connection between Reiki and animals. He would lie awkwardly across my feet whenever I did a Reiki self-treatment. One day it dawned on me: he senses Reiki. Which led me to the next conclusion: he knows Reiki can help him. Which led me to the next realization: of his own choice, he is coming forward and accepting Reiki. I had almost nothing to do with it (other than sitting in a Reiki meditation myself), and yet he seemed to know exactly what was going on-not only was he participating in the energy healing treatment, he had taken it over for his own purposes. This series of “light bulb” moments was the beginning of what would become an eventual career change from Middle School Teacher to Animal Reiki Teacher, and the beginning of my life mission to bring Reiki to animals around the world.
Along the way, it has been my great honor and privilege to call many animals of many different species my Reiki teachers. Of course, I’ve got my human Reiki teachers too, and they have been an invaluable part of my journey. However, it has been while sitting with animals, in that quiet peace that is Reiki, that I have learned my most profound lessons about the nature of this energy. I share with you five of those lessons.
One of my clients was a kitty in a multiple cat household with a very caring and concerned human guardian. I was brought in to offer Reiki to this particular kitty, but he wasn’t too keen on the treatment at first, so I decided to get creative finding hopes of finding a way to get him to accept the energy. First, I decided to include the other kitties in the treatment, which they really appreciated, but he still wasn’t into it. As he sat staring at me in an annoyed way, I suddenly got the strong impression that he wanted his person to get healing. Although she was a Reiki practitioner herself, she didn’t often “do animals” and normally waited in the other room during treatments. I decided to ask her to sit in and meditate with all of us during the treatment. I couldn’t believe the difference! As soon as he saw his person sit down with us and open to the energy, the cat came up to me, licked my hands, and then settled down with his person for a long Reiki nap. She, too, was astounded by the change in his attitude and was delighted by the feeling of being together with her cats in the peaceful Reiki space. She decided that self-treatment (with her cats free to join in) should become a regular tradition.
This story illustrates Animal Reiki Lesson 1: Always start by healing yourself. Although many of us find Reiki because of our desire to help someone we love (either human or animal), the key and cornerstone of the system is self-treatment. It’s easy to forget this when caring for others through illness, injury or hospice, but when we forget to care for ourselves, we become depleted. It’s important to remember that our effectiveness and ability to truly offer healing to another being is directly affected by our own connection to the energy. Make friends with Reiki; make it not just a part of your life, but part of everything you do. Become Reiki, and in that space you will find that everywhere you go, you will be able to offer a space for others in which to find balance and harmony.
Take the case of a particular cat whose Reiki person sadly lamented to me, “Here I am a full-time Reiki practitioner, and my own cat hates Reiki!” When asking her how she went about the treatment, I discovered she always picked up her cat, placed him on her lap, and began the treatment. Within a minute or less, the cat inevitably jumped off her lap and ran quickly from the room. Interestingly, when she was treating her human clients, the cat was always in the room, sleeping soundly.
I asked her to try something different: to find a comfortable place in her house to sit in meditation and to establish an intention of being open to facilitate healing for her cat if he was open for Reiki (otherwise he didn’t need to take any Reiki at all). I told her to simply sit in the Reiki energy for thirty minutes, not worrying about what he was doing, where he was, how he was responding, if he was “taking” it, etc.-in other words, for her to simply sit in a Reiki meditation in her own space.
Within several minutes of beginning the treatment, she opened her eyes to find her cat sitting at her feet staring intently at her. Instead of reacting, she simply closed her eyes again and continued to offer the energy. Her cat lay quietly at her feet in a “Reiki nap” for several minutes. By the end of the treatment, he had jumped into her lap and proceeded to rub his head against her hands, turning his body this way and that so as to direct her hands where he preferred them to be for treatment.
This treatment was a turning point for their Reiki relationship. Her cat now comes to her and “demands” his Reiki treatments on a regular basis! Sometimes he sits in her lap, and sometimes he sleeps across the room, absorbing the energy from a distance, but most importantly, it is HIS decision, not hers.
Which brings us to Animal Reiki Lesson 2: Let animals control the treatment. Trust the energy to go where it needs to go. You don’t need to use hands-on contact. Even if this is more comfortable for us, it often is unacceptable for animals. To receive the best possible acceptance and openness from the animals, never initiate a hands-on Reiki treatment; always let the animal be the one to decide to come forward for hands-on Reiki if they so choose. Remember that hands-off treatment is just as effective, and in fact more so, in that you will most of the time receive more openness from the animal without hands-on contact.
One of the guide dogs I worked with had a terrible case of kennel anxiety. He was so unhappy, in fact, that they wondered if he would be able to make it through the training to see graduation day. He had become so worked up in the kennel that he was unable to focus on his training program. He entered the treatment room keyed-up, and highly agitated. Within a few minutes of my offering Reiki, the dog relaxed completely, lying halfway in my lap and going deeply into a “Reiki nap.”
I suddenly had a strong sensation of loud barking, physical pain in my ears, and a feeling of being completely overwhelmed by the noise. It suddenly became clear to me that this was the experience of this highly sensitive dog in the kennel environment. I shared my impressions with the dog’s caretaker, who worked with the dog’s trainers to change his program. Besides taking the dog out of the kennel area during the particularly active and loud times of the day, they began to stuff his ears with cotton during the times when he had to remain in a noisy area. Immediately they began to see a reduction in stress and an improved ability to focus on the training at hand.
Animal Reiki Lesson 3: Listen to your intuition. Sometimes during a Reiki treatment, we may suddenly understand something very important about the animal or his situation. We may be in a unique position to advocate for that animal. Ask yourself if sharing this information will bring healing and help to the animal: if the answer is an unequivocal “yes,” then share your intuitive information.
Another of my students was new to Reiki. One day, her horse was uncomfortable, and she wasn’t able to isolate the problem area. Feeling helpless and not fully trusting her ability to offer healing to him, she asked me for assistance. I suggested that we both offer Reiki to her horse. I guided her through establishing an intention and asking permission, reminding her simply to connect with the energy and allow her horse to set the tone of the treatment.
It was a beautiful thing to watch the connection between this horse and his person within the Reiki space. Within a few minutes, the horse lifted his head and looked at her, clearly asking for her to do some hands-on Reiki. As she placed her hands on his shoulder, the most incredible thing took place. The horse began to shake his skin over and over, literally moving her hands upward and backward across his back towards his hindquarters. At a certain point he stopped his skin movement, settling into deep relaxation. She felt heat and pain in her hands from this area of his body. She realized he had guided her to his problem spot!
The next day she shared with me that, not only had his problem improved tremendously, but that their relationship had also deepened. It was as if they could now communicate with each other effortlessly, not just on the ground, but also when riding. She joked that she was comforted by the fact that even if she was pretty clueless, her horse was happy to step in and show her what to do.
Animal Reiki Lesson 4: Listen to your animal. In fact, you probably already do in many ways, but in the space of Reiki, you can learn to quiet your mind and truly just “be” with your animal. In that quiet space you can begin to experience a new connection, a new understanding of his or her inner essence and spiritual being, and an ability to truly “listen” to what he or she has to say. Your new awareness will bring added depth and dimension to your relationship, as well as shine a light on possibilities of connections with other animals that may cross your path!
Perhaps one of the most memorable lessons in all of my animal Reiki days involved deer: specifically, several deer, but in reality all are one…
It all began one October evening as my husband and I encountered a horrific scene: a beautiful young buck with little two-inch horns was hit by an SUV just as we drove past. We stopped our car and walked over to the buck. As I offered Reiki, I felt an immediate heat and “whoosh” of white light flood my body. I also felt a sense of peace and understanding from the deer. For a moment, his spirit had lingered on the street, not even realizing he had passed. With Reiki, he was carried gently and surely into the light. Although I knew Reiki had helped this deer, I felt overwhelmed by the difficult reality that deer face when living in the midst of human civilization. I could not erase the image of carnage from my mind. I wondered if I’d ever again be able to sleep without nightmares.
Later that night I was walking my dog, and I saw a buck with little two-inch horns standing across the street from my home in silent vigil. Although we had lived in that house for four years, we had never seen deer in our neighborhood. I was in awe, transfixed in his gaze. Then it dawned on me: it was as if he were a messenger come to say, “Have courage and hope.” As soon as I had this thought, he turned away and walked slowly into the mist. That night I slept peacefully with the image of the healthy, young deer in my mind.
A few months later, a student of mine asked me to offer Reiki to a fawn whose mother had been hit and killed by the side of the highway. Wildlife volunteers and Animal Control were unable to catch the baby, and he refused to leave his mother’s body. Everyone felt concern for his safety, for his weakened state without food, and about what good outcome could possibly come from this. Remembering the two young bucks I had encountered a few months previously, I began to offer Reiki to the mother’s passing as well as to the baby’s situation. I knew that the perfect solution could be found (although I couldn’t imagine what that might be.) Courage and hope, I told myself. A few days later, my student contacted me to share unbelievable news: two young bucks had arrived out of nowhere, adopted the baby and taken her with them. The experts were amazed, as this was highly unusual, but they believed that with their help, the baby would be able to survive. Already anticipating the answer, I asked my student to describe the bucks. Sure enough, one of them had little two-inch horns.
Animal Reiki Lesson 5: Always have courage and hope, no matter the situation. The hardest life lessons seem to always come in the form of transitions: the spirit’s journey out of the body and on to the next chapter in existence. Working with Reiki and animals during this time is a way to embrace the process, both for the animal leaving his body and for the practitioner by his side. Despite how difficult it can be to work with animals who are dying, I have found that simply in this connection, there is no limit to the healing that can happen-on both sides. The animals have taught me always to remain positive. As this story shows, sometimes miracles do happen!
As you go through your daily life, open yourself to lessons from the animals around you. Remember that Reiki teachers come in all shapes and sizes, and all species too! By their very natures, animals live in the energetic realm very freely and easily. They can sense and understand all kinds of subtle connections that are easily overlooked by humans. Offering Reiki to animals can help us to become more aware, not only of the wisdom of other species, but also of the energy that is all around us. And this new awareness, once experienced, can never be undone: it will transform the way you view Reiki possibilities for healing the world and all creatures in it.
You can learn more about Kathleen here.