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Dare to be bold: Shelters and sanctuaries need meditation

Last year, I wrote “How to Transform Skeptics Into Believers,” an article about my five best tips for breaking down barriers when bringing Reiki and meditation to shelters and sanctuaries. Though holistic approaches are starting to gain wider acceptance in recent years, many of us still encounter pushback from critics when attempting to share Reiki with animals in need.

But as the article points out, don’t let that stop you! As Reiki practitioners and firm believers in the healing effects of meditation, we must be bold. We must rise above skepticism so that we may offer Reiki, a form of meditation that creates a healing space for animals, to the homeless and the suffering. And in case you need some really bold examples to jumpstart your inspiration, here are three:

1. Karren O’Sullivan, a former nurse, volunteers once a week to bring Reiki to animals at the Tulsa Animal Welfare Shelter. She uses Reiki and meditation to help the animals most in need, including kittens in isolation, by bringing them tranquility and peace. She also teaches these techniques to staff, volunteers and the community. Watch these kittens go “from hiss to bliss” in this Good Day Tulsa segment:


2. Kelly McDermott-Burns brings Reiki to animals at the Rutland County Humane Society and The Hooved Animal Sanctuary in Vermont. She also teaches stress reduction techniques to the staff and caregivers in several animal organizations around Vermont—an important component not to be forgotten, since volunteers often suffer from the traumatic stress of compassion fatigue. From alpacas and horses to dogs and cats and more, Kelly’s work is known and appreciated throughout the region. The short film Reiki Lady highlights her meditation work with animals.


3. Gail and Richard Pope founded BrightHaven holistic sanctuary for hospice animals in Sebastopol, California, a beautiful place that takes in animals that would otherwise be abandoned or euthanized because they’re disabled, old or terminally ill. Reiki has helped to create a peaceful, healing space for the animals. I first approached them in 2004 with my first animal Reiki workshop; today I teach monthly Reiki classes to the public, and students come from all over the world to experience the special BrightHaven energy and learn these special healing meditation techniques. Thanks to their bold leadership, vision and compassion, BrightHaven recently won the Jefferson Award for Community Service.

Have you stepped out of your comfort zone to bring Reiki and meditation into animal shelters and sanctuaries? Share your experiences here!

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