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How Animal Reiki Can Support Animal Activism 

At first glance, Animal Reiki may seem to be part of a completely different world than Animal Activism. Animal Reiki might seem to be about meditation, while Animal Activism seems to be about action. In other words, they appear to be two different worlds: The world of “being” (Animal Reiki) vs. the world of “doing” (Animal Activism). 

However, if we look more closely, we can see that Animal Reiki actually gives us a healthy, balanced blueprint for navigating the stressful world of Animal Rescue and Advocacy. Our Animal Reiki practice gives us the tools to hold space, to create a quiet energy of peacefulness and radiate it outward so we can support animals in their most difficult moments. 

If we practice Animal Reiki during our Activist and Advocacy moments, we’ll be able to find positivity and calmness in even the most difficult environments. 


Compassion Fatigue in Animal Activism 

As Animal Reiki practitioners, we learn how to connect heart-to-heart with animals. At first it may be with our own animals, or animals of friends and family, but soon we can find ourselves connecting and communing with unexpected species in unique situations. This expands our view of compassion and co-existence with non-human animals in new ways, and often brings with it a desire to make the world a better place for all animals. 

In this way, many of us who begin as Animal Reiki practitioners for the animals in our lives, find ourselves motivated to go into our communities and work to improve the lives of animals in a bigger way.  

As we get more involved with larger animal issues, such as animal rescue, changing legislation or challenging current animal practice norms, we can find ourselves experiencing compassion fatigue and burnout. Luckily, our Reiki practice gives us practical tools to heal ourselves. 

Did you know that those who work with shelter and sanctuary animals are highly vulnerable to compassion fatigue?

Not surprisingly, helping (and opening your heart to) abused, unloved and neglected animals on a regular basis is extremely stressful and traumatic. Those involved in euthanasia of such animals also experience grief. Compassion fatigue, therefore, is unfortunately an occupational hazard for those working with traumatized animals.

According to the Compassion Fatigue Awareness Project (CFAP) and the American Institute of Stress, the symptoms of compassion fatigue vary but can include any of the following:

  • Excessive sadness or bottling up of emotions

  • Isolating oneself

  • Losing your sense of humor

  • Neglecting your appearance

  • Abusing substances to cope

  • Feeling mentally and physically tired

  • Having difficulty concentrating

  • Reduced sense of meaning or purpose in one’s work

Healing from compassion fatigue doesn’t happen overnight, but there are proactive steps you can take.

In Defense of Animals has a wonderful list of resources for healing compassion fatigue. Another option is meditation. In my work with animals, I’ve found that meditating and practicing Reiki can help us to stay centered, strong and balanced amidst all the chaos we observe, sense and feel. 

Connecting with the following two Reiki precepts in particular is another way to help guide you down the path to wellness:

1. Be grateful.

This precept is really about remembering the positive. Sometimes in difficult situations, we forget that every cloud has a silver lining. Figure out what your silver linings are for the animals that you work with. Perhaps a fearful animal you have worked with is showing progress. Maybe an animal who was abandoned finally found a forever family. 

Even in the case of an animal who died: Were they given kindness in the last moments of their life? Or perhaps their life has illuminated cruelty in a way that will teach and inspire people to help? 

If we take some time and look deeper into situations, we can always find things to be grateful for. In fact, some of life’s most difficult teachers are also the most profound.

2. Be honest.

Reach out to fellow rescuers who know what you are going through or to your Reiki friends who share an empathic view of the world. My nonprofit, the Shelter Animal Reiki Association, is a group of more than 400 people around the world who spend time with rescued animals and use the practices of Reiki for support. 

If you can find people who not only understand, but also offer you a positive and encouraging word, all the better!

The Reiki precept “be honest” also means understanding your boundaries. What part of your rescue work is the most gratifying? Which parts are the most overwhelming? Spending time becoming more aware of how your time with rescued animals affects your inner state will help you to move toward balance.

Open Sanctuary has a wonderful resource for recognizing and managing Compassion Fatigue at your Animal Sanctuary. The Wrong Side of the Rainbow also offers information on Self Care as well as links to pet loss forums and a counseling service in Canada. Talking to a therapist can help, too; a simple Google search will lead you to a variety of animal care compassion fatigue specialists, such as 

Remember, there is always hope. You are not alone. You are as strong as the earth and as expansive as the sky. All will be well. Take some time to meditate and practice Reiki, and watch both you and the animals you care for shift back into wellness.

Learn the Let Animals Lead® Method of Animal Reiki

One of the best ways to AVOID compassion fatigue and continue to help animals in shelters and sanctuaries is to learn our method of animal energy connection. It's a form of Animal Reiki called the Let Animals Lead® Method and we teach you how to use tools and techniques to help you move through all of the emotions that can overwhelm us when working with rescue animals. 

Our techniques are easy to learn, highly effective in keeping our hearts and minds in balance, and—most importantly—they have a beautiful side effect of calming shelter animals and rescues, even in high anxiety situations.

Check out this video with some tips about how our Animal Reiki practice can help us to let go of anger over animal cruelty.

Powerful Grounding Techniques for Animal Reiki Empaths

As an empath, and having devoted my life to Animal Reiki for 26 years, I know how important it is to focus on self-care as we support animals in all kinds of rescue and recovery situations. In order to be able to stay engaged and balanced in the long-term, we’ve got to learn how to pace ourselves in our work to help animals in the world.  

Here are some really powerful techniques to help you, the Animal Reiki empath, stay grounded in the world of Animal Activism and also in your daily life.

1. Build your meditation muscles. Focus daily on the mindfulness aspects of your Animal Reiki meditation practice: simply being here and now in this present moment, without judgment and without the need to fix. Animals are masters of mindfulness, of simply being present, engaged and honest in every moment. If you get pulled away from your center of balance, let your animals lead you back through mindfulness. 

2) Take time to ground yourself in nature. Taking time to walk barefoot on the earth can help reset your energy, re-ground you and center your emotions into a more balanced place. Scientific research also suggests that connecting physically with the earth can help lower inflammation, improve sleep and reduce pain. Animals can inspire us to spend time outdoors too, and being in their presence can fill us with gratitude for mother nature. 

3) See food as medicine. Add more fresh fruits, veggies and lots of dark leafy greens (high in vitamins like B12 and also antioxidants) to your diet each and every day! Starting the day with a green smoothie is a great way to protect your cells from stress, helping your nervous system be more resilient. 

4) Practice saying no. Surrounding yourself with people who honor your sensitivities and respect your boundaries will allow you to fully express your empathic gifts in a safe and balanced way. When you’re surrounded by the wrong people, being an empath can feel like a curse and make you feel powerless. On the other hand, with a good support system, you’ll realize your empathy is your superpower! 

5) Remember there is good happening in the world. As empaths, we can feel the energy not only of the people and situations around us, but also of the collective suffering of humans and animals happening in the world. It’s so important we take time to watch and read positive and heartwarming stories about the healing power of love and compassion. Let happy tears purify your soul of sadness, so that it doesn’t build up and burn you out. This will help your heart stay in a space of hope and positivity and remind you of the gifts you have to give to the world! 

6) Practice seeing the light of your soul and essence. This practice is something I teach for meditating with animals – not judging an animal by what is “wrong” with them, but seeing with our Reiki eyes that All is Well, and that they are whole. But we need to see this for ourselves too. If we can’t see past our own “problems” to see the beautiful bright light within, then how can we possibly see it in the animals we want to help? 

Don’t be too hard on yourself if you struggle along the way. Let go of the need for perfection—and find  comfort and healing by accepting, honoring, and preserving your empathic gifts! The world needs them.

Let’s Make the World a Better Place One Animal Reiki Session at a Time

If you’re a new or experienced animal activist, put your Animal Reiki practice to work! Being sensitive to your empathic skills and nurturing self-care, being aware of compassion fatigue when it starts and incorporating Animal Reiki techniques into your daily work with animals can make a huge difference to getting you back to the strong, centered BEST version of yourself! Then you’ll have even more to give back to the animals you want to help.  

Ready to get started? Try our 3-Day Animal Reiki Challenge and start learning some practical techniques today!

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