Today I want to take time to remember a very special animal in my journey: Bahl Shoy the tiger. Although he passed away a few years ago, I still count Bahl Shoy as one of my best and most favorite Animal Reiki teachers.
I first met Bahl Shoy, who lived at the CARE Foundation in Florida, during my first visit there in 2011. Having never shared Animal Reiki with tigers before, connecting with him in the space of our meditations was very profound, and even overwhelming. To say the least he made a big impression!
Sitting in meditation with Bahl Shoy helped me let go of my tendency to focus on the fences that enclosed him, and the fact that he would never be able to be free to live in the wild. I could feel that no sad story of the past and no cage could ever contain his huge, powerful spirit! His energy seemed to expand out of his enclosure and embrace me in a gentle, yet commanding way. Connecting with him challenged me to let go of my preconceptions, judgements and narrow human point of view.
One of the interesting lessons I learned during that first visit was that tigers don’t tolerate a busy and distracted mind. I noticed that if my mind wandered, even a little bit, Bahl Shoy would simply get up and walk away, but if I was calm and centered, completely present with him, he would lie down nearby and relax with me. What an awesome meditation teacher he was! What a humbling and inspiring experience, to have a tiger show me when I was “getting it,” and that he would choose to spend time in meditation with me!
Bahl Shoy’s energy followed me home after our first meeting in 2011. Unexpectedly, I had to battle breast cancer for the 2nd half of 2011 and Bahl Shoy was one of the animals who appeared in my meditations every day as I navigated that difficult journey. When I would sit down to meditate, I would always see him sitting at my right side. Somehow, feeling his strong and commanding energy made me feel that I had the strength to get through this! In fact, as I walked the hospital hallway to the OR, facing the most difficult surgery of my life, I could feel his energy, grounded and courageous, walking right there with me. “All is well,” his presence reminded me.
Bahl Shoy, as well as Makoto the black leopard, were my two biggest energetic supports as I faced my fears, pain and suffering during my diagnosis, surgery, treatments and recovery from breast cancer. It was so unexpected and amazing to feel as if they were with me every step of the journey.
My next visit back to CARE, I spent time sitting with Bahl Shoy in meditation. I wanted to thank him with an open heart and deep humility for the courage and strength that his energy gave me. I’ll never forget that day when I sat down in front of his enclosure and he came right to the fence, just 3 feet from me, sat down and stared deeply into my eyes (my very soul) for several moments. It felt as if time stopped, and as if we connected from our very essence, letting go of all our differences, just for those precious moments. It felt as if he lifted me up to a higher level of consciousness about what it means to “be” a “human being.” We are much more connected to each other (all of us: animals, people, nature) than we realize!
Thinking back on this experience and the gifts of Bahl Shoy’s presence in my Reiki sessions, I now understand an unexpected gift of Animal Reiki. Our connections with animals aren’t just about supporting animals when they need us. They aren’t just about learning to see animals as healers and teachers in their own right. Animal Reiki can be a way to transform the broken relationship between humans and the planet as we express ourselves in our highest and best form. Our Animal Reiki practice can be a way to embody compassion and light and balance in the world, and this practice ripples out. If all humans could embody goodness in this way, imagine what a different place this world would be.
As William Blake said, “What is now proved was once only imagined.” Although we may look around and see the imbalance and mistrust that humans have brought to nature and to animals of the planet, we also know, deep down, that we are capable of something much greater. We are capable of healing what we have fractured, and our Animal Reiki practice can accomplish this healing through energetic transcendence and transformation.
I invite each of you, as you connect with animals in your Reiki meditations, to let your mind and heart expand beyond that individual session and imagine a world where humans embody their highest potential. In this world we would see each other as perfect, spiritual beings and as we hold space for each other through the ups and downs of life, we would strive for a future where we can live together in balance and harmony. Together, if we can see it, one day we can achieve it!
Stay safe, be well and may the animals light your way,