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Why 6 Pillars of Practice?

Did you get a chance to watch my podcast last week with Nathalie Jaspar of Dive into Reiki?

This week I want to share a snippet from it with you: a discussion of the 6 pillars of the Let Animals Lead® method:

Nathalie: You actually created the Let Animals Lead® method, which has six pillars. Can you explain what they comprise? Kathleen: The Let Animals Lead® method is something that represents the evolution of my own journey. The little lessons that animals have taught me along the way.

The first pillar of this practice is that it’s based on Japanese Reiki techniques. The Let Animals Lead® method is really about meditating with animals for healing. But at the base, the first pillar is those Japanese Reiki techniques.


I always tell my students, there are six pillars. Only the first one is the foundation of Reiki techniques. It’s really evolved into something more and different. Why? Because of wanting to empower animals. Wanting to make them feel safe. Wanting to be able to deepen my trust with them. That sacredness of animals has really driven the rest of the pillars.


The second pillar is about touch. We use touch only when animals initiate it. That is very different than what others have done in the Reiki community. In the beginning, you know, touch was just done. And then people started to realize, “Oh, some animals don’t like touch. We should give them a choice.” Which is good. Now the normal teaching is to put your hands on the animal but let them walk away. That’s kind of the way that the human teachings have been modified for animals. In the Let Animals Lead® method, that’s not far enough. We never want to even go there with the touch if the animal doesn’t 110% want it. How do we make sure [of that?] Let them be the ones to do it.

This is not a mistake that you can afford to make because it may be very difficult or impossible to regain their trust once you’ve crossed that line. Your animals at home may forgive you, and it’s not a big deal.

Nathalie: Yeah. They forgive everything! Kathleen: Yeah. My philosophy about that is that if I’m going to give the utmost sacred respect and choice to a traumatized animal, why wouldn’t I do that to the animal who is my partner in life? Wouldn’t I afford them the same respect? Just because they’re nice, I shouldn’t take advantage of that. It’s always animal-initiated. We never cross that line. Trust the animal with that.


The third pillar is about that “state of mind” change. We focus on the animals’ perfection. And that is very different as well. What’s taught a lot in the animal Reiki community now is finding out the diagnosis, figuring out the issues, and then focusing on those areas. Some people use the chakra; some people just visualize light beaming to the sore ankle or whatever it is—but they focus on what’s wrong.

Because of my unique experience with how that feels negative when you’re suffering, I said, “Hell no, we’re not doing that.” We’re going to stand in the light. And we’re only going to see the light, and we’re going to reflect the light back. We’re going to be one in the light. The light is all there is. Everything else just dissolves in that light. I call it seeing with your Reiki eyes, but that is really seeing.

That’s not easy. That’s why we have to practice. So the focus of our state of mind is really important with animals, because, again, [they] sense your thoughts. They’re going to become uncomfortable and resistant to connecting with you if they sense your thoughts going to what’s wrong with them. Your vibration totally changes when you start going, “Oh my God, they have this skin condition.” Or if you look at them and say, “You’re perfect and beautiful.” You’re not denying that they have a skin condition. But you’re saying that doesn’t define you—I see more. I see that beautiful essence of you.


The fourth pillar is something that working with animals will teach you: meditation is a way of compassion. It’s not a physical body position.

When you’re working with animals, you might be in a barn with a horse. You could be in a pasture with a cow. You might be sitting outside, under a tree with a bird. You could be in a shelter environment, and there’s the public walking in and out, so you have to shift where you’re going. You could be walking in a forest with your dog. In all these places, it’s possible to “be Reiki.” If we understand that meditation is not a physical position, it’s our state of mind and heart. It’s our way in the world. It’s like a way of compassion. Animals understand that.

If you have ever taken a yoga class or something, everyone’s meditating at the beginning. You have your cute little outfit on, and they have music, and everybody’s all shiny and looking good. But for all you know, everybody in the class is thinking about something else entirely, totally distracted, not even focused. And the teacher will look out and be like, “Yeah, look how great the class looks.” And you look around you go, “Yeah, everyone’s so namaste. It’s totally awesome, right?” Nobody knows. Well, let me tell you if you were standing in a pasture of horses and you look perfect, but mentally you’re out to lunch, your heart is not in it, the animals will know like that! And they will not tolerate it. They’ll just be like, “Whatever,” and they’ll just leave.

Again, meditation is our way of compassion; the physical position of our body is not. In fact, with animals, we have to be really flexible. If we want to be in the barn with pigs, we have to sit on a bucket and move around. My students at BrightHaven used to go out with the goats. They would come back, and their hair would be green because the goats love to chew on their hair, but they had been chewing on alfalfa. They’d come back, and I’d be, “How was your treatment?” They’re all, “It was awesome” with a big chunk of green slime.

Nathalie: That is holding space, right? You’re not distracted. They’re chewing your hair, and you still sitting with compassion and not worrying. Kathleen: And they’re there with you because you’re with them. It’s an honor that they chewed on your hair because they didn’t run away.


The fifth pillar is developing mindfulness with animals for peace and healing. For me, the essence of Reiki practice with animals is mindfulness. Learning to be here. Now in this moment and everything we do with Reiki—if it’s the precepts, Hatsurei Ho, the symbols and the mantras, if we’re doing hands-on healing for ourselves in the presence of animals—we’re creating this space of I’m letting go of all the other stuff. I’m here with you now, 110%. I’m here with an open heart and open mind.

To me, that mindfulness is ultimately the quality that animals seek in us. I remember once I took some students to Guide Dogs for the Blind to train and meditate with the dogs. They were so like perfectionists about their meditation practice. They were sitting in a room with the dogs walking around. They’re inward, totally focused. At one point, one of the dogs came and sat in front of my student and looked at her. She opened her eyes, and she’s like, “No, I’m meditating. Don’t bother me; I’m meditating. Then the dog puts one foot on her, and she’s still [trying to meditate.]. Then the dog licks her on the nose, and she’s still [trying to meditate.] Finally, the dog goes, “Whatever.” He just walked away. Afterward, I was like, “Why didn’t you engage with the dog?” And she’s like, “Well, because I was meditating.” I’m like, “But what’s the purpose of your meditation?” And she’s like, “Well, to connect to them…Oh! Okay!” It was like a light bulb.

Mindfulness, being here now, being present—that’s what animals teach us. We can’t zone out and be floating in space if we want to be with animals.


The sixth and last pillar, I think, is maybe the most important one. And that one is that we honor animals as teachers and healers in their own right. If there’s anything that could heal the human-animal bond on this planet, it’s seeing through those eyes. We often see animals as products. We dominate them. We see them like we’re taking care of them, but they don’t really know any better. We’re like the smart ones. Spiritual practice with an animal teaches you that animals understand energy more. They’re more expanded in their view. They are spiritual teachers to us. If we can see the world through the eyes of animals, for example, a butterfly, we can learn so much about transformation, right?

To me, that is the path towards healing for our planet. That is what our planet is missing right now: that harmony, respect, and seeing the sacredness in beings that are different from ourselves.

I hope this discussion is helpful for each of you! And a special thank you to Nathalie for transcribing our podcast! CLICK HERE to visit Nathalie’s website and read the transcript of the entire interview.

Want to learn more? CLICK HERE to sign up for my “Introduction to the Let Animals Lead® Method” on-demand course, which includes a special guided meditation to get you started right away!

Stay safe, be well and may the animals light your way,

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