“Pray to understand what man has forgotten.” —Native American proverb
It’s been a tough several days of news for animal lovers. Right on the heels of the incident that resulted in the tragic death of Harambe at the Cincinnati Zoo, the world-famous tiger temple in Thailand has been closed amidst evidence of wildlife trafficking.
In addition, in Miami, a judge dismissed the Orca Network’s case against Seaquarium for violations of the Endangered Species Act. Thanks to this ruling, Lolita—the orca captured at age 4 and kept in the smallest orca tank in the U.S. for 45 years—will not be allowed to live out the remainder of her life in a seaside sanctuary in her home waters where her relatives still live and travel together, protected.
Do you love animals? Are you interested in holistic modalities? Have you ever tried meditation? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then you are a perfect candidate for learning animal Reiki.
What? Animal Reiki is not for you, you say? Well, hear me out for a few seconds. Having spent so many years in this field, I’ve encountered every reason or excuse you can think of. But I’m here to let you know it’s worth another few moments of consideration because—and I truly believe this—animal Reiki might not actually be what you think it is.
So you’ve bought your meditation cushion and chosen your favorite meditation position. You’ve contemplated and picked your mantra or visualization. You’ve found a quiet time of day to practice. You’re ready to start meditating, right?
Maybe not. What if you were missing the most important piece that could improve your practice quickly and easily? I’m talking about animals, and why it’s so important you invite your animals to sit with you while you meditate.
It may sound strange at first, but consider these five reasons why you should be meditating with your animals every day:
“We all are so deeply interconnected; we have no option but to love all. Be kind and do good for any one and that will be reflected. The ripples of the kind heart are the highest blessings of the Universe.” – Amit Ray, author and spiritual master
As an animal lover with a very soft heart, I sometimes feel the world is a very cruel place, especially for the innocents of the planet, like animals and children. As a Reiki teacher, I find meditating on the Reiki precept “be compassionate to yourself and others” helps me to be mindful in difficult moments.
When emotions run high, compassion can be an unlikely choice, as anger and worry come much more easily. I think it’s often much easier to be kind to the animals we love than we are to ourselves—if only we afforded ourselves the same kindnesses we offer them. In other times, it can become very difficult to get past our worry and anger over what has happened to the animal so that we can be full of compassion and kindness for them in the present moment.
I remember a dog that I volunteered with who had to be walked with a harness because someone had allowed her collar to grow into her neck. Although it had been surgically removed by the shelter veterinarian, the wound and stitches were fresh, and it caused me great angst to see them. By meditating on compassion as I walked her, by seeing the joy in her face at exploring the world through all the sights and smells on our walk, and by focusing my actions in kindness for her in this moment (letting go of what “was”), I was able to have a beautiful walk with her. I was so inspired by her sweetness and joy—in spite of her injuries. After the walk, she enjoyed lots of pets, eventually crawling into my lap and placing her neck right into my hands and then falling asleep. Sitting there with her in that peaceful moment, letting go of everything except “being” together with an open heart, was such a profound experience. As I left her, I knew we had both been healed by each other.
I was so inspired by her sweetness and joy—in spite of her injuries.
On the other hand, when we allow emotions to overwhelm us, it can be almost impossible to think, speak and act in the best ways to help the animal to move forward into healing. Had I spent the walk feeling angry at the person who had done this to her, or being worried about any lasting scars she would have (physical or mental), I would not have been able to enjoy even a moment of it, or to experience her kind nature and connect in such a place of peace. In fact I would have missed the healing potential of our time together!
Meditating on compassion can help us to stay mindful. When times get tough, we can remember to place the filter of compassion over every situation we encounter. We can practice filling each moment with kindness and love.
By practicing compassion in this way, we will be clearer in our thoughts, more balanced in our emotions, and wiser in our actions, for the good of animals. In addition, the animals we want to help will sense and feel our compassion, and this will deepen our bonds with them. The ripple effect of our compassionate thoughts, emotions and actions will create healing shifts—not only for us and for the animals, but also for everyone who crosses our path. Being able to leave a healing trace wherever we go is the ultimate blessing we can offer to our world!
What acts of service will you offer to animals today?
“If you look the right way, you can see that the whole world is a garden.”—Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden
Although I like to stay informed about my world, sometimes I hate to watch the news because it is so pessimistic. I often call it “the bad news.” To help stay balanced, I like to meditate on the Reiki precept “be grateful.” In contemplating this precept, I remember all the blessings and good things in my life and in the world. Eventually, my mind comes to rest in the spiritual quality of positivity. When we live each moment in gratitude, it is a way of practicing a positive way of seeing the world. Practicing gratitude is also a way of focusing on our heart. Within our hearts lies our most profound healing power, and positivity helps us to harness it.
Sometimes animals are the best models of positivity. A great example of this can be seen in this video of mine on YouTube:
For me, I often remember this particular dog when I think of gratitude and positivity. This dog was so happy and so grateful for the Reiki session. He was so full of joy afterward. Clearly, he lived his life always expecting the best: as if something wonderful was happening now, and something awesome was about to occur at any moment! I was so surprised, after offering him that treatment, when I found out about his past.
He was found in the street with another dog, emaciated and left for dead. The other dog had died; this pit bull, when found, was barely alive. The vet didn’t think he’d survive, but he did. By the time I met him to share Reiki, he had been at the shelter for several months, gaining weight and strength but still waiting for his new family. I had no idea so much had happened to him in his past! All I saw was a dog full of joy, of gratitude, of positivity. What valuable life lessons this dog had taught me!
In this experience, there is also a great lesson in learning to let go of the “stories” of the animals—their sad pasts, the bad things that have happened to them and so on. When we focus on all the bad experiences from the past, this often creates a negative energy in our minds and hearts that stifles our ability to connect in the present moment. We can also become overwhelmed with sadness, at which point we are not much help to anyone, especially the animals we want to help. The more we practice gratitude and positivity, the easier it is to let go of these kinds of negative stories about the past. We can go deeper and see animals with our hearts. We can see them for who they really are: beautiful bright lights that can never be dimmed, no matter what challenges may come their way! All healing potential exists in this beautiful heart-to-heart connection.