This year has been a difficult one for me in terms of loss. But it got me thinking: What are the best ways to honor the dead once we’ve said our final goodbyes? Not just our human loved ones, of course, but also the four-footed friends we hold near and dear to our hearts.
Sometimes children can be our best source of comfort. Recently, my daughter Indigo used her art skills to help our family cope with the loss of an animal we loved so very much during her short time on this planet. Indigo used natural elements to create a glittery shrine in her memory. Now we see this special remembrance every day and can even meditate by it if we choose.
Here are 14 additional ways we can honor our dearly departed animal …
“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?
Last Friday, February 5, was the inaugural World Animal Reiki Day—and let me tell you, the day was such a huge global success! Thank you to everyone around the world who participated. The day would not have been a success without your involvement and support.
One of the many ways we celebrated was through the World’s Most Adorable Reiki Animal photo contest. Out of 35 entries, the winning photo (pictured above), which received the most likes on Facebook (135), was of a very special (and absolutely adorable) rescue dog named Eva.
Eva’s human is Jenny Hughes, a student of mine who took Reiki 3 at Animal Haven in New York City. As reported in this Dogster article, Eva was found abandoned in Philadelphia, tied to a post and left to die. She was more than 20 pounds underweight and not expected to live much longer. But the Pennsylvania SPCA offered her up as a hospice foster, and that’s how she met Jenny. As Jenny says, “That was almost 2 years ago and we have since adopted Miss Eva! Reiki has been part of our regular interactions and an important part of her healing journey from 68 pounds to close to 100 pounds now. It’s a wonderful bonding time for us and Reiki has served to calm Eva in times where her arthritis was acting up or simply to help her sleep soundly. Eva teaches me everyday how to live life to its fullest and always wear a smiley ! I look forward to many more years of sharing Reiki with this brave warrior!”
Eva has her own Facebook page; you can follow her journey here. Big congrats to Jenny and Eva for winning; she will be receiving all three of my books, as well as a complimentary distant animal Reiki treatment (a $100 value). Thanks again to all who entered!
What always restores my faith in humanity? When I see humans going out of their way—and sometimes even putting their own lives at risk—to help animals in need. Thanks to the heroic actions of these kindhearted individuals, the following creatures were saved from harm’s way in 2015. In case you missed these stories in the news last year, here are 12 of the most dramatic (and heartwarming) animal rescues from 2015:
1. Two dogs rescued from the rubble following a tornado
Two days after tornadoes devastated Texas right before Christmas, a family’s two dogs—a Golden Retriever and a Miniature Pinscher—were pulled from the rubble of their home, alive and miraculously without any broken bones.
2. Woman buys 100 dogs to save them from the dog meat festival
Every year in China, about 10,000 dogs are slaughtered for the annual dog meat festival, known as Yulin. This 65-year-old woman, an animal lover and shelter owner, was able to save $1,100 and drive 1,500 miles to buy 100 dogs, saving their lives and now giving them a second chance at life.
3. Dog rescued from icy waters
The U.S. Coast Guard saves lives—of both people and animals. Here’s the dramatic rescue of a dog that fell into icy waters in Michigan. The dog was later reported to be doing well while recovering at a local animal rescue.
4. Frozen kitten brought back to life
A family discovered a frozen kitten in the snow in their yard on Thanksgiving morning. They rushed into action—performing CPR and warming the kitten for over an hour.
5. 200-pound pig rescued from manhole
When the pig, named Rick Ross, fell into a 10-foot manhole, he was stuck for two days before firefighters were able to rescue him. Click here for dramatic video of the rescue.
6. Dramatic sheep rescue from a cliff in Wales
The rescuers from RSPCA, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, had to rappel down dangerous cliffs to bring the ewe to safety.
7. Donkey stuck in deep floodwaters surprises rescuers
When the donkey got stranded in floodwaters in Ireland, rescuers led by Animal Haven Animal Rescue were able to pull him to safety—and were rewarded with a huge smile!
8. Firefighters rescue kitten from storm drain
When Maren Swanson saw the amazing footage of a kitten rescued from a storm drain in Miami, she knew in her heart she just had to adopt the baby cat. So she flew to Miami to bring little Storm home. Here’s a heartwarming video of Storm’s long journey—from a storm drain in Miami to her new home in Los Angeles:
9. Horse pulled from well
When Daisy the horse got stuck in a deep well, a team of local rescuers, including a vet, spent more than two hours extricating her from the large hole in the ground. Luckily for Daisy, she escaped with no injuries. Click here for unbelievable video of the rescue.
10. Whale trapped in rope rescued
When a humpback whale became entangled in a lobster trap off the coast of California, a team of rescuers from SeaWorld hurried to save the creature, who would have died without help.
11. Dog rescued from fast-moving LA river
After the little brown dog was swept a mile downriver, a firefighter lowered from a cable attached to a helicopter rescued the little guy, who escaped without injury.
12. Motorcyclist stops traffic to save a kitten
You’ll sit on the edge of your seats watching this dramatic rescue! When a tiny kitten is seen running across lanes in the middle of a busy highway, this heroic woman on a motorcycle stops traffic and waves down cars until she can scoop up the little ball of fluff (which she named Skidmark) and take him to safety. (All caught on her GoPro.)
It’s a new year—which means an opportunity for new beginnings. You may have put a lot of thought into your own personal resolutions this year, like exercise more or eat less chocolate (that is definitely not one of mine!). But there are also so many ways we can all make small changes to help the world’s animals. Looking for some ideas? Here are 10 smart resolutions sure to help the animals of this world throughout 2016:
1. Support a new animal charity. You probably volunteer and send money to the same charities year after year. But new ones pop up all the time, and plenty exist out there that you’ve never even heard of—and even small individual donations can be a huge help. Spend a morning researching options and see what you find. Perhaps there’s a nonprofit in your community or a neighboring one you didn’t know about before. Or perhaps it’s a national or international charity that works hard on the causes close to your heart. So in addition to the ones you already support, choose one new favorite and map out easy and simple ways you can help out this year. By the way, do you know about my favorite charity, nearest and dearest to my heart, the Shelter Animal Reiki Association?