One of my favorite things about sanctuary animals is their incredible ability to live in the moment. No matter their past, no matter their physical ailments—these special creatures understand innately how to embrace love, mindfulness and spirituality.
I see it time and again when I sit with animals at a sanctuary or shelter and share Reiki. And when I listen close, they have much to teach. In fact, it’s almost as if they want us to learn the ancient wisdom of finding happiness.
I am a Reiki teacher who works with animals. Some might ask me if I’m an “animal healer,” but I don’t like that term: Partly because I respect the wisdom and power of animals too much to claim that I’m the one doing the helping, and partly because of what some amazing cats in my Reiki journey have revealed to me.
For those of you new to Reiki, the word itself literally translates as “spiritual energy,” which points toward our inner self. I see Reiki as our beautiful light of compassion, or our “heart.” Reiki meditation helps us remember that we are all connected, and in that place of Oneness, all healing possibility exists.
Sometimes when I work with shelter cats, my first instinct is to fall inside the sadness of the animals’ situations. But thankfully, in my work with Reiki over the years, I’ve found a better way to serve animals in need—by turning away from that instinctual desire to focus on what’s wrong.
My secret? Two things, actually: First, staying positive. And second, learning to see the heart of things—in other words, focusing on the bright, beautiful light of the animal.
It’s not always easy to do, but as the following wonderful Reiki experience illustrates, there’s great power in positivity, no matter the situation:
Loving our animals just comes naturally. No matter what kind of day we’ve had, they always lift our spirits and help us to forget our cares. In this way, they are also our best role models for how to love and be loved by our partners. Yes, human relationships are much more complex, but animals (especially dogs and cats) remind us every day that:
1. Love is just listening. In my experience, animals understand this better than people. Sometimes when things go wrong, we just want to vent—we don’t necessarily want advice or to go over every possible solution right now. Though it’s very human for a significant other to want to “fix” things, it’s wonderful to know that when you talk to your dog, she’s happy to simply hear your voice and offer puppy-dog eyes and cuddles. Our animals also remind us to listen when our loved ones need to vent, too.
I’ve mentioned before that Jane Goodall is one of my heroes; I’m constantly in awe and inspired by her tireless work to help animals and the planet—and even at age 81, she seems to have more energy than most people half her age! As she continues to move forward passionately and make our world a better place, here are seven essential life lessons we can all learn from Jane Goodall.
1. Follow your childhood passions. It is reported that Goodall always loved animals. At age 1, her father gave her a toy chimpanzee, which she carried everywhere (and still has!). She loved her pet dog Rusty (and says dogs are still her favorite animal) and was fascinated by animals from her earliest memories, wondering how chickens laid eggs and bringing earthworms into her bed. So when she had the opportunity to study chimps in Tanzania, she took it.