There are far too many animals in shelters around the world, and all of them could benefit from the healing power of Reiki. In the U.S. alone, 7.6 million companion animals enter shelters each year. Because Reiki helps stressed or abused animals rebuild trust with humans, it’s crucial to their healing and adoptability. But many Reiki practitioners still avoid shelters and rescues—maybe because they believe some of the following myths and misconceptions about Reiki in a shelter environment. Let’s crush these stereotypes once and for all and illuminate six happy truths about rescue Reiki:
Myth #1: If Reiki isn’t on their radar, you will be turned away. Many shelters are interested in holistic modalities and are always looking for enrichment and companionship for the animals in their care. Even skeptical shelters will happily take you on as a regular volunteer, and in time they may become more open to your sharing of Reiki in addition to your regular duties.
Pit bull discrimination is a terrible problem in our society. It wasn’t always this way. Historically, pit bulls were celebrated. Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson had one; so did Fred Astaire and General George Patton. And consider Petey from Little Rascals or even brave Sergeant Stubby, a stray who won many metals and became a celebrity after helping wounded soldiers on the battlefield during WWI, locating them, boosting morale and warning soldiers of poison gas attacks. He even captured a German spy!
“Pit bull” isn’t even technically a breed; the term actually refers to the American Pit Bull Terrier, the Bull Terrier, the American Staffordshire Terrier and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. But over the years, these dogs increasingly became involved in dog fighting (thanks in no part to terrible humans), and the media began writing sensational stories. So today we have a problem where “pit bull” equals “monster” to most (uninformed) people.
Luckily, we have wonderful organizations around the world, like Out of the Pits—And Into Your Hearts, dedicated to helping educate the public about the truths of pit bulls, and hopefully rescue more of them from shelters. The statistics don’t look good. Unfortunately, 33 percent of animal shelter populations are made up of pit bulls, and only 1 in 600 will find a loving family. The rest will be euthanized. And every year, 1 million are put down. One million!
Only 1 in 600 pit bulls will find a loving family
My hope is that someday pit bulls can regain the respect, compassion and love they deserve. Until then, here are five of the most stubborn myths about pit bulls—debunked:
Myth #1: Pit bulls are not safe family pets. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, did you know they are not recommended as guard dogs because they are too safe and trusting of strangers? Their great love, gentleness and compassion for people earned these dogs the nickname “nanny dog” in the early 19th and 20th centuries. Go here (and scroll down) for a very cool infographic showing the history of pit bulls. Here’s a wonderful video that captures a sweet and loving rescued pit bull relaxing into one of my Reiki treatments:
Myth #2: Their jaws lock shut when they bite. Where did this myth begin, anyway? It’s just not true, as anyone who has studied basic dog anatomy would know. And as this professor of veterinary medicine at Cornell puts it: “There is no such thing as ‘jaw locking’ in any breed.”
Myth #3: Pit bull fighting dogs can never be rehabilitated. Not true! Overcoming abuse is difficult for any animal. But this is a dangerous myth, as these dogs can be turned around, and there are countless success stories out there. Here’s just one, an inspiring story about Little Red, one of Michael Vick’s fighting dogs:
Myth #4: Pit bulls are naturally dangerous. Actually, pit bulls are naturally intelligent and loving. And they are also perfect choices for service and therapy dogs. Here is one inspiring organization rescuing pit bulls from shelters in Chicago and pairing them with military veterans: Pits for Patriots.
Myth #5: We need laws banning pit bulls to protect people. Shame on you Denver and the more than 700 other communities that have banned pit bulls and euthanized thousands of dogs based on their physical appearance. Family pets are killed or hidden away (with no access to local veterinary care), and Animal Control “decides” which dogs are pit bulls or not. Even veterans within the city limits have lost their service dogs! Studies show that Breed Specific Legislation, as it’s called, fails to decrease dog bites or ensure public safety. It should be made illegal now. Here’s a petition you can sign to demand Colorado stop killing innocent dogs.
So let’s never forget these beautiful souls can also be thought of as heroes, service dogs, therapy dogs, best friends, family members and cuddle bugs. And make sure to mark your calendars for Saturday, October 24: National Pit Bull Awareness Day! Do you have a special pit bull in your life? Share your stories below.
First, the good news: Meditation has risen in popularity in the U.S. in recent years, with more people experiencing the wonderful benefits of meditation than ever before. Hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons has written a best seller on the topic (Success Through Stillness: Meditation Made Simple), Jerry Seinfeld is a well-known fan of transcendental meditation, and even more doctors are starting to prescribe meditation to their patients. But here’s the bad news: So many people still believe a variety of myths about meditation, and as a result, they never try it or experience its amazing benefits. Here are five common meditation myths debunked:
1. You have to be sitting with your eyes closed in a perfectly quiet room to meditate. This is a really common misconception about meditation. I have found from working with animals that the opposite is true; truly any moment can be a meditation, because meditation is about bringing compassion into our lives—and then sharing it with the world. We do this by taking our practice out of the quiet room and learning to meditate not just in a sitting position, but rather when walking our dog, taking a stroll on the beach, standing in a pasture with our horse, cuddling our cat and so on. These forms of meditation may be considered “informal,” but they’re just as powerful—if not more so.
2. Meditation is just woo-woo nonsense. Unfortunately, this is a common belief among many people. However, science has shown again and again that there are powerful health advantages to the regular practice of meditation. As explained in this WebMD article, those benefits include: improved heart health, lowered blood pressure, stress relief, a boost in your immune system, help with infertility, an improvement in the symptoms of PMS and hot flashes, stress management and more.
3. Meditation is time-consuming. Some people—especially busy ones balancing jobs, families, hobbies, aging parents, you name it—think they just don’t have time to meditate. While it can feel that way (and I can relate!), it’s very empowering to realize you don’t need to set aside an hour of your time every day to do this. It can be incorporated into your already busy life, and even just 15 minutes can help you feel better and more balanced.
4. You have to put your animals in another room to meditate. I’ve heard this so many times, and I’m not quite sure where this myth originated. But truly (and luckily for animal lovers), the exact opposite is true! I have found that animals make the best meditation teachers, if only we would open our hearts and listen. With their calming and compassionate presence, they are able to help us stay present and peaceful when meditating. You may have already discovered this on your own; your dog and cat have probably crawled into your lap when you’re meditating! I wrote more about animals and how essential they are to my meditation practice here.
5. Kids are too young to meditate. A lot of people think meditation is an intellectual, mysterious activity only for adults. This just isn’t true! Kids can learn meditation and mindfulness, too—they not only love it, but it helps them in many ways, such as improving test scores and attention spans and decreasing drop-out rates and suspensions, as reported in this piece on the recent trend of “ohm schooling” by ABC News. Teaching meditation to children doesn’t have to be complicated. You can start with simple breathing exercises and go from there. Here are a few tips to help.
What myths have you heard about meditation? Include them the comments below.