Find Healing and Spiritual Transformation Through Peace, Compassion and Animal Connections
Reiki II will be taught at Lily’s Legacy Senior Dog Sanctuary, a volunteer run nonprofit organization based in Petaluma, CA. Founded in 2009, their mission is to provide a safe and loving home for senior large breed dogs who have been displaced from their homes and/or abandoned for any reason, until they are adopted or to remain at the sanctuary until they pass on.
This class focuses on the more advanced meditative and esoteric uses of Reiki. Most Reiki II classes focus on Reiki for people, but Kathleen’s class is unique in its emphasis on Reiki for both humans and animals.
“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.
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?
Do you use affirmations in your life? I didn’t used to, but I swear by them now. In my life, I have seen that affirmations really open doors. When I am stuck in a place, I just start with affirmations, and it may take some time, but I always see that as soon as I begin to work with the affirmations, I start to visualize and see what the affirmations are saying, and as soon as I can visualize and see a potential for something, then I can start to feel it emotionally. Then it becomes easier for it to actually manifest on a physical plane.
Animals are sensitive to our energies, so that’s another reason to practice daily affirmations. When we are in a bad place, they naturally want to come to us and offer comfort. But if they are the ones sick or hurt, they need us to be the strong support they deserve. But that’s not so easy when negative emotions often get in the way. Here are four steps to making affirmations work for you and your animals. Keep in mind, these steps work for shelter situations or even the family dog or cat:
Step 1: Be present and mindful.
Any time you are working with or spending time with an animal, remember to be present in the moment and mindful of your thoughts. If your thoughts are negative, how can you possibly create a positive space for the animals?
The answer is: You can’t. Animals are sensitive to our thoughts, feelings and energy—whether positive or negative. That’s why it’s so important to think positive when working with animals. If you’re actively doing affirmations, you’re going to see a shift in the animals that come to you. More animals will come. More animals will be drawn.
Step 2: Take notice whenever negative thoughts pop up.
When sitting and meditating with an animal, whether your own cat or dog or at a shelter, watch out for unhelpful thoughts that focus solely on the bad side, such as the animal’s situation in a shelter or his appearance. For instance:
Situation: A sick-looking dog is dying.
Negative thought: “I hate this. What a poor dog. Life is so unfair.”
Emotions: Stress, sadness, despair
Result: Our negative thinking has gotten in the way of helping the animal. We were so focused on what they looked like, or our take on the direness of a situation, that we neglected to truly be there in the moment for the animal, offering a peaceful space. Instead, the time shared between you and the animal has been tarnished by negativity.
Step 3: Retrain your mind to think positive.
This goes back to mindfulness in Step 1. When you feel a negative thought emerging, look deeper to the heart of things—this will help you find a positive focus. For example:
Situation: A sick-looking dog is dying.
Positive thought: “What a beautiful soul he is: perfect and bright in this moment. I can imagine exactly what this dog was like as a puppy, running around happy and doing silly things. Just think of how much joy he has brought to so many people in his lifetime! I feel so blessed to be here in this moment, supporting him.”
Emotions: Compassion, love, joy
Result: The animal is not stressed out by our negative energy, but rather drawn to our open heart and mind. A positive space has been created.
Step 4: Practice, practice, practice.
Emotions are tricky things, and they often have minds of their own, refusing to listen to us. So be easy on yourself if this is all new to you. Learning to think in affirmations requires time, patience, practice and self-compassion. If sad or negative thoughts feel standard and familiar to you, it’s going to take extra effort to retrain your mind to think positively. But it can be done, even if it feels a little weird at first, or like you’re making it up. But keep trying—eventually the energy within you will shift, and that’s when you’ll know your hard work has paid off. You’ll feel less stress and anxiety within your heart, and the animals around you will feel that, too.
What could be more merry than shopping for holiday presents for the kids in our lives? While it’s super fun to make their holidays magical, don’t forget to balance out all that consumerism with some charitable giving—specifically, teaching children about the spirit of giving and helping those less fortunate during the holidays. With that in mind, here are five easy ways kids can help animals this holiday season:
1. Focus on their favorite animal. Does she love horses or dolphins? Does he love K-9 dogs? This is a perfect time of year to foster that love and show them how they can help the animals they love most in this world. Find a relevant sanctuary sure to interest them, then find ways to make it real and really bring the issue home. You can sponsor an animal in their name (which usually comes with photos and updates on the animal’s progress) and even plan a visit to a local rescue where they can see these animals being helped.