Posts Tagged ‘shelter’

3 powerful ways Reiki can help animals in need

I have been honored to share Reiki with thousands of animals around the world. And through this work with animals—many of them in shelters—I’ve seen firsthand how Reiki always finds a way to heal the animal on some level, even if what needs healing isn’t readily apparent at the time. The following stories illustrate three powerful ways Reiki can help animals in need:

A story of physical healing

There was a kitten one day in the shelter where I was volunteering. He had been poisoned. His mother had somehow ingested poison, and then the babies had nursed, and so there were three kittens and the mom. By the time I got there, two of the kittens and the mom had already died, and there was this one kitten left, and he was in pretty bad shape. He was very listless and couldn’t open his eyes. He couldn’t stand up and was just lying there. The staff person said to me, “Well, we’re not sure he’s going to make it, but we want to give him a little time; can you sit and do Reiki?”

What is more powerful than being present with an open heart and compassion for another being?

So I sat outside the cage, and after several minutes, the kitten tried to open his eyes and tried to move his head, and he leaned forward, and I could see he saw, he knew. He could sense I was there because, of course, animals are much more sensitive than people, and he was asking for more healing. So I opened the cage door. I put my hands in. I cupped my hands around him and he leaned his little head on the side of my hand, and he was tiny enough that I could easily fit him just within my hands (and I have very small hands). He was just a teeny, tiny little thing. He curled right up and leaned his little head against me and slept.

After about 45 minutes, he woke up. I moved my hands away. He opened his eyes and looked right at me with his very bright eyes, meowed a teeny, little meow, stretched, and went over and drank water. Amazing, and with just one treatment of 45 minutes! It was literally as if he had come back from the brink of death, with nothing except Reiki.

What is more powerful than being present with an open heart and compassion for another being? Isn’t that the ultimate healing? And this is what we do as Reiki practitioners!

This is a beautiful example of how Reiki touches our most inner heart and spreads out in a beautiful ripple effect, and this is why we see these kinds of physical healings, as with the kitten. It is so beautiful to see.

A story of emotional healing

Another day at the shelter, they asked me to work with a dog who was very, very ill, but also had been severely abused and was basically shut down. If you’ve ever seen an animal like this, it’s where they are unresponsive; there’s just basically “nobody home.” He was lying in the back of the kennel, his head down. His eyes were open, but they were glazed over with no expression; he had absolutely no response to people walking through, or to all of the loud noise at the shelter. There were dogs barking next to him and jumping around, but he had absolutely no response. He was completely shut down emotionally.

Even he could not resist the beautiful power of love and compassion that is Reiki.

I sat outside his kennel and offered Reiki. For me, what this means is, it’s really about feeling the love, opening my heart, sitting in compassion and just inviting the animal to share that space. So I sat there for about 45 minutes to an hour. At that time, I had to move on. So I stood up and thanked the dog. I could hardly believe my eyes: As soon as I stood up and thanked him, he got up, too. He walked over wagging his tail. He walked up to the front of the kennel, rolled on his back and offered me his tummy, all the while wagging his tail. It was the most amazing transformation from just one treatment.

This healing didn’t happen because I was thinking I need to heal this and that problem. It wasn’t because I was directing energy to do this and that. It was because an open heart with compassion is the ultimate healer! It doesn’t matter how bad something is—Reiki can transform any condition. In essence, Reiki is really love and compassion, and thus it can reach any problem. So I always feel there is always hope, especially because of what I’ve seen over the years.

Reiki is so powerful, and yet it is completely noninvasive and very, very gentle.

A story of spiritual healing

Despite the beautiful things I have seen, I know that Reiki is not a cure-all. Just because you do Reiki doesn’t mean you will never get sick or that you won’t die. But over time I have come to realize that it’s the peacefulness of Reiki that is really what’s important.

In this sacred space, all things are possible.

There was a dog that came into the shelter one day, and the dog was very vicious and they were going to have to euthanize him. I happened to be there a few hours before that, offering Reiki, and the staff said to me, “Oh, can you at least sit with him? He’s very aggressive and nobody can really do anything with him. Maybe it will help somehow?”

I knew that this dog’s path had been decided and there was nothing I could do to change it, and yet with Reiki, I knew I could do something.

So I went and sat outside the kennel. I could see that this dog was very vicious and out of his mind with rage. I sat a bit away from the kennel and turned to the side so that I wasn’t making him feel even worse (although that would have been hard to do!). He was pacing and snarling. Every person or dog or movement that he saw, he would lunge, snapping and barking.

So I just closed my eyes, went inward, and created that Reiki space. I focused on the peace of Reiki, and just sat. I thought to myself, I’m just going to shine my light, and I hope it helps. I knew that was all I could do. After about 20 minutes, I opened one eye because I could tell things had quieted down. I was afraid to look because he was so sensitive to any movement or any eye contract at all, but I opened one eye just to glance at him. He had actually stopped pacing, stopped barking, stop growling. He was standing. He would not lie down, but he was standing, leaning against the side of the kennel. His head was down and bobbing up and down slightly because he was falling asleep standing up. Even he could not resist the beautiful power of love and compassion that is Reiki.

Even though he was euthanized later that day, I could feel that his spirit really received a beautiful peacefulness that he otherwise would not have felt in this lifetime. I feel that that was important for his journey. In fact, for each and every one of us, it is very, very important to have that peacefulness, even if it is only for a short time. Yes, perhaps the dog’s life here was ended, but this brief moment of rest for his body, mind and spirit was a profound gift.

It’s amazing to me that by simply relaxing, being quiet, breathing and having a heartfelt intention to help another being, you create a sacred space. In this space, all things are possible.

Do you have any powerful animal Reiki stories to share?

Excerpted from Everything Animal Reiki by Kathleen Prasad

10 inspiring documentaries that will change your life

What are you up to this weekend? I’m still catching up on things, after spending last week in the UK. But I’m also kind of in the mood for a truly inspiring documentary, something life-affirming that can teach me something new. Here are a few of my favorites, which also happen to touch on very important subjects:

1. Beyond the Myth: The Truth About Pit Bulls

All dog lovers should see this film, which highlights the problem of discrimination against pit bulls, which can actually be wonderful companions. It also examines the harm done by negative media coverage and breed-specific legislation.

Starting an animal rescue: what you need to know

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to start your own animal rescue or sanctuary? I’m sure I’m not the only one who thinks this would be a dream come true. It’s so inspiring to read about others who’ve gone before and turned their ideas for rescues into realities—for instance, Farm Sanctuary, The Gentle Barn, Bat World Sanctuary, Center for Great Apes and The Wild Animal Sanctuary (just to name a few). If starting an animal rescue sounds like your true calling in life, here are four questions to ask before you take the leap:

What kinds of animals do you want to save?
There’s a big difference between establishing a small shelter to save a handful of cats and dogs vs. exotic big cats, elephants or horses. Think ahead about what size and type of facility or acreage you’ll need, and if you’ll have access to the resources and space necessary to manage it. Start small in the beginning so you can work out all the kinks and stay on top of what comes—you’ll have the ability to expand later once your rescue takes off.

How comfortable are you with the business side?
At the end of the day, a nonprofit is a business just like any other. You’ll need a team of people you trust and critical business skills to ensure success. Yes, you’ll be helping animals—but you’ll also spend your nights and weekends writing a business plan, filling out paperwork to obtain nonprofit status, managing people and zoning issues, fundraising, handling legal issues and more. If you’re sure starting an animal rescue is for you, learn all you can before you launch. You can take an informative workshop on the topic from Best Friends Animal Society, read books such as How to Start and Run a Rescue by Jennifer Williams, and interview the founders of other rescues for their best tips for success.

Is it really viable in the long term?
An animal rescue can quickly grow out of control if not managed and funded properly. How will you pay for rent, vet bills and so on? Will you be able to raise money, grow membership and pay salaries in the long term? There are also emotional issues such as burnout and compassion fatigue to deal with, which are real risks for those spending their lives helping homeless and abused animals. It’s a lot to think about, but don’t lost hope: Look around at all the animal rescues that inspire you, and keep in mind that they, too, faced challenges such as these in order to start and grow to where they are today.

What’s your ultimate goal?
I’m guessing that your goal is, in general terms, to help animals in need. But sometimes, starting a rescue isn’t the best way to serve those animals. Perhaps your animal rescue idea is already successfully established in your local community, and simply volunteering there might be a better use of your time and resources. Or, instead of a shelter, brainstorm alternative nonprofits you can start to help animals. For instance, my Shelter Animal Reiki Association isn’t an animal rescue, but we do bring Reiki programs into shelters and sanctuaries worldwide—and that work supports hundreds and thousands of animals in a different way.

Do you dream of opening an animal rescue? I’d love to hear about it.

What happens when you combine yoga and dogs?

I just got back from our 2015 SARA retreat at the gorgeous Ratna Ling Retreat Center; what a wonderful, inspiring and relaxing time! We offered on-site daily yoga classes to our participants … but wow, did I miss my dog Mystic! If only there were some way to combine yoga and dogs.

Well, of course there is! You may have even heard of the trend, called “doga,” which has been rising in popularity in recent years (and gives new meaning to the term Downward-Facing Dog). Doga just makes sense: As I’ve learned in my animal Reiki practice, animals are very spiritual creatures and the best meditation partners. They also love to accompany their beloved human everywhere and get extra attention any way they can, whether it’s walking on the beach, sitting under a tree or even doing yoga!

Depending on your dog’s personality (and size), doga can be an amazing way to strengthen your bond with them, relax together and practice mindfulness. Though there are many doga poses, one of the most common, according to Today.com, is the Chaturanga, where your dog lies on his or her stomach while you pet their back.

Classes are cropping up across the nation, at studios like: YogaForce in Burlingame, California; Deep Dog Yoga in Yorba Linda, California; Ganesha Yoga in Chicago; Austin Doga in Texas; BKS Yoga Studio in Naples, Florida; and at the SPCA in Tampa Bay, just to name a few. In the Midwest, Indianapolis recently offered a doga event before its huge Mutt Strut fundraiser in April.

If you can’t find a class near you, there are plenty of books on the subject, including Doga: Yoga for You and Your Dog by Lisa Recchione and Barking Buddha: Simple Soul Stretches for Yogi and Dogi by Brenda Bryan. Yoga instructor and author Bryan is widely regarded as one of the originators of the trend.

And because we can’t forget about cats, it’s worth noting that this Illinois yoga studio recently had the genius idea of bringing six shelter cats into a yoga class. It’s not only relaxing for the animals (and humans), but also helps boost awareness for the shelter and increase adoption rates at the same time.

I can’t tell if this video is serious or not, but here’s an interesting (and very cool!) demonstration of doing yoga with your cats (the cats definitely don’t seem to mind):

What do you think of doga (or cat yoga)? Have you tried it?

4 questions to guarantee happy volunteering

Volunteering at an animal shelter is a dream come true for so many of us. But just like any job, the first shelter you come across may not be the right fit for you. Due to the time commitments involved and the level of devotion required by volunteering, it’s important to find the right “match” ahead of time to ensure the best experience possible.

With that in mind, here are four vital questions to ask the shelter (and yourself!) in order to guarantee the happiest experience possible:

1. Is it a no-kill shelter? If not, are you comfortable working with animals that may have to be euthanized? Are you comfortable being present with these animals, perhaps at the time of transition? It’s important to let the volunteer coordinator know your comfort level with discussions surrounding euthanasia at the shelter where you volunteer. It can prevent an uncomfortable or emotionally charged discussion at a later date.

2. Will they require you to complete a training program? If so, how long is the program, and what are the requirements? Once you have completed the program, what minimum hours per week will you be required to volunteer, and how long-term of a commitment do they expect? (Some shelters require at least a year.) What duties will you be expected to assist with? What percentage of your time will you be able to devote solely to the tasks that interest you the most?

3. Which staff member will you report to directly? Which person will be involved in helping you with the animals or giving information about which animals to work with? Will this person be notified of your volunteer role at the shelter? If not, make sure to introduce yourself to the staff and volunteers when you meet.

4. Are you prepared to handle the ups and downs? Volunteering at an animal shelter has its magical moments—the first time you bond with a cat that hides from everyone else, the older dog who finally finds her forever home—but there will be plenty of heartbreak as well. Ask yourself how you will cope when you witness innocent animals recovering from abusive situations, see cats and dogs suffering and in pain, know that the animals “no one wants” are being euthanized, or even miss your favorite animal once he or she is adopted? Unfortunately, those who dedicate their lives to caring for others (human or animal) must watch out for compassion fatigue, a traumatic stress disorder and occupational hazard for shelter volunteers which I wrote more about here.

What questions do you always ask before volunteering at an animal shelter?

{Adapted from The Animal Reiki Handbook: Finding Your Way With Reiki in Your Local Shelter, Sanctuary or Rescue by Kathleen Prasad}