“With love and patience, nothing is impossible.” –Daisaku Ikeda
The animals of the world face many challenges these days. As much as I try to keep my focus on the good things, sometimes I can’t help but feel angry and helpless to make a difference. In times like these, my Reiki meditation practice helps me to find my balance again. One meditation I like to do is to meditate on the Reiki precept, “do not anger.” As I meditate on this, allowing my thoughts to come and go, my mind eventually comes to rest on the healing power of patience. Patience is quiet and calm. Patience is accepting. Patience is a profound state of “being” in the world. In many ways, patience is the opposite of anger. If we can remember patience when we feel angry, perhaps we can find healing.
To empower patience, we must also love. Animals are wonderful teachers of this, as it is often our love for them that helps us to be patient through difficult times. When animals are facing illness or healing from past trauma or abuse, patience can also serve us well. It helps us to open our hearts and “be” in a loving space with them when they are sick or suffering. To be patient and loving with animals, we must let go of the anger we might feel at their situations or anger at ourselves that we can’t change the situations to be better. Shifting out of anger, we can bring ourselves back to patience, and empower the patience with love from our hearts. This will create a space of trust and connection with the animals we love. In this space, we can see miracles of healing happen!
The story of Shirley the elephant is a wonderful example of the power of patience and love to heal. As you know, elephants live very long lives. Captured as a baby in the wild, she performed in circuses for 24 years (being terribly wounded there by another elephant who crippled her back leg, and then losing part of her ear in a fire) and then lived in complete isolation at a zoo for another 22 years. (Elephants are social creatures, so this must have been so difficult.) In 1999, she was brought to The Elephant Sanctuary to live in peace and contentment—and immediately became matriarch of the other elephants. She is such a wise and gentle elephant. She never lost her love and patience, even through all those years. When she arrived, she was reunited with Jenny after 22 years of separation—Jenny already lived at the sanctuary when Shirley arrived, and she hadn’t seen Shirley since she was a baby! It was an amazing and emotional reunion you can watch in this video:
Her story touched me very deeply, inspiring me to travel there in 2002 to teach Carol Buckley and two other staff members Reiki 1. I hoped to support them in helping to heal the elephants in their care. Believing I was there to help the elephants, how surprising it was to find that Shirley actually helped me. Seeing her living peacefully and contentedly at the sanctuary was wonderful. Realizing how she made it through all her years of difficulty with such patience and love was a wonderful spiritual example for me to emulate.
If she can do it, I can do it!
Who are the animals in your life that teach you the power of patience and love?
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?