Animal Wise: How a Reiki session works

img_0717

The first lesson of animal Reiki? The animal is always at least one step ahead … and that’s OK.

If you are considering Reiki to support a beloved animal’s well-being, it may help to know more about what actually happens during a typical session.

Getting there

For in-person appointments in the Fort Wayne, Indiana area, which last about an hour, I come to your home, barn, or clinic. When I arrive, we can get acquainted and talk about whatever concerns you may have. Then I’ll find a comfortable place to sit or stand near the animal. After I say a silent prayer and gain the animal’s permission to share energy, I will enter a peaceful, meditative state. The animal is free to lie still, stand, move around, eat, get a drink of water, go out for a pit stop, etc. The Reiki energy — the life force that animates all living things — will go right to work, wherever it is needed, regardless.

Why it works

It works for two reasons. First, the energy comes not from me but from a higher power: God, the Universe, All That Is. There are many names. I’m the conduit, not the source. Reiki is a stress relief and relaxation modality and not affiliated with any particular religious tradition, but at the same time, it is based on the notion that the energy comes from a safe, loving place where all living beings are connected.

Second, I am sharing the energy with the animals rather than doing something to them. During a session, cats or dogs will often come closer, curl up next to me, or settle in my lap, but they sometimes prefer to be a few feet away or even leave the room. That’s OK; I won’t chase after them. However they want to participate in a Reiki session, or not, is up to them. It’s really not the same model of the Reiki client lying on the table and the practitioner moving around him or her using the hand positions.

That’s why it works. More often than not, we don’t know how, and that can be hard to get our heads around. I’m a skeptical journalist who never expected to be doing anything like this, and I wouldn’t keep doing it if I didn’t see the benefits.

A peaceful presence

An animal Reiki session is not about fixing the animal or getting rid of what’s wrong. Reiki, which never harms, is about creating and sharing a peaceful space that promotes whatever healing needs to happen. The animals often have a better sense of that than we do, which is all the more reason to let them lead.

You and any other humans or animals present are welcome to be present and may also benefit from the session, but I generally keep conversation to a minimum during the meditation. After about 30 minutes, I will gently bring the meditation to a close and we can talk about any feelings, questions, or impressions that arose. I may share intuitive information I received during the session that might be helpful to you, but I am not a medical professional and do not diagnose. Most animals (and humans) feel relaxed and rejuvenated after a Reiki session.

We can then discuss and/or make an appointment for further treatment. The benefits of Reiki are cumulative and it helps the animal to get to know me over multiple visits, so I generally recommend a series of three sessions over 10 days to three weeks, depending on the animal’s circumstances and needs. Then I’ll be on my way, and you are encouraged to call or email me with any questions or concerns.

Animal Reiki and animal communication

Animal Reiki may involve communication, and I often send distant Reiki energy as part of an animal communication session. However, a Reiki session is a time of meditation and quiet healing, and an animal communication session is about gathering information and insight. So, while there is some overlap between the two, the objectives are different enough that I handle them separately. Please see my animal communication page for more information.

Unpacking a code of ethics

51GcazjWWaLAlthough a shared code of ethics is important for any profession, that code carries much more weight when we explore what it means for us each day. Kathleen Prasad‘s latest book, Healing Virtues: Transforming Your Practice Through the Animal Reiki Practitioner Code of Ethics, does this succinctly and wisely. A review copy of this book was provided to me by the author, with whom I have been blessed to study.

Readers of her previous books will find more of a new context — the Animal Reiki Practitioner Code of Ethics, which she developed — than new content. However, this is a valuable review and unpacking of the code of ethics, to which I as a practitioner subscribe.

The book covers the basic principles of letting the animal lead the treatment, “being” instead of “doing” Reiki, and never diagnosing — but also the nuts and bolts of setting treatment times and communicating with the humans involved. Plenty of real-life examples are included. I loved that our Animal Reiki III and Teacher Training weekend at The Devoted Barn animal sanctuary, and the “before and after” effect Kathleen talks about in the book, was among them.

Also discussed are confidentiality, what to do with intuitive information received, and working in conjunction with veterinarians and other animal care professionals in the community. Kathleen does not shy away from the very real and difficult issues of animal suffering, compassion fatigue, and misunderstanding about what it is we actually do. This book helps us access the code of ethics to effectively and compassionately address these concerns.

Healing Virtues is great for working practitioners, but if you are new to the topic, I recommend Kathleen’s Animal Reiki: Using Energy to Heal the Animals in Your Life, co-authored with Elizabeth Fulton; and the more recent Heart to Heart with Horses: The Equine Lover’s Guide to Reiki.

Animal Wise: Faith and strength

Devoted Barn - Faith (web)

Faith at The Devoted Barn, May 2017. (Photo by Nancy Crowe)

I looked up into the eyes of the majestic black Percheron at The Devoted Barn in Newport, Michigan, where my Animal Reiki III class with Kathleen Prasad was about to wrap up. Rain had drowned out whatever had been said about Faith, her story, and what brought her to this volunteer-run animal sanctuary during our tour two days earlier. In that moment, it was just her, me, and the healing energy I offered to share.

Certainly she was tired of all these humans traipsing around, occasionally chanting, talking about and trying to practice using healing energy — something animals understand much better than humans anyway. Right? A horse with the strength that radiated from Faith might be thinking: OK, nice try, but enough already.

Instead, she cut my cynicism off at the pass, telling me I too was strong and to bring it on. We had a lovely session, after which I thanked her and asked if I could take a picture to remember her. She obligingly offered the profile you see here.

I did not know, then, that Faith was living with a brain tumor, had nearly died months earlier, and had miraculously bounced back for another go at life. She knew, as all animals do, that every day is a gift … but she knew it much more deeply than I realized. She didn’t have time for the doubt of the journalist/Reiki practitioner/animal communicator in front of her. Whatever I thought I did not have in that moment was of no consequence; she saw what I did have to offer and gladly accepted it. And I’m sure, during that last year of her life, Faith taught many other lessons.

As Faith’s tumor worsened, The Devoted Barn family a few days ago had to make the agonizing decision to let her go. Faith is off on her next adventure, but her cut-to-the-chase, show-me-what-you’ve-got strength will remain a part of my practice and life forever.