Animal Wise: Fit for a queen

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For a delightful tribute to Dash (and Tori, who plays him), visit the New Hampshire PBS site. (Photo courtesy New Hampshire PBS)

If you are a fan of the “Victoria” series and have not seen Season 2, Episodes 3 and 4, you may want to stop reading here. Even if you have seen it, it wouldn’t hurt to have a tissue handy.

How many twenty-somethings today could rule a nation? Before you answer that, let’s revise the question to: How many twenty-somethings of any era could rule a nation without the love, companionship, and guidance of a wise soul? I’m not talking about Prince Albert or Lord M, but Dash, Victoria’s Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, who was her constant companion from her isolated girlhood into the beginning of her life as a queen, wife, and mother.

Dash (played by Tori, who had the same role in the 2009 movie “The Young Victoria”) appears in many scenes with Victoria, usually in her lap, on her bed, or on a nearby chair. This is a dog who knows his place, and he observes everything that goes on and listens to all that is said (and unsaid) by his beloved human. There is nothing one would not do for the other — not for personal or political gain, but purely for love and perhaps the occasional treat. He was the one being in the world who did not care about her parentage or power. Dash cared simply and honestly for Victoria — not by doing, but by being.

Shouldn’t everyone with a country, corporation, or consciousness to run have that? Especially during the almost-adult to stuff-just-got-real-adult transition. Pepper, a miniature Schnauzer mix, saw me from eighth grade to my early journalism career and almost through graduate school. When I imagine those years without her, I see a lot more sadness and judgement and a lot less growth, acceptance, and fun. One little dog made a big difference for me and the people and animals around me to this day, and I’m no queen.

When it became apparent at the beginning of the episode that Dash may not be doing so well, I braced myself, but of course the tears flowed when he died. I love his epitaph:

His attachment was without selfishness,
His playfulness without malice,
His fidelity without deceit,
READER, if you would live beloved and die regretted, profit by the example of DASH.

A sweet, perceptive two-minute video about Dash can be seen on the New Hampshire PBS website.

The initially crusty, but increasingly insightful Duchess of Buccleuch becomes the conduit, in Episode 4, for a new puppy entering the queen’s orbit. An unauthorized leak in the royal bedchamber points to the need for a bit of training for the pup, but we are left assured that Victoria’s education will continue.

 

Animal Wise: Distant healing

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Photo credit: norsez {Thx for 13 million views!} via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

One of the coolest things about Reiki is that, being energy, it is not subject to time or space. Therefore, a Reiki practitioner can work with a client without the use of touch, or without even being in the same room. Or the same country. I can send Reiki to my brother in the Philippines from my Indiana home in the U.S. The energy goes where it needs to go, with no roaming charges.

Still, it’s one thing to believe that Reiki and other complementary healing modalities work hands-on — but the practitioner actually being able to do something for a person or animal miles away? How is that even possible? It’s a tough concept for this skeptical journalist, too, and I can’t explain how it works. I only know that it does.

A friend’s mother’s cat — I’ll call her Maisie — had been anxious, over-grooming to the point that her back legs were nearly bald. My friend mentioned her mom had just installed new flooring and wondered if that could be what was bothering Maisie. In any case, both she and her mom were worried. Wanting to help and knowing I could use the practice, I promised to send Maisie some healing energy.

That afternoon, when I sat down to meditate, I drew all of the Reiki symbols in the air, making sure to include the distant healing symbol. I asked God to let me be a conduit for whatever Maisie, and all humans and animals connected with her, needed. Then I took a few deep breaths and intuitively connected with Maisie, whom I had never met and who lived a couple of hours away. I introduced myself and asked her permission to send healing energy, explaining that she was free to decline or to take as much or as little of the energy as she wished. This is important: Whether distant or hands-on, it’s always up to the animal. If I’d sensed her turning or moving away or felt any apprehension on her part, we would have been done, with me perhaps asking if I could check in with her the next day.

Once I felt Maisie say yes, I pictured her inside a soft bubble of light, enveloped by healing energy from the earth below her and the sky above her. Animals ground with their feet, so it made sense that the new floor, with its unfamiliar feel and smells (along with strange humans in the house installing it), exacerbated whatever other anxiety she felt. I also sent healing energy to the house, envisioning a safe and happy place for all who live or visit there.

After twenty or thirty minutes, I sensed she’d had enough for the day. I thanked her, told her, “You’ve got this,” and closed the session with a brief prayer of thanks. I repeated this for three or four successive days.

It took another week or so before I remembered to ask my friend if her mom had said anything about how Maisie was doing.

“Oh, my gosh, she is doing so much better!” she said. The fur had started to grow back on Maisie’s legs … and she was playing and accepting human affection in a way she had not done in quite a while.

Did I heal Maisie? No. As a Reiki practitioner, I am the string between two cans … Maisie and a higher source, however she might conceive of such, being the two cans. Any healing that happened did so by God’s grace and Maisie’s willingness, in that peaceful space we created, to heal herself.

This is why Reiki works so well with animals, who so often are at the mercy of us humans: They are respected, and they get to choose.

To learn more or schedule a session for your animal friend, visit my Reiki page.

 

Animal Wise: Is it in our hands?

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Photo credit: DomiKetu via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

“Your hands are on fire,” my Reiki teacher said during the attunement, or initiation, to Reiki II a decade ago.

How ironic. Usually I heard, “Good God, your hands are freezing!”

I had noticed my hands were warmer after being attuned to Reiki I earlier that year. One of my classmates, who was also a palm reader, had hands so hot they almost burned. Obviously, this was powerful stuff.

It’s not unusual for those who practice Reiki — or for those receiving the energy — to feel heat flowing through our hands. And it makes sense. Our hands are how we take action, take responsibility, and get things done. Reiki has a long and important tradition as a hands-on healing modality.

Yet how much of the practice of Reiki is actually in our hands, literally or figuratively?

Kathleen Prasad, who taught my Animal Reiki III class this spring, emphasizes that Reiki is something to be shared with, not done to, animals. Her own practice evolved from hands-on treatment to one largely of meditation, letting the animal initiate physical contact.

In many cases, such as with shelter or zoo animals, the practitioner remains outside the kennel or enclosure and never touches the animal, sharing the energy instead through meditation. This is necessary for safety with wild animals, or with domesticated animals who are fearful or aggressive.

It can also be an unprecedented gesture of respect.  When you approach an animal with the attitude of “Come here, sit still; you need Reiki,” or “Please let me fix you,” he will likely run away, look away, or even growl or hiss. This is especially true if you put your hands on him, even if your intention is purely to help.

Letting the animal decide to accept the energy or not, and whether it will be hands-on or hands-off, respects a fellow sentient being in a way that opens the door to healing. Having had a number of animals place their heads, hips, or shoulders up against me or into my hands during treatment, I can tell you they know what they need. They’re also quick to recognize when someone can or cannot provide it.

It’s about being Reiki, Kathleen says, not doing Reiki.

At times, I’ve tried doing Reiki with my own animal companions, and they humor me by sitting still for a few minutes. Then a squirrel belches three yards down and they’re off. But when I am meditating, and focused not on fixing but creating a healing presence, at least one will come into the room and lie down next to me or climb into my lap.

That’s when I remember that I am only part of the equation. When I am sharing Reiki with an animal or person, I pray first to be a conduit for whatever healing is needed, whether or not I have any clue what that might be. Then I do my best to get out of the way.

And at the end of the session, I place him or her gently but solidly in God’s hands.