I caught a snippet of West Taylor’s science-based horsemanship seminar this weekend at Summit Equestrian Center here in Fort Wayne. Geronimo, a formerly wild mustang who trained at West’s Utah ranch last winter, was the star of the show for a Saturday demo.
Geronimo, with whom I’ve worked in my animal Reiki and animal communication practice, did a great job! Over the last few years, we’ve shared many a Reiki session — often while he was in horse time-out — and some good talks. Moment to moment, he’s had to decide that connecting and learning were worth the risk.
So I especially loved hearing from West about teaching horses to find and keep their center despite “trash-talking Tweety birds” and other threats. It’s about responding rather than reacting, which of course is something I have to work on myself.
I hear more trash talk from squirrels than birds, actually … but the point remains.
While animal Reiki and animal communication make a great pair, they are separate disciplines with unique benefits. The difference is essentially between meditation and conversation.
How they work
A Reiki session is a time of meditation, relaxation, and peace. Because I am certified in the Let Animals Lead® method, the animal is always in charge of whether and how he shares the energy.
During an in-person session, which I offer in the Fort Wayne, Indiana area, a cat or dog might curl up in my lap or settle across the room. A horse may stand on the other side of the pasture, hang out in a stall, or come to meet me at the fence. I’ve even had a donkey sidle up and nudge his head under my arm! Whatever the species or context might require, I go into a meditative state and let the energy do its work.
Distant sessions are much the same, except that the animal and I are not in the same physical space. She’s generally at home relaxing with her person, hanging out with the herd, or doing whatever, while I’m in my home office — again, in a meditative state, letting the energy do its work!
During an in-person or distant Reiki session, I may receive intuitive information — but that is not the objective of the session.
An animal communication session, on the other hand, is an exchange of information. I don’t need to be in the same physical space as the animal or on the phone with the animal’s person for this. I connect with the animal telepathically, focusing my attention on what he has to share. No appointment is necessary for this.
With the animal’s permission, I work to gain insights into behavior. Or I tell her about a change coming up and ask what would help her adjust. Or I ask him how he feels about anything from his food to his person’s new boyfriend. Once I’ve talked with the animal, I email the person a summary of what we discussed. The client is always encouraged to take only what resonates and is helpful, and leave the rest.
Together but distinct
In some settings, such as a farm with multiple animals, I may do Reiki and animal communication in the same visit, but not in the same moment.
How this works might be compared to a chaplain’s rounds. Time with each animal could be spent in conversation to begin. Then we might share Reiki. After the session, we might talk a little more before I thank the animal and move to another. We wouldn’t be meditating and talking at the same time!
There is a time and a purpose to everything (Eccl. 3:1). When we let Reiki and animal communication function on their own, our animal friends get the best each has to offer.
A sad stillness enveloped the barn and pastures at Summit Equestrian Center on a damp, fall-is-coming morning a week after Whinnie died three years ago. The animals were grieving, and as I arrived for my weekly animal Reiki rounds, so was I. In fact, I feared my own sadness would taint the energy I wanted to share with them.
Whinnie, Summit’s thriving-with-disabilities spokeshorse, was a dwarf miniature horse with a giant presence. That presence was glaringly absent now.
All of the animals had taken turns visiting with her before she passed. They knew she had been struggling. When animals grieve, whether for a human or another animal, it’s not that they don’t understand what’s going on. They probably understand it better than the humans do, and feel the loss and disorientation all the more acutely.
On that morning a week later, no other humans were about, but three horses waited by the fence. They felt not only the loss of Whinnie, but the sadness of the other animals and humans who’d known her.
I wasn’t sure anything I could offer at that moment would help. In the face of suffering, injustice, and anger, it’s easy to feel that whatever we bring to the table will not be enough.
However, surrendering the outcome is essential when sharing Reiki energy with animals or communicating with them. So with a brief prayer, I set an intention for the animals’ highest good and put it in God’s hands.
Rain began to fall, and without thinking I put my umbrella up. Startled, all three horses pulled back.
I folded the umbrella and stashed it away. I started to castigate myself for not remembering that I actually knew better than to unfurl an umbrella near a horse.
But they were still there and so was I. “Sorry, guys.”
They relaxed, and I shared Reiki energy with them and with the other horses, ponies, and donkey who stood, still and mindful, in the pasture.
I offered a variation on the earth and sky meditation my animal Reiki teacher, Kathleen Prasad, taught. This meditation gently taps into both the grounding power of the earth and the divine expanse of the sky. I reminded the crew that support is always available, no matter where we are or what is happening.
A chilly breeze cut through my jacket as we finished up. The perfectionist in me still wondered if I’d done enough.
Then Boo, a beautiful 14-year-old black cat with white whiskers and a delicate white star on her chest, strolled up. She usually hid out in the barn. Now here she was, meowing and rubbing against my legs.
Boo had been dropped off a couple of years earlier. Though initially terrified of people, she became “selectively social,” as executive director Allison Wheaton put it.
Being well-trained by cats, I know when one is demanding food, a lap, an opened door, a quick head rub, or the ever-popular skritch above the tail. Today, Boo wanted healing energy: Come on, let’s see what you’ve got.
I sat on a bench in the garden while Boo continued to wind around me, occasionally putting her front paws on my knee but never quite taking the leap into my lap. As she took in the energy, she kept up a running commentary of meows and purrs. This, I felt her tell me, was just what she needed. Of course, it was just what I needed, too.
One of Whinnie’s most important lessons was that it doesn’t matter what you can’t do or don’t have. If you show up with an open heart and put what you do have out there, chances are it will be exactly what is needed.
Even today, when COVID-19, violence, and division send us scrambling for an adequate response, we can bring our imperfect offerings.
We are here. We can offer more than we think. We can do this.