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Originally published in the August 2011 issue of the Integrative Veterinary Care Journal.
By Kathleen Prasad
Learn about a safe and effective energetic healing modality with promising preliminary research that can support you and the animals you care for.
Last year, Dr. Oz declared Reiki his No. 1 alternative medicine secret. With 40 percent of Americans having tried alternative medicine—and 60 percent of U.S. households home to at least one pet—many people are increasingly turning to Reiki and other holistic therapies to help their animals.
© 2011 Kathleen Prasad
As a result of Reiki’s increasing popularity, many holistic veterinarians now offer Reiki and other energy healing options in the clinic environment. Even many conventional veterinarians are now, at the request of their human clients, learning more about Reiki as a holistic option.
Reiki literally means “spiritual energy” and refers to a Japanese holistic healing system that uses specific Japanese meditative, breathing and other practices to support energetic rebalancing and the self-healing process.
Reiki, because it is holistic in nature, can address both physical and emotional issues, supporting healing on all levels. It is an ideal therapy to use with animals because it is gentle, painless and stress-free, does not require direct physical contact in order to be effective, and allows animals to choose their own level of participation and acceptance of the energy.
Maybe you work in a holistic clinic where Reiki is a part of the healing program, or perhaps you work for a veterinarian who is at present unaware of how Reiki can help the animals in her care. In either case, there are many benefits to learning Reiki as a veterinary technician.
Benefit 1: Reiki is easy to use and will not take away from your regular duties. Reiki is something you can use anytime during the day whenever an animal might need some extra support. Although longer and more focused treatments are extremely helpful, one can also use Reiki quickly and easily by using some simple focus and breathing techniques.
This benefit has already been documented for nurses in the study “Effects of Reiki on Autonomic Activity Early After Acute Coronary Syndrome,” in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (2010;56;995-995). In this study, Reiki-trained nurses provided Reiki to patients on cardiac units. The study showed they were able to incorporate these treatments (and their therapeutic benefits) into the standard care protocol without disruption or additional cost.
Benefit 2: Reiki can calm the animals before and during exams and procedures.
As care providers for animals in a clinic environment, veterinary technicians are in a unique position to provide Reiki when animals might become stressed: before and during exams and procedures in the clinic environment.
According to the study “Reiki Improves Heart Rate Homeostasis in Laboratory Rats,” in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (14(4): 417-422, 2008), Reiki was able to significantly reduce the rise in heart rates produced by exposure to noise. Extrapolating these results to the clinic environment, veterinary technicians can use Reiki to help animals remain calm and relaxed during their visits.
Benefit 3: Reiki provides post-surgery comfort and recovery support.
A valuable time to offer Reiki to animals is immediately post-surgery, or post-treatment before they go home. By offering Reiki at this time, veterinary technicians can support a quick recovery.
The benefits of Reiki for pain management and recovery have been documented in the study “Reiki for Mind, Body and Spirit Support of Cancer Patients,” by Pamela Miles in Advances (Fall, 2007, Vol. 22, No. 2). This study for humans shows how Reiki relieves symptoms such as anxiety and pain, helping patients feel better, “frequently within minutes.”
Benefit 4: Reiki self-care can reduce stress at work.
Perhaps the most important benefit that Reiki can provide for veterinary technicians is self-care and reduction of stress. Reiki teaches that all healing begins within the individual, and that it is through our own spiritual development and self-healing that we can deepen our ability to help others.
In the study “Nurses’ Lived Experience of Reiki for Self Care,” in Holistic Nursing Practice, (23(3): 129-145, 2009), nurses were able to reduce their on-the-job stress by doing Reiki self-treatment. Similarly, reducing stress can help support veterinary technicians in their interaction with co-workers, human clients and animals.
The four reasons outlined above—in addition to many more benefits not discussed—show that Reiki can be the perfect complementary modality for veterinary technicians to learn. Give it a chance, and see how Reiki can help you be the best professional you can be.
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