Last year, I wrote “How to Transform Skeptics Into Believers,” an article about my five best tips for breaking down barriers when bringing Reiki and meditation to shelters and sanctuaries. Though holistic approaches are starting to gain wider acceptance in recent years, many of us still encounter pushback from critics when attempting to share Reiki with animals in need.

But as the article points out, don’t let that stop you! As Reiki practitioners and firm believers in the healing effects of meditation, we must be bold. We must rise above skepticism so that we may offer Reiki, a form of meditation that creates a healing space for animals, to the homeless and the suffering. And in case you need some really bold examples to jumpstart your inspiration, here are three:

1. Karren O’Sullivan, a former nurse, volunteers once a week to bring Reiki to animals at the Tulsa Animal Welfare Shelter. She uses Reiki and meditation to help the animals most in need, including kittens in isolation, by bringing them tranquility and peace. She also teaches these techniques to staff, volunteers and the community. Watch these kittens go “from hiss to bliss” in this Good Day Tulsa segment:

2. Kelly McDermott-Burns brings Reiki to animals at the Rutland County Humane Society and The Hooved Animal Sanctuary in Vermont. She also teaches stress reduction techniques to the staff and caregivers in several animal organizations around Vermont—an important component not to be forgotten, since volunteers often suffer from the traumatic stress of compassion fatigue. From alpacas and horses to dogs and cats and more, Kelly’s work is known and appreciated throughout the region. The short film Reiki Lady highlights her meditation work with animals.

3. Gail and Richard Pope founded BrightHaven holistic sanctuary for hospice animals in Sebastopol, California, a beautiful place that takes in animals that would otherwise be abandoned or euthanized because they’re disabled, old or terminally ill. Reiki has helped to create a peaceful, healing space for the animals. I first approached them in 2004 with my first animal Reiki workshop; today I teach monthly Reiki classes to the public, and students come from all over the world to experience the special BrightHaven energy and learn these special healing meditation techniques. Thanks to their bold leadership, vision and compassion, BrightHaven recently won the Jefferson Award for Community Service.

Have you stepped out of your comfort zone to bring Reiki and meditation into animal shelters and sanctuaries? Share your experiences here!

10 thoughts on “Dare to be bold: Shelters and sanctuaries need meditation”

  1. Maureen Petras

    I now volunteer Reiki to the animals at two shelters in my area. One is Grass Valley Animal Control and the other is AnimalSave in the cat room also in Grass Valley. Both are my happy place!??? It is truly a blessing.

  2. Hello Everyone,
    I get your e mail newsletters here in the UK – I live in Scotland and signed up for the newsletters a while back.
    Just wanted to share with you, across the miles, that I too have been really encouraged by the response I have had in relation to ‘volunteering’ at animal shelters here.
    Having been introduced recently, by a friend, I have been able to offer Reiki to a range of characters who are waiting there for new homes.
    I am doing my second session this week and was really overwhelmed by the Trust shown last time by even the most neglected and badly treated animals who have found themselves at the shelter.
    Having met a range of characters during the visit I have found that it has been really easy to connect with them, at a distance, ever since.

    1. Hi Debbie,
      Thanks for sharing your positive experiences using Reiki at your local shelter. Reiki creates such a deep feeling of trust, even with traumatized animals – it is so humbling to be able to create a space of peace and healing for them! Keep up the great work and blessings!

  3. Hi, yes I did well and truly step out of my comfort zone, many years ago now. I was already volunteering at my local rescue and one day I decided to mention Reiki to the lady who managed the weekend volunteer walks. I was rather worried (terrified) they’d think I was a bit batty, but she immediately walked me off to talk to the general manager and that was it! I started giving Reiki to some of the dogs there, with a friend, and the staff at the rescue would think through which dogs might be most in need.

    Not long after, they asked me to share Reiki with a particular dog who I fell in love with immediately and ended up adopting about a year later, when I felt I was in the position to bring him home. We went onto share 11+ years together, with lots of Reiki during those years.

    I haven’t been able to volunteer there for a while due to personal circumstance, but hope to again when I can, as I miss it very much. I did volunteer there for a while photographing some of the dogs who needed homes and of course found it impossible not to offer Reiki to the dogs I was meeting. I am sure along with the photography, the Reiki helped some of the dogs find homes. I was mostly concentrating on the older and/or harder to rehome dogs and many of them did, after waiting for a long time.

    An additional benefit has been making some really good human friends through volunteering there, including a couple of the people who helped look after my boy during his time there 🙂 I am not known for stepping out of my comfort zone(!), but on this occasion I am very, very glad I did.

    1. Hi Angela, Thanks for sharing your BOLD actions in your local shelter! That is so wonderful to hear all of the healing ripple effects that one simple decision to share Reiki created. Keep up the wonderful work! Blessings 🙂

    1. Good for your Karen! not only is it wonderful that you are sharing Reiki for the animals, but also to teach the human caregivers – fantastic! Keep up the great work being BOLD 🙂

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