This month’s Animal Reiki Talk is on the topic of, “The Importance of Animal Independence and Agency within the Reiki Session.”
CLICK HERE to listen in to the recording.
Animals’ right to agency and independence within a Reiki session is often not taken into account because of humans’ mistaken belief that we “always know better.” Unfortunately, this often causes animals discomfort and creates obstacles to trust and connection. This view also completely overlooks the incredibly important contribution animals make to the Reiki space that we share.
In relation to this topic, I’ve been thinking about how my own practice has evolved over many years to give animals more freedom and expression.
When I first learned Reiki and no one was specializing in animals, there was no talk about even asking permission! Luckily that began to evolve for me, as I practiced with many hundreds of animals. In following human protocol of “hands-on, Reiki-on” at first I would keep animals on a lead so that I would perform all my set hand positions without them walking away before I was “done.” However, thankfully because I was working mostly with animals who didn’t know me or trust me (shelter and sanctuary animals) it quickly became clear that I was forcing something on many of them and this didn’t feel right. I wanted to give them a choice. How to do that best? This has been a process:
First, I thought of only “asking permission” before beginning a Reiki session with an animal, and then allowing them to move away. In this stage, I was beginning a session by placing my hands on the animal, thus still leading the session, but at least I left room for animals to say, “No,” by walking away from me.
Later on, I realized that my physical presence, touch, and sometimes even just the sight of my hands often disturbed animals, so I would have to let go of the “hands-on” rule. At first, I hovered my hands, but the worried looks from many sensitive animals helped me realize that perhaps this “predatory” Reiki stance wasn’t the best idea. How could I become gentler with physicality?
Slowly I began to trust the sensitivity of animals to energy. I realized they sensed the Reiki space in a way that was much deeper than physical touch or even the proximity of my hands. They even often connected with Reiki from a great distance away, even without my intention or knowledge (for example sneaking up behind me in an adjacent pasture when I thought I was just sharing Reiki with my own horse.)
This led me to experimenting with my hands in my pockets or face down in my lap. This is when I began to see nervous animals relax and start to take charge of the session, coming closer to me and even sometimes being the ones to initiate touch themselves! Amazingly, sometimes just being patient enough for animals who were very fearful of touch to be the ones to choose during Reiki created a huge breakthrough for them so that other humans were then also able to work with them closely and even pet them!
Regarding physical touch and Reiki, the ethical imperative for the Let Animas Lead® method is to always allow animals to initiate physical touch. In fact, touch is not the ritual best suited for Animal Reiki sessions, and this is why this method has evolved to become so different from human, touch-based Reiki. However some animals do enjoy physical touch during Reiki, and we can respond with an open mind and gentle hands when they come forward and initiate it.
Learn more by listening to this month’s Animal Reiki Talk.
Be well, and may the animals light your way,