Helping Anxious Animals with Animal Reiki
Animal Reiki—especially the Let Animals Lead® Method—is a wonderful healing modality for helping anxious animals.
In this Animal Reiki Source blog, we’re going to take a look at anxiety in animals, go over the ways Animal Reiki can help, plus give you some really helpful tips for how and when to approach anxious animals and offer Reiki to them.
First, let’s examine some of the most common things that cause animals to suffer from anxiety.
Common Anxiety Triggers in Animals:
- Loud sounds like fireworks, loud traffic or sirens, thunder or other sounds.
- Exposure to new people, animals or objects.
- A change in your routine: have you moved recently or changed the places where you go with your animal? Do you have a new roommate?
- Walking on a new surface, especially if it is slippery.
- Physical pain from an injury or illness.
- Separation from their person.
- Visiting the vet’s office.
- Getting old: This can cause mental confusion or a lessening of sight and hearing, and these things can bring on anxiety.
- The memory of a negative past experience.
Here are 5 ways Animal Reiki can help to calm anxiety in both wild and domestic animals:
Sharing Animal Reiki induces the parasympathetic or “rest and relaxation” response which immediately reduces anxiety for the animal. When our animals are relaxed, this creates the ideal conditions for self-healing. Better relaxation can also lead to improved sleeping patterns which also contributes to improvements in anxiety issues in animals.
Sharing Reiki with animals can reduce the physical or emotional pain they may be experiencing. Pain can often contribute to the anxiety an animal is feeling.
Emotional Peace and Balance and a Sense of Well-Being:
Sharing Animal Reiki provides animals with a strong emotional sense of well-being, comfort and safety, which can reduce their feelings of anxiety.
Deepening your Bond:
Sharing Animal Reiki with our animal friends increases the depth of trust and understanding between us. An animal—especially a beloved pet—knows you are there for them with an open heart and mind, and this sense of security can reduce the frequency and severity of anxiety for animals.
Building Trust with Humans for Rescued Animals:
Animal Reiki can also ease the anxiety of animals in shelters, giving them the security to begin to trust their human caregivers, which in turn is the first chapter in moving forward towards finding their forever family.
So what is the best way to share Animal Reiki with animals that are clearly exhibiting symptoms of anxiety?
Here are my Top Tips to Create Mindfulness in Our Approach with Anxious Animals: Sharing Reiki Meditations using the Let Animal Lead® Method
To illuminate some of the foundational tips for sharing Animal Reiki using the Let Animals Lead® method, I’m going to use the acronym PAWS. PAWS stands for “Perfection, Agency, Wisdom and Space.” If we keep these things in mind when we offer Reiki to our animals, we can strengthen the connection and support them in healing!
Perfection: Focus on the perfection in this moment.
This tip is all about shifting your perspective. If we remember our animal’s perfection, we challenge ourselves to see the animal as whole in this moment, rather than focusing on what’s “wrong.” This doesn’t mean that we deny the issues our animal is facing, but rather, that we see more deeply and don’t define them by these challenges.
Being able to see an animal’s perfection in this moment is also about embodying a positive energy in this moment. To help with this, you can try using some affirmations; for example, you could meditate on the words “courage” or “strength” or “grounding.” My favorite affirmation is, “All is well.” In order to truly see an animal’s perfection in every moment, we have to be aware of and self-govern our thoughts and emotions because all animals can sense and feel our stress, which can add to theirs, creating a snowballing of anxiety for both of us.
Energy feeds off like energy, so if we are stressed the animals become stressed and if we are calm the animals become calm.
Agency: Give animals a choice in all aspects of the Animal Reiki session.
Encouraging agency means finding ways to empower your animals by always giving them a choice. Anxious animals often feel powerless and this can amplify their stress. Finding ways to bring choice to how they participate (or don’t) in the Animal Reiki session and listening to their body language will help give them a choice of if, how, and when they participate in their own healing of anxiety. For example, can they move into and out of the room where you are offering them Reiki? Is your body position threatening to them or are you far enough away or unassuming enough that they aren’t showing signs of major discomfort with you there?
When working with your own pets, think about physical activities that can help your animals release the tension they are carrying. What are their favorite ways and/or places to exercise?
Make sure they have a safe place where they can go at home where they are undisturbed, by other animals and/or people. Choose to offer your Animal Reiki session at a distance from this safe space (or in another room) so they feel comfortable to retreat if/when needed.
Wisdom: Let the animals be your greatest teachers.
Consider for a moment that helping your animal deal with anxiety is an opportunity for you to develop:
- presence in the moment.
- positivity in the situation.
- grounding, and
This tip is all about realizing that your animal is your teacher in this moment. In addition, they are always more aware of subtle shifts in energy—not only physical, but also emotional and mental—than you are, and this is yet one more reason to always let them lead by giving them choice.
Space: Give animals the emotional and physical space to step into their healing.
To give your animals emotional space, let go of your expectations. A great affirmation to use for this is, “All in the perfect timing.” Remember, there is no “rush” to a specific goal. Trust that all is well and give your animals the space to walk their own healing path—something that is not always a straight line.
During sessions, to give your animals physical space, think about how our physical proximity or position may add to their anxiety. How can we adjust ourselves to make them more comfortable?
By honoring an animal’s healing journey, whatever it looks like, we help animals to know that we are there for them, no matter what. This is very comforting and brings a lot of trust, safety and peace to them.
Ideas For When to Offer Reiki to Animals with Anxiety
Here are the three ideal times when it’s perfect to share Animal Reiki:
- When the animal feels most relaxed: This may only be possible in a home environment (perhaps not in shelter settings, depending on the crowding and noise levels). Share Animal Reiki to deepen and support the calm and trust an animal feels when they are in their safest place. Animal Reiki can help create a resonance of calm that stays with the animal even after the session and they can hopefully take with them for longer and longer periods.
- When the animal feels most stressed: This may be in the shelter environment for stressed animals—anytime is the right time to offer Reiki for these animals. Or it could be, for example, for an animal who gets frightened of trucks driving by on their walk. Find a safe place to stop and do your meditation right there in that moment. This acknowledges that the animal is scared and stressed, and you are creating a peaceful space right then and there. It also helps you to slow down and meet that moment with openness and affirmation, rather than trying to push through it quickly or bringing a lot of rushed and frenetic energy into the stress your animal already feels.
- Create a consistent routine around when you are offering Animal Reiki sessions to your animal. Perhaps try offering at the same time of day each day, or always sit in the same spot when you begin. Once your animal knows when it’s “Animal Reiki time,” they’ll often be ready to go, and even remind you to get going if you are running late or forget!
No matter what anxieties your animal may be struggling with, the peaceful, grounded space of a Let Animals Lead® Animal Reiki session is the perfect support to help your animal back onto the path of energetic balance and harmony!
If you are interested in learning how to share Animal Reiki with your beloved pets, check out our on-demand mini course that will show you the basics and give you a couple meditations to share with your animals! Or, if you’d like to learn how to be Reiki with all kinds of animals, not just your own, you can learn the Let Animals Lead® method for all animals with our Level 1 intake (that starts every three months). Check for upcoming Level 1 dates at our Animal Reiki Source Academy!