How to Let Animals Lead an Animal Reiki Session
Today I’d like to talk about how we can, as practitioners, make sure we are letting animals lead Animal Reiki sessions. This is an important consideration, because it’s only when we let animals lead, that we can ensure the gentlest, most ethical process of healing connection is offered.
Letting animals lead is really about self-reflection and self-management of thoughts, intentions and emotions. It’s really important that we constantly take stock of our inner state and self-reflect on it, so that we don’t cause any kind of discomfort for animals, especially sensitive ones who may have been through past trauma at the hands of humans.
Today’s topic also continues on from last week’s article about how long an Animal Reiki session should last: You’ll see some recurring themes!
In order to make sure you are coming from a humble place, where animals have the space to lead, be sure to ask yourself the following five questions, not only before you begin a session, but also revisiting them periodically during each session to stay on track.
1) What is my intention, as a practitioner?
This is the first and most important and foundational question we need to ask ourselves, and continue to contemplate as we go through our own healing journey. Your answer truly determines whether a session is practitioner-led or animal-led. Although our culture and society has given the meaning of “cure” to the concept of healing, in order to let animals lead Animal Reiki sessions, we need to be getting back to the original meaning of “to heal,” which is to become whole. This wholeness is possible in every moment, even the most difficult ones.
We should be reflecting on the possibility of wholeness, peace and “All is Well,” in this very moment with each animal we are connecting with. Our intention should be to hold space with them, seeing this possibility, no matter what struggles animals may be facing.
This, in essence, is at the heart of what it means to “be Reiki with animals,” instead of “do Reiki to animals.” When we have an intention to send energy here or there, our vibration is not calm like the surface of a peaceful pond, and that peaceful pond is what we should strive to achieve in the energy of our mind and heart.
Once we have focused on an intention of holding space in this open way, the next “letting animals lead” questions will naturally follow for us to ask ourselves:
2) Am I focusing on what is wrong, or what needs to be “fixed”?
It is natural to be concerned about an animal’s physical or emotional issues, and in fact, this is important in the context of getting them the veterinary/training care that they need, however Animal Reiki time is a time to let this go.
When we focus on the animal’s ailments, our energy turns to the negative, and our vibration follows. We can inadvertently begin to define our animals by what is wrong with them, or what has happened to them, and this negative lens is felt very keenly by our sensitive animal friends. It can actually add to their suffering when they feel us looking at them in this way! This is why it’s so important that we create a safe space, during Animal Reiki sessions, where we only focus on the animal’s bright and perfect spirit, that can never be dimmed or diminished, no matter what they face.
When we see animals as perfect, we can see them as wise beings who have the wisdom and agency to lead each Animal Reiki session. I call this seeing them with our “Reiki eyes.” When we see them in this way, it helps us to let go of the anger and worry that can prevent a calm space of connection.
3) What are my expectations for how the animal should behave during the session?
This is an important question to reflect upon, because many times we want an animal to come forward and sit on our lap or behave in a certain way that shows they are enjoying the connection. This is natural of course, because we want to help animals, however these expectations can actually get in the way of animals leading a session. What if an animal would prefer keeping their distance from us? What if an animal doesn’t want hands-on contact? What if an animal prefers to come and go during a session, rather than settle?
If we have different expectations than what an animal actually does during a session, we may feel we have failed, or we may judge that the Animal Reiki session isn’t “working.” This judgement ripples into our energy field and can make us feel a bit scattered or chaotic energetically to animals. Perhaps they will walk away from connecting with us. In reality, having expectations about animal behavior is a huge obstacle to letting animals lead sessions, because unless they “live up to” what we expect, we won’t accept the session calmly and with an open heart.
Most animals behave uniquely and not in a predictable pattern, so having behavioral expectations means we are not allowing animals the space to lead the session and we will miss so many opportunities to connect!
4) What are my assumptions about what the outcome of this session will be?
This question for self-reflection is really about dealing with our own worries about what’s going to “happen” to the animal. If we are concerning ourselves with future outcomes, we are no longer in the present moment with the animal, and we are actually missing the chance to connect with them now.
When we aren’t present here and now with animals, we can miss behavioral cues they may give us about what makes them happy, or on the other hand, uncomfortable. We may also completely miss the lessons the animals are teaching us. Remember, Animal Reiki sessions heal all of us together, and animals bring so much goodness to our connections! They truly elevate any space they step into.
Simply put, if we’re stuck in our future worries, we can’t be present with animals, and so we can’t truly let them lead sessions.
5) Am I more concerned with what the humans are thinking about this, rather than what is best for the animal?
Sharing Animal Reiki sessions in front of people can be a challenge. Not only do we have to deal with making sure we have an open intention as well as calming our own concerns and expectations, but also we have to deal with all the person’s own expectations, worries and more. Sometimes we might feel self-conscious about what the session is looking like, from the perspective of the animal’s person. Will they see anything happening? Will they like the response of their animal? Should I be “doing something” they can see? If we are worrying about what the observer is thinking, we may try to take over the session and forget about letting animals lead.
A great way to handle our own concerns about what an animal’s person thinks, is to make sure we educate them a bit before we begin the session. We can let them know what we are and aren’t doing during the session, what they can expect to see from us, and even signs for them to look for that their animal feels safe and comfortable. Also, we can let them know that Animal Reiki time is quiet time, and hopefully hold all conversation until afterwards.
In reality, watching an Animal Reiki session might be rather boring for an onlooker. That’s one reason to bring the person into the session, either through sharing Reiki with them in a chair session, or guiding them in the meditation so they can share and support the healing space. Hopefully experiencing a bit of what the session feels like for themselves, can give them a window into what their animal might be feeling.
As you’ve seen from these five examples, letting animals lead sessions is an organic process, that requires self-reflection and openness from the practitioner. Just like the Reiki precept, “work diligently” reminds us, we’ve got to be diligent in self-governing our thoughts and emotions in order to create the safe, open space animals need to be able to lead Animal Reiki sessions.
One last comment I’ll make on this process: You don’t have to always be perfect! The main thing is that you are constantly developing and improving your mindfulness in these areas, and seeing ways to be more open, more present, etc. Animals are very forgiving, and will so appreciate your efforts to respect their sensitivities! Don’t be afraid to begin the process, and make mistakes along the way. After all, we’re only human 🙂
Learn more in this summer’s certification sessions: SIGN UP NOW for classes in the Let Animals Lead® method!
Stay safe, be well and may the animals light your way,