Here in the USA and across the world, we are going through a painful time. It seems that more and more of the shadows of society are being dragged into the light so that we can confront them.
It is time to change the cruel norms that have long been accepted. Not only in regards to animals in factory farms, as I wrote about a couple of weeks ago, but also as it pertains to race in this country.
As a young person growing up white and middle class in suburban California, with white-focused textbooks, my life was mostly sheltered from the suffering of racial inequality. Going to UC Berkeley and focusing my studies on US History was a deeply awakening (and disturbing) experience.
I was re-educated in the “other” American story through Howard Zinn’s The People’s History of the United States, and the books of James Baldwin, Langston Hughes, Richard Wright, Malcolm X, and my favorite, Zora Neale Hurston. I was saddened by the white-washed education I had received and knew I wanted to do something to change it. I decided to focus on the history of race relations in this country, and my studies eventually motivated me to become a middle school history teacher in the public schools of San Francisco. Through my work as a History and English teacher over 10 years, I actively taught and promoted a broader historical education for my 7th and 8th graders, to help create a kinder, more just world.
At first it might seem that I’ve gone off on a tangent here and that issues of race have nothing to do with Animal Reiki practice, but it is a mistake to believe that we do our practice in isolation. I see my purpose now as a teacher of Animal Reiki as very connected to my purpose as a middle school teacher to create a kinder world. However, with the help of animals and meditation, this purpose is much easier to accomplish.
Our meditation practice is about mindfulness and being truly present in this moment. Practicing mindfulness helps us to loosen the grip of our prejudices. As Maya Angelou said, “Prejudice is a burden that confuses the past, threatens the future, and renders the present inaccessible.”The Reiki precepts teach us that kindness to others is the ultimate path to living with balance, peace and happiness. Click To Tweet
The Reiki precepts teach us that kindness to others is the ultimate path to living with balance, peace and happiness. This kindness goes beyond meditation, and we can see this through the example of Reiki’s founder, Mikao Usui. Usui knew that inner peace must be paired with outer actions of virtue, respect and service to others. After having his enlightenment experience in the forest at the top of Mt. Kurama, Usui didn’t just continue to meditate somewhere in isolation; he came down the mountain and opened a clinic to help people and began to teach others the way to peace.
By meditating with our animals, we learn the values of patience, stillness and listening so that we can more easily access wisdom and clarity. Our practice makes real to us the idea of connection: we know that we are all One and so what happens to one of us, happens to us all. So our practice actually challenges us to always act with courage and compassion to help those who are powerless and/or suffering.
Unfortunately, much of society has been built upon a foundation of inequality and injustice, but it is not too late for redemption. Our Animal Reiki community can be a center of safety and calm amidst chaos and hate. We can hold a positive vision of harmony and light through these dark times. We can bear witness and listen, holding a peaceful space for others through our meditation practice. Most importantly, our practice can help us advocate for what is right, what is kind and what is just, with more balance and courage.
We are standing at a powerful tipping point in history: for humans, for animals and for the environment. Let’s lean into kindness with courage, just as our Animal Reiki practice teaches us, and I know we will be able to forge a new way forward filled with peace and justice for all.
Grief is a Direct Impact of Racism: Eight Ways to Support Yourself from The Conversation
UC Berkeley’s 2020 Summer Reading List, theme: Connections
10 Things Animals Teach Us About Being Human from Psychology Today
Stay safe, be well and may the animals light your way!