By Kathleen Prasad
The word Reiki can be translated as “true self,” which points towards our inner power of compassion. One of the misunderstandings of the way Reiki works is that we, as practitioners, are somehow “doing” the healing “to” someone else; however, from a traditional viewpoint, Reiki is seen as a path to rediscover our own inner self-healing power, which when practiced, can create a certain radiance of healing around us, from which others can benefit.
Because dogs are so sensitive to our inner states of mind and heart, they can become easily stressed when we are angry or worried. On the other hand, they can also benefit when we are in a balanced space of peace, compassion and joy. In this article, I’d like to explore some of the ways that we get separated from our “true self” and how Reiki techniques can get us back in touch with our inner compassion, so that we can support the dogs we love.
So who are we, really and truly?
This is not an easy question to answer because it is difficult to sense. We learn from an early age to hide our true selves behind walls of fear, anger and worry. With all these walls we have built up over the years, it becomes very difficult to reconnect, not only within ourselves, but also with the world around us. Although we may be the most “connected” generation technologically, we need to remember how to reconnect to our true selves by lowering our walls and opening our hearts. In this way we can remember who we are (compassion) and our true purpose on this earth (helping others). Fortunately, our dogs are very good at reminding us of our compassionate inner nature!
So where can we find our true selves?
This can also be a very difficult task, as we constantly dissipate our true selves through the stress and busyness of multitasking throughout the day. Many of you reading these words may be doing this right now. Be honest: are you in the midst of carrying out several activities simultaneously, reading this article being only one of them? In today’s world, rarely are we able to stop what we are doing, relax our mind and body, focus only this present moment, breathe deeply and just “be.” Try it, right now, just for a moment. Just stop, let go of your thoughts, close your eyes, and take a few deep breaths. Not so easy is it? Yet even with just a few deep breaths we can begin to feel an inner shift towards peace. This peace is the power of openhearted presence. Fortunately, our dogs are also very good at helping us practice this, because they are so “in the moment” themselves!
The Healing Challenge
If only we could somehow lower our walls, open our hearts and bring all of our awareness to this present moment; it would cause a profound healing change in our lives! We would remember that we are all connected, all One. In remembering this connection, our hearts would overflow with compassion, peace and joy -in other words, with healing! It is this beautiful awareness of our connection to others that creates the space where we can access our inner healing potential and power. In this moment, we will also be standing in the middle of our True Self. In this moment, we will also discover the true healing power of Reiki.
The Power of Reiki
Reiki helps you to uncover your beautiful inner light and radiate it outward to help others, just as the sun nourishes the earth. The system of Reiki consists of meditation techniques that help break through the walls that we have built, so that we can connect more easily with others. Reiki techniques also focus on mindfulness: training our awareness to come back to this present moment. In a nutshell, Reiki practice helps our hearts to open and our minds to find peace. An open heart combined with a peaceful mind creates a beautiful, healing radiance that can be shared with everyone around you, especially your dogs.
By practicing Reiki on a daily basis, we can strengthen our ability to radiate compassion, peace and joy more constantly, so that these qualities can stay with us even in times of crisis. In this way, we can offer healing to others, for example for our dogs, when they may be facing difficulties. This is not so easy to do when we are emotional and scattered, and this is why our daily meditation practice is so important.
Our dogs are attracted to us when we approach their healing issues from an openhearted, tranquil and balanced state of mind. They also appreciate when we don’t want something from them (be it a response, a reaction or a specific outcome). In other words, our dogs appreciate when we learn how to be Reiki (be present, with an open heart and without expectations) with them, rather than do Reiki (try to fix this or that problem) to them.
If we can put our dogs at ease by radiating a beautiful peacefulness, they will want to be with us. On the other hand, when we feel very worried, stressed or emotionally upset about them, they may avoid our attempts to share Reiki. There are many tools in the system of Reiki which can help us to shift ourselves into a serene, happy and comfortable space, that radiates out from us and that our dogs can share. I would like to share one:
The Breath of Light
(Adapted from the Joshin Kokyu Ho)
In order to radiate a compassionate, joyful, peaceful space that heals, we need to balance the body, emotions and mind. This is a powerful Reiki exercise to use on a daily basis; be sure to invite your dogs to sit with you while you practice, because their presence will likely will make it easier!
Find a comfortable position to sit, near your dogs. Relax your body and close your eyes. Rest your hands on your lap comfortably, or you can rest your hands on your dogs if they come to sit in your lap.
As you inhale, visualize your breath as a beautiful healing light flowing in through your nose, and filling your body with light all the way down to your lower belly.
As you exhale, imagine you can expand that light slowly out your skin and out into the space around you.
Do ten repetitions of this breath, and when you are finished, place your hands palms together in front of your heart and sit quietly in the peaceful light you created with your breath.
Slowly come back and open your eyes. Notice how your heart and mind have shifted in such a short amount of time. If your dogs are sitting with you, notice how their energy has shifted as well, mirroring your peacefulness.
Why Do We Focus on the Breath?
When we face difficult situations in life, either in our own health, or in the health problems of our dogs, sometimes we forget to breathe. Perhaps our breath becomes shallow or we might even find ourselves holding our breath from stress and/or anxiety. This is very unhealthy for our bodies. Training our breath through daily Reiki practice will help us remember to breathe when times are tough.
Oxygen is life. Healthy breathing is good for your immune system, your metabolism, and every single cell in your body! It is so simple, and yet breath is the very foundation for the energy you radiate into your world. So don’t neglect your breath – in fact train it through a daily Reiki practice of The Breath of Light.
Remember to practice every day because then, when things get difficult, it will be easier for you to fall back into your healthy breathing habits because you have been practicing!
More Ways to Practice Reiki Breathing
During the day, anytime you feel stressed, remind yourself to breathe. Even if you only stop to take one “breath of light,” if you do it with your whole heart you will feel better. Even one sincere and mindful breath can help to shift your body, mind and emotions back into balance.
Once you have practiced this Reiki breath sitting down with your dogs, bring your practice outside into nature: try it while standing outdoors. Allow your eyes to open and softly gaze at the ground in front of you. You can also try this practice while standing out under a tree in the yard with your dog or perhaps at a nearby park.
Next, try this Reiki breath in a walking meditation. Allow your eyes to take in your surroundings while your body gets some exercise. Practice the breath while you walk your dogs. This will get your body moving, and you will find that you can breathe even more deeply. You will feel your movement supporting your breathing to send healing oxygen through your arms and legs and all through your entire body! Notice how your dogs respond positively to the shift in your energy.
Through this simple Reiki practice, you will be able to remember your true self, a self that is bright, shining and powerfully able to help others. Learning how to radiate healing compassion is so simple and yet so profound. Just as the sun shines to support the earth, allow your inner light radiate out to help the dogs you love!
Originally published in Dogs Naturally Magazine