I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear. –Nelson Mandela
Addressing fear issues in our beloved canine can be quite a challenge. In addition to getting help from your trusted veterinarian and trainer, learning to work with the holistic healing system of Reiki can be a wonderful support to your dog’s healing process. Reiki is a Japanese energy healing system that utilizes a series of meditation and focus techniques to support an energetic rebalancing and re-harmonizing of the body, mind and spirit.
When we work with Reiki and our dog, we are in essence working with energy connections: our own energy, our dog’s energy and the energy that exists in the relationship between us. If there are more members to our family or the dog lives elsewhere, there may be even more energy relationships that come into play. But it’s important when working with energy that we begin to see all health issues as part of an interrelated and very complicated web that connects our dog with others in his life.
When we choose to offer Reiki to our dog, we enter into a space of compassionate connection, and it is in this deep harmonious connection that a beautiful healing response can be seen. The following tactics will help you support a fearful dog with Reiki.
Visualize and embody the positive. In working with fearful dogs, it’s important to focus on the opposite qualities and work on holding them—truly embodying them—within ourselves. Rather than fighting against the fear, which actually brings more energy toward the fear itself, we must work to create a strong and clear mental/energetic attitude that is the exact opposite of it. In other words, we must create and hold a foundation of calm, courage and trust within ourselves. We must be a spiritual “rock” of solidity and dependability for our dog.
Reflect upon the source and nature of the fear. It may also be helpful to try to meditate upon what the source of the fear might be, as well as be aware of where it is heading. Knowledge and understanding of these things are not needed in treating them with Reiki, since Reiki supports a rebalancing of the source of the issue, whether we know it or not. Having a deeper awareness of the issue we are dealing with can be very helpful in keeping us from inadvertently making the problem worse.
Make sure the fear does not spread. Fear is very contagious, so if we are working with a fearful dog, it could be that we also begin to become nervous and jumpy around that dog. And so the fear spreads. In the middle of trying to help the dog, we suddenly find ourselves caught up in the fearful feelings—fear of what they might do or how they might respond—and now the whole situation is much worse for both parties. It is of the utmost importance to ensure that the fearful dog meets courage, calm and trustworthy behavior and energy from us at each and every turn. Whatever responses or acting-out behaviors they display before us should not shake our firm foundation.
Be honest about fear within ourselves. On the other hand, it is also possible that the dog’s fear is simply a mirror to us of an issue that we ourselves are going through—for example, perhaps we are nervous, scared or terrified about a life-change we are going through and just at that time our dog begins to exhibit fearful behaviors never seen before. In this case, it would be more important to treat our own fear issues with Reiki—and in healing ourselves and letting go of our own fear, we might quickly see our dog’s fear also disappear.
In my experience, when we meet a fearful dog and are able to respond with honest self-examination and self-healing, as well as a pure and open heart offering of connection in courage and trust, healing begins to happen almost immediately. Depending on the severity and depth of the issue, the healing timeline varies, but with Reiki, you will be able to watch your dog begin the healing shift back into a balanced state of courage.
Ready to support your fearful dog with Reiki? To start, open yourself to the energy of courage and trust. Sit in a comfortable position in a room near your dog (no physical contact is needed), spine straight, shoulders and arms relaxed. Relax your entire body as you breathe deeply a few times.
Imagine there are roots growing down from the base of your spine, deep and wide into the earth. Imagine that the powerful, grounding energy of the earth can flow up these roots into your heart center, giving you stability and peace. Take 10 breaths, and on each in-breath, feel the earth energy coming up into your heart. On each out-breath, release any emotions, fears or worries you may feel inside you. With each successive breath, feel more and more stillness and stability within you.
Once you have completed the 10 breaths, allow yourself to sit for several minutes in the space of earth energy and stability that you have created with your breath. Once you feel yourself fully calm and connected to the earth, bring your dog to your mind. Imagine that your heart can expand out of your body, creating a beautiful state of courage and trust all around you. Call upon any memories or experiences that may help you to truly feel courage and deep trust within your body, mind and spirit.
Once you feel a strong sense of being courage, simply invite your dog into the space. Imagine that within this heart space, all is harmonious and balanced. Feel a strong bond of trust connecting you to your dog. Let go of your expectations (along with any worries about what needs to be healed) and continue to breathe the courage and calm of earth energy into your heart as you share this space with your dog for several minutes up to an hour.
Originally published in the November 2010 issue of Dogs Naturally Magazine.