Animal Reiki Source Newsletter: Fall 2013

By Kimberly Cotter Animal Reiki Practitioner/Teacher

When I arrived in South Africa, I knew that I would be holding a Reiki lesson at the Daktari Bush School and Wildlife Orphanage. What I didn’t expect was that I would have two other opportunities to help both myself and an unexpected breakfast guest utilizing Reiki as well.


MAYA – A Marmoset Monkey
MAYA – A Marmoset Monkey who was abandoned after being kept as a pet.  © 2013

Maya the Marmoset

Arriving at Daktari Bush School and Wildlife Orphanage I knew it would be a special experience. Daktari was created by Michèle and Ian Merrifield, who registered it as a non-profit company in 2002. It is an organization of people who care, not only for animals and nature, but also for those less fortunate than themselves. The word “Daktari” is an indigenous form of the word “doctor” – one who cares for life.

Daktari is a wildlife orphanage which uses orphaned wild animals as an education medium. Volunteers and staff supplement the school curriculum by giving a hands-on education, in existing school subjects, and at the same time provide an environmental experience. The goals of the organization include learning through working together and improving the quality of life of all participants, including the animals. The Daktari Bush School and Wildlife Orphanage can be found here:

I was there not only to visit the animals I was sponsoring on a monthly basis, but also to share some Reiki knowledge with all. After touring the facility and spending quality time with the animals I sponsored, Michele Merrifield, the wife of the couple who started this non-profit organization sat in with me during a Reiki session with a Marmoset Monkey named Maya.

Maya was very inquisitive about the stranger in her area. As I settled into a chair, I offered Reiki to her and asked the Universe to help me direct Reiki for Maya to use whatever and where ever she needed it. As I started doing my hara breathing and directing Michele to do the same, Maya finishing checking me out and settled down. We continued our breathing and Maya fell asleep on my lap all stretched out and flattened out on her belly.

reiki-opportunities-and-a-few-surprises-02Maya relaxed and stretched out enjoying her Reiki   © 2013

Michele was able to touch Maya all over for the first time ever, essentially giving Maya her first real physical. After doing this, Michele went back to breathing and processing what information she had just gotten. I asked her if she could feel the energy buildup in the enclosure and Michele acknowledged she could. It was a peaceful and calm energy that was palpable.

A short time later, Maya woke up and started checking things out again- me first and then went back to Michele. I knew she had thanked me and was signaling she was done and I mentioned this to Michele. We got up, thanked Maya and the Universe and left the cage.

reiki-opportunities-and-a-few-surprises-03Maya settles on my lap to go to sleep © 2013I asked Michele for her impressions. She was surprised and amazed by the experience. As she had never been able to touch Maya all over before, she never realized how much thinner Maya was than she looked. I pointed out how helpful Reiki had been in this instance and that she may want to consider doing Reiki sessions with the animal patients just prior to having a vet visit at Daktari so she and the vet could gather needed information a little easier and faster than if the animal was pacing or jumping around the cage. She again expressed how pleased she was with Maya’s reaction.

 After having lunch with the volunteers, staff and students I spent an hour interacting with a couple of the volunteers who shared stories and information with me about various animals. Then, it was finally time to tell the children about Reiki and hopefully start them on a spiritual path to closer relationships with the world around them. I was taking over the Environmental segment part of their daily classes. The student’s days are strictly structured and unless there was bad weather which limited their activities outdoors, the students had very little “free” time.

There were several challenges in speaking with the students. Although there were only eight of them, they were a range of ages, there was a varying range of English understanding and all of them were very shy. Because they were shy, I did not get a picture of them during class, but did get one from a distance later on before I left the facility. Unfortunately, the picture was lost during the rest of my trip.

Although I had brought materials with me, because of the variety of issues mentioned above, Michele and I decided I would “wing” it and do the best that I could getting some of the basic concepts across. Now that Michele had a better understanding of what Reiki was and what it could do, she was going to translate the information I brought with me into the Afrikaans language as much as she could to make it easier for the children to understand in general.

reiki-opportunities-and-a-few-surprises-04Michele learns some Reiki basics as she shares in the session  © 2013I started by giving an overview of the Reiki process, keeping it as simple as I could. Because I am from Massachusetts and have a Boston accent which Michele thought was “strong”, I had to speak slowly and clearly to get things across. Surprisingly, the spiritual aspect of Reiki was easiest for the children to understand because most of the village communities go to church or religious services on Sundays. When the volunteers mentioned that stating your intention to help a situation with Reiki sounded similar to praying, one aspect fell into place for the children.

Drawing on a white board using stick and simple figures worked well in helping them understand many of the basic concepts and precepts. I did not get into the five precepts except on very broad basis such as not being angry or worrying when you are doing the breathing. The children are already learning respect and compassion for others as part of their everyday lessons and work with the animals.

Next we practiced some of the hara breathing. I had the children practice breathing in deeply through their noses, holding it briefly and then letting it go out through their mouth. I pointed out how it helped them relax more quickly and easily than other things they might try such as breathing normally or just sitting quietly and not paying any attention at all as to how they were breathing. They found this activity funny when they got comfortable enough to exaggerate the motions just a little and this got us all laughing.

Finally, I told the children about the session with Maya. The children knew who Maya was as they help clean cages and feed animals as part of their daily routines. I asked Michele to share her impressions with the students of what happened during the session and what kind of information she got that could now help Maya have a better life by correcting her diet so she can gain a little weight.

Breakfast with a Bird

reiki-opportunities-and-a-few-surprises-05When first put onto the stump- still dazed © 2013The first morning of my stay at Camp Jabulani, I was eating breakfast alone when a bird flew into the dining area expecting to do a fly-through and go out the opposite side of the room. He encountered a pane of glass in the process and fell to the floor with a thud. I got up from my seat immediately and hurried over expecting to find the bird deceased with a broken neck. He was very stunned but alive and I picked him up noting his thin two inch long red beak which could peck my hands to pieces. He was still as I rose from the floor and held him between my hands asking the Universe to help me send him healing energy so he could recover quickly from his accident.

One of the servers came into the dining room where I was alone, and was surprised to see me holding a bird in between my hands. I told him what had happened and said I would release the bird (which I was currently giving Reiki to) as soon as someone told me what kind of bird he was. The server did not know and led me to the laundry area which was off of a corridor behind the dining room. One of the workers there was able to tell me that I was holding (and still giving Reiki to) a Brown- Hooded Kingfisher Bird.

reiki-opportunities-and-a-few-surprises-06Recovered and just before flying away  © 2013I walked slowly back through the dining area, heading to the open deck through patio doors where the bird had originally entered. There was a stump with a couple of petrified branches sitting next to a small pond. I attempted to put him on one of the branches but he had wrapped his tiny wiry toes around my fingers and wasn’t letting go. I showed the server I was trying to release him and it took another twenty to thirty seconds before the bird relaxed enough to sit on the branch himself. His beak was parted as if he were panting.

The server asked me to now go and finish my breakfast as the bird was okay. I went back to the table to finish my fruit, croissant and coffee keeping the bird in my sight the whole time. I had finished my food and was nearly done with my coffee when I noticed he was starting to look around and move his head. I was relieved he had a short neck and could move it. I walked over to him.

“You’ll be okay”, I said aloud and the staff member echoed the sentiment. After another half a minute or so the bird looked at me and flew off over the pond. I finished my coffee with a smile on my face, grateful to the universe that he had been able to fly away.

Connecting with Wildebeests

reiki-opportunities-and-a-few-surprises-07 Wildebeests  © 2013I woke up on the last full day of my trip feeling poorly with some vertigo. I seriously considered cancelling my “panorama” tour of natural wonders for that day, but was reluctant to do so where it was a one-time chance and I would regret not going. My trip ended the next day and I would be heading home to the United States.

In the mornings at my lodge, tame zebra residents usually spent time grazing on the grounds immediately surrounding the various buildings. This morning however, none of them were around as I sat in my sitting area outside my door and started giving myself a Reiki treatment hoping it would help me feel better and able to make the tour.

In stating my intent to be able to have enough health and energy to get through the day without becoming any worse physically, I mentioned to the Universe that where I was feeling really crappy it would be nice if the animals could come to me. I had planned to go to the viewing area on the Lodge’s property but couldn’t at the moment. I stated that I would really appreciate it.

I had barely finished the thought when the sound of beating hooves on grassy dirt broke the morning silence. Looking up in surprise, I fully expected to see zebra running by. Instead two wildebeests were running across the open area about ten feet away from me. I could hardly believe this not only because this was the first time during my three day stay I had seen them, but because the Universe had delivered an opportunity for animals to come to me so quickly. I did a short Reiki session on myself and thanked the Universe gratefully before having to leave to meet my tour guide. I am glad to say I was able to do all the walking and climbing needed without any ill effects as long as I did things in my own time.

Reiki definitely made my time in South Africa more enjoyable and meeting other professionals who appreciate what it can do in a country so far away was wonderful. May the little ripple we started spread further and farther than we thought possible. It is a beginning.

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