Keep your heart clear
And you will
Never be bound.
A single disturbed thought
Creates ten thousand distractions.
Relaxation, patience and positivity: these three qualities are key in developing a state of mind to which animals are receptive. Animals are very sensitive to our mental and emotional states. If we are in a disturbed state of mind or being, an animal will know it, we cannot possibly hide it from them. If we are tense, rushing, worried, angry, and so on, this may be a reason for some animals to say “no thanks” to connecting with us—for example, shelter animals who have been through a lot and don’t know us can be easily put off by our disturbed state of mind.
As much as possible, if we can stabilize our inner being, finding a quiet, grounded and peaceful place within ourselves, it will create ideal conditions for animals to say yes to Reiki and connecting with us.
How do we do this? Not frantically, grasping at straws while in the moment of emotion, upset, or chaos, but rather, through dedication to our own daily personal meditation practice. By meditating daily, we go deeper into our own essence and selves, on the one hand healing our own issues so that our energy flows clearer and brighter, and on the other hand, growing our roots and strengthening our own energetic center so that it remains stable no matter what situations we may find ourselves in. Then when we do find ourselves surrounded by upset, emotion, or chaos, our inner calm and center much more easily surfaces, because we have created a stable relationship with it through our practice.
Learning to Focus Inward: Developing Relaxation
Turn around the light to shine within, then just return…Let go of hundreds of years and relax completely. Open your hands and walk, innocent. –Shitou/Sekito
Reiki with animals is not an outward activity of “doing”… Rather it is an inward mental state of being… an inner intention to peel back our own layers to find our true nature, the nature that IS oneness with all beings. In accessing this reality of connectedness with the ultimate universe, we also access infinite healing potential and possibility.
Meditation gives us the path that leads into this healing potential: Relax INTO the softness and gentleness of Reiki, the healing energetic space that exists all around us, rather than trying so hard to “do” and “fix”, pushing the energy this way and that way.
Recently in a Reiki class I was teaching at a farm sanctuary, I took the students into the sheep paddock. Their assignment was to choose a spot away from the sheep (the sheep all ran for cover when they saw us coming, disappearing into the barn) and meditate: focusing on their breathing–relaxing into a peaceful space within themselves. Then, through their gentle mental intention, they could simply invite the sheep to share the meditation space with them.
It took a few moments for every student to find a spot and settle into their meditation, but after about ten minutes, the sheep began slowly peeking their curly little heads out the door of the barn. Then slowly they began to venture into the yard, one following the other in a perfect line up. The students remained motionless, many of them with eyes closed, focusing inward, rather than outward on the progress of the sheep. Slowly the sheep’s courage built and several of them began to move forward to make physical contact with some of the students. A few other sheep chose spots in the yard near students to lie down for a Reiki nap. Others chose to stay in the barn, lying down to soak up the energy. The energy was so peaceful in the entire area; it was irresistible, even to the shy sheep! When two sheep approached me and put their heads in my hands, it was a truly humbling and amazing moment.
Giving an Animal Choice: Developing Patience
I love this quote by Paulo Coelho, “Why is patience so important? Because it makes us pay attention.” Mental patience is especially important when we are with an animal during a Reiki treatment. If we are pushing our ideas about how we think the animal should act or ways they need to heal, how soon they should heal and so on, we create lots of mental judgment and expectations, which the animals will pick up on. It can feel to an animal that we are not listening, not giving them ownership of their own healing process. This can make them very uncomfortable, perhaps even unwilling to connect with us.
In addition, when we forget patience, we are coming from a human place of, “Ok, here I am ready to heal you of “x” (fill in the blank), let’s get this done!” and it becomes about ego rather than about the animal. We can receive the best acceptance from animals when we give them choice, offering them Reiki and then just waiting and allowing, surrendering and observing, as a supportive witness rather than a doer. In learning to trust the higher wisdom of Reiki in this way, we will also receive a special gift: a deepening of our intuitive knowing. In learning to quietly observe the healing treatment unfold in a patient way, we can discover a deeper layer of the animal’s being that we otherwise might have missed.
Recently while teaching an equine Reiki class, one of the students asked if I could demonstrate some typical hand positions that might be used during treatment. So I took the students out into a field w/several horses and as they gathered in front of me, I began to explain, “Well, it’s important that we find a willing participant who won’t mind being the demonstration horse for all of you. We wouldn’t want to force this on anyone; it’s really up to the horses in this herd whether they want us to have this lesson today. Remember that we only do hands-on Reiki when the animal initiates it.” As I was speaking, one of the horses walked right up and stood next to me, waiting for me to begin the demonstration! The students laughed, and I said, “Well clearly we have a volunteer.” I proceeded to show a variety of hand positions, and as soon as I had finished, the horse walked away.
What if the horses that day had said no thanks to the demonstration? I would have been patient and accepting of this. I could have discussed the positions with the students in a descriptive fashion and still gotten the point across, even without a horse model. It’s much more important to me to honor the choice of animals in each and every situation, rather than simply demonstrate a hand position.
It always amazes me how much animals appreciate when we approach them with choice, not putting our own “designs” on them. Often animals will take their time, test us to see, “is this really my choice” and then choose to come forward in their own time, ONLY because we left it to them. Had we chosen for them, rushed them by approaching them in our human way and schedule, they may have said no thanks! It’s hard for humans learn patience, to let go of our own timeline and our proclivity for “doing”—but the rewards are so big when we do!
Seeing Deeper Than the Surface: Positivity
I believe that all of us consist of a beautiful inner essence of light. This light remains perfect and timeless, beyond this lifetime, when it exists for a short time in this physical body. When we are with animals who need our Reiki support, it is helpful to let go of our eyes, and look deeper—seeing the animals with our hearts, as the beautiful bright lights that are their inner essences. This is who they really are, not their mortal shells, not their physical, emotional struggles. It’s so easy to forget this, to instead begin to identify them as their problems on the surface. Remember that underneath the surface, their bright inner light that is the essence of their being, this is already perfect and balanced. If we can see this perfect light within them, hold that vision in our minds and hearts as we offer Reiki, this can help give them the support they need to remember their inner strength and heal themselves.
Being able to remember to see animals, people and situations with our hearts rather than our eyes will help us to create positive state of mind that is felt by everyone involved in the Reiki treatment, including the animal’s people. This positivity is key not only to attaining an animal’s trust and openness, but also to supporting strength and courage in the animal’s people as they walk hand in paw with their animal through the healing journey.
Several years ago I was offering Reiki to a dog who was dying of cancer. As I sat with the dog and his person, I could not only feel the pain and grief of the person, but also see the amazing acceptance, strength and courage of the dog. I could also see that he was so much more than simply this disease. I closed my eyes and saw him as a beautiful light who had healed and touched so many people over the years. As I had this vision, immediately the dog came and sat right in front of me, staring intently at my face. I placed my hands on his shoulders and affirmed, “Yes, you are perfect and beautiful.” He lay down by my side and fell into the most relaxed sleep, his little legs even running in his dreams. His person was quite amazed at how relaxed and comfortable the dog became during the treatment, saying to me, “I felt just terrible before you arrived, but I feel so strong right now. I don’t know how, but I do. Thank you so much.” The dog passed away peacefully soon after the treatment. I know that his light still shines so brightly in spirit. And I remind myself that just because we die doesn’t mean we didn’t heal; there are so many layers to healing. We just have to remember to look deeper than the surface.
The Key: Practice Practice Practice!
There is a bright pearl within me,
Buried for a long time under dust.
Today, the dust is gone and the light radiates,
Shining through all the mountains and rivers.
— Master Yueh of Ch’a-ling
Doing your daily meditation practice is like dusting your bright pearl, uncovering your inner light. All your work with the animals is fundamentally tied to your own discipline in working on yourself. Keep visiting this peaceful inner Reiki space over and over again. Invite your animal to be your meditation partner–practice sitting with your animal and letting go of everything; just be in the moment, be with your breath, and be with your animal. Let go, let go, and let go, over and over, every day. You will be building your meditation muscles and developing a stable state of mind of peaceful relaxation, patience and positivity which the animals will gravitate towards. And in time, this peacefulness will radiate outward even without effort and even outside of your formal meditation sessions; it will just become who you are.
Practice: The Healing Pond Meditation (developing a gentle and open state of mind)
Symbolically, water represents strength through change, strength through remaining formless. The water on the surface of a pond may still and peaceful, clear and pure, yet it is also very deep, and under the surface there can be so much movement of the creatures that call the pond their home. In the same way, Reiki with your animal can appear so quiet on the surface—as if you are doing nothing at all but sitting with your animal. And yet, when we look deeper, amazing healing can be happening just beneath the surface.
When we look at a pond, we can see the sky reflected in its surface—and in this way the pond can at once be grounded physical nature and reality, while at the same time it can reflect heaven and sky above–open limitless space and possibility. In this same way, when we sit with our animal in the Reiki space we can be with them, connecting in this physical moment, while also connecting to the spiritual dimension in which limitless healing possibility exists.
In one way, a pond remains the same over time, we can always count on it being there, as seasons and years pass, but in another way, every time we look at it, it may reflect something different—blue or grey skies, storm clouds, sun or rainbows. The pond will always be a mirror of this present moment in time. In this same way, we can learn to be present and open to whatever this very moment with our animal may look like—without judgment, without worry, without clinging—with love and compassion and openness.
As you sit with your animal, imagine you can pour all your light and love—your compassionate intention—into a pond. Simply invite your animal to come and drink from this healing pond for healing as they wish and as they are comfortable. Remember to relax, be patient, and remain positive. Just be in the moment with your animal. It is in this quiet, open state of mind that all healing possibilities exist.
Originally published in the Spring 2013 Issue of Reiki News Magazine