Trips to the vet are a part of your dog’s life—sometimes for quick check-ups and routine exams, and sometimes for complex treatments or serious procedures. Many dogs (not to mention us, their human caretakers) experience anxiety and stress surrounding these visits. Reiki, a system of energy healing, can support you and your dog in making these trips calm, positive experiences.
Although these days Reiki is often seen solely as a healing system to help others, its original foundation was as a spiritual system of self-development. In developing and healing the self, Reiki shows that there is an energetic “ripple effect” in which others around us can also be supported. Read on to discover a “ripple effect” exercise you can try with your dog to help you prepare for a successful vet appointment.
The system of Reiki teaches that we are all connected with energy. Energy is all around us, but usually–due to our busy lives and our disconnection to nature in modern, urban culture–we just don’t pay attention. To “tune into” our energy, we first need to learn to slow down, breathe and use positive visualizations. In doing so, we begin to sense the more subtle forces connecting everything in the environment around us.
We interact with each other’s energy all the time without even realizing it. Dogs are much more in tune with these subtle energetic exchanges than we are; they’re able to sense emotional states, for example, more easily than the average human. Reiki is a way to help us tune into our own emotional states and realize how that can affect those around us, especially our dogs, who are so connected to us. Once we tune into the energy around us, it becomes easier to focus this energy as a sort of “compassionate intention” for helping our dogs. In reality, because our dogs already know this language, they are already eager to have this conversation with us once we give it a try.
Energy Exercise: Using breathing and visualization to help your dog prepare for a successful vet appointment. Doing so will help you take time to breathe and meditate so that you come to feel confident and calm about the visit. This technique will also help you visualize the best appointment possible for your dog.
Sit in a comfortable position and place your hands over your lower belly (this is your energetic foundation, grounding and center). Close your eyes and breathe. As you breathe in, imagine light is flowing up from the earth through your feet and the base of your spine into your lower belly. On the out breath, imagine this light can move up into the rest of your body, until your entire body is filled with a beautiful, glowing light. Breathe deeply and slowly. Feel the strength and calm of your breath stabilizing you and the light dissolving any worries or concerns. When you feel centered, visualize the upcoming car ride to the vet, the walk into the office, and being with the veterinarian with your dog. Picture in your mind your dog getting treats if the vet gives them out (or bring your own to reward your doggie for his bravery while you are there!). As you continue to breathe in earth energy, it’s important to stay positive in your thoughts. Visualize the vet as friendly, helpful, trustworthy–as you and your dog’s ally and friend. See your dog’s behavior and emotional state as calm, helpful and brave. See yourself as a stable and confident partner, supporting your dog during the visit. Imagine how effortless and easy this visit will be, and that you will be home soon after.
Frequency: Do this twice for every vet appointment. Set aside 15 minutes each time to sit with your dog for this breathing/visualization exercise: once on the day before your visit to the veterinarian, and once on the morning of your vet appointment.
You can continue to use the breathing technique to help stay grounded during your visit to the vet. Begin the breathing exercise as you leave your car and walk into the vet office. Revisit it as you sit in the waiting area, and then again as you wait for the vet to arrive. If at any point during the vet exam you feel anxious or your dog begins to show signs of anxiety, repeat the exercise.
Tuning into our inner energetic state and focusing on our grounding to create a calm, positive state will have a powerful effect on our dogs. We can become the keys to our dogs’ calm and trusting feelings. We can become the anchors that hold them firm in rough seas. If we ourselves are nervous and stressed out because of a visit to the vet, our dogs will sense this and respond accordingly. If, in turn, we can learn to create a calm energy within ourselves, this will provide an energetic “sanctuary” of sorts—a place our dogs can move into with us if they begin to feel stressed themselves.
Photo © 2011 Kathleen Prasad
Originally published in Dogs Naturally Magazine, July 2011