Just for today, I will be humble. The third Reiki precept. Humility is perhaps best defined by what it is not, rather than what it is.
My dictionary defines Humility as the state or quality of being humble, conscious of one’s defects or shortcomings; not proud or self-assertive; modest, unpretentious. Humble comes from Latin humilis—low, small, slight, akin to humus, soil, earth. Humus, from the Latin for earth, ground, or soil, is the brown or black organic substance resulting from partial decay of plant or animal matter. Humus provides fertilizer for new growth. In my dictionary, humble is listed just above humble-bee, another term for bumblebee. Humility comes right above hummer, the affectionate term for hummingbirds. It’s interesting that the quality of being humble, grounded to the earth, is so closely placed to creatures that fly.
I asked to speak with Bee, to gain greater insight into humility. I heard buzzing, and thought to ask if it mattered which kind of bee I spoke with?
The answer came:
No, we are all connected. Bee continued. Are we humble? We do our jobs, we move through the world showing how to live cooperatively. We are what we are—no more, no less. Our lives may appear simple to you, yet they are intricate, like our dances. We have disagreements, as does your kind. That happens when some lose sight of what is best for the hive. We do not ask for recognition for our work. Nor do we diminish its value. Our place in the scheme of things is greater than our size.
Humility is like that. Value the service you do, as part of the greater hive, but do not lose perspective. You have asked me to speak about something that is both very great and very small. Each is an important part of the whole. The whole is diminished when a part is missing, or when a part inflates its own importance. It is delicate, the balance between valuing one’s self and seeking accolades for one’s growth. When you seek that, it shows that you have not advanced as far as you think you have. This does not only apply to humans, but to all life forms. Balance, and being, secure in one’s self. It is enough.
“Thank you bee. It is complex, isn’t it?”
Bee: Yes, and no.
The song of sparrows, who had returned with warmer weather, called my attention outside. Black-crowned and gold-crowned sparrows visit our backyard, with their songs that sound lonely and joyous at the same time. I asked to speak with Sparrow.
A soft voice answered, I am here. It is almost time for nesting. The energies are rising.
“Thank you for your presence,” I said. “Would you share your thoughts about humility?”
Sometimes, Sparrow said, to be small is to be great, being large and small at the same time. Each being has its place in the scheme of things. Each is important. No more, no less. Some, like the hawks, are larger and have a greater visible impact. Others, like us, weave the pieces together. Small as we are, we sparrows are an essential part of the web of life. We feed, and help spread the seeds that bring new life. We are prey and help sustain life for those who are larger. We sing, and our song brings joy.
Humility is being who you are. Do not measure yourself against others, to make yourself greater or smaller. We do not measure ourselves against the hawks, for theirs is a different journey. Even our flight, undulating up and down, serves to teach that there are higher and lower times. Honor your gifts and use them well. Honor what you receive and be grateful. Each being has its role. To deny it, or to claim more, damages the whole. We are. That is enough.
Myself, I’m glad to be a sparrow. I love the joy of flight and another season of healthy nesting, the search for food. Think of that joy when you hear our song.
With that, sparrow flew off to a low branch, and serenaded all who could hear with his beautiful three-note descending call.
I thanked Bee and Sparrow, mindful of their gifts. Bees are significant to our health and wellbeing: 80 percent of flowering plants rely on bees (which aerodynamically are not supposed to be able to fly), and other pollinators, to reproduce. Sparrow reminds us to see nobility in the most common things, and that through humility we can express unconditional love. Both spoke of being great and small at the same time.
Their message of humility in service is guidance for all of us as we grow to trust our inner selves, and open to the flow of healing energy that is Reiki. We are in service. That is enough. Just for today, I will be humble.
Note: This is the third of five articles about animal perspectives on the Reiki precepts.
Rev. Nancy Schluntz is a SARA practitioner member and offers for Reiki for animals (and their people) who are approaching the end of life. Nancy also offers Reiki to animals at the wildlife rehabilitation center where she volunteers.
Photo Credit: Photos of sparrows courtesy of Heidi Piccerelli. Heidi’s work can be viewed and purchased at http://heidi-piccerelli.artistwebsites.com and www.hfphotos.com.
In April 2011 we went to Little Hen Rescue to collect our first beautiful ex battery hens. The girls were a joy from the moment they arrived and so trusting, they relished their new life and freedom, including scratching around in the grass, sunning themselves, dust bathing and doing aeroplanes up the paddock at great speed. During the first few group Reiki sessions the girls let go of old grief and emotion, I always felt very humbled as they allowed me to experience them letting go of the past and the tears of release flowed freely. This is something I later realised many ex battery hens do when they first step into the Reiki space and then they move forward.
As our time together progressed the girls and I shared so much joy, being outside in the fresh air, connecting in the Reiki space and enjoying many cuddles. They would greet each day with such enthusiasm, relishing each experience and would make us laugh each day.
The girls were the prompt for me to become vegetarian, something I feel so much gratitude for, they truly opened my eyes. Hubby and I also volunteered at Little Hen Rescue, helping to unload the girls when they first arrive and taste freedom and on the rehoming days when they meet their new families.
After only three months Gilly crossed the Rainbow Bridge, during the night I had woken to see a vision of Gilly, it was so clear but I fell straight back to sleep. I am sure this was her way of saying goodbye and of lessening the shock for me, an expression of love and compassion. I had not expected her time to be so short and I felt so many emotions. A few months after this Hope followed her sister but this time I was blessed to be in the Reiki space with her when she made her journey and it was very peaceful. We said our goodbyes to the girls at different times and Reiki was always such a blessing.
When our last two hens, Rowena and Vanessa, who had enjoyed over two years of freedom started to become weaker with sniffles and Vanessa with a swollen abdomen, I took them to the Vet who diagnosed Vanessa with a tumour in her reproductive system and didn’t give her much longer. Vanessa had always enjoyed coming into the kitchen for treats, sang loudly and chased the cats for amusement, she and Rowena had always been strong and joyful girls and best buddies. I started to visualise Vanessa in perfect health and imagined the tumour shrinking to the size of a pea and being easily passed from her body. I expanded this vision with Reiki and after a few weeks that’s exactly what happened. Vanessa and Rowena enjoyed life in the house and garden with plenty of extra tlc, they always seemed to know when the Reiki chants were playing or when I was opening the Reiki space for our whole animal family as they would appear chirping away and settle down to enjoy the energy, the first few times it would make laugh when I heard them scuttling along the corridor chatting away. They were slowly gaining strength and one Sunday they decided to follow hubby on his lawnmower tractor doing aeroplanes much to our amusement, what a joy to see them enjoying themselves so much.
A day later Vanessa was very quiet but she still went into the garden and she and Row pottered around pecking at the grass. I spent a few hours that evening sharing the Reiki space with her as it just felt right, afterwards I felt so much peace and love from her. The next morning this beautiful and special girl had made her journey across the bridge. I felt sadness for myself and Row but somehow I knew that everything had worked out as it was meant to. She had healed herself from the tumour with Reiki, completed exactly what she needed to in this lifetime and it was time for her to move on.
Rowena had many more happy weeks and then started spending more time in the house by her own choice, the weather was getting colder and being a house chicken suited her better, she liked to sit with the cats and dogs and enjoyed lying by the radiator. She enjoyed meditation time and listening to the Reiki chants as she always had. One of my little adopted Polish chickens was going through a moult and was showing signs of the sniffles and I brought her inside and she and Row became great friends.
When I returned home after a couple of days away and only a day after she had been out in the garden enjoying the winter sun, Row was unable to stand up, I had seen this happen before with the girls and I thought I knew where this was leading. I made her as comfortable as I could and whenever I had a free moment we would share Reiki. I tried to stay positive but sometimes the tears would come. When this happened Row would peer at me through half closed eyes and remind me that it was time for some self healing.
Row’s legs were becoming painful so I spoke to the Vet and gave her some pain relief, she would send me the feeling and so I clearly knew what she wanted. I would hand feed her including late night and make her as comfortable as possible. There were times of such peace when we were in the Reiki space and I began to truly know that everything was working out as it was meant to. I knew had one chance to fill Row’s days with peace and share this precious time with my friend. One night she was so weak, her breathe so shallow I felt sure she was ready to cross over but she had other plans and day by day she gradually seemed to be getting stronger.
At this time I started to visualise her standing up. Every few days I would carry her outside so she could breathe the fresh air, see her other chicken friends. She was happy to be cradled in my arms enjoying the peace and time together. It was the morning after one of these outside visits and when I had truly accepted this was Row’s journey and I was privileged to be part of it that she surprised me yet again, she stood up for the first time in three weeks and I have to say was looking rather pleased with herself. That day she started eating her normal food and a couple of days later came off the pain relief. She is now walking a few steps and regularly spends time in the garden with Ginger, she has me well trained and still likes to be hand fed and spoilt with the finest blueberries.
The truth of the matter is that Rowena chose to stay, this quiet and gentle hen summoned all her strength and focused on getting better, she opened herself up fully to healing in the Reiki space and we are now sharing more happy days together. Finally, I understand what it is to live in the moment and I truly feel in every cell in my body that each day a precious gift and I am so blessed to have this amazing hen in my life. I trust we will be together for as long as we need to be and then we will continue to be together, it will just be different and that is perfect too.
This precious experience that I shared with Rowena and continue to share encompasses all the Reiki Precepts for me; do not anger, do not worry, be humble, be honest in your work and be compassionate to yourself and others.
- Tina Read, SARA Teacher
We recently added a fish tank and tropical fish to our household. If you think about it, changing the environment for fish is really no different than introducing a new dog or a cat into the household. Just like dogs and cats, it can take fish some time to adapt to their new environment. Their world is disrupted; the water is different, the lighting may be different, their food may be different, and there are different fish that they are now living with. They will go through a period of adjustment as they settle in to their new home, and each fish will respond differently.
Our fish seemed to adapt fairly quickly; but one, a bottom-feeding albino corydora, was very stressed and did not adapt as easily as the others. “Squiggly”, as we affectionately call her, would swim (the cory swim looks like a wiggle) erratically around the edge of the tank; around and around and around, day after day. We also noticed that she didn’t seem to be eating like the others. After about a week, the erratic swimming stopped; she just rested on the bottom (corys also rest on the bottom) and didn’t swim much at all. Something just didn’t seem right with little Squiggly.
One evening, I decided to offer Reiki to Squiggly, actually to all of the fish in the tank. Two of the fish came forward right away and stayed right in front of me for the entire treatment. Others continued swimming around the tank, taking turns coming forward to connect with me. They would stop right in front of me and look intently at me for a couple of minutes. Similar to other animals, the fish were truly open to the energy.
Squiggly was resting quietly on the bottom toward the back of the tank for most of the treatment. As I was about to finish the treatment, Squigglybegan swimming around the tank; she was now swimming steadily and interacting with the other fish; this continued for the rest of the evening. And, the next morning Squiggly ate along with the other fish; she was right in there with the other bottom feeding fish making sure she got her share of the food! After a scare the next day when we could not find her in the tank, Squiggly continues to swim normally and eat regularly; she has adapted to her new home.
Tropical fish are really no different than other animals in their openness to receiving Reiki. Reiki helped Squiggly overcome the stress of being in a new environment. Just as Reiki can help reduce stress in the fish tank, Reiki also can help dogs, cats and other animals cope with any type of stress they may experience, including adapting to a new home or situation.
-Ann Noyce, SARA Teacher
I had an amazing experience with a cat client recently, their person called me as the Vet had said that there was nothing else they could do for Tiggy other than to put him to sleep. The person did not feel he was ready for this and when she was sitting quietly with him she heard Tiggy say the word Reiki to her, she knew nothing about Reiki at this point but decided to look into it and found me through the internet.
When I first met Tiggy he did not move from his bed, his back and front legs kept going from under him and he was very quiet and his pupils were large the whole time. He was on pain relief but no one knew if this was helping or not. He allowed me feel how he was feeling during the Reiki and loved the Reiki space so much, purring and sleeping peaceful for the first time in ages.
His person told me that she felt Tiggy had Lymes Disease but that the Vets had ruled it out as it is very rare in cats and almost impossible to diagnose, I said to her to follow her intuition and trust herself. A week or so later she had heard the words Lymes Disease in the same way she heard Reiki. This was a process for her and part of her own personal journey and later as her confidence built she spoke up to the Vet and said she would like him to be treated for Lymes Disease.
Each time Tiggy was in the Reiki space he looked brighter and his person and I worked together on visualising him in perfect health and walking, playing and enjoying life. Tiggy had only been with the family a few months and the other cats had never really accepted him, he did not seem to conform to the normal kitty etiquette, after the second or third session I had a call from the person to say that Tiggy and Ozzy were cuddled up together and they spent an entire night like this, this was a huge change.
The next time I saw Tiggy he had received his medication for Lymes Disease and he was up and running about, his eyes were normal and he was the majestic Bengal cross I had always seen him as being.
One thing that I haven’t mentioned about Tiggy is that each time I visited I felt the most amazing warmth as if sunshine was beaming at me and the most wonderful feeling of love, I soon realised this was coming from Tiggy, who was showing us, his person and I, such love and compassion.
All the family’s rescue cats enjoyed the Reiki sessions and Mac one of the other kitties adored the Reiki so much he would nuzzle my hands and sit on my knee during the sessions, he had always pulled his fur out in the past but after the first Reiki session this stopped. I am now working with Mac as he is fearful of some of the other cats but I know that I am also there to bring Reiki to the whole family. Their person would also like to learn Reiki so I am looking forward to that in the New Year. I am truly thankful that I have been part of Tiggy’s Reiki journey an know that he has guided the process.
- Tina Read, SARA Teacher
As a Reiki practitioner I just never stop learning, as an Animal Reiki practitioner the animals never stop teaching me and as a Reiki Teacher this can only be a good thing!
I was reminded of this during my recent visit to The Tree of Life for Animals (TOLFA) in Rajasthan India. TOLFA is a shelter on the front line of animal welfare and some of the animals coming in are in a very poor physical condition and it is fair to say staff see a lot of extreme cases that we just don’t have experience of in the west. So for me it would be a test of my belief in Reiki, to work with the animals and teach Reiki to members of the shelter staff – while trying not to feel overwhelmed – so some gentle reminders about the fundamentals of Reiki from the animals, were most welcome.
The Tree of Life for Animals was founded by Rachel Wright in 2005. Rachel is a British vet nurse who is dedicated to animal welfare, she was awarded the CEVA Welfare Vet Nurse of the year in 2012 is highly regarded for her work in the community where she now lives in India. Rachel and I met in 2002 while studying Essential Oil Therapy for animals and both living in London. Rachel gave me my first experience of offering Reiki to animals by inviting me to the veterinary surgery where she worked and had recently set up a programme of complementary therapies for animals, with a lovely room dedicated to this purpose within the surgery.
TOLFA – The hospital sits in a beautiful valley in the Aravalli Mountain range, between Pushkar and Ajmer in rural Rajasthan. The hospital is surrounded by beautiful countryside, still green after the monsoon, perfect for dog walking. Pushkar is one of the oldest towns in India known for the famous Bahma Temple built in the 14th century, According to legend, the origin of Pushkar dates back to the time when lord Brahma was on his way in search of a tranquil land, lotus fell from the hands of the lord into this valley and a lake sprang up on this spot which was dedicated to him. The Brahma temple located here is a popular place of pilgrimage the area has a wonderful energy attracting many tourists and travellers visiting the holy lake and taking part yoga, meditation and ayurvedic health retreats. Pushkar is also famous for its Camel Fair which TOLFA attends every year to educate the public on animal welfare.
The majority of animals coming through Tolfa’s gates are street or community dogs. Life on the street is hard and when they become ill or injured their local caregiver will contact Tolfa or ambulance staff will pick up sick and injured animals on their rounds. After treatment the animal is always returned to it’s own neighbourhood, if possible.
Tolfa runs a volunteer programme welcoming anyone with animal experience and time, willing to give a bit TLC to the animals in their care. In fact, Rachel sees what she calls Nurturing Volunteers as an essential part of care and rehabilitation that animals receive not only veterinary treatment but also love and attention, so welcomes volunteers especially those with therapies such as Reiki.
So it was as a ‘Nurturing Volunteer’ that I spent 6 weeks there in 2010 putting into practice my skills as a holistic therapist including aromatherapy, massage zoopharmacognosy and Reiki. This year 2013 sees TOLFA become a SARA shelter and I was honoured to attune some wonderful practitioners to Animal Reiki.
My First Day
Accompanying Rachel on her morning tour I soon had a list of animals that she wanted me to do some work with: some had wounds that were taking a long time to heal – perfect candidates for essential oils and nutritional supplements. Many were undergoing treatment that would mean long-term care and, as well as the stress of being confined in a kennel, the veterinary treatment although essential can be a frightening encounter and painful for dogs. Some, suffering from Mange, had already been subjected to emotional trauma while other animals were ready to pass over – TOLFA never turns an away an animal in need and many spend their last days being cared for and loved in safety.
Rachel already had in mind that Reiki could be an important part of end of life care at the shelter and that was certainly to be the theme of this visit, something I needed to work through also, having had a very difficult experience with one of my own precious dogs a number of years ago. Funny how Reiki works, isn’t it!
Remember To Listen
A little black and white dog who had been in a road traffic accident and left with paralysis of her hind legs.
Many of the permanent residents are dogs with paralysis or amputees and I would ask anyone questioning the quality of life for these dogs to just spend some time watching them play and interact with the people and other dogs at the shelter. Of course there are some health issues connected with their conditions but veterinary care is on hand 24/7 and their health is carefully monitored. I watched one little dog speed across the compound on balancing her weight on her front legs to meet her friend, who also only had two good legs, the pure joy as they played was a pleasure to watch.
Back to the little black and white dog. She was very unhappy and although receiving the medical care she needed, didn’t seem to be improving and would warn people off when approached and avoided human contact at all costs. Rachel explained she had the same type of injury as some of the other shelter dogs who coped well and felt there was no physical reason for her to be so depressed. She lived in the puppy yard a secure walled space with sheltering tree where the puppies and younger dogs can move around freely.
As soon as I went into meditation and offered her Reiki she began to move towards me, over to where I sat on a concrete platform passing by my feet then settled directly in front of me a little way off where she made direct eye contact and accepted Reiki for a while (I took the photo when I felt she had enough) but then she came towards me again and tried to climb up on to the concrete platform – at this point one of the staff members reminded me not to touch this dog as she was ‘dangerous’, kind of breaking our connection!
I felt we had made progress so that evening back at the hotel I offered Reiki again distantly and felt an instant connection. I picked up a strong feeling of ‘regret’ and she showed me how her life had changed in an instant, and she just didn’t see the point without her legs. This was really hard to hear and I was determined to help her see that she was now in a safe place where she would be taken care of and loved. We continued with a very strong connection for some time.
Next morning I started my day in the office making up remedies and essential oil blends while Rachel and the veterinary staff made their rounds, then I thought I could go and spend some extra time with the little black and white dog. But it was not to be, she had passed away while I had been in the office, my first thought was why didn’t I go straight to her?, why couldn’t I help her?
Had I really listened to what she was saying I would have realised this was her choice, we have no influence on the outcome and by holding the Reiki space help them to pass in peace and move on if that is their choice. So we sat together in a Reiki space for a while.
Remember – No Expectations, Detach From The Outcome
H9 or Harry is a beautiful soul. He has mange and infected wounds when he was brought in to TOLFA. The mange dogs have suffered twofold, the condition itself is debilitating and leaves them open to secondary disease and complications and emotionally they can be very depressed. As a result of their appearance they are unwanted by the community and often chased away from their homes. It is a common sight to see people throwing stones at such unfortunates, they become pariahs.
Harry is a severe case possessing only a few tufts of hair on his head, the colour reminding me of Prince Harry’s hence his name, I’m sure he’ll be very handsome when it all grows back!
Harry was on my Reiki list and we soon became friends, he is a lovely gentle boy always ready with a wag of his tail. Towards the end of October the weather turned unexpectedly cold at night, earlier than usual, catching everyone off guard (normally shutters are drawn and blankets dispensed to help the more vulnerable dogs cope with the cold. Rajasthan is a desert state and temperatures can drop to minus 0 in the winter months. On checking Harry one morning found him cold to the touch, we moved him out in to the sun and he was given emergency fluids and treatment. He didn’t seem to be responding and other signs meant that things weren’t looking so good for him, my heart sank as I prepared myself for the worst. As I sat with him I felt drawn to chant the mantra for the master symbol, the power of the vibration merging with the sounds of the dogs around us, I would be with him holding the Reiki space while he passed – Harry had other ideas, imagine my delight when he sat up looked up into my face and wagged his tail! Reiki can provide that spark that a soul needs to heal when they are just not ready to go – it is their choice we just consciously bring the energy within their reach.
He continues to improve and before I left found a lovely thick fleecy blanket in the market for his bed. He is still receiving Reiki and his Spirulina milk shakes, which from the photo you can tell he loves.
UPDATE FROM RACHEL AT TOLFA: “Today was funny…I was doing Reiki with another little mange guy in H7 but kneeling in the gallery and your man, promptly got out of his bed (which he hardly ever wants to leave) and pressed himself against the kennel gate trying to get in on the action…he was lapping it up!!”
Remember To See With Your Heart
Mouse my Little Reiki Helper!
I would feel a constant presence at my side while working – even when I was sure I had closed gates – I would turn and this little dog would be standing at my leg. I gave up trying to contain him, he could squeeze through any hole, gap, drain and he was just there – while I walked the other dogs, gave treatments, and offered Reiki. Mouse was a new addition the group of Shelter dogs who live permanently at Tolfa and Rachel explained he had come in as a suspected rabies case and had been rescued from a not so nice area of a nearby town, with an unusual canine tooth/jaw arrangement going on, he looks as though he is about to bite and this had led to him being neglected and abused.
I started to look forward to his quiet calm deep thinking presence during my day, I’m sure he was joining in with my Reiki sessions. So with a little patience and the kindness shown to him by people who could see beyond his appearance, he is settling in well at Tolfa.
UPDATE FROM JEMMA AT TOLFA: “I came in the other morning and was trying to work out who he lively, happy little dog was instigating play with Ginger and Honey… really, it took me a while to realise it was Mouse! He was jumping and leaping about without a care in the world!”
Our class was held in a lovely room in the education centre overlooking part of the shelter compound on one side and fields on the other, a beautiful healing space. We were joined in the morning by seven orphans – five newborn puppies whose mother had just been brought in to Tolfa, but had passed away while giving birth during the night, another poorly 2 week old puppy and a feisty newborn kitten.
By the end of our day all of the puppies had passed away to join their mum, a big lesson for any practitioner is that healing doesn’t always mean the restoration of physical health and can be purely spiritual, and I am so proud of my students, although sad, we all recognised what had taken place, we had helped them on their journey in peace and with love. The kitten continues to thrive.
This reminds me of another essential part of our practice, self healing, the work we do is so emotional and can be draining, we really need to include ourselves in the healing process so that we can continue to give our best. Please read Kathleen’s brilliant workshop/article on Self-Healing for Animal Caregivers.
I thank all of the wonderful people doing this difficult but rewarding job at TOLFA and all of the animals I met they made my visit very special.
Now that TOLFA is a SARA Shelter all animals passing through its gates will be offered Reiki and will be available to support the staff and caregivers.
Left to Right: Jemma Sadler, Cristal, Maria Jose Sanchez, Rachel Wright.
Written by: SARA Teacher Alison McKinnon
I was on the phone when he wandered into the yard. I saw him cross the street and head towards the cranberry bushes by the goats. The goats in unison watched him pluck the berries. I saw P, our horse, turn her head in more than mild curiosity. I thought to myself, “Oh, look at the lone Canada Goose” and continued my conversation. It took me a few moments to register how highly unusual it is to see a lone Canada Goose on foot during hunting season.
I cut the conversation short when I saw him walk up the middle of our road. As I prayed that he would be kept safe from hunters and cars, he turned eastward and walked up towards our coyote den and the hunter-filled woods and fields beyond. He disappeared from sight. P started to graze again.
The next day, P was consumed with terror and concern about something in the east towards the coyote den. I could not see what worried her so and assumed it was the coyotes. Running into her stall, she slipped. For hours, she would not eat. I brought her in early, but she continued to watch eastward through her stall window. Finally, towards dusk, she settled down.
The next morning she was again worried. She snorted and blew as if to shoo something out of her pasture. It seemed unlikely anything would be inside the fence as we had fortified the wooden fence against coyotes. I went to the second floor of our home and gazed, through binoculars, into the field. At the far end, inside the fence, was the goose.
My reassurances to P were of no avail. I decided to walk up to see if the goose could fly. P watched me with great concern. As I got to the far end of the field, the goose seemed to disappear. Suddenly I almost stumbled upon him. He had pulled himself into a tiny ball. The goose rose to his full height, spread his wings and took a few steps away from me. He turned to look at me and seemed to beckon to me to walk with him. I did. Side by side, we walked down the hill towards P’s paddock, the goose carrying on a conversation the entire way.
With great concern, P watched us approach. Suddenly, the goose stopped and looked at me. I knew he wanted to go further but was cautious of going into P’s paddock. I assured him I also was wary of entering her paddock when she was frightened. He turned and walked back up the hill. I continued on out the gate. I thought if I could entice P into her stall, the goose might make his way to freedom.
Again, once inside her stall, P watched the goose through her window. I went back into the house and soon after, I looked out my kitchen window. The goose was in her paddock.
When I went out the next morning, I found the goose asleep in her paddock near her stall. He rose and disappeared into the grass in the larger field. Once out of her stall, P was wary but not panicked. All that morning I watched as the goose would approach P. When she showed signs of fear, he would retreat. With great patience and persistence, he gained her trust.
Towards late afternoon, I saw him come around the corner of her barn and stand in her little paddock, ten feet from her. He bowed his head, his beak touching the ground. P lowered her head, nose touching the ground. Again, the goose bowed. P bowed. They repeated this several times. Then, the goose turned his head to the left. P did the same. The goose repeated the gesture as did P. After several minutes of this, the two of them relaxed and stood in quiet comradeship. I left P out a little later that afternoon. When I brought her in, the goose again explored her paddock and then settled down in some deep grass near her stall. P moved her hay under her window so she could watch the goose.
Again, the next morning, the goose was resting in a pile of hay near her stall. P was quiet, calm, and content. I asked her what the goose’s name was and imagined she answered “Jeff”. I imagined the goose preferred “Geoffrey” and so he was named.
Geoffrey moved a short distance into the larger field to graze when I opened the door for P. She moved her hay out of her stall so she could watch him. The two were never far apart that morning.
In the early afternoon, I heard P blowing and snorting. I looked out of my kitchen window to see P in a frenzy. Geoffrey had wandered eastward into the large pasture, towards the fields and woods beyond where there were now many hunters. I knew immediately P’s concern for his safety.
I walked up the field to where Geoffrey had wandered, P watching. He looked at me with curiosity and I told him he was unsafe and needed to come back to the barn. Incredibly, he walked back with me and went to stand a short distance from P. I returned to the house. The two of them stood side by side for some time listening to the gunshots in the fields above.
When Geoffrey started to wander into the field again, I saw P gently herd him under the fence into the yard next to the house. He looked around and settled in a corner on the grass. The shots increased. P went in to her stall later than usual that afternoon, keeping an eye on her new friend.
Again that night, Geoffrey slept by her stall.
The next morning, he went north into her smaller pasture while she ate her breakfast. I walked the dogs at the usual time. As I was standing in front of the house, I could hear a chevron of geese approaching from the south. It was unusual to hear geese flying in the early morning during hunting season. I looked up, and could see 5 or 6 small chevrons flying towards me. They travelled over my head, north to the pasture where Geoffrey stood. Chevron by chevron, they flew over the lone, earthbound goose. They called to him. I could hear him respond. The geese then changed direction and flew south. Geoffrey was quiet. I so hoped he would follow his flock.
He seemed so very little after that.
For the rest of the day, he and P were inseparable. In the late afternoon, Geoffrey, on his own, came into the yard while the gunshots flew in the fields above.
I became very conscious of how I carried myself. When I went out of the door, I gently closed it behind me. I was ever so conscious of what I was thinking and feeling. Like Geoffrey, I stepped slowly and gently upon the earth. I bowed whenever I met him and lowered my gaze. He responded likewise and did not flee.
That night it rained. When I went out to the barn to feed P her evening meal, Geoffrey was lying down, head outstretched, in the spot where P usually stands during the day. I paused, not sure he was if he was all right Gently I called to him. He did not move. I held my breath and watched. Finally he rose wearily and went to the tall grass near the barn.
The morning after he had bade farewell to his flock, I saw him lying in the smaller field, north of the house. He had chosen a spot I could see from my kitchen window. I watched with concern as I did my dishes. A raven flew over the house, down past my window and towards Geoffrey, claws outstretched. At the last minute, the raven flew upwards and away. Geoffrey laid there for a long time.
He came back to P’s paddock and stood with her, both gazing eastward. It was Saturday, and the woods were filled with hunters. I placed some cracked corn out for him which he readily accepted. I left to do some errands. When I returned, I slowly drove into the driveway and saw Geoffrey standing at the gate waiting for me.
That evening, he stayed close to the house, near his food, water, and a little shelter we had bought for him. I marveled at how how the dogs had accepted him in their yard, never barking or approaching him, never glancing his way. I felt a peace that he was staying closer to the house. My husband and I spoke of ways to help him through the long winter.
The next morning, he was again in the long grass by P’s stall. My husband went to feed P. I walked the dogs. I heard my husband call me. Something was wrong. He had seen Geoffrey get up, move a few feet, then lie down. When my husband got to him, Geoffrey was limp
We brought him into the barn and wrapped him in warm towels, placing him on a bed of hay. We moved a little heater near him. It was of no use. P and the goats ate their hay somberly.
Seven days with Geoffrey. A lifetime in seven days.
Our own life has to be our message.
-Thich Nhat Hanh
He Walked the Earth: Postscript
You must always look with both of your eyes and listen with both of your ears. He says this is a very big world and there are many many things you could miss if you are not careful. There are remarkable things all the time, right in front of us, but our eyes have like the clouds over the sun and our lives are paler and poorer if we do not see them for what they are. If nobody speaks of remarkable things, how can they be called remarkable?
― Jon McGregor, If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things
It has been a week since Geoffrey passed away. The animals have been somber. For several days, P stood in those places in her paddock that Geoffrey had stood. Only yesterday, she began to show some sparkle in her eyes. When I went to give her the evening meal, she chuckled and pointed to her bag of favorite hay.
As for me, I also have been somber, reflecting on the lessons of this gentle, wise bird who walked with such dignity. I, like P, find comfort in standing in those spots where he rested. I find myself thinking a great deal about how I touch the earth.
This morning, when I went outside with my youngest dog, Maria, the skies were quiet, beyond quiet. It was early Saturday morning, in hunting season. As I walked through the yard, a chickadee flew across my path and into a lilac tree at eye level, chirping at me vigorously. I wondered what he was trying to say. I opened the gate and P looked with concern towards the East and then caught my gaze. Maria and I went through the gate and as we did, a squirrel chattered in a nearby tree, then ran down the trunk, still chattering, towards us. He stopped about 20 feet from us then ran back into his hiding place. I wondered if he was one of the squirrels we had wintered over last year when he was a baby.
I could hear the ravens calling loudly from their own hiding places in the nearby pines. They often tell us when coyotes or bear are near by, alerting both sides to avoid a chance encounter and conflict. This was different. P began to become more worried and started bucking and racing in her paddock. I realized the ravens were warning us of danger. I was sure at that point, it was a hunter.
My husband walked up the slight hill to the East. Sure enough, a blue van was parked on the hunters’ road. As he went to check, P stepped up her vigilance until he returned. Maria and I went back to the house. We were being warned against our own species.
My husband said that as he had walked up the hill, a swarm of chickadees had appeared, chattering mightily at him.
Nothing goes unnoticed here. We are really part of a much larger community than we know. That we are accepted is a gift. The legacy of Geoffrey continues.
If we listen, they will speak.
Namaste. I am Here for You.
Where was the Reiki? I think about this constantly since Geoffrey’s passing. It was a magical week with him. Compassion, love, peace, and calm were pervasive.
Several times, I thought to offer Reiki to Geoffrey and P, but every time, I sheepishly stopped. It seemed presumptuous and foolish on my part. I was in the presence of masters. This was their dance, not mine. My role was as student, as facilitator, as recipient of the love and compassion that passed between them and spread over the land.
They were Reiki. There was no chanting, no hand gestures, no symbols – the tools we humans need to shed our humanness. They simply were Reiki. Geoffrey and P breathed love and compassion.
What is my role now? To learn from them; to become compassion and love for all that I touch; to simply become Reiki.
For sentient beings, poor and destitute,
May I become a treasure ever-plentiful,
And lie before them closely in their reach,
A varied source of all that they might need.
-The Way of the Bodhisattva – Shantideva
By: SARA Practitioner Emma Duvefelt
“Just for today, I will not worry.” The second Reiki Precept. Like the first Precept about anger, this one encourages us to be fully present as a clear conduit for the flow of healing Reiki energy.
What is worry but another name for fear? Do we ever worry that things will turn out the way we want them to? No, just that they won’t.
We worry when we feel we’ve lost control, when we fear the unknown, and in situations when we face a decision or difficulty and don’t know how it’s going to turn out. We’re anticipating that something unfortunate will happen in the future. Worry creates anxiety, that eating-away at your insides sick feeling.
Paradoxically, when we worry, we’re actually pulling energy away from our desired outcome and feeding it toward what we’re afraid will happen. Working against ourselves.
The Buddhist proverb on worry is, “If the problem can be solved, why worry? If the problem cannot be solved, worrying will do you no good.” [Śāntideva]
It’s easy and frustrating to tell ourselves or someone else, “Don’t worry.” Or in musician Bobby McFerrin’s words, “Don’t worry, be happy.” Yeah, right. Telling ourselves to not worry only adds to the stress of worry—now we worry about worrying.
I asked the animals for more specific guidance, and sensed splash, bubbles, sparkles of sunlight through water, movement. Otter popped up and said, “Why worry? It’s all a game. Be flexible. Find joy in each moment, even when the unexpected happens. When you worry, you get stiff and solid. That blocks the flow. Worry can make you sick inside, and that’s no fun.
“Be in gratitude for the abundance that surrounds us. I trust that there will be enough fish for me and my family. If I worry, it drives the fish away and we are hungry. That’s no fun, either. Life is a gift, and everything in it. Just relax and enjoy it.
“Have courage, be strong, set and follow your intentions. Watch as I turn and swim through the water. I waste no energy. When I am hunting, I am focused, and I eat. Be sleek like me. Point all your energy in the direction you want to go. It’s more fun that way.”
Splash! Ripples of water spread out where a moment ago Otter had been.
Next, Rabbit hopped into my meditation: “Ah, fear,” Rabbit said. “We tremble. We’re gentle and are prey. Our whiskers twitch, sensing, always alert. Walk towards what you fear. Face it. What you fear will not go away. It will linger outside your burrow while you tremble, waiting for you to emerge so it can pounce on you. Ask yourself, what is it you fear? The great unknowing? It is so human, to want to know everything. You can only prepare as best you can, stay alert, watchful, and be ready to run if you need to—lest you become Fear’s dinner.”
Confronting fear and worry brought Boar to mind. I heard him snort, “What!”
“Would you share your thoughts about worry with me?”
“Worry? Confront it head on, do your groundwork, focus, and then go forward.” Boar continued, “To worry is to scatter your energy. Prepare, commit, put your head down and move toward your goal. You can’t control what is beyond your reach, but you can prepare for it. Prepare for the unexpected. Focus. Set intention. When you worry, you send mixed signals. You feed energy to what you fear. I didn’t get to be this big by scattering my energy all over the field. I know what I want and I go for it. Sometimes it works, sometimes not. So be it.” Snort. A hoof stomps. Boar’s head wags from side to side.
Rabbit, Otter, and Boar give good guidance: Otter reminds us that when we’re worrying, it’s time to take a break, have some fun, and then focus. Rabbit reminds us to confront our fear, for it won’t go away. Boar reminds us to set our intention and direct all our energy toward it. All say that when we worry, we divert our energy away from our goal and toward what we fear. Worry is a distraction.
We invite worry when our head/mind speaks more strongly than our heart, when we have doubt about the outcome. Prepare as best you can, and then move forward. When we make a mistake, worrying (fretting, stewing) will not fix it. We can only acknowledge and own it, apologize or make amends, and move forward. When worry creeps in anyway, breathe. Let yourself ground deep into the earth. Invite the earth’s energy to flow through with each breath you take, and open your heart. The worry will dissipate. Call on the animals. They are always willing to help.
Just for today, I will not worry.
By: Rev. Nancy Schluntz
Rev. Nancy Schluntz is a SARA practitioner member and animal communicator. As an Animal Chaplain, she offers pet loss bereavement counseling and facilitates a support group. She offers for Reiki for animals (and their people) who are approaching the end of life and as part of her intuitive communication readings. Nancy also offers Reiki to animals at the wildlife rehabilitation center where she volunteers.
Kathleen has just been to Remus teaching Animal Reiki, whilst there she gave an amazing talk to the public. She asked the truly powerful question ‘What is Reiki’? As I listened intently to the answer she said that Reiki was ‘Compassion and Wisdom!’ The response was contemplated as to what it meant to us collectively and individually. What could be more powerful than compassion? How easy is it to be compassionate? What does compassion mean to me? It sounded very simple but on a deeper level there are many layers to finding true compassion, which I was later going to find out.
I attended Kathleen’s Animal Reiki teaching workshop, where I found Kathleen’s teaching profoundly moving. We were able to offer many animal treatments to the Remus animals intermingled with many Reiki lessons. On the second day we were urgently called to work with Davey; a donkey that had recently had major surgery and was now showing signs of being ill. The vet was on the way, so we all stood and offered Reiki, he was off his food and paced the stable as we all stood outside. After a while he calmed and had a wee and a poo, which was very positive. As we carried on offering Reiki Davey started to back up to us with his bottom, then he moved forward and lifted his left hind hoof to show us where the pain was. It was so amazing that he was able to show us his discomfort and we were able to share in this experience.
As we finished offering Reiki, I began to talk about Davey and the operation he had just had. Almost instantly Davey became agitated and unsettled. At this point Kathleen said that we were there to hold the Reiki space for him with ‘no judgement and that we needed to see Davey with our hearts and not with our eyes. It was a huge light bulb moment for me and I immediately felt sadness and embarrassment that I had been looking at Davey with sympathy and talking about him without any consideration that he could be listening. I could not see the sunny soul that was still shining brightly beneath. Davey was not defined by his illness or condition but by his ‘spirit’. As we returned to class it immediately dawned on me what the meaning of ‘Compassion’ truly meant. I returned to Davey a few more times to offer Reiki, firstly to apologise and secondly to offer a Reiki space where he had the opportunity to just ‘be’ Davey on any level.
Looking with your heart can be a difficult thing to do, as humans we are conditioned to only see what is on the surface. This experience shifted something inside of me and really made me think about the Reiki precepts in depth and my whole Reiki Practice. I have a lot to work on and am very grateful that Davey was able to teach me the meaning of Compassion.
The lessons that I learnt from Davey helped me in my own personal life, as not long after the workshop with Kathleen. My father took a turn for the worse and I had to rush back to Ireland. He was dying, his kidneys were failing and as he lay there hooked up to a drip, his life force energy was slowly dripping away. His skin was grey and his eyes were lifeless, I just knew I had to be calm. In that moment I chanted the 4th symbol in my head and just held the Reiki space for him. I saw his soul sparkle even though his body was weak. For the next few days I held the Reiki space for him, letting go of any expectation or outcome. What happened was that a different Dr came and offered him a different kind of treatment, which allowed his life force energy to strengthen. Seeing with your heart and not with your eyes and holding the Reiki space was a huge lesson from Davey. My father is so much better now, although it is still a day at a time. I am so grateful to Davey for teaching me to ‘see with my heart’ <3
Kathleen’s reiki Class’s are always thought provoking, always mindful and always about the animal. She is able to teach in a way, that you are able to find your own Reiki journey but also to learn your own Reiki lessons in your own time. The class’s are always life changing and sometimes the mat from under your feet will be shaken so hard that you have to reflect on your own life. The biggest lesson is to let the animals teach, be humble and to just ‘be’. Easier said than done, so that is why I have a daily Reiki Practice and literally Practice, Practice, Practice.
“Just for today, I will not anger.” The first Reiki Precept. On first hearing, I transmuted the words to “… I will not anger others,” but then realized that no one can make anyone else angry. We (or someone else) can be the spark that ignites anger, but the emotion comes from within. The Precept is about maintaining the self as a clear conduit for the flow of healing Reiki energy.
Anger has cropped up a lot lately – in news reports, Facebook posts, other venues. Are people more open now about expressing anger, or is it one of the impacts of these times of change?
Do I have anger? I had to think about that. The anger that often calls our attention is the burning, violent kind. The punch-in-the-nose road rage anger. There are many varieties. Have you ever felt irritated, annoyed, resentful, mistreated, disrespected, even outraged or filled with righteous indignation? Those are all forms of anger.
In his lecture series, Nonviolent Communication,* Dr. Marshall Rosenberg says that anger is an emotional response triggered by an outside stimulus when a core need of ours is not being met. Core needs such as security, safety, love, nurturance, and yes, respect. When I feel resentment, what need or hurt within me has been disregarded, to trigger that feeling?
The animals always have answers and opinions about such questions. The first to speak was Coyote. I sensed yellow-gold eyes and tawny fur dancing and feinting around me while Coyote spoke:
“Anger is one of my tricks. It distracts your energy and attention. That rush of emotion feels good, feels powerful. When you’re caught up in it, you don’t recognize that you’re being spun away from your purpose, whatever that is. I am the Trickster. I am a great teacher, who teaches you through your mistakes. When you learn to recognize the pull and eddies of my magic and see through them, you can stay on your true path. It is all a game, don’t you see? You can follow Coyote and get lost. Or you can say, ‘Hello Coyote, I recognize you,’ and not follow. That strengthens you. When you feel the anger, know it is my trickster magic at work. Enjoy the thrill of explosion if you wish. Or, this time, ask yourself why you are drawn to my magic. Remember, I teach backward lessons. When you’re turned around, I will bite you!”
Skunk came next, its parallel white stripes moving in rhythm as Skunk gently shuffled forward on delicate paws:
“My medicine is more about boundaries and respect. Skunk is respected, and respects others. We carry a formidable weapon, but are gentle. We give a warning when we are being encroached upon. We do not release our scent indiscriminately, for then we would be vulnerable for defense. Priorities are important – safety, respect, courage, being gentle. Get your point across without aggression toward self or others. Those we spray recover and learn from the experience to respect us. When you feel anger, learn from us to seek the boundary that is being encroached upon, and address it. Perhaps you will not need to spray at all.”
Condor (Turkey Vulture) flew into our conversation to add its message:
“Anger? Rise above it. We soar in the air, the home of spirit and intellect. Rise above the smelly turmoil of emotion. Air helps bring discernment, an ability to sort out cause and effect. Call on me. I will help pick away that which does not serve the highest good – that which doesn’t smell right.”
Instinctively, I knew that Whale also had a message, and asked. Whale said:
“Call on me to guide you through the deep waters of emotion. We withstand great pressure in the deep, and rise to the surface to expel old air and breathe in fresh air. Sing our song with us, move with grace and strength. Swim with us, and come up for air.”
Their messages remind me that the key is not to deny, bury or push away anger, but to reach into myself, locate what has been ignited within, and address that.
These wise teachers offer workable suggestions. Coyote reminds us that when our energy spins off in anger, we diminish our power and lose our focus. Skunk reminds us to respect, be respected, and hold our boundaries. Condor reminds us to rise above the smelly stuff and use discernment. Whale reminds us to come up out of the deep emotion and take a breath of fresh air. Thank you all.
Just for today [this hour, this moment], I will not anger. I will be a clear vessel for Reiki energy. It takes practice.
By: Rev. Nancy Schluntz
*Rosenberg, Marshall. Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life. PuddleDancer Press, 2003; recording available from Sounds True, P.O. Box 8010, Boulder, CO 80306, www.Soundstrue.com.
Rev. Nancy Schluntz is a SARA practitioner member and animal communicator. As an Animal Chaplain, she offers pet loss bereavement counseling and facilitates a support group. She offers for Reiki for animals (and their people) who are approaching the end of life and as part of her intuitive communication readings. Nancy also offers Reiki to animals at the wildlife rehabilitation center where she volunteers.
Note: Subsequent articles will address the remaining four Precepts of Reiki: Worry, Humility/Gratitude, Honesty, and Compassion.