I have always been a huge animal lover. I had many unusual pets such as skunks and a pot belly pig. For over 20 years I had Great Danes and Maltese and showed them in confirmation dog shows. I also owned a pet grooming salon. My eyes for beautiful animals fell in the wrong direction. I was focusing my attention on the outside. One day I was jolted to awaken when a vet tech told me that a particular Maltese I was showing, who was staying with my professional dog handler, was “not happy” and she warned me to get her home as soon as possible. At that time, I was so wrapped up in all the reasons why I loved dog shows and failed to see that this little dog did not. Fortunately, she finished her Championship that very same weekend. I took her home, cut off all of her beautiful, long luxurious coat and made an appointment to have her spade. I wanted no chances to have a change of heart and breed her for more puppies. I never sold a puppy. I kept each and every one of them and showed only the best. My friends in the business thought that I had lost my mind. I did not lose anything. I found at that moment in time so much more…my true love of animals. It is not about me at all. It came to me at that moment that the animals are so giving of themselves that they would do anything for us. Go to shows that are loud and scary, have strangers place their hands on them while they stood perfectly still, be dressed in silly clothes like dolls and yes, they are so loyal they would die for us.
So, in my search I started to find something to do for them. To give back the love to these devoted beings. In January of 2010, I began my journey into Reiki. Reiki is a Japanese technique that results in deep relaxation so the body can heal on a cellular level. A technique designed for people. After completing my studies, I started practicing on myself, friends, family and eventually clients. It came to me: This was how I could give back to my precious animals, through Reiki. I started giving Reiki to my beautiful cat, Veronica when she became ill and I was giving Reiki to her as she made her transcendence. I experienced this wonderful connection to her and it was extremely peaceful. It assisted her along with me with her transcendence. I started offering Reiki to my other pets as well. They sat on my lap and seemed to enjoy the process. I wanted to find out more about offering Reiki to animals. After all, they were not willing to lay on the massage table for one hour. After many books and videos, I came across an organization called SARA (Shelter Animal Reiki Association). Wow! Offering this wonderful Reiki to shelter animals, what great way to give back. I started taking courses with two very accomplished ladies Kathleen Prasad and Leah D’Ambrosio from SARA. I can say no less than working with the animals has been a profound experience. I have now studied the traditional Japanese method of Reiki and have been certified in these techniques.
I am also a member and teacher with this organization. My highest honor was to work with two very special clients a Siberian Tiger named Balh-Shoy and a Bengal Tiger named Tigger. I went to the CARE Foundation to give them something but truly it was I who received the gifts. To have a connection with these beautiful beings in such a deep manner is something I will never forget. I will always hold these “teachers” in high regard as true Masters. People call themselves “masters” without doing the work. They take a few classes and certify themselves as a master. It takes a tremendous amount of work, love and dedication to be a master. I myself am a work in progress.
This connection is available to all of us if we take the time to be still and listen with our hearts. You, also, can give this gift of love to your animals. Schedule a session for your animal friend or better yet learn these wonderful, life changing techniques so you can share this special connection with your beloved pet.
By Michele Santom
Michele Santom is a SARA Animal Reiki Teacher and owner of her own yoga studio based in Delray Beach, Florida.
Note: If you would like to learn more about Animal Reiki, please visit our website www.shelteranimalreikiassociation.org. Kathleen Prasad will be teaching the Animal Reiki Teacher Training Course at the CARE Foundation in February 2014. You can learn more about this class at http://animalreikisource.com/reiki-classes/reiki-iii-care. To find out more about the CARE Foundation, please visit www.thecarefoundation.org.
Can or should animals receive reiju, the spiritual blessing ritual? Let me recount what happened recently and then you decide.
Charlie, a handsome white cat with bright jade eyes, came into my family’s life last summer. His owner, an aged German lady named Millicent, refused to be taken to the hospital by the town ambulance service unless she was given assurance that her cat would be taken care of. The managers of the service, Lisa and Jerry, both animal lovers, agreed to take care of the kitty and went to the house to feed him daily. But neither of them could take another animal into their homes. Looking for a solution, Lisa turned to my partner Carol, a part-time medic, for ideas. The upshot was that Carol and I agreed to foster the cat and adopt him if Millicent didn’t return home.. We dubbed him Charlie, got him a collar and tag, and welcomed him into our home. He immediately took over and proved to be a people lover, if not a lover of our other cats. Several weeks later, Charlie had a forever home with us.
The little guy wanted to be a part of our daily routine, inquisitively following us about and climbing up on everything. Part of my routine as a Reiki and Animal Reiki teacher is to practice Reiju regularly, usually to an empty dining room chair. Usually I imagine someone sitting there. That is, a human sitting there. While I regularly offer Reiki to my critters, I hadn’t given any thought to whether animals could or should receive Reiju. One morning as I faced an empty chair and began the ritual, Charlie jumped up and sat there attentively. It seemed to me that he wanted whatever I was offering. So I went ahead and completed the ritual.
While I think the ritual itself is for us and that animals don’t regard that aspect quite the way we do, I believe they can benefit from receiving such a blessing, just as they can benefit from a Reiki treatment. Charlie seemed to enjoy it. Possibly he passed the word to the other cats, because soon afterwards Becky my supersized tiger jumped up on the chair as I prepared to offer Reiju.
Have any of your readers offered Reiju to a pet or thought of doing so? I’d like to hear the experiences and opinions of others.
Shelter Animal Reiki Association Teacher
For several days Cinnamon, a semi-feral cat, had a high-shrieking hacking cough like he had a stubborn hairball wanting to come out; yet at the same time he was rapidly losing weight, becoming lethargic, and drinking lots of water. After several days, I finally asked his persons if I may offer Animal Reiki to him. They replied, “Please do!”
With Cinnamon’s permission, I offered him Reiki from a short distance while he lay on the grass. He continued to cough throughout the entire fifteen minute session. The following day his person commented that he seemed to be doing better. Cinnamon asked for hands-on Reiki this time. His coughing was only intermittent throughout the fifteen minute session. He shared with me that his stomach was feeling poisoned as well as he was being poisoned. I silently acknowledged his statement. While offering Reiki for him, I noticed a strong pull of energy from my back to the Diamond T truck behind me.
When Cinnamon was finished, I went to investigate to see why. Cinnamon’s feral sister, Sassy, was sitting upright behind the front left tire with a stream of fresh blood coming out of her left nostril. YIKES! She shared that she was being poisoned too!
It was also apparent that she had lost her unborn kittens. I thanked her and ran inside to Google my findings: cats and bloody nose and poison. Every link came up with “rat poison” and “take to a vet immediately” as well as a listing all of the symptoms that I have observed from the two. With this information, I told the persons that it is highly recommended to take them to the vet right away.
As I was speaking, I noticed that both cats were lying together in the grass. I sat down a few feet from them to offer Reiki again. I could get a sense that their bodies were literally merging with Mother Earth’s energy to become one. I also felt a tremendous sense of grounding energy for myself as I sat in the Reiki space with them. It was a very humbling and powerful sensation.
The following day, Sassy was walking around, clearly feeling better. Her eyes were bright as well as her walking gait was stronger. What was even more amazing, she wanted me to sit less than a foot away to offer more Reiki while she merged with Mother Earth’s energy within minutes of us starting. Cinnamon came over with his eyes shining and head held up high and sat down to join us. He only coughed twice during this fifteen minute session.
A couple days later, Cinnamon wanted to sit on my lap for direct hands-on Reiki around his throat. Again, the session only lasted fifteen minutes. Each time I offered them Reiki, I let them lead in how long they want the session.
I’m happy to report that both cats are doing well. They have gained their weight back and Cinnamon’s cough has completely disappeared. Sassy has returned to her happy feral self. No one can get nearer than two feet from her. Cinnamon can be picked up and be held for a few minutes; yet his new favorite thing is to lay by your feet. They continue to pass time lying on the grass together which brings a smile to me knowing how close to death they were; yet here they are…loving their time together.
Animal Reiki Teacher
Animal Reiki Divine, LLC
I recently had the pleasure of spending a weekend doing Reiki with rescued horses at BrightHaven Animal Rescue. Located in the Northern California town of Santa Rosa, BrightHaven is an amazing place, and I find myself wanting to tell everyone about it. First and foremost, it is a home for senior, disabled and terminally ill animals. All the animals there are at least 16 years old; the horses are all over the age of 26. Founded by Gail and Richard Pope in 1990, BrightHaven is their home also. Indoors you will see many senior cats and dogs – some partially paralyzed. Some of the dogs can be seen tearing around the back yard on their “wheels,” almost as fast as any dog you’ve ever seen.
There are over 25 horses at BrightHaven. Some are direct BrightHaven rescues. Others were rescued by Sadie’s Haven, a nonprofit horse rescue and sanctuary. All would have ended up sold for slaughter if it weren’t for Sadie’s Haven and BrightHaven. Instead, they will live out their natural lives in this wonderful haven, surrounded with peace and love.
A goat also makes her home at BrightHaven, as well as some ducks, geese, and I just don’t even know who else. It is truly a safe haven for all.
All animals at BrightHaven are provided with a natural diet and holistic health care…including Reiki! As a result, animals tend to have unusually long life spans – up to 30 years for cats and 23 years for dogs.
In addition to a home for the animals, BrightHaven is also a healing arts center and is an amazing resource for those of us interested in holistic and natural animal care. They offer seminars, consulting services and educational events on the subject of holistic and natural care for animals. Their website includes an extensive library of articles on an amazing variety of subjects around holistic healthcare, alternative healing therapies, and hospice care for animals. They even have holistic healthcare products for sale.
As someone who has been struggling with health issues of my aging cats for the last several years, I am amazed and humbled by the efforts of Gail and Richard. I know first hand how difficult it is when your animals get older and have special needs. I’m sure many of you do, too. How they care for so many “special needs” animals through the end of life transition is beyond my capacity to imagine. And the care and love that the animals at BrightHaven receive is beyond description.
I encourage you all to visit the BrightHaven website for more information on their sanctuary, their educational programs, and the vast array of information available there. (Website information given below.) If you are interested in visiting, they are having an Open House on Sunday, September 23 from 1-4 p.m. I also encourage you, if you are so inclined, to make a donation to BrightHaven and/or Sadie’s Haven. They are doing amazing work that is only possible through the generosity of people like you and me.
By the way, if you are interested in learning Reiki for Animals, my teacher, Kathleen Prasad, teaches classes at BrightHaven. I guarantee you this will be an experience you will not forget.
For more information:
Sadie’s Haven: www.sadieshaven.com
SARA Reiki Practitioner
My relationship to Bootsie has also been especially close ever since we first made eye contact while I was mall walking almost fourteen years ago. There she was in the pet shop window, an adorable 8-week-old tuxedo kitten, playing with half a dozen or so other kittens. When I stopped to look at the kittens, she stopped playing to gaze at me and I gazed back. We bonded in that moment, like Super Glue.
Bootsie enjoys snuggling up next to my head at night and curling up on my lap during the day. When I need to be away home for several days, she develops separation anxiety. She is very much a one-person cat, although she been developing more trust in my Partner.
So when Bootsie suddenly became quite ill a week ago and had to be admitted to the animal hospital with a fever of unknown origin, I was upset and realized how frightening this experience must be for her. I regularly offer Reiki to my cats, dogs, and chicken flock. Now I turned to Reiki to complement her medical treatment. I didn’t know how it would help, only trusted that it would. At first.
When the fever broke the second day, her recovery looked promising. But Bootsie continued to refuse to eat or drink, even when I tried bringing her home for the weekend. She became dehydrated and lethargic, leading to emergency readmission Monday morning. Now my trust in Reiki was put to the test. I was becoming the proverbial basket case, worried sick about Bootsie.
Just as the team of veterinarians was doing a “differential diagnosis” to rule out some conditions and consider others, I realized I needed to take a look at my Reiki practice, how I was making myself sick and what I could do about it.
First, I realized that I had my own agenda: Reiki SHOULD cure her illness and according to my time table. I wasn’t trusting the intelligence of Reiki to work where it was most needed. Second, my worry was incapacitating me and wasn’t helping Bootsie. How wise Usui Mikao was to make “Do not worry” one of the Reiki precepts, and I saw and felt the fear that was at the root of my worry. Fear that I would lose Bootsie. In fact, I was acting as if I had already lost her, a superb example of how fear is an illusion.
With these insights, I was able to let go of my baggage and offer more effective Reiki. The veterinarians and staff at the animal hospital have been receptive to letting me visit Bootsie in a treatment room during the office lunch hour, offer her Reiki, feed her by hand, and reassure her with my presence.
Gradually Bootsie is showing progress. Today they are going to try her on a small insulin because of elevated blood sugar. This morning I did a distance treatment. This afternoon I’ll visit, offer Reiki, feed and love her.
My lovely little tuxedo cat may be home in a couple days. Meanwhile, I trust she is getting excellent medical care. And I trust Reiki as a beneficial complementary treatment that works in often mysterious ways. Thank you, Bootsie, for being such an excellent Reiki teacher. I have learned some valuable lessons in becoming a better Reiki practitioner.
My favorite places at Rutland County Humane Society (RCHS) are the cat rooms. I truly enjoy watching the comings and goings, the different personalities, and the fights and love fests as boundaries are tested and friends are made. Offering Reiki in a room with many cats can be challenging with these distractions and it is important to maintain focus during a session.
Before cats get to the cat room at RCHS they are held in kennels in the intake room. Here they are kept from the general population as their health is checked out or they await spay/neuter appointments. The cats in this room are both surrenders and strays. Usually, there is a mix with a maximum of about 15 cats. Cats are in varying degrees of stress in this room; many times they are hiding in a box or behind a towel draped over the front of the cage.
As much as I enjoy the cat rooms with their freedom to move around, I love offering Reiki in the intake room! Often, these cats are very frightened and Reiki is very soothing for them. It is also soothing for me. I find that I can go to a deeper place in this room as I don’t have cats jumping on and off my lap or worse–a cat fight!
Recently, I sat in the intake room. All the kennels were full. One had a towel over the door and I couldn’t see inside. One kennel had a box which appeared to hold a cat. Several cats were meowing and moving around in agitation. One was pushing against the cage front creating a loud rattling noise.
I like to visit each cat individually to say hello if they aren’t shy. After doing that, I sat on the other side of the room and began breathing deeply. When I felt centered, I spoke quietly without looking directly at any of the cats. After letting them know what I was up to and telling them they didn’t have to participate, I began.
Almost immediately, the room began to settle down. I waited a bit and then checked in discreetly. Some cats had gone to the back of their kennel; some came up front and were staring at me; others were dozing. The sound of many cats purring has a sedative effect on me and I found myself going deeper into my meditation. After about twenty minutes I looked up. I could see two cats were behind the towel. They were peeking around the edge. I could see one eye and one ear on each! Next door, the cat from the box had come out and was eating!
Most likely, I will meet these cats again in the general population. Often, cats who received Reiki in intake come right over and jump in my lap in the cat room.
There are two cat rooms at Rutland County Humane Society where I volunteer every week. Each room has ten or more cats in it. They have all kinds of climbing places and hiding spots and a window to a nice little screened in porch. When I go into the cat room, I take a seat and announce to all the little lovelies that it is Reiki time and that they are welcome to receive as much or as little as they want. I then set the intention that the session is for the highest good of all of us and that whoever needs Reiki gets what they need. I breathe deeply into my hara and imagine the energy expanding out into every corner of the room.
Daisy was a funny little tortoiseshell kitty. When she arrived at RCHS she was missing fur from her lower body due to a severe flea infestation. It was unclear whether Daisy’s fur would grow back.
Every time I sat in the one of the cat rooms offering Reiki, Daisy would come over. She would just hover around my feet, looking up at me. After three sessions like this she got in my lap. While I gave her Reiki she rolled over so her bare back was in my hands. When she was done with her session she would give me a little nip on my hand. The next two times I came to the room Daisy was waiting for me. She got in my lap immediately and settled in for Reiki. I noticed her fur was coming back.
On subsequent visits she would come by, but she stopped getting in my lap. I continued to see a change in her fur. It was interesting that she seemed to be done with her hands-on treatments, although she continued to get better. Daisy took complete charge of her treatment! Not long after, she found her forever home.
I have seen the effects of Reiki on my own cat, Murphy, and his excessive grooming. When we met him, stress had caused him to lick and chew the fur off his lower belly and the inside of his back legs. We hoped he would stop now that he was in his forever home. He did stop licking his legs, but his lower belly stayed bare and sometimes had red spots on it.
About four years after we adopted Murphy I learned Reiki. He took an interest in it right away, always coming in the room when I was practicing. When I started working with him directly his fur eventually started to fill back in a little at a time. After some time, he was down to a little patch on his lower belly. Now, his belly and legs are completely covered with fur and have been for a couple of years. I believe Reiki relieved Murphy of the stress that was causing his excessive grooming behavior.
Oliver is a very handsome, loving, orange tabby cat that I have known for about 9 years. He is the animal companion of one of my best friends and her family. When Oliver first joined the family there was just two human children. Now there are four and they are all boys. The two oldest boys are 12 and 14 and the youngest are 2 and 3.
About 2 years ago my friend called me to ask if I could offer some Reiki for Oliver. She said he had started having some significant behavior changes. He was going to the bathroom in the house outside of his litter box. Specifically, he was doing this in the bedroom shared by the two youngest boys. Oliver had also become very grouchy and would bat at the little ones (luckily without his claws), and would bite and claw at the parents and two older boys.
I started with an in-person Reiki session and followed up with a distant Reiki session a few days later. During the distant session I got an image of one of the little boys’ faces right in Oliver’s face being very boisterous. It was very clear that Oliver was very distressed by this. While offering Reiki I focused my thoughts on peace and harmony.
For about a month Oliver stopped these unwanted behaviors and became very loving with the whole family. After that month though, Oliver reverted back to being grouchy and going to the bathroom in the little boys’ bedroom again. I went over and offered another in-person session followed by a distant session. This time he went two months without a bathroom incident and he actually became so loving that my friend jokingly asked if I could possibly back it off a little.
When my friend called again after the two months it became very clear that since we could not get rid of the root cause of Oliver’s stress (the two boisterous little boys , that Oliver would just need regular Reiki maintenance. So about every 3 to 4 weeks I offer Reiki to Oliver. I am happy to say that the unwanted bathroom behavior has stopped and he just tends to get a little grouchy now and then.
Oliver has been a wonderful teacher. One of the lessons I learned from him was about being heard and not giving up until you get what you need. Once Oliver got what he needed, he was able to transform how he interacts with his family. I am so grateful to be a part of his process.
Level I Reiki and Animal Reiki Class at Happily Ever After Animal Sanctuary
I had the privilege of teaching a Level 1 Reiki and Animal Reiki class with eight volunteers and staff at Happily Ever After Animal Sanctuary’s Green Bay Adoption Center near historic Lambeau Field, home of the Green Bay Packers. After creatively planning around the NFL playoff schedule and other sanctuary events, the final class session was held on February 5, 2011, the day before the Packers won Super Bowl XLV. Even with the excitement and anticipation of the Super Bowl the next day, we successfully completed the class and received a valuable, basic lesson from five beautiful cats.
The lesson taught by the five cats is that we want to allow each animal to choose how they wish to receive Reiki energy at that time. For a guided treatment, the cats were brought into the small room where the class met. The class sat in a circle, and we created our Reiki space to include the area inside the circle. Each cat responded to the Reiki energy differently.
Two of the cats almost immediately chose to jump up on the laps of the four people sitting on a futon couch, with one lying directly on the heart center of one of the class members offering Reiki back to her. The other three cats wandered around the room for a few minutes, with one of them eventually joining the two on the futon. Another cat continued to walk around the edge of the Reiki space, and finally lay down under the futon where we could not see him. The other one jumped up on a cat tree that was just outside the Reiki space curiously watching everyone in the circle – he was experiencing the energy, but not yet ready to fully join the circle. Each cat was accepting of the energy, but chose to receive from a different place or from a different person.
I want to thank these five cats for helping me teach my class this basic lesson in offering Reiki to animals – allow each animal to choose and each will likely choose differently.
Following are a couple of comments received from the class:
“I just really thought the way you taught the class was wonderful. You were so organized and structured, but at the same time, the class was actually relaxing to attend! I just really feel confident that I can DO this – now I just need to make more time. I have no suggestions – other than to keep doing what you’re doing.”
“I thought the class was fantastic…..You made the class fun, fast paced enough but not too fast. Loved the stories that helped me relate to what you were teaching.”