A Lesson in the Reiki Precepts

Remus has an open day on the first Sunday of each month from May to September. Last year every single one was cancelled due to the heavy rain in the UK. The Open Days offer vital funding, as people pay to visit and can also sponsor anyone of the beautiful animals there. In years gone by I have offered Reiki treatments to people on these days, as a way to raise money for Remus. I attended an Open Day a couple of weeks ago and decided that instead of selling my Reiki Therapy, I would spend my money and see what other people experienced.

As Kathleen will be teaching Equine Reiki and Shinpiden this September at Remus, it was nice to see it from a public perception. I took my 20 year old son, who was a bit reluctant as he was not sure what to expect. The sun was shining very brightly as we drove up through the Remus fields. We parked the car and paid at the entrance. It was absolutely packed with people, children and dogs. My spirits were raised immediately by the upbeat atmosphere, a band was playing, stalls were scattered around selling bric a brac, Remus memorabilia and so much more. I steered my son over to where the food area was, we purchased homemade vegetarian sandwiches and a mugs of hot tea. Being impressed with my will power, I refrained from eating the yummy homemade cake. Dogs on leads with their owners passed us by, as we sat chatting about where we were going to go next. My son had been at University for the last six months, so getting time together on our own was better than any tonic a Dr could prescribe.

I have offered Reiki to the animals many times at Remus and I have always been humbled by each animal and the experience. It has been a privilege, as they have been my teachers, allowing me to grow into the Animal Reiki Practitioner I am today. They have been patient with me and at times have given me lots to think about. Remus has built a path way around the whole of the Sanctuary, so that every animal can be seen. Walking with Michael my son, I watched with amazement as the horses came right up to the fences. They allowed strangers to stroke them, they encouraged children, who I could see, were intimidated by their size, to move closer. There was such a gentleness and openness towards strangers who they had never met before. Watching the horses, I was so proud of them, as I knew that many of them had been treated so badly by the human race in the past; opening up their hearts to people they had never met before, showing forgiveness, brought tears to my eyes. If they can forgive and move forward, then so could I. The Reiki precepts show us how we should live our lives on a daily basis, we are taught not to anger, to worry, to be compassionate, to be humble and to be honest in our work. Being able to stand and watch and just ‘be’ allowed me to understand that animals are living these precepts every single day, yet I had never been able to see it before. Michael loved being so close to the horses and it was a joy to watch him stroking Dolly and the mutual enjoyment they got from sharing each other’s company.

The Remus animals are amazing teachers and I am continually learning, they are always very gentle and nudge me in the right direction with enormous patience (I have needed a lot of lessons lol) Kathleen will be teaching at Remus from the 5 – 8 of September 2013. The Remus Animals are always looking for new students to teach and LOVE meeting new people. They cannot wait to meet Kathleen again, so they can show her all of the new improvements at Remus; new training room, paddocks, laminitic field, new fencing and again SO MUCH MORE.

Dolly teaches Michael the lesson 'forgiveness'

Dolly teaches Michael the lesson ‘forgiveness’

The Stress Bank

Ruby and Peggy

Ruby and Bimbo

The first thing I would like to do is to tell you about the amazing award that Remus Sanctuary won on 4th March 2011. They won at the Wetnose Awards as the best Horse and Donkey Sanctuary in the United Kingdom. Well done Remus!

It made me think about what makes Remus different and great at what they do, in this blog I would like to give my opinion on what I think makes them truly amazing and how Reiki has been part of this wonderful journey too.

I feel Reiki is amazing at releasing past trauma, helping with injuries and aiding relaxation. However without understanding the whole situation, Reiki will be like a sticking plaster holding things together, if an animal is in a daily stressful situation, it makes the job we are trying to achieve a hundred times more difficult. I feel as a Reiki Practitioner maybe a little more understanding is needed about what is natural for the species, for example; in the wild horses would live in herds, dogs in packs, to keep these animals without contact from members of their own can only add to their stress. Understanding of nutritional needs of a species is also needed to help the ‘whole’ animal, cats are carnivours, with the best will in the world it would be very difficult to maintain optimum health in a vegitarian cat.

What is stress or should I say the stress response? Well it is an animals  natural response/reaction to the threat of danger, whether real or imagined, it is their survival mechanism. When a stressful situation is on-going, with no way to relieve it,  it becomes chronic stress which can lead to a variety of problems. All animals are hard-wired to deal with a certain amount of acute stress but when animals meet our world and we don’t truly understand their needs here lies the problem.

Going back to Remus; what makes them so good at what they do? Firstly they have a knowldege of the needs of the species they are working with. Take for example Ruby who is the horse I saw at Remus yesterday. She was the pair/soul bond of Bimbo the horse I wrote about in my last blog. Bimbo very sadly had to be put to sleep about 6 weeks ago, leaving poor Ruby his pair bond of over 20 years. Never a day or night spent without each other. Seeing Ruby, I saw the twinkle back in her eyes, I saw a beautiful shiney coat, I saw confidence ousing from every pore. I have to say, I have been there every week since Christmas offering Reiki to her but what had Remus done to make the transformation complete?

1. They Identified her stress, even before Bimbo was put to sleep, Remus knew this was a real possibility. The stress could have brought on Ruby’s Laminitis which can be life threating and she could possiblely have died. Loosing two horses would be too much to bare. I feel too that this is where the Reiki came in to give both Bimbo and Ruby the emotional support they both needed.

2. They addressed her diet they made sure she had constant access to hay and water. This is a basic physioligcal need. They made sure she was fed the correct diet for her needs as she has laminitis. She is fed on the highest quality feed available for a horse of that age. On a daily basis she is given a variety of over 15 herbs that she self selects, chosing for that day what her body needs not what people think she needs.

3. They addressed her pain, she had an operation before Bimbo died to help her laminitis, if at any time she had been in stress, this would have complicated her healing and put it in jepardy if she should get laminitis. Thus making  sure she had recovered from her operation before Bimbo had to be put to sleep. This is where the weekly Reiki Sessions have helped to relieve pain and aid relaxation.

4. They addressed her need for a companion (Understanding the species they are working with) Horses naturally need a pair bond.  Initially Ruby and Bimbo were paired with Tango another Shetland pony but this was not succesful (They recognised that Ruby needed to choose.) Ruby was then paired with Peggy another Shetland pony. Although a slightly rocky start, with the help of Reiki they seem to be forging a forever bond. Again Reiki has been instumental here in helping to open them up to each other.

5. They addressed her bordom just as too much stress can cause problems, so can too little. She has a constant flow of human visitors who talk, stroke, feed, much out and of course offer Reiki.

This blog started with the news of Remus winning an award for the best Horse and Donkey Sanctuary in the United Kingdom. Hopefully like me, I hope you can see what makes them stand out from the rest.

It is difficult to get people to change  and it is not our place to tell people what to do. However having too many deposits into the stress bank can make for ‘one stressed out animal’ Being aware of the whole picture can only add to the understanding of what is truly going on and help us to be a better Reiki Practitioners. All my own opionion of course:)

Reiki in the rain!

……………….. By Caroline Thomas

The biggest conversation topic in England is the most definitely the weather, in one day there  can be sunshine, rain and snow. So in order to be prepared, I often carry different types of clothing, to suit any type of weather that may occur. It was a cold Sunday morning, as I looked outside all I could see was the rain and wind lashing against the trees. This was certainly a day where I needed to be in touch with nature.  As I drove to Remus, the roads were flooded and dangerous. I did consider turning back, as I was worried that my car would get stuck and I would have to call my husband to rescue me. As I carefully made my way along the road I could not help but notice the height of the river Wid, this river runs beside the road leading to Remus. Driving along the narrow track, the Remus fields were flooded, I could see that all of the horses were being kept in. The fields were empty, puddles of water filled the grassy area where the horses would usually be.

Arriving at my destination I could see all of the staff and volunteers all seeing to the needs of the animals. The rain was still pouring, the wind was still blowing yet everybody were busy with their tasks. I met with Sue to see which animals were in need of Reiki. Sue explained that Remus had been cut off a couple of times during the week. When the river flooded it caused numerous difficulties in the running of the Sanctuary, the biggest problem being that the vets were unable to access the Sanctuary.  It is at times like this when Reiki can support the staff and care givers,  they give so much to the animals, making it easy for them to become burnt out.  I have suggested this to Sue before, but she is just so very busy, it would be so benificial, but her attention today was firmly on the running of her Sanctuary.

First on my list  was a horse called Pippa, she is a horse I have been working with for about three months. She was first brought to my attention when she attacked another horse called Apollo, she broke Appollo’s leg. She has been very aggressive to both the staff and the other horses at the Sanctuary. (She had been put into stud by her previous owner and had been raped by numerous stallions) I have been offering her Reiki each week; as I stood outside her stable the rain continued to pour. I set the  intention that the Reiki flow for whatever healing Pippa would be open to at that very moment. If anything, or nothing at all that would be fine. This setting of intention is a form of asking permission. As the rain dripped from my nose, Pippa closed her eyes and started to yawn, she took in the Reiki energy that she needed. It was only when she moved to the back of the stable indicating that she had taken enough energy that I realised how wet I was. Almost at this exact moment, Sue called me to quickly move my car to the church at the top of the road as the river Wid had started to over flow. As  I drove I could see the river almost touching  the road. Once at the church, I was asked if I wanted to go back or make my way home. Of course I decided to go back to Remus to carry on offering Reiki to the other animals.

I went about my work and offered Reiki to the sheep, Marigold and Star, each animal taking only the energy that they needed. Marigold lay down, the sheep came and went and Star stood indicating with her head that she wanted hands on Reiki. As I stood in the main stable block, I started to offer Reiki to Apollo, the beautiful grey mare who had been kicked by Pippa. There was a lot of noise in the main buildings as all  of the stables were being mucked out, however this did not put me off. Asking Apollo for permission and letting the energy flow, I felt a real connection. In this deep meditive state I felt a tap on my shoulder, I was asked to leave immediately as the river had  over flowed onto the road and to phone Sue when I got to the church, only the staff were to stay. The only escape route was through the fields at the back of Remus, I was shown the path and asked to make my way through the muddy fields, using only a hawthorn hedge as my guide. I have to say it felt like an adventure,  I am rubbish at map reading, so felt scared and a bit silly that I would not be able to find my way back to the church. How embarassing would that be? I did manage to find the church but forgot to phone Sue; which I was correctly told off for, I had been so wet and so relieved to find my car that I had forgotten all about the phone call.

I think this blog shows that every Reiki experience is different especially when volunteering at a Rescue Centre. My Reiki had got interupted but I continued in the best spirit I know. I was wet I was cold, but knew that the Reiki would be for the highest good of the animals. Sue has told me that there has been a definite change in Pippa, she is a lot calmer and less aggressive with the staff and other horses, who knows she may one day be able to be re united with Apollo.

The beauty of Remus

………….. By Caroline Thomas

Piggie

Piggie

If you read any of my blogs, all of my Reiki experiences come from this Sanctuary. Remus is the first international Sanctuary of SARA and embodies everything a SARA Shelter should be. In truth I do not know where to start when writing my blog about Remus. I suppose I just want as many people to know about a Sanctuary that lives and breathes the true meaning of being a Haven for those animals who have been mistreated by humans. I like to think that it was the ‘Universe’ that brought Remus to me, fate seemed to play a big part in my relationship with all that is ‘Remus’ and how it has moulded me into the person that I am today.

My journey started 3 years ago when I had just completed my Animal Bach Flower Course. I was keen to offer my skills to any Rescue Centre who would have me, I had a skill and wanted to offer it for free, to me that made total sense. In truth I was shocked with how many Rescue Centres turned me down. By chance I was referred to Remus, A Sanctuary which was only 15 minutes away from where I lived, that was the day I felt I met my destiny.

The youngest and oldest

The youngest and oldest

I remember driving through the beautiful countryside to a place called Buttsbury. A beautiful medeval church lay nestled on the hill. Remus is situated just below this in 40 acres, in the stunning Essex County.

I was introduced to Sue Burton,(The Sanctuary was formed in 1983 following the plight of REMUS , a horse who was starved for up to four months in a field, having been stolen by a horse dealer.Then he was left tied to a lamp-post outside the yard that he had been previously stolen from.) Sue put me at complete ease straight away. I waffled on about how the remedies could help her animals, I was so nervous but I could see straight away that Sue’s whole concern was that of her animals. As my confidence grew I decided to throw into the conversation the gift that is ‘Reiki’, what would she make of that? Sue had not really heard of Reiki, but I felt she would give it a go if it could benefit her animals.

Remus provides life time care for animals who have been victims of ‘cruelty’, both physical and mental. The animals are never euthanized and are treated with kindness and respect. The Sanctuary specializes in the older animal, going to great lengths to understand the needs of the older animal, such as diet, nursing care and disease management.  As eye sight, poor footing and the health of the animal deteriorates Remus is there to pick up the pieces.

Oliver in the Snow

Oliver in the Snow

And so my love affair with Remus began, it has been a journey of total respect for Sue and her staff. I am always aware of how busy Remus is and how precious Sue’s time is. When offering Reiki at a Sanctuary it is very important to fit into the daily running and rules of the Sanctuary. I pride myself and like to think I am invisible, when offering Reiki, I am very aware not to get in way. There is definitely no room for ego’s.  Each week I  meet Sue in her office, where she would discuss with me all the animals that needed Reiki, giving me detailed information about their health and what had happened to them lin the last week. Armed with this information, I have a deeper understanding of how each individual animal I am going to work with feels. Deciding who to treat first is up to me, I assess how best I can fit into the animals routine, making sure I avoid meal times and medical care. When an animal is relaxed, they are more accepting of Reiki. As some of the animals have poor eye sight, I always speak to them to let them know that I am there, so as not to startle them. In my quiet space I offer Reiki. It’s here that I have to be honest, animals certainly choose Reiki or just say no! I have often been in that Reiki space, feeling  everything was as it should be, only for the animal to look at me and say no not today thank you. When the animal accepts the Reiki and you feel a deep connection and see the sighing and sleepy eyes I feel it is magical, it can be at the times you least expect. When the healing is finished I always record it on the SARA treatment cards with how the animal reacted to their Reiki treatment. It allows me to re-visit the animal the next week, with all the details of the previous week. The record cards are invaluable, as they show how the healing path of the animal develops, keeping a record of any subtle changes in the animals behavior, as each week passes it is very easy to forget how each treatment went.

Harmony

Harmony

In summary offering Reiki at a Sanctuary is full of so many rewards. I have formed friendships with the staff and earned their respect. I am able to help and offer Reiki to the animals who need it, gaining their trust. In essence Remus is a haven for animals, the Garden of Eden for  for horses, goats, cats, pigs, sheep and cows. Remus always searches for what  is ‘best’ for each animal and treats each one as an individual. I feel so proud of all that is Remus, knowing that it is everything a Sanctuary should be. SARA has added an extra dimension to the holistic care where all the animals come first.

Reiki for Roxanne

In December I  went to visit my good friend in Montana that recently moved her horse sanctuary to a 1,200 acre ranch.  I was excited for our visit and especially excited to meet Roxanne.  Roxanne,  a four month old filly arrived a week before my visit.  She came to the sanctuary from a neglectful situation and her mother had already weaned her, as she was not able to feed and care for her.

During my stay the temperatures dropped to 25-40 below zero for 5 days.  A small corral was constructed inside one of the barns for Roxanne.  Her adopted Aunt Madison, a retired broodmare that found a home at the sanctuary last year was in the corral outside the barn.  They could still be close to each other and nuzzle through the panel that replaced the door.

One of the many things I wanted to do during my visit was to offer Reiki to Roxanne.  Roxanne was very shy and stayed her distance when I was in the corral helping with the chores.  She would look at me out of the corner of one eye.  We felt Roxanne would benefit from a Reiki session.  I did not have all of my “winter gear”, but I was determined to sit with Roxanne.  My friend gave me a horse blanket to wrap myself in stating it would be warmer than any human blanket she could give me.

It was a cloudless blue sky, beautiful, sunny and 25 below zero day.  It was my last day at the ranch.  I walked out to the barn, turned a bucket upside down, wrapped myself in the horse blanket and sat about six inches from the corral panel.  The sun warmed my back as it shone in the opening of the barn.  Roxanne stayed in the far corner quietly looking at me and most likely wondering what the heck I was doing.  A human in a horse blanket sitting on a bucket outside of her new home.

I created my Reiki space and set my intentions to offer her Reiki and for her to take the amount of Reiki that was appropriate for her.  As with the SARA technique, I allowed Roxanne to participate in her own healing and I remained outside of her corral.  Allowing her the freedom to move around and feel safe in her space.  I began to feel the Reiki flowing through my hands, I could hear Roxanne moving around.  I opened my eyes to see her place her tiny hips and tail a few inches from the panel in front of me.  As she swayed in a gentle motion back and forth.  She let out a baby sigh and began to eat the hay in front of me.  I felt a wave of happiness and excitement that she was willing to come to my side of the corral and showed signs of receiving the Reiki.

The time with her was very magical and peaceful.  She ate for about 20 minutes and then stood in the middle of the corral doing the “involuntary head bob” and letting out deep sighs.  A couple of times she came over and placed her head in front of me and our faces almost touched.  I could feel her warm breath on my face.  As I gazed into those soulful eyes I resisted the urge to reach out and touch the baby soft tiny nuzzle.  I really wanted to climb in there and just hug her, but I did not.  This was about her needs and not my desires.  She had to learn how to trust humans and in the process trust life.  In her four short months on this planet she had already experienced much saddness, betrayal and loss.  I was offering her healing and allowing her to take the Reiki energy to heal herself.

I looked at my cell phone to check the time and realized almost an hour had gone past.  I quietly told Roxanne I was preparing to end the Reiki.  I heard a soft, quiet voice say “not yet”, I could feel my eyes full of tears and a wave of tingles through my body.  I stayed.    I could no longer feel my toes, but surprisingly enough they were the only body part that was cold.  I continued to offer her Reiki and hoped some of the heat I was generating would travel to my toes.

Shortly after the hour I could feel the Reiki flow subside and I knew Roxanne had received all she needed for now.  She looked at me and began to yawn many times and then she stuck out her cute pink tongue and was stretching it in all directions.  I laughed at the antics and the faces she was making.  I knew she was releasing so much.  I asked her what she was releasing and heard “pent up emotions”.  I was happy to see her finally relax enough to release all she was holding in her little body.

I looked up to see Madison standing in the sun with her head against the barn sleeping  next to the opening.  It was such a peaceful moment.  I did not want to leave.  I thanked Roxanne, Aunt Madison and Reiki for allowing us to unite in this incredible space.

I shared the information about Roxanne sticking out her tongue with my friend.  She felt this information made sense with what she had noticed of Roxanne in the few days she had been there.  Before we left the ranch we stopped by to check on the horses.  Roxanne and Madison were standing in the sun half asleep.  We could see the soft nature in their eyes and bodies in total relaxation.  They were enjoying the warmth from the sun, the bond they created with each other and a knowing they are in a safe, nuturing space.

The Incredible Bond of Bonnie and Lucky

Hello everyone:  As part of the SARA blog, Kathleen and I will bringing you stories written by Animal Reiki practitioners and teachers from all over the world.  These stories will be posted the fourth week of every month with a small introduction by me and Kathleen.

This week I am honored to introduce a story written by SARA member Caroline Thomas. Caroline resides in the UK and brought on the first international SARA shelter, Remus Horse Sanctuary.  She has written a touching story about two of the residents at Remus, Lucky and Bonnie, and the amazing bond they shared.  Not only is this a beautiful story of the friendship between two elderly horses but it is also an example of how powerful Reiki can be when it is offered with consistency and without ego.  Caroline’s story is a wonderful example of “letting go and letting Reiki”

With Animal Reiki blessings,

Leah D’Ambrosio, SARA Vice-President

The Incredible Bond of Bonnie and Lucky
I remember as if it was yesterday, my first encounter with two horses at Remus Horse Sanctuary named Bonnie and Lucky. Bonnie was a 32 year old, New Forest pony who had been rescued by Remus a number of years before.  She suffered from arthritis and laminitis. Bonnie was in a field with Lucky who was also a 32 year old mare who as well as having similar health problems to Bonnie had also lost an eye in a tragic accident. As this was my first Reiki encounter at Remus, I was very nervous and eager to impress the Founder of Remus, Sue Burton, with the beautiful healing energy of Reiki.

I remember clearly that it was a lovely spring day. As I approached the field, I felt an amazing sense of the wonderful life all the animals had at Remus.  I watched Bonnie and Lucky for a while and couldn’t help but notice their incredible bond. It was clear to see that Bonnie had become Lucky’s eyes. They were never more than a few feet away from each other, always aware of each others movements and if either should move further apart they would be quick to call out for the other. Lucky always felt secure in the presence of Bonnie, but if Bonnie should move away Lucky looked lost and fearful.  As I moved closer to them it was plain to see that Lucky was very scared of people. I decided to move to a distant corner of the field and offer Reiki to them. They both relaxed and loved Reiki, but always there was a distance between us. I offered Reiki to them over a number of weeks, always from the same corner. Then one day the most amazing thing happened. As I started to offer Reiki, they both raced up from the bottom of the field to just in front of where my hands were, and stood while I offered Reiki. (For two horses with laminitis this is a startling thing to happen!) After that day, both Bonnie and Lucky were so much more confident and happier with people and the world around them. They were especially blissful in each others company which was beautiful to see.

A few months ago Lucky was diagnosed with a tumour. I began offering Reiki to her again and each time she would push her rear into my hands, indicating where the tumour was. She would also go into the deepest Reiki “sleep” trusting me completely. Bonnie would always watch on from the next stable. Even though Lucky was so ill, she would constantly be looking out for Bonnie.  It was so sad when one day she suddenly died of a heart attack. It is difficult to imagine how Bonnie must have felt at this time, to lose this most special bond. After Lucky passed, Bonnie’ health began to deteriorate. She developed severe laminitis and her skin flared up with lesions due to the stress and grief of losing Lucky. I felt her sense of purpose had been taken away from her. She had always been Lucky’s eyes to see. With the help of other Reiki Practitioners, I continued to offer Reiki to her and for a while I did see the sparkle in her eyes return, her skin had improved and she could walk more freely. This, however, did not last long. The loss of Lucky always seemed too much for her to bear.

Eventually Bonnie had to be put to sleep even though the Sanctuary had tried everything to help her.  It was just by chance that a colleague and I were there to offer her Reiki in the last few moments before she died. I felt it was no coincidence that we should be there on the day that Bonnie most needed us. The only consolation I get is from knowing that Bonnie and Lucky are now reunited as souls as they were always meant to be.