From Essex to SARA to Shinpiden in the Cotswolds 2011

Caroline ThomasArticles, English 4 Comments


I had spent the year before this workshop reading all about the International House Of Reiki, looking at their website, using their meditations and being inspired by their blogs. It felt like something magical and yet unbelievable that I would be going to the Cotswolds to meet Frans Stiene in the October of this year. The wonderful Kathleen and Leah of the Shelter Animal Reiki Association (SARA) had booked my place with Frans the year before.

How did someone from the UK get connected to be a founding member of SARA and then to meet Frans Stiene? A journey has to start somewhere and mine started four years ago, volunteering at Remus Horse Sanctuary. Remus is by far the most amazing, spiritual animal Sanctuary that you could imagine. As with every part of my Reiki journey so far, I always seemed to have been in the right place at the right time. So turning up at Remus one Saturday afternoon, when I had been turned down by lots of other Sanctuaries looking back now was not by chance but one of destiny. From that very first meeting with Sue Burton, the founder of Remus, Reiki has grown like an acorn to an oak tree. With Sue’s support I have been able to make it happen.

I had always been fascinated by Animal Reiki and had spent many hours on the internet looking for information. The site I kept on being drawn to was Kathleen Prasad’s I would spend hours gazing at it, this went on for quite a few months and then one day I decided to do her Animal Reiki Correspondence Course. That was the day that I thought ‘Yes’ I can really understand where Kathleen is coming from and ‘Yes’ animals are different in the way they react to Reiki compared with people. I had seen it so many times during my Reiki sessions, Kathleen understood animals and her approach was a breath of fresh air. Animals are told what to eat, when to eat, where to sleep etc. Sending Reiki to them, giving them ‘hands on Reiki’ is another way of not giving them choice and also not understanding that some prey animals do not like to be touched. By offering the Reiki out into the field, the stable or paddock for example and letting the animal move into that space, if they should chose to do it, is letting that animal have control of their own healing, should they chose to receive it. So simple, yet so powerful, just by being free of your ego and judgement about how a Reiki session should go, you are allowing the animal ‘choice’. I felt so liberated by this amazing understanding of Reiki that I spoke at length about it to Sue at Remus about the amazing Kathleen and how much I had enjoyed her Correspondence course. Sue, then contacted Kathleen (without my knowledge) and this was just around the time that Kathleen and Leah were setting up the Shelter Animal Reiki Association.

Again as if the Universe had planned it, Remus was invited to be a SARA Sanctuary and I was asked to be part of SARA. I have been part of this amazing organisation since it’s early beginnings. SARA wants as many workers, carers at Animal Sanctuaries to able to offer Reiki to animals on a daily basis. By teaching these people Reiki for just the cost of the materials. By making if affordable but at the same time having a massive impact on the wellbeing of the animals is brilliant. That is exactly what I did in my first year of being a SARA member I taught the staff and carers at Remus Reiki. Both Kathleen and Leah are taught by Frans and the SARA manual reflects this beautiful Japanese teachings and ethos. By starting at the roots and teaching the Staff at Remus the Five elements of Reiki has given Remus a really strong basis to start from and from here it has grown. Being a SARA teacher is something I am very proud of. They are so professional and have given me tools which I can work with and so much support. Each week Reiki treatments are recorded on the SARA treatment card – this information gives a full picture of how the animal is responding over a period of time. This information will be eventually used for animal Reiki research. This summer I taught my first SARA Shoden class to the public. Being a SARA teacher I donated 50% of the class fee back to Remus. This gives the Sanctuary an extra income and allows me teach students and allows them to see and work with the beautiful Remus animals. I also support my students by having a SARA group every two months, where my students can work on the Japanese Techniques and then work with the animals. Note for your calendar; the amazing Kathleen Prasad will be coming to Remus in September 2012 to teach animal Reiki and will be donating part of her fee to Remus. If you want to be part of this once in a life time experience you can contact me through SARA.

Being part of SARA at the right time has given me my once in a life time experience by giving me the chance to meet Frans in the Cotswolds. Kathleen and Leah are very passionate about Frans and Bronwens’ teachings and have made them part of SARA. Having had a year to prepare for the Shinpiden workshop, I read all of Frans and Bronwens’ books. Downloaded their meditations, listening to Bronwens beautiful melodic voice was so comforting and nurturing. By being supported by these tools, I felt that I would be able to attend the workshop with a deepened knowledge of Five Elements of Reiki and of course I wanted to represent SARA in the best way I could.

I arrived at the Cotswolds on the Wednesday before the workshop, the venue at Ireley Grounds, was beautiful – a big Cotswold yellow stone house. I was to be staying in one of the cottages near the house. Surroundings are not everything but if they are beautiful like these were, it set the tone for the following days. Meeting Frans on my first evening, was for me one of nerves and excitement, straight away he put me at ease, with his natural charm. He is very is a grounded guy with a real sense of fun.

On the Thursday I attended the Meditation Workshop, Frans brought Meditation alive for me. Learning about ‘the great white light’ that was within me was mind blowing. Frans helped me to find what was hidden within by teaching me techniques on how to connect to ‘the great bright light’. This light within was being shaded by layers of anger and worry, by using meditation techniques I am able to peel away these layers and connect to this light and rest my mind in this ‘great white light’. Refreshingly there is neither good meditation nor bad meditation, it is just meditation. This whole day was so wonderful and amazing, it left me feeling so inspired and on such a high.

The Friday was the start of the Shinpiden workshop. I arrived to see lots of new faces who I would be working with for the next few day, some of who have now become very close friends. Frans is such a passionate teacher, who teaches with lots of analogy and visual techniques. This allows each student to learn in whichever way is easiest for them. Perfect practice makes perfect, if you don’t practice a technique properly then it will have little impact on your own Reiki practice. Seeing Frans and listening to Frans has made perfect practice easy for me. It is important to have direct experience of Reiki to truly understand it and to be able to teach it. Being a Shinpiden student is about being the Five Elements of Reiki, being in the ‘great bright light’. To start to understand Reiki we need to practice Reiki on a daily basis. This is simple yet hard as commitment and interruptions of our daily lives make this so difficult. I learnt how to do Reiju and attunements, learnt about the history of how they came about, and what is the true meaning of this magical ritual. After three days of meditation, practice and listening, I felt so inspired and amazed at this very Spiritual approach to Reiki. This was how Mikao Usui had intended it to be, so pure and beautiful and simple.

On the Monday, I booked myself to have a treatment with Frans, I could go into great detail about this beautiful treatment but know that Frans with his lack of ego would not like me to be so gushing. However it was such a wonderful ending to my time in the Cotswolds and one I will never forget. I came from Essex via SARA to the Cotswolds back to Essex, now to teach my SARA students with the same passion that Frans taught me. Thank you Frans, thank you SARA and most of all thank you Remus animals for being my teachers too.

Helpful websites:

Comments 4

  1. Avatar of Frans Stiene
  2. Avatar of Caroline Thomas

    Thank you Frans for using the Remus Logo, hopefully people who read this will log onto their website to see the truly amazing work they do. SARA is a very professional organisation with the welfare of the animals being at their centre. I am so LUCKY to be part of both of these organisations and to champion the brilliant work they do:-))

  3. Avatar of Camille Pukay

    Great article expressing your experience Caroline! Remus is very lucky to have you.  All part of destiny!  Love the connection that you had made in Frans’ class.  Would LOVE to have him come to Kansas City, MO, USA sometime!

  4. Avatar of Elly

    Hi Caroline! Thanks for sharing your wonderful experiences with us! (And many thanks for the links as well!) Sounds like you had such a delightful, profound, rewarding time in the Cotswolds. Working with animals is such a privilege. Keep up the good work!

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