“Breathing in, I calm body and mind. Breathing out, I smile. Dwelling in the present moment I know this is the only moment.” –Thich Nhat Hanh
Each lifelong relationship between and animal and his person is a unique heart-to-heart dance: elegant, graceful and flowing. To be able to be present with an open heart is a beautiful gift. To be able to support animals and their people– to hold a meditative space of compassion, peace and love in that moment whatever it looks like–happy, sad, hopeful or uncertain– this is the true highest calling of the animal Reiki practitioner.
Healing Beyond Language
When I started doing Reiki, I was very interested in animal communication, and it was a big piece of what I wanted to do. I think you can feel that in my first book, those of you who’ve read Animal Reiki. A lot of the stories are about the communications I received from the animals. In the beginning, when I was doing treatments with the animals, I was really focusing on messages that I could share with the people. In certain times and situations, I think these messages can be helpful. However, things have changed a lot for me over fifteen years of practice.
I still experience communication in the way of animals teaching me. I want to be open and listening, and there’s a beautiful heart connection there. But I feel that Reiki goes even deeper.
The foundation for all my work with the animals is my own personal, meditative, spiritual practice. I find the place that is most healing for myself, is also the place to which animals are most drawn. It is a place without words and without judgments: that deep quiet space where language has no meaning. So now, and what’s been my focus for the last eight years or so, I work on letting go: letting go of my mind, of my impressions, of my judgments and of my interpretations. Letting go, letting go, letting go.
You should therefore cease from practice based on intellectual understanding, pursuing words and following after speech, and learn the backward step that turns your light inwardly to illuminate your self. –Dogen
Layers of Existence
We shape clay into a pot, but it is the emptiness inside that holds whatever we want. –Tao Te Ching
Imagine an animal’s being, essence and spirit as a beautiful sphere of light. The outer layer of the sphere would be the physical part. Any ailments we see, behaviors, all the things we see with our eyes are in this outer layer. And if we go deeper into that sphere, just under the surface, we find the mental/emotional aspects of the animal that we can’t really see with our eyes, unless it’s reflected in the behavior. Sometimes we can see it, but sometimes it’s very subtle. We need to be good listeners and in tune with our intuition to pick up on deeper physical issues as well as emotional/mental aspects of animals.
If we go even deeper, we can connect to the spiritual aspect of the animal. The spiritual aspect is that inner light which is your animal’s deepest, purest essence. It is housed for a time on this earth in this body, but it is eternal. It existed before the animal came into this world, as a dog, cat or horse. It stays for this lifetime. Then the body may pass away, but the light continues. This light just “is.” It is the inner most essence of the animals, of you, of me, of the mountains, the sky, the sun and the moon. All things consist in their deepest essence of this light. In other words, when we access our true spiritual nature, we access our non-dual aspect, our connection to the whole, to our oneness. In this space there are no words.
It’s that deep, energetic, eternal core of being that is touched with Reiki—and our most important healing potential and self-healing power resides there, within the space of compassion and love. When we share compassion with the spiritual essence of ourselves or another being, healing automatically manifests, and the ripple effects can be seen in the mental, emotional and physical layers of being, and this is why we can often see such beautiful healing shifts after practicing Reiki.
Communication often deals with the layers outside of the spiritual layer: the mental/emotional and physical layers that are more connected with this lifetime’s journey. And in order to be successful at communication, we have to practice focusing on what we can pick up and then interpret and express it to the animal’s people. So we are working with a layer just below the surface. Sometimes we can also dip into the spiritual, however communication limits our ability to go deeply into this layer because it requires a dualistic frame of reference in order to interpret and express through language.
With Reiki, we can transcend the limits and boundaries of language, even melt away the differences of species, and in this open space, miracles of healing can happen!
Accessing Inner Wisdom and Clarity
In addition to the healing power of connection in the Reiki space, I find that in my work with animals’ people, it’s much more powerful if an animal’s person can discover wisdom and clarity about his animal for himself. To have that “light bulb moment” is very transformative. It is much more powerful than me telling someone something that I intuited. Maybe the person isn’t ready to hear it, maybe the way I express it is not the best way and the person gets offended, or maybe it could cause worry or upset. We have to be so careful when we express something that we “got” during a treatment.
What I find more profound than me interpreting an animal’s message for a person, is going deeper, resisting the allure of language, judgment and interpretation, and simply holding a space of healing for the animal—and I always include the family of the animal (both humans and non-humans) in that treatment. Reiki can create a space of wisdom and clarity for all so that when they are ready and at the perfect moment, they can realize all that they need to know, coming to that conclusion for themselves, knowing it for themselves from a very deep place. When wisdom comes to us in this kind of way, internally and authentically, at the right moment, then it really “sticks” and creates a profound shift in our inner being.
Is it possible for anyone to realize inner wisdom and clarity? I believe that we already know everything we need to know to make the right decisions for our animals and ourselves. But sometimes our emotions get in the way so that we feel muddy and can’t clearly know what our animal wants and needs. But I believe that when we love an animal, or when we open our heart in compassion to an animal, our deepest heart and spirit has touched the animal’s deepest heart and spirit, and in this connection there is a deep wisdom, which only has to be brought to the surface. Reiki can create the space where this can happen.
As Reiki practitioners, everything that we pick up goes through our own filters, life experience, opinions and feelings. We can get easily off-track when we try to interpret and judge these things. Communication can become a distraction. By trusting and letting go into the Reiki space, we nurture that space of the spirit where all kinds of issues shift and resolve into a space of clarity, wisdom, peace and healing—without words, without conversation, without interpretation.
Patience with the Process
Communication can sometimes be helpful and supportive. Maybe we have received an intuitive message from a gifted person and it resonated and made a difference for us. I believe that’s because our spirit already knew it to be true, and our emotional and physical bodies were processing it—in other words we were already there anyway! But sometimes, even if we are able to share an intuitive message that may be accurate, I see all the time that people may not be ready to hear it. They may be too angry, not ready to let go and heal, etc. So then the message either falls on deaf ears or causes more anger or worry or guilt. Or maybe we do understand what the communicator is saying intellectually, but emotionally we just aren’t quite there yet.
We can often see this with animals who may be dying and the people aren’t ready to let them go. It doesn’t do any good for the Reiki practitioner to say, “You know what, you need to let them go. This isn’t about you, it’s about the animal.” Even if it’s true and we find a nice way to say it, still, the people may not be ready to accept this. Or the people may agree intellectually but not be able to do it emotionally and then feel terrible and guilty, and have a big heaviness from our words on top of everything else they are going through.
I know I found this for myself in my own journey towards my dog’s transition—I understood intellectually what needed to happen long before my emotional body was ready to be on board with the letting go. Lots of layers, grieving, resistance, control, anger, sadness, all of it—needed to be worked through before I could say, with all of my mind and emotions, “It’s ok for you to go; I will be ok.” So much healing needed to happen within me before I could really feel the authenticity of those words through my entire being. Reiki helped me to get there.
As Reiki practitioners, we have no agenda, no time pressure, no forcing or fixing—we can simply “be” with the person and the animal. With our open heart and compassionate presence, we can see attitudes, situations and emotions all shift towards balance, understanding and acceptance. Be patient and just “be” with Reiki, and healing will happen!
The Power of Compassionate Presence
Whatever the problem, Reiki speaks louder than words to support the healing process. Reiki practitioners can bring compassionate presence to the ups and downs of any healing situation. Reiki practitioners can be supportive listeners and witnesses, always remaining peaceful and grounded. Even through the hard parts, when people are in denial or get angry and frustrated, Reiki practitioners just hold the space—gently, openly and without judgment. To be able to sit in a grounded, peaceful space through all of that heavy emotion—without getting knocked over by it—this is a beautiful gift we can offer to animals and their people, and to ourselves. Reiki can bring about transformational healing, love and acceptance. Yes, I have seen it again and again and again.
Reiki also nurtures the empowerment of the animal and their people. In the Reiki space which is beyond language, beyond interpretation, where there is no conversation or discussion—in that deeper place resides true compassion, the capacity to access our deepest wisdom and true miracles of healing potential. That’s the place I want to nurture inside myself, for my own healing, and for the animals, for their healing. I want to dig deep into Reiki and then just let go into that quiet space. How do we get to that place? There is no shortcut; we just have to practice. Practice every day, for the rest of your life.