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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Reiki for shelter animals

Introducing SARA: the Shelter Animal Reiki Association



SARA is dedicated to the memory of Dakota Prasad, adopted from Sacramento County Animal Control in 1992. Dakota spent 16 and 1/2 years at Kathleen's side, and was her very first Animal Reiki teacher. This photo was taken the day after Kathleen adopted him.


The din of the barking dogs deafened me. Time to put in my earplugs! There were several dogs jumping, barking, screaming and snarling on both sides of the dog kennel run at the SPCA that afternoon. I quietly chose a space in the middle of the room, knelt down, and placed my hands in gassho to set my intent.

As I felt the Reiki energy begin to flow, I saw at first no visible reactions from the dogs. I quietly moved on my knees from cage to cage, settling slowly and quietly just next to the cage door and offered healing energy for whatever the dog might be open to. I was careful not to maintain eye contact or come too close physically, as I knew that could make some of the dogs uncomfortable. I tried to let go of my expectations about what this treatment would bring and trust Reiki and leave it in the paws of the dogs to decide what to do with the energy.

I began to go very deeply into the treatment, and the sounds of barking began to feel far away, as if I had created an insulated bubble that was cushioning and protecting everything around me. After a few moments I realized it wasn’t my imagination, the barking and other sounds from the dogs actually were lessening. In fact, within about 15 minutes, the entire kennel (about 15-20 dogs) had become completely silent.

Around that time a volunteer came into the kennel, opened a cage and took out a dog to walk, leading him on leash down the long hall before they left the area. Amazingly, none of the dogs chose to break the beautiful and peaceful Reiki silence we had achieved together, and the kennel remained quiet.

As I left the kennel after 30 minutes of treatment, you could hear a pin drop. Some of the dogs were sleeping, others were simply lying down or sitting: all were relaxed! It was an amazing change from the energy of stress and upset of the dogs just 30 minutes before, and just a small example of the benefits of using Reiki in shelters.

In volunteering Reiki in shelters and sanctuaries over the last ten years, I have seen so many animals benefit from the peace and harmony that Reiki brings that I was inspired to create a national (and eventually worldwide) group of volunteers to help Reiki spread out to as many shelters and the animals therein as possible. After meeting Johanna Campbell and Leah D’Ambrosio, the team was complete, and so in May 2008 the Shelter Animal Reiki Association, or SARA as we have nicknamed it, was born.

The mission of the Shelter Animal Reiki Association (SARA) is to raise awareness of the benefits Reiki for animals can provide for shelter and rescue animals, to teach and foster an understanding of energy healing and the best ethical approach to use when working with Reiki and animals, and to promote the highest standard of professional Shelter Reiki programs around the world. Our goal is to create a healing and harmonic energetic space within the shelter environment, which in turn will promote stress-relief and relaxation for the animals as well as their human caretakers, supporting healing possibilities on all levels (physical, mental, emotional and spiritual) as well as higher adoption rates.

We will accomplish this mission by supporting Reiki practitioners in implementing professional, effective and ethical Animal Reiki programs in their local shelters, and by extensive documentation (in a secure online database) of Reiki effects on individual animals, as well as Reiki’s possible effects on shelter statistics as a whole.

SARA will also hopefully grow to become an information and referral resource for Reiki practitioners and animal lovers throughout the world who wish to support their local Reiki Shelters, who have questions about Reiki for animals, or who wish to join with like-minded Animal Reiki Practitioners to raise awareness and support energetic harmony and balance for shelter animals.

SARA currently has 18 members across the United States. We have recently incorporated as a 501(c)3 not for profit corporation and are waiting for final approval of non-profit status so that we will be able to accept donations. We are also currently in the midst of final design of the online database, the Catalog for Animal Reiki Education (CARE) database, which we hope will serve as a way to document Animal Reiki case studies, paving the way to future publication and education of the public about the benefits of Reiki for animals.

SARA will provide members with an extensive manual that will guide Reiki practitioners in the best ways to approach animals with Reiki. In a nutshell, our unique approach details how to allow the animals to be the leaders in the treatment, and to take a respectful step back, realizing that our role as practitioner is merely to facilitate a healing possibility.

Once we have finalized our program and curriculum we will be opening up SARA to Reiki practitioners everywhere and it is our hope that Reiki will someday be offered in every shelter around the country. Hopefully too, with the information captured in the CARE database, we will be able to open doors to Reiki in many other animal places of need, so that Reiki becomes a well-known and widely used holistic therapy around the world.

If you would like to learn more about SARA and stay updated on our progress, visit our website, www.shelteranimalreikiassociation.org and sign up for our newsletter.

Reiki Master Teacher Kathleen Prasad of Marin County, California, is co-author of the book Animal Reiki: Using Energy to Heal the Animals in Your Life

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