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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Reiki and the reporter

By Beth Lowell

One day a few months back, I spoke to the pet reporter for a local family oriented publication about Reiki for animals. The first question the reporter asked me was whether Reiki was energy medicine. I paused for a moment, and then told her the honest truth. I wasn’t quite sure what the term “Energy Medicine” means. I told her that indeed, many refer to Reiki as energy medicine, but that people also refer to acupuncture as energy medicine. I’m not an expert in acupuncture, but I do know it’s not the same thing as Reiki. I told her that using terms like “Energy Medicine” when describing Reiki to people who are unfamiliar with either term really didn’t help explain it, and that I preferred to talk about Reiki in terms of what I know about Reiki, not in terms of a vague and general label (that I used to use myself even though I had only a nebulous idea of what I think it means).

This seemed to derail her slightly. “So then, what is Reiki?” she asked. I told her it was a relaxation technique. She audibly sighed. Finally, after a few more false starts, we got into what I thought was the meat of the interview.

I explained the benefits of Reiki, and its appropriateness at all stages of life, how its balancing qualities could assist in helping resolve both behavioral and physical issues, and offer comfort to both pet and owner at the end of a pet’s life. I gave her specific examples from my experience in working with dogs, cats, and horses, many of whom were terminally ill. I highlighted the fact that my vet has recommended several clients to me, indicating a growing acceptance of Reiki among the veterinary community. I explained the mechanics of a Reiki treatment and the difference in treatments for humans and animals.

Things seemed to be going well. The reporter had loosened up. We were having a real conversation now. I got slightly off track. I think it had something to do with Reiki assisting in behavioral issues. I mentioned an incident that had happened at my house only weeks before, when our dog trainer Nicole came to visit.

It’s a complicated story and involves a common and unpleasant behavioral issue called redirected aggression. In short, one animal becomes agitated by an outside stimulus, often another animal or some other threat behind a barrier such as a fence or window, and unable to control herself, takes out her frustration/aggression on the closest person or animal. This is common among dogs and cats. Many of the sweetest animals suffer from this affliction. My dog Bella is one of them. My other dog Dasher has learned to steer clear of her if I’m not in the room when such situations arise.

When Nicole came to the house, we were working through it using a positive training technique. Bella was responding superbly. She behaved nicely when Nicole came and pounded on the door and rang the bell. She listened and obeyed despite watching several dogs walking on our lawn in full view through the glass storm door. But then, the UPS truck arrived. Bella lost her composure and leapt to the couch as if all Hell had broken loose.

Seeing Bella’s agitated state firsthand, Nicole could see how I’d found it difficult, if not impossible to follow her suggested protocol of wordlessly and calmly guiding Bella off the couch by the collar when certain stimuli became too much for her. Since neither calm commands nor gentle force seemed an option, Nicole, knowing that I’m a Reiki practitioner, suggested doing the only other thing she could think of - offering Reiki. So amid the hysteria (Dasher had fled upstairs to escape possible attack) I offered Reiki.

Bella’s frantic barking continued until the UPS truck pulled away. I continued offering Reiki and Bella settled. I used this technique once more when a particularly evil (in Bella’s mind) dog appeared on the block. This time she seemed slightly better.

I laughed then and mentioned to the reporter that since then, Bella seemed to run to attack her blanket (with quite a disturbing vengeance, I might now add) rather than going after Dasher. Realizing that I’d gotten off track, and that I really didn’t want to use my dog as an example in such a way, I tried to recover and I hastened to add that trainers, too, recognized the value of Reiki.

We concluded the interview and thanked each other. I was anxious to see the article.

The good news was my hard work in communicating Reiki paid off. Despite paraphrasing much of what I said into words I’d never actually use, 99% of what the reporter wrote about Reiki was accurate. The ‘other’ news was – well, let’s just say that the reporter had finally found her angle in Bella’s story. What she heard was not quite what I had said. For instance, now Bella runs calmly to her blanket to lie down instead of attacking Dasher, thanks to the fact that my dog trainer told me to offer my dogs Reiki daily.

I’ve got the communicating Reiki part down. Now if I could just manage to communicate everything else as clearly, I’d be set.

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