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Friday, September 24, 2010

Animal Reiki Friday: Part two of a series - Common Sense, Animal Sense, Reiki Sense

By Beth Lowell, Senior Editor

Editor's note: If you missed part one of this series and want to read it, click here.

Expectations, Reiki’s effectiveness on animal issues, and when not to anthropomorphize

Releasing Expectations for Outcomes

It’s human nature for animal lovers to want to do all we can for animals. We as caretakers rightly or wrongly often assume responsibility for every aspect of the lives of creatures, whether they are pets, livestock, or wildlife. Sometimes, our efforts to do the right thing by animals end in disaster, not because of our own bad intentions, but because of a misunderstanding of what animals really need. Only recently have studies taken into account not only the effect of an animal’s happiness on his or her health, but also what it is that animals really need to be happy.

Because of the differences between us, humans can tend to think of animals as we would babies, creatures that live in a kind of Neverland, who surprise us when they grow up, and grow old, and eventually die, long before it seems they should. We so fiercely want to protect them that during a Reiki treatment we may find ourselves subconsciously rooting for an outcome, because, we’re human, and we want to fix everything, especially when we feel most helpless. And our helplessness can be compounded by the fact that we are so different from animals. We can’t talk to them in the same language in which we talk to other humans. We can’t ask them what’s wrong or where it hurts.

 Releasing expectations for an outcome of any Reiki treatment, including acceptance of a treatment, period, is of the utmost importance. This holds true for animals as well as humans. If we are too attached to an outcome, then we can’t really offer Reiki honestly. We are not all-knowing. We can’t answer for the wants and needs of another individual.

Animals, like people, are complex. Just because they soak up Reiki one day doesn’t mean that they will the next (although in my experience, many do). And if they refuse a treatment the first time, it doesn’t mean that they will never accept one. Being open minded and flexible helps you overcome negative feelings that may come up if an animal is uninterested in a Reiki treatment. And while Reiki can do no harm, a Reiki practitioner can do damage to an animal’s trust in human beings by trying to restrain him or force him into a situation in which he is uncomfortable.

Will Reiki help…..

Animal behavior can be puzzling. A dog might be loving to family members and other dogs at the park when playing, but “suddenly turns vicious” when approaching dogs or humans while on leash. The previously happy pair of pets in a household starts fighting out of the blue. The family cat may be perfectly well adjusted, until the pet sitter comes, and she suddenly starts to refuse her favorite food. After years of health, the ferret develops a case of inflammatory bowel disease. Sometimes training can help. Sometimes veterinary intervention can help. But what about Reiki?

Sometimes people, even Reiki practitioners, wonder if Reiki can possibly help what their animals are going through. Reiki is a safe, natural method. It addresses matters of the physical body, the mind and spirit. That’s what you tell your human friends and clients, right? There’s no difference when it comes to animals. As long as the animal agrees to a Reiki treatment, it can be beneficial through every life stage, from delivery to the spay/neuter process (before and after to help the body better prepare for and recover from this or any other surgery), during training, rebellious adolescence, the mysterious cropping up of troublesome behaviors and health issues throughout life, and even at end of life, often allowing an animal to die without veterinary intervention. Will Reiki solve the problem? Just as with human conditions, nobody knows.

When not to anthropomorphize

Despite the fact that animals, like people, are sentient beings whose overall health is impacted by their emotional well being, their behavior is often very different from ours. They have their own ways of resolving hierarchical issues among the pack or family – even if the pack or family is mostly human. Should the balance of power be distributed in an unhealthy way, for instance, in the case of the dog who guards the couch while the family sits on the floor to watch TV, Reiki may help but of course it would be wise to consult with an animal behavior expert as a first resort to try to solve the problem.

Human intervention is not always necessary though, and sometimes as a Reiki practitioner in a multi-pet household, you have to respect the hierarchy among the animals and act accordingly. For instance, you may be called upon to treat one animal in a multi-pet household. Often, the other animals sensing the calm energy will gather around. Is it okay to include them in the treatment? Absolutely.

But sometimes one animal won’t feel like sharing. He or she may run the other animal(s) off. Depending on who you are supposed to be treating, you may choose to isolate animals who are not being treated. In this way, you allow the animal you are treating to have freedom to choose where they receive Reiki, as well as giving him or her the ability to retreat if necessary. You can then feel free to treat the others later, in the same way. Attempts to scold the animals or keep the peace during a Reiki treatment are not productive either to achieving a successful Reiki treatment or to changing behavior that you may find disturbing but that is natural.

Stay tuned for the last installment in this series: Reiki in Wildlife and First Aid Reiki

If you have an animal Reiki story you'd like to share, please send it in an email to and be sure to include the words, "animal Reiki Friday" in the subject line. If you have comments or questions about Reiki for animals, please post them in the comments box of any animal Reiki Friday article. Likewise, if you have an answer to a question, please share it.


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