New age healing modalities have a place in many holistic and integrative approaches.
A friend of mine recently informed her brother that she was going to use Reiki and crystals to help calm her newly adopted dog. He responded with skepticism – until he saw how the dog changed for the better. “He was surprised and impressed,” my friend told me. “He never had any interest in what he used to call ‘that New Age stuff’, but now he’s studying Reiki for himself.”
Conventional medicine generally turns its back on so-called “New Age” approaches to healing, such as Reiki, crystal healing, flower essences and related therapies. The main reason is that these modalities have not been extensively studied and are therefore not “proven” to work. In addition, many of these therapies involve the use or manipulation of energies that can’t be quantitatively measured. But they work nonetheless – the evidence is out there in the form of thousands of people and animals whose health has responded positively to these modalities, sometimes when nothing else would work for them.
The following therapies are gaining wider acceptance and often used to complement other forms of veterinary care. With some study and training, you can learn to use all of them yourself.
“Reiki is a meditation-based healing practice that nurtures mindfulness and is based on ancient Japanese spiritual techniques,” says animal Reiki practitioner and teacher Kathleen Prasad (animalreikisource.com). “People often misunderstand what it is Reiki practitioners are doing, because in fact, we are learning to be rather than do. This is the ultimate in healing – open-hearted ‘presence’ in this very moment, with our animals.”
Simply put, Reiki involves the channeling of “life force energy” through the hands of the practitioner and into the body of the animal or person receiving healing. Reiki is gentle and non-invasive. It can be done hands-on or from a distance. It’s mainly used for stress reduction and relaxation, but it can also have a healing effect on some physical conditions and may ease pain and discomfort.
“Animals respond intuitively to Reiki’s power to support the healing of emotional, behavioral, and physical illnesses and injuries,” writes Kathleen on her website. “For animals who are healthy, Reiki helps maintain their health, enhances relaxation and provides an emotional sense of peace and contentment. Reiki can reduce the side effects of chemotherapy, support an acupuncture treatment, and complement the effects of flower essences.”
In order to practice Reiki, you need to take a course from a Reiki Master. Along with learning and understanding the principles of this modality, you will need to receive several Reiki attunements which only a qualified teacher can provide.
Flower remedies have also been around for longer than many people realize. Dr. Edward Bach developed his 38 flower remedies in the 1920s and 30s. They utilize the vibrational healing powers of a variety of carefully selected flowers. They’re traditionally made from natural spring water that has been infused with wildflowers and placed in the sun. You can choose from either alcohol- or glycerin-based remedies – many people prefer the latter for their dogs and cats.
Flower essences relieve a range of emotional problems such as anger and aggression, jealousy, grief, depression, anxiety and fear. They are excellent for easing thunder phobias and separation anxiety, and for dealing with traumatic events such as natural disasters.
Rescue Remedy is a great overall stress-reliever and is often recommended by many veterinarians. “It can be used to create a calming effect in any stressful situation, or when your animal needs help overcoming a variety of emotional or behavioral problems,” says the Nelsons Natural World website, which sells Bach Flower Remedies (nelsonsnaturalworld.com/en-us/us). “It contains a blend of five remedies…that help your animal cope with the different emotional aspects of stressful situations.”
Bach Flower Remedies can be found at many health food stores, and other companies such as Flower Essence Services (fesflowers.com) have developed their own lines of flower essences. They’re simple to use – just add a few drops to your dog or cat’s water, rub some into his ears or paws, or put some on your palms and stroke him.
How can stones possibly heal? That’s the question most skeptics ask about crystal healing. Fact is, when placed on or near the body, crystals emit subtle vibrational energies that can have a calming and healing effect. The frequencies of these vibrations vary depending on the stone’s color and crystal structure, as well as how it was formed and where it comes from. Rose quartz, which is a soft pink color, can engender peaceful loving emotions, while black tourmaline or hematite can have a grounding effect.
“Crystals are wonderful, vibrational gifts that are formed naturally within Mother Earth,” writes Lynn McKenzie, an animal communicator who also offers a course on crystal healing for animals (animalenergy.com). “Using crystals in healing work with our animal companions enables us to initiate powerful shifts and incredible changes in them on physical, emotional, mental and spiritual levels.”
It’s difficult to place crystals on a dog or cat because he usually won’t stay still long enough to keep them in place, but you can introduce their healing energies to his environment by sewing them into bedding, using them as collar accessories, or simply placing them in rooms or other areas your animal frequents.
Some of these modalities may seem “out there”, but they’re all worth exploring and experimenting with. Used alone or in combination, to complement regular veterinary care, they’ll add an extra element to your dog or cat’s well-being.
Ann Brightman is Managing Editor for Animal Wellness Magazine and Integrative Veterinary Care Journal. A lifelong animal lover, she has also been a writer and editor for over 25 years. Ann is a member of the Professional Writers Association of Canada and is also a Tai Chi instructor.