Reiki is a form of energy healing that’s both powerful and profound. Here is what you need to know about how it works and how it can benefit your companion.
Touch is an important factor in the well being of all living creatures, both human and animal. A loving touch not only soothes pain but also helps heal many injuries and illnesses. We use our hands to touch and soothe, while dogs, cats and horses lick and nuzzle their injuries and those of their companions. But that’s just the beginning. Infused with the warm energy of Reiki – the Universal Life Force – touch enters a whole new realm of healing and comfort.
What is Reiki and how does it work?
Every organism has Universal Life Force flowing through it to create a living, functioning being. Reiki practitioners are attuned to this energy on a level that enables them to channel it through their hands and facilitate healing. The Universal Life Force flows more freely through them and into and through the patient, where it adjusts imbalances that create disease, pain, emotional distress and illness. The energy essentially reminds the tissues and/or the emotions of their purest state of health.
A Reiki treatment involves placing the hands in strategic places on the body. Some practitioners use a predetermined pattern, while others let their intuition guide them, using their hands to feel energetic imbalances. As with many alternative therapies, it is not unusual to find that several layers must be treated and peeled away to get to the true cause of symptoms.
Animals often help with their treatment
An animal’s reaction to Reiki can vary from falling asleep to being fidgety and restless, or getting up and moving around. Some animals focus intently on the practitioner’s hands and may even lick them, trying to get the energy out. Others will adjust their position under the hands to better utilize the treatment. Some will even learn to recognize a Reiki practitioner and seek out treatments from them.
“The animals always show their appreciation to me in some way,” says Rhonda Sherry, a Reiki practitioner based in California. “It might be as simple as a lick, or as sweet as a horse playing with my hair while I treat his knee.” Any response is the correct one for that animal. The Reiki will go where it needs to go.
What Reiki can do
It’s important to remember that while Reiki is a very strong force, it is not a substitute for proper veterinary care. Unless licensed as a vet, a Reiki practitioner does not diagnose illness. She simply facilitates the healing and relief that Reiki can bring.
“Reiki works as an effective complement to other healing systems, accelerating the action of other therapies and decreasing side effects,” notes Elizabeth Fulton and Kathleen Prasad of the Animal Reiki Center in the San Francisco Bay area.
That said, miracles do happen. Tumors have disappeared, chronic illnesses have cleared up, and irrational fears or behavior patterns have adjusted themselves. If there are visual symptoms such as swelling, it is not unusual to see them lessen during and after treatment. Pain relief is perhaps the most common result – Reiki often decreases pain levels, easing movement and/or increasing range of motion.
Reiki can also ease emotional issues such as separation anxiety, phobias, or distress stemming from trauma. Dawn Starnes of Dogs by D in Maine uses Reiki as part of everyday interaction with the animals in her kennel and grooming shop. She uses it to ease anxiety associated with the grooming process, or to soothe separation anxiety, lack of appetite and homesickness in boarding dogs.
Depending on the level of training a practitioner has, she can facilitate healing in many different ways. There are even tools for sending Reiki over distance and through time. Many practitioners find their intuitive and animal communication abilities open up or become stronger as they use Reiki.
Case study #1
Chloe, a border collie long since retired from her fly ball career, suffered from severe arthritis in her shoulders. During my first visit with her, it was evident how sore and uncomfortable she was. As the treatment began, she closed her eyes and fell into a deep relaxation. Her breathing pattern changed as she soaked up the energy. Her shoulders got very warm to the touch, and as the heat subsided towards the end, she awoke and sighed deeply. As she rose, she was stronger and her eyes a little brighter. This was the first of many treatments for Chloe, and the beginning of a non-intrusive pain management program. With the gift of Reiki, she was able to live more comfortably. Her guardians watched her closely and became sensitive to when Chloe needed another session. Sometimes she would go weeks, sometimes months, depending on her activity and the weather patterns.
Case study #2
Elizabeth and Kathleen fondly remember a Guinea pig named Godiva who was extremely withdrawn, because she had been handled roughly and kept in a dark closet in her first home. She hid inside her house whenever she saw a person, rarely moved, and never played or vocalized. Her new family was concerned that she may have been brain damaged.
As soon as her first Reiki treatment began, she peeked out of her house, made eye contact with Elizabeth, rested her head on her paws and sighed. The flow of Reiki was very strong, and Godiva remained in the same position throughout the treatment. As the session ended, she came out of her house, put her front legs on the bars of the cage and began to squeak loudly as if to say thank you. With continued treatments, Godiva improved tremendously and now interacts with people, purrs when petted, loves to vocalize and is beginning to play.
Case study #3
For almost two years, Rhonda Sherry has been working with a 12-year-old Akita named Shoji, who has severe hip dysplasia. Due to her dislike of being physically manipulated, her guardian found Reiki to be a successful way to ease her discomfort. During the first treatment, Shoji allowed Rhonda to do 50 minutes of Reiki on her. Shoji shifted her body under Rhonda’s hands, repositioning as needed, to make the most of the treatment. Shoji now has more energy, better mobility and a better attitude towards life. Nothing will cure her completely, but Reiki provides her with the pain relief and comfort she needs for a good quality of life.
Even if you aren’t a trained Reiki practitioner, you can still use touch to help soothe and heal your animal. Take some time to touch your companion, using your purest intention of love. Think about what you are feeling as you touch him, and fully experience the warmth, love and energy between you. You’ll soon begin to appreciate how profoundly healing and comforting a simple touch can be.