Cornelius watching Judith and Kelly at The Little Red Barn Farm Sanctuary,
Photo Credit: Missy Gilbert
Would you like to have a deeper connection to the animals in your life?
Would you love to share quality time with them which will result in peace and calm for both of you?
Let me expertly guide you through the first level certification course of the Let Animals Lead® method of Animal Reiki created by Kathleen Prasad.
Over 8 weeks you will study this successful meditation based practice and its Reiki roots. You will:
- Experience the joy of sharing meditation with your animal companions
- Receive the tools you need to begin your Reiki journey
- Share heart to heart connections with your animal friends
- Receive your certificate and know that you have studied the premier form of Animal Reiki—Let Animals Lead®!
The cost of this certification course is $350.
Sometimes the universe surprises. Out of the blue. No warning.
I was attending a yoga class the night before Thanksgiving when my teacher offered a deck of cards to me and told me to “pick one.” The card I chose evoked a little gasp of surprise.
“I see you.”
I was immediately transported back to the puppy house at Tree of Life for Animals (TOLFA) in India.
My first few days in India were spent at TOLFA with my colleague, Alison McKinnon. We were offering Reiki to the animals there. The animals are in various states of wellness, with the puppy house being the place where many animals were quite ill. Several were actively dying. So many, in fact, that I started referring to myself as a death doula.
Watching the obvious decline of some of the animals was daunting, and I began to wonder how much my presence there was really helping. How many times could I sit with a dying animal before I reached the point of no return?
This was the challenge, I knew–to hold the space with love and compassion, without judgment or expectation, and to remain grounded so as not to lose myself in my emotions. Releasing any hope for a specific outcome was critical. I confess, I didn’t get there on the first try.
I have been working with animals in shelters in the U.S. for many years. I was not inexperienced. I had also had several animal clients who were preparing to pass, as well as my own kitty companions. And I’m a hospice volunteer! So, sitting with a being who is transitioning is not a new experience for me. What was new was the manner in which I was witnessing these passings. These were not the rather quick and peaceful transitions of euthanasia. Euthanasia cannot be done at TOLFA. These animals might hold on for several days taking limited sustenance and being kept as comfortable as possible. Therefore, there was more time to connect with these beautiful souls on a deeper level. To see them as glowing light beings. To see them as whole and to bear witness to their last days on the earthly plane. To connect completely through the heart.
“I see you.”
This came to my mind as I worked with one of the sickest little pups. This sweetie would make little yipping sounds when we were near in order to get attention. I would open the door of his kennel and gently pet him as he lay there. “I see you,” I would tell him. “I see you.”
Isn’t this what we all want really–a chance to be seen on the deepest level–connected heart to heart? To be present on this level is so incredibly beautiful, so healing.
When I returned from India, I resumed my visits to Rutland County Humane Society. Shortly thereafter, I was asked by staff to offer Reiki to a cat who was brought in and was actively dying.
My puppy friends had prepared me for this moment. I stood by her kennel offering Reiki as she moved through the business of dying. Tears in my eyes, I felt our connection on a soul level. “I see you,” I whispered.
Make no mistake, my heart broke a little more every time I witnessed the death of a shelter animal. It gave me some comfort knowing they passed in the loving and compassionate embrace of Reiki. These words from the book “Animal Wisdom” by Linda Bender, DVM, also give me peace:
“What I saw, reflected back to me in the eyes of the dying squirrel was the power of my own presence in that moment. It was immensely more powerful than I had ever imagined. The reason for my presence was simply that–to be there at the moment of another’s death, to witness it and to care.”
by Kelly McDermott-Burns
Most people I meet these days have had Reiki, practice Reiki, or know someone who does. However, people are often surprised to hear that I am an Animal Reiki practitioner. “Well, how does that work?”, they ask. I see them trying to envision a dog or cat on the Reiki table while I move around putting my hands on them.
Reiki with animals is a gentle, non-invasive treatment as it is with humans but rather than placing my hands on an animal I sit quietly and invite them to enter the healing space. Through breathing techniques and meditation I create a feeling of peace and calm that animals can feel and respond to. The animal is completely in charge of how much Reiki they receive, for how long, and whether or not the session will be hands on. I communicate to them that they don’t have to have Reiki if they don’t want it.
When I met Billy the chihuahua , he was lying on a little bed at the humane society, recovering from surgery. He had been to the vet to be neutered and he also had dental work done.
A long time stray, he looked wary of me and I gave him plenty of space. I spoke softly to him about Reiki. As the session began he looked up at me then gingerly got to his feet and slowly came over. He put his paws on my leg, stretching up to get a better look at me. I felt it would be okay to join him on the floor. Billy immediately got in my lap. We sat quietly together with Reiki flowing. Billy sat happily in my lap for more than thirty minutes enjoying his session. When I told Billy it was time to stop he backed up to me, put his hind legs on my thigh and pointed his butt up at me as if to say, “I need Reiki here too!” Animals often present us with the areas in need of healing.
Winchester is a handsome dog who has separation anxiety. When his person would leave for work he would be clingy and then chew her things. I went to their house for Winchester’s first session.
Winchester was curious right off the bat. He would come and sit in front of me and stare. Finally, he settled on his bed, let out a sigh and relaxed. The following day when his friend left for work, he wasn’t so clingy. When she came home there was no evidence of anything having been chewed. After several sessions, Winchester’s anxiety improved tremendously. Occasionally, Winchester requires a treatment or two when something out of the ordinary happens, for instance, a vacation. These sessions support him through the situation and the anxiety remains at bay.
So, what is Reiki? Reiki (ray-key) is spiritually guided life force energy. Reiki is also the name of the spiritual practice developed in Japan in the early 1900’s by Mikao Usui. Using meditations, precepts, hands on healing, initiations, and symbols and mantras, the practitioner learns to expand and strengthen this energy that is already in each of us. By practicing these techniques the practitioner creates a sense of peace and well being within that radiates outward.
Over the years, my clients have included dogs, cats, horses, and alpacas, among others. The reasons their people have requested Reiki are many and varied, from fear of thunder, separation anxiety, surgery, chronic conditions, and wellness, to end of life care. As Reiki is non-harming and non-invasive it is an excellent compliment to any traditional medical care and will not interfere.
I have used Reiki frequently for my own animal friends. My greatest teacher was my kitty friend Murphy who loved his regular Reiki sessions. As he got older he developed arthritis in his hind quarters. I would sit on the couch and he would get in my lap facing away from me so I could put my hands on his rump. When he was done he would get down and curl up in his bed.
Murphy had lymphoma and required several trips to the vet. I would always offer Reiki before we went to calm him. I would chant Reiki mantras on the way and hold the space in the treatment room. He clearly handled these trips with ease unlike the days before I was practicing Reiki. When Murphy’s cancer finally got the best of him I sat with him and offered Reiki one last time. Murphy’s transition was peaceful for everyone including the vet.
This article first appeared in Four Paws and a Tail.
For ten days I have been hired to be the lead dog. The other dogs in question are two big, black labs named Auggie and Oslo. They are in my care whilst their people are basking in the sunshine on the sunny beaches of Florida. In the course of our time together I am engaging in an un-scientific experiment to see what changes ten days of Reiki might bring to two goofy dogs. I have the blessing of their people with the suggestion that Auggie may be beyond help.
Being a cat person, I am observing very interesting canine behavior. They love to play fetch, for instance. Even when my cats want to play, “fetch” is not in their repertoire. Neither is “come here” for that matter. Basically, I do the fetching (food, treats and such). I also have to go to them if I want to give them attention. Dogs are just the opposite.
Anyway, I embarked on my experiment with evening sessions of Reiki and little short sessions when appropriate. One can never have too much Reiki and, in my estimation, these guys can certainly benefit. No judgment here, just observation.
On the first night I sat in a chair near their beds and set my intention. I let them know they could have as much Reiki as they would like. I told them they didn’t have to have it if they didn’t want to. Then, I began my Joshin Kokyu Ho breathing.
Oslo, the younger dog, was curious right away while Auggie, the bigger dog moved farther away. As the energy flowed, Oslo came over and checked out my hands. Then, he went to his bed and rolled over, showing his belly and wagging his tail. Auggie stayed away.
Auggie won’t let Oslo near me, though he comes over and smells my hands and abdomen. He engages Oslo in wrestling and the session ends so they can go outside before they break something.
While I am throwing the ball (outside) endlessly for Auggie, Oslo sits at my feet. I crouch down and put my hands on his shoulders and feel the heat right away. I stay with him like that for a while, tossing the ball for Auggie. Eventually, Oslo runs off to join his buddy.
That night I sat in the chair again and Oslo was immediately asleep. Auggie kept trying to get him to play but he wasn’t having it. Auggie roamed around then came over to me. He sniffed at my hands and then began to snap at the air in front of me. He swung his big old head like a polar bear, back and forth, back and forth. Clearly he was noticing something. Then he left the room.
A repeat of day 3.
Days 5 through 10
I begin my breathing and Auggie immediately drops to the floor and is out like a light. Finally!!
Each evening from then on both Auggie and Oslo settle down right away for their Reiki session. Auggie gets up in the middle of it to have a big dose of water, then lays right down again. They are so quiet!
When I see my friend a couple of days after his return he asks, “What did you do to my dogs???!” He tells me Auggie was perfectly calm when they came home. No jumping. Completely out of character!
by Kelly McDermott-Burns
Recently, after a busy period of traveling, I returned to find that Murphy our 16 year old kitty had lost a surprising amount of weight. In addition to the weight loss, he seemed lethargic. He wasn’t coming into the kitchen to beg for treats and he wasn’t interested in having his daily Reiki session. In fact, he rarely moved from his little bed in front of the woodstove. We have seen this behavior with him to a lesser degree but usually it would only last for a day and just as we would be discussing making the vet appointment he would return to his old self. This time we made the appointment and I took him in.
Murphy gets terribly stressed when we go to the vet. On the suggestion of vet and SARA member Bernie Fischer I gave him a dose of the flower essence Rescue Remedy©. Normally Murphy would cry the entire way and lose control of his bowels. I always chant the jumon to help keep him calm. The combination of flower essences and Reiki worked like magic. He was quiet for the majority of the trip and we arrived with a clean carrier.
Our vet is very open to letting me stay with Murphy during procedures so I can comfort him and offer him Reiki. On this visit we needed to get a blood sample. He’s very strong for his age and invariably needs to be knocked out to extract the blood. As I stood there watching my little guy struggle, they slipped a mask over his face to give him gas. My heart was in my throat and I felt panic rise as he fought the gas then lay there unconscious.
“Go back to the breath. Breathe into your hara!” This is the message I heard as I struggled to keep calm watching my little buddy go under. Although Murphy wasn’t in any danger, I felt helpless watching him struggle. In retrospect, I believe I felt I was seeing our future and it scared me. “Just for today”, I thought. “Do not worry”. The lessons I have learned in Reiki kicked in and I began to settle down, offering Reiki in a clear and present way.
Staying calm and even detached is imperative when I work in the shelter environment. It certainly was harder to practice in a personal situation. Being face to face with Murphy’s mortality was another reminder that the precepts are a powerful tool to deal with the unknown.
Happily, Murphy has been improving wonderfully from what our vet believes was an infection. He continues to come for his regular Reiki treatments, chases the girls around the house and has forgiven me for taking him to the vet. He is a great teacher in my life.
by Kelly McDermott-Burns
One day in early spring, I walked into Rutland County Humane Society and noticed a cage on a table with a towel over it. Jess, the manager, told me there was a cat under the towel. He had been trapped and brought to the shelter. He was traumatized by the event and the towel was to help him feel secure. He was a long-haired orange and white boy whose fur was all matted and dirty.
My first session with Jared took place before I even got a look at him. I sat outside the cage wanting to lift the towel a bit and take a peek. I resisted and began offering him Reiki sitting quietly in meditation and focusing on the flow of the energy. I found it a little difficult at first, not being able to see him, but I felt the Reiki moving through my hands and relaxed into the session.
The next time I came in, the towel was lifted on the front end and I got a look at Jared. Because of the condition of his fur he had been shaved and he looked like a little lion! He huddled in the back corner of the cage. The staff thought he was a little embarrassed by his new do. I settled down for the session, careful not to face him directly. I offered him Reiki, letting him know he was in charge of how much he would receive, set the intention and began. I checked in with him periodically, taking quick sidelong peeks. He never took his eyes off of me and seemed to relax a bit.
I was looking forward to working with him again and checked on him first when I arrived at the shelter. To my surprise, he was dressed in a little blue sweater. The staff was concerned that without all his fur he might be cold and they put him in a cat sweater. He was adorable! I began the session as before, only this time I sat facing him. He was very receptive to the Reiki and seemed to be coming out of his shell. He came forward, curious about the energy.
We worked together every week, continuing after he had been integrated into the cat room. Naturally, the introduction caused him some stress and he continued to be shy with the other cats. He enjoyed Reiki when I offered it for a few weeks, although unlike other cats, Jared wasn’t likely to get in my lap in those sessions. His hair was growing back nicely and he seemed to be gaining confidence. Then one day he declined my offer of Reiki.
The next week I was told he had been moved next door to the office where he was free to roam the building with another cat. This suited his loner personality, I think. Shortly thereafter Jared was adopted and found his forever home!
by Kelly McDermott-Burns
Sessan is a lovely 12 year old border collie. Her companion, Kinna, asked me to work with her this past summer for several reasons. For most of her life, Sessan suffered from skin allergies and, like many of her breed, fear of loud or unexpected noises such as thunder and gunfire. In addition, she had parasites in her throat when she was younger. Kinna has kept her on a special diet to ease her allergy symptoms, but needed help with Sessan’s fear of noises. When Sessan was startled, she would bark, escalating to a point where it appeared she could not stop herself. When a thunderstorm was brewing Kinna would have to sit in the hallway, away from windows and hold Sessan. Often, Sessan would seek refuge in the tub.
Our first session together was interesting. When I arrived Sessan came right up to me and looked me in the eyes as though she knew I was there for her. We had already discussed Kinna’s concerns about Sessan over the phone, so we got right to work.
I settled in to create the healing space by offering Reiki to Sessan, letting her know she was in charge. I then set the intention and began breathing into my hara. Kinna sat quietly in the room with us, guarding the gate she put up so Laddy, the other border collie, stayed out. After a couple of minutes, Sessan put her paw on the gate to get out. Then, she went and lay down in the other room where I couldn’t see her. Laddy, however, stretched out on the other side of the gate with his head on his paws. Of course, when Sessan left, my ego tried to move in. I started to worry about what Kinna would think now that Sessan had walked out. Keeping the precepts in mind, I returned to breathing deeply, bringing in the first symbol and reminding myself that everything was just as it should be. After all, the session was about Sessan, not me. This has happened before in my practice with animals and has taught me to let go of the outcome and trust Reiki.
During the session, a chipmunk distracted Sessan and she demonstrated the frantic barking Kinna told me about. Finally, Kinna got her settled down and we continued working. She remained quiet for the rest of the session. I felt the energy shift after about 30 minutes and closed the session. Sessan immediately came into the room and sat in front of me. I thanked her and Reiki. I also thanked Laddy, who sat fascinated at the gate the whole time. His occasional long yawn and rapt attention let me know he was also receiving.
We set up a schedule for Sessan of four consecutive sessions. Each time I came to work with her she spent less time in the other room. During our second session the sound of a gunshot came from a farm nearby. Sessan lifted her head but did not bark. The chipmunks no longer tormented her. She offered her throat for Reiki during one session. All of our sessions were approximately thirty minutes.
Our fourth and final session together held a surprise for me. Sessan spent the majority of the time in the room with me. As I sat quietly offering Reiki to this lovely dog I had an image of a vast snowy field. When we finished I mentioned this to Kinna. She told me that winter was Sessan’s favorite time of year. She found relief from her skin allergies and there were no thunderstorms!
A couple of weeks after our last session I received a call from Kinna. A severe thunderstorm had passed through the night before. Sessan had remained calm throughout the entire storm!