You Want Reiki Where?

by Kelly McDermott-Burns
Recently, I had the honor of working with a lovely little Chihuahua named Billy. He had been brought to Rutland County Humane Society after roaming dog1the streets for a while. The staff thought he was around 8 years old. When I met him he was lying in a little bed on the floor of the front office recovering from surgery. He had been to the vet to be neutered and he also had dental work done.

I started off in a chair across the room from him. I wanted to be sure he had plenty of space and wasn’t threatened by me. He looked weary. With his little head on his paws, he kept an eye on me. I spoke softly to him, letting him know about Reiki and what I was offering. I also told him he could choose not to have Reiki if he wished. I set the intention and began Joshin Kokyu Ho. I felt Reiki expanding from my hara almost immediately. Apparently, so did Billy. 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 sit on the floor with him, so I slid out of the chair and sat on the floor in lotus position. Billy immediately got in my lap. We sat quietly together with the Reiki flowing. I was touched by his big eyes and trusting heart. Billy sat happily in my lap for more than a half an hour enjoying his session.

Eventually, I had to end the session as I had others waiting for Reiki. I told Billy we had to stop, thanked him and praised him for being so open. Then, gently, I lifted him and put him on the floor beside me. dog2Before I could get up Billy 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!” I chuckled at his insistence and agreed to continue Reiki for the area of his neuter surgery.

The following week Billy was still at RCHS when I arrived. He was again in the front office with the resident pit bull, Tsunami. Billy was happy as can be and not the least bit intimidated by Tsunami whose head is about the size of Billy. Tsunami gave Billy a big lick nearly knocking him off his feet! It was entertaining to watch! When I began with Billy’s session he came right over and sat in my lap for most of the time. When I arrived the next week I discovered Billy had found his forever home!

Someone Has To Do It

by Kelly McDermott-Burns

With every Animal Reiki class I teach there is invariably a student who wants to go into their local shelter and offer Reiki. It’s a rare and happy occurrence when they do.img9 

Shelter work wasn’t the reason I first began on the AR path. After teacher training at Brighthaven I remember talking to Kathleen Prasad about her plans to start SARA. The idea really appealed to me and I wanted to be part of it, but I was fearful. How could I go in there and see all those animals waiting for a home? I wasn’t sure how I would handle it. Could I do it emotionally? Was it going to eat me up inside? I was especially afraid to see the results of abuse. Would I start to hate people? I have been asked these questions many times by others and I tell them the same thing Kathleen told me, “If we don’t do it, who will?” I’m a practical person, and those words clicked with me. ‘Oh, right. Someone has to do it.’ It was enough for me to put aside my fears and give it a go.

I have been volunteering Reiki at the Rutland County Humane Society, a SARA shelter, for five years now. I am fortunate to be working in a wonderful shelter with caring staff and a clean environment. The experience has been so incredibly enriching for me personally and for my work with animals in my private practice. Being able to look my fears of encountering anger, sadness and loss right in the face and to be of service to the animals regardless has taught me patience and compassion. I have learned how to find the good in many situations that seemed beyond redemption. I have grown in my understanding that I still need to grow.

My personal practice has been the most important element in this work. Without Reiki supporting me it would be incredibly difficult to walk into RCHS and not absorb some of the pain and sadness I encounter there. Reiki keeps me grounded and opens my heart to have a deeper understanding of compassion. Not just for the animals but for the people that have left them there. I am learning all the time about non-judgment, one of the hardest lessons for me in this work.

I didn’t find all this out right away, of course. I struggled in the beginning with anger and sadness. I wanted to save everyone! I was fearful that some would never make it to a good home. I checked the logs every week to see who went home and had mixed feelings when my favorites left. I wanted them to go home but I also wanted them for me. My own fear of abandonment came up over and over again. Whew!! So much to learn!

Staying diligent with my practice helped me to move through all that. I focused on being grounded through my work with Joshin Kokyu Ho and the first symbol. I maintained emotional balance through my work with the second symbol and the third symbol helped me to open my heart.

Today, there are other meditations I use to go deeper into my true nature. I continue to use the precepts to work through each difficult situation I encounter. And I always keep the basics at hand for days when I have trouble getting into the space.

This isn’t to say that some days I don’t cry over an animal’s fate. It only means that I can see a bigger picture, that I can gain some insight into living a fully compassionate life without falling apart.


Lead With The Hara

I love twilight! No, not the movie…that time of day when the sun meets the moon and everything is bathed in muted colors. It often feels to be a very mystical time of day and so is my favorite time for walking on the mountain. Secretive wildlife is often found at this time of day and I am always on the lookout. I have had the good fortune to see a den of fox kits, pileated woodpeckers, owls, grouse, baby porcupines and of course, deer. Currently, we have three deer roaming the mountain. I’m thrilled to see they made it through hunting season and they look nice and healthy for the upcoming winter.

One thing I like to practice as I walk is what I call, “Leading with the Hara”. As I begin my walk I set my intention to be open to everything. I begin Joshin Kokyu Ho breathing, imagining Reiki flowing from my hara, expanding into the environment around me. Many times on my walks I feel that I am not alone and that many little eyes are watching my every step. Leading with the hara keeps me mindful of the life around me. It also sends the message, “I come in peace.”

Deer are skittish creatures, and as such, often scare me as often as I do them. This happened the other day as I strolled up the lane on my evening walk. I heard them before I saw them, crashing through the woods, big white tails flashing me as they ran off. I saw two of them. I immediately stopped to focus on them, offering Reiki to make amends for startling them. As I stood there quietly expanding the energy I heard a noise to my left. I turned very slowly and saw the third deer walking toward me. She stopped and looked at me for a few seconds, then turned and ran off into the woods! I believe she was curious about the Reiki. It was the most thrilling experience!

We never know what we are going to encounter in our daily activities. Why not lead with the hara in the woods or at the grocery store?