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.