Just over two weeks at Tree of Life for Animals (TOLFA), a busy animal hospital and rescue center in Rajasthan, Northern India, has changed me forever, spending time with so many amazing and inspirational animals souls and sharing the Reiki space with them was the most beautiful, humbling and incredible experience of my life and it is difficult to put into words how very grateful I am for this amazing opportunity to accompany Alison McKinnon to TOLFA as a SARA Teacher and Practitioner.
We were welcomed to TOLFA by so many of the wonderful shelter dogs, the long term residents, including Panda and Solar who got to work charming me the moment I set foot inside the gate and soon followed by Sunflower-Leila, Bella and Tink. Rachel and Jemma have such a calm air about them, which is amazing as they are both constantly busy throughout the day taking care of a multitude of tasks for the animals and team at TOLFA. Bunty, one of the team members is often seen with arms full of puppies taking care of their every need, feeding every couple of hours, giving treatments as necessary and always working extremely hard but with a smile on his face and a kind word for everyone.
There were many highlights at TOLFA but each of the animals I spent time with in the Reiki space opened my heart wider and changed me a little. There was the brave and courageous older donkey who had just arrived at the sanctuary having been found collapsed on the street, he was in poor physical condition but he was so open to the Reiki and enjoyed his final weeks in a comfortable, safe environment, where he was well fed and watered and had many donkey friends and people to spend his days with, he was loved and he loved.
Donkey dog was a firm favourite of mine, she was a special girl who had obviously had a hard working life but she had settled in so well at the sanctuary enjoying her days sunbathing in the donkey enclosure and soaking up the Reiki whenever the opportunity arose. It should not have been a surprise when she connected with me during a Reiki meditation one evening back in my room. She was not the only animal to do this, I also had this experience with Solar, one of the other shelter dogs, this was such a blessing and so beautiful that they were so open to the Reiki. There was always such a feeling of love and gratitude at these times coming from these special souls and they gave so much love and healing in return.
I was blessed to have the opportunity to spend time with two tiny puppies, their siblings had passed on and they were both quite poorly despite the best possible care around the clock. I was unprepared for the lessons these tiny little Zen masters would teach me but they had so much knowledge to share. As I sat with them they stared at me and it felt as though they were looking into my soul, there was so much love in those eyes and I could feel it being beamed at me on all levels. We spent time in the Reiki space and as always I detached from outcome, it was very peaceful and full of compassion and when I had finished the smaller of the two pups gazed at me and I felt so much love. To be honest it was overwhelming the loving power this little puppy had. He seemed to know we would not meet again but there was such a feeling that everything was perfect and so much peace surrounded us all. The next day this little angel had passed on but his little brother was still alive. This little boy could move to get water but mainly lay down. When I connected with him he had a sore tummy, although he could still manage to wag his little tail after the Reiki and was so gentle and sweet. That evening I connected with him again and used Kathleen’s meditation from the teleclasses using the precepts, the meditation with the tree and the tiger, in the little puppy bounced and we shared the Reiki meditation space. When I arrived the next morning I was delighted to see the little puppy looking much brighter on his blanket and when he got up and came over to me it was the most joyful feeling. We shared Reiki again and this little soul no longer gave me any tummy ache, I was very aware of his siblings as little puppy angels all around him and it was a wonderful reminder of how we are always connected through love and are never really separate.
Another wonderful older dog I spent time with was Tom, a collie who had a shoulder wound, who spent much of his day howling in the kennel. The first day we met his howling stopped during Reiki but resumed afterwards but as time progressed he calmed and we shared the most wonderful bond, I adore oldies anyway and Tom had so many special qualities. During the second week at TOLFA Tom had connected with me in a dream and shown me his home territory and how he would be happy going back there when he was well, it was as if he did not want me to worry and so gave me this information before the thought entered my mind. When it came to the final day and although I know we are always connected through love, I still felt a little sad saying goodbye to Tom, we had been through an amazing Reiki journey together and he had been one of my greatest teachers and friends. When I sat in front of his kennel, with the noise of building work and people walking in and out, immediately Tom was still and quiet and we connected in the most incredible space of complete love and peace, it was a deep connection and it was a mutual exchange of Reiki-love, we were one, there truly was no separation. Afterwards it took a little time to process and Tom was silent, completely silent, he seemed to know this would be our last physical meeting but it was perfect and everything had worked out as it was meant to, we would never be apart as the bonds of love were now always with us.
At TOLFA every animal has a place, no animal is turned away, the love shared at TOLFA remains with the dogs even when they go back to their territory as Alison and I found out on many occasions. The ex TOLFA dogs would run alongside us as we were walking into Pushkar in the evening for supper and nuzzle us for a cuddle and we were only too happy to oblige. This was reinforced when we met Rachel and Jemma one evening for supper and afterwards there were about four TOLFA dogs who all made a beeline for them, the gratitude showing on their faces and in the wagging of their tails. TOLFA’s whole ethos embodies the Reiki precepts and even when an animal requiring emergency medical care arrives every detail is handled in a calm and compassionate manner.
I am so grateful to SARA, Alison, Rachel, Jemma and the whole TOLFA team for my the time there and to each animal I met, exchanged Reiki and love with and learnt so much from, they have left a paw print of love on my heart forever.