It was a warm August evening, among the last few left before the cool Canadian weather would start creeping up and swallowing the summer bliss. I was walking with my husband and our faithful dog through the fields, where we go to watch the sun set almost every night. We were noticing how the sun rests earlier every day, subtly announcing that winter is not far away.
Animal Reiki Birds
Today I went to an animal rescue sanctuary. I decided to sit down in an enclosed area that had pigs, chickens, roosters and two dogs roaming free. There were not any animals around me when I started, but I knew who ever needed the Reiki would partake in their own way. When you use Kathleen Prasad’s Let Animals Lead® Method of Animal Reiki, that is what happens.
I’ve been taking pictures for as long as I can remember. At some point during my childhood, I assumed the role of family photographer — beginning with Brownie Instamatic and Polaroid cameras. I mainly took pictures of my family growing up, but in adulthood I branched out to street life, landscape, wildlife, and other subjects.
Later in adulthood I joined a strict nature photography club. That’s when I realized my passion was in nature photography. The photo club had monthly competitions, and I got caught up in that. When I took photos, I was focused on trying to capture award-winning images and maintained that attitude long after I left the photography club. In fact, I maintained this focus until I encountered The Heron.
I recently sold my year-old camera equipment on ebay (my fourth or fifth camera system that I sold on ebay over the years), to purchase a Sony DSC-RX10 III because of its longer focal length (which allowed me to zoom in closer for wildlife photography). I was getting used to and practicing with this camera when I encountered The Heron. He was in the water close to the pier in a nature preserve – the closest I had ever been to a heron. I actually captured some beautiful images of him. In fact, one of the images was a potential award-winning shot.
My typical routine is to back up the photos from the camera’s sd (memory) card onto an external hard drive, then delete the photos from the sd card while it’s in the computer. With the Sony, I noticed that when I put the card back in the camera I received a weird error message about some images not being able to be displayed. I thought the only way to delete that error message was to reformat the card while it was in the camera. While I was working on this project, I also was backing up photos from other sources. In other words, I was doing too many things at the same time rather than fully focusing on this project. It was also late at night and I was getting tired. Consequently, thinking I had backed up these images onto the external hard drive since that was my typical routine, I deleted the photos from the sd card and reformatted the card in the camera.
The next day when I went to email my favorite heron image to my sister, I discovered it wasn’t there. I searched on my computer’s C: drive, on the sd card, and on the external hard drive and, much to my dismay, I could not find any of those photos. I spent hours searching the Internet and downloading programs so I could recover the photos, to no avail. Why I didn’t double check to see that the photos were backed up before I deleted the images from the card (again, something I would normally do), I’ll never know. I also learned later that I could have recovered the photos had I not reformatted the card. To top it off, I’m leery about using cloud-based applications, which is unfortunate as I would have been able to recover the photos this way. Note – if you do a quick reformat with the card in the computer, you might still be able to recover the photos, but definitely not if you reformat the card while it’s in the camera. But this is still not the Lesson of the Heron.
I usually don’t become emotional about anything in life, but I was actually emotional when I finally resigned myself to the fact that I had deleted those images for good. After trying to calm myself with Reiki and meditation, I realized that I had been too attached to those photos (ego) – and this was The Lesson.
Ever since this experience, I have become much more humble when I take photographs. Rather than trying to ‘capture’ or ‘captivate’ nature with my camera, I approach my photography the same way approach the animals when I offer Animal Reiki: I am open and have no expectations about which animals or other nature subjects will present themselves to me. When a bird, insect, flower, animal, etc. appears, I ask permission to photograph them (if they remain in one place long enough for me to photograph them, I feel they are allowing me to photograph them, which is a way of allowing the animals to take charge). If I’m hoping for a certain subject to appear, rather than being disappointed because I did not encounter this animal, I am really grateful for any creature who presented him/herself to me and for all that I experienced that day, and I express my gratitude to the animal, bird, insect, flower….
Reiki has become a way of life in many aspects, and now the Animal Reiki ethics have merged into my photography. Letting go of the ego is never easy, but it’s part of the path to reconnecting with the Great Bright Light that is within us and surrounds us all. In an effort to enhance the connection with the Oneness of all and create a ‘Reiki space’, I now softly chant some of the Reiki mantras when I am out in nature. I am so grateful that I encountered The Heron that day and for all that he has taught me. Thankfully, I went back to the preserve a couple of days later and – lo and behold – The Heron was there to connect with me.
Deanna Iris Sava
It all started in grade school when I adopted Coco. From the moment he got home until this very day (29 years later), he has been the sweetest, feistiest, and most independent cockatiel. Through the years, Coco taught me unconditional love and companionship. He also immediately paved the way for my eating habits.
I have always loved animals, but it was Coco that converted me into a vegetarian. At a young age, I began simply by removing meat from my diet and just eating the side dishes. I just couldn’t fathom eating anything with eyes. Growing up, this was baffling to my family because I was the only one in the entire family that ate this way. After years of this, my family finally realized that this full-blown vegetarian wasn’t changing. Throughout much of my life, I ate sides and processed food, lots of processed food. I can’t say that I felt bad, but didn’t really know any better. However, six years ago, my life began to change for the better.
In 2011, Reiki beckoned me. I began taking each level of Reiki, and continued to feel deeply connected with all living things. A couple of years later, more welcomed changes in my mind, body, and spirit awakened when I took Kathleen Prasad’s Animal Reiki courses. My love for the animal kingdom strengthened beyond measure. Out of complete respect for all animals, the quest continues to overflow into my diet, slowly unfolding into veganism. My life has never been the same since. (Thank you, Kathleen!)
With this lifestyle shift, five pillars remain a constant:
- Before/after food is chopped and blended, a sign of ‘thanks’ with gassho unites the mind and heart for deep gratitude (Hand position).
- Repeating the Reiki mantras/chants (silent or aloud) is a wonderful way to include all of the senses while the food is being prepared, as if to connect to ancestors from long ago (Symbols & mantras).
- Picturing all living souls happy and healthy, while bonding with the breath, brings cooking into more of a meditative mindset (Visualizations).
- Offering a blessing to the prepared meal supports all time and space; building a clearer connection to Reiki and all beings (Reiju).
- The act of sharing a nourishing meal with others (humans and animals) fills the heart with such peace and joy (Precepts).
With these pillars at the core, my hope is that Coco knows how much he’s loved and valued. I’m incredibly thankful for this tiny, feathered creature who kick started healthy eating in our home. ️ I’m also forever grateful for the Reiki lessons Kathleen has taught me. One thing is for certain, once Reiki unfolds before you, the adventure begins!
I went to the vet for the periodical vaccination for Kira. I could see that my vet was particularly tired, so I asked him if he was having a bad day and if there were any urgent cases he had to deal with. He said no, that he had a sleepless night as one of the hawks had just hatched and had no life signs.
My vet adores hawks and was very preoccupied as he didn’t know what to do. The hawk wasn’t eating nor drinking. So I asked him to send me the photo and said that I would work with Reiki for him.
My vet is still skeptical about Reiki, but the great thing about him is that he sent me the photo. I said I would start at 8pm, and I would contact him once I had finished. I connected with my guides, with the Light, and we worked. The wonderful thing about this work was that as I had no idea what was wrong I just abandoned myself to the One. The energy was flowing like a river stream and there was love everywhere.
After I was finished, I wrote to vet and he said that around 8:30 the hawk gave his first life signs and drank a little bit. Next morning the message from my vet was: “I am not saying anything, but….”
SARA Practitioner in Italy
By: Char Jensen
Why giving back now is the key to your Reiki business’s future success.
Every entrepreneur knows that the early days of building a new business from the ground up are challenging, exhausting and even exhilarating. But in the wild rush to find new customers, get the word out and turn a profit, it’s easy for business owners to neglect one of the most critical strategies for success: giving back the community. Although doing so may seem to go against the conventional wisdom on your road to making sales (“How can I make money when I give things away for free?”), the reality is, it’s just smart business.
It’s a secret long known by uber-successful corporations—from American Express to Zappos.com. Companies such as these make corporate social responsibility a priority, lending a hand to the communities where their employees live and work. The move strengthens communities, sure, but also boosts their brand in the process.
You may be thinking that it’s easy for multimillion-dollar companies to give back, and that might be true. They’re not stuck in the trenches like you are, working 12-hour days just to secure the next paying client. But the reality is, giving back is not just for big companies. Small ones—especially those in the startup stage—that donate their time and services to a cause aligned with their business’s goals find it’s an invaluable way to broaden their network, raise their business’s profile and, yes, even make sales.
“Giving back is an essential part of establishing your startup’s brand,” says Rieva Lesonsky, CEO of GrowBiz Media in Costa Mesa, California, and a nationally recognized expert and speaker on entrepreneurship and small business. “Everyone prefers to do business with people they know. Showing up and taking part in local activities allows you to meet face to face, and establish actual relationships with potential and current customers. You can spend a lot of money and time on marketing and social media campaigns (and I’m not suggesting you shouldn’t invest in those), but nothing works better—or faster—than showing up and letting your community know you’re there and you care.”
Building Relationships, Building Trust
Support is at the heart of the Shelter Animal Reiki Association’s nonprofit business model: support for SARA teachers to pursue their work with their animal member organizations, and support for the animal shelters, sanctuaries and rescues dedicated to helping homeless animals. SARA is a pioneer in the field of holistic animal therapy and on the forefront of forward-thinking shelter/sanctuary/rescue wellness programs. A 501(c)3 corporation with members across the U.S. and in England, SARA has created a standardized program of animal Reiki (a Japanese system of energy healing) training and treatment programs to support the health and wellness of animals in shelters, sanctuaries and rescues as well as the caregivers at each animal organization. Through SARA’s ongoing professional development, training and evaluation program for members, SARA seeks also to promote the highest standards in animal Reiki practitioner and teacher excellence.
When you are first starting out, making yourself known at a particular shelter—that you are a trustworthy and professional business owner—is critically important. Kathleen Prasad, cofounder and president of SARA, found this to be true in the early days of her business, Animal Reiki Source, especially as she started volunteering at BrightHaven, a sanctuary for senior, disabled and special needs animals in Sonoma County, California.
“It’s really true that it’s all about relationships,” Prasad says. “When I first began, my business was struggling financially, and it was quite a risk to give so much freely. But I felt in my heart—seeing the amazing work that they do, knowing the caliber of people that Gail and Richard [owners of BrightHaven] are—that this was the right thing to do. The only way that I wanted build my business was through the integrity of a strong core of service. And so I stepped forward, not knowing how this would play out, and having no other person in whose footsteps to follow.” Today, she is able to support a viable animal Reiki business full time, and also give back to BrightHaven on a regular basis, both energetically (through Reiki) and financially.
When Joyce Leonard began Santa Cruz Reiki Works in Ben Lomond, California, she ran into a common obstacle many new Reiki businesses face. “A year ago, before SARA, I approached an organization about animal Reiki training. They turned me down,” she says. “They didn’t know me from Adam. So I became a good, reliable, consistent volunteer—and I only volunteer for a few hours a month, so it doesn’t take a lot of time. Now they are interested, and I’ve even received a referral from one of them, and the director hired me for a treatment.”
Building your Reiki business will take time, but as Kelly McDermott-Burns, founder of HeartSong Reiki and HeartSong for Animals in Stockbridge, Vermont, has found, giving back to animal organizations is time well spent. She works with the Rutland County Humane Society, the Central Vermont Humane Society and The Hooved Animal Sanctuary. “I have found service work—free clinics, speaking on Reiki—to be extremely rewarding and a great way to get your name out there. Any free services or discounts will give you exposure and give returns in the future.”
“The SARA suggestions to teach the staff for no charge and the volunteers for half price is a great idea,” says Jodie Brenner, who, as founder of Equushearts~Reiki for Animals and Humans in Bend, Oregon, works with a local animal hospice. “I have not had a problem doing this and find that everyone has been especially grateful. One of the volunteers insisted on paying the full price, as she felt she got so much from the workshop. Donating a portion to the nonprofit is well worth that to me. I have a place to teach, I am supported, and it is my offering to the community.”
Building positive relationships with local shelters and rescues has helped Janet Dobbs, founder of Animal Paradise Communication & Healing in Oak Hill, Virginia, build her business. “You can make wonderful contacts at a rescue or shelter,” she says. “Some of these people could become your best clients or students. They may refer their friends to you and spread the word about you and your work. Networking is one of the best ways to grow your business. Once the word is out, you are golden! You will have more than enough work and business and will be able to continue to give back to the animals.”
Animal Reiki is still just gaining traction in the United States and internationally. And unfortunately, it’s more difficult to grow a business when your customers don’t yet understand what you sell. But that’s why SARA’s philosophy of giving back is so empowering to the Reiki entrepreneur. Volunteering is your key to building a profitable business doing what you love: helping animals.
“For over a year, I ‘stuck to my guns’ and was reluctant to lower my prices or give away treatments or training. I felt that my prices were fair and that people needed to pay–it was a fair exchange,” says Leonard. “One day I had a huge insight. I realized that I wasn’t giving hardly any Reiki treatments and that I hadn’t taught any classes (I couldn’t fill them). It was difficult to even justify calling myself a Reiki teacher or practitioner since I was not engaged in doing either. I asked myself, ‘Do you want to do Reiki or do you want to hold out until people come and start paying?’” She wanted to do Reiki—so she reevaluated her payment structure. She started to offer some complimentary treatments, some on a sliding scale, donation-only Reiki Shares and free drop-in clinics. “Now I am giving it away, and suddenly, my phone is ringing with paying clients!” Leonard is happy to report she just taught her first class.
Evolving—As an Entrepreneur and Reiki Practitioner
Establishing alliances with local shelters, sanctuaries and rescues will benefit you in another very important way, one that you may not have considered. The volunteer experiences you have with animals and staff will teach you important Reiki lessons and help you grow as a practitioner.
“On a professional level, I have had the opportunity to work on many different animals: dogs, cats, goats, sheep, pigs, bunnies, birds, chickens, horses and hamsters,” says McDermott-Burns. “I have gained quite a bit of experience from the wonderful variety of creatures available at my shelters. Personally, I must say the most profound lesson I have learned is that the kindness of the human spirit far outweighs cruelty. On the days when I feel the burden of what some of these animals have endured, someone will come in and adopt an animal with health issues, or a crusty old dog near the end of his time on this plane–animals that seem to be unadoptable because of the special care they need. It lifts my heart to know these animals will finally have a loving home. It gives me the courage to stick it out when I just want to go home and cry.”
“My relationship with Animals In Distress has given me a great deal of experience in offering Reiki to animals and to their caretakers,” says John Sawyer of CritterReiki.com in Topton, Pennsylvania. “That experience has been valuable in working with animals and their people outside of AID. Volunteering there has shown me the power of a clear vision and purpose. I have also been blessed to learn from many animals in the time I’ve been involved there. Animals are such amazing teachers!” AID has yet to sign on as a SARA member organization, but Sawyer is working toward that goal.
Promoting Your Business Through Service
When you build relationships with local animal organizations, you gain access to valuable opportunities for promoting your business to the community at large. Your professional network will begin to widen, and you’ll get the chance to volunteer your time and expertise in numerous ways: speaking opportunities, fundraising events, trade shows, auctions and more. “Taking part in community events instantly telegraphs that you care about what’s going on in your neighborhood, and not just about making money,” says Lesonsky, who is also the bestselling author of Start Your Own Business.
As an entrepreneur, it’s vital you stay current on what’s happening and get involved every chance you get. “The most important lesson I have learned is that you have to get yourself out there in the community before you try to sell them on something,” says Leonard. “This means to volunteer in the organization. Help them out and get known. Join their online groups and forums. Participate, write in their newsletters, do high–profile volunteer work that will get you noticed by the right people. Help them out when they’re in a pinch.”
That’s what McDermott-Burns does. “When I participate in shelter fundraisers, I often get free advertising aimed at the people most likely to use my services,” she says. “I also enjoy educating people on the benefits of Reiki for themselves and their animal companions. In addition, I meet many people at shelter events who are interested in classes or sessions.”
The animal Reiki practitioners we spoke to for this article are SARA members. They follow SARA’s policy on donations and fees: free Reiki treatments at shelters, sanctuaries and rescues; free training for the staff of these organizations; teaching volunteers at these shelters for half price; and donating 20-50 percent of proceeds back to the shelter when animal Reiki classes for the general public are taught there.
Add it all up, and you are getting the word out, expanding your professional network, interacting with potential clients, honing your skills as an animal Reiki practitioner, boosting your brand and building a reputation—all for the price of time and a small portion of proceeds, both of which directly support the causes you care deeply about. As Prasad says, “When you are giving back to the animals, to people, to organizations who are lights in this world—it’s time well spent, and you are making the world a better place!”
By: Char Jensen, SARA Publicist
Shelter work wasn’t the reason I first began on the animal Reiki 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-judgement, 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.
Founding SARA Teacher
Recently one of our SARA members, Gay Fowler, was the subject of an article by Jackie Eichelberger, a local columnist who lives close to Gay in Texas. Jackie had visited Gay’s ranch and found the harmony between the domestic and wild animals was so unique it was worth sharing with her readers. Although the article below does not mention Reiki, when we spoke to Gail she said she uses the Hatsurei Ho meditation every morning to create the Reiki space. The story below is a beautiful testament to the power of her personal practice.
I spent the weekend down in the country at a friend’s ranch recently. My friend is one of those people that animals are drawn to. Besides having dozens of donkeys, scores of goats, fifteen horses, two dogs and one cat, there’s a mother raccoon with four babies and four possums that visit her twice a day on her upstairs balcony. Add to that the scores of hummingbirds who visit her feeders and local birds who assemble on her balcony rail for snacks during the day. She says she feels as if she’s running a restaurant whose menu consists of hay, alfalfa, cat food, dog food, sugar water and birdseed.
I was fascinated by the gentleness of this assorted menagerie. All of the donkeys, goats and horses wander up to you for a pat on the head or a scratch on the snout. I like the donkeys best because of their soulful eyes and gentle insistence on being as close to you as possible for an ear rub or a hug.
Goats, as my friend says, are Nature’s party animals. The young ones love climbing onto anything with a relatively flat surface no matter how precarious it may be. They bounce around stiff legged with playful abandon or jump from a perch with a fancy body twist in mid air…such fun to watch. They love to climb into wheelbarrows or empty feed pans for a quick nap. (Here is a cute video of the goats and donkey IMG_1371.)
The possums and raccoons come for a meal twice a day and have a dining order. Mom raccoon, Rosalita, comes first and daintily dips each morsel of cat food into the water dish as she eats. Cat food is her preferred dish. When she’s full, she rests in the corner while all four babes known as “the Rowdies” dig in with gusto, cat food pellets flying everywhere. Do you know why raccoons “wash” their food by dipping it in water? It’s because they have no salivary glands. Moisture aids their ability to eat and digest food.
If my friend is late in putting out the morning meal, Rosalita is often seen standing on two feet against the sliding glass door peering in searching for my friend as if to say“where’s our breakfast…you’re late.” When all her family is fed, Rosalita sometimes puts a paw against the glass door where my friend’s hand rests on the other side. That’s raccoon for “thank you” I think.
Next in the food line come the four possums…Baldy, Not-Baldy, Patches and Crash. They come one at a time and finish off the cat food in no time at all. My friend thinks that the critters are spreading the word to their friends and she will soon be overrun.
Her hummingbird feeders have turned into a regular rest haven for hummers as they make their journey from their winter grounds in Mexico and on their return trip in the fall. As many as twenty or more can be counted flying in and around the feeders several times a day jockeying for their turn to take a drink. A lot of territorial posturing goes on and skirmishes often break out among the swirling crowd of birds.
An incredible connection between the human species and the animal world goes on daily at this ranch and it’s a rare experience to be a part of it. My friend has favorites among the hoofed residents and has names for all the horses, a large number of the donkeys and many, many goats. It’s so relaxing to sit and watch all these critters going about doing the things critters do. It’s a lesson on how to coexist with Nature’s fauna and be rewarded with their gentle, trusting company.
My dictionary defines Humility as the state or quality of being humble, conscious of one’s defects or shortcomings; not proud or self-assertive; modest, unpretentious. Humble comes from Latin humilis—low, small, slight, akin to humus, soil, earth. Humus, from the Latin for earth, ground, or soil, is the brown or black organic substance resulting from partial decay of plant or animal matter. Humus provides fertilizer for new growth. In my dictionary, humble is listed just above humble-bee, another term for bumblebee. Humility comes right above hummer, the affectionate term for hummingbirds. It’s interesting that the quality of being humble, grounded to the earth, is so closely placed to creatures that fly.
I asked to speak with Bee, to gain greater insight into humility. I heard buzzing, and thought to ask if it mattered which kind of bee I spoke with?
No, we are all connected. Bee continued. Are we humble? We do our jobs, we move through the world showing how to live cooperatively. We are what we are—no more, no less. Our lives may appear simple to you, yet they are intricate, like our dances. We have disagreements, as does your kind. That happens when some lose sight of what is best for the hive. We do not ask for recognition for our work. Nor do we diminish its value. Our place in the scheme of things is greater than our size.
Humility is like that. Value the service you do, as part of the greater hive, but do not lose perspective. You have asked me to speak about something that is both very great and very small. Each is an important part of the whole. The whole is diminished when a part is missing, or when a part inflates its own importance. It is delicate, the balance between valuing one’s self and seeking accolades for one’s growth. When you seek that, it shows that you have not advanced as far as you think you have. This does not only apply to humans, but to all life forms. Balance, and being, secure in one’s self. It is enough.
“Thank you bee. It is complex, isn’t it?”
Bee: Yes, and no.
The song of sparrows, who had returned with warmer weather, called my attention outside. Black-crowned and gold-crowned sparrows visit our backyard, with their songs that sound lonely and joyous at the same time. I asked to speak with Sparrow.
A soft voice answered, I am here. It is almost time for nesting. The energies are rising.
“Thank you for your presence,” I said. “Would you share your thoughts about humility?”
Sometimes, Sparrow said, to be small is to be great, being large and small at the same time. Each being has its place in the scheme of things. Each is important. No more, no less. Some, like the hawks, are larger and have a greater visible impact. Others, like us, weave the pieces together. Small as we are, we sparrows are an essential part of the web of life. We feed, and help spread the seeds that bring new life. We are prey and help sustain life for those who are larger. We sing, and our song brings joy.
Humility is being who you are. Do not measure yourself against others, to make yourself greater or smaller. We do not measure ourselves against the hawks, for theirs is a different journey. Even our flight, undulating up and down, serves to teach that there are higher and lower times. Honor your gifts and use them well. Honor what you receive and be grateful. Each being has its role. To deny it, or to claim more, damages the whole. We are. That is enough.
Myself, I’m glad to be a sparrow. I love the joy of flight and another season of healthy nesting, the search for food. Think of that joy when you hear our song.
With that, sparrow flew off to a low branch, and serenaded all who could hear with his beautiful three-note descending call.
I thanked Bee and Sparrow, mindful of their gifts. Bees are significant to our health and wellbeing: 80 percent of flowering plants rely on bees (which aerodynamically are not supposed to be able to fly), and other pollinators, to reproduce. Sparrow reminds us to see nobility in the most common things, and that through humility we can express unconditional love. Both spoke of being great and small at the same time.
Their message of humility in service is guidance for all of us as we grow to trust our inner selves, and open to the flow of healing energy that is Reiki. We are in service. That is enough. Just for today, I will be humble.
Note: This is the third of five articles about animal perspectives on the Reiki precepts.
Rev. Nancy Schluntz is a SARA practitioner member and offers for Reiki for animals (and their people) who are approaching the end of life. Nancy also offers Reiki to animals at the wildlife rehabilitation center where she volunteers.
Originally published in Reiki News Magazine – Reprinted with permission
When an early morning request arrived with an urgent plea for Reiki for a parrot, I had no idea what an amazing journey was in store for me for the next several weeks. Even though the parrot would ultimately transition, Reiki would provide peace and comfort as well as a temporary rejuvenation for him.
Sydney was a 13-year-old Quaker parrot that was quite ill. His person, Elizabeth, explained that he had pneumonia, had been having difficulty breathing in the last few days, and that his overall health had taken a downturn several months back.
He was currently being treated with antibiotics and other conventional veterinary medications at one of the local animal clinics, where the vet was somewhat experienced with avian cases. The veterinarian was not sure what had caused the pneumonia and wanted to find out. Further testing may have given more insight into this, but it was quite likely that in his present condition, Sydney would not survive. So Elizabeth hoped the Reiki would be beneficial. If there was no improvement, the vet had already discussed the option of euthanasia within the next few days.
Elizabeth asked if I would meet her at the clinic to give Sydney a Reiki session. I met her there and was appreciative that the staff was accepting of a holistic practitioner coming in to work with the parrot. In fact, they had graciously set up a small, unused exam room that we could use. The parrot was in a glass habitat that kept the temperature comfortably warm for him in order to aid his ability to breathe and hopefully recover.
I explained to Elizabeth that since energy knows no bounds, it would flow to Sydney even if I did not touch him. She was understanding of this. Elizabeth stayed with me. We each sat in a chair nearby. I spoke softly to the sweet Quaker parrot and explained that I would be offering him Reiki, which was healing energy for his Highest Good. I let him know he could take as much or as little energy as he wished.
He seemed very open and receptive to the energy, and stayed on his perch, calmly watching and soaking up the Reiki. He kept an eye on me, and relaxed into the session. He appeared to be dozing, yet still his eyes would curiously blink open to check on me. At one point, he became more alert and did a bit of grooming with his feathers, but then relaxed again. That first session was quite powerful, and I could feel he was drawing in so much energy.
There was a time toward the end of the treatment that I felt as if my heart was suddenly connected to his. Tears welled in my eyes as I felt an intense surge of emotion. It was a beautiful sensation. I thanked Sydney for allowing me to connect with him in this way, and for being a partner in the healing process.
As I stood up to leave, Elizabeth played a bit of “peekaboo” with the parrot and he happily replied, saying “peekaboo” back to her. I could see that he was a little more energetic. Later on that day, Elizabeth reported that Sydney had shown definite improvement, was playing and dancing, and had taken a very exhilarating bath.
I went back the next day, and Elizabeth stopped by to give me an update and set me up in the same room. She had to return to work so it was just Sydney and me for this session. Sydney seemed happy to see me. As soon as the energy started flowing, he became quite relaxed and receptive. He snoozed while still keeping an eye on me. I believe he almost went into a meditative state, and I could clearly feel that he was drawing in much healing energy.
Toward the end of the session, Sydney became more alert and began to eat several edamame beans that had been provided for him. Then he went back to his relaxed pose. When I stood up to leave and say good-bye, he became more awake, and I spoke to him for a few minutes. He seemed quite intent and focused, almost as if he understood my words.
Elizabeth called me the next morning, relieved that Sydney was going to be able to come home! She asked me to come to the house that same afternoon for an additional session. You can imagine my astonishment and delight to find that Sydney had a feisty, youthful female parrot partner named Coco. Coco is about three and is quite exuberantly vocal with parrot calls and communication. Elizabeth had explained that prior to my arrival, the two had just shared a warm and joyful reunion after this week apart. It was clear that they were extremely bonded, nuzzling and grooming each other, and chattering happily.
A spare bedroom had been optimally set up climate-wise at a temperature of 80 degrees with a humidifier providing moisture. There was even some soft, new age music playing! (Elizabeth is such a devoted and loving parrot parent.)
I sat on a chair near the cage, my hands palms-up in my lap. I called in the flow of Reiki energy, and then imagined myself in a sunlit jungle sitting amidst the trees with these beautiful birds perched nearby, and went into a light state of meditation. Both parrots watched me intently. Sydney was knowing and welcoming to the energy, confidently coming to the front of the cage. Coco was curious but stayed up on the perch further back. She was screeching loudly every few seconds.
At one point Elizabeth removed Coco from the cage, thinking the session would be more focused and peaceful for Sydney with Coco downstairs. But the amount of squawking that took place let us know in no uncertain terms that the Quakers wanted to be together. So Coco was returned to the cage.
Sydney relaxed into the Reiki, staying at the front of the cage. After a little bit, Coco joined him and for the last part of the session became calmer, gently nuzzling Sydney and relaxing by his side. I could feel the energy flowing particularly strongly.
Overall, I felt such a sense of peace and happiness emanating from the pair of parrots that my own spirits were uplifted and soaring on light, joyful wings!
After the session, Elizabeth helped Sydney onto my finger so I could hold him for a moment, and I was delighted with this little physical connection. She then took him and asked him to give me a kiss. As she brought him close to my face, I received the sweetest little parrot kiss and was so touched.
I heard from Elizabeth at the end of the week and she was concerned because Sydney was again having some breathing difficulties. Since it was near the weekend, she brought him into the animal hospital (her regular vet was closed) so he could receive additional oxygen and get his injections of antibiotic for the weekend.
On Sunday night, I offered Sydney a distant healing session, which I felt him strongly accepting. The next morning he was able to actually go back home with Elizabeth, and she requested that I come for a fourth in-person session. However, at this time, Elizabeth kept him in his own cage because Coco’s youthful exuberance seemed to be too much for him. So, Sydney was in his cage on top of a dresser and Coco was in her cage on the floor. Sydney was happy to see me. Though he seemed a little weak, I sensed his very strong and joyful spirit. Elizabeth had informed me that he was not eating or drinking very much, but he did eat a little bit toward the end of his session. He accepted much healing energy, remaining at the front of his cage, very calm and relaxed throughout. Afterward, Elizabeth offered him some berry juice, which he sipped quite eagerly.
The next day, Elizabeth wrote to me with some good news: Sydney was much improved and eating and drinking normally. She had taken him to the regular vet to continue with the vaccine antibiotic, and the vet was quite amazed with how energetic and talkative Sydney was, compared to the previous week. He still detected some congestion in his lungs.
Elizabeth had already been interested in learning Reiki herself, and had planned on taking my Reiki Level I class the previous Saturday. However, since Sydney had ended up on oxygen, she had postponed it. She now wished to take it as soon as possible so she could continue helping Sydney on her own. After I had shared the teachings and attuned her, we both worked with the parrots. We sat on the floor in their room and offered them healing energy.
Elizabeth continued with daily Reiki sessions and even sent me some uplifting videos she took of Sydney happily playing and building with little wooden sticks! It is remarkable the way Reiki helped Sydney rally for several weeks to have some additional quality time with Elizabeth and Coco. Though Elizabeth was secretly hoping for a miracle of complete recovery, I also know that in her heart she was preparing for however Sydney’s journey might unfold, as I think she suspected it might be his time to pass.
At one point Sydney began to be in distress again. The regular vet was not available so Sydney was sent to an avian specialist in New York City, where an X-ray revealed that he had an extremely enlarged heart, a congenital physical condition that was not curable, and minutes after the X-ray, Sydney made his transition. While there, Elizabeth made the acquaintance of a recently rescued male Quaker parrot, who had been found in very bad shape somewhere in Manhattan. He had been nursed back to health by the veterinary staff, and was now ready to be adopted. His story touched Elizabeth’s heart, and she decided that she would be his new mom, and that Coco would benefit from the companionship of another parrot to help ease her sorrow about losing Sydney. Though Elizabeth knew she would grieve for Sydney, she felt it would be a special tribute to him to give another parrot a loving home.
Elizabeth shared with me that she truly felt that having Reiki in her life at this particular point in time helped her handle this challenging end-of-life stage of Sydney’s with greater ease, understanding and peacefulness. For me, this entire odyssey of offering healing energy to a sweet winged creature showed me once again that Reiki works in such remarkable, mysterious and heartwarming ways.
The nesting box sits in a rather unremarkable location in the backyard. I have walked past it on numerous occasions but it has always been empty. This morning as I strolled past on my way to feed the chickens, I became away of the chirping coming from inside the box. As I stopped to take a peek I could only catch a quick glimpse of mama, who ducked quickly back inside to the safe dark confines of the box. I could hear the chirping of the babies inside. It didn’t take long for papa to become aware of my presence and as I passed by again to deliver fresh water to the chicken coop nearby, I was soon being “dive bombed.” I knew immediately that papa was in protective mode and stopped only momentarily because having this bird swoop to within an inch of my face and head was a bit scary to say the least.
My delivery finished to the chicken coop, I quickly retreated to the safety of the house but realized shortly thereafter that this was a perfect opportunity to offer Reiki. I so wanted to become acquainted with mama and since I would be caring for the family chickens for another four days did not want to be “dive bombed” every time I ventured out into the back yard and wanted papa to know I meant him no harm. I watched from the kitchen window as papa dutifully brought food to mama and the babies.
A short time later, I ventured back outside and stood about five feet from the nesting box. I caught a quick glimpse of papa sitting on the roof of the house. After setting my intention and telepathically communicating with the birds that I meant them no harm and was offering Reiki to them, I began. The results were quite astonishing. Papa continued to get food for his family, but his flying patterns changed. He flew gentle circles above me and never once “dive bombed” me. Mama came to the front of the box and just looked at me. Papa arrived shortly thereafter with another mouthful of food and after giving it to the mother simply flew away as if I wasn’t there. As I continued to offer Reiki, I could see a palpable change in the demeanor of the mother bird. Instead of loudly chirping for papa to bring more food, she just seemed to wait patiently her eyes closed. Papa continued to fly overhead but never showed any aggression towards me. Soon the mother bird took on the appearance of pure Reiki bliss. Papa delivered food several times. I decided to move closer and eventually found myself within inches of the opening of the box talking softly to the mother bird and she never moved but just sat there breathing gently eyes closed for the most part accepting my offering of Reiki. It was truly a magical experience. The chirping of the babies completely stopped and all was silent.
Each day as I passed by the box to deliver food and fresh water to the chickens, I always stopped to offer my hellos to mama bird. She always stayed near the opening and never ducked back inside. In the four days that followed, I was never attacked or “dive bombed” by papa. What an honor to have these marvelous little creatures allow me into their world. I only had one additional opportunity to offer Reiki to this family and as with the first time, they all accepted my offering with pure bliss. I sensed telepathically that they were all quite grateful. To be able to bond with these wild little creatures through the magic of Reiki is such an honor and with every new interaction, I become more and more grateful for another new friend. In this case an entire family! Thank you Reiki.
Lauren Urbais, M.Ed.
One beautiful spring day, I was contemplating how much I’d like to be bringing Reiki more into my daily life (besides my own self-practice). I was having a hard time concentrating on my work and had Spring Fever.
I went out for some fresh air at lunch and on my return home, I bumped into a neighbor whom I hardly ever saw let alone spoke to. This time though, she invited me in to meet her new Parakeet. She’d never had a bird before and was so excited to talk and share stories about him. The bird was lovely – all Easter egg pastel coloring – but Marge was concerned because every time she put her hand into the cage and tried to lure him out, he’d nip at and bite her fingers.
I told her about Reiki and my involvement with animal Reiki and SARA, and offered to give Butterscotch (so named by her grandchildren) a Reiki treatment. Marge was very open to trying this so we made an appointment for that night. I went back to work a very happy camper and was able to concentrate on my work, knowing that I had an interesting evening ahead, especially since I’d never offered Reiki to a bird!
When I first arrived at Marge’s, Butterscotch was very active in his cage, hopping from branch to branch, ringing his bell, and pecking at the mirror he loved to look into. Marge’s home was already very peaceful and with the Reiki music in the background, I was able to enter into that deep Reiki meditative state where I connected to Butterscotch and held the energetic space open for healing to occur.
I sat on the couch across from Butterscotch’s cage, and he quieted down almost immediately. I observed his chest moving up and down slowly and rhythmically, indicating he had gone into a relaxed state. The treatment lasted about an hour and when I turned around to talk to Marge, she was napping in her chair…..it seems she had benefited from the energy as well!
The next day, I checked in with Marge and she was thrilled (and surprised) that Butterscotch had come out of his cage without nipping at her fingers! He had spent about an hour just hopping up and down the length of her floor to ceiling mirror, admiring his reflection. I was leaving town the next day, but offered to follow up with another Reiki treatment when I returned. Unfortunately, Marge and I kept missing each other over the next couple weeks, and when I finally saw her, she told me that he had been nipping at her fingers again. Butterscotch had gone to live with her grandchildren, where he would have another parakeet to interact with.
I was surprised how attached I felt to that bird in just the one hour I spent with him. (I consider myself a ‘cat person’ after all!) I was sad to know I wouldn’t get to visit him again, but knowing he was going to a good home helped. One of the lessons of Reiki is to let go and let whatever needs to happen happen. This was a good reminder for me to not become attached to the outcome for any animals, whether they’re domestic animals in caring homes or in a shelter situation, awaiting their forever home.
Lions, giant tortoises, herds of wildebeest, eland, kudu & zebra as well as parades of elephants roam the dusty, semi-arid landscape of Addo National Elephant Park. Just an hour east of the coastal town of Port Elizabeth in the southeastern part of South Africa, it seems an unlikely place for any species to thrive. Indeed, it’s the home to the endangered dung beetle. During my visit I didn’t think to offer Reiki to the beetles, but I did have an opportunity to offer Reiki to one animal in need.
Throughout the Park are posted signs along the paved roads advising – “Do Not Leave Your Vehicle”. While there is one prey species that live in the Park (lions), the rule of not exiting your vehicle is more a case of respecting the wildlife in their home, not necessarily for your own safety. They are used to seeing cars and smelling exhaust, but these are wild animals that have not had encounters with our species. The Park isn’t a zoo or even game reserve – it’s the native habitat for animals that live there. We just happened to have a nice view via the network of paved roads through the Park.
So we were shocked early one morning when we saw three people standing in a wide open desolate area, with not even a shrub nearby. Surely they were Park Rangers we thought from a distance. But as we pulled closer, we saw that these people were not in the green Park Ranger uniform. And there were several parked vehicles in the nearby parking area that was marked as a “viewing site”. The people were splattered with mud and were huddled together talking to each other.
We pulled over and got out the binoculars to get a closer look. They went into action bending over and trying to work at something. They stood up to confer again. Now we could see the long neck of an ostrich, the only part of bird visible. The rest of her body was buried in a mud hole. Again they tried to get traction in the mud as they gripped the ostrich from underneath each giant wing, and it looked like they might succeed as part of the bird emerged, but then it slipped back into the mud.
This was repeated several times but to no avail. The woman in the group ran back to her car and then went back to the mud hole with something. It was a pair of pants, which they put at the base of the ostrich’s neck and then wrapped a leg over each wing.
Ostriches live in herds of 5 or more, so this one had clearly been abandoned. How long had he been stuck? A grown ostrich can weigh anywhere from 150 – 300 lbs. My friend and I debated leaving our vehicle to go help those who were struggling to free the ostrich. I had on sandals so wouldn’t be much help in the mud. I decided to offer Reiki to the situation for the highest outcome for all involved.
While my friend recorded the action with her camera, I closed my eyes and silently drew the symbols and repeated their names to help me go into a quiet space and focus on creating an energetic connection to the ostrich. I quieted my mind and tried to be open with no expectations, focusing just on the energy and not any desired outcome. I set the intention for the highest good for the ostrich (and the safety of the people) and let go.
After about 15 minutes, my friend shouted “They did it!” As I opened my eyes (and abruptly ended the Reiki session), I saw the stunned bird take her first steps. She took off running a bit awkwardly with her mud-covered wings weighing her down. She was free!
Back at the camp later, we shared the story and chatted with others who had also been watching from their cars. While there was agreement that what the people did was heroic, there was debate about whether it was the right thing to do. Comments about survival of the fittest, interfering with the pristine order of nature, human intrusion leaving no part of the animal world untouched, breaking Park rules, and leaving nature alone were tossed about in judgment.
Unlike this analytical discussion, offering Reiki had provided me a direct energetic experience of the situation where there wasn’t a need to intellectualize it. I realized that there is no separation between “us” as people and the rest of nature – humans are a species of the animal kingdom, we are mammals, we are nature, we are all connected, we are all one.
The experience showed me how the Five Precepts interrelate with one another. Just for today….the individuals who rescued the ostrich weren’t concerned about the consequences of their action (getting muddy, breaking Park rules, being attacked by animals), they were focused on one thing – getting the ostrich out of the mud hole. There was no need for anger at their breaking the rules. There was no need to worry for their safety. They were being true to their way as individuals by showing compassion for themselves (by following their hearts) and the ostrich.
I was reminded of the integration of the Three Diamonds –earth, heaven and heart energy centers. The people were being flexible (not bounded by the imposed rules about staying in your car), yet firm (being practical and using a pair of pants to aid the rescue) and compassionate (taking action on the behalf of another being in need).
I appreciated the opportunity to observe the unique situation and to share Reiki during the rescue. But even more interesting to me is that my gratitude continues to grow as I reflect on the experience. Animals and Reiki – the gifts that keep on giving!