One thing that I think about a lot since I really got into Reiki years ago is that there are so many schools of Reiki out there, and there’s no regulation. I belong to another association where there are many practitioners from many lineages and nobody is practicing the same way, which makes things very unclear.
When we’re trying to explain to people what Animal Reiki is about, it’s very frustrating that there is no way to explain exactly what we practice. So, it’s very confusing to the general public who wonder, “What is Reiki? Do they use crystals? Do they bring in spirit guides?”
There was no uniform thing that said, “This is what Reiki is, it’s very clear, it’s practiced, and it’s spiritual.” I think that has hurt the progress of Reiki in the general public. When I heard about SARA and Kathleen’s idea, I was just thrilled about it because I love animals too. I really was a little concerned at first about what it was going to be like doing shelter work, but it helped that there was a Code of Ethics in the book and in my manuals. I love that there was a standard practice and that through SARA, because it means we’re all practicing the same thing.
Early on, I remember Leah saying, “We want somebody in California that’s a SARA teacher, teaching the exact same thing that somebody in Vermont is teaching.” In that way, people know when they come to SARA, they get excellent training and they get training with integrity. Kathleen and Leah do an amazing job on the manuals. The content is amazing, and the technique and protocol is so powerful.
I love the fact that we are thinking about the animals whose caretakers need our support so badly. To be able to offer that in affordable ways, as a gift of gratitude to the staff, is just so Reiki! It’s just compassion and really spreading the love. I love that I can say to my students, “This association follows these particular practices, and it doesn’t matter who you take a class from. If they’re a SARA teacher, you’re going to learn the same stuff.” We’re practicing not only a set form of practices, but a set form of practices that works.
To me it’s so important that when we go into a shelter, we can say, “We’ve got people around the world who are practicing and teaching these same techniques, these same meditations, and we’re having excellent results. I’m seeing some really great results here where we have students.”
I have also seen articles, books and stuff that mention Animal Reiki where people are just doing the hands-on part, or they’re referring to chakra or hand placements for dogs or cats, and there are graphics and that sort of thing, which I think just misses the point. My own experience with SARA has been amazing. When I first started I may not have had the courage to go into a shelter, but I’ll never forget that Kathleen asked me, “If we don’t do it, who’s gonna do it?” I always mention that because it made me think, “You know what? If I’m doing my practice, I can get in there and do it.”
I’ve been doing Animal Reiki for a long time and it really has given me so much experience with a variety of animals in so many different situations that I wouldn’t regularly have. The learning trajectory was really much quicker because of this variety of experiences. I also had to learn patience after going into my shelters and recognizing it wasn’t going to be a fast track, and there were bound to be some obstacles. Having patience, being diligent, remembering the Precepts, and then going in and offering Reiki to the staff despite being turned down constantly, but still offering. Eventually, people start to come on board. I show up every week. I think keeping that commitment also really adds to SARA’s success. I know that’s why it’s working so well up at Homeward Bound, where the three gals are so committed to volunteering.
I think it’s important there’s accountability that comes with being a SARA member, but I love that we can share our experiences with each other through blogs, Facebook posts, and the conversations we have every month. I’m so grateful to Kathleen and Leah for leading the way and doing so much great work. This organization is much bigger than it was 10 years ago, so now’s the time to take advantage of the talent that is here and do this together.