What Is Reiki?
Reiki is a Japanese word (靈氣) that can translated as “spiritual energy,” “soul power,” or even “miraculous presence,” and it describes the energy present everywhere in the universe. Quantum physics and other fields of science similarly describe a range of energies that make up everything in the universe.
Today, the word Reiki refers to both this omnipresent energy and the practice of harnessing this energy for mindfulness, meditation, and healing. The system of Reiki as we know it today was founded in Japan in 1922 by Usui Mikao after a profound spiritual experience. Formally called Usui Reiki Ryoho, or “Usui’s Reiki Healing Method,” the system of Reiki supports well-being and self-healing through simple practices of mindfulness, meditation, and similar efforts as a means of personal development and spiritual growth. Reiki is a gentle, non-invasive healing system rooted in the practice of compassion for oneself and others, including animals, which supports the body, mind, and spirit’s ability to return to a state of balance and wholeness.
Today, Reiki is recognized by institutions such as the National Institute of Health for its effects on health and healing for humans. A growing number of studies illustrate that Reiki reduces stress, manages pain, and expedites overall healing, in addition to managing stress and reducing burnout in caregivers.
Reiki is proving useful in a wide variety of settings with animals, too, as it can be safely practiced at shelters, rescues, at home, and in veterinary settings to reduce stress, address trauma, and forge meaningful connections with animals as a complement to their normal care routine.
What Is Animal Reiki?
Animal Reiki is the practice of promoting healing through Reiki meditation for animals and their caregivers. The Shelter Animal Reiki Association (SARA) helps caregivers and shelters provide a healing space for animals through mindful meditation practices. It can be hard for caregivers to witness the aftermath of the mistreatment of animals. Animal Reiki helps re-center the caregivers' emotions, allowing them to be present, to be grounded and to have clarity in moments of duress. The ability to set aside our personal emotions allows us to be present in the healing process of the animal we are trying to help and to be in a space of non-judgment, balance and compassion for the animal.
The 6 Pillars of the Let Animals Lead® Method
In the Let Animals Lead® method, created by Kathleen Prasad, Animal Reiki is defined as animal-guided healing through meditation. This approach is composed of 6 Pillars of Practice. These 6 pillars are the foundation for SARA’s approach:
- Our meditations are based on Japanese Reiki techniques and philosophy.
- We use touch only when it is animal-initiated.
- We always see the animal as whole and focus on an “All is Well” state of mind.
- We practice meditation flexibly: sitting, standing or walking with animals.
- We develop mindful presence with animals for peace and healing.
- We honor animals as our healers and teachers.
The 6 pillars were created in order to protect animal's personal space, choice and freedom, both physically and mentally within a session, as well as to acknowledge their wisdom and agency in co-creating a healing space of trust with their Animal Reiki practitioners.
LEARN. GROW. LOVE.
SARA President Kathleen Prasad has included some of her favorite writings on Animal Reiki.
Part 1: What Is Animal Reiki?
Reiki is a combination of two Japanese words:
Rei, which means spirit, and
Ki, which means energy.
Therefore, the word Reiki can be translated as "spiritual energy." We are talking about the energy that makes up all things. Everything is created from energy. Quantum physicists are learning more and more about this energetic world. So, when we refer to Reiki energy in a general way, that is what we are talking about.
Part 2: Animals Understand Meditation
Anybody who has ever loved an animal has already connected energetically because that is the way animals connect. That is who they are.
Those of you who have horses know that they are so in tune and so sensitive. They may sense and know something that you don't even see or notice because we have a harder time with our senses as human beings. So, the animals are much more aware of their environment and all things (even energy) that are in their environment.
Part 3: Learning Animal Reiki to Help Your Animals
The easiest way to start using Animal Reiki immediately is to pick up the book Reiki for Dogs. The purpose of this book is to open up the world of Reiki and meditation to animal lovers and those who do not know anything about it. It also has exercises that will help the person experienced in energy healing as well. I also included some traditional Japanese techniques to use with your animals, and I have written lots of new meditations. The meditations in the book are explained so that you can do them with your animal for a variety of different physical, mental, emotional or spiritual issues. I even discuss animals who are transitioning.
Book Excerpt: The Spiritual Wisdom of Dogs (Chapter 2)
Every animal knows more than you do.
—Native American proverb
To get the most out of our experiences with Animal Reiki and dogs, it is helpful to consider the spiritual qualities of our dogs and what we can learn from them. When we share our lives with dogs, our spiritual paths intertwine. We are (consciously or unconsciously) changed for the better. Dogs are not only our closest companions and friends; they are also amazing spiritual teachers, simply because of the spiritual qualities they possess.
Laying the Groundwork for a Solid Animal Reiki Program in Your Local Shelter, Sanctuary or Rescue
Bringing Animal Reiki to your local shelter, rescue or sanctuary is not always easy. Sometimes, staff may not understand what Animal Reiki is and because of this may be a bit circumspect about allowing it to be used with their animals. On the other hand, what if Animal Reiki is welcomed at your facility?
Animal Reiki for Cats
If you are looking for a gentle and noninvasive technique for supporting feline wellness, look no further than Animal Reiki. Animal Reiki can create relaxation and peace in even the most stressed-out cases. Thus, it is ideal for cats living in loving homes, as well as shelter and rescued cats. Animal Reiki can help to speed healing after surgery or illness, reduce the side effects of medicine and other treatments, relieve pain, improve behavior problems, heal anxiety-related problems and, when physical healing isn't possible, ease the transition to death.
Openness, Receptivity and Cultivating a "Beginner's Mind"
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's mind there are few."
This quote by Shunryu Suzuki illustrates what I believe is an important fact that all Reiki practitioners and teachers should remember. To me, one of the most of the most important qualities we can nurture within ourselves is that of receptivity -the quality of a beginner's mind. When we are receptive, we are open, and when we are open, the flow of the universe is easy to access and clear in its message to the heart.
Reiki & Riding
Animal Reiki Source Newsletter, April May June 2010
By Kathleen Prasad
In my work with Reiki and animals, I have always had a special relationship with the horses I have connected with. In reality, this connection began long before I knew Reiki, at age 5 when I met my first horse. From that day forward, I was absolutely captivated, and my life would never be the same!