Shelter Animal Reiki Association

Shelter Animal Reiki Association

Overcoming “Shelter-itis”

I find working with animals in a shelter environment to be extremely rewarding, as do many others. Those of us in SARA have made it our mission to bring Reiki to as many animal shelters as possible. Of course, there are more shelters than there are SARA members, so it’s very important for us to find other Reiki practitioners willing to share Reiki with shelter animals.

This is not as easy as it might seem. It’s not difficult to find a Reiki practitioner who will offer Reiki over distance to a shelter or a particular animal if requested. The difficulty arises in finding those Reiki practitioners who are willing to visit shelters and work with the animals and staff directly.

I’m sure you have encountered people who say things like “Oh, I can’t go to the animal shelter. It just breaks my heart to see those poor animals!” Many can’t bear the thought of animals in some shelters being euthanized. Still others find themselves frustrated because they “can’t take them all home.” At the heart of all the reasons people give is the fear of their own emotions.

Reiki practitioners are not immune to these fears. We as healers have as our first duty to heal ourselves. We can’t create a healing space for others if we do not have the ability to create that inner space for ourselves first. That does not mean we have to be completely healed in order to offer Reiki to others. If that were the case, virtually no one would be offering Reiki! What it does mean is that we must be able to recognize when we are out of balance and practice bringing ourselves back to a more grounded place.

The more we practice offering ourselves Reiki, the better we’re able to achieve the balance we desire. The more confidence we gain in being able to balance ourselves, the less fearful we are of our emotions running out of control. The key is to practice before putting ourselves into potentially stressful situations.

If you are considering offering Reiki to shelter animals, but have had difficulty in the past coping with the shelter environment, you will need to research the shelters in your area to find one that is a good fit for you. Not everyone can work in a euthanizing shelter. For them, a no-kill shelter is obviously a better choice. Fortunately, there are more no-kill shelters today than ever before so the chances of finding one nearby are much greater.

Once you have found a shelter that seems to be a good fit, start slowly. Visit the shelter occasionally and get to know the environment before making a commitment. Observe your reactions to different situations and evaluate them as objectively as you can to see if you’re simply reacting or if there’s something deeper going on. Often we react to things based on past history instead of seeing each experience as new and different.

Don’t expect to be devoid of emotion. We humans are emotional creatures. If something upsets you, acknowledge it and remove yourself from the situation as much as possible. Try looking at it another way. For example, many people say they feel great sadness about all the animals in the shelter. Rather than being sad for the animals in the shelter, be grateful that they are safe and cared for and have a place to sleep. Appreciating the shelter’s service toward its residents will help turn the negative view into a positive one.

If you or someone you know would like to help shelter animals, but are hesitant, I hope the above will help convince you to give it a try. The animals and shelter staff can use all the help they can get!

Kathleen Prasad

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