by Kristine Azzarello
Originally published in the International House of Reiki Newsletter, March 2011
I volunteer Reiki treatments to the animals of Wildlife Works, a wildlife refuge/sanctuary near me that is dedicated to the rehabilitation and release of distressed wildlife and the promotion of responsible attitudes about the preservation of native species, habitat, and the environment. WW rehabilitates injured, ill and orphaned mammals, songbirds, and birds of prey who have been victims of human interference, environmental contamination, or habitat destruction.
Since the patients are all there through some adverse human action, whether intentional or unintentional, it can be very easy to fall into feeling of self righteous anger against whoever caused the harm to the animal. In some cases, it was unintentional; someone found an orphaned animal, took it home to care for and fed it the wrong food, missing the nutrients the animal needs to develop properly, resulting in physical conditions such as a malformed beak, or the nonphysical but still problematic situation, the animal becomes imprinted and can’t be released back into the wild. They then become part of an educational program, going into schools and organizations to explain the best way to handle finding a sick or orphaned animal.
Other times, the animals are there because of deliberate acts of cruelty. Currently there is a pigeon whose wing was shattered from a pellet gun and a Trumpeter Swan who was also shot. Both are recovering and will survive. The pigeon will never fly again and the outcome for the swan is better.
As a Reiki practitioner, I quickly found out that I couldn’t collapse into my anger at the cruelty of people and still expect to be of service to the animal. One cannot hold an intention of offering Reiki for healing and also hold onto anger and thoughts of revenge at the same time. Only one intention can be held at a time. I have learned to take the time to stop, breathe and center myself. I remember why I am there, the precepts, and as the anger slowly dissipates, it is replaced by compassion. As I look at all of the animals, there are some who meet my gaze directly and in those eyes I see compassion. I see a directness, an in the moment attitude and compassion for me. As I offer the Reiki, I feel compassion continue to fill me and go beyond me and beyond the animal. The compassion goes beyond the actual setting to include whoever was so poor in spirit that they could deliberately hurt another living creature for no reason. What a poverty of heart! As I offer Reiki to the animals, the ones who accept, reciprocate to me, and the flow of compassion is now flowing between us and beyond us. It is an experience of the oneness of all; there is no otherness. There is no anger, no outrage, only compassion.
The animals are incredible teachers of compassion, forgiveness and being in the moment. I am always thanked by the owner of the refuge for coming, but I tell her it is I that am really thankful for the privilege of being there. I would offer to all of you the joy, the wisdom, and yes, often the tears of offering Reiki to the animals. You will receive so much more than you give; compassion and wisdom.