The Animal Reiki Code of Ethics was written in 2008 by Animal Reiki Source founder and Shelter Animal Reiki Association president Kathleen Prasad. I was introduced to the Code of Ethics in Shinpiden class with Kathleen after studying Animal Reiki with another teacher. I did my best to follow the Code of Ethics as far as my understanding allowed. Years later and after taking deeper look at the Code of Ethics through a teleclass offered by Kathleen in May 2017, I have a lot of hindsight to reflect on the tremendous value of the Code as guidance for Animal Reiki practitioners as well as instructions for living a spiritual and compassionate life. I have chosen to reflect on five points from the Code of Ethics that really stand out to me at this point of my journey along the Reiki path.
A Radiance of Reiki
I distinctly remember this phrase from the teleclass because of the luminous beauty it invites. It is also a very apt description of the healing space created by practicing Reiki and of the process by which we offer and share Reiki with animals. Our personal spiritual practice of the system of Reiki as guided by the Reiki Precepts helps us to rediscover our own inner, innate healing essence, a luminous bright light, always perfect no matter what. Brightly shining our inner light creates the healing Reiki space, a radiance of healing spiritual energy that animals can sense and to which they are attracted. As they bask in the radiant light, true healing is possible.
I studied briefly with an anthropologist whose spiritual teacher was a Hawaiian shaman. One of the traditional Hawaiian shamanic teachings was about a bowl of light that is gifted to everyone at birth by their immortal spiritual soul. The light nourishes and sustains us. It is our true essence, pure light, pure love. As we pass through life things happen and many of our actions, words, and thoughts are not in alignment with our true essence. Each time this happens it is like putting a stone in the bowl. Some of light goes out with each stone until hardly any light is shining forth. Hopefully we wake up and discover what we are doing. Then we can take the bowl and dump the stones out. This is what we are trying to do when we practice the system of Reiki and strive to embody the Precepts.
I love this explanation of “how Reiki works”. As a scientist I love explanations and I love being able to explain why and how to my Reiki students. I love that I can use an example from where I am living to show that rediscovering our true original nature is a universal spiritual endeavor. I love the beautiful magical vision created in my mind by the phrase “a radiance of Reiki”, yet it is totally grounded in everyday practices of body, mind, and speech. I am reminded that my practice is not about the techniques themselves, but about rediscovering a state of mind, my original state of mind that is always beautiful and perfect. I already am that, I just don’t remember. Just the knowledge of my own original light and the small hints of its immense divinity that I directly experience while meditating is empowering as well as healing. It amazes me that I am that light, that I can be that radiance of Reiki and support animals and other beings.
The Wisdom of My Heart
This is another beautiful phrase that stood out to me for its visionary appeal as well as the multiple layers of spiritual teachings it holds. How do we rediscover our inner light, how do we figure out how to dump the stones out of our bowl of light? We start to wake up through daily meditation practice and striving to live the Precepts in our everyday actions, thoughts, and words. The more we do this the more we are able to hear the wisdom in our hearts, the wisdom that is present when we are being our original perfect selves. Hearing that heart wisdom allows us to be in the flow of the universe, to recognize that we are the pure light that is the universe.
The Radiance of Reiki that comes from shining our perfect inner light is a healing space created by our mindful presence, being the Precepts, being who we are. Animals recognize this connection and spiritual honesty and can choose to enter that radiant space for their own support and healing. They support us to go deeper into our practice by being models of the Precepts and showing us their own effortless Being and connection to the flow of the universe. We can then shine brighter and mirror back their radiance. A circle of healing forms, from a heart to heart connection, that is beyond merely physical well-being.
It was only through daily medication practice with a virtual community meditation group facilitated by Kathleen that I really started to understand that healing is not about curing, it is about accepting what is and Being with it. Maybe it was the group energy that we co-created by all of us and our animal friends, but I felt truly in the Radiance of Reiki and thought, how healing this must be for all of us and our animals just being together in this space. Duh! Yes, that is what healing is about! We were all in the flow, supported by and supporting our animals, connected heart to heart, sharing the wisdom of all our hearts.
Healing in the Space of Compassion & Love
Our greatest healing potential comes from the space of compassion and love that is the spiritual essence of our true self and the source of the Radiance of Reiki. Sharing our true essence automatically creates healing potential on spiritual, mental, and physical levels. Sharing and connecting on this deep spiritual level is beyond words, interpretation, understanding, and intellectualization. It is a heart to heart, soul to soul, Being to Being connection creating true and lasting healing. Herein lies our most powerful healing possibilities for ourselves and others.
This teaching from the Code of Ethics also points to the circle of healing with animals or any other being. I understood this teaching intellectually (and thus only superficially) for a long time. Again, the glimmer of real understanding came as a result of dedicated daily practice supported by a community of practitioners, our animal friends, and Kathleen. In a guided group meditation Kathleen asked us to imagine in our hearts all the love and compassion of our entire lives…and the universe. I was stuck! I could not imagine much love and compassion in my life at all! For about a week each time I practiced the meditation I beat myself up about all the horrible things I’d done in my life. I realized I had to have compassion for myself first before sharing it with others. I had to hold myself in the light of love and compassion along with the animals that were invited to share the meditation space. It was another week before I was able to dump some of the stones out of my bowl and acknowledge compassionate and loving deeds from my lifetime and gather some love and light into my heart. The biggest shift came when I really looked at the animals I had invited and saw their inner light and beauty. They don’t think about things or actions as good or bad. They don’t label or name or judge, everything just is. What exemplary role models, what shining examples of love and compassion! What a gift that they allow us to share their Radiance of Reiki! A gift from the circle of healing!
Working With Companion People
My personal business card reads “Reiki & Wellness Arts for Animals & Companion People”. It is sort of a joke, a play on the term “companion animals”, and because I hadn’t really intended on doing anything with people. The joke is really on me because I found almost all animals I worked with shared their human companion’s health issues. It was like the circle of healing viewed from a “negative polarity”. Moreover, I found animals experienced more healing when their humans received healing too. We really are all connected, it should have been no surprise that bonded companions would have to be treated as One.
The section from the Code of Ethics regarding the information we need to share with the human companion and how to involve them in the session is invaluable. How different my practice would be now if I had taken this teleclass when I first started offering Reiki to animals with human companions! Everything from how to describe the system of Reiki, the difference between animal and people sessions, what to expect in a session, explanation of and disclaimers about healing versus curing, suggestions to involve the people, scheduling time before and after for discussion…I made mistakes across the board. In the process of learning what didn’t work, I lost a lot of clients and thus opportunities to share healing space and educate people about Animal Reiki. I also probably came off as a total flake.
As representatives of Animal Reiki in our communities we need to be confident, professional, and credible. We need to be able to talk about what we are doing and why we are doing it. We need to be able to explain to others concisely and in a grounded, understandable manner about the system of Reiki, what to expect during a session, what kinds of outcomes are possible. We need to be able to explain the difference between healing and curing so as not to give clients false expectations and leave them feeling “ripped off”. Our best attempts to explain and educate can only come from a place of understanding through daily practice of the system of Reiki, striving to embody the Precepts, and direct experience of the outcomes of our practice.
Maui is a small island with a lot of mana. Practitioners of all disciplines flock here, attracted to the spirit and sacredness of the place. Word gets around faster than one would expect. Being professional and nurturing a personal reputation is critical. The Code of Ethics as a whole is invaluable to promoting professionalism and credibility, stating explicitly the guidelines upon which our practices are grounded and the standardized practices shared with other Animal Reiki practitioners from our lineage.
We need to practice humble clear-seeing in order to successfully create professional alliances, cooperative relationships, and honor other practitioners and their disciplines. I love the reference back to the Precept asking us to be humble and grateful. This part of the Code of Ethics teaches us about seeing past our egos that create separation, difference, scarcity, and fear of competition. Instead, through humble clear-seeing we honor common goals and have gratitude for each other’s unique gifts. Together we share our collective skills and knowledge, support each other, and inspire each other through our successes.
When I first started practicing Animal Reiki around Maui, I got a lot of strange looks and comments from other practitioners. Some even questioned my training and suggested I retake Level 1 before joining their practice groups. Also, suddenly more practices were adding “Animal Reiki” to their list of offerings. I felt really isolated, insecure, and defensive. I had to renew my dedication to my own practice and lineage and create a community – by teaching classes, giving public talks, holding Reiki shares and informational sessions, reaching out to other organizations through the auspices of SARA. It’s been a long haul but by staying true to my foundations and being clear about my practice by following the Code of Ethics, I’ve grown my own personal reputation and carved my own niche here. Following the guidelines in this section of the Code of Ethics helped me start and nurture a small but growing group of humble, clear-seeing practitioners who may be diverse but are willing to honor the overall teachings provided by the Code of Ethics in support of animals.
Looking back, the Code of Ethics has been like a warm and loving, yet strong and supportive teacher. As a beginning practitioner it gave me guidance, structure, and direction. It kept me from making more mistakes than I had up to that point. It helped me become more secure and grounded in my own practice and to stay true to myself. As a more seasoned practitioner, it has provided a framework for building professionalism and credibility and creating community. It has given me the words and understanding to educate others about the system of Animal Reiki and the deeper understanding for my personal spiritual growth. If I had to pick one favorite thing from revisiting the Code of Ethics, it would be the importance of dedication to a personal, daily practice of the system of Reiki supported by animals, a like-minded community, and superior mentor. I am deeply grateful to all of you: animals, fellow practitioners, and Kathleen
Prasad, Kathleen. 2018. Healing Virtures: Transforming Your Practice Through the Animal Reiki Code of Ethics. Animal Reiki Source, San Rafael, CA. 126 pp.
Wesselman, Hank. 2011. The Bowl of Light: Ancestral Wisdom from a Hawaiian Shaman. Sounds True, Inc., Boulder, CO. 272 pp.