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Maryland Dog Magazine

Healing Animals, Healing Ourselves

Jan 24, 2015 09:37PM
Healing Animals, Healing Ourselves

By Kathleen Lester, M.S.


When an animal companion becomes ill, are we looking in the right places for healing? We often start out looking at the presenting issue as the cause of the illness. Sometimes we see that the illness is part of a larger system, and maybe the root of which is somewhere else. What if we considered that the health issue our animal is experiencing may be a reflection of what is going on with ourselves or someone else in the family?


Animals want to partner with us and within that partnership they are reflecting back to us, sometimes our stresses, our contentment, our anger, our joy. They often are our mirrors, if we could truly see what is happening and not focus only on the illness. How can we look at the illness differently? Perhaps we can ask ourselves “what is going on with me, and how is my animal companion reflecting it?” Looking inward may seem illogical at first, but animals are our guides and often convey their messages through illness if other attempts at communication have failed (e.g. changes in behavior, needing more attention, etc.).


In addition to providing reflection, animals also want to be part of the healing process, they often don’t want a pill or shot to fix it; they want to partner with us in the healing process, with the goal of healing together. So, now you are probably asking yourself, what can I possibly do to facilitate healing for myself and my animal companion?


There are many alternative modalities that you can easily learn, where you can offer healing, again both to yourself and your animal companion, including: Reiki, meditation, flower essences, Healing Touch, Zero Balancing, aromatherapy, animal communication, massage, among many others. Learning one or more of these alternative healing practices can be life changing and can help to heal the whole family.


Whether or not you can immediately identify what the animal is reflecting, there are many very simple things that you can do right now, and others that you can easily learn to help you sort it out. The first recommendation is to just sit in a quiet space with your animals. Simply sit in a quiet space near your animal companion, maybe have some soothing music playing, and simply begin breathing in sync with the animal. It’s amazing how this very simple exercise can bring a connection between you both and in that quiet space healing can take place. Taking it a step further and invite your animal companion into your meditation, is also very bonding and healing.


Reiki is one of many alternative healing practices that we can learn ourselves – anyone can learn Reiki! Many often take Animal Reiki to learn to heal their animal companion, however they soon realize that it is more than Animal Reiki, it is a healing practice that starts with us. In my years as an Animal Reiki Practitioner and Teacher, I have seen the transformation of many students, who started out wanting to heal one or more of their animal companions, but ended up healing themselves in the process too.


Reiki is classified by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) as a gentle alternative medicine practice, which uses energy fields or bio fields to affect health. All beings have an energy field that extends from their physical form, and when our energy field is unbalanced, we are at risk of becoming ill or injured. Reiki helps to balance the bio field, allowing us to be energetically balanced, allowing the body to heal itself.


Modern medicine has embraced Reiki.  In 2007 there were over 800 hospitals nationwide that offer Reiki and it has grown exponentially ever since. However, the veterinary community is slower to accept it.  Only 135 veterinarians in 2014 across the country offering Reiki as a service according to the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association (AHVMA).


While it is a wonderful experience to have a Reiki practitioner facilitate a Reiki session to help our animal companions, it may be more worthwhile to learn Reiki so you can heal yourself and your animal companion.  Learning Reiki will teach you self-healing, with wonderful benefits for not only ill individuals, but helps to reduce stress and restore balance to those of us who are healthy, allowing us to stay healthy.


We often seek alternative healing for our animal companions, even if we have not experienced it ourselves; putting our animal companions health before our own.  What if we changed our thinking and in healing our animal companions, we first started with us?  When we are healthy we are in a much better position to participate in the healing of the animals we love so much.


Kathleen is the Executive Director of the Animal Reiki Alliance (ARA) and a Certified Animal Reiki Practitioner & Teacher (CARPT). Kathleen teaches all levels of Animal Reiki for a calendar visit the ARA. Animal Reiki Certification is also available through the Animal Reiki Alliance.