… well, okay, not so much ‘wild’ but certainly exotic! When I started my Animal Reiki journey, my practice focused very much on more traditional domestic animals, mainly my own animal family consisting at the time of two cats and a tortoise. Reiki for zoo animals wasn’t something I had even considered.

In 2008, I was fortunate enough to continue my Reiki journey with Kathleen Prasad at the CARE foundation, an exotic animal rescue and wildlife education facility based in Florida. CARE provides permanent homes to over 200 animals, from big cats and bears to birds and reptiles. It was my experience there that opened my eyes to the benefits of Reiki for captive animals and just how appreciative these animals are.

I’m not sure why I had never considered Reiki for captive animals or even ‘wild’ animals for that matter. As my experiences in Florida showed though, these animals turned out to be some of the most willing teachers and ‘subjects’ for my learning. Having someone take time to share a space with them allowed them to show just what they have to offer.

Live in the moment….

One of the key lessons I took away from CARE was to live in the moment, a tough lesson to learn when seeing beautiful animals sitting in enclosures as opposed to running free as nature intended. What Kathleen taught us though was that many of these animals had been rescued from horrific situations and whilst they weren’t able to return to the wild, they were in a loving home being cared for by a wonderful team of people. The importance was not to pity them but to see them as they were, in a place of love.

One special animal that stood out for me was Lola, rescued from a market as a circus bear with an uncertain fate. Seeing her sitting in her own personal bathtub in dappled sunlight made me see that she had a life to enjoy even if it might not be exactly as nature intended. She wasn’t dwelling on her past or thinking of the future but just enjoying her bath in that moment.

Be present….

Animal Reiki is all about being in the present, focusing on the now, a lesson I learned quickly when I found myself standing in a room full of snakes, many with the potential to give a very nasty and potentially lethal bite! Admittedly, the snakes were in their own glass boxes but, however much of an animal lover you may be, being surrounded floor to ceiling by boxes of snakes does go against your body’s very own survival instinct!

Standing with a fellow class mate who had a very real phobia of snakes did raise the energy in the room initially. The snakes were active, some climbing the sides, others banging against them. Between us though we learned to stop thinking, close our eyes, focus on our breathing and just ‘Be Reiki’. Within minutes the room changed and not a sound could be heard. If our minds wandered, the snakes stirred, and it was this experience that enabled me to bring my mind back to the present.

In that room I realised just what Kathleen means by ‘Be Reiki’. Focusing on the moment and being present is all that is needed. It may seem simple, but it takes a lot of practice. The animals are patient teachers though and so however nervous the horse or active the dog, bringing myself back to centre allows me to focus on them and only them, allowing them to open to the healing space and take what they need and teach what they know.

Animal Reiki is a constant learning curve, one that keeps you on your toes and never fails to amaze.

“There are two eternities that can really break you down. Yesterday and Tomorrow. One is gone and the other doesn’t exist…so live today” – Unknown