This article originally appeared in From the Horse’s Mouth in April, 2010.
Some of you may have seen The Dr. Oz Show on January 6, where the good doctor gave the thumbs up to my favorite healing practice: Reiki (pronounced ráy-key). Dr. Oz, a cardiac surgeon, revealed that his wife is a Reiki practitioner, that Reiki healing is commonplace in their household, and that he has used the services of a professional Reiki practitioner in his operating room. At the end of the show, he urged his viewers to “Try Reiki.”
The segment on Reiki was short (only a few minutes) and of course did not mention the benefits for animals. But while people’s interest in Reiki for themselves is just starting to heat up, animal lovers have been open to Reiki for their four-legged companions for some time. This is terrific because animals are very open to this type of healing. They don’t question whether it is really happening; they just gratefully accept it. When they’ve had enough, they move away.
Humans, however, are skeptical creatures. They tend to ask a lot of questions, which is good. But they also tend to be wary of the unfamiliar, which can deprive them of some amazing experiences: such as Reiki treatments. There is a lot of confusion about Reiki, and a lot of misconceptions. Let me give you a short, straightforward definition:
Reiki is a healing practice that promotes physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual balance.
Reiki treatments can be done in person or from a distance, any distance. Reiki is not a religion or belief system, and it works in conjunction with—and enhances—all other medical and therapeutic techniques. Reiki can never cause harm; it can only be used for healing.
For animals, I have used Reiki to alleviate physical trauma and shock; to manage pain; to help wounds heal more quickly—including post-surgical wounds; to help diseases resolve more quickly; to help relieve colic and other digestive upsets; to help resolve mental and emotional upsets, such as with abused, traumatized, or sad animals; and to intensify neuromuscular retraining sessions.
For humans, I have used Reiki to accelerate healing after surgery or injury, to accelerate recovery from illness, to manage pain, to lower blood pressure, to assist with detoxification, to assist with recovery from grief or loss, to decrease stress, to increase vitality, and to improve mental and emotional outlook (including in those suffering from anxiety, depression, or dementia).
So let’s say you’ve decided to take the plunge, to try Reiki for yourself and your animal companions. How do you find a reputable practitioner?
First, if you or your animal is ill, please consult a physician or veterinarian. Reiki practitioners are not licensed to diagnose or treat specific illnesses. And anyway, that’s not what we do. Our job is to help create balance in the client’s body (animal or human), balance that triggers the client’s own healing mechanism. All bodies have the innate ability to heal.
Second, please understand that you or your animal companion may need more than one Reiki session. Reiki is amazingly powerful, but healing is a process.
So what questions should you ask when interviewing a prospective practitioner?
Ask about the practitioner’s level of training. In the United States, there are three levels of Reiki training: Level I, Level II, and Level III (also called Master level). If a friend of yours is a Level I practitioner and wants to help you out, that’s terrific. But if I were paying a professional, I would want a person with at least Level II training.
Ask about the practitioner’s length and type of training. Reiki training is not standardized. Some practitioners have attended one-day classes, often in large groups, and have had no further contact with their teacher or fellow students. Traditionally, Reiki was taught (both in Japan and the United States) as an apprenticeship. Completing Level III (Master) training could take years. When choosing a Reiki practitioner, I would want a person who has participated in hands-on classes with a Reiki Master and who has participated in a supervised internship as well.
Ask how long the practitioner has been in professional practice and whether she or he has participated in continuing education courses or workshops. Check out the practitioner’s Website, if she or he has one; read any articles she or he has written; attend a talk she or he may be giving. Does the practitioner conduct him- or herself in a professional way?
Ask about the practitioner’s beliefs about healing. Ask the practitioner to explain Reiki. Is the explanation clear? Does it make sense? If the practitioner claims that she or he can “cure” you or your animal companion, walk the other way. Such claims are unethical. Healing on some level always occurs with a Reiki treatment. Cure, however, is dependent on many factors. Remember that healing is a process, a process that requires commitment from the one seeking the healing. (In my experience, animals have no problem with this although humans sometimes do.)
Ask about the practitioner’s commitment to daily self-healing. The core of Reiki practice is self-healing. The more in touch the practitioner is with the self-healing process, the better a healer she or he will be.
If you are hiring the practitioner for your horse or dog or cat, ask about the practitioner’s experience with animals. This may not be as important if the sessions are to be conducted from a distance, but in hands-on healing you want to be sure the person can clearly read animal body language and can follow the animal’s lead. It’s also useful if the practitioner knows something about animal anatomy and behavior.
And, finally, trust your instincts. Choose a professional Reiki practitioner that you and your animal companions will feel comfortable working with.
Reiki is a powerful healing practice. I have been honored over the years to experience Reiki easing much pain and suffering, and have witnessed many beings, both two-legged and four-legged, regain health, vitality, and a fuller appreciation of life. I urge you to give this beautiful healing art a try.
© 2010 by Pamela Sourelis