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Animal Reiki: Spiritual Compassion for All Creatures

by Renee Gregory Malo

As natural disasters and environmental damage unfold around the world, awareness and acceptance of animal Reiki as a spiritual and healing modality is growing. Global concern continues to mount for the well-being of fellow humans, animal populations, and the planet. 

There is a movement toward building a greater connection with household pets and a desire to help animals in difficult circumstances. Reiki’s compassionate spirit and self-healing benefits meet a need for people who want to help in a positive way. 

The Reiki modality was founded in Japan by Mikao Usui in the 1920s. The philosophy of the original Usui Reiki method was based on the simple, traditional Japanese techniques of meditation and mindfulness. By practicing Reiki, one learns how to intentionally create a gentle, open space of balance to invite healing, spiritual cultivation and enlightenment. When Reiki arrived in the U.S. in the 1930s, an element of human touch was added to the teachings and it became what we know today as human Reiki.

In 2006, Kathleen Prasad, the founder of Animal Reiki Source, learned of the original Usui philosophy. She found that animals were highly sensitive to energy work and realized how the no-touch techniques supported the healing experience on their terms. She developed the Let Animals Lead method and began teaching its simple meditative and hands-off techniques. Today in Connecticut, the Let Animals Lead method of animal Reiki is being practiced in homes, farms and shelters. 

Animal Reiki Training

Kelly McCarthy is an animal Reiki practitioner, educator and speaker. She has taught dozens of classes, provided hundreds of animal Reiki sessions to clients and spoken at numerous public events throughout Connecticut. 

With her Native American heritage, McCarthy was raised with a deep connection to Mother Earth and a desire to work with animals. Animal Reiki fit in perfectly. She first learned about animal Reiki from a friend who completed his certification and suggested that she do it, too. “After having a conversation with Kathleen Prasad,” she says, “everything lit up for me. I knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.”

McCarthy says the animals’ human companions also benefit from the animal Reiki experience. “People allow themselves to become vulnerable, relax and open up when they are with their animals. In this moment, they give themselves permission to heal and grow. Through animal Reiki, I help humans and their pets tap into their inner light and their self-healing journey together.”

Practices at Flamig Farm

Nevin Christensen was born and raised on Flamig Farm in Simsbury, owned by his family for generations. He grew up playing and working outside. A few years after returning home with a Master’s degree in environmental science, the family began a summer camp program for children to experience caring for farm animals and taking care of the land. The farm became a place of beloved memories for thousands of children.

One day, Christensen’s wife Julie brought home two sheep that needed a new home. They enjoyed having them so much, Julie continued to adopt more animals to live out their days on the joyful farm. Today the farm is home to goats, pigs, horses, cows, alpacas, emus, donkeys, peacocks, guinea pigs and more. The Christensens strongly believe in the healthful effects of positivity and optimism, and they invite the public to visit the farm animals to relax and relieve stress. 

In the fall of 2019, Kelly McCarthy reached out to Julie, her childhood neighbor. McCarthy told her about animal Reiki and how it could benefit their animals; the Christensens agreed to host an animal Reiki certification class at their farm. Initially, they weren’t going to take the class themselves, but their curiosity led the couple to sign up for Animal Reiki Level I Certification, and they have been pleased with the results.

Nevin and Julie promote animal Reiki on their farm to the public through their website. They like the idea of students offering Reiki to their animals and allowing the public to observe and ask questions. “I like to have people see alternatives. We need more people to see that they can be healed with universal energy,” says Nevin.

They also incorporate this healing modality into daily life behind the scenes. A lamb was recently born and unable to move his legs. Previously in a situation like this, the Christensens would feel there was nothing they could do. Nevin says that with his Reiki training, “just knowing that if I’m nearby, I can project energy out to the animal. There’s a sense of peace with the animal. There are good vibrations and they are healing.” The lamb was able to stand and walk after a few days and continues to be in good health.

McCarthy currently holds all of her certification classes there, with the farm animals benefitting the most from the Reiki. Nevin says, “Kelly has a standing invitation to come to the farm along with her students.” 

The Connecticut Humane Society Brings Reiki in

In July 2019, McCarthy was invited to the Connecticut Humane Society headquarters in Newington to give a “Pet Talk” about the benefits of animal Reiki to the employees and volunteers.  Theresa Geary, director of operations, says, “We are always looking for things that are new and less mainstream, as long as it fits with our mission.” The Connecticut Humane Society’s veterinary services have included flower and herbal essences for a number of years.

McCarthy’s event was well-attended, and 18 employees and volunteers signed up for her Animal Reiki I class in the fall of 2019. Since their training, the students have been practicing the Reiki precepts and offering Reiki to their own animals to improve their skills. Geary says, “I’m familiar with human Reiki, and I wanted to go to this class. I have a cat at home, and whenever I do the animal Reiki meditations, she is all over me and won’t leave
me alone.” 

Geary says the safety of the animals, employees and volunteers is paramount at all times. Before anyone offers Reiki at any of their three shelters, they create a formal program to ensure that best safety practices are in place. 

“These animals are under a constant state of underlying stress,” says Geary. “We’re always looking for new tools to help animals through our environment. We’re excited about it.”

Animal Reiki Restores Universal Connections

When asked what she enjoys most about animal Reiki, McCarthy says she loves it because of its simplicity. “It’s a beautiful experience,” she says. “Every animal is different, but they all connect the same way on a deeper level. They all feel seen and feel love in that Reiki space. Animals see their person as they are and have pure love for them anyway. In that space, they connect on a deeper level that allows them to learn, grow and heal.”

Renee Gregory Malo is a freelance writer, Human Resources consultant, and Animal Reiki Level II practitioner. She can be reached at [email protected].

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