Ok, so I’m not sure who named this handsome white pawed tabby fellow, but I do know that I was drawn to sit & share Reiki meditation with him in early August at Cat Haven WA. (A cat shelter here in Western Australia).
Sir Binky was sitting huddled in the back corner of his condo, his bedding scrunched up so that only the front of his body benefited from its softness and warmth. His eyes were questioning. Wary. Not happy.
I checked his information sheet and discovered that this sweet 2-year-old kitty had travelled to Perth from Broome- over 2,200 kilometres to find his forever home. What a journey he must have had.
I said hello, let him know I was there to offer Reiki and gently offered him my hand to sniff, as a greeting gesture. His eyes softened and he stood so I could pat him, but he was also unsure and his posture was not one of a confident cat.
I straightened his bedding and as he was clearly feeling a little more relaxed I brought over his food bowl and he ate some biscuits while I stood with him, my calm presence helping to confirm he was safe.
I closed the door to his condo leaving him be, sat just outside and entered meditation, dedicating my practice to Sir Binky. After a few minutes, it came to me that this beautiful boy was desperately trying to make sense of his past experiences. He was struggling to do so and this was troubling him.
I silently acknowledged that he had clearly already been through so much for his young age, that humans often do not make any sense and this is no reflection on him, as he was always doing his best. Then I let that insight go and returned to my breath, to my connection to my centre. To my meditation.
Sitting with Sir Binky this way, expecting nothing of him in return and perhaps offering him a different and more peaceful frame of reference for his future encounters with humans through Reiki is such a beautiful honour.
15 minutes later I opened my eyes to find Sir Binky sitting peacefully with his eyes closed. I thanked him for his time and let him know I was going to sit with some other kitties in the same shed.
After finishing with the other cats, I returned to check on Sir Binky. In this time others had been in and out of the shed, doors had banged open and shut and I could see Sir Binky was again feeling on edge.
Knowing that he was open to Reiki, I again sat outside his condo and Sir Binky responded almost immediately by softly closing his eyes. I entered meditation and after another 10 or so minutes opened my eyes to find him having a huge drink of water. He then sat peacefully and cleaned himself.
When he was finished, I opened the door to give Sir Binky a pat goodbye, and he rubbed all over my hand and arm, then using pressure leveraged himself to lay on his side; playful, happy and relaxed. This moment was so beautiful.
Sir Binky had completely let go and was living in and enjoying the present moment. I smiled and thanked him for sharing this precious side of himself with me, and yet almost instantaneously he realised what he was doing and quickly sat back up again with a look of surprise in his eyes.
Sir Binky appeared shocked that he had let his guard down and let me see who he really was- he had let me see his joyful heart!
It was almost as if Sir Binky suddenly thought, ‘oops, if I let my guard down like this, I might get hurt again like last time, what was I doing?!.’ Or possibly he even wondered on a deep level ‘is it really safe for me to be so free and happy, given my past? Is it really safe for me to shine my beautiful light?’
Is this not what we all do, to differing degrees? Don’t we all wish to let go of our troubles and fears, to exist peacefully from our heart; to not worry that others will try to hurt (or direct anger and judgement at) us if we do shine our beautiful lights?
What a wise teacher Sir Binky is.
In form, Sir Binky may be a cat of only 2 years old. Yet interestingly he had already learned to allow these types of considerations to limit him. Who else would he have learnt these subliminal messages and ‘rules for existence’ from, than the humans he had previously come into contact with?
How interesting too that the most gentle, radiant and carefree part of Sir Binky, the sweet, soulful shining of his heart, was the part that he was most afraid to share with the world. Yet the moment that he chose to do so, was also the moment that he felt immensely joyful, peaceful and free.
No wonder Sir Binky was struggling to make sense of our crazy human ways and fears- they are completely counter productive and nonsensical!!
The following week I returned to discover Sir Binky had been adopted, however just a few short weeks later he was returned for not settling in quickly enough. Clearly it was not the right home for such a special and adorable kitty! Sir Binky has since been placed in foster care, while he awaits the forever home that he has travelled so far to find. Whoever his new person may be, I know they will be so lucky to have him and that he will be a caring and loyal companion. Sir Binky: it was a privilege to meet you.
If you are interested in Sir Binky, please contact Cat Haven on (08) 9442 3600 to find out more.
I recently returned from the Australian Reiki Connection (ARC) International Reiki conference in Sydney, on the fantastic topic ‘The future of Reiki’. The ARC committee did an amazing job bringing the conference together; and I can only begin to imagine the efforts and time involved, for which I know all delegates are extremely grateful.
Seven presenters shared their perspectives on Reiki, including my Animal Reiki teacher Kathleen Prasad (travelled from California) and my Reiki teacher Frans Stiene (based in the Blue Mountains, teaches Reiki world-wide and is a Reiki researcher along with his wife Bronwen). *The photograph above is of Frans in action at the conference
An eighth speaker Anthony Turner, who has podcasts available on his Business Success Radio, spoke about his ability to support business owners in creating a sustainable business. Additionally, Malcolm J Hunt (who returned to Australia in 2014 after experiencing life as a Buddhist Monk in China) started the proceedings by speaking about mindfulness and leading us through a short meditation. Tony S Carroll, ARC Treasurer and Administrator, was the event MC.
One of the most heartening discussions was around the different forms of Reiki practiced and the opinion that no matter our lineage (the path that can be traced from an individual to their teacher and then right back to the founder of the system of Reiki, Mikao Usui) we must be united, as the reason behind our interest in pursuing Reiki is always the same- the hope of becoming healed.
This viewpoint recognises that we are all unique and therefore different forms of Reiki (just like different forms of yoga for example) may appeal to us. Neither is better or worse than the other, we are simply following our own path towards increasing the levels of peace and wellbeing we experience, amongst the stress of modern day living. In my opinion, this can easily be applied to encompass all healing modalities we may choose to explore whether out of personal interest, when faced with illness/ dis-ease or when looking for more meaning in life.
The use of Reiki in healthcare was discussed, including the introduction of Reiki into some hospital cancer treatment regimes around the world. Reiki is currently more accepted in this capacity in the United States (see below) and the United Kingdom, where the ‘Sam Buxton Sunflower Healing Trust’ has been established to help fund Reiki treatments for cancer patients and is supported within the English National Healthcare System (NHS). (I would like to acknowledge the use of Reiki in the medical system here in Perth, as part of SolarisCare Cancer Centre at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital- including their regional centres in Albany and Bunbury; and at St John of God Hospital in Subiaco).
Pamela Miles connected with the conference via live video link from New York. Pamela has been influential in pioneering the use of Reiki within conventional medicine in the US and has been published in peer reviewed medical journals including the journal of the American College of Cardiology. Pamela attributes her success within the medical community, to the sharing of common values (between medical and reiki practitioners) such as a mutual aim to do no harm.
Pamela shared that within the healthcare system it is acknowledged that any patient facing illness who is able to draw on inner resources, including spirituality will experience better outcomes. By being clear about what a Reiki treatment looks like and providing easily relatable information when answering questions we can work together to reduce scepticism around the benefits of Reiki.
Pamela also sees daily ‘self Reiki practice’ as a value Reiki practitioners around the world can share. (We must first experience and maintain our own sense of balance before we can help others to do the same).
Paul Mitchell started his talk by asking the audience questions designed to connect us with our first experience of Reiki, the reasons we decided to become Reiki practitioners/ teachers and why we are still practicing today. Motivations such as peace, bliss, curiosity, helping ourselves and others and (seeing the practice of Reiki as) an ongoing journey were common themes. Paul spoke of his view that (an understanding of the system and practice of) Reiki can lead us to reach beyond ourselves to benefit the common good, via a continual process of awakening and letting go.
Frans shared his belief that the future of the world is compassion. At the heart of all human beings exist our infinite beauty, warmth, compassion and expansiveness, yet as we face challenges in life feelings of worry, fear and anger may begin to grow inside us. These feelings dim our inner light, our sense of peace and connection to the world around us, yet the more we practice Reiki (for example through meditation, contemplation of the Reiki precepts, breathing techniques, chanting, hands on healing etc.) the more we can clear these emotions away and return to a place of balance.
Frans compares our inner light to that of a lamp. If the lamp is switched on but is covered by a blanket (representative of worry, anger etc.) and we can no longer see the light being emitted, does it mean that it no longer exists? He discussed that the reason most of us struggle to embrace the lightness within us is because it means embracing change, letting go (of what we ‘know’) and being open to, or rediscovering, different perspectives. Frans teaches that we should not just practice Reiki we should BE Reiki. After all, can we ever truly share kindness with others if we aren’t first kind to ourselves?
When Kathleen took the stage, speaking of the many animals that have shaped her journey and shared the lessons they have taught her, my heart exploded with joy and tears came to my eyes… and I know others attending felt the same way. Kathleen is at the forefront of Animal Reiki education and speaks from her great love of all animals, emphasising the need for a very gentle approach when offering Reiki to our sensitive animal companions. She teaches that the best way to share Reiki with animals is to meditate with them and invite them to share that space with us, dropping any and all expectations of the outcome.
Kathleen’s speech was illustrated with stories and pictures of animals including: her beloved horse Shawnee who was in a bad way when Kathleen first met him but flourished with Reiki and is now 28 years old; a paraplegic pig named Harley (from BrightHaven in California) who radiated joy and happiness and helped all Reiki practitioners who connected with him to do the same; and the beautiful black leopard Makoto (from the CARE foundation in Florida) who was able to release his anger at past human mistreatment thanks to the peacefulness of Reiki.
Kathleen spoke of her passion for her non-profit SARA- the Shelter Animal Reiki Association- which aims to get Reiki into animal shelters all over the world. (I am a proud practitioner member of SARA and have facilitated Cat Haven joining SARA as an organisational member).
Kathleen also provided some tips for approaching veterinarians and animal caregivers, noting that we must be clear in stating that Reiki meditation is never a substitute for medical diagnosis and treatment. Most of all Kathleen urges us to be as present as possible and to see animals as our teachers in the journey.
Hyakuten Inamoto Sensei, a Japanese Buddhist Monk from Kyoto, explained that Reiki is an art of surrendering, or giving and letting go. When asked what he teaches, he explained simply “Place your hands, surrender, smile”. He went on to explain that surrender is the most difficult part, because it is impeded by our ego. While our ego might serve us in our daily life, in spiritual practice we must learn how to set it aside by becoming increasingly more compassionate.
Sensei says the Reiki precepts are the foundation for our spiritual practice: Do not worry. Do not anger. Be thankful. Be diligent. Be kind. Sensei asks us all to recognise and show gratitude towards Mikao Usui, as without him sharing his understanding of the gift of Reiki with others it would not exist today. Sensei looks forward to seeing the presence of Reiki grow around the world including in hospitals (giving thanks to Pamela) and with animals (giving thanks to Kathleen).
William Rand shared his views of Reiki as a system that heals people and helps them to live better lives and expressed his gratitude that people are practicing Reiki in whatever form. William explained he believes Reiki provides a way in which we can ‘refine’ our personality enabling traits such as acceptance, forgiveness, love, kindness, and openness to more easily shine through and this then helps to set us on our unique path in life. He sees the future of Reiki being one where all Reiki practitioners work together to help bring peace to our planet.
Sue Lake Harris connected to the audience by sharing her own experiences of how Reiki has helped her to overcome various health concerns. She shared that she initially came to Reiki as a sceptic, but after experiencing its benefits decided to learn and has now been a teacher for many years. Sue has also been instrumental in developing (in Australia) a Certificate IV in Reiki which once attained will support existing Reiki practitioners to gain employment in hospice care.
It is my hope that this post has helped you to understand the many benefits and practical applications of Reiki in the world today and the great possibilities that exist for Reiki in the future.
From my wonderful teachers I have learnt that Reiki is a system of meditation and contemplation that practitioners can utilise as a healing tool to help first themselves and later others, including animals. Reiki practice and treatments (whether ‘self’ treatment or provided as a service to benefit people or animals) promote relaxation and stress relief, inturn encouraging both activation of the bodies’ innate self-healing mechanisms and a state of balance in body and mind. At its heart Reiki is a spiritual practice of compassion for all beings, and within the system exists a spiritual path that for dedicated practitioners becomes a lifelong journey.
I love Reiki and feel immensely blessed to have it in my life as a path that I can build on to increase my personal levels of peace, contentment, compassion, happiness and love (and to then expand that out via my business and volunteer work within the community).
Of course, everyone is free to choose for themselves the tools in life that work for them; my hope for each of you reading this is that you are able to find the solution that resonates for you.
Xxx Carolyn @ Pause
Take a moment to tap in to the beautiful feeling of true relaxation. You may have felt this way when returning from an amazing holiday, when out in nature, or after a catch up with a treasured friend.
Lets explore for a few minutes, why that feeling is often so fleeting and more importantly, how we can permanently integrate a feeling of relaxation, of peacefulness, into our everyday lives.
I’ll use a restorative holiday as an example. While away we start to let go of every day cares and worries; mix up our routines and connect to the enjoyment of life- simple pleasures like great company, a good book, beautiful scenery and wonderful food.
We become much less distracted by our to-do lists, or by situations that might cause us frustration. In some ways we become our best selves.
As we release previous concerns we may even start to wonder why we let them bother us so much in the first place!
Because you are focusing on your holiday experiences (while on holiday- not now- keep that warm feeling with you!), to enjoying and ‘being’ in the present moment, any analytical parts of you automatically start to fall away and your body will respond by relaxing further.
Your breathing naturally becomes more fluid, less shallow.
Your muscles start to relax.
Your mind becomes more clear, more open.
You may even start to notice thoughts arising yet find you can more easily release attachment to those thoughts- you become ‘mindful’.
If you continue to let go you might even discover that passing judgement becomes much less necessary, as you realise that it only serves to take you away from both your current experience and growing sense of peace and joy. Now that is something to think about! :)
So how do we bring this peaceful, connected feeling back with us to our everyday lives, especially when feelings of worry, disappointment and even anger can so quickly seep back in?
The easiest way to do this is amazingly, by connecting to your breath and by employing concentrated focus in your current activity.
“When walking, walk. When eating, eat.” Zen Proverb.
Whether you are walking to your car or a meeting, driving to work or to visit a friend, waiting in line or to cross the road, writing a report or preparing your dinner- your breath is your constant companion.
How beautiful is it that we have been given the ability, the power, to bring it under our conscious control -inturn increasing our ability to be calm and present in this moment?
By taking time to concentrate on the in and out cycle of breathing, by intentionally taking your breath deep within – right down to your belly – and then releasing it fully out, you repeatedly bring your focus inward.
As your energy is literally drawn back to you, away from the never ending distractions of life, your awareness can also find its way to the here and now.
Through focusing on this simple practice consistently every day, you will actively promote a familiarity between your breath and your association to the quiet source of peace, compassion and love that has always resided within you.
(In traditional Japanese Reiki meditation practice this place is known as the hara- or tanden- where our ‘true self’ resides, and is located 3 finger widths beneath the navel).
As a wonderful side effect, the relaxation invoked by deep breathing actually promotes efficiency of many internal bodily functions (i.e. slowing heart rate, increasing digestive ability, and activating self-repair mechanisms) further encouraging optimal health and well-being.
Over to you. Do you have any questions? What is your experience with the benefits of breath work? Are there any tips you would like to share to encourage others? I would love to hear from you!
Would you like to learn how to meditate- WITH ANIMALS? They are the BEST meditation partners & teachers! For details on upcoming classes please click here, or visit the ‘LEARN’ tab on this website.
Having recently been through a health crisis of sorts with one of our beloved cats, it really brought home the importance of being prepared to handle pet health concerns. For us, flare-ups of the condition would typically (of course) occur after hours, or on a Sunday or public holiday, meaning access to our regular vet was unavailable.
So the experience also highlighted how much information (and misinformation) there is on the web… and just how easy it can be for overwhelm to set in. Overwhelm can take us away from our natural capabilities to handle unexpected situations. This is why it is so important to acknowledge that we can always access and empower ourselves with information.
Accessing valid online material (combined with the care, advice and recommended treatments from your regular or emergency veterinary professional) can aid understanding; help us feel confident in asking the more technical questions about our animals illness and introduce us to new tools we can access/ implement to further support our pets wellbeing.
The 5 American websites listed below contain wonderfully beneficial information whether you are looking to keep your pet/s as happy and healthy as possible or for additional guidance in a time of need.
Developed by the Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine this website contains an array of useful information, particularly for owners of companion cats and dogs.
The aim of the initiative is to optimise pet health because, as stated on the website: “ Optimal well-being permits individuals to thrive in their environments. By giving caregivers the information and tools needed to recognize thriving in their pets, and to create an environment that permits them to thrive across the lifespan, we aim to sustain the highest quality relationship between pets and their owners possible.”
If your animals reside indoors, or even if you are seeking to understand more about your pets needs, visit The Indoor Pet initiative at: www.indoorpet.osu.edu (Click on the ‘For Pet Owners’ tab then ‘Cats’ and/or ‘Dogs’).
This website contains helpful information on a range of topics including:
– An A to Z listing of poisons for easy reference, enabling you to quickly check for details of a particular poison (plants, foods, medicines, fertilisers etc.);
– Emergency instructions in the event your pet has consumed or been exposed to any poisons (red ‘button’ in the left hand margin);
– A pet safety guide covering a range of topics such as: tips on how to make your home poison proof, and symptoms of poisoning;
– A blog and ‘Ask The Vet’ video series with further information.
Access the Pet Poison Helpline at: www.petpoisonhelpline.com
(Please note: the phone number advertised on the website is unfortunately for use only within the United States. While the poison phone helpline itself deals with poisoning in all types of animals, their website information focuses on dogs and cats).
This resource contains an effective library of articles on feline and canine health issues, written by both veterinary and other contributors.
There is information on a variety of diseases, symptoms, medications and behavioural problems, along with breed specific information and material relevant to settling a new kitten or puppy into your home.
Access the website at: www.petplace.com
Another American website, which was created to provide fast and affordable online responses from experts, including veterinarians.
This site can be utilised in two ways:
– Search the list of already answered veterinary questions and answers (click on the TAB ‘Vets’ then scroll down and click on the word ‘Veterinarians.’ Now scroll down the page – once it refreshes – and you will be able to access links to previously answered veterinary questions).
– Pay for and ask a question specific to your animal’s unique circumstances. This could be useful where you would like a second opinion, for a minimal fee and without you or your pet having to leave home. If you ask a question, you will then have access to an online conversation, back and forth with a veterinarian, where the discussion will only be completed once you are happy with the response and all of your questions have been answered.
Visit this website at:
(Please note:There is no need to sign up for the 30 day trial or monthly subscription service, to ask a ‘one off’ question for your pet. As this is an American service, a tip is requested as part of the payment system).
BrightHaven is an amazing non-profit organisation located in California and founded by husband and wife team Gail and Richard Pope, over 20 years ago. They have transformed their home and resources to provide pioneering hospice care for their elderly and disabled animal residents, centred around:
– Love (the most important ingredient!);
– Veterinary care;
– Reiki (for the animals and people);
– Homeopathy; and
– Natural diet (human grade species appropriate food and supplements).
(You can read about my visit to BrightHaven here)
BrightHaven have a great resources page on their website:
Wishing you and your animals vibrant health.
PS: Are there any pet health resources you have come across that you would like to share? I would love to hear from you!
You know the feeling. Your alarm goes off – yet it feels like you only just placed your head on the pillow.
You barely feel refreshed, though you drag yourself out of bed with eyes partially closed- heading for the kitchen and your first cup of coffee…
Poor quality sleep is slowly taking its toll on our population, with less time for replenishment and a slow but steady increase in the expectations we place on our body.
Our busy lives make it hard to wind down at night and our attachment to all things electronic doesn’t help.
So what can you do about it? As it turns out, quite a lot!
1. TIME OUT. How much time do you need between sleep and stimulation? (30 minutes? 3 hours? 5 hours?)
We’re all different so figuring out your unique cut off time – from computers/ emails/ documents/ work/ even TV – can prevent a racing mind from keeping you falling to sleep.
2. CUT (BACK) CAFFEINE. What is your daily tea, coffee and cola intake?
Consider cutting back during the day and/ or stopping intake by 2-3pm.
Dandelion root coffee is a great tasting coffee substitute (minus the caffeine) and if you drink decaf, look for one that has been decafinated using water, not chemicals.
3. OH SUGAR, SUGAR. Do you feel anxious as well as tired? Do you use sweet treats and ‘filler foods’ (like pasta and rice) to boost your energy?
If so you’re probably consuming too much sugar. Begin implementing smaller, more frequent and nutrient dense meals (like veg and protein) and sustain your daily energy needs in a healthy/ balanced way.
Additionally, you might like to incorporate ground cinnamon into your diet (for example in smoothies, on porridge, in curries etc) as it can help to stabilise blood sugar levels.
4. RUMBLE ALERT? Is digestion keeping you awake?
Eating dinner at least 3 hours prior to bedtime ensures the digestive process has begun well before you get into bed.
(You can also drink water with either freshly squeezed lemon juice or organic apple cider vinegar added, before meals, to help support your digestive function)
5. CLEAR YOUR MIND. Keep a pen and paper next to the bed.
Use them for creating a to do list for the following day (before you fall asleep); and to get those thoughts out of your head, if you wake up during the night.
6. INDIVIDUAL SLEEP ROUTINE. The mind responds to routine- the aim here is to design one that helps your body prepare for sleep.
Consider: Going to bed/ getting up at the same time daily; keeping work/ study out of the bedroom; drinking herbal tea a few hours before bed (i.e. chamomile, oat flower, lavender, lemon balm, valerian – all aid restful sleep); utilising soft lighting (lamps, dimmers) in all rooms before bed to ‘set the scene’ for winding down; burning/ diffusing lavender essential oil; reading a good book; meditating; stretching gently; using a fan in your room to block noise if you’re a light sleeper; keeping a gratitude journal (see secret #7).
Including a relaxation and/ or breathing exercise as part of your routine is also beneficial. (You can also do this if you wake during the night).
Once you are laying in bed try: tensing and then relaxing various parts of your body starting with your feet, working up to your face. Then turn your awareness to your breath and start to breathe more deeply. Your breathing naturally slows when you sleep, so doing this supports the onset of sleep. (You can try counting as you elongate your breath – in 1, 2, 3, 4, out 1, 2, 3, 4 etc).
Another technique is to, on the inhale deeply draw your breath down into your belly and on the exhale, imagine that you are letting go of your day. (On each out breath you can might like to name the things you are letting go of).
7. GRATITUDE. Finish your day and establish the next one, on a positive note.
Before drifting off to sleep, think of three things you are grateful for (no matter how large or small) and two things you are looking forward to the following day.
In our busy life we are so often striving for goals in the future, so this simple act is a great way to give thanks for the blessings we already have already received and invite more of those blessings into our life.
8. DEAL WITH STRESS. If you continue to experience sleep troubles, consider what else you can do.
This could include: consulting with a professional of your choice (holistic practitioner, GP, counselor for example); booking in for a relaxation treatment (like Reiki!); signing up for a yoga or meditation class; scheduling a weekend away/ booking a holiday; or re-evaluating your schedule.
So… where to begin? Think about which of these ideas feel right for you- the ones that really sit with you as you read them. Even start with the tips you know you can stick to easily and build from there.
BONUS TIP: Ensuring you are comfortable (room temperature, breathable cotton sheets & PJ’s) and that the bedroom is pitch black, also promotes peaceful sleep. (This is because any level of visible light will trigger a reduction in melatonin production, a hormone produced by our pineal glands that is required for effective sleep).
Wishing you a wonderful nights rest!
PS: Which of these tips works best for you? Do you have a tip for quality sleep you think others could benefit from? I would love to hear from you!