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Introduction to Reiki

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Last year, Dr. Oz declared Reiki his No. 1 alternative medicine secret. With 40% of Americans having tried alternative medicine — and 60% of US households home to at least one pet — many people are increasingly turning to Reiki and other holistic therapies to help their animals.

Thanks to Reiki’s increasing popularity, many holistic veterinarians now offer it and other energy healing options in the clinic environment. Many conventional veterinarians are also learning more about Reiki as a holistic option, at the request of their human clients.

Reiki literally means “spiritual energy” and refers to a Japanese holistic healing system that uses specific meditative, breathing and other practices to support energetic rebalancing and the self-healing process.

Because it is holistic in nature, Reiki can address both physical and emotional issues. It supports healing on all levels. It is an ideal therapy to use with animals because it is gentle, painless and stress-free, does not require direct physical contact in order to be effective, and allows animals to choose their own level of participation and acceptance of the energy.

Maybe you work in a holistic clinic where Reiki is already part of the healing program. Or perhaps you work for a veterinarian who is at present unaware of how Reiki can help the animals in her care. In either case, there are many benefits to learning Reiki.

Benefit 1: Reiki is easy to use and will not take away from your regular duties.

Reiki is something you can use any time during the day whenever an animal might need some extra support. Although longer and more focused treatments are extremely helpful, you can also use Reiki quickly and easily with some simple focus and breathing techniques.

This particular benefit has already been documented for nurses in “Effects of Reiki on Autonomic Activity Early After Acute Coronary Syndrome” a study that appeared in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (2010;56;995-995). In this study, Reiki-trained nurses provided this therapy to patients on cardiac units. The study showed they were able to incorporate these treatments (and their therapeutic benefits) into the standard care protocol without disruption or additional cost.

Benefit 2: Reiki can calm animals before and during exams and procedures.

As care providers for animals in a clinic environment, veterinary technicians are in a unique position to provide Reiki when animals might become stressed: before and during exams and procedures, for example.

According to the study “Reiki Improves Heart Rate Homeostasis in Laboratory Rats” in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (14(4): 417-422, 2008), Reiki significantly reduced a rise in heart rate produced by exposure to noise. Extrapolating these results to the clinic environment, veterinary technicians can use Reiki to help animals remain calm and relaxed during their visits.

Benefit 3: Reiki provides post-surgery comfort and recovery support.

A valuable time to offer Reiki to animals is immediately after surgery, or after treatment before they go home. By offering Reiki at this time, you can support a quick recovery.

The benefits of Reiki for pain management and recovery have been documented in “Reiki for Mind, Body and Spirit Support of Cancer Patients” by Pamela Miles in Advances (Fall, 2007, Vol. 22, No. 2). This human study showed how Reiki relieves symptoms such as anxiety and pain, helping patients feel better, “frequently within minutes.”

Benefit 4: Reiki self-care can reduce stress at work.

Last but far from least, Reiki can offer you self care and stress reduction. Reiki teaches that all healing begins within the individual, and that it’s through our own spiritual development and self-healing that we can deepen our ability to help others.

In the study “Nurses’ Lived Experience of Reiki for Self Care” in Holistic Nursing Practice, (23(3): 129-145, 2009), nurses were able to reduce on-the-job stress by doing Reiki self treatments. Reducing stress can also help support veterinary technicians in their interaction with co-workers, human clients and animals.

There are many more benefits to Reiki, and it’s a perfect complementary modality for veterinary technicians to learn. Reiki is taught by a growing number of practitioners, so it’s easy to find courses. Give it a chance, and see how Reiki can help you be the best professional you can be.

Kathleen Prasad is an author, animal Reiki teacher, founder of Animal Reiki Source and president of the Shelter Animal Reiki Association. She is also a registered practitioner with the Shibumi International Reiki Association. She teaches Reiki classes at BrightHaven Holistic Sanctuary and Hospice in Santa Rosa, California. For more information about her educational and informational programs, please visit animalreikisource.com.