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Reiki and Animals

Reiki (Ray-KEY)

Rei — subtle, mysterious, sacred, ethereal, spiritual

Ki — life force energy

Every living thing is filled with the energy of the Universe: Reiki.

Reiki means the subtle energy of the Universe, and it also refers to the system of consciously working with this same energy (called “Ki” in Japan).

You live in China, you say? There it’s known as “Chi.”

What about India? Hindus call it “Prana.”

Hawaii? It’s “Mana.”

The Sufis? “Baraka.”

The ancient Egyptians? “Ka.”

The energy is the same, no matter what the name. This subtle energy of the Universe is everywhere and gives us all life.

When you surrender to the bliss of a Reiki treatment you’ll feel “one” with everything. It feels as though you are everywhere at once.

When receiving Reiki your cares fall away. You’ll find yourself in a deep state of  balance and profound rest. The “Oneness” with everything means that your entire being receives healing: your mind, body, and spirit.

Your past, present, and future receive this benefit simultaneously. Your connection to time and space is released during your treatment. What is left? You, in your natural state of perfect, peaceful rest, while the Reiki silently restores your ability to heal, feel joy, and recover your spirits.

The gentle system of Reiki treatment perfectly and safely complements any conventional healing modality. You continue with your usual doctor appointments, treatments and medications. Reiki is not an alternative healing method, but a complement, in other words.


The symbol for the word “Reiki.”

Image courtesy of Hyakuten Inamoto Sensei

What Can We Claim About Reiki?

Reiki helps with stress, helps with sleep, and helps with pain. You will relax your mind, body, and spirit.

Best of all, Reiki has its own higher intelligence, since it emanates directly from the Universe. Allow yourself to give in to its peaceful relief, and the Reiki will flow to precisely where it’s needed — to the root of a problem, always for your highest good.

A Reiki practitioner never directs the energy, but only asks it to flow … the Reiki quietly does it all.

How Did It All Start?

The system of Reiki originated in 1920s Japan, developed by Mikao Usui.

Photo of Mikao Usui Sensei

Reiki was then brought to the West in the 1930s. From then on the system of Reiki has been taught and practiced in one form or another, all over the world.

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What About Animals and Reiki?

Subtle the Reiki energy may be, but animals are highly sensitive to their surroundings — they’ll quickly notice Reiki energy if it’s nearby.

Reiki is best offered, not given, so an animal may choose whether to accept this energy. We can show animals the same courtesy we people expect — to accept a Reiki session (or not).

Animals notice energy more easily than we do. We let them take charge of their own healing. Practitioners “ask” permission of an animal each time a session begins, and then a healing space is created by inducing the Reiki to flow. That’s it. That’s all we need to do during a treatment session.

And we don’t start off using hand positions with animals. We just sit or stand (in a dog kennel with a dog who likes to bounce, or in a pasture), and the animal can come up to us and let us know if they want hands-on (often they do). They are in charge of their treatment session, however they want it. They know better than we do what they need.

Does your pet want to snuggle during a treatment session? Or perhaps relax a few feet away? Under the sofa? The next room? At the other end of the pasture? How much Reiki is enough for your animal at any given time? 30 minutes? An hour? Your animal will take what she needs.

Lucky just got adopted! Here’s his first Reiki session.

Animal Reiki can also be offered over a distance. It works wonderfully for many shy or hesitant animals or when a personal visit isn’t possible. Often Reiki is offered to animals in a series of 3 or 4 treatment sessions, whether once a day or perhaps over a week’s time. When receiving a treatment over a distance,  animals may respond the same way  as an “in-person” session: relaxing, maybe falling asleep, getting up and moving around, all in the same session.

However the treatment session happens, the result is a more rested, more balanced animal, in mind, body, and spirit.

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What About Reiki in Animal Shelters?

Oh, good, I’m glad you asked. This is a favorite topic of mine. Animal rescues and shelters are wonderful places to accept Reiki support, in person or from a distance. The practice of offering Reiki to shelter animals in a safe and noninvasive manner is catching on, one volunteer, one shelter at a time.

I volunteer each week at the Ulster County SPCA in Kingston, NY (all breeds of dogs and cats, plus bunnies and farm animals), and also occasionally at Animal Farm Foundation (pit bulls) in Dutchess County. Both shelters are located in upstate New York.

At AFF I usually sat with the dogs in their rooms if they (and the staff) are okay with that, or for shy or reactive dogs I sat on the other side of their kennel. Sometimes I sat 10 feet or more feet away, in a room full of kenneled dogs, all of whom receive the energy in the room. If they are open to a session with me in a their kennel (with staff permission always) I’ll sit, or sometimes stand, braced against the wall, since pit bulls are energetic and love to bounce!

When they settle down on their blankets or beds, they often doze off. If a dog is not interested in Reiki that day, no problem — same as for any person, “No Thanks” means “No Thanks.”

For a roomful of kenneled dogs, we’d begin the Reiki flow and then simply ask in our minds to the dogs, “Would you like some?” and we are quietly off and flowing together.

For cats in shelters, the setting could be an open adoption room with cats hanging out freely, or a room with cats in cages, and sometimes both.

The following photos are from the UCSPCA, and all were taken by Justin Schmidt.

Reiki and shelter cats, caged and moving around freely

Reiki being offered for shelter cats both caged and roaming freely in this adoption room. The cats can receive Reiki energy from anywhere in the room; it’s up to them. Caged cats will receive Reiki inside their cages, or if they are not interested that day, they can just decline to receive a session that day.

The practitioner sits in meditation and the energy flows and fills the room. The cats are in charge of their treatment, and choose where they want to relax. They might take a short or long nap, and later maybe wake up and move around during the session. That’s perfectly normal; we call it “ebb and flow.” It does look different from the Reiki treatment sessions we people have, where we often lie on our backs on a table. With animals we get the energy flowing, and turn the whole session over to them. They know what they need.

Reiki on my lap and to the cage next to me

Offering Reiki while on my lap, and to the caged cat next to me, in an adoption room.

Also I volunteer in the back rooms, such as the sick room at the UCSPCA. Here I don’t handle the cats so much, and they remain caged.

Reiki completely hands-off in the Sick Room.

Reiki is completely hands-off in the Sick Room. Sometimes I am told a certain cat can be handled. In that case I put gloves on, and use the same cleanliness protocols as the staff.