Friday, January 28, 2011

TTouch and Reiki at BARC Shelter: Introducing O'Reilly

O'Reilly is a lovely black cat who recently arrived at BARC shelter. He had been in a home, but the owners were moving to a place where they could not bring a cat. He appears to be traumatized being at the shelter and is in an ultra-sensitive state. He is very startled by new people entering the room and by sudden sounds. This is common for many cats when they first arrive at a shelter. Fortunately, gentle TTouch and Reiki can help these cats to feel safe, which ultimately leads them to becoming friendly and more adoptable, which is great for all concerned!

I have been working with O'Reilly very slowly, giving him the gradual pace that he needs, as he seems like a friendly cat but is just hesitant to make contact right away. I often think of working with these animals with a similar approach to that of the Feldenkrais method (after all, TTouch grew out of Feldenkrais) in that I try to find the smallest way of contact that is possible with the animal, then slowly build from there. I feel this is especially important with cats, as they are SO sensitive.

I have been starting out our sessions by sending him Reiki energy from about a foot away. To those unfamiliar with Reiki, it can sound strange that the energy can travel like that but you really can see its effects, particularly with animals, as they are so in tune with energy. When I start to feel the energy flowing to him, he settles down with his paws tucked underneath his body, and his eyes get sleepy-looking. Initially I tried to see if he was comfortable with my hands being closer to him, but it made him jump to feel the energy that close.

After a while, I end the Reiki session and speak to him softly, seeing what he is ready to do. He has been slowly approaching me, rubbing his nose against my hand. I then do a few TTouches on his head using the back of my hand or fingers, and sometimes a stroke down his body with the back of my hand. He has become more and more receptive to this, and now I notice him coming to the front of his cage more, even though he still is startled at sudden sounds. I also notice him coming to the front of his cage to eat after I work with him, which is great! So often what might appear to be small steps are really big steps indeed :)

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