Monday, October 27, 2014

Reiki and TTouch with Eliza: Listening, Feeling, Building Trust

I was called to work with Eliza because she is beginning to show imbalance in her kidney function.

Reiki can help the body to remain in optimum balance, can help to stimulate the appetite, and can promote a general sense of well-being.  So it is affecting the body both physically and emotionally.  TTouch can also help in a similar way, though it is a different approach.  With a kidney imbalance, I most often primarily focus on Reiki, but I usually bring some TTouch into the session as well.

Eliza is a beautiful black cat with lovely green eyes.  She is very sweet, and she and her person Randie have an amazing bond - they are so connected with each other. 

Eliza is wary of strangers -- Randie said she has some feralness in her -- so I wanted to approach her particularly gently and gradually.  At the first appointment, she was in the closet.  This was actually completely fine for our session.  Reiki does not have to be hands-on to be effective, and particularly for cats it is often best to do it at least a bit hands-off, especially at first, unless the cat guides you to putting your hands on.  Cats are extremely sensitive beings, and the energy can be too intense for them if you have your hands too close.

I sat outside of the closet, offering Reiki to her, telling her silently that she need only take as much or as little as she wanted.  At first her eyes were very big and scared, but they started to relax as I continued with the session.

Each session, Eliza has become a little more comfortable with me.  At first she was remaining in the closet or under the bed for the session, but little by little she began coming out from the hiding place.  Sometimes it was just to go get some food or water from the kitchen, but then she started to be comfortable staying out for at least part of the session.  Randie is usually at her desk, so Eliza will often go to sit down near her chair and get a few pets from Eliza.  This is a safe place for her, so I decided to see if I might touch her as well, or at least move a little closer and have her sniff my hand etc.  Initially I just sat near her, still sending Reiki from a short distance away, but once she became more comfortable I had her sniff the back of my hand and just did a stroke or two with the back of my hand.  Initially she was a bit scared of this, but one day she actually started leaning into my hand a bit, so I was able to do some TTouches using the back of my hand (this is a more gentle feeling than using the front surface of the hand).  I have found that slow zigzag TTouches, which help to connect the body, are helpful for her (she has some arthritis as well).  I have found that llama TTouches, which use the back of the hand, are also comforting for her.  After becoming comfortable with the llama TTouch, now she is comfortable with the lying llama and abalone TTouches (which use the front of the hand).  I do these TTouches using the "snail's tail" at the end, which give an extra release. You do the regular clockwise circle and a quarter of a regular TTouch, pause, and then release counterclockwise for a quarter of a circle. Below are two demos. For the Lying Llama TTouch, I am actually seeing that my fingers look a bit stiff here.  Remember to keep your fingers feeling soft and flexible, even if they are not moving a lot.  For more, please have a look at my youtube channel,

Eliza also enjoys contact around the sides of her face and under the chin, so I often will offer my hand and let her rub into it as much as she is comfortable doing.  It is so important for the cat to feel that you are not forcing anything on them.

I generally will do TTouch with her for a short while, as I don't want to overwhelm her.  Then I resume the Reiki session, sitting near her and offering the Reiki with my palms upturned, rather than placing on the body.

That is, until the session two weeks ago...

It was getting near the end of our session, and Eliza had settled in several different places during the course of the session, which is quite normal.  She was laying on a table and I was sitting nearby.  I had been doing some TTouches with her, and at one point I just held one of my hands very still, offering Reiki (actually, I think the Reiki is flowing the whole time through my fingers, just more consciously so when my hands are still).  I felt her settling into the warmth of the energy, and felt the energy being absorbed by her.  I decided to stay with my hand there for a while.  We remained very still and she continued to settle into the energy.  My hand felt as though it was glued there, feeling her absorbing the energy on a deeper and deeper level.

After we finished, I thanked her, as I always do, but this time, it felt like an even greater honor than usual, as though we had gone to another level with trust with each other.

I saw Eliza this past weekend, and when I came in, she was out on the bed, and very cozy there.  I very quietly sat down near her.  I had recently completed Level I of Healing Touch for Animals, a form of energy work with a more clinical approach to it.  I was eager to give it a try with Eliza.

Shortly after I sat down on the bed with Eliza, she moved so she was actually closer to me, right next to me.  I began to do some TTouch to initiate contact, and with some zigzag TTouches discovered that Eliza was emitting a lot of heat from her lower back, which makes sense, as she has some arthritis in the base of her tail, as well as having the kidney issues (corresponding chakra is in this area).  It was clear that area was too sensitive at this time to be directly touched.  I began the HTA Chakra Balancing process, though I did it with my hands off, so she would feel comfortable.  She completely relaxed into it.  It was lovely to be sitting right beside her for this whole process, and that she had wanted to be closer to me from the beginning of the appointment.  Each time I moved my hands towards a different area, she relaxed more into it.  When I began working near the front legs, she stretched them out.  And at the moments when I was working on the two shoulders and later the two hips, I really felt her absorbing the energy.  So hopefully this will help her be a bit more comfortable walking.  Randie had said she had noticed her walking a bit more gingerly lately.

When I was done with the Chakra Balancing, she went to get a treat from Randie, and then briefly settled again, laying on her side for a bit of Reiki, just having a peaceful connection with her for the last moments of the session.

As an animal gets to know and trust me, I feel them absorbing the energy on a deeper and deeper level, and they often are more comfortable with closer or more direct contact, which is so sweet to feel.  

Thank you Eliza!  It is a pleasure working with you and feeling a closer connection every time.  I look forward to our next session!  xxoo

Friday, September 26, 2014

My Journey with Luther and Mr. Maps: Relaxation, Recovery and Focus with TTouch, Reiki and Clicker Training

Above left: Luther, above right, Mr. Maps

Some months ago, I began doing Reiki sessions with a dear black Persian cat named Bunny, who had kidney disease. You can read more about him in a past post,  His people, Suzanne and Mike, did everything they could to help him but sadly, this quiet, sweet and powerfully spiritual creature passed away the end of June.

Mr. Maps
Bunny had two adopted brothers, Luther and Mr. Maps.  Luther is a handsome young tabby and Mr. Maps is a delightful white Persian cat with two different colored eyes. Mr. Maps seemed to take Bunny's death especially hard, so I made both cats Bach Flower remedies following Bunny's passing.  It was a loss, an adjustment and a shift in dynamics in the household, but both cats are now doing quite well, and most likely have become closer to each other.

Luther had been adopted when he was still recuperating from a broken leg, so he was on cage rest for a while.  When he was able to emerge from the cage, the people soon were able to see more of his behavior.  He is very energetic, being a young cat, but is so sensitive that he can become overstimulated extremely easily.  And when he becomes overstimulated, he sometimes will exhibit that with scratching, pouncing on you, etc.   It was often difficult to handle or pet Luther without him becoming overstimulated and reactive.

I began working with Luther after I had been working with Bunny for a bit, as Suzanne and Mike wanted me to do what I could to help Luther calm down.

Initially, I worked with Luther using long TTouch wands, so I could give Luther plenty of space.  I felt he needed the space as he was so sensitive to any kind of direct contact with people, even though I sensed he really was a very loving being, and that he longed for contact.  This worked very well at first, and doing the TTouches with him this way got him accustomed to being touched in a gentle way, yet not having someone too close to him.

After a while, he wanted to use the wands as toys, so I decided to shift to a different approach.  I did some TTouches on him using paintbrushes, but also began doing Reiki with him.  Reiki energy helps to calm on a very deep level, and my hope was to release some of the trauma that he may have been holding from having the broken leg and whatever else he may have gone through before he was rescued.

Luther, relaxing into Reiki

Luther, being so sensitive, is very receptive to Reiki, and usually settles into it right away, stretching out and closing his eyes, taking it in.  After he settles for a while, he often will come up to me and sniff me and start brushing his body against me.  I stay very still when this happens, as I do not want to risk him becoming startled or possibly reactive if I move.  What he generally does after this is to go a few feet away from me and settle down again.  It is really beautiful to see him become so truly peaceful, to sense a very tangible shift in his whole energy.
Luther, relaxing into Reiki
Over the past couple of months, I have started to feel a very tangible shift in Luther's presence.  He is still a lively and playful cat, but he seems to have more openness and ability to shift into a more mellow space, which is great.  And if he does get overexcited and jumps at you or hits you with his paw, it is much more gentle and the claws are usually in. 

And as he has gotten more used to me and to the energy, I think we both have become more comfortable around each other, and I know that over time he will start to receive the energy on an even deeper level.

Mr Maps, relaxing into Reiki
I began doing Reiki with Mr. Maps after Bunny passed away, as Mr. Maps seemed particularly distraught.  Mr. Maps is super-affectionate, so I started out by doing some TTouches with him, and then began sending the Reiki energy to him.  He has been more and more receptive to it each time I have worked with him, and now he completely stretches out on his back or on his stomach with his back legs stretched out behind, with his eyes closed and a blissful look on his face.
Mr Maps, relaxing into Reiki

I have recently added some clicker training into the sessions, particularly for Luther's benefit, as I think it helps him to feel a more focused energy.  Mr. Maps seems to enjoy it as well, but he is not really interested in the treats, so for him, I click and then reward him by a little stroking around his chin and chest area.  I have wooden dowels which I set up in various configurations, sometimes in a path, sometimes in more of a labyrinth.  But even just going through the dowels set up in the path seems very effective, so I often just stick with that.  Cats can have a pretty short attention span for  clicker training, so I observe them closely to see when they are done with it.

Mike and Suzanne were away recently, so I came by to do Reiki with the cats while they were away.  I had been doing sessions with them separately, but it felt right to have both boys in the room with me and just start to let the energy flow to both of them.  Then at different parts of the session, I would focus on one cat, and then the other.  Both kitties completely stretched out as if they were sunbathing, really letting go.  So beautiful to feel this connection, to feel such peacefulness and joy with both of these cats, with the sun coming in through the windows and a slight breeze - that late summer, balmy temperature.
Luther and Mr Maps, relaxing into Reiki

After a recent appointment, Mike picked Luther up and gave him a good hug and kiss, which was so sweet to see.  Mike said that a few months ago, that would not have been possible at all, and he remarked at how he also had noticed Luther's behavior shifting.  Not only that, but he mentioned that the house call vet who they use had been there recently and she immediately remarked on the change.  This is the kind of feedback that truly makes my day :)

I look forward to a continuing and interesting journey with both of these dear beings.xxoo

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

TTouch and Reiki at BARC Shelter: Little JB: The Power of Quiet Patience and Persistence

Little JB is a gorgeous little calico cat who has been at BARC Shelter for some months now.  The JB stands for Josephine Baker -- she looks like a smaller version of one of the cats who the shelter people own who is named Josephine Baker.

Sometimes I come across a cat who is not so responsive to either the tools with contact with the hand, and that can be a bit of a challenge, but the lesson I learn over and over is to continue to try different approaches, different tools, using the TTouches or tools in a different way, etc. until something starts to click.  It can take patience and persistence, but it is so worth it.  There is always some way to connect with an animal, whether it is in a huge dramatic way or a very subtle way that grows over time.

She has been a challenging kitty to get to know.  The shelter environment is particularly stressful for her and she gets overstimulated easily and will let you know when she is not in the mood for contact with a swat.  She can get engaged in playing with a toy but when it comes to being touched, that is hard for her.

First I tried working with her with a paintbrush, or with a feather, as hands seem to scare her, and usually her response was to swat at them.  Sometimes, if she was in a more sleepy mood, I would be able to do TTouches on her head area with a paintbrush, but that was not so often.  Sometimes I would make the TTouch circles in front of her with the paintbrush, and sometimes she found that to be relaxing. Below is a demo of that.

I started just opening her cage and staying quiet and still, and sometimes she would come to the front and rub a little bit against my hand.  I would just let her do the rubbing instead of trying to reach to her.  Sometimes I would talk quietly to her.  The BARC staff and volunteers also do whatever they can to help her be at ease.

Recently, she was moved to a lower cage and that seemed to make her much more comfortable than she was previously.  She was in a cage next to a very gentle, quiet kitty named Katie Bell, and the two became good friends.  I think both these things were really helpful to her.

At that time I also began to do a bit of clicker training with the cats, having them simply touch their nose to the end of a stick and then I would click and treat.  This simple activity energized some of the cats who tended to stay at the back of the cage, and Little JB was one of them.  When she saw me get the clicker out, she started coming to the front of the cage, and now when she just sees me, she starts to come to the front of the cage, which is terrific.

There was something about the clicker training that helped to energize her, and it was something more than the treats, as she was not always that interested in the treats.  She seemed to be coming forward for a connection of some kind.  I felt like I was getting closer to her, even though I was not touching her.  I would often just sit outside her cage, sending her Reiki, or even just sitting there quietly.

Recently, a new volunteer opened her cage and she actually came out on their lap for a bit.  She didn't want to be touched, just wanted to sit there.  A couple of days later, she came out on my lap briefly - didn't settle there but I had a feeling that she was thinking about it:)

She also started feeling very comfortable with me doing TTouch circles on her head with the stick part of a stick toy.  This was a new level of comfort for her as well.

Last week a larger cage on the upper level came available so Little JB was moved there.  Even though she is back on the top level where she previously was not so comfortable, the location is different and the space is twice as big as before, so she seems even more comfortable than in the cage on the lower level.

Yesterday was a real breakthrough for little JB.  Diana, one of the wonderful keepers of the cats (Colin is the full time cat guy and Diana is two days a week) said that she had noticed that JB was comfortable being touched through the bars of the cage, though not if you opened the cage and tried to touch her.

Little JB was resting in her bed which was close to the bars of the cage, so I began to do some very gentle strokes and TTouches on her head.  She pushed into my hand and made the cozy smile that cats can make when they really are enjoying something.  I continued for quite a while, as she kept gently pushing into my hand and rubbing into it.  This was the first time I had seen her truly enjoy contact for an extended period of time.  And I felt like I was getting a glimpse into the real personality which I had always felt that was there beneath her sometimes bristly exterior.  That sweetness, that longing for connection.

This lovely moment is the type of moment I really live for - when you feel you connect with the heart of another creature, when they trust you enough to make this connection.

I look forward to seeing you again, little JB, and of course look forward to the day when you will go to a beautiful forever home.

Monday, August 25, 2014

A Shift Towards Balance and Healing: Reiki with "Taco" at BARC Shelter

 Shelter animals most often arrive in a state of stress and trauma in one form or another, but sometimes that state is more extreme than others.  Reiki can often help to shift the body and mind into a more balanced state, so that it is more able to begin the healing process.

Taco arrived at BARC Shelter in an extremely weakened state, so extremely emaciated and fragile, that the shelter people were unsure if he were going to survive even until the next day.

I wanted to connect with him in the gentlest way possible, so I began by sitting in a chair outside his cage, sending him Reiki energy, and speaking to him in a soft voice, reassuring him that he was in a safe place.  At that moment, he was crouched in a position which told me he was uncomfortable and scared, and he also seemed very out of it since he was so weak.

Little by little, I saw him begin to shift his body position, and he began to get into a more comfortable position, curling up and becoming sleepy.  I stayed with him a long, long time, just letting the energy flow, telling him he need only take as much or as little as he wanted.  A couple of times I reached into the cage to gently stroke him, and he nuzzled against my hand.  I felt his energy and feeling of his life force start to shift during the session, as though the Reiki energy gently flowing through him was breathing more life into him.  I could see him looking more comfortable, his stiffness melting away, and his energy becoming peaceful as I imagined light all around him and through him.  One of the images I love to use during a Reiki session is that of connecting with the bright light that is inside of the animal, connecting with that positive energy which can grow and expand, healing and permeating through the body and spirit.

After I gently ended the session, he got up, came to the front of the cage and did a really nice stretch, standing up on his hind legs at the front of the cage and putting his paws against the front of the cage door, as though to stretch towards me and show me that he was doing better, as though he had been shifted onto a better track where he would be able to begin to heal.

During the next few days, thanks to the wonderful BARC staff (Colin and Diana, the keepers of the Cat Loft) hand-feeding him and helping him get the nutrition he needed, he began to perk up more, so the next time I saw him (several days after the first session), his energy and vibe were better.  I opened the cage and he came right to the front of the cage, out of the cage and he melted into my arms.  I felt our energies merging, as he completely relaxed into the Reiki energy.  He drifted into a state of peaceful sleep.

I remained there for over an hour, feeling light and energy traveling back and forth to and from my arms and hands and his body, a feeling of a bubble of light around us, so that whatever sounds, etc (a shelter can be noisy with people walking around, dogs barking, cats meowing at times, etc.) seemed to be in the background, as we were in this protected space.

When I felt that it was time to end the session, I gently lifted him back into his cage, and he curled up for a cozy nap.  So sweet to see him so peaceful.

The next time I saw him, he was more peppy, so I did some TTouches with him before going into the Reiki session, and he came to the front of the cage to eat some kibble on his own.  Colin and Diana had said he was eating a bit on his own the past couple of days.  They will continue to hand-feed him until he is eating enough on his own, but this was a really positive sign.

I feel so much trust from this little cat, so much gratitude, so much love.  As though his spirit is so much bigger than his physical body.  Animals have so much to teach us about forgiveness, so much about appreciating the moment, so much about unconditional, eternal love.

Thank you so much, dear little Taco, I am sending Reiki for your continued progress, and look forward to seeing you soon!  And thank you to all the wonderful BARC people, staff and volunteers, for giving this little guy the loving energy that he needs to be able to recover.  xoxoxo

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Reiki with Chloe: Coming into her Own

Chloe is a beautiful, graceful, gentle cat.  I first came to know her because I was working with her brother Max, and as time progressed, I began to work with her as well, as she has kidney issues, as well as a mass that is close to her bladder.  Thankfully, at the moment her appetite and energy is good, so she seems to be in a stable holding pattern.

Sadly, her brother Max passed away in March, after battling a number of health issues.  Max was a brave, strong soul - his wonderful people (Debbie and Jonathan) did everything they could to help him, and I know he remained on the earth as long as he could for his people.  I am honored to have worked with him and to have known him - he was such a unique and delightful personality, and truly a warrior.

Though Chloe often appeared irritated by Max, there was still a bond there, and it has been an adjustment for her after his passing.  He was a huge presence, even when he was ill.  I know that she, as well as, of course, her people, felt the empty space that was left when he left the earth.  I felt it as well, even though his spirit is still very much around, and I have seen it/felt it a number of times during the Reiki sessions with Chloe after his passing.

Over the weeks, Chloe does seem to be adjusting though, and really coming into her own.  She seems to be getting more confident, as well as more affectionate, every time that I see her.  And with that trust, as often happens, it feels like the Reiki goes to a deeper and deeper place. It often is a very trancelike state in the midst of the session, like being in a dream although you are awake, and I can see and feel waves of energy as they move in between us.  I have also been able to do more hands-on TTouch with her, as she is much more comfortable with direct contact, and seeks it from me.

And Chloe has also started to do a few things that Max used to do.  One of them is leading people to where she wants to go, by walking a bit, looking back to see if you are following her, etc.

Every once in a while she will sit up very straight and look you straight in the eye, which is something Max also used to do.  There is also a quiet sense of humor which seems to have been coming forward more and more, which is delightful to see.

One of our recent sessions was particularly powerful.  Chloe let me into the bedroom, which was cool, as the air conditioner was going in there.  Chloe seems to be a cat who prefers cool places.

She wanted to stay on the bed the whole time.  From time to time she slightly shifted her position, getting closer til she laid into my hands.  I always start with my hands slightly off her body, and let her guide me as to how much direct contact she is comfortable with.

I felt my hands guided to a place on her lower back, which makes sense considering where her issues are.  During this session, Chloe was comfortable with my hands directly on her body.  I felt my energy merging with hers like my hands being pulled inside of her body. Her feet were touching my hands and my arms, and I felt energy going back and forth there as well. I felt the energy going thru my hands into her like light, as I was visualizing her being healed, and her mass going away. At some point in the session, I though I saw a glimpse of Max, as though he peeked around a corner at us. 

As I continued, my energy merged with Chloe's, like my fingers going inside her body, energy going deeper and deeper.  She didn't want me to stop, and I went on longer than usual.  And as I have felt with other animals, I felt like I was experiencing her true self, her spirit, which is so much larger than her body.

When I finally did end the session, I felt that she was a little sad, but I didn't want to overwhelm her, as the session had been so powerful.  I quietly ended the session, thanked her and left the room. 

A few minutes later, as I was speaking to Jonathan in another room, Chloe quietly came in, as though she wanted a few pets before I said goodbye. 

Thank you Chloe, it is a pleasure and honor working with you (and your people), and I look forward to our continued work together.  And thank you for reminding me of the power of that quiet connection.  When one is truly inside of that moment with an animal, when nothing else exists, that is when the most powerful experiences are able to occur.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

TTouch and Reiki at Bideawee: Ashanti - The Power of Patience

Ashanti is a lovely young black and white male cat with light green eyes that stare right into your heart.

I am sure he has touched the hearts of all who have met him at Bideawee.

He arrived at Bideawee in bad shape with a very badly injured paw.  They gave him great medical care, so he is doing much better now.  However, he seems fearful in a way that has led us to suspect he may have been abused.  He is extremely afraid of hands.

The wonderful Bideawee keepers of the cats (Jon and Kerrie) have been working with him to help him to feel safe and to encourage him to play, and he has gradually become more confident and less reactive.

I have been working with him with Reiki from a short distance, with TTouches using various tools, and with clicker training to help him feel at ease.  I also made a custom Bach Flower remedy for him.

Clicker training is something I have recently incorporated into the work I do.  I am finding that it can benefit so many different personality types - it can help bring a shy cat out of its shell, can help to focus a hyperactive cat, and it Ashanti's case, it seems to help both his confidence and his focus, and it is a way of connecting with him that does not need to involve direct touch.  He is in a larger cage with shelves, and I have had him jumping across the cage from shelf to shelf in the process of the training.  I will describe more about that in a separate post.

I particularly wanted to a recent TTouch session with him, because I think it is a good example of just how important patience is when working with with any animal, but especially an animal who is fearful.

As he is so scared of a hand coming towards him, his reaction to anything coming towards his face can be to bite.  So before even beginning the TTouch session, I usually sit quietly by him and share Reiki energy with him for a few moments (in this case, he was in his cage, though he is let out of the cage on a regular basis).  This gives me a chance to establish a quiet energy and connection with him.

Then I started working with him a bit with a fan-shaped brush (the brush part is smallish, maybe an inch wide at the widest part).  His initial reaction was to bite at the brush.  I tried this a few times, and he still bit at the brush, instead of allowing me to stroke him with it.

At this point, one could easily give up or think that the biting is what he is going to do every time.  However, I wanted to see what would happen if I gave him a break and tried again.  So I sat calmly by his cage a bit longer, and he began to get into a calmer energy.  Next time I tried it, he may have pawed a little bit at it.  So I paused again, continuing to send him energy and saying (silently) to him that everything was all right.

Ashanti had been moving around a bit, and at this point he started to settle.  So I tried again.  This time he did not bite or paw at the brush.  I began to do TTouch circles with the fan brush on his forehead, and he began to relax into them.  He laid his head down and became completely relaxed as I worked with him.

He was in such a snoozy mode that I decided to carefully try touching him a bit with my hand.  The first thing I did was to just use the back of one finger (actually just the flat part of my fingernail) to do some TTouches on his forehead.  He was very comfortable with that, so I continued for a while.  Gradually I found that he was comfortable with me gently stroking and doing circular TTouches with the back of the top part of several fingers on his head.  It was truly lovely to feel that direct connection with him, to feel him totally at ease with it, to feel that trust.

I know that this may not happen every day with him, but I do think with time and patience, he will feel more and more comfortable connecting with people.  I feel his soulfulness in his sweet eyes, and know that the personality behind his fear is coming forward more and more every day.

Below is a photo of me TTouching him with a paintbrush when he is out of the cage - it was great that he felt comfortable doing this :)

Thank you to all the dear Bideawee people for helping Ashanti and all the animals there :)

Friday, July 4, 2014

The Power of Love, and Learning to Let Go: Berry, RIP

It is always so difficult to say goodbye to an animal friend, and even harder to figure out how to write about it and how to write about the power of that connection, a connection that exists far beyond the physical body.
Berry's heart and mine are inextricably intertwined.  I know that we learned so much from each other, about love, about trust, and about letting go.

Berry arrived at BARC Shelter the day before Hurricane Sandy hit.  She had been rescued from the same back yard as my cats Natalia and Lulu (I often referred to her as their sister), and it was evident from that first day that she was feral and, if anything, even more fearful than my cats. She was put at a cage way in the back of the shelter where she would have more privacy and would have a chance to calm down.  She was originally named Barracuda - a name which I refused to call her, so I soon decided her name was Berry, and others at the shelter began to call her that so that was the name that stuck.

 Above, before and after: Berry when she first arrived at shelter, and then about a year later.

As you can see from the "before" picture on the left, Berry was initially very distrustful of any human being.  She was fearful and angry, lashing out at anyone who opened her cage.
However, I always felt that with faith, love, patience and positive energy, this could change. 
I began by simply sending her Reiki from outside her closed cage.  I also spoke to her a bit, but very softly.  I did this for several sessions, then I decided to see if I could touch her with a back scratcher, which would give her a lot of space.  I just did one or two TTouches on the top of her head, then closed the cage and gave her a break.  I continued doing this over the next sessions and one day she began to push back up against the back scratcher.  It was then that I knew we were making progress and that I had felt that opening, that opening where our energies and our hearts could meet.
Over the next days, weeks, months, we made steady progress.  I made sure to just go a little at a time with her, and we kept moving forward.  She started to be comfortable eating from her bowl, which was at the front of the cage, while I was TTouching her with the back scratcher.  So it wasn't too long after that before I started to be able to touch her a bit directly with my hands.

I was feeling she was actually enjoying the contact more and more, and she started responding to me when I would walk back towards her cage and call her name.  She would look up and start to come towards me. And over time, she would actually come trotting to the front when she saw me and I called her name.
As time went on, I was able to have more and more contact with her, and I showed a few of the other seasoned volunteers how to do TTouches with her gently with the back scratcher, so that she could slowly get used to other people having contact with her.  And she slowly became comfortable with that.  When someone came to the cage with the green plastic back scratcher, she knew that they were going to gently stroke her with that and that was something she enjoyed. 
As the time passed, Berry was not only transforming behaviorally but physically. As the beauty of her true personality came forth, it manifested itself in her physical appearance as well.  A couple of people who came into the shelter who had not seen her for some months did not recognize her as the same cat!
She had also had an awful problem with what initially seemed like a constant cold, but later was found to be a nasal polyp, so once that was removed, she seemed to feel a lot better.  And that was great to see.
Berry and I were so close, our hearts so connected.  I know that she trusted me.  Even when she was more comfortable with me, I would go slowly, not wanting to frighten her or overwhelm her, wanting to be respectful of her.  We knew each other's energies so well.  I would connect with her with Reiki and TTouch and we felt like one being, merging in a flow of light.

Recently, I wanted to get to another level with her, and so I started luring her onto my lap with treats.  She took to this very well and one day she came completely out on my lap, which you see in the photo.  First she had put two paws on my lap, then three, then there she was, sitting on my lap!

She was a bit startled at first, but it was understandable.  She was realizing that there were cages and animals above her, and was seeing all around and feeling the concept of that openness all around her.
I saw her look above and around, and it was such a beautiful feeling - I felt it too, her having that feeling of the world expanding, opening up.  The open air, outside the bars of the cage.  I wanted to stay in that moment with her forever, her on my lap, feeling completely connected with her like one being, in that moment.  Feeling that expanse, that openness, like we were surrounded in light together.
A week ago, when she turned around I noticed a huge raw sore on her back, and also noticed her pulling at her skin other places.  It looked bad and I was disturbed by seeing this, so I told the shelter people right away and they were going to have her looked at.  It actually brought to mind my first cat, Timmy, who had surgery for breast cancer and was ok for a good while after that but then began breaking out in skin lesions.  But at the time I wasn't thinking that Berry had anything life-threatening going on.
So it was such a shock when I got a call from the shelter that the vet had looked at Berry and found that she had a huge mass, which was moving up towards her lungs, and as a result had euthanized her.  Apparently she had also gotten weak and was not breathing well.
It was so hard to hear this, to accept this.  That this creature who had been alive, active, seeming to feel ok just a few days ago had been so ill??  I consulted my dear friend and colleague, animal communicator Eileen Garfinkel ( to see what we could learn from Berry.
Apparently Berry had hidden her illness.  She didn't want me to know how sick she was, she knew how stressed it would make me.  Berry wanted me not to be sad, she wanted me to know that she was fine, she was at peace now.  That I helped her to be ready to transition.  That she knew how much I loved her, that I had given her so much pleasant time, that I had helped her to change deeply, at a molecular level, and that I was her person.
I miss her so much, but she is still with me, curled up inside my heart. And I thank her for teaching me so much about the power of positive energy, the power of unconditional love, the power of appreciating the moment, and about how to let go.
And thank you to my dear BARC friends for all the kindness you showed her.
(please feel free to read more about my work with Berry, type in "Berry" on the Lijit Search on the right hand side of my blog and the links will appear)

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Power of Patience and Quiet Connection: Reiki with Bunny

Above:  Bunny relaxing in the window.  On the turntable, one of his faves, Donovan:)

A couple of months ago, I was contacted by Suzanne and Mike to work with their dear cat Bunny, who is a stunning black Persian cat.  He had been recently diagnosed with chronic renal failure. Suzanne and Mike are doing all they can to help Bunny with diet, supplements, subcutaneous hydration, etc. Reiki helps in stress reduction, which is so important for a cat who is ill, and can often help to stimulate appetite and prolong quality of life for cats with this disease. 
There are two other cats in the household: Mr. Maps, a delightful white Persian cat with two different color eyes and a definite sense of humor, and Luther, a very handsome young tabby cat who they brought home when he was recovering from a broken leg,  Now that Luther's leg is ok and he has the run of the house, they discovered that he can be an unpredictable character - he can be affectionate, but can also flip into more into reactive mode, so I am working with him as well as with Bunny.  I will share more about that in another post.
Bunny is a bit shy, so during the first few appointments, I had either Suzanne or Mike sit with Bunny as I worked with him.  Sometimes it takes a while for a cat to trust a new person, and to trust and relax into the Reiki energy.  In these first few appointments I also incorporated a fair amount of TTouch into the session, as that can help to relax the animal as well.
After that, Mike asked if it would be all right to leave me alone with Bunny for the session, and I felt the timing on that was perfect.  It took a bit of adjustment for Bunny to be ok with me alone in the room, but once we started the session, he found a place that was comfortable for him and began to settle down.

With each session, I felt Bunny relaxing into the energy more and more, which was beautiful to see.
A couple of weeks ago when I went to see Bunny, Mike said they had been concerned about him, that at times he had seemed out of it and that he just wasn't seeming as energetic as usual.  During that appointment, Bunny just laid down, curled up and went to sleep for the entire session.  He circled around until one of my hands was right over his lower back, where there is the sacral chakra which relates to the kidneys.  I felt so much heat there.  As I worked, I felt the heat disperse somewhat, as the energy was balancing.
After that appointment, Bunny was taken to the vet and it was found he had lost some weight and his numbers were somewhat higher.  Suzanne and Mike made some changes to Bunny's diet and he has been eating better, so that is great.  It is so important to keep cats eating, particularly when they have kidney disease.
The next time I saw Bunny, he clearly seemed to feel much better.  He was so much more present and his energy seemed much better.
I began the Reiki session with him sitting on top of a speaker and he stayed there nearly the whole time.  I started out with my hands about six inches away from his body.  He immediately connected with the energy and became a bit mesmerized by it, as though he was sitting as still as he could in order to take every bit of it in..
As we continued, I felt waves of energy, of light, going up and down, all around Bunny's body.  I felt the energy going up, then coming down through his head and going through his body.  He stared at me often and I felt I was looking right inside of him, that he was looking inside of me.
I began to feel his real essence, his inner self, a magnificent, strong being, a divine presence, this powerful beautiful creature, with sparkling green eyes.  This real self was much larger than his physical body. This strong soul, a mystical presence.  The feeling of a very deep soul. Such a powerful feeling and connection.
After a really long time, Bunny jumped off the speaker, so I thought at that point he was done with the session, but then he jumped back up on the speaker and put his body into my hands - my right hand over his lower back, my left hand was just off his chest.  
As I had the prior session, I felt a lot of heat coming from his lower back, again from the chakra which connects with his kidneys.  I wanted to make sure it was not too much energy, so a few times I spoke to him softly and slowly, saying gooooood booooy, to see if he had enough, but he seemed to want me to continue.  Felling light around him, energy around him and going into him, a divine presence, a beautiful spirit.  
He connected with me with so much love and a few times I hugged him gently.  He pushed his head into my hands and snuggled into my arms.  I thanked him, and slowly and gradually let the session come to a close.

This was the most powerful session with him yet.  He is getting more comfortable with me each time and it feels the energy is connecting at a deeper and deeper level. 
For a long time afterwards, I kept feeling his presence, a presence much bigger than his physical body, a strong, flowing presence of beautiful black fur and powerful green eyes looking straight into my heart and soul. The animals have so much to teach us.  xoxoxo

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

TTouch and Reiki at Bideawee: Update on Panther - A Small Step Back, a Leap Forward

Panther is a very handsome, extremely shy black medium-length fur kitty at Bideawee.  He and his sister had formerly lived in a store.  His sister was as outgoing as he is shy, and quickly got adopted.  It was clear he would need some time.  He is not aggressive at all, just very wary of people, particularly being touched by them.
Panther is housed in a "resort" at Bideawee, a lovely small room filled with cat trees, toys, etc.  The space is maximized by making good use of vertical space with ramps and cat trees.  He lives in the room with two other cats at the moment, Mariah and Cleo.  They mostly seem to ignore him, although they are more interested when he is receiving treats!
When I first met Panther, I did some Reiki from a short distance with him, and could generally TTouch him with a paintbrush, and occasionally with my hand as well.  At some point a couple of weeks ago, however, he started to seem irritated by the paintbrush, and afraid of my hand again, so I decided I needed to take a couple of steps back.
I began only doing Reiki from a short distance with him, and not approaching him either with the brush or my hand for a while.  Meanwhile, we discovered that he did like treats, and was fine with taking treats from people's hands.  So I would lure him towards me by feeding him treats from my hand or making a little trail of treats, then would begin to send him Reiki from a short distance.
His most comfortable place to be is in a little cube-like space on a cat tree in the room, which has two openings.  Sometimes I stand near the enclosure to send Reiki.  There were also times when he was comfortable being out of the enclosure as I sent Reiki to him, as long as I kept my distance, so that was great.

About a week ago, he was in his little box and he seemed so relaxed with me while taking the treats from my hand, I decided to try the paintbrush again.  This time, he was receptive to it.  And shortly after that, I was able to do a few strokes lightly along the side of his face with the back of my hand.  And he began to really settle into the TTouches directly with my hand, and to be responsive to them, even pushing into them a bit, so that was really new for him.  I spoke softly to him, praising him.  It was such a lovely feeling, to feel that connection, to feel him being comfortable with my hand doing the circular TTouches.  I even was able to do a bit of TTouch on his body, which I had not been able to do.  I paused, did a little bit more, and then decided that was enough.
A couple of days later, Kerrie had told me that she was able to lightly stroke the side of his face with her hand as she gave him treats, which was great to hear.  That may have been just enough touch for the day, because when I worked with him, he initially seemed receptive but then seemed to be afraid of the brush again, so I backed off again, just doing Reiki from a short distance.
When I returned to the shelter a couple of days ago, I decided to focus on the treats, and gradually take it from there as far as direct contact.  I crumbled up the treats on my hand.  He was out of his box, and came right to me for the treats, licking my hand after he had licked the powder from the treats off, so that was great.  I did that a few tiems, then did a Reiki session with him.
Then a couple of days after that, when I returned to the shelter, Panther once again stayed out of his box, came right beside me for the treats, and even took a few treats off my leg.  He licked my hand after the treats were gone. 
Mariah was also very interested in the treats, so she planted herself on my lap.  Panther didn't run away at that point, both of them stayed, enjoying the treats, which I crumbled into tiny bits to get more mileage out of them.
As I gave Panther the treats, I was able to stroke him a bit under the chin and alongside his face.  I want it to all feel like an organic process, so I am not pushing the contact.  With a very shy animal, it is often a matter of breaking down a process into small enough steps so that they always remain comfortable, yet you are able to inch forward with them a little at a time.
Panther has definitely been more out and about in the room lately, which is fantastic.  He has been receiving custom Bach Flower Remedies from me as well, in both spray and drops form, so I am sure that is helping him to feel more at ease as well.
It is such a beautiful feeling when working with a shy animal, and I am able find that little opening where they are comfortable and that connection can happen.  It is a feeling of our hearts connecting, a feeling of love and trust, of our energies merging.  I am always so honored when this happens.  And I always thank them after the session.
Much love to you Panther!!! And much love and appreciation, as always, to the Bideawee folks who give the animals so much love and care.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Continued Adventures of Lulu and Natalia: Mouth TTouches and Tooth Brushing/Cleaning

Above: Lulu and Natalia
Tellington TTouch not only has tremendous benefits for an animal physically, mentally and emotionally, it can also have wonderful practical applications.  When an animal is accustomed to having the gentle TTouches done on areas such as paws, around the mouth, or on or near the belly area, this can aid in nail clipping, tooth brushing (or wiping), or picking up the animal, respectively.

My dear cats Lulu and Natalia were brought into BARC as feral cats, and I subsequently worked with them at the shelter and eventually adopted them, going through an extended process of acclimating them to the apartment, etc, which you can see detailed in earlier blog posts if you do a search for their names on my blog (Lulu was originally named Emmylou).

I have done everything with them in small steps, and touching around their mount ha also been a gradual process.  Natalia is particularly head-shy, so I will usually do some TTouches on her body before gradually working up to TTouches on the head, though sometimes if she is relaxed to begin with, she is ok with me TTouching her there.  Lulu is less head-shy but can be hesitant to being touched when she is in certain moods, so I always watch her body language to see what is the best approach.  I may start with her by TTouching her with the back of my fingers, as that is less intense than the front of my fingers.

Lately I have been getting them used to TTouches around the outside of the mouth area, which can be so calming, as they connect with the limbic system, which has to do with emotions.  I started out with these just a little at a time, and they have gotten more and more comfortable with it. 

The next step which I wanted to try was to get them used to me TTouching them inside their mouth, and wiping off their teeth a bit with some gauze. 

Above: Raccoon TTouches with Natalia
I started out working with Natalia. First I did some zigzag TTouches and general TTouches on her body to relax her.  Then I put the gauze around my finger, and gradually began to do Raccoon TTouches (circular TTouches with the tip of my finger) all around Natalia's head area -- the top of the head, back of the head and around the outside of the mouth.  I wanted to get her used to the feel of the gauze on my finger before attempting to go inside her mouth with it, as though this is all one cozy process.  Once working along the outside of the mouth, I did raccoon TTouches as well as a few gentle slides with my finger.  She got more comfortable as I continued working with her, so I decided to go to the next step.  Just a tiny bit at a time I slid my finger inside her mouth and along the outside of a few of her teeth.  I did this a few times, paused, and then did it again a few short times and then went back to some general TTouches.  I then gave her a break, giving her a lot of very slow, quiet praise, goooood girrrrl.  The tone of your voice can help to relax the animal as well as the general level of your own energy.
Above: TTouches with Lulu, gauze on finger

Then I tried the same procedure with Lulu, and it worked like a charm with her as well.  It is really key to be sensitive to what they are ready to do in that moment.  If you try this and it feels they are not ready to go to the next step, pause and give them a break, and you may want to wait till later or even another day to try again.  The point is to have it all be part of a really comfortable process, like this is part of a relaxing TTouch session, you just happen to be putting your finger in their mouth and gently sliding over their teeth with the gauze.  The gauze was a tip recommended to me by a vet, it helps to prevent buildup and hardening of plaque.  If necessary you can dip the gauze in something that tastes good, like maybe tuna juice, but I just used it plain and my cats were fine with it.  You will have to experiment a bit!
Above: TTouches and slides with Lulu along outside of mouth with gauze on finger

Bravo Lulu and Natalia! Our journey together continues to be such a moving and beautiful experience as we are continually learning from each other :)

Friday, May 16, 2014

Calming a 3-Cat Dynamic with TTouch, Reiki, Remedies and Wraps :)

 Above: Dr. Germanicus Higgenbottom (aka The Doctor, Higgs, Germanicus, Beans, etc)
Thank you Daniella for the rest of the photos in this post!

Daniella and Phil are a lovely couple who I met while volunteering at Bideawee.  One of their cats, Gus (a darling young black and white cat they had adopted from Bideawee – he had been found outside and eartipped but is definitely not feral), had been through the mill with health issues recently, including hospitalization and surgery.  And it seemed that the balance between their three cats had felt off ever since he got back.  The Doctor (officially named Dr. Germanicus Higgenbottom, he has several nicknames, including Higgs and Germanicus), an incredibly sweet 10 year old ragdoll, had been crying incessantly at night, and the other cats had been beating up on him.  Not only was the fact that this was happening bad for the cats, but of course it was bad for the people because they were unable to get any sleep. 
Gus and Willoughby (a young tabby who had been rescued from the streets of London) are young cats and tend to be rambunctious in their play, which is overwhelming for the Doctor when they try to include him, as he is very passive and seems to feel attacked when this happened.
So I was asked to come and see if I could help to bring a bit more peacefulness to the atmosphere.  When I got there, Doctor was hiding behind the couch, as he is very shy, and the other two cats were out and about.  I showed Daniella some TTouches with Willoughby, as he seemed most receptive and so was a great demo cat.  He subsequently curled up and went into a deep sleep.  We eventually got Doctor seated between Daniella and me on the couch and I was able to do TTouches as well as some Reiki with him there.  Daniella was doing TTouches with him as well, and he got quite comfortable, which was really great to see, especially as he can be so shy with strangers.  Daniella was a natural at picking up the TTouches and she subsequently showed Phil how to do some of them so that they both can do them on the cats.
During that time, I could feel that Gus was feeling the Reiki and so sent some Reiki his way after working with the Doctor.  I felt a deep fatigue inside of him, that he was letting go and giving into this fatigue that felt like a result of going through all he went through in the course of his surgery and hospitalization.  He started nodding and going into a deep sleep.
After the appointment, I made a Bach Flower remedy in drops and spray for the Doctor.  The other cats were responding to the effects of the spray and becoming more relaxed as well.  Subsequently the night crying and craziness has really calmed down, thankfully for everyone!  I also made a remedy for Gus, which was about restoring his energy and vitality.  This also seemed to help, because the next time I saw Gus, he seemed so much more peppy and lively.
A recent photo of Gus, looking very relaxed and happy indeed!
In a couple of subsequent appointments, I primarily have worked with the Doctor, and Daniella and Phil have been continuing to give the remedies and TTouches to all the cats. Each cat seems to have their own favorite TTouches.
At the end of a recent appointment, I decided to try something that I had been hesitant about doing, but something told me to just give it a try:  a TTouch wrap!.  Many, if not most cats are resistant to having anything put on their body, so it can be a challenge to use a wrap with a cat, even if it is approached in a gentle, gradual way.  But some combinations of personality, etc combine with the wrap in just a perfect way, so it can be a good thing to try it.  I had thought of it particularly for the Doctor, who I thought might be receptive to it as he was used to having a harness put on him at times, and who could still use some additional calming and soothing, but thought it would be interesting to try with any of the cats if they were receptive to it.
Gus was nearby at that point and so I thought I would first give it a gentle try on him to see if he was open to it.  I have recently made some wraps from very soft, stretchy fleece from inexpensive winter scarves.  I TTouched Gus a bit and draped the wrap over his back.  That seemed to be ok.  Then I just gently put the wrap around his chest, holding it at the back.  He didn't seem to mind at all! So I proceeded to put a half wrap on him. (see wraps for cats demo below)

As most cats do when they first have a wrap on, Gus was still and seemed to be thinking about it, as though it was a very different feeling.  We got him moving, as sometimes animals get a bit "frozen" or even temporarily seem to lose control of their back legs, as it is such a different feeling.  He actually seemed to be very comfortable with it on!
Gus in a TTouch Half-Wrap
Over the next day, Daniella tried the wrap on Willoughby and the Doctor, and they were very receptive to it as well.  So they have been regularly wrapping the cats.

Willoughby in TTouch Half-Wrap

One day Daniella texted me that Willoughby was just sitting and purring away with the wrap on :)

The Doctor with TTouch Half-Wrap.   It matches his lovely eyes!
I went just a few days ago to see the cats, after not having seen them for several weeks, and Daniella said that they were doing very well.  She said the Doctor is even standing up for himself sometimes if Willoughby or Gus try to start something with him.  So that is a very big deal.
Gus has been doing very well, which is a relief, after having been through so much, and Willoughby has been more affectionate than ever, wanting to cuddle in Daniella's lap as much as possible.  So that is all good news!
During the appointment, I spent most of the time with the Doctor.  Instead of staying in the bedroom, he came out in the living room and was quite content with me sitting right next to him for Reiki.  A couple of times he came over to me and rubbed his nose into my hand, which was so sweet! Each time I see him, he seems more comfortable around me, which is wonderful.
He completely settled into the Reiki energy, stretching out on his side, and for a little bit, Willoughby came over and laid on my shoe.  By the end of the session, there was a very quiet, calm energy in the room.  Willoughby was settled on Daniella's lap, Gus was napping on the cat tree, and after finishing with Doctor, he went and cuddled into his favorite chair (see photo at the top of the blog).
Great work everyone! So glad to see that there is more balance in the household, and look forward to seeing them all again soon.