Friday, March 28, 2014

TTouch and Reiki at Bideawee with Jungle - a New Adventure Begins

Jungle recently arrived at Bideawee from a city shelter.  I had been told that he was quite a rambunctious and feisty young cat.

The minute I saw him, he came right to the front of the cage, putting his paws through.  I could feel his heart so wanting to connect, but his body not understanding that there are better ways to connect with people than grabbing them with your paws :) 

I started trying to do some TTouches with him with a paintbrush, and his first impulse was to hit it with his paw or to try to chew it.  That can happen sometimes, and I tried letting him play with one brush and then TTouching him with another.

I soon realized that did not feel like the best approach for him - that he was continuing to be in an over-stimulated mode, as he was getting more into a play mode than a relaxed mode.

When doing this work, I always have to keep my mind and body open to trying something new, to trying a new approach.  And the key is really to stop and listen to the animal.  By "listen", I mean to really connect with them and listen to where they are and to what will help them to feel safe.

I physically and mentally took a step back, and explained to Jungle that I was there to help him.  That everything was all right, that he was very safe.  I spoke to him in a very quiet, slow, gentle voice.  I had been sending Reiki energy all the while, but at this point felt a very strong flow of the energy.

While I did this, he got onto a little platform inside his cage into a comfortable, lying-down position.

His eyes began to look more relaxed and connected with me in a way which felt like "ok, I'm ok, I can trust you".

I knew this was a good position to try to start again, this time with a different approach.

Sometimes an animal prefers a hard surface to a soft one.  So I turned the paintbrushes around.  I have a wider, flat paintbrush (about two inches wide), with a wooden rounded end to the handle.  So I gently did a couple of circular TTouches on the outside of Jungle's mouth.  This time he didn't paw at me, but even leaned into it the slightest bit. 

Then I stood away, letting him get back into his laying down position.  I tried this again, and again he was responsive.  I continued in this way for a bit. 

As I worked with him, I could feel more and more that energetic connection and the flow of energy in between us.  Whenever I feel this first connection with an animal, particularly one who is guarded because of whatever they may have been through, I nearly always feel tears come to my eyes because of the power and beauty of this pure connection, and such honor at the level of generosity and trust that I feel from the animal, that they are letting me into their world.

Next, Jungle came forward to eat from his bowl.  I didn't want him to stop eating, but did want to see if he would let me touch him while he was eating.  I took the end of the smaller paintbrush (with a wooden handle which had a smaller, but not sharply pointed tip) and began to do some small circular TTouches on the top of his head. At first he stopped briefly, but then went back to eating, so I continued, and he became comfortable with that. 

After he finished eating, he came to the front of the cage again, sticking his paws through. 

With the paintbrushes and other tools that I use for TTouch, I will try different surfaces, including the handles, ends, and sides of them, as every animal is different as to what they prefer.

I took the flat, wide side of the handle of the brush and put it against one of his paws, very gently doing a circular TTouch.  That was something different for him.  And he didn't pull his paw away or try to dig his claws in.  He remained there.  So I was able to do a couple of these with both of his paws, and then paused. 

Like the space between the notes in music, the space of these pauses with the animal can be so important.  These pauses allow the animal to process, to shift their position, and then they are ready to try again. 

I continued to work with Jungle in this way, trying a few TTouches with the end of the handle of the brush if he was up on the platform, or a couple of TTouches on his paw if he came forward and put it towards me.  Sometimes I had the cage slightly open and sometimes I had it closed - I didn't want him to escape, so I was careful with this. 

In between, I would wait for him to go back up on the platform and get into his more restful position. 

At one point, he got really snuggly, rubbing and then resting his head against a soft ball as you see in the photo below.  When I left, he looked very comfortable, and his eyes were more open and relaxed, as you see in the photos. 

I think we got off to a great start, and I can't wait to see him again. 

Thanks, as always to the great people at Bideawee for all the loving care they give to these animals. xo

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

TTouch and Reiki with Ms. Tuna at Bideawee: A Deep Sigh for an Anxious Cat

 Ms. Tuna is a dear grey and white female kitty at Bideawee, and I had the pleasure and honor of starting to work with her recently.
She has Feline Hyperesthesia, which can involve episodes of extreme distress and obsessive behavior taken to the extreme:  rippling and rolling skin, suddenly obsessively grooming, dashing around as if trying to get away from something terrifying.  So whatever can be done to keep her stress level lower is good.  She is living in one of the staff's offices, and that works well for her, as she can be out of a cage and not in a room with many other animals.
She seeks human contact, but seems to be afraid of people actually touching her.
For my first session with Tuna, I entered the office with a handful of tools which I use for doing TTouch with cats who may not want to be directly touched:  several types of paintbrushes, a feather, and a plastic back scratcher.  I also had in mind that Reiki would be of help to bring down her stress level.
I walked into the office and quietly sat in the chair next to the desk.  Ms Tuna came right up to me, started rubbing against me and sniffing my hand.  She actually put a paw up on the chair as though she might jump in my lap.  I didn't want to scare her, so I sat very still initially.  Then I held out the back scratcher so she could come and rub herself against it, which she did, so I started to do a few TTouches at a time on her back as she walked back and forth.  I would do a few TTouches, pause, and then try again.  After a few times of this, I would give her a longer break and watch her body language to see what I should do next.  She seemed to enjoy the TTouches, at times leaning a bit into them. 
I also tried doing TTouches with a feather and with a small fan brush.  She responded well to these also, but the back scratcher seemed to work best, as that gave her the most space.  She also seemed to enjoy the hard, smooth surface of the back scratcher.
At times I kneeled on the floor, but mostly I sat in the chair, feeling that it was best not to be too much in her face or at the same vertical level.
At one point I did a long pause, and began to send her Reiki energy.  I slid to the side of my chair, as she had looked at me several times as though she would like to sit next to me.  She stepped onto the chair and put her nose to my hand - but unfortunately, she got a little shock because of the dry winter air creating static electricity! 
She didn't seem to be too scared but did back off, sitting at chair height, facing me, on a cat tree.
I continued sending Reiki energy.  As I often do, I could feel her mind working, wondering, what is this feeling? what is this energy?  It is a new feeling.
She got more and more settled as I continued.  Silently, I told her, "I am here for you.  You only need take as much or as little energy as you like."

Then, what made my day the most was what happened next.  I saw and heard her do a huge sigh - that huge body sigh that felt so deep.  That felt like she had let go from such a deep place, and felt a relief and release that was profound.  Such a beautiful moment to share with this cat.  She curled up and got into a napping position. I continued for a while longer, and then left her to nap in peace. 
I have worked with her a couple of times since that day.  Last week, I got her started on a Bach Flower remedy, so that will be interesting to see what happens as a result of that.  I gave it to her the first time last week, and after the combination of that and a TTouch/Reiki session, she looked very at comfortable.
I have been working with her slowly with TTouches, but what I find she is most responsive to Reiki, quite possibly as that is so powerful, yet doesn't need to involve touching at all, so she is less apt to get in that overstimulated place.  She is starting to recognize the Reiki energy now - she looks at me as though to say, "oh that's right, that makes me feel relaxed", and I see her body slowly begin to be more at ease.  She is also starting to recognize that more relaxed feeling as a place where she is comfortable, where she wants to be.
It is so beautiful to see this cat looking peaceful.
I look forward to working with her tomorrow, and love and thanks to all at Bideawee :)

Monday, March 10, 2014

TTouch and Reiki with Marlowe at BARC Shelter: Calming Relief for Itchy Skin

Modalities such as TTouch and Reiki are not a substitute for veterinary treatment, but they can work hand and hand with conventional medicine so well.
Marlowe is a lovely, sweet orange male cat who recently came into BARC Shelter.  Possibly due to a reaction to an antibiotic, he ended up with many patches of itchy skin.  He was switched to another antibiotic, and is now being giving a steroid to help with the skin issues, so that got him on the right path. 
Meanwhile, my friend Betty K, a longtime volunteer at the shelter, discovered that Marlowe really responded to little circular TTouches on his head with a paintbrush.  By using the paintbrush and doing the TTouches on his head, she is able to avoid touching the itchy areas, which are primarily on his body. 

He is extremely soothed by the TTouches, which help him get into a much more relaxed state, and calm his nerves, so he is much less apt to scratch at the areas.  He stretches out as she does them, and enjoys her working with him that way for a very long time :) The TTouches also can help to stimulate his appetite, so in the course of her sessions, he often comes forward to eat.  So that is all great!

I have been doing some TTouch with Marlowe, but since Betty is already doing the TTouches with him, I have been primarily doing Reiki with him.  Reiki also serves to calm and soothe him.  I have been mostly keeping my hands slightly off his body.  Again, I want to avoid touching the itchy areas, as I don't want to make him uncomfortable or irritated and more likely to scratch.  However, in the process of Reiki, animals most often will shift their body until your hands are where they would most like them to be, and yesterday, he turned over and laid right into my hands for a good while.  I could feel a good amount of heat and energy coming out of my hands, and felt him get very peaceful there.  Reiki can also stimulate the appetite, so he often eats after his sessions with me as well. 
Last time I was at BARC, I noticed that the itchy areas are drying up, which is great.  And when I am working with Marlowe, I generally do not see him scratch at all.  I am sure that both the TTouch and Reiki are helping him to stay in a calmer state, which is so helpful with skin issues, as they usually are aggravated by stress.  And a shelter environment can be so stressful for animals.
So glad to see Marlowe starting to feel better, and thanks Betty K and the other wonderful BARC people for helping Marlowe and the other animals to feel more at ease.  xoxo

Monday, March 3, 2014

TTouch at Bideawee with Calvin, a Shy Kitten: Closer Every Day

Calvin is a very shy kitten who I have been working with at Bideawee.  He is not aggressive in the least, just frightened - he will run away from you if he does not want to be touched.  But I have been working with him slowly and quietly, and he is getting more and more used to contact.

In my post with him a while back, I found that he was comfortable with little TTouches done with a soft kitty toy, and then I was able to transition to using my hand.  Now he seems to want to use the toy as a toy, so I tried doing TTouches on his forehead using a paintbrush. 

Before I even get to the TTouch part though, I do give him some time to settle in a comfortable place, usually underneath something.  He seems to feel more protected that way.  Sometimes he is comfortable sitting next to a scratching post.  I will let him settle and sit next to him for a bit before I begin, speaking to him quietly sometimes. 

Once he seems comfortable, I start to do a few circular TTouches on his forehead.  I do a few at a time, then pause to see how he's doing.  Usually when I pause, he will get in a little more comfortable position.  After doing this for a while, if he seems like he's ok with me going on, I will slowly work my hand down the handle of the paintbrush and begin to do some circular TTouches with the back of my fingers. 

In the video above, you will see me doing Chimp and Llama TTouches, which use the back surfaces of my fingers, which are less intense-feeling than the front surfaces.  There is less heat coming from these surfaces. 

In these moments with him, I really quiet my mind and am just feeling and being with him in the moment.  I feel my breath getting into the same rhythm as his breath, and our energies merge.  I can feel how he is responding, and can usually feel when it is time to stop and give him a break.  It is truly an amazing and exhilarating feeling, being together in those moments.

And as one of the TTouch sayings goes, "it is moments, not minutes" that matter - it is important to try to stop before it is too much.  This can be a challenge to try to feel when that is, but it starts to come with practice.  Of course, we get excited and want for progress to happen, but it is really in letting go of our expectations and being in the moment that the most amazing things can happen.

Above is a short video of me doing abalone TTouches with Calvin.  Keep in mind that this happened at the end of quite a long session, with many pauses in between.  If Calvin seems like he needs more than a short pause, I will work with or play with one of the other cats in the room with him to give him more of a break. 

Anyway, the abalone TTouches happened after a while of TTouches on the head with the brush, then TTouches on the head with my hand, and then little by little I began to do a TTouch or two on the body, then went back to the head, then tried again on the body, etc.  It is a very gradual process.

As I continue to work with him, it is such a joy to see his face, his body, his whole self begin to relax and feel comfortable with me.  It will still take some time for him to learn to trust, but he is on a path moving forward every time I work with him.

Thanks as always for all the kind Bideawee people, it is a very special place to be.  Can't wait to see you again Calvin!  xoxo