Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Sharing the Light with Mr. Ji


Mr. Ji is a little senior Shitzu with a big spirit.  His caretaker, Niseema, is a skilled massage therapist (for people) and is giving him amazing love and care.  I was contacted to see what I could do to help Mr. Ji's comfort level.
He has musculoskeletal issues, apparently spinal stenosis.  He has some feeling in his back legs but they cannot support him, so Niseema has a customized cart for him which helps him get around very well.  He tends to twist to one side, and has a lot of tension in his upper body because it is working very hard to help the rest of his body get around.
I have been working with him with a combination of Reiki, TTouch and Debono Moves (Feldenkrais work adapted for animals).  I keep my mind, heart and body open and he helps show me what is most comfortable for him that day.  I have shown Niseema some of the work so she has been able to do it with him as well, which is great!

Today was an especially beautiful, peaceful session.  It generally takes him a while to settle into a position which is comfortable for him, but today that seemed to happen more quickly.  One thing that Niseema told me later was that they had an animal communicator help them a few days ago, and that the session was very productive -- that he had generally seemed more at ease after that.  She had contacted the communicator to see if Mr. Ji was still present and wanting to be on the earthly plane, and the communicator had sensed that he still was very much here and wanting to be here.
Niseema put a rolled up small blanket along his side so that he could have support there.  He seemed comfortable leaning against it.  I started letting Reiki flow.  I intuitively put a hand underneath his belly, picturing him as though he were standing even though he was on his side.  I was feeling he wanted support there.  I made a very subtle lifting motion, barely perceptible, then did a long release.  Each time I released, I imagined breath and light expanding into his body.  As I did this subtle motion, I felt him become very peaceful and still and comfortable. I felt my hands become one with his body, feeling him breathe and expand into my hands.  I would do the subtle movement for a while, then stop and just imagine it.
I had my other hand gently against the top of his back, not putting pressure there but just resting there and feeling the Reiki energy flowing from both my hands.  I felt the energy flowing from my hands through his body, feeling it going all the way into his head, feet, tail.
I pictured light inside of him and surrounding him, the Reiki energy merging with his own bright light that exists inside.  The bright light that resides inside all of us, even when a being is older or not well.  It might be just a flicker, but connecting with that flicker can help the light to grow and expand.
I felt him so calm and peaceful.

Then I started to picture just the slightest movement around, as though I was lifting around the cylindrical shape of his body in one direction, and then in the other.  Again, I was mostly thinking the motion rather than actually doing it.  But I could feel the slight rhythm and expansiveness of it.  Then I would pause and let that go.
There were long stretches where I would simply let the Reiki flow with my hands still.  Just feeling the expanse of the energy through his body, the light and the energy relaxing him.  His peacefulness and the quiet and peace throughout the room.
He has a strong, big spirit and I felt that during the session.  It often happens that I feel the animal I am working with as being very big, as though I am connection with their spirit rather than the confines of their body.  I visualized him walking with ease, using all four of his feet.  Feeling grass underneath his feet and walking with ease.  Feeling his body supported and his feet on the ground. 
After about an hour, I felt the Reiki energy starting to ease off, and I gently ended the session.  Niseema said that they would both probably take a nap now:)
Thank you Niseema and Mr. Ji!  Look forward to learning and sharing with you more and more. xxoo

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Reiki III and Teacher Training at Brighthaven Sanctuary with Kathleen Prasad: A Beautiful Journey

Me and Buffy

A few months ago, I received a scholarship to take the Animal Reiki III teacher training with Kathleen Prasad at BrightHaven Animal Sanctuary.  Though I had already been through Master level Reiki training with my wonderful teacher, Sheryl Schlameuss Berger (who studied with Kathleen), I had read Kathleen’s books and quite a few of her articles, as well as hearing her speak in the meetings of the Shelter Animal Reiki Association (I am a member), and I became interested in studying directly with Kathleen, particularly as her focus is on working with animals. I wanted to learn more about her approach and about her way of teaching Animal Reiki.  
I had also heard so much about BrightHaven.  My friend Cookie, who works with Homeless Cat Network (where I have taught TTouch workshops) had been telling me for years about Kathleen, Leah, and about BrightHaven.  
I knew I was in for a special experience, but I had no idea about how amazing it would truly be.
Our Reiki class: Me, Joannie, Kathleen Prasad, Jeanne, Pat, Nora
Kathleen is such a real, caring, generous, understanding and compassionate person.  She guided five other students and me on an incredible learning journey.  I learned new avenues for reaching a deeper place with Reiki, and I learned a lot about myself as well.  It was lovely to feel confirmation about things I had been doing intuitively but wasn’t sure about, and my mind was opened to new ways of thinking and being which I think will deepen my practice as well.
The animals were, as they always are, such amazing teachers.  And it was so interesting to experience connections with animals who I don’t generally work with or even see in the city environment of New York City.
Odie (goose) and friends
BrightHaven is a beautiful sanctuary in the Santa Rosa area in California.  There is a ranch-style house which incorporates fenced-in areas which hold different animals such as ducks and geese, and there is closed fencing around the house and over the top so that the cats can go in and out of the house and still be in a safe, contained environment.  Inside the house, everywhere you look are cozy spaces for the cats (and a few small dogs) to hang out.  The house has a really comfortable feeling to it, and a very spiritual feeling to it as well.  
Another class photo:)
Outside the house are a number of fenced-in areas where horses, burros, cows and pigs live.  As we were taken on our initial tour around the place, I was so excited to be in this magical place.
The sanctuary is run by Richard and Gail Pope.  They take in older animals and animals with special needs such as mobility issues, etc.  The animals are given natural diets and holistic care, including homeopathy and Reiki.  Clearly they are well cared for and attended to.  The Popes are extremely dedicated and they have a wonderful staff to help them.  Richard was present during parts of the class, and it was great to hear from him as well.  Vicki, who is the Operations Manager there, and extremely dedicated as well, was so kind and helpful to us throughout the workshop.
Now, on to some adventures that happened there.  I could probably write a book about the three days, but am going to focus on some moments with my animal teachers there.  Before I do that, here are some photos of my fellow students:
 Jamie with the cows
 Jeanne and the ducks
 Joannie and Nora, who won the goldfish-naming contest:)
Nora and Jamie with Max (who liked to hang with us during the class)
Joannie with horses
Pat with E.J. (you will hear more about this beautiful little fellow later)

And now on to my personal stories: 

First day
After the first class session, during the lunch break I visited with a beautiful kitty named Annie who arrived recently at BrightHaven after her person passed away.  She is 13, and surely going through some adjustments.  They had her in a separate little area which had a number of options for cozy hidey spaces for her.  She was inside a cozy plush box which had a circular opening in the front.  As I wanted to approach her gently, I found what looked like a plush magic wand.  The wand part was very soft.  So I spoke softly to her, sharing some Reiki with her.  After a bit, I wanted to see if she was open to some gentle TTouches with the wand.  She seemed comfortable with that, so we tried that for a while.  After a bit, I took a break and knew I would be working with her again over the next few days.
E.J. the burro (and Nora's hands)

Next, we went to do a Reiki treatment in a pasture where some horses and a burro named E.J. (short for Elton John) lived.  I have only worked with horses once before (and my only other contact with horses was very minimal, in my early teens), so this was something new, but I was excited about it.  And I don’t think I ever worked with a burro before.  
I felt particularly drawn to little E.J., and during the session he came right up to me and stayed near me for quite a long time.  He rubbed his head against me and I felt such a strong connection.  A feeling of pure love and unity with him out in this quiet open space outside with the infinite sky.  So beautiful to feel those suspended moments in time with him. 
Later in the day, I wanted to share Reiki with another one of the shy kitties, Buffy.  Buffy is an adorable little tortie who recently came to BrightHaven.  
Buffy is presently living in an office room in the house, which also has a fenced-in garden area where she can go.  There are cozy hidey places where she can hang out and hide out as she pleases. When I first sat down to share Reiki with her, she was in the garden.  She looked at me with big eyes and wasn’t too sure, but I just sat close to the doorway and let her have some distance from me, letting the Reiki flow.  I started to connect with her and she got more comfortable, sitting in the sun and beginning to groom herself. 
At that moment one of my fellow students passed outside the fence where she was (not realizing I was working with her), and Buffy got startled and ran past me and back behind a little screen to hide. 
It is a little strange when I can’t see how the animal is reacting, but I still was feeling a strong energetic connection with Buffy, so I just trusted it and continued to sit where I was for a good while, sharing the energy with her, silently telling her she was welcome to take as much or little as she wished. 

Second day
Today during the lunch break, I worked with Annie again.  I was doing some TTouches with her as well as letting the Reiki flow.  She came out of her box for me pretty shortly after I started working with her, which was great.  

Later on, I saw her actually hanging out on a cat bed outside the box.  Lovely to see progress with her already!
On this second day, one of the things we worked with was chanting the Reiki symbols.  When we did it with the class inside, I was having a hard time, feeling like I was only getting a few sounds out before I had to take a breath.  I started to feel as though I was hyperventilating a bit, so just did it at my own pace, chanting a bit, pausing, then chanting.  Apparently it can take some practice to get the hang of it, or at least for me to get the hang of it!
Later when we went out to work with the animals, we were working with the chanting again.  I wanted to see if I could connect with little E.J. again.  This time I was outside the fence, standing next to it.  E.J. and the horses were pretty far away, except for one horse, standing in shady spots as it was quite hot.  
At first I felt I was not connecting with my breath and the sound, and the energy was not flowing well.  E.J. and the horses were far away to begin with and got even further away.  I had cycled through all three symbol chants.  Things were clearly not really connecting, and I felt a bit lost.
Suddenly I felt E.J. say to me, from his place far away in the pasture, “Don’t be afraid”.  I really felt what he was saying, and felt something deep inside me let go. 
At that point I went back and started from the first Reiki symbol again, and suddenly I had found my voice.  I had found my strength and power. I felt the chanting coming from such a deep and resonant place.  
E.J. had sent me a healing.  
I felt connected with E.J. and all the horses, and with the wind, and the sky, with the warmth of the air, with the ground below me, with the trees blowing, and with all around me.  So beautiful and so powerful.  I thanked the animals at the end, and felt such profound love and gratitude.  I really felt the vibration and the power of being that grounded and connected.  And a oneness, a connection with all of the universe.  A feeling of so much light and energy.  I was so grateful to be there in that moment.
Thomas and Johnny
As I was walking back to the BrightHaven house from this experience, I came upon two cats sunning themselves that I had worked with before.  The orange and white one, Thomas, was immediately receptive, and the siamesey one, Johnny, went away for a minute, but then came right back.  I still had the chanting in my head from when I worked with the horses.  Both cats calmed right into my hands and laid down.  So sweet!
Later on, in sharing my experience with Kathleen and the rest of the class, I found out that it was even more interesting than I already thought that E.J. offered this message and healing to me, as he had been through so much and was terrified when he first came to BrightHaven.  He was so scared that people were going to mistreat him, so it took him a long time to truly trust and come into his own.  And clearly he has come such a long way.  I felt even more honored to have received this message particularly from him.

Today when I went in to see Buffy, she was hidden in her little place behind the screen.  I offered my finger for her to sniff, and she immediately rubbed into it. Then she came out of her hiding place for more contact, rubbing on me and purring as I did some TTouches with the Reiki flowing.   

Then started doing a chant with one of the Reiki symbols.  I had this chant in my head already when I went in, and I think that helped me to be really grounded.  I mostly did the chant inside my head, as I did not want to startle her, and at the end I began to say it very softly.   

She responded very well, at times coming closer for pets and rubs, and other times moving a bit further away, but was interested.  She also ate and went to the litter box while I was working with her. 

Vicki had said that she had been more out and about today in general, which was so great to hear!

Third day

In the morning we worked with Reiki attunements.  An attunement is a ritual which clears body, mind and spirit so that we can more easily be in connection with Reiki energy.  We had the pleasure of practicing the attunements on each other outside with the sun and the light on us.  
At one point, I had my eyes closed while one of my classmates was performing the attunement.  While Kathleen was talking us through the process, one of the images that struck me was the concept of barriers dissolving into the light.  
At that moment when she said these words, I had the sense of my skin dissolving so that there was nothing in between me and the light - that inside and outside my body were one.  In that moment, I had become the light. A moment which felt suspended in time. . . and a moment and image which is so beautiful to bring back to my mind and body.

Later on... more with the animals ...

When I went in Buffy's room today, she was sitting completely in the open in her cat tree.  She was very friendly when I approached her, and came down from the cat tree, purring.  

I was visiting her briefly during a break, so didn't have a lot of time to spend with her, but I did some TTouches with her, letting the Reiki flow.  So sweet to see her feeling so much more comfortable and confident!
Annie also was doing great, and came out of her hidey box for a while, purring.

Later in the day I went out to work with EJ and the horses in his area.  We were asked to work with the Reiki precepts, whichever of them might be resonant.  When I reached the fence where they were (I needed to stay outside the fence), two horses came right up to me and EJ, who was much further out in the pasture, saw me and came trotting right towards me, coming in between the two horses.  
I immediately I felt the words, "For today only, do not worry" [one of the Reiki precepts].  
I felt it in my heart and soul with such depth it brought tears to my eyes.  They all started kissing and nuzzling against my hands.

I felt such love and connection with these beings - felt the energy connecting with all three of them and especially with E.J., who was such a healing creature for me during this workshop. 

I felt the beauty and peacefulness of being outside with them with the open sky.  And the type of love that is so huge and without bounds.  Again E.J. gently kissed my hand, as did the horses.  
After a good while there, E.J. went further away, but I still felt the connection with him very strong.  After a bit, I quietly thanked them and ended the session.
As I walked back, I came upon two little ducks, who came right up to me.  I felt such love and joy emanating from them.
And then I had a very lovely moment with Jack and Thomas.  I started doing some gentle TTouches with Jack, letting the Reiki flow, and Thomas began to rub against my hand as well.

In the afternoon, I was asked to work with Peanut.  

We were doing a meditation called the Reiki bridge, in which we offer the bridge and invite an animal to come across the bridge if they wish - they can come all the way to us or not at all, as they choose.  It is always up to the animal how much or little they wish to connect with us.

Peanut started out in her cat bed in the window, as you see above.

Shortly after I began to let Reiki flow, she came forward and nuzzled my hand.  

She started pushing into my hand and rubbing against me.  I ended up sitting on the floor and she completely settled into my lap. A beautiful, peaceful feeling sitting with her completely settled with me as we sat together in the Reiki space. 

A very pleasant way to end the training, with this sweet creature. 
It was hard to leave the peace and tranquility of BrightHaven.  I was glad to have a bit of time in San Francisco before going back to my busy life in New York.
Now I have been back in the loud environment of  New York City for several weeks, but I have brought back so much from that experience that has been of help to me, and hopefully will be of help as well to the animals I work with as well.  And when I find myself stressed, I can bring my mind back to some of those beautiful images and feelings - E.J. and the horses in the pasture, the feeling of the open sky, and the air, and the wind, and a feeling of oneness with the universe.
I feel my senses more attuned to any natural sounds, sights and sensations, - the chirping of birds or of crickets, the wind blowing through the trees, a feeling of warmth from the sun.  These all help recall some of the beauty, lightness and connection that I felt from this experience - which is especially helpful in the hecticness of the city.
Thank you so much to Kathleen, to the wonderful people and animals at BrightHaven, and to my lovely classmates for helping this to be such a beautiful and memorable experience. xoxo

Saturday, October 1, 2016

TTouch, Clicker Training and More with Bella: Helping a Rambunctious Kitten To Get on the Right Track:)

Bella is a beautiful, confident, friendly kitten who was adopted by Elizabeth and Mike into their lovely and caring home.  To say Bella is energetic is putting it mildly!  She has so much energy that some of it builds up into over-stimulated behavior, and she has been biting them (primarily Elizabeth).

I went for a session with them to see what was happening, and to help give them some strategies to help.
I had mentioned clicker training to Elizabeth, and she had already gotten Bella started with this, which was great.
Bella came right out to greet me enthusiastically when I came in.  We worked a bit with clicker training with her, explaining some variations she could do with the training.
Then I showed Elizabeth and Mike how to do some basic TTouch.  As Bella was in a very active mood, I demonstrated on a stuffed animal for part of the time, and worked on Bella a little at a time. I could tell that the TTouches would be helpful for her.  I worked a bit with the stick end of a stick toy with her at times, as she can get overstimulated.  I gave her lots of breaks, continuing to explain to Elizabeth and Mike about the TTouches.
It was very interesting, as I could see Bella's energy slowly begin to calm as I very gradually worked with her.
I advised Elizabeth to continue with the clicker training, TTouches, and lots of play time, and to get Bella some toys she can play with on her own as well. 
It is beneficial to do the TTouches a few times a day, if you can, depending on what is going on.  You don't need to do a long session - even a session which is only a few minutes can start to make a difference.  The work builds on itself.  The animal begins to recognize the feeling of the TTouches, and usually relaxes right into them.  And, over time, the TTouches can have such a profound effect on an animal's general level of relaxation and well-being, and helps an animal to not be as reactive to stressful situations.
I also showed her something that usually works really well as a corrective sound with kittens, as it mimics the type of sound a kitten makes to another kitten if they are playing too roughly.  It is a sudden, high-pitched squeak-type sound, that usually gets the other kitten to back off.  Thank you to my friend Kerrie McKeon, cat behavior expert extraordinaire and keeper of the cats at Bideawee, for teaching me about that. 

I explained the importance of giving a variety of kinds of spaces for Bella, such as vertical space so she can have another dimension to explore and play, and cozy hidey spaces where she can go to calm herself down.
I have video tutorials on TTouch, as well as a few on clicker training on my youtube page, http://youtube.com/sarahsuricat.
After the session, I made a Bach Flower remedy for Bella both in drops and spray form, so it could be sprayed in the environment as well as taken internally.  The remedy can be taken four or more times a day, depending on what is going on.  As Bella can continue to be hyped up after play time, one good time to spray and give the remedy is after playtime.  I also advised Elizabeth to leave the room for a bit after their play session and just let Bella calm down.
So.... the wonderful news that I heard shortly after our session was that Bella is doing so much better:)  Good work on the part of one and all! xxoo

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Connecting with Luther: Helping a Sensitive Soul Unwind

Luther is a beautiful tabby cat who I have worked with off and on for the past couple of years.  He has two adopted cat brothers, Mr. Maps and Scrumble.  They live in a wonderful home with their kind and caring people, Suzanne and Mike.

Following is a link to a post about Luther and Mr. Maps after their brother Bunny (the dear kitty who I first worked with in this household) had passed, and before Scrumble was adopted. to give more of a back story of Luther:

Luther is an extremely sensitive cat, and can get overstimulated easily.  When I first started working with him, this would happen more easily and he could go into attack mode.  I worked with him very gently and carefully, giving him plenty of space, and allowing him to come closer as he was comfortable.  After some months of TTouch, Reiki, Bach Flower remedies and clicker training, this behavior calmed substantially, and his people were able to be closer to him and even pick him up and hold him, which was wonderful.

But there are times when he goes back into a more stressed mode, and needs some reminding of how to be in a calmer state.  Most recently I was called to work with him because he had started peeing off the side of counters.  I came for a session, and brought a Bach Flower remedy for him as well.
Luther is extremely receptive to Reiki.  By now he is so familiar with the energy that when I start to create the Reiki space, he feels and connects with it right away, and starts to settle.

I started our session in the bigger space of the loft, which is where we usually start with some clicker training.  I left the doors open so that all the cats could join if they wanted, and move around as they pleased.  After a bit of clicker training, I sat on the floor with all of them and let the Reiki f
At this point I felt all the cats connect with the energy, calming.  Scrumble came right near me and settled down next to my feet, and Mr. Maps and Luther settled at a comfortable distance.  Since Luther is so sensitive, I sit with a sideways orientation to him, rather than straight-on, and soften my gaze.  This is actually something that I do when working with animals in general, but it is especially important with a very sensitive animal.
 Mr. Maps

I felt a very tangible connection of my heart to Luther's, as well as a connection with the other two cats.  And I felt this deep sense of love connecting us.

Reiki can facilitate this feeling:  a timeless, universal feeling of love and connection.  I felt all four of us connected, but particularly felt the energy that connected Luther and me, our hearts connecting and the energy passing back and forth between us.  At this time I was also speaking to him in a soft, soothing, rhythmic voice, which can add another level of calmness in combination with the Reiki energy.  After a time I was quiet, still feeling the energy of a soft voice there.  Luther visibly calmed, and I had a sense of him calming internally as well.

After a time, Luther got up and moved into a smaller room which is used as a walk-in closet.  Luther started to settle there.  I waited a moment, and after sensing he wanted me to join him in there, I went in the room and settled a few feet away from him, the Reiki energy continuing to flow.

I felt him comforted by the smaller space, as well as by feeling the softness of the carpet underneath him.  There was light coming in the window, and I could feel Luther's sense that this was where he wanted to be.  Here with the energy, coziness, softness and light.  As I continued to share Reiki with him, he calmed further and further, slowly stretching out and reaching complete relaxation.

Such a beautiful feeling, his spirit and body really unwinding.  We stayed here for the rest of his session.  It was almost difficult to end the session, as I could feel him absorbing the energy so much.  I ended the session very softly, thanking him and thanking Reiki.

Afterwards, I told Suzanne and Mike what had happened, and suggested that it could benefit him to have a smallish, soft space, such as a crate with towels inside and draped over the top and three sides of it, so that he could have a little place to go and calm down when he needed it.  They told me that he always has access to the closet as well, so that is good too.  They have a crate, so they set this up for him, and sent me this photo of him looking very cozy indeed!

I checked in with them a few days ago, and his behavior has been good.  They said they don't often see him in his "apartment", but he seems to be glad it is there:) 
With much love and gratitude, xoxo

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Reiki with the Cats at Bideawee: Oneness and Eternal Love

I always love my time with animals, and have meaningful connections with them every day.  But at times there are those special moments that sneak up on you and surprise you in the most beautiful way.

Last week, towards the end of my afternoon working with the cats at Bideawee, I decided to go into the main cat room to work with Ashanti, one of my long-time kitty friends there.  The cats in this room generally are cats who prefer to be only cats, so they reside in cages but are let out to roam freely in the room in shifts, so they all have time out.  There are two adjacent cat rooms which each house 4-5 cats, and one can see the cats in this room through the glass walls.

Ashanti was having his time out.  As it was a quiet time of day, I decided to sit on the floor in the middle of the room and offer Reiki to him.
Ashanti first came up to me, looked at me, and then climbed to an upper area in the room, where he loves to be, and laid down, squinting his eyes, absorbing the energy.

As the energy began to flow, it expanded through the room and I felt it connecting with the other cats in the room as well.  The radio was playing quietly.  I felt such a peacefulness come over the room.
I felt the energy become stronger and stronger, and felt the connections with all the cats in the room, as well as those in the adjacent rooms.  I felt the history of my connections with these cats, some of whom I have known for a good while.  The strength and beauty of that shared history.

I felt a huge energy of love filling up the room.  This feeling of an eternal kind of love, a love beyond the boundaries of time and space.  Boundless joy and infinite connection with the cats and with the universe.

I felt such happiness and gratitude for the animals for this time with them, for all the time I have had with them, for their openness with me, for all that they give to me and teach me, and for all the love they share with me.
I felt suspended in time, connected with these beautiful animals with the energy and connection of love and gratitude.  Connected with them all and connected with the eternal feeling of love.  Love that goes beyond time and space.  Feeling like I am exactly where I need to be, that we were all exactly where we needed to be in this moment. 
Jax and Jayne

All the cats in the room, and in the adjacent rooms, were peaceful and calm.  A few cats were eating or grooming, others were just resting peacefully.


It was such a beautiful way to end my day with them. When the time was right, I slowly ended the session, thanking Reiki, and thanking the cats.  I looked around the room at all of them, and told them to have a wonderful night.  I can't wait to see them again! xxooo