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

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