Friday, February 24, 2017

Connecting with Pearlie: Increasing Comfort and Ease for a Sweet Senior Cat

Pearlie is a beautiful senior kitty who I have been working with for a couple of years.  I started out working with her dear sister Lucy (who sadly passed last year), who had arthritis (and later other issues), and soon began working with Pearlie as well.  Pearlie and Lucy's person Kate is a lovely person and an amazing cat guardian, giving them both the best of care - always so thoughtful and attentive to their every need.

Pearlie has kidney issues, as well as arthritis, so whatever I can do to help her be more relaxed and comfortable is beneficial.  I have mostly been working with Reiki, and recently have been incorporating some TTouch and Debono Moves as well.  Reiki can help the body and mind to be as balanced as possible.  TTouch (developed by Linda Tellington-Jones) and Debono Moves (developed by Mary Debono) both grew out of the Feldenkrais Method.  These techniques are subtle, gentle, primarily hands-on techniques (they can also be done off the body).  I have found that these techniques complement each other really well.

Pearlie is a very sensitive cat, so she mostly prefers that I share Reiki with her from a short distance away.  As time has gone on, she has been more comfortable with me being closer, and I have also been able to slowly introduce the other techniques with her, always going with a pace she is comfortable with.

In the last couple of sessions, she has been getting progressively more at ease with this combination, so I wanted to share some of what I did in her most recent session:

Pearlie was settled on the couch comfortably, so I sat near her, said hello and let the Reiki start flowing.  Shortly after making the connection through Reiki, I sensed she was open to me making physical contact with her, so I gradually moved closer and started doing some gentle TTouches on her forehead with the back of one finger (the flat part of fingernail in contact).  She relaxed into this nicely.

She was on her left side, with her right side facing me, so I gently rested my left hand on her side, barely touching her.  I did a slow lift of her muscles, then an even slower release of the tissue (Debono muscle lifts).  I imagined each lift as a supportive movement, and each release creating more space and more relaxation. After each release I would have my hand slightly off her, then would put my hand gently back on her side, just a little further down her back than before.  As I slowly worked my way down her side, she grew more and more sleepy, and I felt her very peaceful. We were both completely one with the movement and the moment, and I felt more ease and relaxation after each release.

When my hand was down around where her hip is, I rested my whole hand over her hip area, and began to imagine my hand doing a very slow circle there (Debono hip circles, which are usually done in conjunction with shoulder circles).   After a while, I started moving my hand in a very subtle circle - barely a movement, done more with my intention than anything.  I did the circles in one direction for a while, then changed to the other direction.  Pearlie was now completely stretched out and relaxing into the movement. 

When I did this sequence the week before, she had begun purring.  At this moment, she didn't, but I felt her totally at ease. 

As she continued to lay in this position, I imagined doing this same sequence on the other side of her body. Then I slowly took my left hand slightly off her body and just let the Reiki flow with my hands still, one near her head and one near her tail.  There was a very sleepy, dreamlike feeling as we shared the energy quietly together.  I incorporate these still moments with the times where I am moving, to let the animal rest and process what we have done.  So we are not actually still - at least not still like a statue - the energy is flowing and the mind and body are processing information.

I then did some clouded leopard TTouches (circular TTouches with the pads of the fingers touching) on the toes on her back paws.  I was barely touching her toes - very light pressure.  Then I lightly held each of her toes, one by one, moving each one a little bit.  This was all to give her system more awareness in her feet, and to remind her feet and toes of the movement potential there.

After that, I paused, letting her system absorb all the work we had done.

Next, Pearlie got up and took a bit of a break, then walked towards the bedroom, checking to see if I would come with her, and settled in on top of the cover of the heater, where it was nice and toasty warm.  Interestingly enough, she laid on her right side this time, with her left side towards me.  As if to say, please work on this side now:)

I did the sequence of the muscle lifts, followed by the hip circles, on her left side.  When I got to the hip circles, she started purring, pretty loudly, which is unusual for her.  Kate told me that often one has to put their ear very close to hear Pearlie purr.  Pearlie stared at me as if to tell me how cozy she was.

Then, as an experiment, I put my other hand slightly above her shoulder, doing some slow circles there above her body as I continued the hip circles.  I had not done this earlier because I felt that putting both my hands on Pearlie's body would be too much.  However, Pearlie was completely comfortable with this and began purring again.  I put my hand lightly on her shoulder, continuing the slow circles for a short period of time with one hand over her shoulder area and one over her hip area.

At that point I let the movement go, and just kept still, continuing to let the Reiki flow.  Then I finished the session, thanking Pearlie, thanking Reiki, Debono Moves, and TTouch:)

Keep in mind that all of this took a bit over an hour, and all the movements were very slow.  If I had sensed Pearlie becoming uncomfortable in any way, I would have stopped the movement, given Pearlie a break and continued the session with my hands off, etc.  It is always important to go with what the animal is comfortable with, so that they feel it as a positive experience, and as something they enjoy and look forward to.

Thank you so much Pearlie!  I love you and can't want to see you again and continue our explorations together:)

And please check out Mary Debono's website for more about her technique, and my youtube channel for some demos of TTouch, etc.:)

Friday, February 10, 2017

Sharing a Calm Space with BJ


BJ is a beautiful black cat.  He lives with two wonderful people, Amy and Matthew, and kitty friend Ramona (Mona).  They recently moved, which is stressful for BJ, and he has been exhibiting signs of stress, including over-grooming.  This is something that happened with a previous move.  He is a very sensitive cat, and he needs some help in easing out of his anxiety. 
Mona and BJ
I started working with them about a month ago.  They had already been using a Thundershirt, which is great.  I showed them how to use a TTouch wrap, to have as an alternative to the Thundershirt.  I also showed them some basic TTouches, as TTouch is so helpful in calming the nervous system, and can help to remind him that he can feel calm. I have showed them some basic clicker training, as BJ is very food-motivated, and this activity can help him to be more focused and can distract him from the constant grooming. And I have encouraged them to meditate with BJ as well.  Perhaps because he is so sensitive, he has been very responsive to the Reiki sessions we have done. And so far he has been responsive when they have meditated with him.
He has been making progress, coming out into more of the space in the apartment and finding places where he enjoys relaxing, such as on the windowsill. And as of last week, he was grooming less, which is really good.

For the Reiki sessions, I just sit on the floor in a comfortable position with him in the room, and Amy and Matthew can sit quietly wherever they wish.  BJ is welcome to go wherever he pleases.  I am sharing the Reiki space with him, and it is his choice as to where he is comfortable receiving the energy.

In the first two sessions, he started out being very restless, but I just continued to let the energy flow, letting him know he was loved, he was safe, and he was welcome to take as much or little energy as he needed.  Both times he ended up settling into Amy's lap, and over some time stopped grooming and relaxed into a very peaceful sleeping position there. 

The third session was a distant session, as both Amy and Matthew were out of town.  I felt a very strong connection, and as you can see in the picture below, my cat Natalia was sending her own good vibes to him from nearby.  My other cat, Lulu, was also present on the other side of me, enjoying the relaxing energy.  The photo near my hand is a photo of BJ, as that helps me in connecting with him.

In the fourth session, Amy was not present. I shared with Matthew a meditation that I call the "healing bubble meditation", during which you create a space of healing and light, and invite the animal into the space.  As we did the meditation, BJ circled around Matthew, very interested in what was going on.  I know he could sense the calm energy around him.  And he looked at my lap as though he was thinking about sitting there, but not quite yet.
After that, I worked with BJ, and shortly after I began letting the energy flow, he went ahead and settle right on my lap.  He was not grooming for that entire time, was just absorbing the energy. As BJ is quite shy, that was a big show of trust on his part.
I felt him so peaceful and quiet, and it seemed like such a relief for him to feel such stillness.  And it seemed he was realizing that it was possible for him to feel this calmness.
I think the more often that he can be reminded of that feeling, the more easily he will be able to find it on his own.  So that is why TTouch and Reiki and meditation can be so helpful - to remind the body and mind that mental and physical peace is possible.
After a long while, he needed a break and went to go sit on an easy chair.  He started to groom himself.  I continued to let the energy flow, and he began to slowly calm down.  I very gradually began to move a bit closer to him, and followed my intuition to try a few TTouches with the back of one finger (flat part of fingernail) at a slow tempo.
I did just a few circular TTouches, and he stopped grooming.
Then he started up again a bit, and I did a few slow TTouches on his forehead with one finger.  I slowed down the TTouches as I went.  He stopped grooming and settled down.
I gave him breaks here and there as I continued working.  All the while I was letting the Reiki continue to flow.  I did some slow TTouches going down one side of his back, then the other with the back of my fingers with a snail's tail (after the circle and a quarter you pause, then release your hand back in the other direction a quarter circle).  The back of the fingers can feel more gentle and less invasive than the front surfaces, as there is less heat coming from the back of your hands.
BJ was getting very relaxed and sleepy by this point.  Sometimes I would just keep my hands still and let the Reiki flow, and other times I would be doing the TTouches with the Reiki flowing. Mona came over near where we were, as though she wanted to be a part of the energy.
Please see the video below for a demo of some of the TTouches I did with him (I made the video after the session, with my cat Lulu as the demo cat).

In last week's session, both Amy and Matthew were present.  I had spoken to them about positive visualization, and Amy said that they were focusing on that more.  And that things were going better in general with BJ.
Seeing an animal in a positive light can be so important.  When an animal has an ongoing issue, such as overgrooming, we can start to have a constant image of the animal overgrooming.  Instead, it is more useful to start seeing the animal as healed and whole - to start seeing him as strong, relaxed, and peaceful, for example.  I use a lot of visualization when I am working with an animal, and I did in the session that followed.
Again, in the beginning of the Reiki session, BJ was a bit restless, but before too long, he sat straight up on the arm of the couch (next to where Amy was sitting).
He sat there very still, as though he was sitting as still as he could to feel the energy.
I was seeing him as a much larger cat than he physically is.  I saw him strong and confident and larger than life. I connected with his inner light, and began to feel a connection between his inner light and the light that was surrounding him.  That it was all the same beautiful light.  He stayed in this still sitting position for a long, long time - most of the session.  It was not a stiff position though - it was a posture of just taking in the energy, and of being peaceful, and feeling what that peacefulness is. I could feel his inner beauty radiating.
At a couple of points, he started to do a few motions as though he would start grooming, and then he decided not to, and stayed still again.  A couple of times when he looked as though he was going to start grooming, Amy just touched him lightly and he became calm again.
Realizing, I don't have to do this, I can be peaceful.
Eventually, he settled into Amy's lap and got very peaceful there.  I slowly moved near him and was able to do some calming TTouches with him.  Hooray (I said that inside myself quietly!)!
Thank you BJ, Matthew, Amy, and Mona!  You are all doing a wonderful job. I look forward to seeing you all soon and to further work with BJ:)