The Gift of The Horse Equine Reiki is a practice of creating a space of mindful loving kindness and compassion that we share with our horses through an open heart. Reiki is shared from the heart of one being to the heart of the other being, knowing that in essence there is no separation between us.
When sharing The Gift of The Horse Reiki, we create the space for relaxation, nurturing, releasing, trusting, understanding and calmness. In the Reiki space the horse is able to begin the journey of releasing tension, anxiety, trauma, pain, emotional blocks, fears and distrust. The shut down and withdrawn horse will be able to connect again with his guardian. Through creating this supportive space, balance of body and mind are able to be restored. When balance is restored, healing can begin to take place. Reiki is not an energy healing practice done to the horse by the human. The human is not the healer. The human creates The Reiki Space, thereby supporting the horse to return back to his or her own natural balance, where the body is able to heal itself.
How We Create The Reiki Space:
Through the practice of mindfulness we are able to let go of our worries, doubts and fears and we are able to come to a place of inner stillness and acceptance of what is. There is no buzzing of the mind, no jumping thoughts or being drawn away from this moment by distractions. There is just right now. Mindfulness is a practiced state of being when we first begin our journey. Soon, mindfulness becomes part of how we do things and how we go about our day.
Meditation, both formal and informal is how we can cultivate the practice of mindfulness.
Our formal practice is when we take a few moments each day, to bring the body to stillness and then we ask the mind to join the body and to be still too as we sit or walk in a relaxed way. There is no striving or seeking or forcing. This is a practice of observation. We observe our thoughts, judgments, pain, joy, difficulties, happiness and we let all of this be, with an open heart. Essentially we will sit as the Buddha does amidst the storms of whatever is up for us, we let it all come and we are not disturbed by it or hooked in by it. If we are practicing a walking meditation, we walk, each footfall reminding us to come back to the breath and to be fully present with each step.
The centre point for mediation is our breath, a wonderful tool, representative of life, that is always available to us. A guided meditation can also be very supportive to our practice as well.
Our formal practice is really a beautiful foundation and ongoing commitment so that we are able to practice mindfulness in everyday life. This is the basic principle of meditation - that we extend our sitting and walking meditation (formal practice) into our non-sitting and non-walking life (informal practice).
In any moment while we are conducting ourselves in the world outside of our mediation space, we can create a space of mindfulness and meditation, which is our informal practice. Simple daily things that we do, have the potential to become wonderful practices of mindfulness. For example: placing the halter on our horses. This can be transformed into an act of deep compassion, acknowledgement, care and consideration - if we do this with mindfulness. A simple thing like haltering our horses, becomes a great opportunity for heartfelt connection. The energy of mindfulness is wonderfully soothing, with a sense of calmness, ease and kindness. The energy of mindfulness is extremely supportive in deepening the connection with our horses. (In The Gift of The Horse Mindfulness Practice Self Study we look at 4 ways in which we can practice mindfulness with our horses.)
2. Loving Kindness
When we dip into the practices of mindfulness and meditation, our minds become still and quiet. When we are quiet we start to notice again how easy it is to feel more in love for the world around us. When we are sitting in mindfulness, we notice all the different blades of grass and the smallest flowers and tiniest insects. We notice the smallest changes in pitch and tone as birds call to each other from far away. Our fondness for the simplest things starts to really blossom, until we feel like we could fall in love with a tiny aphid that somehow found her way into our house! When we are not mindful and taken away by our busy minds, we miss all the wonderful and truly beautiful things that surround us, that the earth continually offers to share with us.
The practice of loving kindness is to choose to love because it is a far more beautiful way to live than to be filled with hatred, fear and resentment. With a practice of loving kindness we first start off with the things, situations or people in our lives that are very easy to love - and this why our horses are very easy to begin with! We can practice by being with our horses and allowing the love to flow and then slowly we can start to bring in other situations or people that may be neutral to us. Soon we can invite to our practice the situations or people that we may not love at all, or those that are hard to love, and want to keep us at arm's length. And we begin to offer these situations, things and people feelings of love. Soon our heart's capacity to love unconditionally and without judgement grows. We begin to feel the benefit to us of letting go of a heart that is restricted to love conditionally. As soon as we start to do this, holding onto fear, anger and resentment no longer has such a hold over us and we can really let go of feelings that no longer serve us.
This practice is very helpful when we work with animals that have aggressive tendencies or who are manifesting behaviour that makes them hard to understand (shut down) and hard to reach (withdrawn) All aggressive behaviour has it's roots grown firmly in fear. If we can reach that fear, that root cause, and offer it love, compassion, understanding, acceptance and be with it, the behaviour will change.
Please note here that your safety comes first. And this is what makes Reiki such a wonderful practice - you can offer Reiki at a distance that you feel comfortable with. Reiki can be shared on the other side of a fence, from outside a stable door and it can even be offered when you are not with the animal at all. Animals do not need you to touch them in order for them to feel compassion, kindness, acceptance and understanding. They are able to feel these things, just as we do and more so. Touch is very much a human thing and although it is a part of Reiki when initiated by the animal, we need not rely on it in order to help them.
This is just the basics of loving kindness, this in itself is a deep study and practice.
Holding a space of compassion is to bring an energy of kindness and understanding without judgement, worry or pity towards the animal. Compassion does not try to fix or change anything. Compassion has a lightness and an energy of acceptance to it, compared with the heaviness and resistance of pity, shame and anger over what may have happened to the animal or our judgement and concern over the circumstance that the animal may be in or may have come from. It is the lightness and acceptance that the animal will feel and will be able to relax into.
If we are sharing Reiki with an animal that has suffered trauma (especially if this trauma has been caused to the animal through abuse), it can be very difficult not to feel pity, anger, or become emotionally upset by what might have happened to the animal. In order to share Reiki with an animal it is very important to be able to hold a space of compassion regardless of what we can see with our eyes and regardless of what emotions may come up for us on understanding what may have happened to the animal. If we can only see the sadness of the situation or feel angry, worried, anxious or stressed, the animal will feel that and will not be able to heal. Holding a space of light compassion will be what supports the animal to begin the healing journey.
When we are not with the animal, we can process our fears, angers and emotions and we can take a mindful look at our concerns for the animal. We can take any necessary steps to see how we can improve the situation for the animal - we can take what I like to call compassionate action, working with the guardian, care givers and vets. It is vital that we do not spend energy on the runaway train of emotions that may come up when working with animals who have suffered trauma. Once we have processed our emotions, we can take a deep breath and ask: "How can I be truly helpful?" From this space we can see that our anger here is not helpful to the horse, or to ourselves. We can see that our need to blame and become despondent is not helpful to the horse, or to ourselves. What is helpful? Our compassionate action. And conserving our energy so that we can continue to be helpful for as long as we are needed.
As a helpful tip, I will do my best not to discuss a horse's trauma in front of the horse (or any animal). The reason for this is a blog post in itself! (Coming soon.)
4. Reiki is Shared
Reiki is not a healing energy that is given to or done to the animal, it is one that is offered and shared. The horse must give his or her full consent and we will never touch the horse without their express permission to do so. Often horses, especially those who have been through trauma will prefer a hands off session and this is definitely as effective (sometimes more so!) as hands on. The human creates The Reiki Space and the horse joins in and then leads the practice. The horse is not tied up or forced to accept Reiki and can move away (and come back!) within the session as much as they need to. We honour the horse at every single step as having the innate wisdom and capacity to heal, we are simply there to support them and to create the space.
5. An Open Heart
An open heart is one that is not constricted by the sadness of the situation or the trauma that we may see with our eyes. The open heart sees the heart of the other and it recognises that in essence there is no separation. The heart knows that we are all the same regardless of the different forms we may take. With an open heart we are able to see beyond trauma, pain, discomfort, problem behaviour, physical issues and distress to the essence of that being. The open heart recognises the essence within the other as its own. The heart of one can connect with the heart of the other and create heartfelt support for healing. The one heart does not heal the other heart, it recognises the innate power of the other to heal itself and it supports it to do so.
If you would like to contact Lara to learn more about The Gift of The Horse Equine Reiki or to to make an appointment, please see our contact details above or connect with us via Facebook.
Photo Credit: Sabine Henry