Q. Can you please tell us a little about yourself and how you started on your Reiki journey?
I learned Reiki for self-healing after having an amazing treatment from a Reiki teacher, Martha Lucas, in Denver. Once I trained in Level 1, initially I was focused on my own healing, but my dog kept coming to me and sitting on my feet while I did my self-treatment. Finally the light bulb came on for me and I realized, “hey he wants Reiki too!” More animals seemed to find their way to me for Reiki. At the time that I first learned Reiki in 1998, I was a middle school teacher, loved it, and thought I would do that forever. But Reiki and the animals continued to tug and pull at me…especially shelter animals—I was so amazed at the healing responses they showed from even just one session of Reiki! Finally in 2002 I “retired” from teaching middle school to do Reiki full time
Q. How has Reiki affected your life?
Reiki has healed me of anxiety which I suffered from since I was a small child. Reiki also helped me get through breast cancer 18 months ago. So I know from personal experience that there is always hope with Reiki, no condition is too big for it to help. And I have met so many wonderful people and animals through this work—I can’t even imagine my life without Reiki! In fact, my life IS Reiki!
Q. Who did you train with, and how long have you been teaching yourself?
I initially had two Takata lineage Reiki teachers—Martha Lucas and Meg Siddheshwari Sullivan. In 2005 I read The Japanese Art of Reiki, and ended up studying with the author, Frans Stiene of the International House of Reiki. I have found the Japanese techniques resonate so much with the animals, it is a perfect fit, and I now teach Japanese Reiki for people and animals.
Q. How would you explain Reiki – is it a spiritual practice, energy healing or something else?
Reiki is for me a spiritual practice, the side-effects of which are being able to assist others in their self-healing. In other words, my ability to help the animals is tied directly to my dedication to my own personal Reiki practice in meditation and self-healing. We must always start with ourselves. This is a reminder of the precept, “show compassion to yourself and others.” The more that I heal my own issues, the easier it is to connect to the animals. The more balanced and grounded I become, the easier it is to share that space of balance and peace with the animals. And the more they seek out the healing. Reiki is an amazing way to transcend the boundaries of species and connect with animals in a deep and meaningful way—it helps us experience the truth the “we are all one” and there really is no separation. In this way Reiki inspires respect and harmony between all species and living things, so for me Reiki is the path towards true hope for our planet—that one day we can all live peacefully with each other and with mother Earth.
Q. What makes Reiki different from other forms of energy healing (like Qi Kung / TT / Pranic Healing)?
It’s Japanese origins, originating from the expertise of its founder, Mikao Usui, make Reiki unique—In many of the traditional Reiki techniques, we can see similarities in Japanese practices such as Tendai Buddhism, Shintoism, Shugendo, Japanese Martial Arts or Mikkyo esoteric practices. Usui was experienced in many of these Japanese practices.
Q. What is the most misunderstood thing about Reiki in your opinion?
Some people think that it comes from the outside, or that it takes some kind of special “talent” to do Reiki–but in reality, we all ARE Reiki, and Reiki IS us. It’s a matter of remembering our inner true nature—one that is made up of energy. When we remember this truth about ourselves, then we access infinite healing possibility. All that we need to heal ourselves we already have inside of us. We just have to remember it! And the techniques and practices of Reiki help us to remember….
Q. What really happens in an attunement?
An attunement is an energetic sharing or you could say, “conversation,” between teacher and student. In this space teacher and student become one in the energy, and in that space all healing potential exists. In this way it is very like a treatment, yet it uses a powerful ritual to focus the teacher’s intent. Attunements are a way for a teacher to help their students remember that they ARE the energy, that it is their true nature. It is very empowering to remember this about ourselves!
Q. As a Reiki Master, what was the most challenging question posed to you by your student, and how did you answer it?
The most difficult question has been: Why is there suffering in the world? To be honest I don’t have the answer to that question. But what I do know is that Reiki has the power to help lessen and relieve suffering and create a space of balance and peace, no matter how serious the situation is. With Reiki there is always hope!
Q. Can you share with us your most unforgettable experience concerning Reiki?
There have been so many over the years! But I think for me the most touching is when I was able to support my dearest dog Dakota, my companion for 16 ½ years, as he passed away. I was so deeply connected to him in that Reiki space when he died, that I could actually feel his spirit leave his body…. And as he died, his spirit passed straight through my heart—it felt like he surrounded my heart in a beautiful bubble of pure love and joy! Although I grieved terribly for a long time after his death, because I missed his physical presence, the memory of his beautiful strong and joyful energy, free now in death of his physical limitations, was such a comforting memory that I will always carry with me. Dakota helped remind me that our energy continues on forever, our fragile mortal shell only houses it for a short time. Our true essence and spirit is so much greater, brighter and more powerful than what we can see with our physical eyes.
Q. What do you hope to see change for Reiki in the next five to ten years?
I would love to see Reiki becoming more accessible and less “mysterious” and “woo woo” to people. For me, really it’s about learning to meditate and calm our energy, and in that space of balance, we can invite our animals to share healing with us. It’s really just that simple!
Q. Is there anything we have not asked that you would like to share with us?
In 2008 I founded a nonprofit SARA (The Shelter Animal Reiki Association) with my friend, student and business partner Leah D’Ambrosio. SARA’s mission is to improve the lives of animals by promoting the use of Reiki in animal shelters, sanctuaries and rescues worldwide through education, training, specialized research and the advancement of Reiki programs that meet the highest standards of integrity and professionalism. SARA’s membership reaches across the United States, Canada, Australia and England. Please visit www.shelteranimalreikiassociation.org for more information.
Kathleen Prasad is an Animal Reiki Teacher, and author of “Reiki For Dogs” and co-author for “Animal Reiki”. She is also the co-founder for a nonprofit SARA (The Shelter Animal Reiki Association). SARA’s mission is to improve the lives of animals by promoting the use of Reiki in animal shelters, sanctuaries and rescues worldwide through education, training, specialized research and the advancement of Reiki programs that meet the highest standards of integrity and professionalism.