Animal Wise: Midnight and getting it right

Midnight at Devoted Barn

Midnight at The Devoted Barn in Newport, Michigan. (Photo by Nancy Crowe)

On the first day of Animal Reiki III, I wasn’t sure I’d get it right.

Sure, I’d been practicing for 10 years, mostly with animals I knew. I’d taken all three levels of “people Reiki.” But I wondered if I really had my “stuff” together enough to be of any use to the animals at The Devoted Barn, a volunteer-run animal sanctuary just south of Detroit.

There’s nothing like starting something new to bring old “who the hell am I to think I can do this?” chickens home to roost. I’d just left my corporate job to devote more time to my independent writing and editing projects, and to expand my animal Reiki practice as well. Even though I knew it was the right move, change is fertile ground for doubt.

That first day in the Devoted Barn, a cold rain on the roof drowned out the voice of the tour guide sharing snippets of each animal’s story. Perhaps it was just as well. Our teacher, Kathleen Prasad, had emphasized earlier in the day that the animals are not the circumstances that brought them here. They are not the rage, the cruelty, the indifference. To see them as victims diminishes them (and us) and gets in the way of healing. Learning to create a healing space for the animals — not fixing them — was why we were there.

We dispersed for our first treatment session, and I looked for Midnight, the black cat I’d seen strutting along the back wall of the stables. I found him — or he found me — near the front of the barn. He stretched, looked at me, and meowed pointedly.  Accustomed to obeying cats, I sat on a picnic table, and he settled immediately into my lap.

I remembered to ask Midnight’s permission and to tell him to take only the energy he wanted or needed, that it was really up to him. I remembered the Reiki Precepts — for today only: do not anger, do not worry, be humble, be honest, and have compassion for all living things — and to ask him to help teach them to me. I remembered the breathing techniques we’d practiced that morning in the hotel conference room. What was I missing?

Midnight just kneaded and purred, and as the minutes went by I began to shift out of “doing” Reiki and into “being” Reiki, and being present for my new feline friend and teacher. I filled up my heart and being with the energy I have known since before my birth — that unconditional, unwavering love of Source — and let it flow through me for whatever Midnight needed in that moment. That’s it, I remembered as the rain, the cold, the mud, and the “should” storm receded.

The next time I looked up, my fellow students were gathering in the middle of the barn for instructions on the next treatment session. Then I looked at Midnight, and he calmly met my gaze with a “You’re not going anywhere for a while” look. He stayed in my lap through another treatment session. After listening to Kathleen’s instructions, I tried some quiet chanting … but he was just as happy without it. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see a horse watching with interest. You’re next, I told him silently.

When the time was up, I thanked Midnight, stood up, gave him one more chin scratch, and gently set him on the table. I hadn’t missed a thing.

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