This is part two of an excerpt from Kathleen Prasad’s book on healing horses with Reiki, titled Heart to Heart with Horses. If you missed the first part, you can find it here: Equine Reiki: Heart To Heart With Horses Part 1
Reiki as an equine-assisted therapy practice
When sharing Reiki with horses, practitioners often find an amazing result-we see that the horses are helping us to heal, even though we may initially think we are there to help them heal. This is a result of the beautiful gift of their presence. Just being with our horses is healing-connecting with them through petting, speaking to them, or even just sitting with their gentle presence has an immediate healing effect on us. This is because horses are fully present, without expectation, judgment, or agenda. They accept us unconditionally as we are, and this causes our hearts to open without our even trying (and sometimes without our even being aware of it). It is when our hearts are open that healing can truly begin. In this way, horses are also mirroring to us the best part of our True Self. Even better, they show us when we’ve got it right by manifesting their relaxation and connection with us. The more we relax into that peaceful space, the deeper they will relax with us. The more we feel healing within ourselves, the more we will see that they are experiencing healing as well, and so on.
Reiki is a state of being, not doing
The system of Reiki teaches us to let go of our agendas, the feeling of time pressure, our desires to force and to fix-we can simply stop, open our hearts, and be with our horses. This sounds very simple, doesn’t it? But actually it is quite difficult. What it really means is that we have to be completely and utterly present in the here and now. Our first instinct might be to run from difficulties, hide from suffering, or shift our focus into anger over the past or worrying about the future. Or we might put all our efforts into trying to change what is. So stopping ourselves in the midst of all our intellectual and emotional gobbledy-gook is not that easy. This is why the practices of Reiki are so powerful. With the open heart and compassionate presence that meditation brings, we can see attitudes, situations, and emotions all shift towards balance, understanding, and acceptance. Be patient, be Reiki, and healing will happen!
Reiki is ideal for healing horses
Reiki’s effectiveness is not dependent upon physical contact. The practitioner does not manipulate or direct the healing process: the horse connects with and accepts Reiki in the way that is most comfortable-either hands-on or from a distance, or a combination of the two. Because Reiki is essentially a meditative practice, it is easy for anyone to try and it can do no harm, even when practiced by a novice. The stronger our own peaceful state of mind is, the deeper the responses we will see in our horses.
Reiki is about connecting to the subtlest of energies-our energy of mind and heart-and thus it touches the deepest source of our essence (True Self) and always supports a path toward balance and harmony. We don’t need to focus on what is “wrong” with a horse (in fact, we should always keep our thoughts positive!); simply by meditating and creating a space of peaceful connection and compassion, profound healing shifts toward balance on all levels of being can happen.
The heart of the system of Reiki is the five Reiki precepts for balanced living, as taught by the founder of the system, Mikao Usui. These precepts are not only the foundation for self-healing in the system of Reiki, but can also be used as guides when working with our horses.
Just for today . . .
Do not anger.
Do not worry.
To understand these precepts more deeply and see how they can help us share healing with our horse companions, let’s take a look at them more closely, one by one.
1. Do Not Anger
Horses can live long lives, and for this reason may be entrusted to many homes and guardians throughout their lifetimes. We may sometimes see the results of past abuse or neglect when working with horses, especially those who have come to us later in life. We can begin to feel ourselves becoming very angry about how a horse was previously treated, what he had to go through, and so on. This anger will merely distract us from our primary goal, which is to help the horse. If we are angry, our horse will sense this and will not want to connect with us. Reiki meditation helps us to see deeper into the heart of our horse and see his potential for healing, which will make it easier to work through any difficulties we face with patience and calm. Approaching our horse with inner peace rather than anger will help everything will flow toward healing much more easily.
2. Do Not Worry
Over years of working with horses, we might find ourselves dealing with many different kinds of health problems, both physical and emotional. As we nurture horses toward healing, we may find ourselves worrying: about other problems that might manifest, about the expenses of treatment, about how and whether the horse will be able to fully heal from illness and injury, and so on. Worrying about things beyond our control is not helpful. It’s ok to observe the things you are worried about, the things about the situation that frustrate you, or any other bothersome thoughts and emotions. Just don’t hold onto them too tightly. Imagine these thoughts and emotions transform into clouds in the sky. Watch them float away. Just let them go without judgment. Your horse will be drawn to the peace that surrounds you as you learn to let go.
3. Be Humble
Working with our horses can bring us back to humility. In many ways, horses are so much more sensitive than we are to the lessons of healing and life, and we have much to learn from them. Our horses can become some of our most profound spiritual teachers. Reiki practice helps us to open our hearts, to hear what they have to say to us.
4. Be Honest
Horses require absolute honesty – they just won’t accept anything less. We must learn to be completely present in the moment with them, because this is how they live. Reiki practice supports us in meeting them in that mindful place; it is there that we can most easily be who we are with a truthful heart.
5. Be Compassionate
Developing a relationship with a horse teaches us to dissolve the boundaries of separateness. It teaches us to work together and develop a partnership that transcends species and language. This partnership may begin with groundwork and riding, but at some point will likely also encompass a health challenge. Through this partnership we will learn that in reality we are not so different from our horses, and compassion will grow.
Reiki techniques help to bring balance, calm, and a sense of deep connectedness to and open-heartedness with our horses. When we become aware of this connection, the automatic by-product is an overwhelming sense of well being and compassion. It is this compassion that is the heart of meditating with horses. To be able to stand with a horse who may be suffering in this deep, peaceful, and compassionate space is the most profound kind of healing we can ever offer to him, or ever to experience ourselves. True, lasting healing is about peace of mind and heart, and this is what sharing Reiki with our horses is all about.
Reiki Practice: Horse Hatsurei Ho with Precepts and Affirmations
*Note: This Japanese meditation has been adapted from the practice of Hatsurei Ho as taught by the International House of Reiki. Hatsurei Ho is a Reiki practice used to develop one’s spiritual energy. This practice helps develop the hara, the energy center located in the lower belly, below the navel. Focusing on the hara is a central practice of Japanese Reiki, and assists with energetic grounding, centering and balancing.
1. Stand near your horse(s), keeping your eyes open with a soft focus. Place your hands palm over palm on your lower belly (your hara).
2. With each inhalation of breath, feel the energy coming in through the nose, moving down to the hara, and filling the body with a beautiful, healing light.
3. On the exhale, expand the light out of your body through your skin and continue to expand the energy out into your surroundings.
4. Repeat Steps 2 and 3 for several minutes.
5. Place your hands in the gassho position (palms together in front of your heart). On the inhale, begin to bring energy into your hands. Feel the energy move along your arms, down though your body and into the hara.
6. On the exhale, visualize energy moving from the hara back up through the body and then to the arms and out through the hands.
7. Repeat for several minutes. Then return your breathing to normal and sit in the space of energy for a few minutes.
8. When you are ready, relax your hands at your sides and set the intention that you have an open heart to share peace and healing with your horse.
9. Recite the precepts and corresponding affirmations below three times; invite your horse(s) to share this space with you for healing. This is a very gentle intention: simply open your heart to connection.
10. Visualize each precept entering your heart as you inhale. As you exhale, imagine the manifestation of the precept (the affirmation) expanding infinitely out from your heart and into the universe. Open your heart to your horse in this beautiful space.
Precept: do not anger; Affirmation: loving-kindness
Precept: do not worry; Affirmation: courage
Precept: be humble; Affirmation: surrender
Precept: be honest; Affirmation: joy
Precept: be compassionate; Affirmation: harmony
Stay with your horse, relaxing your mind and heart into the beautiful space of connection, for as long as you like. When you are ready, thank your horse for connecting with you and set your intention to finish your practice.
Equine Reiki Case Study: Jet
by Allison Chun
Jet is one of the therapy horses at Haku Baldwin Center in Makawao, Maui, Hawaii, a nonprofit that offers free therapeutic horseback riding lessons for special-needs children. I am a volunteer for this program, and Jet is one of my favorite horses because he is always so careful when he has a child on his back; he is fully aware that he is carrying precious cargo. One day he started limping and was diagnosed with an injured suspensory ligament in his right hind leg, a very serious and potentially crippling injury. He was taken out of the program and put on stall rest but he kept getting worse. Soon his other leg was bothering him more than the injured leg because he was leaning on it heavily to compensate for the injury, as horses do.
I had been sharing Reiki with Jet about three times a month as a volunteer, and another practitioner was coming in about as often to do massage. Jet’s vet check at the end of summer was not good. The barn manager started preparing everyone for the eventuality that he might need to be put down. He could not just be put out to pasture, because if he ran around and further injured the ligament, he would be in a tremendous amount of pain as well as permanently crippled. His quality of life was also questionable. He was confined to his stall at all times and in obvious pain. An agreement was reached to reevaluate during his December vet check and make a final decision then.
I started sharing Reiki with Jet five times weekly on average, both in person and remotely. The massage volunteer had stopped working on Jet, so he was only receiving Reiki. I shared Reiki with Jet throughout the autumn until his December vet check.
I have almost no knowledge of horse anatomy or injuries, so I didn’t try to direct Reiki toward his injury. I didn’t even know what his injury was. I was also concerned about his quality of life, and didn’t know if it would be better for him to transition out of his current corporeal body or if we should keep trying more medicine and painkillers. When I practiced Reiki, I asked Jet to share it with me to help him do whatever it was he wanted to do to get better or to transition on his own or to let us know he wanted help transitioning by not getting better. I didn’t want him to suffer or to hang on just because we humans weren’t able to let go of him. I had no idea what would be best for him, so all I could do was stay open and trust that he would accept Reiki and use it to help him do what he needed to do. I couldn’t hold any expectations, because I didn’t know what to hope for!
I was working at the horse center on the day of Jet’s December vet check. We trotted him down the length of the barn and back. The vet, a very stoic and understated guy, looked and sounded very surprised. Jet looked much improved, in fact, Jet looked pretty good! Everyone was stunned. Jet was put on a daily rehab exercise program. It was a long recovery period, but after several months Jet started working again in the riding program. I am full of gratitude to the system of Reiki for enabling me to share healing energy with Jet, and to Jet for teaching me so much about trust, openness, and the magic of letting go of expectations!
Learn more about how to use Reiki with animals in Kathleen’s other articles here on AWG, and in her books: