One of the courses we teach at Northwest School of Animal Massage is Reiki, an energetic modality tracing its origins to Japan. Although Reiki is not a massage modality, it is undoubtedly a valuable tool for anyone practicing massage.
Anyone can learn Reiki and in fact, Reiki energy in its many forms is at work around and through you regardless of your participation. Conscious control of this Reiki energy can provide a deeper connection to your clients and bring about better healing and balance. The popularity of Reiki in the United States has been growing for decades but is especially prevalent today. Reiki is not specific to any species either. In fact, Reiki is an excellent method of self-care and can be used to care for the people and animals both close to us and those in our extended circle of humanity.
Reiki is not a spiritual or religious practice, although many correlations can be made to the power of Reiki and what many people describe as faith. In developing the Reiki method, Dr. Mikao Usui did in fact study the overlapping aspects of many of the world religions. However, he did not focus on dogma or scripture but rather on the physical practices that he saw in common between Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism and other religions. Most notably, many religions incorporate laying the hands over or on the body to alleviate pain or suffering. Many of the Buddhists images show various hand positions that invite healing or acceptance or love. Christ is often depicted with his hand upheld, palm facing out, radiating light.
Because massage also involves using the hands to promote balance, the two modalities can work together and strengthen one another. In some situations when working with an animal, it may be difficult of even impossible to make physical contact. Reiki can enhance a massage session when healing energy cannot be delivered through actual contact.
For example, in my private practice I work with animals recovering from injury or illness. This often involves pre-surgical or post-surgical care. In situations where I cannot be with an animal during surgery, I use my Reiki practice to stay connected. Post-surgically I can use my massage on the non-affected limbs or body and use my Reiki practice to address areas of trauma or recent surgery that are contraindicated for touch. I also work with a variety of exotic species and my access to the animal may be limited for safety reasons. I have used Reiki in combination with massage and tools to provide sessions for elephant, giraffe, primates, large cats, and in one case, a tapir that had become sullen and aggressive as a result of earlier abuse.
Coming from a technical background and having worked within the veterinary community for much of my career, I am something of a professional skeptic. My first encounter with Reiki was met with disbelief. However, after receiving Reiki treatments, studying under a Reiki master and most importantly, witnessing its power with my clients, I now consider it just as valuable a tool as my own hands, my laser, my ultrasound or my essential oils. All are effective methods of shifting and delivering energy into an energetic system. The more tools you have at your disposable, naturally the more opportunities you have to find the one which works best for the situation at hand.