It is always an honour to introduce people to the system of Reiki and hopefully start students off on what will be their lifelong Reiki journey. I used to feel nervous that I would miss something out or that everyone will get what Reiki is and what it isn't, with experience and meditation to prepare for each individual class, I know that each person will recieve exactly what they need to learn at this moment in time.
Teaching in a shelter situation is quite different to a class where people have chosen to learn animal reiki for their own pets or as a career and different to teaching reiki for humans where most students will have researched what Reiki or healing/ energy work is about. In the shelter situation it can be seen as another tool in a volunteers box of tricks and most are desperate to start working with the animals right away, so introducing the concept of self healing and Level I being about yourself first, in order to create a solid foundation that then enable you to then offer Reiki to other beings - animal or human is a new idea, but everyone acknowledges how emotional this work can be and anything that helps us cope and at the end of the day be able do more for the animals, is welcomed.
What everyone generally has in common is that they acknowledge there is more to an animal than just the physical body , they have emotions, feelings and personalities just like us and this is a good palce to start with introducing Reiki and energy work.
For me it means going back to basics and is always illuminating in some way, you just never know what questions will crop up : isn't this just my imagination ? how can this work ? how can you stand there and do Reiki when this animal is ill !! ?
It also lets me check in with how my own practice is developing, teaching the meditations (and in level II the symbols) I realise that I REALLY understand the concept of 'Being Reiki' it comes naturally now, the system of Reiki provides powerful tools, to train our mind, body and energy to BE Reiki. To sit in a Reiki space where there is no giving or taking just an ebb and flow of this divine universal energy we are all part of is an amazing life enhancing experience ......
Our opening meditation is a powerful way of demonstrating that 'Reiki energy' is natural that we all have access to it, you can call it LOVE, we already are Reiki we just forget when going about our day to day lives. We feel it when we care for another being and show them compassion and it can cross the boundaries of time and space, when we bring loved ones or those in need of healing into our 'Reiki space' - there is no separation we are all one. For some it can be very emotional to come to this realisation and when we chat afterwards this is when I introduce The SYSTEM of Reiki and self practice, just imagine being able to connect to that feeling of pure love and compassion from an inexhaustable source, that you can tune into at any time you wish.
Emotions can overwhelm us particularly when beginning to work in a shelter situation and Tolfa is certainly a great place to learn to deal with the 'overwhelm' that can stop us in our tracks. This is the first open class I have taught at Tolfa previously teaching shelter staff who are used to the various physical and psychological conditions that the animals are in. It always is interesting to see how quickly connecting to Earth Ki and Hara breathing can help students to see beyond the physical appearance of some the animals, so that we can focus on being be the purest channel possible for the Reiki energy.
I love the part of the day when we talk about the energy present in all things and you can see some students have never thought of the world around them in these terms opening up a world of possibilities.