Keep calm and Reiki on!
Reiki is a Japanese form of an alternative medicine called energy healing. It was promoted by Dr Mikao Usai in the eary 20th century and has been passed on to Reiki masters and practioners ever since. The practice involves no religious beliefs or meditation at all. It is based on the belief that energy can be harnessed and used positively to aid the process of healing. "Rei" meaning universal life and "Ki" being energy in Japanese.
Before i continue i would just like to point out that i am in no way here to debate the effectiveness of Reiki nor am i trying to preach to anyone either why or that they should consider Reiki in their lives. This blog is merely to share my experience as a Reiki practitioner and how i use it in my life and at work.
Abby and i first discovered Reiki when conducting research for DE stressing dogs before we started our grooming business. We stumbled upon a man named Rob Fellows who was offering Reiki seminars in an upcoming dog show that we were attending. After visiting his website and attending his seminar we were convinced that Reiki was deffinantly something we could use in the salon. Two courses later, we were attuned and ready to practice Reiki in our lives and on our animals.
Over a year later and here we are... In our own salon using the healing property's of Reiki to cleanse the atmosphere and help to relax dogs that could potentially be a little stressed out by the grooming process. Alot of people have claimed that Reiki has helped them recover from all sorts of disease/conditions, something i must admit i am yet to experience. After all their is no clinical evidence to support Reiki as a supporting aid to healing. However i will deffinantly say it has had a calming effect on the animals i have used it for and even more so on myself.
Myself and my partner Abby own a lovely horse called Harry. He is a very loving horse in every way but last year we had problems with him being restless in the stable when waiting for us to get him ready for any sort of training or even just brushing. He was fit as a fiddle, healthy in every way! but for some reason he had started to become fidgety in the stable. After completing our Reiki course, using Reiki on each other and seeing the calming effect it had on us both we decided to give it a try with Harry!
We started by cleansing his stable everyday using the Reiki symbols. This would include writing the symbols on every wall inside his stable and on his stable door. The idea being that he would have to walk through these symbols when going back into the stable itself. After this we then offered him Reiki. It is very important with animals that you offer it them and do not force it upon them! It is meant to be a calming process and should only be done with consent. Luckily Harry was very open to the idea of Reiki and allowed us to give him Reiki with ease. Now it was not a magical, OMG he is cured moment! however straight away we did see wonderful results with how calm and relaxed he became. Not only that but it was a great bonding experience with him overall!
We have continued to use Reiki on him for some time now. Again it has not been an instant, he's now the most chilled horse in the world thing, but he has overall become more relaxed in himself, and is now not restless when waiting for us to complete general tasks like brushing, feeding and tacking up. This has also transferred to his training. He has become a lot more willing to train in a more calming manor.
Above are some photos from one of our Reiki sessions which gives you an idea of just how it is done! As you can see he is very calm and relaxed in the photos and very willing to have Reiki.
So how can Reiki help dogs in our salon?
As you may know we use a holistic approach when grooming in our salon, however do you know what this means? This means that we not only look at the dog and how they react to grooming, we also look at the dogs whole lifestyle, their likes and dislikes, their mental health, diet and their physical health. All of these things add up to how a dog will react during their groom and sometimes changing some of these things can help your dog to feel more at ease in the grooming salon.
When we think of how/why a dog is reacting in a certain way in the grooming salon to a certain part of the groom we think about what triggers may have caused the response. Such as a dog may growl when the groomer uses the clippers. Now the trigger is the clippers themselves being used but we have to figure out why this is. Maybe the sound clippers is the problem, or maybe the dog has very sensitive skin and the clippers irritate the dogs skin when being used. When we have figured out why the clippers have caused such a response we can start to work on how to get the dog more comfortable and accepting of this part of the process. Sometimes this may mean that its not as simple as just desensitizing them to the clippers as if the dog has sensitive skin and this is the cause then the owner may need to take their dog to the vets to try and find the underlying cause of the skin irritation as the dog may never be comfortable if their skin is sore and bothering them during the groom. Even though we use all natural products this does not mean that our shampoos will suit every dog and it may mean that your dog will need a medicated shampoo from the vets specific for their skin condition to help ease the irritation to their skin. It may also mean that they are allergic to something in their diet and their diet may need changing. As we are not vets we cannot advise on this and so it would be best to contact your dogs registered vets so they can investigate the problem further.
Some dogs may also already be stressed out even before they have entered the grooming salon due to events that have happened throughout the day before they have come into the salon. We call this trigger stacking. We have created a graph bellow to show you a visual of just what we mean by trigger stacking!
With trigger stacking as the graph shows your dog may wake up on that day with no stress at all and be completely happy. Then you may take your dog in the car and his stress levels may increase especially if he does not like car journeys or is not used to going on car trips unless going to the vets or the grooming salon. Then your dog may see another dog whilst walking to the grooming salon. Your dog may not like other dogs and this might then add to his stress levels. Then your groomer will start to groom your dog. As you can see by the graph the triggers have all carried over and when your groomer has started grooming his stress levels are already over the threshold and this may mean that he starts to get agitated during the groom or may start to shut down and become unresponsive. He may be starting to show stress signals such as yawning, licking his lips or panting. If the groomer was then to proceed with the process without giving him a short break her then may start to give more warning signs that he is not happy with what is being done such as growling which could then lead to biting.
In order for your dog to have a better experience in the grooming salon we must focus on what triggers are causing his stress/anxiety in the grooming salon and try to work with him to make his experience in the future more relaxing and calming. This may also mean that you may need to seek the help of a dog behaviorist as if your dog has these triggers before they come to the grooming salon then a dog behaviorist may be able to help your dog to feel differently about these triggers.
Whilst the use of Reiki will not eliminate these triggers it can help to calm and relax your dog whilst they take a break from the part of the grooming process that they are not so keen on. It is also very important that the dog groomer themselves are calm and relaxed before grooming your dog as if your groomer is anxious/nervous or upset about something that has happened in their own day then this will add to the atmosphere when the dog is in and can cause the dog to start to become stressed during the groom. This is why we not only use Reiki on the dogs (with consent from the owner) but also use Reiki on ourselves to keep ourselves calm and relaxed during grooming.
The five principles of Reiki
Eyes closed-focus breathing-say to yourself:
just for today. I WILL NOT WORRY
just for today,I WILL NOT BE ANGRY
just for today, I WILL BE GRATEFUL
just for today, I WILL DO MY WORK HONESTLY
just for today, I WILL BE KIND TO EVERY LIVING THING
These are the five principles of Reiki and it is these five statements that i say to myself at the start of everyday. It would be foolish to promise yourself these things especially in today's world but keeping these principles at the core of my beliefs helps me to stay calm and approach the day the right way.
Calmness is so important. it enables you to keep focused and composed in order to achieve your goals. It is my goal to provide the best i can for the people important to me and in order to achieve that i have to become the best version of me. stress and anger are obstacles that prevent us from being the best versions of ourselves that we can be. Reiki has allowed me to reduce those obstacles and start being the best me for me, my loved ones and now my customers.