How to Give Healing to Your Pet – Everything Is Possible for Those Who Believe
These days, many people are interested in how animals can be healed through the use of simple relaxation techniques. My clients often ask me if they, too, can do these techniques. Well, the answer is yes! Everybody has the ability to intentionally send loving thoughts to animals, whether they have healing experience or not.
My dogs, cats and horses love to have a healing session as it is deeply relaxing and allows them to rebalance their natural energy. Healing and prayer work have been very well received and documented in many scientific and medical papers, and this type of healing is complementary to orthodox medicine.
Animal healing can enhance the bonds of love between you and your pet; it can enrich your animal’s life and have many benefits for you, too. At my animal clinic, and in the healing circle I run (see below), cats and dogs find the sessions very relaxing and grounding. Guardians come away feeling positive, more relaxed and focused and with a greater awareness of the present moment. One of my clients has a favourite saying: ‘Yesterday has gone, tomorrow has not arrived and today is the gift – nothing else matters and let us enjoy the Now.’
FROM WILD ANIMAL TO MAN’S BEST FRIEND
But before I share these healing techniques with you, we need to look back in time to see how the incredible relationship between cats/dogs and humans came about. How did these two predator species infiltrate the human world and win our hearts and minds? Today dogs and cats are content to live with us as companions, and they have many similarities with us, including the illnesses we suffer from. Underneath the fur, whiskers, paws and a waggy tail their souls are the same as ours.
Let us look first at our canine friends. It took a major evolutionary change for a wild animal like the wolf to become what we know now as a dog. The wolf had to adapt to a new habitat and adjust to a human environment. Dogs were man’s first domesticated companions – the remains of dogs have been found buried alongside humans in graves that are at least 12,000 years old.
Dogs are completely unrelated to humans but they can often understand and relate to us more than we understand and relate to each other. In a 2013 trial conducted at the University of Lincoln in the UK 17 dogs were shown photographs of human, dog and monkey faces as well as inanimate objects. The scientists observed that the dogs’ eye and head movements focused on the right-hand side of the human faces – the side that best expresses our emotional state.
This did not occur with the other images the dogs viewed, so it seems that during the thousands of years of interaction between dogs and humans, an incredibly special bond has developed. Like us, canines are predators with eyes set to the front of the head, so they can absorb our every expression and energy change; they can read our body language and are in tune with our emotions.
Domestic cats have undergone a fairly similar transition from their wild ancestors. The first felids, or cats, emerged some 10–15 million years ago, and the basic structure of the Felidae family we see today – which includes panthers, leopards and the house cat – has changed very little. They are all predators with incredible eyesight, especially night vision, which is six times more sensitive than our own. They are agile and have a broad face and a short jaw that allows for a more powerful bite.
According to the latest scientific research, the domesticated cat turned up around 10,000 years ago. While I was working at Animal Care Egypt in Luxor I met up with an Egyptologist at Karnak Temple because I was very keen to learn more about the hundreds of mummified cats found buried in and around the temples on the banks of the River Nile, and the felines depicted on the hieroglyphics that adorn the temple walls.
I was told that the bronze cat sculptures I saw in museums were of the Egyptian goddess Bastet, who apparently began her life as a lioness but morphed into a house cat around the time that cats were domesticated in Egypt – some 4,000 years ago.
The Egyptians used cats as part of their arsenal for controlling the rat infestations that affected the harvested crops around the mighty River Nile, and cats soon earned the right to live and stay in Egyptian homes. It was not long before the cat courted favour with the royal household, too, which found them to be good companions. Royal architects, painters and sculptors became so mesmerized by the luxurious body shape of the feline, and amazed by its social ability, that they immortalized the cat in images of the Sphinx.
When I am in South Africa treating large cats such as cheetahs, the similarities between them and my own cat never cease to amaze me. I love how the big cats purr and groom themselves in the same way my cat does; they love dried catmint just as much as he does, too – they roll in it and appear to be in a state of ecstasy. In fact, big cats and house cats are only a cousin away from each other.
An unbreakable bond
Let us fast-forward to the last 2,000 years, during which time cats and dogs adjusted to a variety of circumstances in order to survive and flourish with us as we populated most parts of the globe. We formed a close-knit bond with our feline and canine friends, who started out working for us – catching rodents, guarding livestock, hunting, and herding prey.
We rewarded them with scraps of food and shelter and they began to feel at ease around us. Children of all ages have always adored puppies and kittens, which are cute and irresistible to the touch; they were also capable of mesmerizing the most hardened parents, who began to melt a little and convince themselves that these animals could earn their keep and offer companionship at the same time.
Today, cats and dogs are very much part of our family lives and play a major role as our friends and companions. Some are even seen to be more important than human family members. Numerous studies have shown that having a cat or a dog can make us happy and healthy and help increase our life expectancy.
The affection and love we shower on our four-legged friends is returned a hundredfold – and it is unconditional, with no strings attached. This bond we share is infectious, as dogs and cats are instinctively in tune with our emotions. They never judge us and simply love us for who we are, whether we are happy or sad. It does not even matter to them what we look like when we get out of bed in the morning – they are always there for us.
Our pets have an incredible ability to empathize with us too, and that can help us to heal. They can sense our anxieties and worries, especially the mental and emotional stress we put ourselves through every day. They live every moment with us. In fact, they can read us like a book. When I observe my dogs playing together, sleeping when they are tired, eating when they are hungry, they are so focused on the ‘now’.
If only we could be like this; instead we are preoccupied with the next thing on our ‘to do’ list and sometimes even forget to breathe properly. So what better way to be ‘in the moment’ than to bond and connect with your animal friends at an even deeper level, relaxing together and healing together.
MINDFUL MEDITATION FOR PET GUARDIANS
I am now going to show you how you can minimize your own stress and how you and your pets can achieve this together through a practice called mindful meditation. If you are feeling calm and relaxed your pet will pick up on this and react accordingly. Animals live in the moment and they can teach us how to do that too! As Ernest Hemingway said: ‘A cat has absolute emotional honesty: human beings, for one reason or another, may hide their feelings. But a cat does not.’
Today, mindful meditation is becoming very popular, as people around the world increasingly seek a more spiritual kind of wellbeing. Originally, mindful meditation was a Buddhist practice that promoted an awareness of the moment: it allowed an opportunity not to think about unpleasant memories from the past, or to think ahead to impending tasks that must be achieved. All these thoughts whirring around the headspace culminate in a sense of despair, depression and unhappiness.
Mindful meditation teaches you how to just observe your thoughts and feelings, and not to over-analyze, or react to, or get in the way of them. When I am on a walk with my dogs in the countryside, I sometimes do an outdoor meditation exercise that helps me train my brain to work in a more methodical, peaceful way.
I simply observe a cloud in the sky. I momentarily stand still and breathe down through my body into my feet. I simply observe the cloud, without over-analyzing it, and then watch it quietly drifting away. When I do this, I automatically feel I am adapting to the forces of nature – the elements and the huge expanse of sky above my head – which I am witnessing with my own eyes. Suddenly those niggling thoughts and the mental chatter evaporate – simply by observing the awesome beauty of a big white fluffy cloud wandering across the sky.
There is a significant body of scientific evidence showing that mindful meditation is effective. For example, a 2014 report analyzing data from 47 clinical trials involving 3,000 people showed that mindful meditation improved symptoms of stress and anxiety by up to 20 per cent and helped enhance quality of life. The UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence have approved the practice for clinical use in depression and British GPs are increasingly recommending meditation for anxiety and stress. Even Google has a mindfulness training camp in California.
ELIZABETH’S GUIDE TO HEALING YOUR PET
Healing happens the moment you intentionally send unconditional feelings of love to your pet. A healing session may last for just five minutes or for as long as 40 minutes. If at any stage your animal moves away and makes it very clear it has had sufficient healing, respect these wishes, gently give thanks to your pet and offer a prayer or thoughts that they may continue receiving healing for their highest good and remain fit, well and healthy.
Preparing for a healing session
One of the best ways to prepare yourself for giving healing to animals is through mindful meditation. This can be a relaxing time for both you and your pet. The aim of mindful meditation is to create a state of relaxed awareness – it is quite different from sleeping or dozing. In meditation you direct your attention inwards to become an observer of yourself – your thoughts, feelings and sensations. Meditation aims to quieten the mind.
Mindful meditation does not require hours and hours of sitting still – you can start off slowly with a few minutes at a time. I book an appointment with myself – in my diary I find a time when I know I will not be disturbed and stick to that allocated slot. First, I switch all phones over to voicemail or answering machine and tell anyone who needs to know that I am unavailable. I have a small, quiet travel alarm clock that I set for 40 minutes or so ahead. This allows me not to worry about going over time.
I invite the dogs to come with me and we find a comfortable, quiet space in my lounge. I play some soft instrumental music at a low volume and light an unscented candle (I prefer not to use scented candles or to burn incense as an animal’s sense of smell is hundreds of times more heightened than ours and we want this to be a pleasurable experience).
I like to get really comfy before I begin. For me, this usually means sitting on the floor, cross-legged in the lotus position. Sometimes I sit on the sofa or on a stool; anywhere is fine as long as my feet can touch the floor, and the lit candle is in my view. My dogs know the routine and settle down beside me.
My back is straight, but not rigid and I am able to relax and release any tension in the body. My feet are firmly on the floor and I am able to mentally ground my energies. For me it is a connection to the Earth beneath me, and it also helps me to ground my dogs’ energies.
Focusing on the breath
I always begin with positive, intentional thoughts. I give thanks for this wonderful opportunity to be with my dogs and myself. I extend feelings of love, peace and harmony between us all. I then focus on my breath: I inhale slowly through the nose and exhale slowly through the mouth.
I then imagine I am standing in a shaft of pure, golden sunlight – absorbing the sun’s rays, feeding all my senses and nourishing my body with the goodness, the glow and the warmth of this bright, pure energy. I instantly feel nurtured and good to be alive.
I take another long, deep breath, oxygenating my whole body. I hold my breath for two seconds and then exhale slowly until every last bit of it has left my abdomen. I repeat this sequence for four breaths. Then I intentionally breathe down through my body, legs and feet, purposefully feeling heavier, as if I have magnets in my feet.
On the next in-breath I visualize the tree analogy: I imagine I am a large oak tree with roots spreading deeper into the ground. My body is the trunk of the tree, solid and strong, and my arms are the branches, with my fingers gently resting on my thighs.
My eyes are half open. I take steady, deep, rhythmical breaths. I relax a little bit more deeply, but I am not going to sleep as I surrender to the inner silence of my mind. The moment my mind wanders I look at the flame of the candle, flickeringly softly, and I let go of any distracting thoughts.
I repeat to myself the words: ‘I am grounded, I am centred, I am present.’ I take my thoughts to my heart space and take another deep, loving in-breath. On the out-breath I send thoughts of unconditional love to my dearly beloved animal friends. For me it is important to acknowledge my animal friends by their names and also to thank them for being a part of this session.
This sequence is my way of attuning myself to being in the moment and fully present. It enables me to be fully in tune, and to create a calm, relaxing environment that my animal friends can adapt to. It works for me and I hope you can find the same peace and tranquility for your preparation for a healing session.
Asking your pet to join you
After you have spent some quiet time in preparation, you can invite your animal friend(s) to join you in a healing session. Whenever I am conducting a face-to-face animal healing session I always seek permission from the pet(s). Gaining permission is a polite and endearing way of entering into this two-way healing.
Often, animals will draw nearer to you to be in your energy field. Some will look up approvingly as your eyes meet and gaze at each other lovingly. Some pets may be almost asleep following your initial preparation and barely move, yet you instinctively know it is right to continue. Others may wander around the room, taking in the smells and atmosphere, and as you catch sight of each other there is a knowing look or a nod that indicates it is okay and they decide to stand or lie down at a distance.
Some animals have had a rough start in life and can be nervous, shy and timid – they may hide behind furniture or under beds. If this is the case with your pet, sit quietly at a distance and offer distant healing (see below). Never chase an animal or demand he or she sit with you.
Do not take it personally: this is about building up trust between you both. It is like peeling an onion – there are many layers. Like humans, animals have a history. We do not always know what has happened to them in the past and they might need time to trust again. It is important not to force our own emotions or needs onto a pet. Both parties are going to get a great deal out of this healing session.
Conducting a healing session
First read ‘preparing for a healing session’ (above) and then follow this step-by-step guide to giving hands-on healing to your pet:
- If your pet is lying by your side or is stood close by, gently allow the love to pulsate from you to them. Find a comfortable seated position, and keeping your hands relaxed, gently stroke your pet. Keep holding thoughts of unconditional love for you and your loved one. Sit still and gently allow the love to pulsate from you to them. Keeping your hands relaxed, slowly and gently stroke your pet with both hands for several minutes.
- Experiment with raising your hands about 5cm (2in) away from the stomach area, and just sense what you are feeling. Intentionally breathe down through both arms, into your hands, through your fingers – just projecting loving thoughts. You may feel a tingling sensation in your hands as you connect to the energy field surrounding your animal friend.
- Keeping your hands relaxed and still, use them as sensors to find the distance you feel comfortable with. Try not to make sudden hand movements that could scare your pet. Do not put your face or hands directly near or in front of an animal’s face and always keep your eyes open, yet soft and unstaring, so you can observe your pet’s body language, movements, emotions and feelings. Keep holding thoughts of unconditional love for you and your loved one. From time to time softly caress your pet’s shoulder. Slowly and quietly move your hands back towards the rump and lower back.
- Gently and slowly move both hands to the pelvis. Keeping hands soft and open, quietly hover them over the hip – about 5cm (2in) away. Then sense and feel the energy at the sacrum, which is situated between the two hip bones. Be aware of what you are feeling and scan the area. You may feel hot, cold, tingling, pulsating, or you may feel nothing at all. Healing is taking place when you have an open heart and positive intentions. Note the different sensations being picked up. Do not panic or worry if you feel nothing, as this will block the energy. Feel the energy flowing between you and your animal friend. Sense the vibrations of each area of the body.
- Holding your hands a little distance away from the body, scan the heart centre and throat, breathing nice and fully and feeling relaxed and comfortable in your own seated position. Never let yourself get uncomfortable: if you feel an ache in your arms from holding them up – or if you are stooping over, causing backache – try mindfully to adjust your position. The more relaxed you are in your body the more relaxed your animal friend will feel and the better they will adapt to the positive environment you have created – internally and externally.
- With one hand hovering over the lower back and hip area and the other hand hovering over the neck and shoulder area we commence the spinal flush. Breathe down through your arms and hands, sensing and feeling the energy at these two very important junction points. You may feel that one of your hands feels cooler than the other: if so try to stay here for a little while to bring about a feeling of warmth in both hands. Our aim is to balance the spinal energy in both areas together.
- Keeping the hands soft and open, continue to radiate loving thoughts to your loved one. Towards the end of a healing session gently place your hands near or on the paws of your animal friend; this brings about a sense of grounding your energies and those of your pet. If your pet is in a wonderful deep sleep, or may not appreciate you touching the paws, then do not! In your mind’s eye intentionally see yourself and your animal friend grounded, and then follow the procedure described in ‘ending the healing session’, below.
Giving healing to cats
When you are giving healing to cats it is sometimes a good idea to be seated on a comfy sofa or chair. Sit with your legs uncrossed, feet planted on the floor, back straight, but not rigid, so you are able to relax and release any tension in your body.
Several of the cats to whom I give healing love to jump up onto my lap, purring and head-butting my hands before I have even started. They rub their face into my hands, ushering me to commence the healing. Then the whole body moves into my hands, softening and relaxing as the purring increases, and they knead me with their claws/paws. Most of the time they will then settle down, closing their eyes and nestling into my lap. As they surrender to my touch I feel their muscles relax even further.
What to look out for during a session
To be thoroughly in the moment you cannot be in your mind, and the mental chatter that goes with it. Keep coming back to the breath and keep the focus and intention on purely loving thoughts. You may even find yourself yawning and releasing stress as the parasympathetic nervous system is activated.
There is a flow of energy synchronized between you and your pet during a healing session, so keep your eyes open to the signs. These might be licks, sighs, yawns or a sleepy, contented look. Also be aware when animals roll over to present a part of their body they wish healing to be given to. Respond by quietly moving your hand to scan over that area, sending loving thoughts. Some animals may reverse themselves right into your lap, seeking out your hands for healing.
By being in the moment you are fully aware of your animal’s needs. This becomes a very rewarding session, as it is not about your own thoughts, emotions or reactions – it is your animal friend who is guiding the way. You and your pet are working together as one, like a perfect music ensemble.
At any stage of a healing session an animal may get up and wander off. Remain seated and continue to send healing from a distance (see below). Your pet may need time to process the session thus far, and have some space. Some animals settle down a little distance away. Respect this and observe some of the processing – such as a sigh, a vacant look, licking and chewing, self-grooming or falling asleep. These are vital signs that the body is relaxing. After a period of time your pet may come back and settle down beside you again and you can continue with hands-on healing.
At some point during the healing, you may find that your animal friend has had enough for one session. They may have a really good stretch, yawn and look alert and energized. They may become distracted by something else that is happening in the room or outside, or retire to their bed and settle down to sleep. Or they may become hungry or thirsty and seek out the food or water bowl.
You may intuitively feel the session has come to an end, or as you are re-scanning the body you no longer feel any particular sensations in your hands. Remember: it is not the time spent but the quality of the healing that counts. Do not worry if the session has lasted only a few minutes – the more you can perfect your healing skills the more you and your loved one will benefit.
Ending a healing session
The end of the healing is as important as the start. This is a wonderful opportunity to offer a prayer of thanks to your pet for joining you in this session. In your mind’s eye, see them in good health. We always want the best for our animals, friends and family and this point is a wonderful time to continue that. Good intentions are paramount. Energy follows thought and our thoughts create our actions.
We started with the tree analogy and I would like you to end with it – for yourself and your pet. You may wish gently to touch your pet’s feet and quietly sense them grounded, although some animals do not like to have their feet touched.
Continue to use creative imagery and see that lovely deep-rooted tree in your mind’s eye, solid and strong for yourself and your pet. Take a long, deep in breath and imagine drawing your energy field in and around you. Then say to yourself: ‘I am grounded, I am centred, I am in the present moment.’
Have a really good stretch, and then gently stand up and feel your feet firmly on the ground. Usually animals notice this change of energy and join in with you. They wake up, have a good yawn and stretch the body too.
Hopefully by now you should feel as relaxed as your pet. By giving healing love you are receiving love and also rewarding yourself with some well-deserved quiet time for you. By taking a little time out for yourself and your animals for meditation and healing you can create a more methodical way of approaching impending tasks, instead of worrying about which one to tackle first. You will feel positive and content.
During healing, the more you are able to remain relaxed and surrender to the silence within yourself, the more you are able to sense the same silence in others and to let go of everything in your mind. You are then able to have the discipline to do a methodical practice – to perfect and craft your healing skills.
When I have finished a healing session, I bring my focus back into the room. I glance around at the dogs, all snoring peacefully, blissed out and totally relaxed. This is no placebo affect and it gives me a warm feeling of oneness. My dogs are responding to the energy I have created in the room – it is a truly beautiful experience. I find peace within myself and in any situation that may have upset me. In that moment my animals are happy and contented because I am happy and calm.
Practise giving healing to your pets as often as you can. If you would like to train in a professional Diploma in Animal Healing or enlist the help of a professional animal healer, visit www.healinganimals.org for more information.
Sometimes it is not possible to conduct hands-on (or contact) healing, as your pet may be away from you – perhaps in kennels, or recovering from surgery at the vets. Or you may be travelling or working away from home. In these cases, you can conduct distant healing – in which you send healing from a distance – which offers a wonderful opportunity for you to practise your healing skills.
There have been many studies conducted on the power of prayer work and intentionally sending loving, healing thoughts to our loved ones. This unconditional love is directed to all life, with no strings attached. And you can enlist the support of some friends: creating group energy is very effective for distant healing, as you are like-minded souls with one aim – to see healing being directed to named animal friends and pets, endangered species and planet Earth and all its inhabitants, including humankind.
We all share this planet and the more we can hold loving thoughts and stay positive the more we will be able to create the change we wish to see. My motto is ‘one for all and all for one’. See below for more information on conducting distant healing in a group.
The animal healing circle
I run a monthly animal healing circle in Sussex, England, and people come from all over the UK to join us, armed with photographs of animals they love and cherish, including endangered species. This sacred, tranquil space is a Mecca for animal lovers – one in which everyone can drink up the peace and unconditional love for all life. During the evening we conduct both distant and hands-on healing; here is what happens:
- Everyone takes a seat in the circle. In the centre of the circle are lit candles and the animal photographs the circle members have brought along; soft, ambient music plays in the background. I lead us into a guided meditation to attune with the natural world. We all focus on the flames of the candles, warm and bright, as we find the inner focus, positive intentions and deep relaxation to be fully present in the moment.
- With our palms facing upwards on our thighs and the soles of our feet sinking into the carpet we take it in turns to say out loud the names of the animals and people we would like to send healing to. For my turn, I read from a written list of about a dozen animal clients from around the globe. I speak slowly and rhythmically, saying: ‘I place into the healing light Milly, Jake, Storm, John Smith (Storm’s guardian)’, and so on. At the end of my dedicated list I like to include planet Earth and all its inhabitants. Finally I say ‘thank you’.
- The next person then recites the names of the recipients on their list; they do so in almost a whisper, yet we can still recognize them as we breathe unconditional love from our hearts down our arms and our hands and into the healing circle, creating an electrifying energy that is positive yet calm and unified.
- All our hearts and minds are united in peace, unconditional love and harmony. The energy of the room is like a vast ocean. It is contagious because, like the sea, it gains momentum and strength – it is never ending, like the ebb and flow of the waves. That continuity is like the cycle of life on Earth.
- When each person has read out his or her list we sit in silence for a few minutes. I then like to engage visually with some of the animal photographs – to cement my feelings of unconditional love and to continue to send healing for the highest good of all.
- When it is time to bring the healing circle to a close I give thanks to all the healers present and to those beautiful animals we have been privileged to work with. Our intention is to see our loved ones – two- and four-legged – safe, well and healed.
- Because energy follows thought, energy travels at the level of the thought. If we create doubt, anxiety and a negative attitude, this will not only create fear for us but also for the recipient. A motto I stand by time and time again is: ‘Everything is possible for those who believe.’ Healing works on many layers of the body, re-balancing the subtle energy levels. Vets refer to this as the ‘homeostatis balance’ in the body.
- It is important that at the end of the healing circle everybody is feeling fully present. Towards the end of the closing meditation I ask the group to take some long, deep breaths and breathe down through their bodies – taking the awareness to the soles of their feet. This strengthens our connection to the Earth beneath us.
- Then I say out loud: ‘I am grounded, I am centred, I am present.’ I ask the group to very slowly bring their awareness back into the room, then have a good stretch and drink a glass of water – this is important when you may be feeling very relaxed or a little spaced out.
After the session, some members of the healing circle are keen to share their experiences, and this is a wonderful opportunity to express feelings and insights. Many say that they feel such warmth and camaraderie from the healing group; they remark that it is as if they have come home. Some are amazed to discover that we have been in meditation and distant healing for over an hour. People also have an opportunity to give feedback from the previous month’s distant healing group.
When conducting distant healing write down the names of pets, their guardians and endangered species, so you have a list you can refer to and add to. I have a beautiful embroidered A5 notebook in which I record the names of animals, their carers, rescue centres and their staff.
A healing circle is also a self-development group where you can perfect your healing skills, self-awareness and mindful meditation. Animals join us in the second part of the healing evening and receive healing, which is a wonderful opportunity for members of the circle to gain more experience in healing their own pets. To find an animal healing circle near you, please visit www.healinganimals.org.