Cats. Powerful, independent, self-sufficient, taking life and people on their own terms.
People are fond of saying whether or not they are a “cat person.” What does that mean? I never knew until I had my first extraordinary experience of Reiki with a very fearful cat. Not just any cat. But then again, no cat is just any cat.
I had had experience with extremely fearful animals. Always dogs. Dogs that were abused, made to fight, thrown out of a car, left tied to a tree. Dogs that were starved to near death, and those who were physically beaten by their so-called human “caretakers.”
I hadn’t known any cats that had experienced such abuse. But any animal who experiences deep trauma can become fearful, anxious, even completely dysfunctional. And it was clear that this cat was such a being.
Her name was Crystal. She was a rescue. I don’t know the whole story, but usually that’s best when it comes to offering Reiki. Whatever her history, she was with a very loving human who was devoted to her well-being, offering her safe places to hide until she was ready to come out. And yet she continued to be fearful, to experience this world from a place of distrust, loss, even loneliness and depression.
Crystal’s human companion’s heart was breaking for this gentle Crystal who didn’t seem to be able to find joy in life. She felt she had tried so very hard to make Crystal trust her, but she wondered if perhaps there was a way to learn how to allow Crystal to grow into her trust.
I was invited to enter into Crystal’s room. She was hidden. As I sat quietly, I made sure that my body was positioned in such a way so as to avoid direct frontal energy contact. In the animal world, an offering of presence without presenting the eyes, the face, the chest is a softer offering, one that doesn’t challenge or relay expectation.
Reiki is healing. And all living creatures know, deeply know, when healing energy is offered. At first it may feel unfamiliar. Certainly, with abused animals it’s highly unfamiliar. The animal Reiki practitioner makes it clear that any and all participation in the healing space of Reiki is completely up to the animal. They know what they need, or in this case, what they are capable of receiving. And the healing offering of Reiki is not something that miraculously transforms a fearful animal into a lap animal. The body, the emotions, the spirit need time, nurturing, patience, and above all, respect for the beautiful essence of another living being. In the presence of Reiki, all things are possible.
I never saw Crystal that day. I didn’t see her the next time I came, or the time after that. It’s human to want to see results, feedback, progress. That’s not Reiki. Reiki belongs to Crystal and her spirit. Crystal’s human decided to give Crystal as much time as she needed to fully receive all that she could from the gentle love and compassion of her Reiki sessions.
One day, Crystal’s little face appeared. At first, I didn’t notice. I was not facing her. But I sensed something had shifted a bit. And there she was. Beautiful. Eyes wide open. Just her face. Just the beginning of trust, light, ease. Her eyes showed me the reason for her name, Crystal.
All healing unfolds in precisely the way it must. Crystal’s healing unfolded one little paw step after the other. First a few steps from her hiding place. Then grooming. Then stretching. All within safe distance to run and hide if necessary. And eventually she seemed to know that Reiki was a safe place for her, that there could be trust and ease with humans. Her mom came to join us in these later sessions so that she too could offer Crystal a sacred space of healing. As Crystal learned to trust, her human learned to take notice of her own energy in Crystal’s presence.
I must confess. There probably would have been a time when I said I wasn’t a cat person. Back then, I didn’t know that all animals are spiritual beings, that they come here to teach us and guide us. Crystal taught me that day, and many days afterward, that there is no such thing as a cat person. There is only love, kindness, and the sacred space of sharing the transformational life force that flows through all living beings. Crystal’s healing journey gave her a new life, and gave me, her Reiki friend, a new dimension of love and understanding.