Reiki provides huge benefits in animal shelters

For five sessions during November through December 2014, I trained one volunteer to give Reiki to the cats at Caring for Cats (a no kill, volunteer run cat shelter in the Twin Cities). Cats are situated together in 5 adjacent rooms. We ‘cleared’ the whole center and healed two rooms each session. This was a pilot project to see how the cats responded and any other benefit or result.

001After this pilot we met with the executive director, Kelley Schmidt, and she reported the following results:

  • January’s adoptions were the highest the center has ever seen.
  • Comments from volunteers that the energy is different in the cats and the shelter; it is quieter, nicer. (some solicited, some not, some that didn’t even know the energy work was happening).
  • Fewer reports of cats not working out in certain rooms.
  • Fewer reports that 2 cats can’t get along.
  • No severe cage stress (untouchable cats) in ISO.

These results convinced the board of directors to invest in training additional volunteer. Approximately one year later, I trained an additional three people, got rave reviews and they continue to meet as a group to do healing at the center every other week.

Click here for more information about Animal Shelter Reiki Training Programs.

The neuroscience behind mindfulness

More and more research is supporting the benefits of becoming more conscious, more self-aware and being in the present moment. Let alone reduce stress and fear. This is a very scientific based article.

Harvard Neuro Blog

Mindfulness is currently a very hot topic. It seems like every health website, magazine and newspaper is touting the benefits of meditation and yoga practices. Wired posted an article on how meditation can calm the anxious mind and help one manage emotions, Shape magazine relays that meditation can provide greater pain relief than morphine, while many other articles convey that mindfulness will help with weight loss, sleep, disordered eating, and even addiction. Amidst all of the articles promoting mindfulness we also see the backlash—a New York Timesop-ed from October 2015 calls for us to take a step back and remember that mindfulness has not been proven to be the panacea to our society.  Personally, as a stressed out graduate student, I wonder if a mindfulness practice would increase my happiness and well-being, and as a neuroscientist I wonder what is true and how does it work, so I…

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How to treat Equine Recurrent Uveitis from “Dude”

My name is B. A. Dude, Jr, “Dude” for short.  I am a 23 year old appaloosa gelding.  I am generally quite healthy, but each time I am moved to another barn (twice in 23 years), I develop an eye problem that causes my eye to swell and much pain.  If my eye is not treated aggressively, I could lose my eyesight.  My person makes sure I get good veterinary care for my eye and also gives me Reiki, Acupressure and essential oils.  Having this combination, along with lots of grass to eat, keeps me healthy and happy.  Sunlight bothers my eye, which is why I wear a fly mask to screen the bright sunshine.

About 40% of Uveitis cases occur in Appaloosas so my genetics sets me up for this and it recurs when I am under stress, like when I’m moved.  Once I settle in and am more relaxed, my eye needs less treatment but still has to be watched.

If you want to know the Acupressure points and oils my person uses, respond to this blog and she’ll tell you.

Equine Recurrent Uveitis

Equine Recurrent Uveitis in Dude

How your pet shows you what is going on – Eddie misses his owner

Those of us who grew up in the 50’s and 60’s remember Lassie and how she would show her humans what was going on, alerting them to those in trouble.  These humans, while they were continuously skeptical, slowly learned to pay attention to her signals.  In reality, Lassie was communicating so much more.

This is a short story of how clearly animals communicate how much they understand of what we say to them and how we say it.

The last time Jim was gone (for only 2 nights), he offhandedly said to Eddie from across the room “I’ll going on a trip for 2 nights and I’ll be back.”  I’m not sure Eddie even knew he was talking to him.

The first night, Eddie crawled under the bed where Jim sleeps and licked the carpet for about 30 minutes.  Was he licking skin cells or the lotion Jim puts on his feet?   He wouldn’t come out and get on the bed like he usually does.  He lay there looking sad.

The second night, he again went under the bed where Jim sleeps and started to make very sad whines and cries.  As I looked at him he just stared at me and while I saw no tears, I imagine he was crying in his own way.  I told him that Jim would be back the next night and suggested he come up and sleep in Jim’s spot on the bed.

He did come up on the bed, but lay on the foot of the bed.  Much to my surprise, I awoke at 2:30am and looked over and next to me with his head on the pillow and the covers pulled up around his neck was Eddie!  He had followed my suggestion.  How he got himself into that position, I’ll never know.  I laughed and snapped a couple of photos.  He never stirred and stayed there the rest of the night.

How your pet shows you what is going on – Eddie shows me I’m angry

Those of us who grew up in the 50’s and 60’s remember Lassie and how she would show her humans what was going on, alerting them to those in trouble.  These humans, while they were continuously skeptical, slowly learned to pay attention to her signals.  In reality, Lassie was communicating so much more.

This is a short story of how clearly animals communicate our moods to us, if we pay attention.

I am new to Eddie’s household however he has adopted me and follows me around like a shadow.  He loves that I listen to him and talk with him.  However, when his owner goes on a trip, we both are more stressed and lonely.  If Eddie has been tenderly and clearly told what is happening, he becomes much more relaxed and comfortable.  He is able to support me and reflect and support my moods.  If he hasn’t he is more anxious and lonely.

The first time Jim was gone, he told Eddie clearly and tenderly what was going to happen.  While Eddie stuck to me like glue the whole time, he played and seemed to cope quite well.  He was able to comfort me, since I felt lonely sometimes.  The last day, I found myself more crabby about Jim being gone, impatient for him to come home.  I wasn’t fully aware of this mood, until I noticed that Eddie had peed on the carpet in the hallway. He is quite good about going outside to pee and only does this if he is trying to show us we are angry/pissed off or he is confused or scared.  I, of course, got more angry and grumbled a bit at him.  I proceeded to clean up the pee and left the carpet cleaner to soak.  When I went back a few minutes later, Eddie had peed again on the exact same spot!  Only then did I realize what he was trying to communicate.  I laughed and went to where he was laying. He flinched a little (since he’s been reprimanded in the past for doing this) and I lovingly thanked him for showing me my mood and told him we just had one more day and Jim would be home.  It completely shifted my mood and he didn’t pee again inside.

How to guide your human by Dude the horse – Part 3

Dude at Klein's

Dude at Klein Farm – still away from his new herd but close to the horses in the other pasture

Hi.  This is Dude again.  This is third part of my story of how my move from Shadow Creek Stable to Klein Farm transpired.  I’ll take you through my transition to joining the herd. If you missed it, look for Parts 1 and 2 posted Dec. 8 and Dec. 14.

First few days at the new farm:  The first afternoon Victor came and bugged me. I wasn’t ready to be with him so ran away from him.  He thought I wanted to run with him so kept running after me.  We ran laps around this big pasture and got very sweaty.  Finally, Victor seemed satisfied and left me alone.  I still wanted to watch more so I went to other end of the pasture again.  When the herd came down to my end, I ran to the other end.

At the end of the day when the others went into the barn, I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do so just stayed at the end of the pasture.  Chris came out with a halter to bring me in.   I like Chris.  He’s very easy going. It was nice in my stall and there was hay and I could observe the others across the aisle in their stalls.  I’m still nervous and on edge since this is all very new.  Ann and her friend Jim came to see me.  They brought carrots.  YUM!!!

Jeanne and Chris checked on me several times the first couple of nights.  They are very good caretakers and really wanted me to feel at home here.  When they let me out the next morning, I knew I needed more time to watch so went the end of the pasture.  Sis called to me several times but I was still not ready to join the herd.  She is such a great lead mare and has accepted me in the herd.


Victor and Dude after rolling the the mud

Again Victor and I ran together and then rolled in the mud together.  I am getting the idea he just wants to play and isn’t trying to boss me around.  Sis brought the herd down to my end again.  She was trying hard to make me feel welcome, but I needed more time to watch so I ran to the other end.  I still don’t quite understand the routine, so Ann came out to get me at the end of the pasture.  She did some energy healing on me and it felt so good.  I have been pretty tense these past few days.  She also gave Sis some energy healing to help with the transition.

Ann was out with a coaching client today and I watched the session from afar. It was fun to watch her work and see the client learn and grow.   I look forward to joining her when I’m comfortable. Today I understood that I need to come to the barn when it’s time to come in.  I now trust there will be hay and good people to greet me.

Dude and Vic friends

Dude and Vic are friends

After a few days: Today when I went out I went to a hay pile up by the barn instead of running to the other end of the pasture.  Sis herded the others to the other end so I could eat.  She is really taking care of me.  I am so grateful.    Victor again wanted to run and I let him practice his leadership.  He’s been at the bottom of the herd with all mares for so long, poor guy!  I think we will be good buddies and I don’t need to compete with him.

Today, I’m ready to join the herd.  Victor came out and went to the pile next to me.  I stayed near the herd all day and connected with Sis and Victor.  Tonight when we went into the barn, Victor waited for me rather than going right to his stall.  He really wants to be friends.

Dude with Sis

Dude with Sis respectfully

Victor and I again ate next to each other this morning and Sis and Cosmo joined us too.  There was no jockeying for hay piles.  Sis made sure I felt safe and unpressured while we ate.    I was with the herd all day and feeling very accepted and included.  I can relax now.  I got the time and support I needed to feel comfortable.  These humans did it right, with the guidance of us amazing horses of course!

Thank you for reading my story!  I hope you learn how wise we horses are and may you see the connection you have with all living things.

May the horse be with you,


How to guide your human by Dude the horse – Part 2

Fall of my 22nd year – written in “horse time”

Dude cropped

Dude at Shadow Creek

Hi.  This is Dude again. Here is the second part of my story.  If you missed it, look for Part 1 posted Dec. 8.

This is second part of my story of how my move from Shadow Creek Stable to Klein Farm transpired.  I’ll take you through the day before and first day there.

Day before my move:  Today Ann  and some other equine-guided coaches at the new farm performed a ritual at Klein Farm to prepare the other horses and farm for my arrival.   As soon as they started, I joined them in spirit and Ann felt me there and told the others.  She’s learning!  Sis, Cosmo and Victor were just outside the barn  They called in the four directions (a wonderful Native American ritual from my Appaloosa heritage) and set an intention for calm, safe travel and meeting with the other horses.  They visualized this process and smudged (another Native tradition) all four of the stall doors.  I reminded them to thank the horse ancestors and spirits, even though they think they thought of it.  These humans are starting to understanding the connection between all of us and with nature.  Finally!

Moving Day:  I am ready to leave, having said my goodbyes.  Willie was a bit mad at me since we’ve been best buddies for the past eleven years.  Oh well, he will survive and find new buddies.  When Ann arrived I was ready, stepped away from the hay and let her lead me out to the trailer. Deah gently asked me to get on the trailer.  It has been a long time since I rode in a trailer, so I took a couple of minutes checking it out.  Deah was very patient with me so it didn’t take long.  I am more cooperative when I’m not rushed by humans.

We arrived at the Klein Farm about an hour later and Ann took me off the trailer.  I noticed it is a pretty place and felt very calm and peaceful.  We walked around the property just like I told Ann I wanted to; first in front of the barn, then around the perimeter of the pasture.  This is a big pasture with lots of space to run.   I was surprised to see horses in the other pastures.  Ann, you didn’t tell me about that part!

Then she asked me to go in the barn.  I didn’t want to.  I wanted to meet my new herd first, so I dug in my heals and refused.  It took a while but she got the picture eventually and led me to the gate of the pasture where my new herd was.  So you see how I guide the process?

Sis as guide

Sis guiding the coaching with Beth P.

Sis immediately told the other two to stand back and then came right up to me.  We looked at each other, smelled each other and talked about my ride here and how we could work together.  I am really clear she is the leader. Then she let Cosmo and Victor come meet me.

Victor has lots of energy and was very excited to meet me (a little overwhelming frankly).  Cosmo squealed and kicked out (so predictable for a mare).

Sis, Vic, Cosmo

Sis, Victor and Cosmo from afar

Once I met the horses, I was ready to go in the barn.  Ann showed me my new stall, let me eat some hay and meet Chris, Jeanne and Cathy (another of Ann’s friends).  My stall is 4 times the size of my old stall!  I can walk around and lay down comfortably.   After I ate a bit and got a little used to the barn, they turned me into the pasture with the others.

I wasn’t ready to join them and still wanted time to observe, so I ran to the other end of the pasture and stayed there for the next several days.  I introduced myself over the fence to the horses in the other pastures and stood near them for a while so I felt safe.  I watched my new herd mates from afar.

Check back for Part 3 and how I guided the process to join the herd!