Gentle Touch - Rubbing Them the Right Way
We all recognize the healing power of touch - our animals seem to respond to it even more strongly than we humans do. Touch transmits feelings and emotions that we can't seem to communicate in any other way. Sometimes I wonder who benefits more from those snuggles on the sofa, when the gentle, rhythmic strokes of effleurage (it even sounds relaxing, doesn't it?) calm both me, the human giver, and any of my dogs and cats, the animal receivers, in a way that goes far beyond human-to-human contact. And that's a concept that's pretty mainstream these days, with doctors noting that their older patients who have animal companions seem to live longer, healthier lives; and with the popularity of many different animal assisted therapies. I witnessed it weekend after weekend when Sesame, my Australian Shepherd, and I visited a local nursing home. But today, it's all about the animals, so I'm going to give you some specific techniques you can use with your own "kids," with the animals in your clinics - even things you can teach your clients to use at home to help speed the healing process - or to keep them out of your office in the first place. (That's the problem with healthy animals… they don't pay the bills.)
Massage, acupressure and Reiki have many practical applications. In addition to the benefits for everything from muscle soreness to behavioral issues as you see in the chart, a daily "hands on" helps to enhance the human / animal bond in a way that's more intense than our usual "petting sessions." Focusing on touch gives us an awareness of what's normal, and an ability to pick up on almost imperceptible changes that may be indications of impending illness or injury. It helps us to develop our intuition, and even facilitates the development of our basic psychic inter-species communication. My guys are forever giving me a "psychic nudge" to put my hands onto an area that needs attention - ticks, warts, punctures - that I might not notice otherwise. Mary talked earlier today about the progression from matter energy in holistic medicine. Hands on treatments can encompass both. From basic structural manipulation of the physical body, to energetic manipulation and balancing of the non-physical body, we can incorporate massage, acupressure and Reike to enhance our companion animals' well being.
So, when I talk about "Rubbing Them the Right Way," I'm speaking both literally and figuratively. Structurally, the movement of blood, and energetically, the movement of chi, will process/release toxins from the body. Massage moves the blood following the direction of the muscle fibers. Areas where there is stagnation can be represented by things like soreness or stiffness, "soft spots," warm or cold spots, or areas where the hair texture differs from the rest of the coat.
Acupressure and acupuncture direct chi along specific energy pathways which represent organs or bodily functions. Areas where there is chi stagnation may be represented by the same symptoms, however acupuncture and acupressure will recognize these perceptions as symptomatic of either excess or lack of chi, with the stagnation occurring either before or after this point.
Reiki is a little different because it lets the energy do all the thinking. That's why I really like it. Through a series of passive hand placements (or even in distance healing, which we'll talk a little more about later), the Reiki practitioner allows the energy to flow from the universe through him or her, into the receiver. Areas of stagnation may be recognized by their vibration alone, and nothing beyond passive touch is needed to help correct the imbalance.
Among holistic practitioners, there is a widely accepted belief that all dis-ease results from a disruption in the energetic body - with animals, it's often due to a toxic emotion like fear, sadness or anger - which lowers psychic and then the physical resistance to other stressors. With vibrational modalities like Reiki, flower essences, and even crystal or color therapies, it's possible to deal with issues before they even present with a physical manifestation.
Healthy Chi is best described as "radiance." Visually, it's experienced as bright, clear, alert eyes, a confident attitude, and a bright and shiny coat. Energetically, it's often experienced as a tingly sensation. You can check your own Chi by holding your hands facing each other about shoulder width apart, just below your belly button. Imagine holding a balloon between your hands, and feel the slight resistance as you try to bring your hands together.
No matter which of the modalities you use, the approach to any form of hands on healing is going to be the same. Prior to the session, it's very important to activate your own Chi by centering yourself with some deep breathing. Try it: Close your eyes. Breathe in deeply, filling your lungs. Imagine filling your entire body with air. Hold the breath for a moment, then breathe out completely, making sure that your lungs are completely emptied. It should take twice as long to exhale as to inhale. Do this at least three times. Once you've concentrated on breathing completely, even for this short time, you'll have a sense of how shallow your "normal" breathing is. You'll also feel that any tension you may have been feeling has drained out of your body along with your breath. This can be done before a massage or even before walking in to an examining room. Softening your energy field before you enter the animal's energy field will cause much less of an "energy jolt," and it can go a long way to facilitating a good relationship. Energy fields can extend for quite some distance - according to Carol Komitor, the originator of an energy therapy called Healing Touch for Animals, dogs' energy fields can extend many feet beyond their bodies - cats' energy fields often encompass an area that extends far beyond their homes.
The next step is to establish what's called "healing intent." Generally, healing intent can be expressed as a request that the energy work for the animal's highest good, with a specific focus on areas where imbalances are evident. Our ultimate healing intent is to create a healthy balance between the Chi of the physical body and the Chi of Heaven and the Chi of Earth. Before you do any hands on, it's important to ask the animal for permission - and then pay attention to his or her response! For instance, if I ask for permission, and the dog or cat gets up and walks away, I'll probably ask one more time - just to make sure that I read his reaction correctly. If I get a similar lack of interest to my second request, I postpone the session to a time when he seems more receptive.
This is a good time to go over when massage should not be used: You should never massage an animal who has a fever or who is in SHOCK. You should never massage over an open wound, an incision, infected skin, bruise, or a tumor or lump. Also, it's a good idea to have the guardian advise his/her vet if you are going to be working with an animal who has an ongoing health problem. NONE OF THESE THERAPIES ARE A REPLACEMENT FOR VETERINARY CARE!!!
If none of those things are an issue, and once you've gotten your ok, make yourself and your animal companion comfortable. I like sitting on a blanket on the floor no matter how big or small the dog or cat is. Others feel more comfortable working with small animals on a table. One thing that was emphasized at Integrated Touch (where I got some of my training) was never to lean over the dog - that's a safety precaution that I'm going to tell you about to make sure I cover my behind. Do I ever lean over a dog? Yes. Stay calm and centered, keep breathing, and begin your session.
Begin the massage with a series of very light, rhythmic strokes called effleurage. Effleurage follows the growth of the hair, except on the insides of the legs, where it goes against it. I try to incorporate all 14 meridians in my opening, going over each general area three times. To make a complete energy connection, both hands should be on the animal at all times. Your second hand can either trail the first or be held quietly in one area. Passive touch is also used in the opening, and this technique applies the very lightest pressure and no movement. Both Effleurage and Passive Touch warm the blood and muscles and help to prepare the animal for deeper work. Efleurage along the bladder and governing meridians which follow the top or dorsal line. The bladder meridian is very important because it contains what are called association points for all the other meridians. A sensation at one of the association points generally means that the corresponding meridian needs attention. Make sure to effleurage each area three times. Five meridians (conception, stomach, spleen/pancreas, kidney, liver) run under the tummy, Three (heart, lung, pericardium) are in the chest and front legs, Three are in the shoulder/front quarter (large intestine, small intestine and triple heater) and one (gall bladder) travels along the side.
It's been said that a good massage starts slow and light and ends a little heavier and faster. A great massage starts slow and light, and ends slow and light. Your pressure, speed, and the "amount of hand" you use will have to be adjusted to the size of the dog. You'll also have to adjust to how much pressure the dog wants. She'll move away if it's too much, or lean in if she wants more. This is just one of the signs we'll be looking for as we continue, so watch for subtle signals that she may be giving. Concentrate on the movement of Chi, or the flow of blood. Pay attention to the sensations you feel. Do any areas feel warm? Soft? Cold? Notice the texture of the coat, as well as where it's dry or oily. Watch the animal's reactions. Does she get tense? Breathe heavily? Move into or away from your hand? When you sense any discomfort, switch to passive touch, which is simply laying your hands lightly on the area and focusing your energy. Stay quiet, keep breathing. Wait for a reaction. A yawn or sigh is a good indication that you've helped to release a blockage, and it's ok to continue.
Follow your instincts - if you sense that you've given the area enough attention even though there hasn't been a release, move on. Make a note of the reaction, and see if it continues in future sessions. Work the areas before and after the area of discomfort carefully. Don't forget ears and paws - especially between the pads. All the acupoints are duplicated in the ears and feet - the foot massage is especially important because it opens and stimulates the main area where the animal connects with the earth. In addition, several meridians start and end in the feet, so that's another reason that it's so important to include them. Also, it's great to work the tail - even if there isn't actually a physical tail present. Many sessions will include only these two techniques - especially the first few times. I like to work with the head and ears, doing some circling and digital kneading on the frontalis muscle. There are three important acpressure points here that have to do with calming. (Bladder 20 and (2) Governing vessel 20), and several calming acupoints in the ear. The TRIPLE HEATER (regulating) meridian circles the ear flap. Circle around the mouth and lips and cheek. This energizes the large and small intestine meridians, and is also excellent for the teeth and gums.
I use Tellington Touch "Clouded Leopard" for some of my circling, starting at six o'clock and going once around to eight o'clock, moving my hand after each circle. (Unlike the three time repetition used with most other techniques.) T Touch is interesting because the technique opens new neurological pathways to the brain by use of non-habitual movements. When it's done properly, it generates all four brain-wave patterns in the animals receiving it. (Alpha, beta, theta, and delta) There are 15 TTouch techniques, but they're all based on this Clouded leopard. Skin rolling on the neck. Palmar circling across the shoulders, sides and haunch. Followed by Compression Sifting and raking on the hind legs and shoulders, chest. Chucking on the flexor and extensor muscles of the legs. I'll also return to effleurage and passive touch as I work these areas. Do the same on the other side.
The close uses a stroke called, well, called Stroking. It is the slowest, softest, and lightest of all the movements. It helps to reintegrate the animal - put her back together. Make sure to THANK HER FOR HER PARTICIPATION. It's also good to do a quick energy clearing to help you release her energy and to dispel any negative energy that may have passed to you during the session. She will probably want a drink of water and a potty trip at this time, since we've emptied veins, lymph spaces and channels, increased her circulation, balanced her sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, and helped her body to eliminate various waste products and helped her skin to eliminate excess moisture.
Some tips to help you get started with your own animals: For dogs, basic obedience helps convince him that this is not a game. Start off slowly, don't attempt to give a full massage the first time. Just do a few strokes every now and then to get him used to the idea. Never forcibly restrain the animal. Make the experience fun! Not "it's for your own good." Be patient and persistent. Breathe. Shock points - Base of nose, base of large pad Calming points - Governing (20 x 2), Bladder 20 Digestion points - Bladder 23 (kidney assoc pt) & 24 (a major Chi assoc pt), Stomach 36 - just below patella (a master point for tonification), LI 11- front of elbow (excellent for stimulating the immune system) - also, work the bladder, governing and conception meridians. * Bladder 60 - hock - aspirin point * Heart 7 - Disturbances of spirit - Mind door - hole outside front knee.
As we get into the more etheric aspects of hands on… For the skeptics: Studies on seed growth conducted in the 1960's by Dr. Bernard Grad showed that energetic healing has a measurable effect on seed germination. (See Dr. William Gerber's book Vibrational Medicine) Grad found that there was a large increase in the speed of germination and eventual size of the plant from seeds which had a healer focus energy on them prior to their planting. The effects were reproduced when the healer applied energy only to the water they were watered with.
In "Alternatives for the Health-Conscious Individual" Dr. David Williams talks about some interesting research in vibrations. He says that researchers have found that vibrations or energy currents in the range of 20 to 50 Hz stimulate bone growth. The production of the body's natural anti-inflammatory compounds is increased, eliminating joint pain and swelling. Bone fractures heal faster, and weakened bones begin to strengthen and rebuild. Interestingly, the dominant frequency for three species of cats' purrs was exactly 25 Hz or 50 Hz. (Only the cheetah didn't have a dominant frequency at 50 Hz.) This may explain why hip dysplasia, arthritis, and ligament and muscle damage are all common to dogs, but almost nonexistent in cats. Even myeloma, a cancerous tumor in bone marrow, is practically unheard of in cats, yet quite common in dogs. Any vet will tell you how much easier it is to fix a broken bone and how much quicker one heals in a cat compared to a dog. Just like humans use shivering to warm the body, cats may purr at specific vibrational frequencies that promote healing in various parts of their bodies. While the researchers in the above-mentioned unpublished study found that a cat's dominant purring frequency might be at 25 Hz or 50 Hz, the range extended up to 140 Hz. By changing the frequency of their purring, cats may be fine-tuning their healing abilities. Williams says he's even seen reports where individuals claim they can stop their migrane headaches by lying down with a purring cat next to their head. Maybe that's just the beginning.
The Reiki story begins in the mid-1800's, when Mikao Usui began his quest to understand hands-on healing techniques similar to what Jesus Christ is said to have practiced. The information Usui was seeking wasn't available through conventional Christian wisdom, and Usui found that the practices were to be understood through the pursuit of Buddhism and The Path to Enlightenment. It is believed that Jesus was not only a reincarnated Bodhisattva, or Buddhist master, but that the thirty lost years of his life were spent in Egypt and India, where he studied Buddhism. This is the theory of how he learned these healing methods. Usui's study and meditation led him to a Zen Buddhist monastery in Japan, where he found the texts describing the healing formula. Missing from the texts was information on how to activate the energy. It was not until Usui passed a spiritual test of a three week period of meditation, fasting and prayer on Mt. Koriyama that this information was revealed to him in the form of a vision, a psychic rediscovery of an ancient healing method. Usui named the healing energy "Reiki," which means "Universal Life Force Energy."
As in all holistic healing methods, Reiki addresses energy issues manifesting physical or emotional symptoms, going directly to the cause of the issue - and, again, as in all holistic treatments, works with the body to enhance the body's own innate ability to heal itself. Reiki balances mind, body and spirit. A full Reiki treatment affects all the major organs and the cerebrospinal system, and balances the chakras to the extent that the individual is able to tolerate. There is no way to do Reiki incorrectly. The energy has a wisdom of its own. Animals seem to be particularly receptive to Reiki treatments. I've had great success in many situations with my own animals, and have been amazed at how powerful Reiki can be. A full treatment consists of a series of approximately twenty hand placements, but a short session concentrating on one particular area is also very effective. A few of the things I've used it for include post surgical pain, muscle soreness, wounds, allergies, emotional issues, upset tummies, and especially for enhancing the bond I have with my animal companions. Reiki is a great addition to a massage treatment or grooming, and it's "automatic." Whenever my hands are on a body, the energy flows --whether or not I'm concentrating on what's happening. Reiki utilizes the practitioner's intuition and the information passed through spirit guides (or discarnate healers) to facilitate healing.
To become a Reiki practitioner, you must receive an attunement from a Reiki master. This opens up energy channels and allows the energy to pass through you more effectively. There are three levels of Reiki: Level I allows you to do hands-on sessions; Level II is for distance healing, and in this attunement the Reiki symbols Cho-Ku-Rei (cho-ku-ray: to increase power), Hon-Sha-Ze-Sho-Nen (hón-sha-zá-sho-nén: for absent healing) and Sei-He-Ki (say-hay-key: for emotional healing) are given to the student. Level III is the Reiki Master, whose advanced skills allow teaching and passing attunements. The Reiki Principals are: Reiki is a safe, gentle, noninvasive way to improve your animal companion's quality of life.
To find out more, I recommend Dianne Stein's book, Essential Reiki, a Complete Guide to an Ancient Healing Art.
The non physical body is commonly known as the aura. The aura includes the mental, emotional, ethereal and spiritual bodies. The Chakras and the colors associated with them are: Root - red, Stomach - orange, Solar plexus - yellow, Heart - green, Throat - blue, Brow - indigo, Crown - violet
Dis-ease progresses through the multidimensional anatomy. We've already talked much about this today - just to recap, dis-ease begins in the outermost layers of the non-physical body, and, if not corrected, moves inward until it reaches a physical expression or manifestation.
Vibrational/energy methods work with the energetic body to help rebalance and stabilize the energy fields even before they reach a physical expression. Once a dis-ease has manifested physically, energy therapies will still be effective, but will take longer to show improvement. The longer dis-ease has been "brewing," the more it has affected all the layers of the physical and nonphysical anatomy.
What is EFT?
So far the best success I've had with EFT has been with my own issues, and not the animals', but I think that's due to user error rather than a weakness with the technique. The real trick to EFT is to find the essence of the problem - that's the hard part! But even if you don't manage to get to the heart of the issue, there will still be improvement.
Specific EFT Techniques
DNA/Vaccine Damage: Excellent for hot spots, neurological problems, allergies, immune related dis-ease, and many other conditions brought about by vaccine damage. 1. Cup hands over the crown chakra and say with intent: "I now open the genetic code." 2. Rub your sore 25spot (just left of the collar bone notch) and say: "Even though (animal's name) has RNA/DNA damage, I deeply and completely love and accept him/her." Say this three times. 3. Tap yourself a the following points while resting your attention on the animal: beginning of the eyebrow, side of eye, under eye, under nose, chin, collarbone point, under arm, side of thumb, karate chop point. Say at each point: "I replace old cells with new healthy, cells. I replace old genetic code with new, healthy genetic code." 4. Cup hands over crown chakra and say: "I now close the genetic code."
Always remember: We are not "healers," we are "facilitators."
I'll close with a quote from Dr. Randy Kidd, who received his DVM right here at Ohio State, and his Ph.D. in Pathology/Clinical Pathology from Kansas State: "As a hard core scientist, I'm willing to accept Chi at face value, because I can feel something with my fingertips, even though I'm not exactly sure what it is I feel; because I see results when I manipulate it with acupuncture needles, and because my own Tai Chi and Qigong practices have healed me from diseases where Western medicine had failed miserably, and because the accumulation of chi I have gained from my daily practices have made me feel healthier at age 60 than I ever did previously. I actually feel that arguing the presence of Chi is a colossal waste of time. I am much more interested in what I can do with the Chi I have to help reconnect the human spirit, through pets, to the soul of nature. I'm convinced that this is where the "Next medicine" will be applied."
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