Reiki for animals: A Redondo Beach woman heals rescued dogs and finds healing herself
Fred Mertz was on his last legs. The one-year-old male schnauzer was emaciated and covered in sores. At eight pounds, he was half his normal weight.
Patricia Folgar found him wandering the streets of Van Nuys last November looking for something to eat. She took him in, and with the help of veterinary attention and some “TLC” from Folgar, Fred soon regained his physical health. But emotionally, he was still a wreck.
“I’ve never dealt with a dog this broken before,” said Folgar, a graphic designer who has fostered dogs for many years and volunteers with local animal rescue groups. “If I bent down to pet him, he would run in fear….He had been hurt by so many humans and was suffering emotionally.”
Folgar’s friend Amelia Clemens learned of Fred’s emotional state and offered to give the dog reiki, a Japanese healing technique that channels universal life force energy to facilitate the body’s innate healing abilities. Clemens is an animal reiki master, and reiki practitioners place their hands on or above the body to transfer energy and clear energy blocks within an individual.
After just one session with Clemens, Fred was markedly different.
“There was a change with him,” Folgar said. “Pretty much the next day, he would sniff [our neighbors’] hands. His tail started wagging more. He was more playful with other dogs. He’s become a dog again, alive again. Before he was a broken little spirit.”
MASTER AT WORK
Amelia Clemens, who has been a reiki practitioner since 2006, says that reiki for animals is more or less the same as reiki for humans. However, physical contact does not always occur with animals because they are not able to give consent to receiving reiki as humans can.
Clemens respects animals as higher beings. Because they are intuitively based and rely on senses for survival instinctually, animals are energetically more connected than humans who tend to get caught up in the mind, she said.
“Reiki is our natural balance of energy and ‘dis-ease’,” said Clemens who always spells the word with a dash in the middle to highlight that diseases represent energy imbalances that can be eliminated. “Reiki works to balance out energy, whether it’s manifesting as emotional, physical, or mental.”
On a warm September afternoon, Clemens met Van Nuys resident Rebecca Howard and her dog Rosie — a four-year-old American Staffordshire Terrier, known colloquially as a pitbull — at Polliwog Park in Manhattan Beach. Howard, a costume designer for film and television, rescued Rosie from Angel City Pit Bulls, a Los Angeles non profit pit bull rescue organization where both Clemens and Howard volunteer. Rosie’s physical scars — cropped ears and a deformed paw — tell of her three stray years, but her calm and friendly demeanor say otherwise. The trio sat in the grass in the shade, and Clemens began Rosie’s first reiki session. Clemens also practices “distance reiki”, wherein she sends reiki to animals without being physically proximate to them.
“I sent some reiki to Rosie yesterday through Facebook,” Clemens said, gently petting Rosie’s back.
Soon after, Rosie began eating grass and sneezing, panting and itching.
“The back of her collar got really hot,” Clemens said and confirmed these were signs of Rosie’s reaction to reiki.
“Every dog I’ve ever met loves it on their root chakra,” Clemens said. The root chakra, according to Clemens, is the most important energy center for humans and animals because it facilitates grounding. Years of instability, living in various homes and shelters, often make dogs feel insecure. “Rosie seems to like it behind her collar but not on her ears,” Clemens added.
Clemens, 37, was a private investigator for ten years before she found reiki as her calling.
“I went through the toughest year of my life last year,” Clemens said. Her mom was diagnosed with terminal cancer and she was fighting depression.
“After taking the animal reiki class, the world opened up to me,” she said. “I started to feel better. My depression lifted. Volunteering brings me more joy than anything. It brought my healing, a calm I hadn’t experienced that I needed very deeply.”
Clemens has always loved animals, and after finishing her reiki training, decided to use her skills to help animals. She completed her level-three reiki course this March, thus becoming a reiki master. She founded Redondo Beach Reiki last year, offering Reiki treatments, classes, and workshops to South Bay and West Los Angeles pets and pet owners. Affirmations of her reiki ability happen on a quotidian basis without warrant.
“When I’m walking on the street, dogs will be pulling away from their owners to be near me,” Clemens said. “They can recognize the energy.”
Clemens is not opposed to Western medicine; instead, she promotes a balance of Eastern and Western medicine, and believes either can “help but not replace” the other.
Other reiki practitioners agree. Kerri Draper, who has been practicing animal reiki for eight years and runs Huntington Beach Reiki, believes reiki can be used in conjunction with Western medicine to alleviate and palliate those that are chronically ill. Her first client was an eleven-year old Husky that had advanced lung cancer.
“He kept putting his neck in my hand because the cancer had spread to his throat,” Draper remembered. “He was unable to sleep and in a lot of pain. But after the first session, he slept great all night. I went everyday for a week, and reiki gave him the energy to take his final walks and say goodbye to his friends.”
THE REIKI PROCESS
Reiki practitioners never force or attempt to control energy flows. Instead they facilitate movement and transfer of energy, acting as straws or mediaries for the energy.
“With reiki the most important thing is setting the intention to make the energy available to go where it’s needed,” Clemens said. “When I give reiki, I don’t like to focus on a certain area. The energy will always go where it’s needed, and I like that the dogs kind of know where it’s needed.”
Clemens, who is studying to obtain a certification in animal naturopathy, hopes to share animal reiki with as many people as possible. Her first mission is to teach reiki to people that work with rescued dogs and run rescue centers.
“I would love to train those people because they’re the first line to the dogs that need it most,” Clemens said. “They’re also people that are working in a high-stress emotional environment, and they can use the stress relief and balance as well.”
Each of the five reiki principles — Just for today, do not be angry; Just for today, do not worry; Just for today, be grateful; Just for today, work hard; Just for today, be kind to others — begin with the phrase “Just for today”, underscoring the importance of being present.
Because dogs live in the moment, Clemens says, “reiki and animals are a perfect fit.”
“Dogs don’t judge,” Clemens said. “They just know what you need. They are completely unconditional and grateful. You give a dog love and respect and they will give you everything, including their life.”
Anyone can be a reiki master, even dogs, who can surprise their owners with their intuitive knack for healing.
“The whole ‘who rescued who’ thing,” Howard pondered. “Well, [Rosie] has been a very important factor in my life in the past year. Sometimes when I just need a nap, she knows when to sleep a little closer. [Dogs] are the real healers.”Visit www.RedondoBeachReiki.com for more information.