This week marks the 10 year anniversary of when I began officially studying Reiki, though my lessons in energy healing began years earlier. My first teacher was my dog, Ginger. She was a beautiful yellow lab—a great family dog and my wonderful companion. We spent long hours playing together outside and rolling in the grass. Nothing comes close to the contagious goofiness of a puppy.
When Ginger was six years old, she was diagnosed with diabetes. This event marked a significant shift in the nature of our relationship: Ginger and I were no longer the springy young puppy and giggling child. She was an adult dog experiencing a health challenge and I was her big sister who wanted to take care of her. I was desperate to help her feel better. Twelve years old at the time, I was mature and capable enough to learn how to help monitor her diet and energy levels, test her blood sugar and give her insulin injections. While my attention to Ginger’s needs increased on the medical front, her illness also deepened our energetic relationship and loving connection. I would sit with her while she lay in her bed and put my hands on her, not petting her, but holding my hands in place on her body. I remember visualizing colored light flowing from my body, down my arms, through my hands and into her. No one had ever told me to do that or taught me about energy healing—it just seemed like a good idea. Ginger herself seemed to request that I place my hands on her when she looked at me dolefully. After 10 or 15 minutes, she would twitch her skin under my hands and I would understand that she had had enough.
Over the next few years, my connection with Ginger deepened as we both matured and I continued to offer her colored light through my hands. Then, when I was 15, my mom made friends with some women who had recently opened a massage and Reiki clinic in the area. I was interested to speak with these “energy workers” based on her description. My mom brought me and Ginger into the clinic to meet them and have a look around. When they began speaking with me about energy healing work, I felt completely mesmerized. They told me about Reiki and it was as though something deep within me awoke with the validation that this was a practice that existed in the world, not just in my relationship with my dog. I told them what I had been doing with Ginger and they said to me, “That’s Reiki. You should go take a class and be trained in that.”
I didn’t begin studying Reiki immediately—the timing didn’t feel quite right to start formally learning an established discipline. Instead I began intuitively exploring my Shamanic practice around that time, and it wasn’t until 2006 (at 19 years of age) when I began studying under a human teacher. A local Reiki Master attuned me to Reiki I on August 13, 2006 and I took Reiki II with her two months later. My mom began studying Reiki with another Master soon after that, then after completing her studies, she later attuned me as a Reiki Master in December of 2008. Learning from human teachers, combined with the fact that my investigation of Reiki overlapped with my time studying biology in university, gave my previously intuitive exploration a scientific, academic flavor. I’ll save that story for another time.
Suffice it to say that my practice has grown and changed significantly in the intervening years, but some things remain the same as they were when my dear Ginger first pulled healing energy from me almost 20 years ago. She was my first, most patient teacher who spoke to me through subtle cues that demanded my complete presence and attention if I was to receive them. From her I learned how to open to my intuition and allow it to inform my actions. I learned how to be present as a vessel for healing to take place, and later I learned that I was capable of animal communication. (As I processed my devastating grief over her passing I became consciously aware of the intimate psychic connection we had enjoyed throughout her life.) Laying my hands on Ginger and allowing healing energy to flow through me set the stage for me to meet my wonderful human teachers and receive the conscious training and direction I needed to deepen my awareness. The strength of the intuitive practice that Ginger instilled in me allowed me to easily step into the teachings of Reiki and integrate the energy seamlessly with my own on the conscious level.
As I reflect on my 10 years of working with Reiki, I know that no other practice has done more for me, personally and professionally, to promote my health, well-being and happiness. Yes, my practice now includes other modalities, especially a deep connection working with Shamanism, but it all began with me as a young girl loving my dog, wanting to help her feel better and doing the best thing I could imagine: offering her light and love. Ginger opened the door for me to connect deeply with her, and in doing so, I discovered Reiki, which in turn led me to grow in my purpose, my empowerment, my health and how I work in service to the world. And for all of that, I can only ever be eternally humble and enormously grateful to Ginger, my first teacher.