Is Animal Reiki Compassion?

You may have seen advertising slogans for a business that say “Animal Reiki is Compassion” or “Animal Reiki is Love.” This evokes a happy feeling that makes people more receptive to animal reiki. The intention behind it may be benevolent, but is it accurate, or is something missing? In today’s climate of fake news and misinformation, let’s take care to provide accurate information to help people understand what reiki is.

Consider the example of Mother Teresa. When she left the comfort of the convent to help “the poorest among the poor” and spent 45 years ministering to the poor, sick, orphaned, and dying (Religion Facts, 2016), was she compassionate and loving? Yes, absolutely, she was. Was she practicing animal reiki? No, she was not; she worked with humans. A human or animal mother’s love for her child and a hospice worker’s compassion for his patient are beautiful and valuable, but they are not reiki. Let’s look further to avoid confusion.

“Animal Reiki is Compassion” and “Animal Reiki is Love” are excellent hooks to catch people’s attention, and wonderful examples of empathy marketing. The goal of empathy marketing is to establish an emotional connection with the “brand” and embed the message in the mind of the consumer (Tabaka, 2011). However, in reality, animal reiki includes compassion, but it is not the same thing. For those who wish to truly understand what animal reiki is, we need to go a little bit further.

What is compassion? It is sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others (English Oxford Living Dictionaries, 2018). Compassionate people are drawn to learn the system of reiki because sharing reiki enables healing, and relieves stress and suffering.

Sharing reiki with an animal involves emanating peace and inviting the animal to join you in the peaceful space. To share reiki with an animal, only two key ingredients are needed, your intention to share reiki and the animal’s acceptance of what you are offering. Anything else that you learn can enhance your ability to practice animal reiki, but these two things are what is necessary. Whether the animal accepts or not is the animal’s choice. As a practitioner, what you need to do is have the intention to share reiki with an animal.

Reiki is a healing system that originated in Japan; “rei” means “spirit” and “ki” means energy, so reiki is spiritual energy. It is present in everyone and everything, so everyone can do reiki, and learning about the system of reiki can help. However, the aim of traditional Japanese reiki is to be reiki. This means following the reiki precepts as much as possible, until you embody them:

Just for today,
do not anger,
do not worry,
be humble,
be honest in your work,
be compassionate to yourself and others.

Following the precepts and being without anger or worry allows you to be in a loving and compassionate state of being. When you are in this state of being, animals want to connect with you and accept your offer of reiki. You can see that being compassionate is one of the precepts, and it is a part of sharing reiki. However, many compassionate and loving people do not know anything about reiki, and do not have the intention to share reiki with others. This intention to share reiki is the second ingredient that is needed.

Compassion with Intention

Animal reiki, and all reiki, is compassion with intention. It involves sharing compassion by radiating peaceful energy, with the intention to share spiritual energy with others to help them heal themselves. If you create a compassionate, peaceful space and have the intention to offer reiki to your animal, and your animal accepts, then you are practicing animal reiki.

To learn more about animal reiki, contact the author, Michelle Kyle, at


English Oxford Living Dictionaries. (2018). Compassion. Oxford University Press. Retrieved from

Religion Facts. (2016). Mother Teresa. Religion Facts. Retrieved from

Tabaka, M. (2011). Win customers with empathy marketing. Retrieved from

© 2018 Michelle Kyle