HEALING THROUGH ANIMALS
Finding Inner Peace
We all have or will, at some time or another, face struggles and hardships in life, which can lead to depression. To prevent that from happening we should spend each day cultivating our “inner peace” in order to keep that negative energy at a distant.
Inner peace comes from being grounded. Channeling your energy into self-growth and healing is a great way to enrich your life and nourish your mind. One of the best ways to ground yourself is by spending time with animals. Animals are spontaneous and non judgmental. They accept you as you are. With animals, you can feel open and honest – they can help you heal and find hope.
One teenage girl is a living example of this
She is blind and a selective mute. At home and in the classroom, nobody could get her to speak. She was prone to outbursts of rage. Then one day, she visited The Gentle Barn, a sanctuary in California that rescues and rehabilitates abused animals, and something extraordinary happened.
Ellie Laks, the founder of The Gentle Barn explains,“ Chloe learned to talk through her relationship with one of our turkeys, through their shared love of music, Chloe loved music so I asked the girl to sit with me while I sang to her. Slowly the girl started humming along with me, then sang, and then chose to speak.”
When people do encounter suffering at some point in their lives, therapy may not always work for them, they may need to find that healing deep within themselves, and animals can help with that process. Ellie Laks, who majored in psychology explains why people do not always respond well to traditional therapy. “Giving someone a label or diagnosis makes them feel as if something is wrong with them, that can make a person feels even more alienated from society when branded with a label”.
The Mt. Peale Animal Sanctuary and Healing Center is another place that offers animal therapy. “Our horses and dogs are involved in what is termed Equine Experiential Therapy,” says the Mt Peal Sanctuary. “It utilizes a gestalt method of therapy where the client is able to use the animals as a metaphor for their own life and move through breakthroughs quite quickly. This kind of experience is quite valuable in many areas- (including war veterans) Bi-polar disorders, depression and bereavement.”
How Animals heal us
“No matter who we are, no matter what we have been through in our lives, we all want to be seen and be valued!” says Ellie Laks. “Feeling needed is very important to someone who does not feel seen or valued; being with animals makes them feel needed and important.”
If that feeling of worthiness is not valued, especially from a young age, it can lead to poor decision-making later in life and can deeply affect a persons self esteem. If you’re an animal guardian of cats or dogs, you will know that special feeling you get from spending time with them. As most of the animals in animal sanctuaries have suffered a great deal at the hands of abusive people, it is important for people to remember that if animals can have the strength to recover and heal, we can too.
“The minute they know there are others who feel the same way, there are others who have healed and recovered,” says Ellie, “the minute they have hope that their life can actually bring them joy, miracles happen.”
Animal Abusers transform into protectors.
Not everybody feels the same way, for some people out outlet for anger and frustration is animal abuse. Most of the time, the animal abusers are the victims of abuse. They target others because they are targeted. “We help them identify who they are really angry at,” she Ellie. “Then facilitate them saying sorry to an animal and having that animal forgive and hug them, the abuser then transforms into the protector”. “Once someone understands that we are all the same, we just look different, once they understand that the animal and their pain is the same as theirs, there is an unbreakable connection that is created forever more,” she explains.
A purpose in life
Going back to the point that people want to feel needed by loving and helping animals, this creates a purposeful service, with a purpose you begin to feel needed. When you love those abused animals, groom them, feed them and help them, you create a responsibility, and that, for both children and adults is a vital part of living.
With narcissistic personalities, gentleness must be taught. Acquainted with smaller animals, the quality of gentleness can be honed. Ellie Laks does this in her barnyard and she says the “results are immediate: if they are not being quiet and approachable the animals will shy away from them, but if they are being mindful and safe, the animals will want to be with them right away.”
As for personalities that lack confidence and are low in self-esteem, leadership skills must be taught. Horse walks are a great opportunity to practice this. The progression is easy to judge as Ellie explains that “if they are not acting like a leader the horse will either fear and distrust them, or pull them all over the place.” Although personalities differ and the approaches to dealing with certain personalities differ, one thing remains the same for all of us: animals are important healers.