This article, written by Donna Pinker, first appeared in the Taoist on-line magazine The Scholar Sage. Donna went on from the Introductory Workshop in Animal Communication to complete the Animal Communication Apprenticeship and Diploma.
This past weekend I attended an Animal Communication course at the wonderful Shining Horse Centre in beautiful countryside just outside the city of Bath. It was a truly amazing experience, run by a great teacher, Susie Shiner. Although this is an on-line magazine concerning Taoist material; I’d like to share my experiences of this course, as I found the Animal Communication study very closely reflected Taoist theories and practices. As Daoists, our learning experiences and training can be found in most aspects of life and varying fields of knowledge.
The centre itself is on a Holistic Livery Yard with goats as well as horses. Susie does her teaching in a wonderful rustic summer house with a wood burner for the colder days. At the start of the two day introductory workshop I found myself sitting watching the teacher draw stick men on a white board with 3 energy centres and a field of energy. I immediately knew this was for me and the theory would tie in with my previous Taoist and Shiatsu teachings. In fact, all of the Animal Communication theory and practical exercises totally resonated with the Taoist model. There were a few variations in the language used, but the intention of the concepts was identical. This is not because certain Western teachings have borrowed from Eastern traditions but because people who truly work with and experience the energetic realm, understand how it functions. I found that Susie easily and skilfully expressed the concepts involved. She has worked with the energetic realm for many years and has gained a deep understanding.
Susie progressed to talk about an antenna running through the body which receives information from the energetic fields around us. This is known to Taoists as the Chong Mai (Central Channel). She explained how Animal Communication utilises the lower energy centre in the belly and the middle energy centre in the Heart/chest area. When humans are centred in their brain with the myriad of thoughts streaming through our minds, animals just don’t understand us, as we are lost in the chitter chatter of the mind. We need to be in a state of authenticity and move from being incongruent with ourselves to being congruent. We did some practical exercises of coming into our bodies and feeling disturbances or discomfort; allowing these areas to have our attention and hence shift to congruence. I experienced this by feeling agitation inside my chest caused by excitement which I was suppressing, due to the formal social situation. Once I let this disturbance shift I moved into congruence, and the Fire energy reflected its own nature and expanded, causing me to smile and feel joy and excitement. Apparently animals don’t like it when humans are in states of incongruence and not being authentic to themselves. This is reminiscent of Shiatsu teaching, which very much emphasises authenticity.
Shiatsu practice stresses the importance of bringing ones awareness back into our Hara, known in Chinese as the Lower Dan Tien (lower energy centre); this helps us to tune into the Qi of ourselves and the receiver and to pick up through “gut feeling” information of the receiver. Similarly with Animal Communication, we bring our consciousness into this area for intuition, and reading general information concerning an animal. Another cross-over technique of both Shiatsu and Animal Communication is to firstly recognise what is our own; so that we can distinguish between the feelings and thoughts belonging to ourselves and those of the client/animal.
Susie explained the different methods of gaining information from animals. Body language can give huge amounts of information about the state of mind of an animal; and understanding the particular species body language can be beneficial when communicating, but that isn’t the method of animal communication Susie teaches. Essentially, she teaches psychic readings combined with direct telepathic conversation. Both utilise different methods which she conveys clearly. The Psychic reading involves tuning into our energy centres, and our antenna central channel, and detecting information intuitively from the energy field of the animal. This information will appear as visuals, sensations, sounds, tastes or direct thought. Susie went on to discuss right brain, left brain differences, and how we should try to stay in a right brain state with intuition and free flowing visuals; staying away from analysis. To a Daoist this can be interpreted as staying with the Hun Soul as opposed to the Po soul. (See my previous article on the Hun).
This method reminds me of the Daoist practice of Shen Gong; communing with nature; by linking our energetic centres to the natural environment; a tree for example. When doing this, our energetic system experiences the various types of energies of the tree; most commonly Wood energy (from the 5 Element theory) is experienced as an upward or forward thrusting force. We can also read information about the tree.
The main part of Susie’s teaching is the actual animal communication. For this it is essential that we place our awareness in our Heart centre in our chest (middle Dan Tien). To communicate with animals we link our heart centre to the animal’s heart centre and ‘speak’ and ‘listen’ from here. When ‘listening’, we may perceive messages in the form of snippets of visuals, sensations, sounds, tastes or direct thought; and it is important not to allow our brains to analyse these snippets and fill in a story. These snippets may even mean little to us, but to the animal’s human guardian, they may make total sense. Remain in the right brain.
Human spoken language is a left brain (Po soul) function. To take free flowing thought and translate it into spoken words by the left brain entails a delay. Hence human communication is slow compared to animals’, who communicate in a free-flow faster exchange. My concern was how can an animal understand us if we use words, even if spoken silently in our minds. Susie discussed how words have meanings and energetic qualities which can be sensed and understood by an animal; as long as we keep our meaning clear and not use negatives. This reminded me of the work of Dr Emoto, and the effect certain words have on water; and the subsequent ice crystal patterns that are formed. Animals can pick up our intent, even before we translate our intention into a verbal sentence. Therefore, to an animal, we sound slow and loud; probably rather like an English person speaking in a foreign country.
So we need to ‘listen’ with our heart and our right brain and tune into the fast free flow of images and thoughts. And we need to ‘speak’ such that every word we use has a resonance and quality that matches the energy in our heart. This is fantastic Taoist training and attunes us into our Hun Soul. This practice also helps us become authentic to our true nature (Xing) and speak and listen from our Heart centres.
We also need to learn how to quiet ourselves. On a behavioural level; it is no good to tell a horse to stand still if we ourselves are full of erratic thoughts. The best method is to embody stillness oneself, and the horse will understand. One of the young horses on the weekend reiterated this message directly to me. I was having some success communicating with him but then expressed doubt to Susie, and my posture became hunched. The horse moved himself in front of me, and hit me in the chest with a strong message to stand erect and have self confidence. He himself, stood there proud and firm, embodying the message so as to reinforce it. At this moment, after having corrected my posture, I could feel my own energetic alignment with the earth below me and the sky above. The horse communicated a message to me and combined it with an embodiment within himself of a confident erect poise and energetic connectedness. Being a Qi Gong teacher myself, who constantly works with my student’s posture and alignment; it was a wonderful lesson to be shown from a vibrant horse.
I was quite surprised at how well we all performed at the actual animal communication; with very strong indications of success from the animals’ human guardians. Over the workshop I interacted with 5 horses, 2 dogs and 1 goat. Susie is very passionate about animal communication and believes it can help humans learn how the whole of nature and the animal kingdom is interconnected, and how ideas of separation, individualism or nationalism are redundant. Animals have so much to teach humans, and as I can attest, are wonderful teachers. Daoist practice and training can to be embodied in all that we do.