Clarity: The Challenge
By Barbara Janelle M.A.
One of the greatest challenges for an animal communicator is to maintain clarity. This begins even before the actual session, and continues through the session. I use several approaches to manage this.
Assumptions Get in the Way.
Judging is an issue and examples of it interfering with both clarity and communication abound.
It is easy to assume the kind of issue being presented. For example, there have been many occasions when someone has written or called for an appointment for their elderly animal. The thought that this means the animal is in ill health or dying can occur quickly and lead down a garden path of assumptions, all of which may be incorrect. Age can be misleading. There have been many occasions where I have been told the dog is 12 or 13 years old, and yet when I connect clearly with the animal, its strength and vitality make it clear that there is a very good chance it will live several more years.
Leaping to interpretation even before presenting the actual information can steer things the wrong way. In one of my workshops, a participant connected with one of my cats and told me there was something wrong with its ears. I checked and found no problem with the ears, and asked the women to describe how the information came. She told me the cat had shown her his ears. When I told her that Magic Bailey loved to have his ears rubbed, she understood that she had assumed there was a problem rather than simply presenting the image to me.
Moving to advising too quickly can interfere with receiving information. A communicator, when told of a horse who shook its head a lot, promptly assumed that the bit was the issue and gave advice on bit fitting. The cause may have been many things from an ear infection to pain somewhere else in the body, to fly sensitivity, and so on. It is important to check with the animal before leaping to conclusions.
Approaches to Maintaining Clarity.
Clarity in Initiating the session. I ask that I not be given much information before I connect with the animal and I try to set aside any information the person has given me in setting up the appointment. If the person has sent me a long email describing the situation, I usually do not read it. I want a clear sense of the animal and I want to see what it is presenting before I hear from the human.
I ask for the animal’s name, and a physical description (species, breed, color, age, sex and weight). I sometimes ask how long the person has had the animal, where the animal is located, and if it is a cat, whether it is an indoor cat. Once I have connected with the animal, I return to the human and ask for comments, questions and topics I should raise with the animal.
Monitoring my own clarity. I try very hard to present any information the animal gives clearly and without interpretation. I will often ask the person if the information means anything or feels right. If I then go on to give my interpretation, I try to be clear that I am doing that. My interpretation may be incorrect.
If at any time during the session, I find that I am losing contact with the animal because I am following my own assumptions, I pause and recenter and ask the animal to help me stay on topic. An example of this occurred recently with a cat that had made great strides in learning to trust its human, but was still skittish when its person approached. I tried to think of things that would help the situation and realized I was losing the connection with the animal. I paused, recentered and asked the cat what would help and the animal replied music. I told the person this and suggested the use of classical music to create a peaceful state to help the cat.
Listening to the client. Providing space for the person to speak, to give information, and to express feelings is a very important part of communication. My job as communicator is to act as a facilitator and go between for human and animal. I usually take what the human says and amplify it to the animal so that the human’s point of view is understood as well as the animal’s take on things.
Physical Signals of Centeredness. When I am centered and delivering information accurately, my voice is deep and my breathing is steady. If I feel strain in my voice, tension in my body, or my breathing becoming shallow, I know I am going off course. It is critical to pause and deepen center.
Many communicators have described physical signals that they rely upon to indicate when they are clear and centered. These include feelings in the hands, head, stomach, etc. I know that when I hear a word or phrase in my mind, often capitalized, I must trust it.
Recognizing Emotional State. If something arises in a session that takes me away from a peaceful state, I must recognize it quickly and set it aside in order to stay clear. A client expressing anger over her cat’s urinating in the house can feel like it is directed toward me and trigger my own reactionary defense. Staying steady and letting the person know he or she is truly heard keeps the communication session on track. It also keeps me centered and functioning.
Homework. Often there is information in a communication that is important for me in my own life. Waiting until the session has ended to examine this recognizes that the session is for and about the client and animal. It is not appropriate to bring my own stuff into it unless it has direct bearing on what the animal is presenting.
Surprise Indicates Validity
A test of whether the session is valid and accurate, rather than an expression of my own assumptions, is the element of surprise. If I am surprised by information there is a very good chance that I am not making it up. Often the surprise comes with humor and a sudden, unexpected laugh. Recently, a miniature poodle that I have known for several years, told me he was very courageous. I knew him as kind, happy, intelligent and devoted. It never occurred to me to describe him as courageous, and that piece of information shifted the person’s understanding of the animal as well as my own.
Awareness is Key
Staying aware of the depth of my centering, monitoring my body, maintaining the feel of the animal and listening to the human are all important ways of maintaining clarity. As communicators we are working on many levels and staying aware of our own physical, mental and emotional state is very important.