Originally published in Massage Bodywork magazine, August/September 2005.
Copyright 2005. Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals. All rights reserved.
Dakota suffers from arthritis and congestion in his legs. Carol Komitor uses Healing Touch for Animals to help open blockages and facilitate healing. Photography by Rick Giase.
I didn't know other people couldn't see energy until I was 30 years old," says Carol Komitor, creator of Healing Touch for Animals (HTA) and the Komitor Healing Method. This extraordinary ability to see energy fields has allowed her to help many people and pets, including Dakota, the 19-year-old quarter horse she's been working on this morning. "He had some blockages in his ankle. I used the laser technique to get things flowing again," Komitor says.
A veterinary technician turned massage therapist/reiki master/ Healing Touch (for people) practitioner, Komitor's work with animals was a natural evolution. Because of her 13 years of experience as a vet tech, Komitor's Healing Touch colleagues routinely sent the animal inquiries her way. "The chakra system is essentially the same in animals as it is in humans," she says, "but working with animal energy is different, because their energy fields are much bigger than ours, and they're more receptive. It's really important to blend our energy with theirs, so they are at ease."
The inquiries became common enough that Komitor decided to develop a course to address the animal aspect of Healing Touch. "I originally thought it would be a couple of classes here in Denver," she says. "It's turned out to be an international program with multilevel certifications."
Today, seven instructors based across the United States and Canada travel to various cities worldwide presenting HTA weekend workshops, Levels 1 to 4, to participants eager to connect with their animals. HTA is used to treat behavioral and physiological issues in companion pets and zoo animals. Those who have witnessed its effects are sold.
A Healing Catalyst
Owner Deborah Gotto holds the lead while her horse, Strider, receives tuning fork therapy. Strider's brother, Dakota, inches closer in hopes of receiving his own HTA session.
Five or six years ago, my horse, Strider, was diagnosed with ring bone, a degenerative arthritis disease in which the joints start calcifying," says Deborah Gotto, a graphic designer based in Denver. "He was limping badly and was on all kinds of pain medications. The vet told us he would probably have to be put down in two years." She put Strider on a regimen of glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM, and omega-3 fatty acids to help ease the arthritis but saw little difference. Gotto soon began practicing HTA techniques on Strider, and as her ability progressed, she began to see changes in its effect on the horse. "In Level 4, I learned about the hara line, an energy pipeline that connects to the universe and the Earth. If that energy isn't flowing correctly, it can cause illness. Strider's was blocked," she says. Once this energy was cleared, Strider was able to receive the work on a deeper level. Gotto worked on Strider at least three times a week using various techniques, and he began to visibly heal. "Now, his limp is almost gone, and I'm taking him on trail rides," she says.
Strider relaxes into tuning fork therapy, an advanced HTA technique to help facilitate energy flow.
Gotto speculates that an early trauma is behind Strider's blocked energy patterns. "As a baby, he was forcibly weaned," she says. "He tried to jump a fence to get back to his mother and got his back legs hung up in it. When I got him, I wanted to train him to be a jumper, which puts a lot of stress on the legs and feet, as well as mentally. I think between the two things, it caused a lot of trauma." Gotto believes this led to the energy congestion that, combined with a genetic predisposition to ring bone, provoked the disease.
"Blockages make illness manifest earlier," Gotto says, but HTA can counteract these effects by balancing the immune system. "You have to believe in what you're doing, work with it, and be consistent about it. You can't go into working with an animal with your own agenda," she says. "I wanted to heal the ring bone, but a lot of other things happened that I didn't expect. Strider's always been a spook, but that flight response has settled. He trusts me, and we have a really strong bond. He's more like a dog."
Catherine Joy uses a pendulum to determine energy blockages in her pomeranian, Coco Chanel. Massage therapist Kathy Gephart assists.
And speaking of dogs, Gotto also uses HTA techniques to treat her black lab, Indy, who suffers from an infiltrative lipoma, a tumor that penetrates into the muscles and nerves and chokes off blood and oxygen supplies. The lipoma was on Indy's hind leg and had spread throughout his entire upper thigh, creating large protrusions both on top and underneath the leg. Conventional treatment is most often amputation, a process Gotto refused to consider for her 9-year-old canine. "Within three days of the HTA therapies, Indy was using that leg again," she says. "The lipoma is now much smaller and seems to be continually shrinking. And most importantly, Indy's back to playing and being a dog again."
Indy had also suffered from another lipoma on his chest where he'd been kicked by a horse. When Gotto began working on Indy's leg, she noticed the lipoma on his chest also began shrinking. "It was about the size of a small grapefruit; now it's reduced to the size of a golf ball. I don't expect it to be gone for months, maybe a year, but it is dissolving."
Gotto now works with Komitor, helping organize classes and designing materials. And she continues to work on Strider and Indy.
What is HTA?
Learning to trust what you're feeling is key to the work, as demonstrated by the author and her pointer, Stella.
This work on animals is a natural extension of Healing Touch (HT) for people, a method being used more frequently in hospitals and mainstream medical settings throughout the country. HT uses specific techniques to balance the chakra energies in and around the body, supporting the body in healing itself on physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual levels.
Before the work can really begin, Komitor explains that the facilitator must be grounded and clear, setting an atmosphere of energy presence. This taps you into the "unlimited energy outside of yourself," she says. "The highest and best intention brings in the pure energy of Mother Earth, which indigenous people feel is the healer and the energy that comes from God, from the universe, from nature."
Dakota receives a chakra balance from Komitor to help facilitate
First, she says, you must center yourself, finding a quiet place within. Being "centered" is to be consistent and mindful of yourself. Next is to set the intention, meaning you must hold the highest quality purpose for the animal, which will allow the highest optimum healing to take place. Then, you develop a plan of treatment using the HTA techniques, determining which will be most helpful for your subject. And finally, you must put yourself in "allow" mode, letting the energy flow into the body as it is needed. Energy, Komitor says, follows intention, so by allowing the energy to flow, it regulates itself. Komitor teaches her students a simple but effective method for achieving and holding this energy presence before beginning a session.
During a session, the facilitator uses one of several HTA techniques to specifically address a variety of issues. For example, the bridging technique is often used for animals who are scattered or fragmented due to illness, injury, or personality disorder. That technique balances and clears the energy field, bringing energetic wholeness into place.
To execute the technique, you must first center. Then one hand is placed on the animal's heart chakra, the other between the scapulas on their throat chakra. As the energy runs through you and into the animal, you send your message with words or thoughts to them. Komitor describes the communication in five parts:
1) Communicate the inappropriate behavior: "You are destroying the furniture when I'm gone." 2) Clarify your expectations: "I expect this to stop." 3) Give your pet a job: "Your new job is to keep an eye on the house when I'm gone, to not destroy furniture, and to be my loyal companion when I'm home." 4) Provide support: "You are loved and supported in this new job." 5) Tell them they need to "remember." Use the actual word, "remember," when they act out.
After about 5 to 10 minutes, Komitor explains that you actually feel or sense the unconditional love of the heart chakra blend with the creativity and expression of the throat chakra, creating balance and flowing energy.
Other Level 1 techniques include an overall chakra balance to help facilitate the healing process on all aspects of the energy field; magnetic clearing, a full-body energy technique developed by HT founder Janet Mentgen designed to cleanse and clear the complete body and remove congested energy; vibrational grooming, used to clear congested areas from the energy field; ultrasound, to break up deeply blocked energy patterns so the congestion can be removed from the energy field; laser, a penetrating focus of light energy concentrated to cut, seal, or break up congestion in the energy field; and etheric heartbeat, used to clear blockages and strengthen the heart chakra. These are all energy techniques, using only the hands. Higher levels of HTA include more techniques and some implements, such as tuning forks.
Practicing the techniques on your animal companions also has beneficial effects on the giver. "Whenever you do energy work," Komitor says, "the energetic process and technique you are facilitating affect you as well. If you are doing a chakra balance, your chakras get balanced at the same time. The energetic flow facilitates your self-healing and growth every time you help another in their healing process."
What Do the Animals Think?
This Labrador, K.C., is diabetic. HTA work is used in conjunction with his medical treatment.
During HTA techniques, animals ease into a relaxed, receptive state. Even in close quarters with a room full of strangers, all the canines involved in a weekend HTA course relaxed calmly at their owners' feet within minutes. When dogs receive an individual treatment, they yawn and maneuver to get more comfortable. Horses drop their heads and ears and cock a hind foot as if pondering sleep. Sometimes their lips quiver as if they were being tickled. Observers all note the obvious reactions, all positive, when the pets receive a treatment.
For the skeptics, Komitor gives a scientific premise to the healing benefits of HTA. All of the techniques create a relaxation response in animals, she says, and calming the animal initiates physiology that supports the immune system. "When an animal relaxes, the body releases chemicals in the brain, endorphins, that then allow the physical structure of the body to relax even more," Komitor says. "So muscles relax, the body has an ease with itself. And with relaxation, circulation increases, which accelerates blood flow and brings in oxygen, nutrients, adequate hormones, and enzymes to help with rejuvenation of the cells. It also helps flush toxins, establishing a healing environment with the body that ultimately boosts the immune system."
While this relaxation response is no small thing, those who feel the energy and see its effects say something more is going on here. Komitor concedes: "Increased relaxation allows a surrendering of the body on all levels: spiritual, mental, and physical. This allows an environment that can connect with the self, with universe, with God, with nature, and creates wholeness."Is HTA Practice for Me?
Komitor's weekend classes are filled with a variety of students, including veterinarians and technicians, massage therapists, energy practitioners, groomers, trainers, behaviorists, shelter employees, and pet owners. While Komitor knows some people have a natural affinity for HTA work, she believes it's accessible to everyone. "Anyone who has the desire to do this work can learn it easily," she says.
Gotto agrees. "The more you work with HTA, the more you understand it and start feeling it, and possibly even seeing it." Gotto herself doesn't see the energy but has simply spent time cultivating her sense of it. "It took about two years before I really felt it consistently. I had to trust it was happening, which can be hard to do when you're not seeing or even feeling something. But we all have this ability."
Komitor recommends working in conjunction with veterinarians. "If I'm out of my realm with what I can do for that animal, I refer to a veterinarian or other practitioner. If I see an animal that needs a diagnosis before I work with him, I will get a diagnosis. This provides a cooperative approach, so I can enhance whatever veterinary care is being done, and, in turn, use my work on the energetic level to support that body. I see this work as a total cooperative, helping this animal achieve its highest and best quality intention."
One note of caution: Some states have restricted therapeutic work on animals to the domain of veterinarians. Before offering HTA services, check with your state veterinary medical board to determine any issues or limitations. Making the Connection
Komitor believes animals may be particularly receptive to energetic benefits from their caring owners due to their ability to love unconditionally, without the type of psychic baggage humans carry in their electromagnetic fields. To this end, HTA has yet another side effect that all facilitators -- those doing the work -- are quick to mention: The bond that develops between a human and the animal after working the techniques is especially profound.
"Working with energy fields is very subjective, but the more I work with HTA, the more I realize that everyone has the ability to substantially enhance not only the quality of their animal's mental and physical health, but also their own," Gotto says. "Our animals give us so much love, joy, and laughter, and I don't think there is a better way of returning some of this love."
Komitor also speaks to this. "Animals' instincts give them an awareness that we've long forgotten," she says. "If we attune to them and how they're relating to us, the connection that's meant to happen between the animal kingdom and humans is met. I've seen we are one, that all things in the universe are energy, just different molecular structures. And if we learn to relate as animals relate, we'd see we could connect."
HTA classes are provided across the United States and overseas. For more information, visit www.healingtouchforanimals.com.Lara Evans Bracciante is the online editor for Massage Bodywork magazine.