Eurythmy for Animals
Bodhi the dog, and his path to healing through Therapeutic Eurythmy
At the end of January 2019, I visited the farm where Bodhi lives in the southwest of Holland, for an intake meeting. I was invited there to work with some quarter horses who had some issues. Entering the estate, I was greeted by a large dog who lived there as well. It turned out that the dog was even more in need of help than the horses. The mother of the family told me his story and shortly after, it was agreed that I would start, apart from the horses, with weekly sessions with Bodhi the dog.
After eight puppies had arrived on King’s Day 2015, there was a long pause which nobody expected to only be a pause. Then came puppy number nine, Bodhi.
Bodhi was a very lively and active puppy. Soon he was welcomed into his new family, and the father, mother and two daughters loved him dearly. At almost the same time as Bodhi joined his family, the father was diagnosed with cancer. He became very ill and could not bear the noise and liveliness of the little dog. As a kind of rough seaman by nature, he was not very patient. Coupled with
feeling so dreadfully sick, it made the situation between Bodhi and the father worse. The mother tried her best to keep the two apart as much as possible. However, one day when Bodhi was six months old he stole something to eat from the kitchen counter and the father got extremely annoyed and hit Bodhi very hard on the head. This was a great trauma and resulted in possible brain damage for Bodhi. From that moment on things got worse. The father eventually passed away and the mother and her two daughters moved to another village to try to build a new life, together with the horses and Bodhi.
Bodhi suffers from a very sensitive head and is overly awake. He also barks a lot. He hears and sees things others do not. The farm is a very quiet place and he responds to any perceived sound. He will stand and stare out the window towards the peaceful garden with madly wild eyes, on high alert, as if at any moment ten burglars are about to storm into the house. Bodhi is constantly on edge because of being overly awake, and suffers a great deal. With his condition and the unpredictable barking, his family suffers too, and they are constantly shaken up when he abruptly barks. Most of the time nobody can see it coming.
So there are two issues: one is that Bodhi is extremely alert, and this is a part of the nature of who he is. A brother of his is the same and they are sometimes compared with Duracell batteries as they never ever stop moving about. Secondly, he has had the unfortunate experience of being hit on the head and often shouted at when the father was still alive.
Now, I needed to ask myself what I could do to help. The first time I had a session with Bodhi I went into the sitting room with him and sat down on a chair. At this time, he was unable to receive the eurythmy. He was overly agitated, alert and vigilantly watchful. He was constantly on guard against whatever took place outside, while in my opinion there was nothing happening out there. Sometimes all of a sudden he would start barking, which made me nearly jump out of my skin. It always came unexpectedly and sounded loud in the quietness of the place. When I start a session of therapeutic eurythmy, I first
ask the spiritual being of all the dogs in the world to be present. I then usually begin with the sounds for healing: A M A, followed by the sequence for this particular kind of animal. For a dog it is G U M A. Then comes the sequence for the body you want to work on, which in this case was the astral body, G A. Lastly, I will open with a very gentle B M D. Bodhi however was too occupied with being alert to be able to take anything in during our first session.
During our second session, the linen curtains were closed to avoid outside stimulation of any kind. As a result, he decided to lay down close to me on his large cushion. He seemed more relaxed because of this. I did an exercise for his being over alert, which is C B C Q AU. Halfway through the sequence he seemed to think he heard something. He grumbled and started barking, but only halfheartedly. I have incredibly good ears and I did not hear a thing.
When we had our third session, I sat down with him on his cushion and start softly touching his heart area, and soon he relaxed and yawned. Because he kept looking up and towards the outside I closed the curtains again. I decided from now on they would always be closed when I was there. Bodhi relaxed again and sighed. Twice during the session, he got up and wandered around and returned again to his place. At some point while laying down on his side he sighed deeply. I sang for him and stayed on for a while. When I left the room, he was seemingly in deep meditation.
When we had our fifth session Bodhi was jumping up to bark at anything he perceived outside. Always it happened at a very unexpected moment, just when
he was falling into a deep rest. I decided that I would have to change something. It simply is too still and quiet in that area of the house. The next time I came, I brought my tablet with me and we connected it on a good-quality speaker. I chose a part of Bach’s Wohl Temperiertes Klavier, played by Svjatoslov Richter. It sounded very clear and serene. The idea was that Bodhi
would not be able to notice the slightest thing from the garden world, or even any bicycle rider passing by the house in the distance. I chose Bach because his music has a healing, as well as a calming effect. I have had good experiences with the calming effect of Bach. Once when I taught in the Waldorf school, the seventh grade walked in and turned the classroom into a zoo. It was Bach’s music that calmed them down for me, and only after that could I start my lesson. It worked with Bodhi too. He was affected by it immediately. Every session from then on he stayed still. It seemed as if he was going to sleep but was actually in a deep state of relaxation. I observed this when I would get up from the cane chair I was sitting in at his side and walk around him to stand a little bit further away to do an exercise. He would each time unexpectedly open his eyes while keeping his restful position of laying on his side. He was not sleeping but was in what seemed a very deep meditation.
Now after 15 sessions, Bodhi is not a dog that does not bark any longer. However, the mother says that “he is standing more firmly in his shoes” on a daily basis. I intend to go on with the treatments for at least another ten sessions. Sometimes we will have to pause for the holidays of the family, but pauses are healthy as well. Bodhi enjoys the sessions. Each time he is happy to
see me and immediately goes to his cushion and starts yawning. Bach is still there with us in the background, dear Bach.
Christine J. van Draanen
3rd July 2019