In the pitch dark of my mind, behind closed eyes, I strained to hear a response to my call. A ringing silence.
It was the second day of my Linking Awareness Journey course. All around me were the pets of my classmates and our exercise was to open our hearts and communicate with them. I was becoming very discouraged.
The three dogs who had been assigned to me had been stubbornly uncommunicative the entire session.
I tried again. “Do you have a message for me or your guardians? Hello? Can you hear me?”
And just when I was starting to feel a little despondent, the three dogs broadcast a single word that appeared in bold letters behind my closed eyes: Persevere.
Honestly, if you had told me Oprah had decided to give me a brand new car and pay off all my student loans, I couldn’t have been more moved.
Animal communication, says reiki master Tan Ming Li, is an open communication gateway between two living beings — like chatting with a friend over coffee — the difference being that this conversation goes beyond the frequency of words. Different practitioners reach this frequency in different ways. In Singapore, one of the most popular methods is the Linking Awareness Journey, an experiential course developed by Canada-based Loesje Jacob, a former BodyTalk facilitator who works with awareness, consciousness and energy-based integrative medicine.
Quite without anyone noticing it, animal communication — once regarded with the same bemused tolerance as, say, tree-hugging, crystal-waving, vegetarian, hemp-wearing yogis — has become mainstream. Ask any millennial dog owner, for instance, and they’ll swear, without any sense of embarrassment, that their Misha actually understands them.
Which is all very well, but can humans really communicate with animals or are they just experiencing wishful thinking and subliminal projection? The empirical science is both sparse and non-conclusive, but the anecdotal evidence and testimonials from pet owners and those who work with animals, especially animal communicators, fall firmly on the side of Pooch understanding every word you’re saying to it.
“Animal communication is mostly non-verbal, telepathic and can consist of emotions, sensations, thoughts, intentions and translations relating to the five senses,” says Tan Ming Li, a reiki master and mindfulness teacher. “It’s about relationships between humans and other sentient beings. It is about appreciating and respecting the deep innate intelligence that resides in all living beings — one which we may have forgotten or pushed aside in the hustle and bustle of modern life.”
Last year, Tan took the same three-day Linking Awareness Journey course in intercellular communication I had taken in 2018. “When I first connected with my cats just after the course, their response was, ‘You can understand us now? Really?’”
Based on the idea that all sentient beings — whether cat, dog, parrot, insect or even a tree — communicate with each other’s consciousness on a deep non-verbal, cellular level, the course is an intense exploration of both the psyche of animals and their guardians. (In this field, the term “owner” is avoided.)
“It’s basically quantum physics,” says the course’s facilitator, Lucia Meijer, who estimates to have taught some 375 students since 2015. “Everything in the universe is composed of energy. Everything is consciousness and we’re all connected. And so animals are always talking to us, but humans have forgotten how to tune into the right frequency.”
The key is to listen with the heart, which isn’t easy, says Meijer. She should know. A former marketing executive with Christies and the International Herald Tribune in Europe, it took the Dutch expat years to find her calling as an animal communicator.
“But everyone can do it. This course helps to remove the filters and belief systems we take on as we grow up. It helps you reconnect to your heart and remember what you could always do as a child.”
And as part of that rewiring, Meijer helps her students build an internal space — a “heart-cave”, as she calls it — which is a safe haven for the consciousness of any sentient being to enter and communicate with us.
What surprised me most when I did the course was just how deeply affected me and my classmates were on a personal level. At unexpected moments in class, dams of suppressed emotions would suddenly be breached. At times, many of us broke down into tears, especially when we were introduced to Charlie, the orangutan at the Singapore Zoo.
I will always remember watching him ambling gently towards us — long armed, knuckles on the timber deck, shaggy as Chewbacca — and pressing the entire length of his long torso against the glass towards us.
One by one, we took turns sitting before him, gently touching the area around his heart, smiling and weeping at the same time. Occasionally, he hooted and thumped his body against the glass, but always, his kind, gentle, sad face with eyes that seemed to see and know everything, drew me in, so that I seemed to sink into uncharted emotional depths.
On one level, the encounter with Charlie confirmed for me absolutely that I had made the right decision to become vegetarian. On another level, I was aware of a subtle internal shift towards greater empathy and calmness. For what seemed like an eternity — though, in reality, it couldn’t have been more than 10 minutes — I became a more authentic, whole version of myself.
Of course, a single three-day course does not make you an animal communicator. The process is a marathon, Meijer says. It takes committed practice. But, in the end, being able to have a meaningful discussion with your pet about his dietary or emotional needs is actually not the endgame.
“People go through a self-healing process, and that’s why many students find they can’t stop crying. They feel release,” Meijer says, and that, beyond the ability to discern the thoughts of other sentient beings, “is the biggest gift”.
Or as Tan puts it, animal communication is also about being open to the mysteries of the universe, about learning a broader spectrum of emotions and about true unconditional love. For her, the biggest takeaway from her time with Meijer is that the human race needs to view sentient beings on an equal standing.
“We are not the ‘owners’. It seems like common sense, but when we truly embody it with humility and honour the relationship, I feel like that’s when things shift. Somehow, the communication channels with the sentient beings are so much more open and they are more willing to acknowledge their fear or anxiety and provide clues to the simplest things that can help improve the mutual connection.”
But it was Charlie, the orangutan, who will linger in my heart and who best encapsulates the goal of the Linking Awareness Journey course. After that brief spell touching his unalloyed heart through the glass, I came away a little shaken by the flow of love and compassion that welled within me.
Did we imagine what we felt? It’s tempting to be skeptical and write it all off as group hysteria. But this was something else. Deep inside, something had been resonating over the past three days of the course. And now, from deep within Charlie’s eyes came a response.
And for the first time in my life, I felt a part of the jigsaw fall, very quietly, into place.
For information on The Linking Awareness Journey course, visit natural-connexion.com.
For most of Lucia Meijer’s students, the highlight of her Linking Awareness Journey course is the last day, when she brings her class to the Singapore Zoo to visit Charlie, the shaggy russet-haired Sumatran orangutan. I remember sitting before him and staring into the depths of his large, soft eyes and experiencing a sensation of wonder and deep peace.
“You sit in his presence,” Meijer says of the 130-something kilogramme primate. “He opens your heart field. It’s like sitting with grace and it’s a very profound experience.”
Charlie arrived at the Singapore Zoo in 2005 from Malaysia’s Zoo Negara. At the time, Meijer was a research assistant at the zoo’s Conservation and Research Department.
“I felt quite connected to him from the start. But when I introduced my teacher Loesje Jacob to him when she visited Singapore for her first Linking Awareness Journey class around 2008, there seemed to be an immediate special bond between them.”
On the third day of Jacob’s class in Singapore, she brought the students to Charlie’s enclosure.
“He just came down and sat with us and held space for all the participants in the class. And he’s been doing that ever since.”