7 Spiritual Lessons From Your Pet
The first festival of Telluride’s summer season is not Mountainfilm. At least not for the past three years. It is the Telluride Literary Arts Festival, May 19 – 21, now entering its fourth year, a weekend designed for readers, writers, poets, and lovers of books. This year’s special guest is award-winning author Lydia Peelle, whose debut novel is “The Midnight Cool,” in part a story about humans and animals – and humans as animals. In one of her interviews, Peelle had this to say: “I think a lot about our failure, as a species, to communicate well with each other, and that leads me to think about our communication with other species, how sometimes it can be, ironically, so much purer than the relationships we have with one another.” How pure? Check out this story we curated from The Chopra Center: “7 Spiritual Lessons From Your Pet.” (Then ask the folks at Second Chance if they agree. Or any pet owner in the Telluride region, dog – and cat – heaven.)
Anyone who has shared their home and family with a particularly special dog, cat, or other pet is well aware of the value and joy this kind of relationship can bring into your life. Your companion animals express some of the most valuable ways of “being”, simply by being exactly who they are.
Animals rely far less on spoken words and instead interpret and convey information through their senses, non-verbal communication, and energy exchange. This transmission with another creature grants you access to many new types of experiences, emotions, and feelings. Let’s explore seven powerful lessons you can learn from your pets.
1. Present-Moment Awareness
Perhaps your pet’s best quality of them all—presence. Just as it feels good to share time with a human who is fully present and attentive, your pets live their lives in the moment and can bring you into that state of mind simply by being around them. Just imagine the quantity and variety of thoughts your human mind has over the span of 30 seconds. Then, imagine the quantity and variety of thoughts your dog or cat would likely have over 30 seconds. Ahhh … the simple life.
2. Acceptance, Contentment
In the 8 Limbs of Yoga, Patanjali outlines in the second limb what are called the Niyamas—the guidelines of yogic living and your relationship with “self.” Santosha (a Sanskrit word) is one of the Niyamas; it represents contentment. This state of happiness and total satisfaction is difficult to describe yet totally fulfilling when experienced. It’s the feeling of having all your needs met, your cup is full, in just the right amount.
An exceptional trait of your pets in their natural state is contentment or Santosha. Fido isn’t wondering if people will treat him differently when he has that designer collar, Cleo definitely isn’t wishing her belly was tighter after the second litter of kittens, and Bear feels quite accepting of his naturally stocky figure. Your pets embody the saying, “It is what it is.”
Judgement is a construct of the mind to continually categorize things as good or bad. Although pets have the ability to discern what they like vs. what they don’t, the details and qualifications of what their decisions are based on are very different from humans. Pets have a simpler approach—does it bring me fear or does it bring me love? Ultimately, these are the two emotions that all other emotions are rooted in. When you see life through this simple lens, you’re able to stay centered on what matters, and let go of the rest. More love. Less fear. Watch your pet demonstrate how to live with less judgement and therefore more joy.
Life is a twisting, turning road and the more limber you are, the more easily you bend to allow life to work with you, not against you. Your pets are often subject to the many ups and downs along the way. And yet again, as long as they feel safe, nourished, and near you, they can find peace. Being that your pets are so accepting of life on life’s terms, they have learned to weather the storms.
David Simon, the late co-founder of the Chopra Center, would often say, “In life, how do you get what you want? You want what you get.” Adopt a dog and watch the way they embrace and accept what is available in the new home. Sure, that bed works. Yep, this food is good. Ok … I’ll sleep in the crate.
5. Unconditional Love
This is the one that will get you hooked, and all you may want to do is reflect it right back to them. Your pets welcome you into their hearts and lives with an innocence and reverence that many of us, if we were to be entirely honest, rarely receive from most of our human relationships. Your pets hold you high on a pedestal and as long as the bond and trust stays strong between the pair, their love does not falter.
It really doesn’t matter to your pet how grand the house is in which they live, what their human guardian is wearing, their job title (or lack thereof), or even how they smell. Your pet’s totally satisfied when comfortable and by your side.
Build a strong relationship with your companion animal, and in turn you’ll receive all their devotion and loyalty. They easily become your #1 fan; your cheerleader no matter how you’re playing the game. It feels so good to have someone accept you for who you are, love you anyway, and support you until the end. Very often, your pets know you better than anyone else in the world, and they’ve seen you at your best and worst. They forgive and forget when you’ve gone off track with them, with yourself, or with the world around you. You’re so lucky to have them!
7. Intuition Over Intellect
Your pets are driven by an intuitive connection that guides much of their decision-making in a natural, instinctual manner. Whether they’re deciding what their body needs, if the stranger in the living room is approachable, or how to act around that new dog at the park, their inner-wisdom leads the way. Although we aren’t able to know exactly what they’re thinking, we do know a wide array of information is received and interpreted through their senses. They combine this sensory input with their overall energetic “read,” which allows them to stay more established in the heart and body than in the mind and intellect. This quality is yet another aspect of their furry operating system to be admired and emulated.
Now you’re tuned in to a few of the spiritual lessons reflected in your pets. Make it a practice to become aware of how you feel in their presence and note the qualities they inspire in you. Perhaps you’re able to encourage others to see the value and healing potential of an expanded relationship with animals. This awakening is an opportunity for us to create a more unified collective of earthlings—large and small.
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