Wagasana, greeting the day
with gratefulness and curiosity!
Have you had a doga moment today!
Enjoy the Journey while creating your own with mindfulness ...
Mindfulness: Psychologist and mindfulness meditation teacher Jon Kabat-Zinn has defined mindfulness: paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally. Non-judgmental mindfulness helps us to respond to situations from awareness rather than habit, over-reaction, compulsion or addiction. This sounds simple, but mindfulness is a skill that takes practice to cultivate. How often do you really pay attention to what's happening in your life – as opposed to thinking about something else, remembering things or using diversions (imaging impossible futures or using habitual patterns)? How often do you react to people and situations based on old habits (perceiving, thinking, feeling, behaving)? Before even realizing it, we automatically and defensively respond as if those old experiences were happening again (defense mechanisms).
We have habitual patterns, some good, some not. Our vulnerabilities to automatic reactions are based on past experiences. These are "triggers" or "buttons" that can get pushed repeatedly. It is more amplified when we are stressed. Truly paying attention to triggers, as Jay Shetty offers, we can learn to SPOT, STOP, SWAP our thinking patterns that are followed by reactive responses.
Often, we live on auto-pilot. Structure and prioritizing helps us to organize our daily lives. Too much of anything isn’t healthy. Being mindful of our our bodies and minds, when we need to stop and take time to renew.
It helps to define what mindfulness is not. Mindfulness is not about detaching from your experience and failing to emotionally engage with life. It is not complacency. Mindfulness allows us to engage more fully with awareness, emotions and experiences, rather than knee-jerk reactions. How does mindfulness relate to our relationship with our dogs? Dogs live in the present moment. One can see that they are mindful even when eating your slipper. They enjoy is thoroughly. Whether it was right or wrong, we dog parents are mindful that we were NOT supervising them.
Mine: Every wonder how often we say MINE? My dog, my house, my job, my food, my space. It makes us feel good to know we have accomplished “stuff” that we call “mine.” With dogs, there is a growing concern about reactivity and resource guarding. This may be directly related to the human need to globally own and have more to call mine.
For dogs, consider reading “Mine, Yours and Ours.” I give “Mine, Yours, Ours” to my puppy clients. Mine teaches the concept of slippers are mine, the stuffed teddy or Kong is yours.” We exchange objects, take this and give me that, to build a trusting relationship. Eventually, drop-it becomes natural. The dog isn’t fearful play is ending. We’ve built enough anticipation and trust in the relationship that we can play fairly & respectfully, as a team.
Your time is for private chews on your beefy bone, digging to your heart’s content in the digging zone, getting on my lap even though you weigh 115 lbs or taking a nap in mid-day. Our time is special moments, that with a trained dog who knows the difference, gets the privilege of sharing time or popcorn together. Our time is our business, and oftentimes, means simply relaxing together with relaxed rules / boundaries. It’s a relationship!
Mirroring: Ever notice a puppy looking at himself in the mirror? Mirroring is a technique where you repeat back to a client, usually in your own words but sometimes word for word, what has just been expressed. It’s clarifying to be sure you heard or saw correctly. No clever interpretations, just listening and repeating. Mirroring has an impact on the flow and attitude of the conversation. The skill and art of this simple strategy lies in being fully present to hear what has been said. It can help change person (or dog’s) attitude. Mirroring is a connection builder because it lets people feel heard and understood, sometimes for the first time in their lives.
Our dogs are perfect at mirroring our behaviors and of those they engage with (Vets, Vet Techs, Trainers). When approached with a calm, confident energy, dogs are likely to allow us to touch, groom, clip nails, train new and better behaviors, and examine them. If we scare them by torpedoing in to get the job done, they might whine, growl, bark, shake or bite - out of fear or anxiety. Yelling someone, or barking at a barking dog, likely will enhance the behaviors / emotions. Be aware, clarifying the why, who, when and how created the behavior can help us re-shape it, in ourselves and our dogs.
Nutrition: As cliche as this may sound, we are what we eat, and so are our dogs. Educational enrichment and taking charge of our, and our dog’s health, body and life matters. Billions are spent on processed foods for us and our dogs. No judgement here, but we can change, one-step-at-a-time. One thing I know for sure about dogs: Unless they are unhealthy, they do NOT thrive on a "same variety" diet for a "lifetime". We wouldn’t be happy eating pizza 7-days a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Neither are the dogs. We need a balanced proportion of protein, fats and complex carbohydrates. For our dogs, a good place to visit is Whole-Dog-Journal. Rotation diets for dogs are popular. You can cook for your dogs, being mindful of balancing (synergy) nutrition and supplements. For humans, the list goes on ... but if you aren't feeling well, with optimal energy to enjoy your day, then make some small changes to your life (prioritizing / organizing / delegating) and healthy nutrition.
Old Tapes (let them go): What happened to us as children, adults or two weeks ago does not define who we are or can be. It can be paralyzing, but only if we allow it to be. This can refer to positive or negative life experiences. Oftentimes, it is safer to stay in a dark place fearing what might happen if we put on a flashlight. What will we see? Try a match first.
Using old tapes is an excuse for not living life to the fullest. Processing childhood or adult trauma is healthy but not on an indefinite basis. Seeking professional help is brave and can help in letting go of baggage. Triggers will re-emerge, but awareness is when we can SPOT them and change them to healthier reactions.
Choosing to erase those tapes, gives us an opportunity to re-invent ourselves, even in a new normal. Change does not come easy, but it is rewarding. I know that when I get stuck (lazy really) behaving in old, familiar ways, I give myself a day to have a pity party and suck my thumb (metaphor). Then, it's time to get up, dust myself off, and move on to Plan B, and it has to have at least one new element, different than Plan A.
Our dogs experience depression, anxiety and PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress). They react to the triggers with anxiety, fear, and learned helplessness. Anyone who has adopted a fearful dog knows this. The only way to create positive change is through gentle, positive training that can build confidence.
Organization (OPIUM): OPIUM, no not the drug. Organize, plan, implement the plan, understand that all plans are flexible and may need tweaking, and make the change (tweak). Someone told me once that they clutter because they are creative. Many years later they have created more clutter. What does clutter mean for you? Is it healthy procrastination, giving you awhile to clear your mind? Or, are you holding onto things you cannot fit into for a decade? Will your dog really get mad if you throw away that half chewed and bacterially infested bone?
Look at successful people you respect. You will likely see a person is organized and goal-oriented. They may or may not reach their specific goal, but will always dust off and do it again.
I write and I get paid for it. I know that if I can't find my manuscript and I have a deadline date, then I get all stressed out. I don't let it go that far. I may create a pile now and then, but I always feel better when I clear my desk, label my priorities with an A. B.C., organize my closet, prepare in advance, be on time, and regularly brush the dogs.
As a manager in corporate for years, what I looked at in a potential employee was: do they arrive on time, are they prepared and know something about what they are applying for - about the company. Are they dishevelled or well put together? I've talked to many high level managers who have said that too much skin or dirty hair (mismatched shoes) turns them right off. I agree. A pulled together look is important. First impressions make a difference, although I believe in second chances! Oftentimes, we need to look beyond the first impression to what this person (or dog) can offer with some grooming, training and self esteem boosters.
Patience (plenty of time even though it doesn't seem that way): Cultivating Patience with yourself and your dog is a skill that takes practice. Usually, what I need comes to me when I am present, aware, observing and listening. When I am impatient, it is because I do not want to take the time to learn the lesson at hand. Maybe I want it done right now. I may not recognize my own body/mind telling me that I am too tired to learn one more thing at this time. STOP and REST. Research says that even a 10-minute power nap will renew us.
That same pause and a breath before acting gives our dogs a chance to respond too. Dogs who voluntarily and happily offer a behavior, and are promptly rewarded with a high value item, learn more easily and pleasantly. No guessing here. It’s been proven scientifically and in real life teaching. Slow and steady works. So does fast and focused. Knowing when to balance them is a skill to breath into practice.
Peace: Planetary healing is real. When we experience a natural disaster nations gather together to help. I send positive energy with visualizations, seeing things working out with a solution that is best for everyone. Believing in the highest good for all species can bring peace to our planet. There is a Serenity Prayer that says: God grant me the wisdom to change the things I can, Accept what I cannot and the Wisdom to know the difference. Whatever your mantra or high power, this makes sense. Can we stop war? Maybe not right now, but we can stop little wars in our minds and community. It has a positive, trickling effect.
Perfection: Perfection is not about control, it is about letting go. We are all perfect, whole and complete, but most of us don't know it, at least for awhile. How we are raised, aging and wisdom play a part. I have met 28 year olds with the wisdom of an 80 year old, very old 35 year olds, and bitters at any age who can’t seem to grow, love or appreciate anything. The only person standing in my way is me. I can focus on those that offer up possibility, not negativity or bitterness. Today, and everyday, let go one thing that has been bothering you, then do it again when it pops up!
Purpose: I have the power to live my life with meaning and purpose. It is a daily discovery of new ways to improve the quality of my life and that of someone or something I care deeply about. What gives us meaning is individual. Knowing that who I am and what I have is far better then what I had or who I was the day before, a year ago or 10 years ago has meaning. I enjoy the comforts of familiarity, but not stagnation and complacency. There is no price tag on experience and wisdom. Mistakes are an important part of living and learning. If you never make a mistake, you never learn. How boring! What gives your life purpose? What will you learn today?
Perfect Order: The universe is in perfect order. Infants and puppies are pure. A wise, older friend told me that "There are no coincidences in life and although ordinary is wonderful, always strive to be extra-ordinary”. I believe dogs guide me to paths that give me a chance to find the extra-ordinary in the ordinary. We all experience life, death, pain, sadness, grief, anger, fear, joy and love. Some of the purest forms of love come from infants and pets (dogs, horses, cats, birds). Life can be chaotic and seemingly unfair. Choosing how we respond to challenging transitions in life is educational enrichment. This too shall pass. Trust that my life is right where it is suppose to be. I can choose to make every moment a defining, positive, learning experiences. I can find joy in walking a dog or winning a billion dollar lottery..
Planet Earth: Belongs to all of us. Our Earth is a wise and loving mother. It can be ferocious and cause great harm (natural disasters). These are lessons for us. We have an infinite number of species, animals, vegetation and natural wonders. These valuable resources and species are precious to us. Their abuse and depletion is our demise as a human race. If we continue to disrespect the planet, we will have not place to live or be. Committing to caring for the planet by doing something everyday to conserve it's beauty and resources can only improve our quality of life and living. Plant a tree, recycle, pick up garbage and teach others to care for the planet. When someone passes - how about planting a tree in celebration of their life? Sending positive energy every day to the planet is possible and begins with me.
Power: Choose, in the present moment, to claim the power of your thinking and actions. If you want life to support you, then support living. There is power in the present moment. Ecktard Tolle shares, "live in the now because that is all we have." Planning is helpful to fulfil goals in the future, but the process of working toward goals is in the journey. We all have the power of our own minds and deserve to claim it.
Dogs have hierarchies and packs. They don’t know what “power” is in human lingo. They do need responsible leadership when thrust, often at 8-weeks old, into a human household w/o knowing the language or survival mechanisms. Be mindful of planning for a puppy or older dog to join your family pack. They speak a different language and we can respectfully teach them ours with patience. Dog Talk LLC
Problem Solving: Every problem has a solution. The best approach is win-win. I am trained in business, as a counselor, mediator, coach and yoga teacher. In mediation we are taught how to resolve conflict using BATNA (best alternative to a negotiated agreement). In counselling, we are taught to help clients “feel and find” solutions in therapeutic ways. In coaching, the goal is to help clients find their already built-in skills, build their resource catalog and create short and long term goals. No matter how big or small a problem is, the place to begin is by taking a deep breath, and asking yourself what it means to you. What are you willing to compromise, or not, in the process?
Managers enjoy employees who come to them not only with problems, but with the solutions. When we are training our dogs, the same barks true. Stopping behaviors without teaching the ones we want is useless, and oftentimes, abusive to the dog. Think about going to your boss for a performance evaluation and he gives you a list of everything you did wrong. No raise! Now, consider a boss who begins by telling you all of your strengths, then sharing that there are areas where you can improve and get help do it too! Which feels better? When a problem seems overwhelming, breaking it into segments helps to make it more manageable. Before going to bed at night, throw it out to the universe, then relax into a peaceful night's sleep. The morning may bring clarify. Have a notebook ready.
Prosperity: Prosperity begins with feeling good about yourself, not how much you have accumulated in possessions. Oftentimes, I hear myself saying "my this and my that", when truly I own nothing on this Earth. It is a gift and on borrowed time. Prosperity for one person may mean having a loaf of bread, while for another, the fifth Yacht isn't enough.
For an adopted dog pulled off of the streets, who has been ravaging garbage dumps for food and sleeping in an old trash can for protection, a bowl of kibble and a towel may be a gift from Wolf Spirit. To another who gets fed a healthy, variety diet with delicious healthy treats, regular grooming, positive training and wellness checks, and gets to sleep on a cushiony bed, a bowl of kibble and a towel may bring on an anxiety attack (that’s it?). How we respond to gifts depends on where we are in life and our minds.
If you were to lose everything tomorrow, what would matter? To me it would be my pets, my partner and several waterproof duffle bags stuffed with healthy nutrition, plenty of water and blankets. Abraham Maslow's Hierarchy of needs begins with food, clothing and shelter. Beyond that we can build our repertoire of self actualization with acceptance, attention, affection and applause.
How much STUFF we have depends on what it means to us in the bigger picture of life and survival. What brings us true joy. I would no sooner give up my dog to keep my house, then I would my partner because of a job location. Well, the latter’s debatable, but I’d work it out. It's a package deal!
Meditations M - P