Wagasana, greeting the day
with gratefulness and curiosity!
Have you had a doga moment today?
Enjoy the Journey while creating your own enthusiasm ...
Educational Enrichment: Education is knowledge. Knowledge is power. What we learn in school, college and life is transferable to careers and relationships. Enrichment activities are implemented in schools, work and zoos. Our dogs have enrichment puzzles. That, along with any activity that enhances learning, channels energy into positive outlets and increases awareness is beneficial to us and our dogs. Learn something new every day …
Elder - Wise Years: Life expectancy today can be over 100. Defining how we live and age is our choice. Genetics may load the gun, environment may pull the trigger, but I can choose how to live a wholesome life in balance with nature. I am resilient. I have bounce back. I can lead the way showing others that "rules of society" don't have to be followed: baby by 30, retire by 62, Florida because “they” do, whoever “they” are. I will write, create, travel and enjoy journeying into my treasure years. I may creak more, be sore in the morning and have to prioritize my activity, but isn't that what we should do anyway? That is the wisdom that defines how to age gracefully. Dogs have a short life span. They accept illness and death naturally. They teach us how to accept differences, age and keep on wagging us to them from beyond with happy spirits. Wag me to you my dogs ...
Energy is everywhere, that’s not the problem: Energy is powerful and empowering if we learn how to manage the flow. Loving myself and my dogs gives me the extra energy I need to work through problems and pitfalls. When I feel overwhelmed, I can take a deep breath and redirect that energy into something positive for that moment, including rest.
Create some space for spontaneous expressions like jumping, singing, howling and dancing with your dogs. Teach dogs when to play and when to relax, chew this, not that! Redirect behaviors that annoy you to one that do not. Today, rest when you need to and allow the dogs to play when they need too with rules - like SPORTS! Dogs can be redirected with ENOUGH & COME - SIT.
Enlightenment: Dogs aren’t waiting for Buddha enlightenment. Becoming enlightened is an inspiring goal that likely won’t happen until we take our last breath. Insights are little enlightenments that add up to the big day or epiphany. Watch your dog when s/he awakens in the morning? They yawn and stretch, then look around or prance outside relieve themselves. They are naturally enlightened. Awakening to a new day with an open mind - that I am already complete ... everything I need is here, right now. Aligning myself with my higher power (whatever that is for you), flow with an attitude of serendipity, living and learning through all kinds of experiences like a puppy playing the snow.
Empowerment: Can be small, medium or huge. Positive thinking is a friend of empowerment. Negative thinking can be our teacher. Explore your negative thoughts. Does something need to be resolved / processed / let go of? Empowering thoughts integrate two other aspects: knowledge and action. Know that those who are empowered work every day at finding their "truth" or creating their empowering life. It requires work! Changing patterns one step at a time helps. Create an empowering saying (affirmation), whatever you want to call it, every evening before going to bed, and remind yourself first thing in the morning before the days happenings shape your mind for you. Believing in yourself with a focused awareness, then committing to learning one new thing to bring you closer to that achievement (action) is empowering.
Dogs don’t care if we are empowered or not. When we teach our dogs naturally, with kindness and in an effective way, they learn to get what they want (life rewards) because they enjoy it (eating, playing, touching, relaxing in their crate).
Enough for Everyone -- Every Dog: Being grateful for what I have helps to increase it for me, my dogs, loved ones and others in the universe. Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hahn book Peace in Every Step opened my eyes to appreciating every sip of tea and moment with my dogs and loved ones. Too often we zoom through life, unaware of what is going on around us. Take your dog for a walk or toss his favorite ball. For dogs, their high value rewards are similar to Thich Nhat Hahn’s Peace in Every Step. You can be mindful, peaceful and enjoy daily rituals like eating, sleeping, talking - reading - watching a good movie.
Mindful Walk: Begin by being calm and breathing. If getting your dog's leash creates too much energy, then put it in your pocket and call your dog. Wait, sit, breathe. Four paws on floor, grounded, looking adoringly at you. When you exit the door, walk slowly and with awareness, allowing them to sniff and release energy. Lunging - STOP - BREATHE. Takes about 12 times before the dog realizes s/he won’t be walking to their favorite park until they pay attention to you.
Expanding Horizons: Do I (you) already know it all? If we know it all, then we don’t get to grow! How boring. By expanding horizons (thinking outside of the box), I can dissolve limitations and take on new challenges. Life goes on in any situation. Life can be free and easy or difficult, complicated and scary. It is for dogs too! Living and learning with our dogs can teach us to accept a new way of communicating with another species. How brilliant when you have taken the time to learn how to get your dog to do something you want like get my cell phone without eating it.
Expectations are not good or bad. They can help us set goals and boundaries. They can also be demanding if not realistic. Our dogs are habitual, expecting what they had before. We are too and can become stuck in the sameness of ritual. Daily structure and organizing priorities can help keep us on track in a healthy (or not so much) way. Rigidity prevents flexibility and ability to flow when things change. And, things change.
Dog have conditions and expectations within a pack. Dogs quickly learn how to get this or that to survive. Dogs get anxious at challenging transitions - like us! Most dogs are resilient. They adapt to unfamiliar situations once they know they are safe. Strive for some balance every day, allowing for life’s imperfections because of our expectations. It’s okay.
Family (dogs are family too): Families can be biological and hand-picked (framily). All living beings are part of the family. No-one can interfere with that unless you allow them too. There is no one right or wrong family. We do not have to withstand abuse (emotional or physical). Dogs (other beings) shouldn't have to either. Ancestors who lived before me did the best they could with the knowledge they had. Letting go of family limitations and creating a new tradition is our right. Family and friend gatherings gives us the opportunity to practice patience, tolerance and compassion. This does not mean you have to be abused or mis-understood. A counselor told me, "You can leave." Simple but profound. We teach people and dogs how to treat us. Be calmly, but firmly clear with boundaries and expectations. Say "Thank you for understanding." If they don't, do they deserve to be in your life? Tough question, but one we sometimes have to face. Cell phones can be shut off, phones unplugged, e-mails protected.
Fear: Fear can block creativity and living your best life. Imagine yourself telling a story to someone you love and respect, and who respects you and knows how to consciously listen. Do you feel warmth and energy, as you fill in the details of your saga? Now, imagine telling the same story to someone who, for whatever reason, makes you uncomfortable. The twists and turns, the fine points and colorful images that unfolded in your mind probably won't present themselves. Instead of warmth, energy and creativity, you may feel shut-down, embarrassed or unsafe. By creating conditions that inspire our creativity, we can help overcome the fear of challenging ourselves. Every day, every where will be an opportunity to challenge yourself. Taking your dog for a walk down a different path may be a beginning for one person, while writing a book or climbing Mt. Everest may not be enough for others.
Our dogs “pretend” to listen to our stories. They don’t seem to mind. As a child I safely told my dog everything and felt better / heard / safer. Registered therapy dog teams know the power of sharing their pets with people and children. When someone has been hurt, abandoned, abused … trust and healing can be a rocky road. Dogs listen w/o judgment. Often, clients will talk to us through the dog.
Feelings (how dogs - nature help us): Whenever I am overly stressed, I have scary nightmares of being lost in a foreign place, alone, and can't find my cell phone. I don't know anyone or speak the language. I wake up panicky. I stop my panicky thoughts by reminding myself that I am a capable and resilient being. I've been through much worse and grown from the experience much wiser and prosperous. Several times a day, and before I go to bed, I let go of boa constrictor (limiting) thoughts. I breathe and remind myself of what I have accomplished. There is usually a dog or three surrounding me.
By creating our own feelings through thoughts that we choose, we empower ourselves to create experiences. Is it easy to change? No, but it can be done, one step at a time, with awareness and practice. Our minds can become cluttered and stuck in patterns. Paradigms (shifting to new thinking) can help us try out new ways of being.
Watch dogs playing together. Amazingly, they play seemingly unaware of everyone, especially us when we call them. This is when a good Come on Recall taught daily in a variety of environments comes in handy. If they hesitate to respond, be understanding. Dogs enjoy playing & sniffing (mentally stimulating). Go to your dog and gently take his collar, hook up the leash. Have them sit calmly for a moment, then say "go play." Do this creates trust. Play isn’t over today.
Watch birds going back and forth endlessly to create the perfect nest to have a gust of wind knock it over. Do they give up? No, they go back and forth to create it again, perhaps in between stronger branches or leaves. They don’t take anti-depressants either!
Finances: How much do we need? Financial security is nebulous and different for everyone. Financial education gives us a feeling of confidence. Believing that we have the skill and know-how to be financially comfortable is good. Being honest about our finances, what we actually need or want, is common sense. Overspending may be a way to fill voids, so explore this.
Our dogs do not know what a paycheck or 401K is. They do need basic manners, healthy food and regular Veterinary care for well-being. It is our responsibility as dog parents (adults) to be sure that when we choose to have a dog or many pets, that we connect our heart strings to our brain stem. We need to ensure their well-being.
Forgiveness: Picture carrying around a bag of heavy bricks day in and day out. Metaphorically, begin taking one brick out at a time and put in down. Then take two until the only thing on your back is your skin and clothes. Freeing our minds by accepting that we will experience pain, fear, rage and anger, but can also let them go, is like dropping that bag of bricks. We have no need to smash anyone, but if it helps, visualize throwing those bricks at every single one you feel has harmed or abused you, or your loved ones. With a deep, cleansing breath, let go and move on. Why torture yourself more for what someone else did? Forgiveness or acceptance is a healing tool that frees us. We are not responsible for what others do, only what we do. Giving up our baggage around old issues opens new pathways, new beginnings and is a breath of fresh air.
Five Agreements By Don Miguel Ruiz: 1. Be impeccable with your word. Sounds simple, but is very powerful. Regardless of what language you speak (human, Hungarian, Canid), your intent manifests through words and actions. 2. Don't take Anything Personally. If your dog tears the sofa apart while being left unsupervised for several hours, it's not about you (or the dog). It's about the situation. Taking things personally makes you easy prey for predators and dis-empowerment. Do not let someone else's emotional garbage fill your ash cans. 3. Don't make assumptions. The problem with making assumptions is that we believe they are truths. We think we know what others are saying, feeling, doing and thinking. We take things personally if our dogs want to sniff or run away on walks. In reality, they are enjoying freedom, channeling their energy outside. I do this often: make an assumption, misunderstand, then take it personally, creating a whole big drama over something I find out later had nothing to do with me. When in doubt, clarify with open-ended questions: "I'm not sure I understand. Could you repeat that? Let me see if I have this right.” If it is meaningful to you, ask. If not, let it go. 4. Always do your best. What else is there but this life as we know it? This agreement allows the other (3) to become deeply ingrained habits. Keep in mind that your best is never going to be the same from one moment to the next. Neither will your dogs! When you do your best, there are no regrets. You can always tell the "judge" in all of us or from the outside, "I did my best, so go away." 5. Don’t believe me. Don’t believe anyone else. Don’t believe yourself. Learn & listen. Educate yourself. We have the right to change our lives.
Freedom to Choose (autonomy and empowerment): We always have the freedom to choose our thoughts. No person, place or thing has the power to decide what I think. If I am not sure what I am thinking, then I fake it until I know it is true, and only if it is in my best interest. I can choose to be positive or complain, be sad or happy, mean or kind. Complaining may release us temporarily, but it does not change anything. In Train Your Dog, Change Your Life, I learned a lot of lessons while writing a book to teach others.
Awareness Centered Training - ACT helped me clarify what I know this for sure: We cannot change anyone else's behavior or response to us until we change ours. That comes with awareness. It transitions to how we present ourselves to the others, including our dogs. Releasing old patterns and beliefs takes guts. It may offend some people especially family and friends. People get use to a way of being. It's comforting, but not always healthy.
Do you fill your dog's food dish and throw it on the floor, then wonder why your dog does not pay any attention to you? Instead, show your dog that this is a meaningful experience. Read Doggy Diner. It’s FREE!
Just keep trying ...
Meditations E - F