Wagasana, greeting the day with gratefulness and curiosity!
Have you had a doga moment today!
Enjoy the Journey while creating your own with mindfulness ...
The Miracle Question (Solution Focused Therapy / story approach): "Suppose tonight, while you slept, a miracle occurred. When you awake tomorrow, what would be some of the things you would notice that would tell you life had suddenly gotten better?"
This helps to catapult us from a problem saturated context into a visionary context where we have a moment of freedom. We get to step out of the problem story and into a story that is problem-free. More importantly, it helps to clarify what it is we want either from ourselves or others. What would a problem-free life look like? Realistic? Sometimes. Helpful, almost always, because people discover that they really do or do not want change, and how much of it. Sometimes it’s BIG and other times it is about long, clustered periods of stress and/or inaction. We can discover that with focus, a plan, delegating, and with guidance, most changes can be achieved with short and long term goals, if it is truly what we want and are committed to it.
Mindfulness: Psychologist and mindfulness meditation teacher Jon Kabat-Zinn has defined mindfulness in this way: 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 and thoughtfulness 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).
All of us have habitual patterns -- our vulnerabilities to automatic reactions are based on past experiences. These are our "triggers" or "buttons" that can get pushed. This is even more amplified when we are stressed or in a hurry. Truly paying attention and saying "STOP" and taking a breath is a challenge, but can change your life (and reacting to being pro-active).
Too often we're on auto pilot, not even trying to pay attention to what's actually happening. Blissful ignorance is overused. For most people, it is rare to be aware, without some distraction or multi-tasking.
STOP or create a word to remind yourself that this can change, in the moment. Particularly under stressful situations, we find ourselves saying, "this is horrible", "I'm a jerk", "they're dumb" or "I need, want, deserve ... boohoo". In contrast, the non-judgmental quality of mindfulness brings freedom. We can see things with more clarity, evaluate situations with some distance from our habitual emotional reactions and impulses, and be pro-active in our calmer responses. We have glimpses of this potential, when we are feeling positive and relaxed.
It is important to define what mindfulness is not. Mindfulness is not about detaching from your experience and failing to emotionally engage with your life. It is not apathy. It does not kill passion. Mindfulness allows us to engage more fully with emotions and experiences, rather than knee-jerk reacting to them with habitual patterns of avoidance or acting out.
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 or ours, when it really can be “Mine, Yours and Ours.” I give “Mine, Yours, Ours” to all of 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 welcoming because they know that nothing bad will happen.
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 together -- snuggling on the floor, sofa, bed, taking a walk or training with fun games. We share popcorn and sips of Bud Lite or wine. Our time is our business, and oftentimes, means simply relaxing together with relaxed rules / boundaries. It’s a relationship!
Mirroring: Harpo Max comes to mind. Ever notice how we can talk to others, even our pets with such love and devotion, then slam ourselves while looking in the mirror (look at that wrinkle or bald spot)? Conversely, we can react to a bad day by yelling, acting out or ignoring those we love, after smiling from ear-to-ear at someone we wanted to punch.
Mirroring is mimicking the behavior we see and/or feel. Our dogs are perfect at mirroring our behaviors, and of those they engage with (Vets, Vet Techs, Trainers, Groomers).
We approach them with a calm, confident energy, they 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, or lack the patience to teach a new behavior in an understandable way, while considering what they might have already been through, then they might whine, growl, bark, shake or bite. Oftentimes, it is a warning, pre-emptive strike and saying “stay way.” Think about this carefully.
Prepare yourself and your dog for occasions where it may be more stressful. Do you have a favorite mentor, teacher or boss? What makes them special, successful or a good communicator? We can be thoroughly and completely unique and individual but still learn from role-models. If you ask, most will admit they learned from someone too. That is what we call history in the making.
For our dogs, work with them along side calmer, confident, gentle dogs. Prepare them ahead of time with desensitization (getting them use to sights, sounds, tough, people, environments).
New Beginnings: Every moment is a new beginning. Try to learn something new everyday and teach your dog something new, so they don't get bored. Try this: Instead of robotic feeding, hold the dish, drop in a kibble or whatever you feed your dog, request a sit, and give them the bowl. Watch their precious and amused expressions. “One kibble?”
We all vacillate between the old and the new, embracing tradition and new age. Becoming aware of our thoughts and words, we discover that a lot of them are negative. We can change that! A slight change in the weather (snow), doesn't mean something bad will happen. You can make snow angels or curl up with a dog and a good book.
Taking a extra moment to turn feeding your dog into a fun learning game, using it for sit, down, watch-me, stay or give me a high five, has potent benefits.
Nutrition: As cliche as this may sound, we are what we eat, and so are our dogs. Look at this as your mission, taking charge of your health, body and life. Getting educated about food is easy and confusing at the same time, but doable. We are inundated with do's and don'ts. As soon as we think we have a balanced menu planned, with a dedicated "indulge" day, someone changes the rules. Deprivation does not work any more then diets too in the long term. Life style change with healthy eating habits, moving more (exercise suited to your needs and health) and a positive mind set are vital. Move more, eat a little less, and think positive thoughts. It works! Create your own, while at the same time, doing what is best to optimize nutrition and energy for you and your dogs.
One thing I know for sure about dogs: Unless they are unhealthy, they do not thrive on a "same variety" diet for a "lifetime". Whoever came up with that notion, and it is still on the Internet, and told to many new puppy owners by Vets, is beyond me. That would be like telling us to eat pizza 7-days a week for the rest of our lives. 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 and YES you certainly can cook for your dogs, being mindful of not upsetting the balance (synergy) of what you are feeding them. It requires some thought and flexibility. 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. Choosing to erase those tapes, gives us an opportunity to re-invent ourselves just as we want to be. Change does not come easy, but it is rewarding. I know that when I get stuck (lazy really) behaving in old, familiar ways, it gives me a day to suck on my thumb (metaphor). I throw myself a pity party. 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.
Organization (letting go of clutter): 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, not ions to clear your mind. Or, are you holding onto things you cannot fit into on for a decade? Will your dog really get mad if you throw away that half chewed and bacterially infested bone?
Look around at successful people. More often then not, you will see a person who organizes their clutter at least once a year and does not have a minute of time to spare looking for something they need NOW.
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 at least a little, and brush my and my dog’s hair.
Is clutter providing a holding tank, preventing you from completing that project, making that contact or writing that book? 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 and 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 and 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 at the perfect moment -- when I am present, observing, listening -- the universe will provide if I know what I want, ask for and take action with. 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 possibly learn one more thing at this time. STOP and REST. Research says that even a 10-minute power nap will renew us. Oftentimes that pause, with a breath, before acting gives our dogs a chance to respond. Dogs who voluntarily and happily offer a behavior, and are promptly rewarded with a high value item, learn more easily and pleasantly. 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 one thing that has been bothering you.
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 very 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 bone 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 the universe and dogs guide me to paths that give me a chance to find the extra-ordinary in the ordinary. The stars, moon and the sun are all operating in Divine order, rhythm, and with a purpose. We all experience life, death, pain, sadness, grief, anger, fear, joy and love. Some of the purest forms of love come from infants and dogs. Sometimes life may seem chaotic and unfair. Choosing positive thoughts during chaos and breathing (think of the alternative), will help move chaos into calm. This too shall pass.
I 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 a planted seed growing or winning an 8 million dollar contract.
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. Energy is universal.
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. Choosing thoughts of gratitude, appreciation and compassion connects you to higher powers in the Universe. 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.
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 various therapeutic ways. In coaching, the goal is to help clients find their already built-in skills, built their resource catalog and create short and long term goals. No-one wants to feel like they are losing or stuck, but we all get that way at some point. What is at stake? Is it a family, business, losing a beloved pet? 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 you are willing to compromise 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 truth holds. 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 some areas where you can improve and get help for it too! Which feels better? When a problem seems overwhelming, breaking it down 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. Be amazed at the clarity in the morning. Have a notebook ready. Our answers come to us when we are ready to hear them.
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 a 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 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 the gifts of the Universe depends on where we are in life. What do we need, appreciate, expect? What is enough? 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