Wagasana, greeting the day with gratefulness and curiosity!
Have you had a doga moment today!
Continue the journey being true to your self and your dog ...
Relationships: The only relationship that is not temporary is the one created with myself. All the others are benefits of living and learning with dogs and their people. The one person I am forever with is me, so I better enjoy my own company. If I live with a dog, I better teach my dog to enjoy my company too. How would I like to be taught when I learn something new?
We can become lost or found in relationships.
Emotionally, relationships can drain you, including ones with our dogs. Create room for relationships but with boundaries. Living and learning with dogs is a special relationship, but the loss can run deep. Some choose to not have relationships because it can be too painful to lose them. Others simply don't know how for lack of skill. Skills can be learned. Dogs are accepting and can help us venture into the world. Like magnets they attract like-minded people with their dogs.
Process and let go of old baggage, before moving into new relationships. Cluttering up new relationships including those with our dogs, with old baggage, is a waste of time and energy. Bring your baggage to the dump. Get a few helium balloons, or create a ceremony, writing your emotion like hate or anger, and letting it float away. The mere ritual of doing this works! Get a new duffel bag and fill it with good emotions.
Releasing Habits (habitual behaviors/patterns): When we release old habits, they come back again and again, depending on how ingrained. When we train our dogs, especially adopted dogs, or dogs who have been left without any training, the new behaviors need time and repetition to be learned. It takes 100 to 1000 practices and repetitions to see new patterns happen automatically. That’s true for us too! Keep trying, don't give up, not if you want to live life to the fullest.
We get use to a way of belonging and behaving, even when it is unhealthy or painful. Hearing someone (self) say "I can't live like this or I don't deserve to be abused" is a flashing yellow neon sign. Listen to it. Changing any behavior or situation takes truth, courage, exploration and stepping, even one toe, outside of the box. Taking three steps forward, two steps back always keeps us one step ahead! Ask for help ... it's out there.
Resentment (self righteousness): As children we express our anger and glee freely. As adults, we are taught to stuff it or to keep the peace. It manifests in ill-health and resentment. When we should be feeling happy for another's accomplishments, metaphorically want to dump a bucket of water on them. Holding onto bitterness paralyzes us. Forgiving or at least accepting that what has happened cannot be changed, frees us to move forward. See Liha-L-Ligo.
If we leave our dogs in the house for longer then they are capable of being left alone, we need to forgive and forget about the sofa they shredded. If someone hurts us, we have to re-set our boundaries, teaching them how to treat us.
Dogs, especially puppies, need guidance and boundaries too. It is self righteousness to think that they (or anyone) should automatically KNOW what to do. Teaching people (or dogs) how to treat us is a better way.
Can't teach an individual how to treat you respectfully? Maybe it's time to stop the bus and let that individual off. Say bye-bye, adios, au revoir, ciao, chau ...
If that person who you dropped off learns new ways of being with you and says "I'm sorry, I can try to change", then consider opening the door. It is your life and your choice. Dog Talk Media - The Learning Zone.
Resilience: Studies have been done on twins separated at birth who grow up with different levels of resilience. One may become a drug addict, while the other is a successful business person. Each of us is born with resilience. It is a "bounce back" mechanism that kicks in when something bad happens. Developing resilience is a skill. If you fall off a bike, get back on. If you lose a job, find another calling. If your dog passes away after 14 years of devoted companionship, grieve and then decide what is best for you. If you house burns down, embrace what you do have - your life, loved ones, pets. This is not only a Buddhist mindset, it is a way of thinking for many cultures. Explore countries (families) in desperate need. What do these people do to survive? They grieve, keep on hoping, breathe and survive. Trust your instincts and intuition. We are born with survival skills. Amazingly, the reserves kick in just we feel that we don't have one inch left to give.
Responsibility: One thing is certain about living – change and dying. Nothing remains the same forever. During the journey, we are not responsible or to blame for every single thing that happens to us or those we care about. The same power that creates experiences can also change them. Recently, I lost a beloved Greyhound after nine blissful years of companionship. It was a wrongful death. I was upset, angry and took responsibility for my feelings. I took her untimely death and created a positive learning experience for others. Not to be glossed over, people responsible should take responsibility for their actions too. Blaming and guilt were a waste of time. Reaching out to others to create change was a responsible thing to do.
Tia is wagging me to her every day with messages of love. She is a beacon for change, Prancing in the Sky. Taking responsibility and creating positive, educational awareness and change gives us purpose. What can do today to make a difference?
Safe Sex (for humans and dogs--:) It is no news that the world is becoming overpopulated. They say that if everyone in China jumped up and down at the same time, the earth would tilt on it's axis. I giggle when I think about this, but not when our shelters are full every year with too many dogs and cats, that through no fault of their own but being born, will be euthanized. If we have self-esteem and respect for others, what other way is there then to practice safe-sex (people) and no sex (pets). How much do we love ourselves or our pets if we perpetuate this global travesty? Awareness, education, relationship and well-being with a strong dose of common sense and respect for others will help to balance the already burdened planet.
Sanctuary (Centered and Safe in my own place): We have a small training and wellness sanctuary for dogs and their humans. For awhile we thought about what to do because of bigger, better and one-stop-shopping. Today's busy multi-tasking families want to be able to do it ALL, in ONE PLACE. We thought we should expand, then took pause and a breath. We are glad we did. The trend to have it all is being balanced by the need for simplicity. In corporations, managers are looking for a variety of people skills, but also those who can be creative, not just analytical. We can learn from TV, DVD and WiFi. We can practice new languages on line and train our dogs from watching You Tubes. What we have discovered though is something is missing. Could it be one-on-one contact, talking, feeling and processing? Working with our children and dogs is more enriching then sending them to a computer. Blended learning is a necessity in successful school systems, including post graduate levels. We do not all learn the same way. Some of us thrive on a combo of visual, audio and doing. Create a refuge for yourself where you can escape every day even for 10-minutes.
Imagine rowing off in a boat with your dog (or by yourself) to a quiet place. Breathing ... exhaling ... calming your mind and body, so you can return renewed to whatever version of the real world you choose. What is best way for you to learn? How about your dog?
Scan and Switch: In Awareness Centered Training, ACT training classes and for potential therapy dogs, we teach the dog parent how to SCAN and SWITCH. This simple technique can be used everywhere, at any time. Simply, take a deep breath, look around, look alive, and be aware of what’s happening to you and/or your dog (family, friends, work). An example is on a walk with our dogs. We can’t control the environment. It’s powerful. We can empower ourselves and our dogs by scanning and knowing what may set off a target of behaviors like lunging, barking either from our dog or other people and dogs. SWITCH your dog behind you to the other side. It’s easy to teach AND is a required part of testing for crossing a “neutral dog” in Team Evaluations. You place yourself in a better position to manage an unfamiliar situation. Use your legs, body, voice calmly, letting people know, “Please keep your dog over there until the energy Is better balanced.” Or, simply say, “I’m walking peacefully today and prefer you didn’t let your dog come over.”
Self-Love: Self love is appreciating the miracle that is a gift of life. Each individual, each puppy is unique. Love and grief are two of the most powerful emotions. When one love ceases to be in the physical form, believing in a powerful spiritual energy is, for me, a reason to live on. Loving ourselves is not conceit. Conceit is a layer that we may or may not experience that says "I'm better than you are." If you are waiting for the right moment to choose self-love, the time is now. Look in the mirror and say
“I love you just as you are.” Look at your dog and enthusiastically say, “I love you, we can learn together.”
Self-Talk (Dog-Talk): The blah, blah, blahs ... Our thoughts can drive us crazy, make us laugh and then drive us insane once again. People express their emotions in different ways, externally and internally. Finding a balance so that internalizers don't become toxic and externalizers don't harm others can be a daunting task. We all have a unique role to play on this Earth. Self talk can be positive or negative. Usually, we experience a combination of both. Recognizing when it is tipping to one side or the other is a point of power where you can create changes of perception. Through-out the day, try to catch the thought you are thinking. Ask yourself, "do I want to this thought to be part of who I am or to create my future?" If not, let it flow, like a helium balloon into the sky. Bye-bye. Saying “stop” helps. When you say STOP, the brain listens long enough to take control over your flowing thoughts.
Dogs communicate through body language and vocalizations. Their meet and greet rituals are different then ours (circling, sniffing, pyramiding, peeing. This is their calling card like our "hand-shake." Honor and learn from it. When we interfere in a pure interaction dog-to-dog, we are taking our dog's freedom of navigation away to safely be in a dog pack. This is how they learn their signals and meet/greet savvy. When it's safe, allow them this dog pleasure, while you guide them.
Sit: We sit to eat, at meetings, to meditate, watch TV, listen to music, observe nature. Dogs sit to sit, to observe or because we want them too. Getting dogs to sit is easy. They learn to sit at 2-weeks old. Our quest is to teach how, when and with what cue. Using a treat, we can easily coax a dog into a savvy sit using their strongest sense, the nose. Waiting for them to sit and rewarding with a “good sit and treat” works equally as well. Either way, sit is akin to us being polite, saying please and thank you. How many things can your dog NOT DO when sitting (jumping, stealing, lunging, knocking things over, running off)?
Spirituality: The laws of energy are always operating. Spirituality is a personal preference. Mine comes in the form of a high power, nature and dogs. What is yours? It can be a chance meeting while walking on a path, or it can hit me like a sledgehammer, when I feel exhausted. Something urges me, usually a dog, to try a different path or approach. When I listen, I hear. When I'm ready, the Spiritual Law will show it itself. I have always felt like a late bloomer. When the time is right, and I am calm enough to listen and hear, the answers will appear. I can learn at my own pace. I have the time.
Stay: Stay, be still, breathe. Look up the definition of stay. Stay can range from a long rope employed to support a mast, to support, resist successfully, or to remain for the purpose of. Staying in place for whatever reasons can be relaxing for some and excruciating for others.
Teaching our dogs Stay is as vital as looking before crossing the street. Along with sit and come, stay can save a dog’s life. Dogs can stay for 3-minutes in competition or wait for a few seconds while you open the door. They can wait and stay before carrying bags of groceries (we practice walking our dogs in training class.) Teach Stay with meaning and respect, beginning with small steps back and in. Using hand and/or voice signals, ask for Stay multiple times a day. A dog who stays , waiting patiently, learns self-control, and is a joy to live with, just like a person who listens until you finish your sentence ... Ahhh ...
Success: Very different in meaning for everyone. What is success to you? I have all the ingredients to create a good meal, but oftentimes, I choose to improvise. We are all different in our approach to success. Every mistake or positive experience is one more step to whatever it is I am trying to achieve. Amazingly, the original goal sometimes changes as newer, more exciting ones present themselves. I am complete as I am, so can choose to do more or less.
Support (groups -- connections): I have enough breath to last me for as long as I shall live. Support groups / connections with others are easy to find, but one size does not fit all. Without choice, commitment, an open-mind and willingness to listen, you may as well stay home. Some bode well with regular meetings / connections, while others prefer to take a more personal path. Knowing we are not alone helps, but it is different for everyone. Life offers opportunity for good health and support. It’s your choice.
Thoughts (cognitive -- created -- changing -- we are what we think): Our thoughts can be our best friends or worse nightmare. They weave in and out of our minds all day, and into our dreams. They are tapestry of our lives. Like a blank canvas, we can choose our thoughts, colors and reactions. We can let them happen, learn, let them go. Meditation, even for a few minutes, gives us a strong hold, like a fort. We sit, breath, let the thoughts flow, choosing what to focus on or not. If negative thoughts overpower the joyful ones, take charge. Rather then controlling others or things we have no control over, we can control our thoughts, and change our lives. Let them flow in and out like waves. Let negative thoughts pass like clouds on a summer day. After a rain shower, look for the rainbow. Gently giving yourself permission, channel your thoughts in empowering ways.
Time: There is a wise saying: "I always arrive at the right place at the right time." We can choose to feel rushed or take this time to breathe. All is well and we arrive where we need to be at the time we need to be there. Someone shared once that when they are trying to make a deadline, and are hurrying, the ticking of the clock gets louder and louder until it is almost deafening. Then, they get a headache. That's a clear warning. Take a break, a breath and move the clock. A good approach is to set an alarm for a specific amount of time, and stop when the alarm goes off. Tomorrow is another day. There goes my alarm, time to open the Doggy Diner, and I completely enjoy watching my dogs eat for that 30 seconds and their eager expression for more!
Transition: Transitions can be positive or paralyzing. Whether human or dog, we all deserve time to process transition (a move, death, new job, adopted dog, new baby). Whatever transition is for you, take the time and give others the time to process it. Know that what we are feeling is okay. Choosing thoughts and beliefs that are encouraging, supportive and loving lead to freedom. Responding to transition in a way that empowers, rather than deliberates, is doable. Stop, breathe ... and know that in 10 minutes, 10 days, 10 months from now, things will be better. What seemed like a mountain to climb (Sisyphus - pushing a boulder uphill) may look like an ant hill in a year (or a week, day, 10 minutes).
Truth: One of my favorite teachings comes from Byon Katie's The Work. I've been repeating these questions to myself for years. It works! We all have what we perceive to be the truth. In all aspects of living and learning with dogs, we can avoid the pitfalls of confusion when we ask 4 questions: 1. Is it true? 2. Can you absolutely know it's true? 3. How do you react when you believe this thought? 4. Who would you be without the thought?
Whether it is as simple as "my dog is mad at me, so ate my slippers" or more serious issues like "my father abused me, my mother didn't love me, I was mugged, my husband hit me, or my dog bit me", ask these questions and allow what happens to flow. What others do to themselves or to us does not define who we are or can be.
Often, we create stories for a variety of reasons. Remaining stuck in the muck can feel safe. When we change, everyone around us has to change and/or adapt. That may mean turning the status quo onto it's noggin. We are no longer the yes person, accepting all that is thrown our way (society, generationally, Internet, books, advertising, aversive dog training techniques). We decide, instinctually and intuitively and trust it, even if we make a mistake. Mistakes are how we learn to empower ourselves and become independent, free thinkers. Letting go knowing that it may happen again because we are creatures of habit, then trying again to do it differently is growth. Take 3-steps forward, 2-steps back, but always be one step ahead of the game of life. Liha-L-Ligo.
Trust: Usually we have all we need to survive. Anchoring our thoughts in our own truth and loving our decisions, right or wrong, we can make our way safely through any storm. There is a saying in mindfulness: mind like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. Lakes become oceans. Waves flow in and out. Emptying your mind is not easy, but with practice, you can learn to let distractions float by with ease. When we quiet our minds, we hear our intuitions / messages. Listen to them because they are meaningful. Energetic, frightened or vibrating dog? Calm the mind, calm the dog, and the rest will happen.
Meditations Q - T