Categotry Archives: Spirituality & Meditation
Pooches — Not only does the sun light up the whole sky with unconditional love, it lights up my pouf as well.
A cadence of peace might balance its weight
on that different fulcrum; peace, a presence,
an energy field more intense than war,
might pulse then,
stanza by stanza into the world,
each act of living
one of its words, each word
a vibration of light—facets
of the forming crystal.
~ Denise Levertov, excerpt from Making Peace
Dogs and People~ My wish for us all this holiday season is that we know love, the kind of love Neruda writes of so poignantly. His lines stop me short in a down-stay every time I read them. We dogs are naturals at opening our hearts to give and receive love. But people can also create a better world by intentionally opening the heart and attuning to the flow of love. Once you do this, you’ll feel it building all around you. Wow and woof, it’s a vulnerable but powerful place to live in the world. So to friends and important strangers alike, sending you all wags and woofs, licks and love this season and into the New Year.
Dogs, there are many types of meditation. The important thing is not what type of meditation you integrate into your life, but to choose a method that works to help you relax, gain clarity, and find balance.
Previously, I’ve barked about my doga-boga-yoga practice, tail meditation, and Chloe demonstrated her advanced ball meditation skills. Today, I want to introduce the candle gazing meditation. For dogs who have enough discipline not to nose or lick the candle, this can be an extremely relaxing meditation. However, if you think you might be tempted to touch the flame, this is definitely not the method for you! And remember, it is always best to take a long walk before you meditate. Dogs need exercise to relax.
When you are ready to begin, position yourself so your eyes are in line with the candle flame. Since my candle is elevated and I am small, I like to take a seat on my meditation pouf, and feel the weight of my belly on the chair beneath me.
Next, I put my attention on the candle flame, draw in a long, slow breath through my snout, and as I breathe out let my thoughts drop away. I breathe long, deep breaths way down into my belly, letting myself drop deeper and deeper into relaxation.
As you breathe, you may notice thoughts begin to run through your head like little squirrels: Where is my bone? When is my next walk? Am I the only dog who meditates? Don’t chase your thoughts…just allow them to come and go with your breath, bringing your focus back to the candle flame. This is your meditation practice.
Remember, it takes repetition to develop focus and relaxation. If you become distracted and start scratching behind your ears or licking your feet, it’s okay. Just come back to your meditation again and again. Each day is a new day.
When you are ready, withdraw your gaze from the flame, bring your attention back to the room, and ask your human to blow out the candle. Now you’re ready to continue with your day as a more balanced, relaxed canine. Namaste, pooches.
Nothing feels better than a wake-up stretch with your butt high in the air, paws firmly on the ground, and your front legs lengthened out in front of you. As you breathe and loosen up, your tail might even get in on the action. For us canines, Downward Dog is a pose most commonly used post nap.
While popular among people, Downward Dog is not a natural for them. So, it’s important when teaching Downward Dog to your two-legged family members to supervise carefully.
First, direct your human to come onto all fours, making sure knees are aligned under hips, hands are shoulder-width apart with fingers lightly spread. Next, the pelvis is lifted to the ceiling with hands and heels pressed toward the ground. With attention to stretching the hips to the sky, shift the weight out of the arms and back into the hips.
The dynamic push-pull of the pose from the ground to the sky represents the union of the sun and moon, the contrast of the masculine and feminine. Wow and woof…that’s cosmic.
Next, see if your human can breathe into the pose. If she can, let her relax and enjoy it. But if she is groaning, gently help her back down to the floor and give her face a lick of encouragement. Then help her into child pose.
Downward Dog isn’t for the faint of heart!
Dogs see the best in their humans. We love our people unconditionally with a steadfast persistence and loyalty. We start out fresh each morning, expecting good from our families. But even further than that, we dogs are able to see the potential of our human companions’ highest nature and expression. As we hold that vision and reflect it through our eyes, we create a pathway for our people to step into, a template of becoming. It may seem silly, but the act of rising to a dog’s respect, love, and need for care is a profound spiritual practice for those with dog companions.
Consider making it a practice to ask what you would be like if you were who your dog thinks you are? What would be different? How would your choices change? Then take a walk in those shoes and see how it feels. People who are able to see themselves through their dog’s eyes are guided to a happier, healthier, kinder, and more connected life. Like digging for a hidden bone, we help humans find what they didn’t even know they needed…but when they do find it, wow and woof!
After my post on Tail Meditation, a number of dogs wrote in to find out what namaste means. Namaste is a word of deep spiritual significance, meaning “the divine dog in me sees the divine dog in you.” It’s a way of recognizing the sacred essence in another. Namaste can be used in greeting, or when parting.
Humans translate namaste as “the God in me recognizes the God in you.” I’m not sure why they used the word dog as an anadrome. But no matter your interpretation, the important thing is that namaste reflects deep respect and the acknowledgment of the divine nature within ourselves and another. Now that’s something to pawnder.
Dogs, this meditation practice is designed especially for us canines. We all know how important it is to focus on the breath while we meditate. Humans often bring their attention to the rise and fall of the belly, or the feel of the in-breath at the nostrils. A wonderful focusing point for dogs is the tail. So, find a spot that is free of distractions (bones, cats, postal deliveries), where you are comfortable and relaxed. As you begin to focus on your breath, imagine the air flowing all the way through your entire body to where your tail begins at your lower spine. Then send your breath all the way down to the very tip of your tail. As you exhale, let go of any stress you have been carrying. This feels pawesome.
As you keep your attention on the breath, moving it to the very end of your tail, notice any sensations in that area of your body. Does it itch? Do you feel the urge to wag? Or a strong desire to chase it? Try not to respond to what you feel, but simply notice. Our tails do so much for us, and we rarely take the time to really check in with them. Then, before you finish your meditation, feel gratitude for your wag-a-lag. Start to move it slowly back and forth as you come out of this deep relaxation. Namaste, pooches.