Our relationship with pets is funny. Dogs and cats in particular are intelligent, so we tend to take liberties with them, treating them like people.
We overfeed them when we feel they might be “sad or need attention”, shower them with the same type of affection and conversation that we would people. Ever actually watched dogs and cats being hugged? While they love cuddling and petting. They hate hugs. Hugs are suffocating for them and stimulate fight or flight energy. The Dog Whisperer was an entire TV series devoted to simply teaching people that dogs are not humans and to truly be happy cohabitating with them we must be attentive to and respect the differences.
If we’re truthful about it, we subconsciously believe animals (along with the rest of life: sun, moon, stars, plants and other people) are here FOR us. These relationships are mostly centered around our own needs, which invariably leads to some type of exploitation regardless of how well intentioned we are. Since any form of exploitation of life inevitably leads to others, becoming conscious through our relationships with people, animals and plants is our only means to having healthier more fulfilling relationships with them.
Living in Harmony
The life on this planet isn’t just a massive, random combination of species, it’s a symphony orchestra working together. In the orchestra we call life the performance is always on, whether we’re doing our own thing or consciously participating with the other players is the only question. We must be attentive to the other musicians in the orchestra in order to compliment them. Who you think is important, or even whether or not you believe others to be fully attentive is inconsequential. YOU are here to play a role. Knowing this, how can you compliment the orchestra we call life today in this moment?
TV shows like The Dog Whisperer and self-help talk shows can give us crucial “how to” tools to manage relationships like those with pets when we’ve become disconnected. However, isn’t it fundamentally more important to explore connectedness with life as a state of being? Consciousness is a connection that allows you to read what life, or the orchestra around you needs as it’s happening, instead of just constantly seeking new ways to suck at the teat of life, to consume its resources.
But why do I need to address the needs of others? Shouldn’t I prioritize my own needs?
Ever noticed how (in many cases) it’s more satisfying to give a gift than it is to receive one? This is because when you take time to learn about what other people, plants and animals need you are immediately released from your personal drama. It allows you a break from yourself, to truly be with life on life’s terms. Which then gives you the perspective to see yourself for what you really are, a small piece of an enormous puzzle. As depressing as this may seem to those of us who stake our identity on being big, on commanding life to yield to our terms, being small is actually the bigger liberty. Being that puzzle piece, that role player, who is attentive to and fills in gaps where needed allows you to be fluid, adapt and flow through the world. It also frees you from the fear of “making mistakes” because your ego, your need to look good is no longer guiding and stifling your decisions.
Letting go of the ego is equivalent to being on a spiritual path. Eventually all paths lead to the same destination. Spirituality is about connectedness to what is happening within and everything outside (people, nature, bird, insects etc). It is only when you are connected within that you can connect to everything around you. That means acknowledging your emotions and thoughts and deciding to give them less importance and make LIFE the primary focus of our attention instead. This simple change in perspective can bring wonderment to our own process of life.
“The only reason why someone is a mystic and someone is not, is lack of attention. Someone is an artist, someone is not. Why? Lack of attention. Someone can shoot straight and someone cannot. Why? Lack of attention. From the simplest to the highest things, it is just lack of attention..”–Sadhguru
Start by focusing your attention on the seemingly “small things”, the ants on the ground, the way the trunks, bark and branches of each tree you pass on your daily walk are unique. Everything in nature is blessed with a certain intelligence, so looking and noticing in and of itself will allow you to take in information which will guide you to know how to respond.
Living well ultimately means revering all of the other pieces of the puzzle, everything around you, without discrimination. Reverence can come in the form of gifts. But what is a gift really? Gifts are an expression of attention. What gifts have you given today?
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