Relax, Renew, Enjoy … Taking Lessons from Our Animal Friends

The theme for this issue revolves around relaxation and enjoyment as a way of renewing ourselves. Who among us hasn’t, as a child, enjoyed laying in the cool grass on a summer’s afternoon soaking up the sun’s rays? How about dangling our feet in the cool water of a lake, a stream, or even a swimming pool? Do you remember lying out under the stars trying to find pictures of animals in people? As children, we seemed able to easily relax into such wonderful experiences. As an adult, some of us think of bugs and sunburn if lying in the grass even pops into our heads! Or, instead of stopping to take our shoes off and dangle our feet in a stream, we think about possible pollution in the water, or about getting to the other side and getting on with our walk.
Our animals can be great teachers for us, because they model some of the very behaviors that gave us endless hours of pleasure as children. When I am working from home on a sunny day, I occasionally glance out of my window to see what my animals are up to. They, unlike their poor misguided human, are connecting with Mother Earth and Father Sky in their own unique way of relaxing and renewal. The horses are usually napping in the sun, rolling in the cool mud, or casually looking for a stray blade of grass. The dogs are snoozing in the sunshine or slowly sniffing their way across the yard, enjoying all the smells. Our cat Diana is out there with them, either napping alongside one of the dogs or on top of a fence post surveying her domain. Sometimes I wonder who the more intelligent species in our household is. The cats say they are.
How do your animals model relaxation and rejuvenation? Is it an activity you can join them in, just to see what it feels like? While I do draw the line at rolling in the mud with the horses, I do sometimes stand with them in the early morning or late evening and just enjoy the sensation of being STILL, of noticing the smells and sounds, the wind, and the sky. I sit on our back porch and enjoy a few quiet moments watching the sun set with our dog Obi. It is through our animals that we are reminded of connection to Earth and Sky, to our world, in a very direct and personal way.
May I challenge each of you to observe the animals that you live with, pick out one behavior or activity that they do when relaxing (outside if possible), and actually do that activity WITH them? Notice how you feel before and after. To add a new twist to the exercise, ask them to share with you how they are feeling, what they are seeing, smelling, tasting, and feeling while they are engaged in the activity. You can even ask them to actually allow you to experience the activity in the same way they do. We once observed a couple of lizards belonging to a friend reacting to a train passing nearby. We asked them to show us what they were doing and they allowed us to experience their absolute enjoyment of the VIBRATION of the train. It was like an amusement park ride for them!
When you are done, hopefully you will have relaxed, breathed deeply, and experienced being one with the Universe… and spent some quality moments with your beloved pet.

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