One of the most common messages I hear in my sessions is the request, or warming in some cases, to SLOW DOWN. When we hear these words, we automatically think of danger ahead. However, it is not always danger that inspires our companions to give us this message. Mainly, it is love.
When we rush from one place to another, one task to another, one thought to another, we are not enjoying life. We are not present. We are not, can not, be fully engaged in what we are doing at the moment. While doing one thing, we are mentally already on the next. Animals are not like this. Children are not either. Watch them for any length of time and you will see how they are fully present in what they are doing. Then, when they are finished, they stop and move on. They are not teetering between two things.
So what are the benefits of slowing down and why is it so important for our companions to remind us to do so? On a physical level, it is much healthier for us to focus on one thing at a time and be more present. It has something to do with the chemicals we create in our body when there is a perceived crisis, which multi-tasking can mimic. I don't have statistics for this, it is just based on my opinions from observations and reading. Another benefit of slowing down is enjoyment. Remember that? Enjoying life?
When you are fully engaged in something, you can really enjoy the moments and activity. This sometimes takes practice. We live in a culture designed to race from one thing to another. We are programmed to have our phones with us 24/7 and are expected to share every moment as it happens. This takes away from living the moment fully. Put the phone away. Enjoy that sunset with free hands. Hike without talking to someone on the phone. Instead, focus on your breathing, the trees, the new plants, and the wildlife. If something moves you to take a picture, take it and then put the phone away again.
One of the things being present allows is learning about ourselves. Without rushing around and all the excess chatter, we can truly see and feel what we enjoy. We learn about what makes us smile organically. What fills our hearts with joy and excitement. As you experience new things, make a list of these moments, so you can utilize them to create a more joyful world. It is also about realizing what you really do not like. With clearer knowledge of this, we can eliminate them when possible. (You can't eliminate your job, but you can start looking for another one that will be more satisfying!)
When you watch your animal companions, notice how they act. They walk away when something they don't like is presented to them. They engage when it is something they enjoy. Walking dogs is not only for their physical needs. It is also an opportunity for them to explore. They smell who is around by sniffing everything. They learn about their environment and in this way can set their internal GPS and find their way home. Don't rush every walk. Take the cues from your companion and look at your surroundings. See your neighbors, smell the air, and focus on your breath. You will notice that you enjoy the walks more and so will your companion. I used to talk to Little Bear while walking. It reminded me of how I used to talk to my little ones when I had them out in the strollers. I was present with them and we bonded. It is one of my favorite memories with my children and Little Bear, and it was because I remained present and engaged.
Here is a quote from Finding Joy: A Dog's Tale. Little Bear says, " I do not think humans understand what life is about; rather, they think of life as a series of chores and acquisitions, instead of enjoying life and being present in each moment. The feel of the Sun shining on your back, watching a butterfly flutter about, rolling around in the grass, listening to the songs of the wind, or sitting next to each other and listening to each other's heartbeats; these are the things that matter most".
I learned a lot about myself and life from my children and Little Bear. I continue to learn from the animals through my communication with them. Keep it simple. Go back to basics. Be present. SLOW DOWN. Life can be very beautiful if we let it.
Finding Joy: A Dog's Tale can be found on Amazon, Barnes & Noble online, and other online retailers. An Author autographed copy can be purchased by emailing your request and mailing address to firstname.lastname@example.org Payment of $18 includes shipping to Continental US.