Anyone who has shared their home and family with a particularly special dog is well aware of the value and joy this kind of relationship can bring into your life. Your dog express some of the most valuable ways of “being”, just by being who they are.
With us humans a lot of our opinions and sense of self is created by the spoken word. Dogs instead rely far less on verbal language. They interpret and convey information mostly through their senses, non-verbal communication, and energy exchange. This transmission with another creature grants you access to many new types of experiences, emotions, and feelings. Let’s explore seven powerful lessons you can learn from your dog.
1. Being in the moment
Perhaps your dog’s best quality is —presence. Just as it feels good to share time with a human who is fully present and attentive, your dog lives continually in the moment and can bring you into that state of mind simply by being around them. Just imagine the quantity and variety of thoughts your human mind has over the span of 30 seconds. Then, imagine the quantity and variety of thoughts your dog would likely have over 30 seconds. A lot less... what a relief!
In the 8 Limbs of Yoga, Patanjali outlines in the second limb what are called the Niyamas—the guidelines of yogic living and your relationship with “self.” Santosha (a Sanskrit word) is one of the Niyamas; it represents contentment. This state of happiness and total satisfaction is difficult to describe yet totally fulfilling when experienced. It’s the feeling of having all your needs met, at the deepest level of your being.
An exceptional trait of your dog in their natural state is contentment or Santosha. Fido isn’t wondering if people will treat him differently when he has that designer collar. Your dog accepts things as they are.
Judgement is a our tendency to continuously categorize things as good or bad. Although dogs have the ability to discern what they like vs. what they don’t, the details and qualifications of what their decisions are based on are very different from humans. Dogs have a simpler approach—does it bring me fear or does it bring me love? Ultimately, these are the two emotions that all other emotions are rooted in. When you see life through this simple lens, you’re able to stay centered on what matters and let go of the rest. More love. Less fear. Watch your dog demonstrate how to live with less judgement and therefore more joy.
4. Ability to adapt
Life is a twisting, turning road and the more limber you are the more easily you bend to allow life to work with you, not against you. Your dog is also subject to many ups and downs along the way. And yet again, as long as they feel safe, cared for, and near you, they can find peace. Being that dogs are so accepting of life on life’s terms, they have learned to weather the storms.
David Simon, the late co-founder of the Chopra Center, would often say, “In life, how do you get what you want? You want what you get.” Adopt a dog and watch the way they embrace and accept what is available in the new home. Sure, that bed works. Yep, this food is good. Ok … I’ll sleep in the crate.
5. Unconditional love
Your dog welcomes you into their heart and live with an innocence and reverence that not so many of us receive from our human relationships. Your dog holds you on a pedestal and as long as the bond and trust stays strong between you, their love does not falter.
It really doesn’t matter to your dog how grand the house is in which they live, what their human guardian is wearing, their job title (or lack thereof) or even how they smell. Your dog’s totally satisfied when comfortable and by your side.
Build a strong relationship with your companion animal and in turn you’ll receive all their devotion and loyalty. They easily become your #1 fan; your cheerleader no matter how you’re playing the game. It feels so good to have someone accept you for who you are, love you anyway, and support you until the end. Very often your dog knows you better than anyone else in the world and they’ve seen you at your best and worst. They forgive and forget when you’ve gone off track with them, with yourself, or with the world around you. You’re so lucky to have them!
7. Intuition over intellect
Your dog is driven by an intuitive connection that guides much of their decision-making in a natural, instinctual manner. Whether they’re deciding what their body needs, if the stranger in the living room is approachable, or how to act around that new dog at the park, their inner-wisdom leads the way. Although we aren’t able to know exactly what they’re thinking, we do know a wide array of information is received and interpreted through their senses. They combine this sensory input with their overall energetic “read” which allows them to stay more established in the heart and body than in the mind and intellect. This quality is yet another aspect of their furry operating system to be admired and emulated.
Now you’re tuned in to a few of the spiritual lessons reflected in your dog. Make it a practice to become aware of how you feel in their presence and note the qualities they inspire in you. Perhaps you’re able to encourage others to see the value and healing potential of an expanded relationship with animals. This awakening is an opportunity for us to create a more unified collective of earthlings—large and small—with LOVE as the force which binds us together.