5 Qualities of Being You Can Learn from Your Pooch
By Amanda Ree Ringnalda of Sama Dog
The soul of a dog is a very special expression of consciousness, as anyone who has ever known and loved a dog well understands. Animals have the capacity to teach us reverent, timeless spiritual truths simply by being who they are.
An indicator of progress along your spiritual path is when you start to see or “recognize” spirit within other beings. As your heart awakens to the Divine light shining within all souls, life becomes more rich, meaningful, and fulfilling. We naturally come to treat all other beings with more reverence, kindness and respect. This is ultimately the path of yoga (the Sanskrit word for union.)
Let’s take a closer look at five qualities of being you can learn from your marvelous dog friends.
Living in the Moment
This is a profound spiritual teaching all animals have mastered. Sure, a stimulus of some kind can trigger a memory in their minds, which then prompts a certain reaction. But soon after, animals always return to the present moment. It’s their most natural state of being. Just as time spent around a friend who is light-hearted and upbeat can make your perspective more positive, spending time around a being who is entirely present helps bring you to that state as well.
Just look deep into your dog’s eyes and feel how that moment engulfs you. When dogs gaze back at us, with their non-judgmental awareness and total acceptance, we’re able to surrender to the experience and be entirely present in return. Dogs don’t have hang-ups about time or aging, or worry about what they’re going to do about some future event that may or may not happen. Their concept of time is completely different from ours. Think of when you step outside to get the mail and come back inside to a celebration as if you’d been gone a year! The mind of a dog is easily able to rest on just one thought for a duration of time. Imagine your pup at the park… play, play, play, oh! Sniff, sniff, sniff, ah! Ball, ball, ball… you get the idea. Imagine an existence with so few thoughts! Ahhh…
This is a state of being which is capable of changing our entire life experience. When we’re able to completely surrender to what is, an inner stillness sets in and we lose the incessant desire to control every situation and outcome.
Pay close attention to how your dog demonstrates acceptance. Pause a couple times today to observe when and how they display this quality of being. Notice how they’re typically content in whatever circumstances they find themselves in, as luxurious or meager as they may be. Dogs really are masters of the saying, “Let go and let God.”
This is something that’s as natural to a dog as breathing. Living in the moment, they don’t have an agenda like people often do, and so this is likely why they’re able to act so selflessly; their “I, me, and mine” is out of the picture. It could be said that that their Dharma or purpose in life is selfless service, called Seva in Sanskrit. It seems that when they’re helping others and they’re cared for, they feel such joy and reward that it motivates them to do more and more of it. Sure there are times when it might not feel this way, like when they don’t come when called or sneak food off the table. But think of the joy when they finally master a new trick you’ve been trying to teach them, the way they light up from simply having pleased you.
And when it really matters, they are always willing to give what they have to offer: an excitement they can barely contain when you come home from a tiring day at work, a sweet cuddle when you’re feeling lonely, or simply that sweet, loving look in their eyes. It’s often said that a dog is the only creature who loves you more than it loves itself. There are in fact countless stories of dogs who instinctively and without any hesitation gave their own life for the sake of their human’s.
This is ever-present in dogs and bubbles over at a moment’s notice; they’re perpetually ready for the party to begin. A dog’s natural state is bliss, also known as Ananda in Sanskrit. Their light-hearted nature and unselfconscious silliness has a tendency to rub off on whomever they come into contact with.
Have you ever been just hanging out with your dog and notice that you have a huge smile on your face? Your laughter fuels their quirky character, bringing joy to everyone around. Observing the same qualities of being from another perspective, you can see that even animals who are subject to abuse or used in animal testing have an innate peace about them, at least when they’re not in acute pain (and sometimes even then too). Their natural state is that of the witness perspective, the silent presence that observes life’s ebbs and flows without judgment, which allows bliss to be ever-present.
Desire for Unity
This is innate in most sentient beings. Our canine companions usually love nothing more than simply being near us. Even a shy dog who may not want to physically touch or get too close still prefers to be in the same room with us rather than in another. No matter where we go (even to the loo), our trusty friends want to be by our side and keep an eye on us. They’ll park themselves right next to us and most of the small ones (and sometimes even big ones) find laps to be the ideal sitting spot.
Unity (which is the definition of the word Yoga) is a dog’s default point of view; they don’t see themselves as separate from other things. They don’t have the same judgements humans tend to hold about their differences. This is demonstrated in the many cases in which different species of animals grow up together. Even if the species normally would not be friendly, or if one would typically prey on the other, as fully grown animals they will often stay bonded, comfortable around each other, and unaware of their differences.
Dogs have so much to teach us about what it means to be a good human. Their open hearts shine unconditional love and light on everyone they touch, regardless of who they may be, and encourage our hearts to blossom in turn. They are our companions not only in life, but on the spiritual path we all travel together. Just look deeply into your beloved dog’s eyes and have the first-hand experience of “Namaste” — the light within me sees the same light within you.