For the last week and a half I've been watching two extra dogs. The feeding, exercising, and grooming responsibilities doubled - and I spend more time contemplating the dogs' lives.
Tending to my two hounds is a source of great love in my life and I take pride in caring for them. Lately - As I open myself to listening deeper to all of life - they've been telling me and showing me what's important to them in their life.
There are 5 things I observed as essential to a great day for a dog and make the most impact on their happiness and well being:
1) Solo time with quality presence
2) Collective play / exercise
3) Grooming / receiving
4) (safe or structured) Freedom
5) Sense of routine
(and obviously food and water :) )
When each dog gets enough of each point - there is a dense peace in the house. At the end of the day; there is a felt sense of serenity - and an 'all is right in the world' feeling.
When my boy, Hanuman doesn't get the exercise or 1:1 time he deserves, there's a chaotic witching hour after dinner. In an effort to burn the energy he's been holding all day - he runs circles in the house looking for trouble or someone to play with. He'll fight sleep by thrashing around in the bed and making loud moaning sounds directly in my face.
Can you relate to that? Have you ever found yourself at the end of a dissatisfying day and picked a fight with someone?
Supported by these 5 things - at the end of the day - everyone is tired, loved, and it's easy for them to surrender to sleep.
After dinner until bed it's as if someone laid a tranquil blanket over the whole house.
As a coach and teacher - always playing with how to improve my routine for maximum whatever I need at the time: It occurred to me...
When I get all 5 of these things in my day- I feel better too!
It's an added built in bonus when caring for these animals is a direct tool for serving myself.
These simple practices support me feeling in my body, seen, and free. Just like my inherent nature. My true self.
1) Solo time with quality presence - Those of you who study with me know that I am pretty much just a broken record of talking on presence. It's the key to saving ourselves and each other. When I sit with myself in contemplation, meditation, or relaxation as if I'm laying down with one of my dogs - there is a sense of being seen. I use the same presence I would using in listening and watching them unconditionally. In that presence whoever is being felt and seen can totally rest in that space. When I do this for myself - everything falls into place. In the midst of challenge even - I can feel that everything is okay.
2) Collective play / Exercise - It's just gotta be fun. Point blank. When I just set myself free to act like a fool, dance around, sing, scrap, exclaim - there's a deep honoring to my inner child. Something inside smiles - whole heartedly. And that. is. deeply. nourishing. Play for no reason! No one needs you to be a robot - if they do - you should get better people. (more on this in another blog)
3) Grooming / Receiving - I consider it a necessity to brush and massage each dog every day. The brushing doesn't always happen, but if I make this a priority - I see a great impact. They are basically getting a massage, and we all know how renewing that can be. It's the same for us. I equate the 'grooming' with my daily practice of self massage. From head to toe, every day, I give myself the gift of service and graceful loving touch to every inch of me. In that way - I get to receive the healing elements of my presence through my hands. I choose to take on UNCONDITIONAL presence - which means I'm not looking for things to dislike about my body - I'm loving her and welcoming her into deep embodiment of her beauty. (more on this in another blog) I find when this happens, in an intentional way, I feel fed from a place deep within. The receiving piece could also look like listening to a meditation recording or yoga nidra. You can certainly go receive a service from someone else - but I think tapping in daily to self receiving is very powerful. I also associate receiving with pleasure. What is your relationship to receiving pleasure? From yourself? From your environment, circumstances, loved ones?
4) Freedom! Okay - this is huge. We all inherently want to feel free. The dogs find freedom in their electric fence most of the day. They have plenty of space to run and they do. But, every other day or so I'll take them on a hike in the woods off leash. The difference is amazing. Set free! To do whatever they want, smell, run, galavant, swim! We choose remote trails so we hardly run into anyone. When we're on familiar trails they run far and wide, and on less familiar trails (at least on the way there) they stay close. I trust their instincts and I trust them to come back - but the more I give them full permission to go wild - the more dog like they get to be - the happier and healthier they are. Giving myself freedom each day looks like following my heart more - listening to my intuition- with my schedule, what I decide to eat, how I use my body, and the activities I choose to do and HOW I choose to do them. Freedom is going to look differently for each of us - Consider: how could you invite yourself into more freedom?
5) Sense of routine - It's clear that the dogs appreciate a level of sameness. Particularly around feeding schedule, going to bed and getting up. When they can expect what's happening next - to some extent - they can relax in the support of the structure. For me - it's the same :) While staying flexible and free in the flow of each day, when I can know the basics of what to expect - I can relax and feel more present and productive throughout the day. There have been times I've resisted routine - but I'm going all in (again, still staying flexible) and now I notice how much time I was spending stressing about the routine when there was less of one.
May you treat yourself as you would the most deserving and loving of beings.
May you rest in the support of your own presence, play, pleasure, receiving, movement, freedom, and routine.
May all beings be safe and protected.
For more information on Ayurvedic Self massage
In the Comments section below - let me know! - what is one point you're stepping more fully into this week? Or what 1 action are you willing to take to make your next 24 hrs more doggylicious!