3 reasons animals make the best meditation teachers

Can I admit something to you? It isn’t always easy for me to meditate. There are so many “human” challenges that can trip me up—an overactive mind that refuses to quiet, difficulty in accepting the present moment, or being so busy my energy is scattered all over the place. I want to share with you my secret weapon to strike down these obstacles and ensure a more powerful meditation: the animals.

You see, in my work with animals and Reiki over the years, I began to notice something interesting; when I would meditate and my animals would happen to be present, I found myself able to quiet my mind and be present with an open heart much more easily. I began to realize that perhaps I should rethink the way I approached my own meditation practice. Meditating alone is all well and good, offering numerous health benefits that have been backed by science. But when I began to meditate with the animals and follow their lead, all of the benefits of meditation I had always experienced began to improve. Here are three ways animals helped me become a better meditator:

1. It’s easier to stay present and peaceful in the moment with our animals. If we are trying to meditate but our intellectual minds keep analyzing, judging and interpreting everything (which is just natural for us, really), the animals will often mirror this agitation. The more we feel ourselves shift into a state of quiet, and the more we can just “be,” the more we can see the animals relax. I can always tell what state I am in by how the animals around me are responding to my presence. A peaceful mind and peaceful heart means peaceful animals. In addition, animals have a natural calming presence. So when we have trouble letting go, and we’re stuck inside past problems or future fears, simply sitting with our animals can help to calm our energy, quiet our thoughts and take us to this moment right now.

2. Animals help our hearts to open, so that we can radiate our inner compassion. According to a 2013 study by Northeastern University, those who practice mindfulness meditation feel more compassion for others. But sometimes, compassion can be a difficult feeling to tap into. That’s where the animal factor comes in: Animals show so much unconditional love for us, we just can’t help but open our hearts when we are with them. If we are with our animals during our meditation practice, our inner compassion arises effortlessly because we are already opening our hearts to our animals at that moment. This compassion will radiate out to all animals … and even ultimately to the world.

3. Animals helped me realize an informal meditation can be just as effective. Some people think, “Oh, I have to light a candle and sit on this cushion to meditate.” And that sometimes works well, but it’s also very limiting. Meditation isn’t about escaping the world, shutting our eyes and sitting in a stiff position. The most important purpose of meditation is to bring compassion to our lives, and the truth is we have to learn to take our practice off of the cushion, bringing this compassion with us into the world. What the animals teach us by their compassionate presence is very freeing: That truly any moment in our lives can be a meditation. We can practice peaceful presence while sitting, walking or standing—cuddling our cat, walking the dog or standing in a pasture with our horse. You see, this is how our animals live already, and they can show us how to live this way too.

Meditation is about bringing all of our energy here to this present moment, and opening our hearts to the peaceful power that exists in the now. Animals are always present, they don’t judge like we do, and they live life with an open heart. They are my best meditation teachers: mirrors, reflecting to me how I should be, and lights, guiding me along the path of inner healing.

How have animals helped your meditation practice?

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Kathleen Prasad

Kathleen Prasad is an entrepreneur, author, educator, spiritual seeker and animal advocate living in beautiful Marin County, California, with her husband, daughter, dog and two horses. She loves being with animals, listening to hip-hop, eating out at vegan restaurants, riding dressage, hiking in the redwoods and traveling the world to meet animal people.
You can learn more about Kathleen here.

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Comments (9)

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    Frans Stiene

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    Hi Kathleen,
    Great article. It reminds me of all the Taoist practices with animal names, like crane, tiger, you name it. For me those practices have come into being by observing animals and their natural organic flow.
    Thus they are helping me to be like them, no judging, just Being. Those old master saw that humans are too intellectual but if we could copy the animals we would hopefully one day go back to our original state of mind, our true nature so to speak. Nature is the example but modern day life is so far removed from nature.

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      Kathleen Prasad

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      Hi Frans, thanks for your comments. Yes I love the Taoist animal teachings I have read about. I loved that book Opening the Dragon Gate – there were some interesting things about animals in there. As you say we seem to make things always so complicated when the truth is about simplicity.

      Reply

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        Frans Stiene

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        Hi Kathleen,
        Yes we seem to make it so complicated indeed! 😉
        Better to keep it simple and natural.
        Love
        Frans

        Reply

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    Jena

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    This is so perfect. I meditate so much more deeply with my cat in my lap and my dog by my side, and feel more refreshed at the end. They always seem to know when I am getting ready to meditate — or do Reiki on myself and somehow materialize at just the right time.

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      Kathleen Prasad

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      Hi Jena, Thanks for sharing! That is wonderful that your cat and dog help you when you meditate. I think they also just love the centering that meditation brings 🙂

      Reply

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    christine

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    I am glad to see your article, I had been told to keep animals out of my room when meditating, but I never followed that advice. I am a horrible meditator, I have so much trouble quieting my mind but realized one day that when my cat would start purring I could focus on her purr and it helped me to quiet my mind.
    I am new to your site and very glad I have found you. Hope to take your Animal Reiki workshop!!

    Reply

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      Kathleen Prasad

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      Would love for you to take the course Christine 🙂 Our animals teach us to be present in a very natural and intuitive way 🙂

      Reply

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    Elizabeth

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    Hi Kathleen,

    When I perform self-Reiki, my 4 cats come running. One gets on my stomach, another on top of my feet, and the other two are under my arms. We are totally connected to each other. There is a sacredness about this interaction that I can’t explain. We seem to leave our bodies behind and become one….

    Best,
    Elizabeth

    Reply

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