How can we live a more heartful and fulfilling life? Is it even possible? I believe that it is. But only if we protect ourselves (and our hearts) from life’s inevitable stresses. Think of it as building an armor of sorts—against impatience, anger, short-sidedness, judgmental thinking, grudges and other negative emotions. If that sounds compelling, it is! To get started, you must learn to embrace the four dimensions of heartful living. They are as follows:
1. Peace: Peace can be difficult to find in our crazy, busy lives. Our complicated days often end up pulling us in different directions, leaving little time for ourselves. Our overactive mind can leave us feeling scattered and stressed—and closed off from those around us. But by finding that peaceful space within ourselves, we can handle the obstacles thrown our way and open our hearts to animals (and even people) on a deeper level. It’s not always easy, but I find peace by quieting my mind with meditation. I like to meditate when walking my dog, standing in a pasture with my horse or even taking a stroll on the beach. Meditate regularly, and peace will follow. Here are three tips for finding more peace in your day.
2. Love: Only once we feel peace within our hearts can we tap into love and its healing possibilities. Truly heartful living means universal love and respect—for ourselves, for those around us (human and animal), for the world at large. Opening your heart and connecting with others means so many things, including: learning forgiveness, feeling gratitude for the now, eliminating prejudices and showing love through actions, like volunteering or simply noticing and being friendly with those in the community around you.
3. Clarity: What happens when we quiet our mind through meditation and open our heart with love? We are able to see deeper than the surface of things and awaken to what truly matters. A dog at the shelter that is sick and depressed doesn’t need you to use Reiki to try to “fix” this or that. What he does respond to is you sitting quietly with him, opening your heart and inviting him to share that space. This may take up to 45 minutes or an hour or more. But with patience, I’ve seen dogs like this open up to me, walk over wagging their tails and offer me their tummy. Only with peace, love and clarity can we see beneath the surface.
4. Compassion: If all beings felt and lived with compassion, our world would be transformed. Though we can’t control what other people say, do or feel, we can control ourselves and then radiate heartfulness into the world. So choose compassion. Realize that we are all One, and therefore we must choose kindness and be of service to others, as often as we can.
When we can learn to live a heartful life by embracing these four dimensions—peace, love, clarity and compassion—we find ourselves closer to happiness, closer to fulfillment, closer to being the kind of person we want to be. But like any puzzle, the picture isn’t complete without all four pieces. So if one is missing in your life, strive to reconnect with that dimension in order to maintain your balance and harmony. Your heart (and the animals) will thank you.
What does heartful living mean to you?
Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet. – John Chardin
It’s not always easy to be patient. Who among us wants to wait in a long line or sit in a mess of traffic? Or perhaps we’re on a diet, and we see two options: feeling fit in the future, or eating the piece of chocolate cake right now. In this scenario, it’s really hard to turn down the immediate reward, the chocolate cake, especially if it’s sitting right in front of us. But we all know intellectually that good things come to those who wait—an ideal that is even supported by research.
The same holds true when we spend time with animals who are struggling with health issues. Sometimes when we approach to connect and support a dog or cat, we come on way too strong and scare them away. Or perhaps while sharing a Reiki treatment, we feel compelled to hold our hands on their bodies, focusing on areas of discomfort. Humans love a “quick fix.”
Of course, when we do such things, we fail miserably. Focusing on what’s “wrong” only creates a negative feeling in our energy that animals will shy away from. Trying to “fix” often creates an energy of rushing and pushing that makes animals disconnect. Putting our hands on top of areas that are sensitive can make animals run away. Although we may mean well, if we approach our ailing animals without patience, we will only create obstacles to healing.
There is so much we can learn about healing from animals, who are so much more in tune with the healing that naturally manifests when we get in touch with our inner space of peace and compassion. Everyone’s journey to healing looks different, and when we cultivate patience, we will see this very clearly. We just need to relax, get back in touch with our inner still point and remember that each of us has an amazing capacity to self-heal! Meditation can help us to uncover our inner self-healing power.
So what happens when we throw away our desire for “the instant fix” and instead just sit silently and meditate without expectation with our animals?
A few amazing results begin to unfold:
We start to notice and observe behaviors of the animal we may not have noticed before. We might notice health issues in the early stages when they are much easier to resolve—perhaps our cat isn’t eating the way he usually does or maybe our horse seems out of sorts emotionally. This is a time to stop, relax, breathe and share Reiki with them. We might also become familiar with the complex social system between animals—such as our horse’s herd or our dog’s pack. Noticing little changes in this social structure can indicate something is “off” and needs support way before most people would become aware that anything has changed.
In addition to what we sense with our animals, being patient and quiet helps us begin to notice our “monkey mind,” as Buddhists like to call it, and how busy it is. It’s not so easy just to sit and breathe, is it? The busyness of our minds is simply a distraction from being here, right now in this present moment, for our animals. Reiki meditation can help us to come back to the now, and focus and quiet the mind. And in so doing, we are also developing our patience.
When we are patient, we will begin to see our animals coming forward to connect with us to relax and heal. Because we waited, instead of rushing in, they are able to wait until they are truly ready to connect with us in a beautiful space of peace and compassion. It is so amazing to experience when animals make this conscious choice to come forward and connect, especially when it happens with a fearful animal that normally may not trust humans. If we are always “doing” this or that to fix animals, we never get the opportunity to see an animal take the lead in her own healing. Patience also means we have to let go of our own timeline for “fixing” issues and allow animals time to process healing in their own way.
Are you ready to achieve a higher level of patience? In addition to meditating on a regular basis, try these tricks.
How has patience strengthened your connection to animals?