Posts Tagged ‘happy’

Best ways to ensure your animal’s happiness

We all want to provide a happy life for our animals—after all, they’re special members of our family. A good start is to provide clean water, healthy food, a warm bed, toys and socialization. But are you feeding and nurturing their hearts and spirits? Are you harnessing the joyous power of now?

Even more important than the basics to ensure your animal’s happiness is to develop a relationship based on mutual trust, respect and shared peaceful presence, which is something animals are great at teaching. Watch what your animal is telling you by his behaviors; listen to your heart to help you savor moments when your animal is truly blissful; and meditate with your animal to help you connect more deeply and strengthen your bond with each other. Your animal will respond in amazing, contented ways to your new mindful attitude. In turn, the happier your animal is, the more joy will radiate in your own life!

Read on for the top signs your cat, dog, horse, lizard, bird or bunny truly is happy. Taking time each day to stop, open your heart and share mindful, meditative moments with him will increase these behaviors and ensure a happy animal. I’ve written many sample meditations you can share with your animal to bring peace and contentment.

CAT

A happy cat:

  • Is playful and curious.
  • Lies on his back with tummy exposed, and rests with paws tucked.
  • Purrs blissfully.
  • Nudges you with the crown of her head or her nose, or rubs her body against your legs.
  • Is welcoming when they see you.
  • Puts his tail up when saying “hello.”
  • Gives happy meows.
  • Does “the long blink” when you look at them across the room.
  • Kneads biscuits on you when you cuddle them.
  • Shows interest in what’s going on around her and the environment.
  • Grooms and licks.
  • Drools on you.
  • Follows you everywhere.
DOG

A happy dog:

  • Smiles.
  • Has relaxed ears.
  • Wags his tail enthusiastically.
  • Stands or sits with a playful or relaxed body posture.
  • Gives slurpy kisses.
  • Spends most of the day exploring, playing with toys, walking around and doing things.
  • Asks for attention.
  • Shows enthusiasm for their favorite things: snacks, walks, when you return home, etc.
  • Sleeps deeply.
HORSE

A happy horse:

  • Is relaxed with floppy ears.
  • Has sparkly eyes.
  • Walks with a spring in his step.
  • Perks his ears forward in a friendly greeting, as if to say, “Hi, it’s so great to see you today!”
  • Holds his head up and looks around.
  • Nickers.
  • Enjoys horse toys and companionship.
IGUANA OR BEARDED DRAGON

A happy lizard:

  • Sheds regularly.
  • Plays well.
  • Eats well and has a full tummy.
  • Lives in a clean environment.
  • Goes willingly to you (a sign of trust).
  • Has space to climb and a large enclosure.
  • Likes new sights and smells. Consider taking your iguana for a walk outside on a leash.
  • Has some free time to roam your house.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iSSWvS_5Rvc

BIRD

A happy bird:

  • Clicks his tongue.
  • Grinds his beak deep in the night when sleeping.
  • Has happy vocalizations: singing, soft chattering, talking, whistling.
  • Purrs, especially when paired with a relaxed body stance and fluffed feathers.
  • Preens her feathers (and tries to preen you).
  • Perches on a single foot.
  • Plays games with you, like “peek-a-boo.”
  • Regurgitates her food for you (you’re welcome).
  • Wags his tail, much like a dog.
  • Is alert and uses her assortment of toys, chews, perches, mirrors (assuming she likes mirrors).
BUNNY

A happy bunny:

  • Rolls on her side and relaxes with her eyes closed.
  • Lies down with his head flat on the ground (an invitation for pets).
  • Grooms herself to stay clean and shiny.
  • Shows off with “binkies”—meaning, he runs and jumps and twists mid-air.

If these signs don’t seem as prevalent as they should be in your animal, and you’re seeing negative behaviors instead, it’s probably time to schedule a vet appointment. Here are some general warning signs to watch for, which may be signal illness or depression:

  • Over-grooming: Chewing skin, pulling fur, licking paws too much, chewing on paws
  • Changes in eating habits: overeating or eating less
  • Hiding
  • Reluctant to play or go for walks; general inactivity
  • Negative changes in potty routines
  • A bearded dragon who has turned his beard black
  • A horse that holds his head down, kicks the stall or paws the floor, shows signs of aggression or flashes his teeth when you approach
  • Destructive dogs that chew on your couch or shoes instead of their toys
  • A panting bird or a bird that sits on the bottom of the cage

Although the above warning signs may on the surface seem obvious, sometimes in our busy lives, although we may be taking care of the basics with our animals, we often forget to stop and check in with the deeper levels of feelings our animals may be having. Sometimes we are just too busy to just be with our animals. Learning to slow down and spend time sharing the present moment with the animals we love can transform the ordinary into the extraordinary—each and every day!

How do your animals respond when you slow down and remember to savor the moment with them?

23 ways meditation can improve your life right now

I truly believe meditation can impact our lives in positive, astounding ways. I noticed this firsthand when my daily meditations and my animal Reiki practice helped me to fight breast cancer, twice. But I’m not the only one: Meditation is going mainstream, with more people than ever before jumping on board, eager to experience for themselves the amazing benefits of meditation that have been supported by scientific studies. Discipline yourself for astounding results.

The benefits are numerous and broad; in fact, meditation is almost like a “happy pill” that any of us can take, and it doesn’t cost a thing. The best part is, it’s easier than you think. It can be done anywhere; meditation doesn’t require a formal setup. You can do it while walking the dog, while in the pasture with your horse, while sitting still on a bench. There really is no wrong way to meditate, as long as your heartful intention is there. 

If you haven’t found time to meditate lately, here are 23 reasons to put it back on the priority list. (I personally like to meditate with animals; how about you?) Check out these 23 ways meditation can improve your life right now:

1. You’ll sleep better. Insomniacs, rejoice! Mindfulness meditation improves the quality of a person’s sleep, especially in older adults.

2. You’ll lower your blood pressure. Studies have indicated that mindfulness meditation, which helps you let go of pent-up tension, is a natural way to help lower your blood pressure. Some people even attribute their daily meditation discipline to allowing them the ability to reduce their dependence on blood-pressure medications.

3. Meditation helps you to better handle stressful situations. When you are able to get into a quiet, mindful space on a daily basis, you’ll feel calmer overall, allowing you to regulate your emotions and better handle the daily stressors that typically might send you over the edge.

4. Meditation decreases depression and anxiety. Mark Ruffalo is one celebrity who has spoken out about how meditation “saved him” from anxiety. But countless others with depression and anxious thoughts are feeling the benefits as well. Even cancer centers across the country offer meditation rooms for patients. Training our thoughts to focus on the “right now” instead of anxiety-producing thoughts is so helpful when you’re going through a tough time. And yes, I know this from firsthand experience, too!

5. Meditation helps to relieve pain. Amazing but true: Studies have shown that meditation can sometimes take the place of narcotics for patients who suffer from chronic pain. Though not a cure, as pain sufferers will tell you, even a small bit of relief can be priceless. I found meditation absolutely essential to help me relieve the physical and emotional pain of breast cancer treatment.

6. You’ll boost your immune system. In fact, a recent UCLA study found that HIV patients who practiced meditation were able to “slow down” the drop in their CD-4 cells (these are the immune cells that are attacked and destroyed by the virus).

7. You’ll feel the positive results of meditation in just minutes. It’s true! In study after study, it’s shown that you’ll feel the benefits of meditation in no time at all. And though every minute counts, if you want to feel the best results, shoot for at least 25 minutes a day for three consecutive days, according to Carnegie Mellon University.

8. Meditation makes a person more compassionate. The science shows this to be true. And as I have found in my work with animals, the compassion and kindness we feel after connecting with our inner self through meditation extends not just toward fellow humans, but to animals as well.

9. The “little things” won’t upset you the way they usually do. Meditating helps you to focus on the big picture of what matters in this day; it trains your heart and mind toward living mindfully and in the now. As a result, you’ll feel better able to peacefully navigate your day when small stressors crop up. For added inspiration, try this book: The Big Book of Small Stuff: 100 of the Best Inspirations from Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff.

10. People who meditate are happier. Happiness is something we all strive for, isn’t it? Meditation helps to take us there—in fact, studies show you’re actually “rewiring your brain” for happiness. Science says there are seven habits we can practice for a happier life. Guess what? Meditation will nurture all of them!

11. Meditation helps to boost your memory and ability to focus and learn. Students who took part in “mindfulness training” did better on the GRE than those who did not. And remember, kids are never too young to learn how to meditate (and experience the positive effects of it!).

12. Your overall quality of life will improve. In addition to all of the scientifically backed health benefits of meditation, you’ll begin to feel more fulfillment in your daily life. Here are 10 profound tips from a Buddhist Monk on living a fulfilled life.

13. You’ll feel calmer throughout your day. When you’re able to find your Zen, you can bring balance into your family and work life, and your day will run smoother.

14. You’ll be more successful in work. Meditation is a success secret of CEOs and famous actors. Even corporations like Google and Apple encourage their employees to meditate—because it helps the bottom line. Here are three reasons everyone at Google is meditating.

15. It can help you to quit smoking and other addictive behaviors. This woman did it, and you can, too.

16. Meditation can reduce your risk of a heart attack. Meditation helps you to reduce the amount of stress you feel in life—which can help you combat cardiovascular disease, as this article from the American Heart Association points out.

17. Some researchers believe meditation can even protect against Alzheimer’s and Dementia.

18. Meditation can help you manage grief. When dealing with grief and loss, it can feel as if nothing will ever help. But when you meditate, you are training your mind away from the hurts of yesterday and the fears of tomorrow. I used meditation to manage my grief when my beloved dog Dakota passed away.

19. Meditation helps you deal with traumatic events in your past. Related to #18 above, veterans and those suffering from PTSD have found much help in meditation.

20. It will help you to be present and really live in this very moment. How many of us rush, rush, rush through each day? But then we wonder where the day went and wish we could slow down. Part of living a mindful life is living (and enjoying) the moment as we experience it. Meditation can help you to embrace more of these moments.

21. You’ll attain a better understanding of your deepest self. Meditation can help you answer this question: What is the true purpose of your life? Additionally, meditation can help to strengthen your connection to your intuition.

22. Meditation can help you feel inspired in new ways. Need to do some brainstorming? Is there a problem that needs solving? Focusing your mind in meditation can help you see things in new and different ways.

23. It literally reshapes your brain. Who knew “reshaping” your brain could improve your life … but it does! All of the positives listed above result from meditation’s physiological effects on the brain itself. Here’s a fascinating TED Talk on the subject:

How does meditation improve your daily life?

4 questions to guarantee happy volunteering

Volunteering at an animal shelter is a dream come true for so many of us. But just like any job, the first shelter you come across may not be the right fit for you. Due to the time commitments involved and the level of devotion required by volunteering, it’s important to find the right “match” ahead of time to ensure the best experience possible.

With that in mind, here are four vital questions to ask the shelter (and yourself!) in order to guarantee the happiest experience possible:

1. Is it a no-kill shelter? If not, are you comfortable working with animals that may have to be euthanized? Are you comfortable being present with these animals, perhaps at the time of transition? It’s important to let the volunteer coordinator know your comfort level with discussions surrounding euthanasia at the shelter where you volunteer. It can prevent an uncomfortable or emotionally charged discussion at a later date.

2. Will they require you to complete a training program? If so, how long is the program, and what are the requirements? Once you have completed the program, what minimum hours per week will you be required to volunteer, and how long-term of a commitment do they expect? (Some shelters require at least a year.) What duties will you be expected to assist with? What percentage of your time will you be able to devote solely to the tasks that interest you the most?

3. Which staff member will you report to directly? Which person will be involved in helping you with the animals or giving information about which animals to work with? Will this person be notified of your volunteer role at the shelter? If not, make sure to introduce yourself to the staff and volunteers when you meet.

4. Are you prepared to handle the ups and downs? Volunteering at an animal shelter has its magical moments—the first time you bond with a cat that hides from everyone else, the older dog who finally finds her forever home—but there will be plenty of heartbreak as well. Ask yourself how you will cope when you witness innocent animals recovering from abusive situations, see cats and dogs suffering and in pain, know that the animals “no one wants” are being euthanized, or even miss your favorite animal once he or she is adopted? Unfortunately, those who dedicate their lives to caring for others (human or animal) must watch out for compassion fatigue, a traumatic stress disorder and occupational hazard for shelter volunteers which I wrote more about here.

What questions do you always ask before volunteering at an animal shelter?

{Adapted from The Animal Reiki Handbook: Finding Your Way With Reiki in Your Local Shelter, Sanctuary or Rescue by Kathleen Prasad}