Animals Are Natural Meditators
By Doug Knueven
Q.) Every time I sit down to meditate my cat wants to get in on it. I have always heard to put animals in another room while meditating so they won't disturb you so that's what I do, but she is quite persistent. Is there anything wrong with meditating with a pet?
A.) I too have heard from experts that you should lock animals out of your meditation practice. I think those who make such recommendations have a more distant relationship with their pets than many of us. As one who meditates, and who is a student of the Cayce readings and a holistic veterinarian, I'm here to tell you that it is fine to meditate with your pet. In fact, I would say it is better than fine.
For me, the purpose of meditation is to connect with our Creator and all of creation. There are many ways to strive toward this goal. Some people use a mindfulness approach and pay attention to their breath. Others repeat a mantra over and over. The Cayce approach involves the use of an affirmation. The words of the affirmation are repeated in order to evoke a feeling of peace and oneness.
As they say, "Different strokes for different folks." Each individual must find her or his way to quiet the mind and go within. There are those who find their pets to be distractions (and this certainly may depend on the pet's personality, too.) But for those of us who have a deep relationship with our animals, making them part of the meditation practice can be meaningful and even helpful.
Here's the way I look at it. Pets fill a need in the lives of those who love animals. With their instinct to comfort and heal us, they demonstrate qualities that even humans sometimes lack. I believe that pets have such an effect because they help us maintain contact with the natural world—a connection which our modern lifestyles tend to eliminate.
Nature is infused with the divine. It is impossible for most people to study biology without developing a sense of awe for the beauty of the balance that is maintained in intricate, natural systems. Each of the billions of cells of the body has a life of its own, and yet they all cooperate to function as a whole. Animals, plants, microorganisms, and inert materials have developed amazingly complicated relationships in every ecosystem in the world. Even the celestial bodies have an orderly rhythm that mystifies the human mind. All of creation is alive with a palpable, heavenly heartbeat.
With a purr, a nudge, a lick or a wag, our pets can reunite us with the mysteries of the universe. For me, connecting with a pet on a spiritual level is one way of connecting with the divine.
Here's how it works for me:
As my wife Judy and I sit down to meditate in the morning, our pets jump on our laps. As I relax, I become aware of my breath. I imagine that God is breathing the "breath of life" into me. I realize that the same breath of life is flowing within my four-legged companion.
I envision the amazing underlying life force, Spirit, which is stirring within both our bodies. As I become more aware of my dog lying in my lap, I feel her warmth and I feel her chest rise and fall.
I imagine this warm feeling of love expanding in my chest, and feel it overflow and embrace this special little being. I allow the love to continue to expand and imagine we are both floating in a sea of love. This feeling joins me with all of creation and I melt into the Oneness. I then enter the silence maintaining the feeling of oneness. My dog helps me anchor that feeling.
I would love to report that things happen just this way every day at my house but that would be a bit of a stretch. However, on those mornings when the stars are aligned, it is a beautiful thing.
Doug Knueven, DVM, is a regular contributor to Venture Inward magazine and the author of Stand By Me, A Holistic Handbook for Animals, People, and the Lives They Share, available at ARECatalog.com or 800-333-4499, and Holistic Health Guide: Natural Care for the Whole Dog. For more information go to BeaverAnimalClinic.com.
Excerpt from April, May,June 2012 issue of Venture Inward magazine available in the online member section.