Archive for the ‘in the moment’ Category

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I’m thrilled that one of my favorite pet bloggers, Sharon Castellanos, agreed to post some of her wise observations here today! Sharon is a San Francisco-based freelance writer, editor and creator of Grouchy Puppy, a pet-centric online community sharing stories, photos and interviews that inspire, educate or just make you feel good.  Her work has been published on travel site Uptake and good-news site Tonic.  Sharon can be found capturing city images and story ideas on her iphone while out walking her very large rescue dog Cleo. You can follow all the adventure on Twitter @grouchypuppy, join the pack on Facebook and even see Sharon’s occasional travel story on her blog Everywhere Travel.


Why Dogs Can Provide the Perfect Counter Weight In Our Lives

Feng Shui is the ancient Chinese system of aesthetics believed to use the laws of both Heaven (astronomy) and Earth (geography) to help one improve life by receiving positive ch’i.  In San Francisco, we have many practitioners of Feng Shui and schools offering certifications.  I have tried applying a few basic techniques, like the orientation of our mirrors.

Hilary asked me to write a guest post about anything for Fang Shui Canines, as long as I was passionate about the subject.  I’m not terribly passionate about Feng Shui, but I am passionate about dogs and my belief that dogs can help improve our life because they offer us ch’i, or positive energy.

Cleo at her most Zen

If my husband or I are arguing, or one of us is just retelling a story we heard, and we are particularly zealous in our arm gestures, or our voices sound agitated, our dog Cleo will come over and take turns leaning against one of us.  She works to get us to calm our movements, and lower our voices to what she considers normal.  She pointedly tries to give us a dose of love, concern and affection until we accept it, and turn our focus on her.  If we are quietly sitting and reading the paper, she can be found in another room sleeping with her emotional radar set to autopilot.

Consider when you are out walking with your dog, and you both are surprised by a sudden sound or unexpected movement from someone turning the corner ahead of you.  Does your dog react immediately or do they pause, even for a millisecond, to see what you do first?  My dog does.  When there is a noise outside the front door that she cannot see or recognize, she will look at me for direction before she begins to bark.

What is the unconditional love that a dog offers but ch’i?  When you are feeling blue, does your dog do something unexpected to make you laugh or maybe they choose that day to hold your gaze longer than they normally do?  I believe dogs mirror our emotions and then do what they seem genetically wired to do, make us human.

Consider these simple ways dogs influence us positively:

Dogs get us to play and exercise often when we’re not expecting to, thus we burn calories while having a good time

  • Dogs can cause us to develop or reconnect with our own sense of wonderment about the world around us as adults
  • Dogs will more often offer us their love first, before we give them ours
  • Dogs can make us feel warm and protected when we need it the most
  • Dogs give of themselves as therapy, service and guardians to us humans while asking for little in return
  • Dogs can cause us to become energetic or calm with little effort

Ever since being around my first dog as five year old, I’ve felt an affinity towards dogs.  They are all different yet they bring a certain energy with them that is undeniable to me.

We call a dog a companion animal because they provide a balance or act as a companion to us.  I like to imagine they are heaven to my earth.

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This post is part of the #reverb10 project that provides daily topics throughout December to help us reflect on the past year and sets intentions for the year ahead.

Day 29 topic: Defining moment. Describe a defining moment or series of events that has affected your life this year.

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Every day has at least one defining moment for me. Some are huge, life-changing moments, the others are smaller, but still help shift my brain in subtle ways.

I’m not ready to open a vein in this public forum, but the burst of this year’s smartphones made me define my boundaries, both personally and professionally. And here comes my rant!

I love technology and how it’s progressed to make our lives easier, increase our world view, and all that comes with it. I was a tech power user for awhile back in the 1980s through the early 2000s. I’m “into” social media. I’m so thrilled to have met some great people through it, gotten a number of clients. That’s so rewarding!

Smartphones R Us

But then there are smartphones. When they first appeared on the scene, I lusted after one. Internet-ready? You bet. Phones that could be one-stop for all personal and business needs? Wowzer! And I only have a cell phone; no land lines for me! A smartphone is the next step. But then, after seeing how my friends–even my best friends–changed their personal behavior by having one, I decided to wait before making the purchase commitment.

Can We Talk?

Conversations in real life, even at nice dinners or cultural events, are  interrupted by either a phone call (“sorry, I have to take this), a ping (“you’ve got mail), a buzz (text message), a high-pitched tone (alarm). Out comes the smartphone, bright light shining. My companion texts away, sliding fingers over the screen to find the right apps, becoming more engrossed. Hey, I would, too! Even walking down the street, on a bus, in a scenic spot, wherever, everyone is peering into their tiny device, perhaps tweeting or facebooking. Maybe purposefully avoiding eye contact, pretending to be busy. Finding information, maybe necessary, maybe not.

Everything is immediate. What does it mean to “enjoy the moment?” Is the moment that little screen or our surroundings? Is it interacting with multiple people even though you’re meeting with one? What can’t wait? What’s so pressing? Did we suffer so much before we had this technology?

Smartphones and Dog Training

When this phenomenon started happening in my dog training classes, I was puzzled. This wasn’t a problem with plain old cell phones. They rarely rang in class or when socializing. But lately, those high-tech noises abound. Didn’t people schedule their time for this training? Even in private lessons, ringing phones, buzzing texts, bings and blangs all must be answered. Seems as though there’s no off power button. Who’s paying attention to the dog? To me? Who’s learning anything? Parents take their kids to my classes so they’ll “learn how to work with the dog.” Yet the kids are interacting with the screen, not the dog. Not listening or caring what I say. Yes, the parents brought the kids. “But Fido doesn’t listen to Betsy!” is a common refrain. Yet Betsy’s not listening to Fido, either.

“You can go on without me; I want to take this,” a student said recently. “You can just show me what to do afterwards. Or you can teach my dog without me. I’ll be done in a few minutes.” What? My training goal is to prevent or redirect unwanted behavior. But whose? The dogs need and deserve their owners’ attention. They need to bond. If not now, never, as this owner behavior is bound to continue. The dogs need you to be present, people!

OK, rant done, for those who are still following.

So, my defining moment was two-fold. Phones now must be turned off in my class. And I’m gonna wait a lot longer before I get my smartphone. Turns out I still want to enjoy the moment.

What do you think?

For day 12 of the #reverb10 challenge, which encourages one to reflect on this year and manifest what’s next, today’s topic is:

Body Integration. This year, when did you feel the most integrated with your body? Did you have a moment where there wasn’t mind and body, but simply a cohesive YOU, alive and present?

Oh my. This one is a big challenge, as I personally have not had the “integration” feeling this year. No cohesive me without the mind churning churning churning. No head clearing. BUT, in terms of dogs–they DO have those integration moments. They are always present, ready to rock and roll (provided they’re healthy), behavior issues or not. When they feel the need to stretch, they stretch! No thinking about it. They just do it.

First, stretch down

then up!

Dogs are always in the now. Although they do remember their past experiences and sort out how to cope with the present situation, they don’t ruminate about it or project their history into worrying about the future. They’re present and accounted for, ready for a walk, attention, sniffing–doing what dogs do. They adapt to each moment. No risk assessment.

Dogs don’t have the mental ability to think in the abstract. If a dog is distracted by a scent or chasing an animal, his thoughts are going to be with the more “in the moment” thrill/instinct of the chase. A novel situation doesn’t cause them to consider all their possible courses of action or repercussions that may play out in the future. Dogs are who they are, with their unique personalities, honest to the core.

Can we learn from this? Sure thing. We need to be present each moment–integrated, cohesive, ready to live our lives, not drifting along or calculating our every move. We need to stretch when we need to. By accepting rather than trying to control everything that comes our way, we will most likely connect with those around us in a much healthier way. We can’t spend time worrying about what may or may not happen in the future. We can’t keep holding that grudge. That cliche about smelling the roses is apt. Sure, we may worry about paying the bills and all the other distractions in our lives, but slowing down, “chillaxing” as they say–breathe, watch the stars, birds, what’s happening right now–you’ll be better off. Really.

What do you think? Can you learn lessons from your dog?

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