Loving everyone feels so good. It feels kinda gooey & sweet, warm fuzzy & tingly — all at the same time. This feeling has been increasing slowly for me, over the last year or so.
Over the last year I have been facing one of my fears. I’ve always had a small aversion to furry friends. The kind that bark or bite or jump or kick. And let’s not forget poke or scratch. This fear stems from two traumatic experiences with animals from my childhood. Since then, I’ve had very little contact with animals, & because of that — very few pleasant memories. I do have some great memories with small turtles. Nice & slow. Easy does it. Never too excited. Usually fairly predictable. (Just how I like it!) But also, turtles aren’t considered furry. And they usually don’t bark or jump. So I guess I never made much progress on my issue with furry friends…. until now. :)
Let me clear up two things before I continue…
1. The two negative experiences I had with animals, were with animals that were being mistreated by others, & somehow, I innocently found myself near them (wrong place, wrong time I guess). And those furry friends were not happy. So I guess anyone that looked remotely human was a threat to them, & they reacted in fear for their own safety.
2. I had little contact with animals over my teenage & adult life, because I avoided them. After two totally different negative experiences with two totally different species, I didn’t allow myself to have a relationship with animals in general. Even though they were innocent & I was innocent, at the time of the incidents. It didn’t matter. I developed a fear, & I lumped everyone into a big pile.
Here I am. Almost three decades later, having a blast with furry friends! I’ve been working on my fear of dogs since last autumn. Allowing myself to be near them without fear. (I didn’t say touch them without fear. :) I said be near them.) This has felt so good & so liberating. Living in such a dog-friendly neighborhood, my day-to-day now feels much freer, and much more like the world is my home. I walk down the street with a new found confidence & intimacy with my surroundings.
Now I have moved on to all animals! Ohhhhhhhh, & has this been fun! Except for a few minor “ouch” experiences — but they were no big deal! At one animal farm, I got a little poke from a horn because I was in the way at feeding time. It was an accident. A hungry goat in a hurry bumped into me, as he was making his way through the crowd (the hungry herd that I was standing in the middle of). And it may have been on that same day, but I was wearing silly shoes on the farm (open toe sandals), & a hooved friend accidentally stepped on my pinky toe. No damage — just a small reminder to wear sensible shoes! Including the moments I just mentioned, all time spent with animals over the last year has been have been exciting. So beautiful, so sweet. And sometimes extremely blissful — like the most profound sense of peace I have ever felt. Wow. I really love these very big & very little guys. They have become my friends.
I’ve been learning so much from my “fearlessly love everyone” adventure. Aside from learning that I really love spending time with animals & love having them be a regular part of my life. I learned what it means to be oneself: To simply be, to be in a state of Grace or Flow; to feel effortless & relaxed & intuitive; to live in the moment. What better example of this than to spend time with an animal who lives at an animal sanctuary. They freely spend their days socializing, eating, sunning, drinking, walking, running, sleeping, playing… (repeat, repeat, repeat). Doesn’t that sound like what we should be doing too? And sometimes we do something very similar to that. But it seems like the animals do it without all the drama & meaning, without deadlines & obligations — without pressure to be someone, doing something, trying to get somewhere. (Or so it seems that way.)
When I watch them, I can’t help to think that they live an ancient secret that we have all forgotten: What it means to live fully in the moment, being one with the environment. Without pressures or mind-trips. Nowhere to be, but here. No one to be, but being — just as it is. I feel like this is the mantra the animals are silently repeating. (That I would like to learn as well.)
When I watch a pig get muddy, & lie in the sun, I really don’t think that he feels guilty. I don’t think that he feels like he doesn’t deserve this moment of rest. Or wonders what the other farm animals think of him (looking so sloppy & muddy). I don’t think he thinks it’s an unproductive activity & he should better invest his time elsewhere. I think he doesn’t even think about it. He’s just being. Being in the moment, until the next moment creates the next thing he will do.
There is a sense of peace I feel with animals when they have the opportunity to freely be themselves. I like to spend time just sitting with them. I swear to you, that 4 minutes of that, feels more powerful than 40 minutes of a formal meditation practice. When I’m just sitting with animals, it feels like being in the presence of a master. Someone who truly knows beingness. Someone that doesn’t have to teach it, because they exude it. They give-off this strong magnetic energy that just takes over your system & shows you how it is done. Everything my body & mind forgot — it remembers in their presence. We just sit together. Breathing. Looking. Loving unconditionally. We just sit. And something as simple as that is heaven.
And heaven continues. I decided to devote my time & love to these Masters of Beingness. To these great teachers of “how to simply be yourself”. I feel like their presence in my life is perfect timing. I’m at a place where all I want to study is how to See, Be & Love — what seeing in a holistic way is like, what simply being is like, what loving unconditionally is like. It’s what lights me up, keeps me inspired & interested, curious & excited about life. And once I opened myself up to that — to that sincere desire to learn — there walks in my teachers. Appearing in my life, at just the right time. There is a quote I have heard for years, but now I get to live it: “When the student is ready, the teacher appears”. How true it is. And how grateful I am.
Here is a list of the sanctuaries I visited (or have been visiting) lately. Support them if you can! Visit the animals, or visit their websites. They can use all the support they can get. Chenoa Manor Animal Sanctuary // for the Animals sanctuary // Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary // Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary. And for the use of photography from Exercise Compassion. — I’m very thankful for the hard work all of these folks (individuals & organizations) have put in. Their love & dedication to animals is inspirational. Thank you!