Dedicated Awareness

1274 Relax and Succeed - Threat your relationshipsA few years back some newlyweds moved in down the street. You know the type. They were the kind of couple that frustrates unloved people because they are so doting, so nose-to-nose, as they bob in a bubbly beaming kind of love.

They got themselves the cutest little puppy. He wasn’t too sure-footed, but he made up for a lack of direction in enthusiasm. Their morning walks past my house looked like their conversations sounded, zipping from over here to over there for no apparent reason, but every minute of travel was full of life as he tangled the two together with his leash. I saw this little tableau play out every single morning at 6:00am.

After they had lived there a couple of years, their walk had switched to match the dog’s. Now it was a bit after 6:00am when they went by, although that worked because they could move faster thanks to the dog walking in a straight line while they just held hands and talked. Sometimes you could tell one had an early morning or a late night, because one or the other of them would go by alone with the dog, which worked, because by then the dog was less trouble in that he was much more predictable by then.

1274 Relax and Succeed - Do not let a lack of awarenessWithin a couple years after that people saw them together far less often. Their appearances grew less youthful and more professional. They walked and talked more professionally too, even to each other. By now they were almost ignoring the dog the walk was so predictable.

By about seven years in, he’s usually walking the dog alone, and if it’s not him alone it’s her. Whoever it is is now on the phone more than they pay attention to the dog. As we age we get jobs that demand more, our days start often earlier. Even the dog was starting to walk more slowly by then.

Over the next few years you saw them together and apart, but even when they were together it definitely seemed like the warmth had worn off. They’d go by, bundled up in winter clothes, never holding hands, often on their phones in separate virtual locations. I’d see the dog run around in the field chasing the ball, but no one was watching it, and they only looked for the ball after the dog was waiting for another throw, no more pride in him just finding it all.

I found it a bit sad to watch, because it had always been a good and loyal dog. But now he was slowing down and his running days were numbered and he seemed more anxious than ever to access his inner puppy. Mostly his excitement just frustrated them as they worked to calm him down.

1274 Relax and Succeed - The best time to plant a treeEventually the owner was waiting for the dog as it limped along. It just sat in the field now and watched the other dogs run, wishing it still could too. And so it would sit there, alone in the cold, while whoever was walking him checked their work messages before dragging him back to the house.

Of course eventually the dog died, as did the relationship. In fact, the track of their walks is very similar to the journey most relationships take, from focus and appreciation to assumption and demands. With each slightly colder step, we remove the heat from the relationship and we create unnecessary distance between us and others. This only happens due a lack of consciousness that it is happening.

The dog died with puppy still in his heart. But that pup could not play without someone to play with. So too went the relationship. The puppy; the loving, caring, bumbling, mistake-ridden, totally forgiven for crapping on the carpet puppy, was always present. All he needed was two partners who were prepared to stay connected and to notice he was there, as playful as ever. If we can all learn to do that one thing, we can all learn to keep our dogs for as long as we live.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations locally and around the world.

Healing Animals

932 Relax and Succeed - When I look into the eyes of an animalWe all want to feel better. We all seek solutions to problems or to better ourselves in some way. We want to see life advance and grow and expand and we want to deal with people and situations that will permit or even encourage that growth. We see the challenges associated with money, status and power but we recognize almost none regarding peace.

Peace of Mind is an actual state. You have no resistance, no struggle, no distance, no desire. You are completely fine with the world as it is. You accept it and there isn’t even any classification of things let alone full narratives about them. You are clear and present in the moment–the most peaceful and beautiful place to be.

When we’re locked in ego we’ll tend to try to use ego to get back to peace, which you can’t really do. You can’t try your way into peace you have to relax your way in. It’s an act of letting go. A good example is a young lady who has been walking her dog in front of my house for several years now. She used to be very happy but now she has many problems.

932 Relax and Succeed - Learn a lesson from your dogBack when she’d first got her dog the dog was the center of her life. It got played with in the park, he was always looked at and talked to. Dogs are great because they’re a pack animal that is brilliant at forgiving and it’s like they’re just always waiting for something great to happen. She used to love watching him spot a squirrel or another dog he was excited to see. Now she’s mostly upset.

She’s a teenager now so her parents got her a phone. Presumably this is about connectivity with her family and friends and that’s all understandable and yet, being a tool, she’s learned to think of her tool as her answer instead of herself. So before she had the phone she got half an hour off each evening for a nice peaceful dog walk. Now the dog walks ignored alongside her while she mostly argues with people via her phone via earbuds that block the world out.

Sometimes she walks by talking to someone about some offense she’s experienced, sometimes she’s texting with a worried or angry look on her face. She used to smile and say hello to many neighbours previously, but these little doses of happiness have been forgone in favour of the phone. Those dog walks used to create great happiness within her but now her what’s next? brain is waiting for happiness to be delivered to her via the external world.

932 Relax and Succeed - The vital function that pets fulfillMeanwhile the dog is still there, ignored but very present. He notices the neighbours every time he passes. She can walk past some amazing things and not even notice she’s done it. So the purpose of her wanting the dog was wanting companionship and the dog did that really well. The phone was also a request for increased companionship in a way, but if you were to look at the results the way a scientist would, it seems crazy that the phone would go on the walks because it almost always leads to frustration or worry or sadness whereas the dog never did.

Now she’s locked into an external world where she’s fighting an external battle for status or money or power or love. These are all gains of the ego. Her spirit could easily be happy with just the dog. There’s a lot of evidence that the dog would do the same thing as before if she only paid it some attention. He still has the same demeanour, he still watches her hoping she’ll interact. He still believes in her. It’s her that doesn’t believe in her.

If you have a pet then consider spending more time with it as a spiritual exercise. Watch how the animal reacts to the world relative to you. Watch how you feel when you’re with it. Just like any good guru a dog will always be willing to join you in the moment you are in if you are willing to abandon your thoughts about other places and other times.

Look into your fellow creature’s face. See your old friend there. They’re waiting for you to come to them so they can heal with you. Join them.

pees. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations locally and around the world.

The Friday Dose #73

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Today’s Dose is about the remarkable, consistent and unconditional love of animals. Our pets love us in such a pure way. They know everything about us and yet if we’re not conscious enough to do anything about it, they still let us get away with fair amounts of neglect and they will still meet us with love.

Today your mental distraction starts with the brilliant mind and eye of a German photographer who specializes in pets, and in particular Dog photos that could be featured in ways that communicate their personalities. Her work is delightful, it’s gorgeous and it’s very likely to make you happy. Ladies and Gentlemen, I bring you Elke Vogelsang and her models:

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Elke Vogelsang Photography


And after that bit of lightness we will proceed on to an absolutely beautiful film that will has a great lesson for all of us in life. It’ll make you cry in that way we all love doing, where you feel better afterwards–even you tough guys out there. This is a story narrated by Denali, about his life with cancer, and the living he did with his best friend, Ben Moon. I highly recommend it:

[vimeo 122375452 w=700 h=393]

Thanks everyone. If anyone’s interested in any more dog material, here’s the link to my last day with my beloved dog Mo: Mo-ments

Have a great weekend everyone. Love who’s present.

peace and love. s

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Judging Your Life 2

You’re judging theirs and yours, they’re judging yours and theirs—everyone’s comparing lives and feeling good or bad based on who’s nearby and what we believe about them. It’s a crazy, busy, confusing way to live. Today’s blog is about forgetting all of those opinions and external ideas so that you can remember who you really are. Enjoy:

A Difficult Decision

Over the last 6 months or more I have had two rescue dogs I just love. One of them had a troubled past which has lead to some serious behaviour issues. I’ve been through two trainers and a behaviourist with little effect. He’s needed operations—I was with him in the ICU spending a fortune I don’t have when nothing was for sure. I have dedicated untold hours, sweat, love, tears and frustration in my efforts to rehabilitate my dog, but with my other dog learning his bad behaviour, I’m really wondering if I’m doing the right thing.
Do I give up and admit defeat, or do I lean on how wonderful he is when
he is behaving and he’s on his back for a belly rub?

Sincerely Torn Dog Lover

Dear Dog Lover,

Let me begin by thanking you for picking up some of society’s slack. Maybe it’s a family-less senior’s dog that ended up in a shelter after a death. Or maybe it was an immature purchase by someone who hadn’t really given it appropriate thought. Whether the arrival of an animal at a shelter is preventable or not, someone has to take up that slack and I’m so grateful that you 307 Relax and Succeed - The price of any thingand so many of my friends are very active in this regard. You also have my sympathies regarding the associated challenges. What you’ve glossed over in a paragraph is actually a lot of life. I realize that situations like this can come to dominate our lives.

Of course no one but you can ultimately decide whether you should keep your dog and fumble through the challenges, or shift your attentions to an animal that is capable of receiving them in a useful way. But I’ll do my best to give you some things to ponder which may help you find your way through a maze of what I suspect must be very conflicting thoughts.

Firstly, you aren’t defeated if you were in an unwinnable battle. For all you know the dog has some undetected physiological issue that’s impacting its ability to act in a safe and survivable manner. You also aren’t responsible for the experiences the dog had before the shelter, and it appears those may have been very serious experiences that powerfully embedded some ideas into the dog. You cannot get attached to results. You can only focus on your action, not on outcomes. If the action is loving, then there is no need for regret.

Secondly, I can see why you might be inclined to see it as a failure and that you may have a sense that you’ve “let the dog down.” You didn’t. You’ve clearly done far more than most people would and you should feel good about that. But there’s no way around the fact that stopping now will be traumatic for both you and the dog. I’m not going to pretend those hours will be easy. But then again, most of life is already traumatic for you and the dog at this stage. And the world is not currently benefiting from all you have to offer, so I want you to consider it another way.

307 Relax and Succeed - Its not like everything is someones faultImagine that every being in existence is equal. I suspect this idea is easy for you. And let us say that each person’s ability to contribute to the world in a positive way is rated from +10 to -10, with zero being someone who has no extra compassion or energy to give, but they also don’t need any from anyone else. Most of us are lucky to just bounce temporarily into that negative zone. Big life events like getting fired, or divorced or insulted by someone you respect—those will all take you lower. But likewise, successes, compliments and cooperation will get you higher. Now let’s get to you specifically.

If you’re doing all you’re doing for these two dogs, then clearly you’re on the plus side of the equation. You have a lot to give. The question is, who should you give it to? Can you see that right now you’re taking your +7 being and you’re giving 8 points to your -9 dog? So he’s still a -1 but now you are too! In the accounting of the universe this is not always a good deal.

I would like you to think about what would happen if you only gave away 4 points to a dog that was a -2? Then you would be a +3 and the dog would be a +2. That feels a bit better, doesn’t it? Because that has some balance to it. A -9 dog needs several people to pour a fair amount of life energy into it, and even then that’ll 307 Relax and Succeed - Life is a series of naturaltake time and people can get tired of the expense to their lives. So it’s not so much that this dog doesn’t deserve the care—of course he does. But we also must be prepared to accept what is, and if you’ve poured that much work in, then you’ve probably already demonstrated that this is not likely to be a rescue-able dog. That is a shame, but rather than pour good energy after bad, you might well be wise to consider if your loving efforts might yield more valuable results elsewhere.

Again, no one can answer this but you. But don’t waste your +7 life having -5 guilty-thoughts. As I’m sure your friends have told you, you’ve done much more than most people would. There is no shame in surrendering in an unwinnable battle. And I’m sure there’s some adorable little balls of love that would really benefit from time with a soul as loving as yours so obviously is. So maybe the troubled dog isn’t a rescue case after all. Maybe he’s a lesson in disguise. Maybe he’s a lesson in perseverance. Or maybe he’s a lesson in letting go. And deep deep deep down, I believe you already know which lesson he is. So trust yourself. Because those feelings are how the universe speaks to you.

Big hug. Good luck to all involved.

pees. s 😉

The Friday Dose #5: The Seal of Approval

305 Relax and Succeed - Do more of what makesOkay, so today we’ll have some fun. We’ll look at uplifting, heartwarming and just plain enjoyable ideas.

We’ll start with a breakdown of some very good relationship habits. Anyone can pick at or quibble with any argument in life, but there’s a beautifully simple logic at the heart of these suggestions. We have to stop asking our partners to fix our relationships and we have to figure out how to be more actively positive participants in our own lives. Our love is a verb and we need to exercise it within our relationships. So here for your perusal is a listing:

10 Habits of Happy Couples

305 Relax and Succeed - Every momentHere’s an example of how we forget that animals kill for food, or to protect food, or protect something from becoming food. But it’s in an animal’s nature to be connected. I’ve actually had an experience myself while vacationing on Salt Spring Island where a group of small deer emerged from the woods and literally pressed their bodies against me. One even gently took a slice of apple I was holding between my teeth. The experience was so moving it brought both me and the woman watching to tears. I’m not sure either one of us will see something more purely beautiful than that ever again. I still don’t know why all those deer wanted to lean their necks and heads and bodies against me—I’m just extremely grateful it happened because it is literally a highlight in an already remarkable life. I found this video very touching because it brought such vivid memories of that day back to me:

And finally here’s an absolutely wonderful approach to what can be presented as a sad and challenging problem. Yes, there are always pets that can challenge us beyond reasonable capacity, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do all we can for those that can be
reached. Animals bring a certain truth to people’s lives. There is no real guile or complication to an animal. They are straightforward in their needs and somehow that clarity often helps them bring the best out in us. So we can look at these things as problems in life, or we can see them as opportunities to spread more love around the world:

There are a lot of beautiful things going on in this world. It’s easy to be angry or frustrated or outraged. But it’s also easy to be happy, engaged and enthusiastic, so look for those opportunities actively. They don’t land on the laps of lucky people. Lucky people are just the people who are most conscious about choosing to focus their consciousness on the things they like about life. And any of us can do that. I hope you’ll join us.

Have a wonderful weekend.

peace. s

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The Clarity of Connection

Why do you love your dog? Your dog can just look at you and you’ll feel warm inside and you’ll smile. For a dog owner, just the photo below will stir your heart. There are very few conditions with dogs. We don’t expect them to know as much as humans so as long as we have compliance on don’t pee in the house, and no stealing food , we’re usually pretty good. A dog is allowed to be a dog simply because our standards for him are lower than he can likely achieve. Humans on the other hand are not given so much latitude. With humans it’s generally perfection or nothing.

247 Relax and Succeed - Happiness is coming homeOf course it’s not the dog that makes you feel warm and happy, it’s the openness that you share. That unconditional willingness to be close is what allows you and the dog to connect. You don’t think the dog is judging you and the dog can’t comprehend your judgments so there is no thought-barrier between you. There are no expectations. But you can do that with any being—any person. You just have to be open. It doesn’t mean they’ll necessarily be ready to connect with you, but it isn’t about finding the right people anyway. It’s about your openness to possibility. And if you’re in that open and aware state, then when you do find compatible people… it feels as though you’ve always known them.

Get all of the energy you’re currently investing in your inhibited, fearful, self-flagellating thoughts, and point that energy toward openness instead. You don’t need to figure anything out to be acceptable. The problem isn’t your life, it’s yours and other people’s thought-based judgments. That’s why your relationship with the dog can be so healthy—no judgment. So create a quiet space within your consciousness and—as much as possible—live only within each moment. Do not assemble them into a timeline or narrative. Simply let each moment be, allow yourself to react clearly but naturally, and then let the resulting conclusions unfold. You don’t have to figure so much out. You don’t have to prove your worth. You are worthy of love right now, just the way you are. Even your dog knows that.

To live this way it must be a conscious choice. You can achieve the sensation of authentic connection many times every day if that’s actually your objective. I watched my Dad constantly helping friends, neighbours and strangers, and he was always happy, so I copied what I saw. If I see someone struggling I’ll stop to help them. And it’s that act that has all the value. Because if I’m thinking about them then I’m not thinking about me, then that means I’m not creating an ego that can suffer and instead I am open to love. That simple choice—to primarily put someone else’s needs over my own—has lead to a wonderfully enjoyable, ambitious, thorough life that has only been punctuated maybe two or three times by anything particularly ugly.

247 Relax and Succeed - Our job is to love othersOpenness and acceptance dissipates a lot of negativity in life. You can be having a very bad day and your dog can instantly make it better just by non-judgmentally seeing your arrival home as an obvious good thing—another chance to connect. The dog doesn’t need you to have had a good day, or a profitable one. To the dog you are always worthy of love. So do likewise with people. Seek meaningful connection. Don’t work for people, serve them. Don’t collect pay in return for doing things, spend your day being with others. Don’t surrender large parts of your day as being impossibly non-spiritual. Everything you do is spiritual in nature. The only question is, are you choosing to stay aware of that on a regular basis?

Forget your narrative about your lousy day. Shift your thinking to the welcoming happy face of your dog. Fill your consciousness with her. And you absolutely will feel better. If you go back to the angry, sad, bitter–whatever–narrative, just go back to the dog. That connection will always be there from the dog’s side. It’s you that has to drop your narrative and stop recalling “your day” (egos are so self-centred).

Learn from you dog. Be open and ready with the people around you. Don’t expect things you want, anticipate general rewards instead. Because if you’re looking for them you’ll find them. And in that state of mind, even a simple lick on the cheek can wipe a lot of day off the slate.

Have a wonderful day. 😉

peace. s

Living in the Moment

That photo’s of my friend Gizmo. I’m the lucky guy who gets to babysit him when his dad’s away. He seemed like a good background for the Zen joke about the husband and wife. Let’s look at that for what it can teach us.
13 Relax and Succeed - Living in the Moment

The dog gets locked in the trunk for an hour and and he’s happy to get out. The wife gets locked in the trunk for an hour and she’s angry she was ever locked in. The reason the dog can achieve the clarity of unconditional love is because he lives in the Moment. And in the moment in question he’s thrilled and grateful to be out of the trunk! But the wife will do the same thing the husband would—she’ll time travel with her consciousness back to when he locked her in there, and she’ll say, “What the hell did you put me in there for stupid!?” Meanwhile the dog will be licking his face. And that is how the world actually works., We can say “but,” but that won’t change whose relationship was strengthened and whose was weakened.

The reason the wife is suffering is because the wife believes in what the Buddhists call The Illusion. She thinks that she deserves things because she’s a good person, even though she’ll know there are children’s hospitals filled with the innocent. She believes she has certain rights, even though she sees and reads about people’s rights being violated in horrible ways every day. And she’ll believe other people will treat her the way she would treat them even though her own life will have lots of examples where that wasn’t true.

13 Relax and Succeed - The act of forgivenessThose promises are all just words. Either her husband loves her and generally treats her well or he doesn’t. The fact is, the dog accepts. The dog accepts that crappy things happen, and sometimes they are caused by people we love. But as long as no one’s being physically or psychologically hurt, there’s no problem. That’s what forgiveness is—it’s not thinking about mistakes others have made.

So the dog looks back into the husband’s eyes with open anticipation, ready for something good to happen. Meanwhile the wife will be ruining her own evening by reliving something she could easily put behind her. Obviously this is exaggerated for the sake of the joke and we don’t want spouses locking each other in trunks, but the point is the lesson. You have to leave the past behind so that you can live your future, because the present moment is the only place where you have the chance to engage with and enjoy what’s happening around you. Even if that is just gratitude for being let out of a trunk.

Enjoy your day. You just have to do it Moment by Moment.

peace. s