A Fulfilling 2021. A Dog's Advice
Updated: Jan 18
Before you even ask: No. This is not another entry unveiling the so-called benefits of 'Doga' ––bringing your dog along to the Yoga mat. We've seen it. We've read about it.
We've experienced it on occasion while practicing at home in our living-room and we are not huge fans. Dogs on the Yoga mat bring nothing but a bunch of loose hairs to our practice and that's that. Our entry has a different point in mind.
In most languages you can think of, the expression 'leading a dog's life' ––uni vida de perros, une vie de chien–– is used to connote something negative. Someone leads "a dog's life" when misfortune seems to loom over his head, when hardships become a daily staple, when the going is simply rough, tough, hard. But there are dogs' lives and dogs' lives, right?
So, we decided to take Buddhi's life as example and examine what we yogis could learn from living with a four-legged bundle of paws. Surprisingly enough, there's been a few lessons over the past year that have completely changed the quality of our daily life. These lessons can be summarised under the titles 'Just Be Here, Now,' 'Take Me Out,' and 'Give Me my Massage.'
Just Be Here, Now
We think fake positivity sucks and we're not here suggesting to just get high on life no matter what. Sometimes, life is a hard pill to swallow and no amount of wishful thinking can get us out from expiriencing whatever unpleasant emotions and feelings we may need to experience at a certain point in time. This said, however, if there's one thing that living with Buddhi over the past year has taught us is that, on a normal day, an average type of day, a great deal of our daily experience depends entirely upon our attitude. That is: on how we choose to engage with life. On how we choose to show up for all the different situations and interactions of our life.
Take a dog's life as example for a minute: everyday, rain or shine, the main motivation in a dog's life is consuming food, spending time with his pack, and spending time out with different variations as to the order. Every activity of the day ––including sleeping–– is engaged with with respect and dedication; for a dog eats with relish, plays with thrill and passion, fights with intensity, explores with curiosity, and rests with 100% chillness. They put the entirety of their attention into whatever it is they're busy with at a given point, into whatever they have at hand in the present moment. And though they have relatively ok-ish short- and long-term memory, they don't spend the majority of their time worrying about the future, nor dwelling on the past.
We believe that this is a formula that can help us humans make the most of our time while we still have it. To work with dedication; to rest, play, dance, or sing with abandonment; to love with generosity and to do whatever it is that we must do in the present consciously, with full-on attention, until the next moment swings by. It is only once we begin to live in the present moment that we start to realize that 'happiness' and 'unhappiness' are but transitory peak states and labels in a much larger ocean of, perhaps hard-to-notice, yet always present good old fashioned 'neutralness.' And it is spending as much time in this natural, neutral state that has the greatest capacity to make us be a bit more stoked on the mundaneness of life.
Take Me Out!
Often ranked as the number 1 reason why most people eventually decide against having a dog is the need to take them out. Indeed, dogs are social creatures and regardless of their breed and size, they need a decent amount of stimuli and exercise to lead fulfilling lives.
When we first got Buddhi back in Bali, it took a bit of trial and error and some measure of adjustment till we found out how much time 'out' was actually 'enough.' Needless to say, it was more than we thought. Interestingly, however, the more time we went out with Buddhi on walks or hikes, the more we realized that this time outside in nature was as good for him as it was healing for us.
Ayurveda tells us that, the number one most important thing we can do for our longevity and our long-term health is to take care of our Ojas. If you've never heard of Ojas before, you can think of it as the fundamental essence of our immune system ––you can check next week's entry on the blog for more info. Ojas is basically a reservoir of vitality that keeps our immune system strong, healthy, and ready to defend itself from outer attack. And one of the main ways to replenish our storehouse of Ojas is actually resting, as well as spending more time in the open, interacting with the natural world first hand. With life as it is today in most parts of the developed world, time out in nature is something we don't regularly manage to fit into our Mon-Fri schedule; but having a dog puts a necessary end to that.
Addititionally, going on daily walks a minimum of two times daily is also a great way to do some exercise; and considering the predominantly sedentary lifestyle of most urban individuals today this is something worth jotting down! These walks have the added benefit of providing a possibility to socialise beyond our usual circle. And we have to admit that we've been quite surprised to make the acquaintance of a bunch of super interesting people of walks of life and age groups we wouldn't normally come in contact with otherwise.
Give Me My Massage
Last but not least, the final lesson ––and this is a sort of funny one. After every meal (our dog eats twice a day now) he comes over and looks for either one of us to give him a massage. The whole habit started as a one-off thing at first where we fed him and coincidentally gave him a little massage right after. But he seems to have liked it, so now, after every meal he comes over to wherever we are, sits in front of us and gives us the paw until we pet his back for a while.
Though this may seem irrelevant for most people, for us it has shown us that whatever it is that we feel we need, whatever we feel we want, we must ask for it instead of waiting for others to decide whether or not they give it to us. To ask for more tenderness when we need more tenderness, for more space when we feel we could use some. To ask for help when we need help from others, or just for a piece of advice. The whole point is to seek what we need directly, without perambulations, just like a dog gives you the paw when he wants to fed, taken out, or in Buddhi's case, a full body massage. A great deal of our sadness and bitterness towards others stems mainly from feeling someone has failed at reading what we need or want. But instead of sitting on our feelings for weeks or years waiting for others to address our needs, we can address them ourselves and work actively at trying to get more of what we want.
So there you go! The secret to have a more fulfilling 2021 is that easy. Just forget about what you think you know about what it means to 'lead a dog's life' and: 1. Be present. 2. Get out. 3. Ask for what you want.