Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Practicing Wholeness

Ah, summer fun out doors – carefree and easy times. Maybe our iguana gets to rule the screened in porch, or the cockatiel or conure perches there in the sun. These are the days we remember when the cold and wild winds blow, or the rough times shadow us. My dog and I just enjoyed an evening soccer scrum with her favorite big blue ball. I curd an evening romping romp with her favorite big blue rough times shadow us. t our time outside short, though, because it’s hot and she’d eaten just an hour ago and I recently learned about bloat.

Bloat’s not good, not at all, and if you don’t know about it, please look it up now – there’s lots of helpful and practical material out there that may save your animal’s life.

We can avoid or prevent many things from happening to those we love, but not everything, by any means. Sometimes, when bad things happen, we have no choices – we have to accept events as they’ve unfolded. There are also times when knowing your pet and having some resources can offer you options. Friends of mine have a small dog who, as a puppy, raced out an open door and onto the street. He was hit by a car and badly hurt. My friends took a chance, had some resources, and today their beloved dog races around on three legs, loving life.

Sometimes, even when it comes to the end of a life, we may have choices. I value hospice care because it’s one such choice for some people and their loved one when faced with a terminal illness. Recognizing that we can establish deep bonds with other animals, today hospice care is increasingly available for them as well as well as humans.

Hospice care modeled on the best of human hospice offers pain relief above all else- but doesn’t stop at the physical pain. Hospice care includes emotional support and spiritual care. For animal caregivers, spiritual care acknowledges the great rewards in walking the whole journey of life with your companion, and also that there are challenges on such a path.

As your companion’s primary caregiver, you’ll make vital decisions while tending to the physical and emotional needs of your pet. In addition, you may have to manage the needs and concerns of other loved ones – family and friends. Renewing your own spirit will enhance this precious time and insure that you are able to give the best care possible.

Finding a sustainable spiritual practice now will help you feel more confident that you are making the best choices, when you have them, and accepting life in all its fullness, sadness alongside joy, when you do not.

For my practice, I just started a gratitude journal. I decided I could make time to write - at the start or end of every day- at least three things I’m thankful for. It’s been a surprise to find the list grow longer at every session, and in the process to let go of the inconsequential parts of my day. It’s like a shower for the soul.

Anyone have a practice that helps you stay centered and renew your sense of purpose? Dancing, meditating, prayer beads, or a special piece of music? Please feel free to share what works for you in the comment box below.


  1. For me, wholeness and joy almost always requires physical movement, often including what others would refer to as work. Simple repetitive movements are good: Weeding, raking, shoveling horse manure (really! And it must be outdoors. Housework doesn't qualify).

    In the midst of the work, I always find myself pausing into stillness, to enjoy something unexpected and beautiful: the perfect husk of a molted cicada, two brilliant green chameleons posturing on a pine branch, the hopeful nicker of horses looking for a second breakfast. I find conscious joy in the contrast between physical work and mindful stillness. For me, mindfulness and wholeness can't occur on a schedule of meditation or prescribed exercises; I must truly work my way through to that place and keep my eyes open, to see which bit of the world presents itself each day.

  2. Tactful Trainer, you said that so beautifully - the most repetitive tasks help us empty our minds of the chatter. In that stillness is where we find our connection to what is essential, our being.

    How the Zen masters would have loved the image of shoveling dung as a mindfulness exercise! I can hear them belly laughing...

  3. I get it from hiking. It really is an outdoor activity that triggers this sense of renewed purpose. Though perhaps for me that has a lot to do with the fact that I work indoors and grew up mostly outdoors. Regardless, connecting with nature is essential.