Archive for August, 2011

Love Transcends Death and Species

The Huffington Post video in their impact session presented this photo  that has stirred a nation regarding a soldier who died in war and his dog by his casket.  The commentary is interesting. Yet, what struck me was how the hawkeye, the dog, knew that his deceased friend was in the casket and what was going on in his mind as he lay down next to the casket while the entire funeral service was taking place.  It is promising that the nation was touched by that scene.  It continues to support the kindred spirit projects theory, that the human animal bond touches the absolute deepest parts of our heart and emotions. These connections go deeper than we can currently understand or appreciate.  Dr. Penny Lloyd shared some her most profound insights regarding the loss of her equine companion of 29 years.  Clients throughout my decades of veterinary practice would occasionally share how they grieved more for the loss of their animal friends than they did for different family members, commenting that they felt more unconditional love and no “baggage” from their kindred spirits.  From the animals perspective, I would often see animals grieving from the loss of a family member or other animals that they shared their lives with.  One 12 year old schnauzer stopped eating almost completely for a couple of months and had dramatic weight loss after the death of the elderly husband in the family.  The wife took her anorexic schnauzer to numerous veterinarians, specialists etc. to see if there was something physically wrong.  Despite numerous blood tests, radiographs, mri’s etc., no one could find anything wrong.  She brought her dog to me as a last option, hearing that I practiced a more holistic approach which also included grief counseling.  Upon reviewing all the thorough veterinary medical records and conducting my own physical examination, I agreed that there was no evidence of any physical illness at this time.  I prescribed a homeopathic remedy for grief and within 24 hours the dog began eating again and continued to recover.  The client was so amazed that she realized that she was still grieving as well and asked if she could take the remedy.  I explained to her that I am a veterinarian and did not prescribe to people.  However, the choice of remedy was based on what was used for humans.  She decided to take the remedy based on her own choice.  She commented afterwards that she had this “funny” feeling of the release of the depth of the grief.  She still missed her husband tremendously, but felt that the deep pain had somehow disappeared.  I imagine that that his how her dog may have felt as well.

There are numerous examples demonstrating how animals grieve for others.  Truly these moments transcend death and species. The insights that I have gleamed from the  story  of the labrador retriever, hawkeye grieving for his deceased companion are: 1. animals grieve similarly to humans and 2. animals sense the death of others and perhaps even sense their continued presence even after death.  In addition, I believe that the deep connections that we feel when we see animals behave similar to human behaviors has its roots somewhere deep in our psyche.  The Harvard entomologist, Dr. E. O. Wilson termed this belief “biophilia”,  an innate connection to be in nature and with all animals.

What are your thoughts regarding this photo and the nations response?

Trans-species Mother’s Day: Continued….

The maternal instinct truly transcends species.  Identity between mother and baby goes beyond labels.  A monkey nurses a kitten, a golden retriever adopts tiger cubs and the video documentation of trans-species maternal love evolves beautifully on Youtube.  This truly is a study of how animals can not only live together in harmony, beyond their labels of predator or prey, or speciesism.  This is an ongoing study documenting maternal behaviors transcending the labels that put on different beings.  I will continue to share these video documentations as I come across them. Please send in video’s that you are aware of as well.  This is a new level of animal behavior research that can teach us many lessons in living together in harmony.  We can document and continue to create a new Garden of Eden!  Watch these video’s and smile at the beauty of mother nature!
Maternal Behavior between Dog and Tiger cubs

Golden Retriever with Tiger cubs

Golden Retriever Dog Adopted Three White Tiger Babies

MOTHER TIGER ADOPTS PIGLETS!

Monkey adopts kitten – SO CUTE

Dog Adopts a Panther Cub

Cat Adopts Rabbit

Cat Adopts Baby Red Panda

Kindred Awakening Through Mind/Body Medicine and Golden Retrievers

Shared Joy

Research and Ancient traditions continue to emphasize the power of our thoughts in healing our minds, our bodies and the environment.  Every animal lover recognizes  how most of  the time shared with their kindred spirits makes them happier and healthier.  Whether it is quiet time together for a walk or a ride or sitting down together petting your dog or cat, or grooming your horse.  Sometimes the times together that brings us joy can be more active as well.  Whether riding your horse during an 100 mile endurance ride thru Abu Dhabi (as one of my clients just completed) or jumping over three foot jumps, or doing a graceful dressage show.  In addition, what brings so many of my canine clients such joy is time together in agility trials or as in this demonstration of Co-species healing, dancing  between Carol and Rookie, her golden retriever.  Rookie saved Carol’s life from a life of chronic fatigue to one filled with joy and health.  As many approaches state, it all begins with thought.  Thought then transforms into action and then into transformation.  The power of our thoughts and intentions can heal our minds and our body. (more…)

Medmob: Global Meditation for Peace: August 28

I was excited to come across this peaceful meditation movement online (www.medmob.org) recently. It is such a joy to see the vision that I have had for animal lovers through the kindred spirits project develop separately for various groups throughout the world. It is a magnificent demonstration of the information field and the interconnectedness of consciousness. Medmob which is essentially a website organized to create mass meditation for world peace simultaneously throughout the world. This is based on the global coherence theory that we have discussed in previous posts. I imagine they are based on the flashmob theory. They state that “Our intention is to create an environment for people from all walks of life to come together in meditation. By exposing people to meditation through public display of meditation and sending positive intentions out into the world we can lead be the example.” Simple acts can change the world. As Gandhi has stated “be the change you wish to be” .

Part of the vision of the kindred spirits project is create meditative environments and meditative moments wherever animals and humans congregate together. This can be at animal shelters, animal hospitals, wildlife sanctuaries, horse barns, horse shows, organic farms, etc. I believe that regularly scheduled times of meditation among animal lovers and their animals can transform the human animal bond and through that, the world.
Perhaps this may be the first invitation to all animal lovers to begin connecting with their animal companions through meditation simultaneously throughout the world. Go to www.medmob.org and see if there is a medmob meditation in your area. If not, perhaps you may be interested in organizing one where you are or perhaps in an animal related location in your area. Perhaps your friends at an animal hospital, shelter, horse barn etc. may be interested in organizing one with you. Perhaps if there is not sufficient time for this one, we can create one through the kindred spirits project.
Let me know what you think and feel and let us begin this momentous movement for world peace through the love of animals now!

Love is Better Than Anger: A Touching Farewell Letter From a Great Leader

Jack Layton by Andrew SpearinTrue leaders, who are  sincerely committed to the people and  honestly care for the environment are extremely rare and precious these days.  On Monday, August 22, 2011, Canada and the world have  just lost one of these compassionate, talented, visionary leaders, Jack Layton, leader of the New Democratic Party.  He passed away from cancer this day.   His awareness, diplomacy, compassion and leadership skills transcend political parties.

He left with his family  a letter to share with Canadians upon his passing which you can read in this huffpost article.  At the end of the letter he states  ”My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic.  And we’ll change the world”.  What more stunningly appropriate words could Jack Layton, a true statesmen and leader share with Canadians upon passing.  He is truly a kindred spirit.

May all readers of this blog create a moment of silence in honor of Jack Layton, a leader that is sorely missed.  May his life stimulate other leaders to emulate his beliefs and carry on his magnanimous efforts and help them manifest into a new reality for this world.    Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family.

 

Medicine Buddha Retreat: Healing Ourselves and Others

Continuing with the theme of retreats, I recently participated in a Medicine Buddha Teaching near my home. As I find myself following my passion of exploring the  integration of  the latest in neuroscience, quantum physics, consciousness studies, mind/body medicine with the essential truths of ancient traditions in order to help animals heal, I am always amazed at how much one documents the other.

The Medicine Buddha practice is part of an entire psychological and spiritual Buddhist tradition, and by no means do I intend to claim to understand the deepest foundations of these fascinating and invaluable teachings.  I am merely an interested novice practitioner  in the study and teachings of Buddhism and how they may be of benefit to all our kindred spirits.  These personal explorations and study are part of my commitment to be of benefit to all sentient beings, including animal lovers and all our beloved animals.  Along this healing journey I have found Medicine Buddha teachings to be of immense benefit in my own efforts to purify my thoughts and busy mind traffic and thereby improve my healing skills with animals.

One excellent Buddhist teacher, The Venerable Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche, states that “We practice the Medicine Buddha in order to attain states of mental and physical health or balance, not merely for our own benefit, but for the benefit of others as well”. This practice can improve the health of our own mind and body as they are inseparable.  As we improve our own mind and body health, we are able to be of more benefit to others.

Medicine Buddha Teachings

Medicine Buddha Teaching by Phakyob Rinpoche

I was privileged to experience these teachings again by Phakyab Rinpoche  who had his own profound experiences with Medicine Buddha.  While teaching in Tibet, Phakyab Rinoche became known for his ability to assist individuals in their physical and emotional healing. He was then faced with his own severe health challenges and left Tibet in 2003 where he was granted full political asylum by the U.S. government.  He spent several months in a New York hospital where conventional medicine was unable to help him heal and three physicians recommended amputation of his leg. He consulted with his mentor, the Dalai Lama, and made the decision to not accept further medical intervention.  He relied solely upon his spiritual practices to heal himself.  To the astonishment of his doctors, his leg and his whole body healed and he brought himself back to radiant health.  Phakyob  Rinpoche is now part of an ongoing medical study as to how he was able to alter cellular changes through meditation that led to his complete recovery.  He shared his story during the teachings with such humor and light.  He shared that often when we are confronted with challenges, mental, physical or emotional, it is so we can develop further empathy for others going through similar challenges and really be there for them.  Personally, I have found this to be so true in my own life numerous times.  Each time I have been confronted with some health challenge, I learned from it and then was able to use my experiences to be of benefit to others.  An old saying that I share in workshops that I teach is that “experience turns knowledge into wisdom”.  There is no greater teacher than experience.  Phakyob Rinpoche believes that the primary way to heal oneself is to cultivate compassion and loving kindness, as well as to practice forbearance and patience.  I have found that the more I develop my commitment to cultivate compassion and loving kindness for all beings (including myself), the more I am able to be of benefit to all our kindred spirits.   (more…)

Retreat: From a Moment to Eternity Part 2

I have received many fascinating responses to the post on retreat.  There are many quotes on the importance of retreat time. One of the simplest, shortest personal retreats can be summed up in this quote: “Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest we take between two deep breaths.”…Etty Hillesum.   Some horse clients commented that the time on their horse is their retreat time. They go into such a state of peace when they are on their horse.  Winston Churchill once stated that “Their is no wasted time when in a saddle”.  Other clients felt that the time grooming their horse was a mini-retreat, while others felt the time mucking the horse stall was a meditative retreat.   I actually used to call mucking the stall “muck therapy” as over and over again I heard how meditative and peaceful different people found it.

My dog clients responded saying that the time they walk their dog is like a mini-retreat in their day and cat clients commented that the time grooming and petting their cat was their retreat time.  One can see that time with our kindred spirits can indeed quiet our minds and nourish our souls.  When we do not have enough time to take an extended retreat, these  quiet moments in our day are essential for quieting the busy mind traffic and creating mini-retreats, momentary retreats.  It is true too that each breath can be a retreat.

One of my meditation teachers, Mingyur Rinpoche has just chosen a more extended retreat, three years!  This is a very traditional Tibetan Buddhist tradition. I just received an email from his monastery with the letter he just wrote to his students regarding his choice of his extended retreat.  Mingyur Rinpoche decided to set off on a personal retreat, with just the clothes on his back, a small pack and wander through the Himalaya’s for three years. Rather than going into a more traditional meditation retreat cave in the Himalayas, he took off wandering and meditating, without any destination.   Wow! I thought, how remarkable that is for someone of his stature and with thousands of followers worldwide to just take off like that in the middle of the night. Sogyal Rinpoche, one of my favorite teachers and author of the “Tibetan Book of Living and Dying” and “Glimpse after Glimpse” commented in this Sogyal Rinpoche on Mingyur Rinpoche Retreat on Mingyur Rinpoche’s choice to go on a wandering solitary retreat like in the old days, yet in todays modern world, letting go of email, facebook, twitter and all other forms of communication as well as all other modern conveniences.

I cherish my own personal retreat time, whether it be one deep breath, a silent moment between seeing patients, my morning meditation, a one day of weekly retreat or six months of retreat.  Each retreat time allows me different levels of depth into inner peace and awareness.

How do you retreat? What have been your experiences?

Polar Bears Receive Protection

Kudos to Canada for acknowledging the obvious, that Polar Bears are a greatly endangered species due to the current climate crisis and now will receive deserved protection according to this article in the Huffington Post. As their habitat melts and we continuously hear of polar bear cubs drowning because they cannot reach enough ice to land somewhere, governments need to take action right now to try to curb the climate change that is endangering polar bears. Their fight for survival is heroic as we hear of polar bears heading south and hear other fascinating anecdotes about polar bears breeding with grizzly bears where they are beginning to interact. Actually in British Columbia, there is one area, the Great Bear Rain Forest or the Spirit Bear Rain Forest where a small percentage of the black bears in this region carry a recessive gene to be white. It is believed that this may date back to the last ice age. During Salmon runs in September these white black bears can be seen along the shoreline going for salmon. They are such an amazing site that the first nation tribes in the area called them spirit bears.

The irony of it is that their is a proposal for an oil pipeline from the Alberta Tar Sands to the British Columbia coastline directly through the Spirit Bear Rain Forest, the last great temperate rain forest left in the world. Not only is one of the greatest causes of this climate crisis right there in the Alberta Tar Sands, but the proposed oil pipeline will take it through the Spirit Bear Rainforest where the last vestiges of the last ice age still remain.

I find it amazing that we are apparently seeing polar bears consciously or unconsciously adapting to survival and climate change by interbreeding with grizzly bears that they are beginning to share territory with. I ponder if anything or what is going on in their psyches that they are interbreeding. Are they just in the same territory and then recognize grizzlies as not that different from them, or their something at a trans-species level of consciousness or subconsciousness that is happening, beyond our current understanding.
One can only ponder and speculate. The end result though appears to be a current adaptation for survival as the world changes around them. What are your thoughts? Is there some bigger picture, beyond our comprehension that is creating this attempt for survival?

Celebration of Life: Ascend and Include (Part 4)

This is the fourth in a series of four posts by our amazingly awesome contributing blogger Dr. Penny Lloyd!

Dr. Penny recently lost her lifelong companion mare “Bangwyn”. By sharing experience and insight around life and death of loved ones, it is her intent to help all of us open to the unfathomable beauty and ultimate connection that is healing.

Celebration of Life – Ascend & Include

I am not here to tell anyone what to believe around death. I am simply sharing my experience. That is what I trust most nowadays. This seems to be the general trend for humanity at this stage in our evolution. It used to be that we would accept without question, information handed from authority figures (parents, doctors, government, police, boss, experts in any field). Now it is rare to take someone else’s advice, or even research, as absolute. When we question for ourselves, we discover there are many layers to everything. That makes life fascinating. It is all about finding our own way to truths and what is real – by sifting life through our own filter. That comes through being present to our own experience. That opening is what I wish to share.

Life is different for everyone because everyone’s perspective is different – built by our unique biological makeup and life experience. Each point of creation is unique. So my way is not the one way, the right way, the only way, the highway…it is just my experience at one point in my own evolution … guaranteed to change. So will yours.

Close to a decade ago, when my 21 year old cat best “Buddy” died in my arms, it was the most pain I had ever felt. The only thing that helped was going outside. When the pain was at its worst, I remember hearing a whispered “promise of connection”. It came while I was in the pasture, and was surprised to see a cat. The cat turned and looked at me – giving pause to my raging internal blizzard for a millisecond – long enough for the message to land. At that time, the word “connection” didn’t mean a thing. I quickly dismissed and forgot it. But it has resurfaced, becoming a focal word in my reality.

One of the things “Buddy” was just starting to do before he passed on was curl up at night in the crook of my arm, right next to my heart. I just loved it, couldn’t get enough of it, and wished he would sleep there always. A couple years after his passing, a little black fuzz ball kitten climbed up my leg one day and adopted me. He sleeps there regularly. And I love it more than ever.

Ten months ago, my sister’s dog “Sharky” passed on. Some time later, she adopted a full grown dog “Mystic” from the humane society. Everyone was shocked at how similar they looked. We have all made an effort to call the new dog “Mystic”, but regularly make the mistake of calling him Sharky. Even though they look the same, there are differences in character. Mystic definitely has traits Sharky never had. But in a surreal yet deeply comforting way, somehow all of Sharky surfaces within Mystic. He no longer seems gone. Somehow he is not all of Mystic, but part of him.

With the connection Bangwyn and I shared while she was in physical form, I could feel her presence with me whenever I thought of her. (This is something she helped teach me, which is another story.) We were never really apart. Even when we were a thousand miles away from each other, I could feel her energy right with me. All I had to do was focus and instantly there she was. It was a particular sensation that I knew to be her.

I assumed it would be the same when she passed over. The first time I checked in after her death, I fully expected her to be there as she had always been. Then I had a brief surge of panic that she had disappeared. But her presence was there. It had changed and felt different. The quality of it was lighter and freer – more wispy, less solid. And it was found in a slightly different place. It was no longer a next to me, side by side, walk together, merging sensation. When I scanned for her presence the way I had always done, I found it deeper and more central, integrated – it had become part of my heart space – at the very core of it. That’s where I found her after she passed on.

Celebration of Life? Healing Our Greatest Fear (Part 3)

This is the third in a series of four contributions by our amazing, compassionate blogger Dr. Penny Lloyd.

Dr. Penny recently lost her lifelong companion mare “Bangwyn”. By sharing experience and insight around life and death of loved ones, it is her intent to help all of us open to the unfathomable beauty and ultimate connection that is healing.

Celebration of Life? Healing our greatest fear

Mention the word death, dying, euthanasia and watch humans pucker up, fidget, sweat, change the subject and scramble for the nearest exit. Death is our greatest fear. The day my mare passed had an expansive peace, warmth, and beauty to it. It was so normal, so natural. How could such a huge day feel normal? How could such a day not have been the most horrible day of my life? How could “euthanasia day” be another series of moments shared… a normal natural extension of life as it had always been together – with rich new discoveries and joy created together? I couldn’t have done it without her. Animals can help humans transform our biggest fear. They do not fear death like we do.

Years ago I remember driving my vet truck and seeing yet another gorgeous black squirrel with tufted ears lifeless in the middle of the road. It was one of those emotional days, where I couldn’t bear it. It tore me up. Tears didn’t help. Neither did saying a blessing prayer. What did help was this thought. “Consider this. Maybe it is a game. Could it be squirrels dart across the road on purpose? Perhaps the thrill of going to the light is the best game of all. From a squirrel’s perspective, an exciting game of dodge dash, followed by a quick painless exit – may be the best of all days. Then “pop” back into another body, to do it again. Like a carnival ride.”

It is hard to wrap your head around how it can all be in one day. How can there be the best of times at the worst of times? How can a day of immense sorrow also be playful, carefree, and adventurous? Is that allowed? How is that even possible? All I know is that my mare was clearly having a party. Her enthusiasm was contagious. If you took her lead, today, every day, was a celebration. Every moment was a party. Not a false front drunken desperate attempt to escape reality party. A fully enter and embrace reality party.

Whatever there was to enjoy, she enjoyed fresh and full – like she had always done. Today was no different, only perhaps more so. For all around there was a higher vibration than usual. This gave each experience even more rich full joy. Who knew that on your last day you could discover the taste of carrots and succulent greens – with salt for the first time? Who knew that humans could be so delightfully present, instead of busy? How could a simple walk feel so carefree incredible? Who knew that a needle could give such freedom?

And so because I was more present, I came to glimpse a truth behind the “Celebration of Life” phrase, not as used in the past remembrance tense, but now. Always in the now, as animals always are, enjoying what is, without judgment, preconceived notion, concepts, or fear of death. Past and future do not even exist, when you fully enter the moment. From this vantage, life is celebration and celebration is life. They are one and the same.