By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500, YACEP
Meditation with pets is a rewarding experience for all participants. The following is a meditation story and an experiment for pet owners. The common practice is to leave pets aside while meditating. It has been my observation that most pets tend to approach us calmly, while we are meditating. If a young puppy is in this house, this may not always be so, but mature dogs develop a good sense about when humans need space. Over the years, Marie and I have meditated with cats and dogs (together), with much success and happiness for all.
In the case of domestic cats, it has been my experience that they were attracted, like magnets, to the human who is practicing meditation. If this disturbs you, by all means close the door to the room you are meditating in, but do not be surprised if your cat lightly scratches or cries on the other side of the door. Sometimes, dogs react in a similar manner.
At one time, we had five cats in our house – three lived upstairs and two lived downstairs. Cats can sometimes be very territorial in regard to their floor or space. Unlike dogs, cats do not usually have a pack leader or a collective social network. Some cats prefer their own company, but usually acknowledge the humans who feed them.
Although I practice meditation with pets in many places, I usually meditate on the living room floor in the morning, at night, or both. There are no doors to the living room, so the cats have free access. Since the beginning of practicing meditation on the floor, the cats sit on the floor within arms reach. Some move closer and one sits in my lap at times.
When we had five cats, it was not uncommon for them to declare a truce and park themselves next to the meditating human. Interestingly, they would begin to purr in unison. For cats, purring is their sign of pure contentment. After the meditation session was over, everything gradually went back to normal and their territorial boundaries resumed. It seems that our meditation practice affects everything around us for the best.
Those of us who live, or have lived with dogs for years, know that dogs are a human’s best friend. We don’t currently have dogs at home, but when Marie and I first met (back in the early 70s), our dogs approved of each other and they liked to go for a walk, run, and play together all the time. It was easy for them to meditate after greeting each other, playing games, cool down, light snack, and water. Dogs might meditate as close as possible, which is fine with me, but might not be for everyone.
Dogs will pick up on breath awareness meditation, because they monitor us more than most people know. Your dog can hear your heart and lungs. Therefore, your dog knows when you are upset or calm. No human friend is 100% accurate on your feelings, if you “put up a good front.” However, your dog monitors you and knows, if you are happy or sad. Humans have to monitor a dog by hand or with a device, but dogs clearly observe us with deep awareness.
Nevertheless, best friends are always ready to adjust their time for you. Dogs don’t pull out their cell phones to schedule you in. In the case of cats: They are independent and some cats might wish they could schedule us for next year. Back to dogs: If you begin meditation with your dog, it takes your friendship to the next level. Meditation with pets is a great experience, but dogs are so loyal that they really the need attention and bonding time achieved during a meditation session. As for cats; I personally admire their independence and continue to meditate with them daily.
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