Goal Setting Mind Personal Growth Self Improvement Success

Life Lessons From a Golden Retriever

Nothing like a powerful meditation group to bring forth some truly important life lessons in a most unusual way. The wisdom is all around us, often in the most unique places. We need to stop and listen in order to hear and heed the lessons.

Each time we gather at a different person’s house. This time it was in a great, comfy space. It has that welcoming, settle in with good people, and connect sort of feel to it. She also has a big, high energy golden retriever named Rudy who typically gets banished to the basement or spare room when we gather. This night was no different – Rudy was closed in the basement where the kids were watching TV and hanging out.

Let me set the stage here. Whoever is hosting the event each month typically is the person most concerned about unwanted noise, misbehaving children, and random interruptions. It’s just human nature. We all love and cherish our gathering and meditation time and want it to be “just right”. So with dogs and kids tucked away we opened our circle and meditation time.

About 2/3rds of the way through our 30 minute silent meditation you could hear and sense one of the young kids trying to sneak out of the basement to use the bathroom. The next thing you knew…Yahoo! Here comes Rudy dragging young girl out of the basement and into the living room where we were sitting. He grabs a shoe and starts whimpering and charging through the circle. He was quickly intercepted and put in the spare room.

So we return to our meditation listening to poor Rudy whimper in the spare room and feel the tension harboring in our host because of the interruption. In the final minutes of the meditation, the circle’s informal leader did something brilliant. She quietly informed all of us that she was letting Rudy out and all we were to do was simply hold the space – meaning that we should all maintain our meditation, our presence, and groundedness and just allow Rudy to be Rudy without engaging with him.

This is where the lessons truly kicked in.

We Do Not Need to Engage in the Madness

As my coach always says “Just because someone knocks doesn’t mean you have to answer.” If others are creating drama in our midst or demanding something of us we can choose not to engage. Just because Rudy was demanding attention by frantically going from person to person trying to get each of us to appease him didn’t mean we had to. In fact if we would have met him where he was (charged up and desperately needing attention) we would only have poured fuel on the fire.

Where and when do you create drama or get caught up in someone else’s? What would be different if you didn’t engage and just let it be?

When We Don’t Get Our Needs Met in a Healthy Way They Rule Us

This dog was in desperate need of love and attention even though he has a loving and comfortable home. Rudy often gets exiled whenever company comes and like many dogs spends the workday alone. Because he so desperately wanted to be petted, played with, and paid attention to he was off the charts with energy and demonstrative behavior. He desperately wanted to be seen and acknowledged.

What I know for sure from the work I do with clients (and have done personally) is that identifying our unique needs and then coming up with a plan to get them met in a healthy way is key to being able to create a great life. Otherwise we find ourselves at the mercy of our unmet needs. Unmet needs lead to self-sabotage and desperately finding ways to get them met in unhealthy ways. One way or another we will seek to get our needs met – it’s natural and necessary. Choose to make a conscious and healthy choice so you are free from their bondage.

If We Stay Present Those Around Us Will Match Our Energy Or Exit Our Space

Rudy charged out of the spare room, grabbed another shoe (mine again dammit!) and started seeking attention from each person one by one. Circling the circle over and over pacing like a lunatic in a cell. We all continued to hold the space with calm and balanced energy. As we continued to do that little by little Rudy’s energy started to shift. He got less hyper, moved between people less frantically, and ultimately would have sat down quietly among us if we had waiting long enough.

People (and animals) will match the energy of their environment and those in it. You always have a choice over how present you want to be in any moment and what energy you bring to it.

Trying to Please Others or Worrying What They Will Think is Fruitless and Painful

What will people think of my dog? I really want other people to be happy in my home. As the host it is up to me to ensure that people get what they came for or I’ll be a failure. The weight of the world is on my shoulders and all I really want to do is make others happy. Sound familiar?

This gathering was just another reminder of how fruitless trying to control other people’s experiences is. You cannot make anyone else happy. You cannot make anyone else have the experience you hope they have. In fact you can’t “do” anything about other people. People operate from their own experiences and in their own best interest. Period. All this worry and desire to people-please is truly fruitless and ultimately full of suffering.

The antidote? Serving and caring for others with clean intentions, compassion, and an open heart. The rest will simply unfold as it will.

Truly Accepting the Choices We Make Sets Us Free

Are you truly OK with the choices you have made? If you think you are… here’s a little test. Ask yourself – do I still worry or think about what other people might think about my choices? If so, you’re not totally accepting of your choices!

Rudy is a typical family dog and has not been formally trained. That is how they consciously chose to approach pet ownership. Yet as this little Rudy episode brought to light, my friend wasn’t truly 100% OK with her choice or she wouldn’t be at all concerned what we and others thought of her dog. When we make a choice but then heap judgment upon ourselves because of it, we hold ourselves hostage to our own choices and our assumptions about what other’s think. We beat ourselves up and think of ourselves as “less than”.

Here’s the nice thing about animals – Rudy is not constrained by his choices. He doesn’t care if I don’t like dog kisses or not. He is absolutely all over me laying it on me. He didn’t care that Kim was quietly meditating – he smacked her with his “happy dog” tail and slobbered her up like a kid with his first ice cream cone.

Now I’m not saying to live and make choices with a “to hell with the world” attitude. Absolutely not – we are all connected and each choice we make has a ripple effect in the world. Yet if you consciously choose and do so by tapping into your inner wisdom and a genuine compassion for the world as one … and then let go – that is all you can do. The rest is judgment and suffering.

The Richness of Experiencing vs Thinking

I love to think and learn. I could think myself into an inescapable maze. Yet I also know we can think ourselves to death and our left brain can be our greatest enemy at times. That is why I so cherish these gatherings. It is always an experience. It is reflecting and being and letting awareness unfold. Did I intellectually know most of these lessons before Rudy charged into my life? Absolutely. However, the evening truly showed the power of experiencing something right in front of our eyes and seeing what we take for granted or otherwise dismiss. By shedding light on these lessons we are able to live more fully and powerfully. And for that Mr. Rudy – My deepest gratitude for the lessons.

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