Our animals hand us the winning ticket dozens of times a day.
But you have to be present to win.
Are you present? There are moments, days, weeks even, when I’m not.
Are you mindful enough to notice when you are working and your dog slides his sleek head under your hand or your cat brushes softly against your leg?
Do you take notice when you get to the barn and your horse is standing at the gate in greeting? Or are you, like so many people, wrapped up in thoughts of what you have to do, how behind schedule you might be, etc.?
Part of my everyday life is trying to remember to take advantage of those ever-present winning tickets. By winning, I mean taking advantage of the chance to truly share in a relationship, to be present in the moment it offers you, no matter how briefly. As long as I give the entirety of my attention to it, my animals and I both win.
When I’m sitting at the computer (I do a lot of this these days), engrossed in work, it’s easy not to notice the soft brush of Ruby’s snout on my leg. It’s even easier to get annoyed with my cat for “typing.” When I went to the barn every day, I didn’t even notice that I ignored the many faces turned my way over the fence. I looked for my own horse and thought of my own plans only.
How many opportunities for true and fulfilling mindful tenderness we all miss because we are too busy. But we are not really too busy. It doesn’t take long. A minute, maybe even less.
Here’s what I try to do:
When Ruby or Wibble approach me while I’m working, I stop what I’m doing and acknowledge their presence. I also acknowledge, in my heart, their existence, and their love, their place in my heart and how much love they give to me, unbidden. I adore them in return. All this can happen with a single loving touch while looking into their eyes. A good belly rub or back scratch and mutual recognition of our roles in each others’ lives, and back to work I go. Back to their lives go the dogs and cats, satisfied that they have made contact. I feel good. We all win.
Same story at the barn. If a horse is giving you his attention, it’s a reward for both to return it. A moment to rub a velvety nose or neck. To pull a burr from a forelock and murmur a kind word. This really doesn’t take much time. And it certainly doesn’t take time away from your intended activity. It’s the gift of a momentary awakening to the present.
In a similar manner, I’ve tried to incorporate mindfulness into work even when my animals don’t come along to remind me of my connection to the greater consciousness. I downloaded a little widget that rings like a meditation gong. The sound is very pleasing and peaceful. It rings on the hour like a grandfather clock. For each hour of my life that has passed without a pause for mindfulness, this little gong reminds me to stop. Pause and clear my mind and just BE. Maintain, even for a few minutes the essence of being. Just being. I try to make my mind like a clear blue sky. Thoughts are like clouds that pass through on a breeze. I don’t allow them to hang around and cloud up my beautiful sky. Move on! I’m gazing at BEING here!
Just a few moments, nothing more. These breaks for gongs and animal love actually increase my productivity and decrease the tiredness I can get from working at a desk all day. I feel a greater connection to life. It’s a proven fact that animals reduce cortisol levels (the stress hormone) in the human body. Once again, science goes along to prove what animal people have known all along: animals make you happy. So why not take advantage of every opportunity to share your life with them?
Try it, and you’ll see. You have to be present to win.