Sunday, September 27, 2009

Black Dog Syndrome

Throughout ancient mythology and folklore dogs are commonly associated with death, as guides of the spirit or guardians of the underworld, but the black dog holds a special status as a universal symbol of malevolence and death. Black Dogs are phantoms, ghostly apparitions who appear at night on dark lanes and foothpaths, in thunder storms, at crossroads and gateways and at places of execution. They are said to simply vanish or fade from sight and to disappear into the earth or in a flash of light. They sometimes walk on their hind legs and through solid objects and no one dares to venture past them; they are associated with the Devil and if they cross your path at night, they may set you ablaze.

In some places the spectral Black Dog is known as "Shuck" and is said to be headless. Shuck or "Shock" is derived from the Old English scucca, meaning 'demon.' They were also called Black Shag, Trash, Skriker, Padfoot, Hooter and Barguest – from the German bargeist or 'spirit of the funeral bier.' In 1127 big and loathsome Black Dogs were seen with black hunters who were riding black horses and goats. Such packs of spectral hounds—with or without hunters—are reported to have been seen all over Europe, and are generally known as the Gabriel Hounds or Gabble Retchets – from an old word for 'corpse.' Thought to be the restless dead or the souls of unbaptized children, these phantom black hounds were huge, with big eyes that glowed in the dark.

Some people deny the existence of what is referred to as "black dog syndrome" – a term that has become common in animal shelters. It predicts that dogs with black fur will languish without attention while dogs with lighter fur not only get attention, they get adopted. And black dogs get the lethal injection and an end to their lives. This does happen and it happens in shelters everywhere and people who are partnered with large, black dogs will tell you that others don't receive them with the same eager affection they do smaller dogs with lighter fur coats. What is it that operates on adopters as they go down a row of cages, passing by those that contain black dogs? Are myth and folklore a part of our genetic make-up, perhaps somehow encoded in our DNA? I suppose that's possible but I think that something much more simple and basic influences us. I think it is a single, powerful word.

From Old English, the word 'black' was first associated with dark or malignant purposes in 1583. It is defined as a color lacking hue and also as gloomy, pessimistic, dismal, sullen, hostile, threatening, evil, wicked, deliberately harmful and boding ill. It indicates disaster, misfortune or potential danger and the illegal and misleading, treacherous, traitorous and villainous. It symbolizes ambiguity, secrecy, and the unknown. It is equated with the sinful, inhuman, fiendish, morbid, grotesque devilish, infernal, monstrous, atrocious, horrible and nefarious. Black has come to symbolize death, mourning and bereavement. Bad guys wear black hats while good guys wear white ones and villains are dressed in black. Black magic is destructive or evil and black days are sad or tragic, like the Black days in 1929 when the Stock Market fell and fell again. This word has a lot of baggage and a lot of power.

As our eyes fall upon a black dog, we don't consciously run through these associations – they act upon us behind the scenes, unconsciously, and this is exactly how we relate to most of our waking experiences in life. Our minds are full of illogical and superstitious beliefs and some, while seeming completely rational to us, can be truly insane. I encountered a man walking two Yorkshire terriers a few days ago. When they saw Jack, both strained on their leashes to get to him. The man began to shout "No Running!" as one little dog sounded the telltale honk of a collapsed trachea. The three dogs circled and sniffed. The man grabbed the honking dog, opened her mouth and forced his very large finger into it and down her throat. She squirmed in distress. It didn't help her but somehow, he thought it would.

Have you ever really examined the beliefs you hold about dogs? I admit that this is hard to do without bias and prejudice but if you could do it you'd probably be humbled and amazed. Have you ever become fully conscious as you interact with a dog to learn what you are thinking about in that instant and to see what those thoughts would have you do next? Some of us have, of course, but we don't do this routinely. We don't do it very often with family members, friends or co-workers either. That's just the way we roll!

In The Conceptual Dog, readers will practice a type of hyper-awareness – the kind that dogs still employ. We'll set our determination to make conscious living a habit. We'll start noticing and controlling what we think and be in control of how we react, and we'll stop leaving our minds to the influence and energy of the unexamined words, thoughts and beliefs that lead us into enmity and conflict. We'll make sure that every interaction we have with a canine is compatible with our truest natures and this will naturally honor theirs. Basically, we're going to begin to wake up. The dog has been waiting a long time for this and it can't happen soon enough!

(c) 2009 Madison Moore, The Conceptual Dog. All rights reserved.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Curious Reality

I have gotten so many responses to my posts about non-verbal communications with dogs that I decided to provide some excerpts from The Conceptual Dog to enhance our understanding of how such an ability is not only normal and quite natural, it's something we can all experience.

Electromagnetic Harmony

Consciousness is a quality that lacks any clear and collaborative definition, its neurological basis is unknown, but it is measurable, at least in part, as electromagnetic energy. When we think, whether or not we are conscious of our thoughts, we produce energetic emanations that are measurable. What we say and think about provokes negative and positive feeling responses that are communicated throughout the body via electromagnetic field interactions. The structures that originate these electromagnetic waves are the brain and the heart. The heart generates the body’s most powerful and extensive electromagnetic field – estimated to be 5,000 times stronger than that of the brain. It has been found to have its own “brain” which enables it to independently learn, remember and make decisions. Research demonstrates that the heart’s pulsing waves of energy affect the body’s organs and influence the function of higher brain centers involved with perception, cognition and emotional processing. These waves of energy change as our thoughts and feelings change. When we have thoughts that inspire feelings of frustration and anger, the heart’s rhythmic pattern is erratic, disordered and incoherent. When we have thoughts that lead us to feelings of love, peace, joy and appreciation, its pattern is smooth, ordered and coherent. And in this state of coherency or electromagnetic harmony, our physical and mental functions are enhanced; the body’s systems show an increase in efficiency and compatibility. Our perceptions of stress decrease while our emotional balance, mental clarity and cognitive and intuitive acuity increase. We experience a marked reduction of internal mental dialogue and greater awareness of and sensitivity to others.

This state is referred to as "psychophysiological coherence” – the harmonious nature of mind and body and as we will soon see, the effects of our words, thoughts and feelings reach beyond our physicality.

Where is Mind?

Humans and canines inhabit very similar physical structures; both have hearts and brains. And both species demonstrate thought, perception, memory, imagination, reason and understanding – this generally describes “mind.” Most people believe that there is a distinct difference between body (or matter) and mind. In the philosophy of mind, this is known as dualism. But a growing body of evidence from multiple fields of study demonstrates that mind and body are not separate. The mind, previously thought to be focused in the head or even to be the brain itself, has been found to actually disburse throughout the body by way of signal molecules to which most of our cells are receptive. Our thoughts can also transfer by means other than the five classical senses. There have been many reports of instantaneous non-verbal communications between humans, between humans and animals and between animals. We can now operate computers, wheelchairs and artificial limbs using only our thoughts. This might suggest that things other than bodies, including the “space” in between things, is also mind or receptive to mind. In fact, modern science seems to be arriving at realizations that ancient societies recorded on stele and in pictograms, creation myths and sacred texts. There aren't separate "things" here, each possessing a separate and individual "mind."

One or Many?

It was once believed that consciousness was a secondary phenomenon of material reality. In other words, it emerged from materiality or existed as a result of bodies and things. It is now understood to be the field of energy that is antecedent to all phenomena – coming before, as source. Therefore, mind and body are manifestations or expressions of a single, all-encompassing field of conscious energy. We constantly affect this field with our words, thoughts and feelings, feeding it waves of coherent and harmonious energy or incoherent and chaotic energy. In fact, the effects of our verbal, mental and emotional creations can be measured some distance away from the body and they have been found to have an immediate impact upon the inert things and living beings within that distance. In a very real sense, as Nicola Tesla suggested in the late 1800's, our bodies simultaneously act as energy transmitters and receivers.

Over the past 300 years, our understanding of the universe as an entirely physical phenomenon has changed. Quantum physics has demonstrated that matter can be simultaneously defined as solid and as an immaterial force or field of energy. "Things" are nothing more than waves of possibility until they are observed by a conscious being when they "collapse" into space-time phenomena. Reality became quite curious with the discovery that essentially, there is no distinction between something we think of as real and the space between “real” things. Within the scientific world, the duality of mind and matter as separate constructs has collapsed into singularity. All known phenomena are actually waves of unlimited potential, existing in multiple places at once, denying the laws of the known reality. We and the world we inhabit are a web of interconnected and inseparable energy patterns. In this understanding of reality, there would be no such thing as a separate or individual “part.” There is no difference between a thought form and a human form. All are waves of energy. Albert Einstein recognized that energy and matter are the same when he concluded that E = mc2 (energy is matter or mass multiplied by the speed of light squared). Max Planck, the Nobel-Prize-winning father of Quantum Theory, describes all matter as originating and existing “only by virtue of a force…we must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent Mind."

We arise from a creative and conscious field of energy and we influence it. Our current ability to know the full range of that influence is limited by the limitations of our current measuring capabilities. But scientists, spiritualists and metaphysicians agree with ancient understandings – our thinking, feeling energy emanations extend every "where" and to All - to beings, things and no-things, to the whole of the universal reality. There is one mind here, a unitive force imagining.

Our material-reality worldview issues from the concept of a mechanical universe of “things” reacting in response to certain immutable laws. We perceive a subject-object split and understand ourselves to be separate from all else. Our adherence to these tenants has erased our ability to perceive the interplay between our thoughts and feelings, this conscious field of energy and the world of matter. It has detached us from the divine energetic essence of our reality. It has created in us a separation from nature, from animals, from other humans and from all else. Science proves the existence of a single unitive force that creates the world and gives it meaning. But we have gotten into the habit of "knowing" by looking outside ourselves. We gain "information" about the dog through the flat reality of a computer screen and the pages of a book. We develop understandings and interpretations of the dog that are developed and guided by conceptual understandings and by rational thought and inference and all of this relies on what’s already “known.” We follow our avatars of canine behavior and education philosophy and application and all the while, the real master lies prone at our feet, waiting for interaction.

Other ways to "Know," "Be" and Gain Wisdom

We seem to have forgotten that "knowing" can arise through introspection – a reflective looking inward, and through intuition or quick and ready insight. It can be gained through inspiration – the divine influence and reception of sacred revelation. These origins of wisdom become acute when we are willing to release our propositions of fact – our coveted beliefs and the things we think we know, and when we enter states of psychophysiological coherence or electromagnetic harmony. They can become acute when we practice them and when we train our minds to be receptive to them. They are not weird or magical powers to which only gifted individuals have access. They are natural and organic, ancient and innate. And it is through them that we can experience unity, oneness, the one mind and...the genuine dog.

(c) 2009 Madison Moore, The Conceptual Dog. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Thinking Out Loud

An amazing thing happened a few months back. I was walking with Jack around the lake, following a route that we have taken most mornings for the past five years. There is a point where we can choose to turn left to access a road that borders the lake or go straight to walk along the main road. We had never gone straight; we had always turned left and I really don't know why. One morning as Jack and I were approaching our turn-off, he stopped to sniff out an interesting aroma and I gazed down the main road. I thought about the row of mailboxes stretching into the distance and about all of the dogs who lived along that road. I had a vision in my mind of us going straight one day and Jack stopping to inspect the new urine-inspired mailboxes with great excitement. We walked a few more yards and as we came to our turn, Jack went straight! He did not hesitate. He did not look left. He went straight on down that main road and collected pee-mail with great excitement, just as I had imagined.

A couple of weeks went by and during those weeks, we turned left as we always had. Jack never looked down the main road again and did not hesitate at the turn. I had been thinking about what happened that day and decided to try another experiment. As we approached our turn, I began to envision us walking down the main road. I saw Jack taking in new smells, nose to the sidewalk as we went straight ahead. When we came to the turn, Jack went left. It looked like my intentional experiment didn't work. But then, he took a couple more tiny steps, stopped, turned around and headed down the main road. This was only the second time we had taken that route.

The next day, I envisioned us going straight and Jack went straight, not hesitating at our turn. In the middle of the block, I looked across the street and imagined the smells on the mailboxes over there. We had never walked on that side of the road and I held a picture in my mind of us crossing it and continuing on the other side. Three driveways later, Jack turned to the right, crossed the road and we walked to the end on that side.

I have used this visualization technique frequently since then. We have taken different routes, turning in places we never considered or even noticed before. I can think of playing with a toy and Jack will show up with it in his mouth. I can picture our reunion when I'm on my way home and my husband will report that he goes to the door several minutes before the garage door raises.

Can we have nonverbal communications with dogs, the kind that comes from what we envision, think of feel? There is actually a growing body of evidence to prove that we can and do. Rupert Sheldrake's book Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home, And Other Unexplained Powers of Animals, provides research findings and anecdotal evidence of the unitive mind. The Institute of HeartMath has been studying the impact of thoughts and emotions, the electromagnetic energy they generate, and the instantaneous way in which this transfers between beings and things. They have been able to demonstrate that what we think influences our surroundings and those around us. And when beings are in close contact with one another, as we are with the dogs in our lives, what we feel, what our heart signals, actually registers in our partner's brain waves.

Don't take my word for it; try your own experiment. Clear your mind of its unconscious streaming feed by willfully inserting your intent to create a vision. Create one that the dog will surely enjoy, like joining you in the kitchen for a nice piece of sausage. Concentrate on that vision, seeing it in full detail. If you aren't a visual person, think the words that you would normally say out loud, calling the dog by name, asking if he would like a treat. Don't give up if it doesn't work the first few times. Dogs have to tune out the constant parade of thoughts and visions that our minds produce. Just like tuning a radio with subtle twists of the knob, one day, you'll establish a clear channel and be on thinking terms with your constant companion. Go try it now and let me know how you do.

For related information, read other articles in the communication section.