Wednesday, February 24, 2010

If I Was King

If I was King in a bygone era, a being of supreme worth, I would compel my subjects to do as I wished. They would fetch me drink, clean the castle, and repel intruders. If they refused my edict or showed hesitation to comply, I would deliver correction, swift and sure, for a King suffers no disobedience or disrespect. As the all-powerful, dominant authority, the King would not ask inferiors or make suggestions; The King would command.

Commanded subjects are powerless. Stripped of their rights, their actions are not their own. Their thoughts and feelings are dismissed. They are ordered to move here and there, do this and that, at the whim of the autocrat who rules them. Interestingly, the “command,” an edict of absolute power – of demanding, ordering, requiring and controlling – has come to describe human-to-canine communications. How did that happen?

“Command” is one of a family of words that traces its roots to the ownership and subjugation of living human property. It is not a word that implies partnership or willing cooperation. It doesn’t inspire compassionate consideration of a being's mental and emotional reality, their right to choose or to self express. It is used when they have no rights or can’t be trusted to willingly comply. This single word - command - can lead us to impulsive acts of domination and control.

English writer and poet Rudyard Kipling considered words “the most powerful drug used by mankind.” Linguists and scientists agree. Words are more than mere building blocks of sentences; they determine the nature and content of our thoughts. They unconsciously induce and compel us to certain actions; they change our emotional states. Inextricably tied to the concepts they embody, words are translated by the brain and heart into electromagnetic energy patterns. These patterns have been shown to immediately affect everything within the measurable vicinity. They produce either chaotic, incoherent patterns of energy or harmonious ones. As you may have guessed, the word “command” creates chaos.

The communications we give to dogs are usually in the form of a visual or sound signal - a cue or a prompt. These words have the feeling of a suggestion or a request. Instead of commanding dutiful submission, we ask for willing compliance and this simple change establishes partnership. It affirms our truest natures, our deep affection for dogs, and the dog’s right to a creative experience of life. The word ask creates harmony.

The King is dethroned!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Yoga Sutras of the Dog

The purposeful marriage of opposites gives the yoga pose strength and stability. Front foot and knee push forward as back leg and foot push away. Rising arm reaches with purpose as falling arm holds back the world. Opposites join into a single creative force. I can find this balance and strength with the dog in my life. I can reconcile and join in a way that denies dividing and weakening. This is a dance of unity, of oneness. Recognize the dog as the Self and all alien nations disappear.

The body becomes more flexible within the tiny increments of a breath – a breath that is consciously joined and wilfully channelled. As it moves in and out, all else falls away. In the breath is the joy of fullness and the power of release. In the space between breaths, the utter peace of stillness. When I bring the force of my full attention to a moment of interaction with a dog, wholeness-of-being emerges. Expression fills and empties in tune with a primordial rhythm. This is a sharp and focused union with the infinite, boundless, creative All – encreatured. Join the dog in the moment – the party is there.

In the yogic practice, no two poses are ever the same. Each is a unique creation that the yogi brings forth from a vast sea of possibility. The pose can be enlivened and strengthened by faith or it can be weakened by doubt. The choice is always there for the conscious picking; a willingness to explore the possibilities creates it. Aware and awake, I can regard the dog as a being in full potential. I can allow canine possibility to emerge as I loosen the concepts that limit and deny. Or, I can believe him to be empty and thus create emptiness, condemning him to constant force, manipulation, coercion and bribery. All possibilities exist. Wake up and join the dog in spontaneous creative expression.

The yogi allows. Whatever is made in the practice is a gem of perfection. Expectation is released in this awareness. That which arises is accepted and loved. The body is not strong or weak, the mind not masterful or unwilling. The pose is not good or bad, precise or sloppy. All that is just is. In this release, the yogi becomes a master. The dog allowed is the dog who blossoms forth in ways that can not be imagined. The dog accepted is the dog who inhabits his creaturehood – living potential fulfilled, the being self-realized. The full and splendid canine-creative emergence is astonishing magic. Release the dog to dogness.

One does not arrive at a yogic destination. The yoga is never finished. The only thing to attain or realize is the journey itself as it continues to unfold on the mat and off. The same is true of the dog. There is no place in which he is known or finished. The dog is ever unfolding and the human realization of the dog ever unfolds in tune. Empty the mind of its contents and allow the dog to reveal who and what he is. Open and receptive to his teachings, explore the journey, releasing destination to the wind. The dog is the master of dogdom; seek no other.

The radiant heart of the yogi leads forth in effulgence. The countenance rises up to meet the creative force. Compassion, empathy, kindness and courage shine out in all directions. From the heart, it is possible to commune with the dog, intuiting nature, soul, what is needed and desired. Concepts, expectations, standards and desires evaporate in its light. Occupy the heart and be guided to the joy of the dog. Contemplate his perfection. Make every moment in his company a happy dance of love.