Enlightened Living

Meaning and mindfulness in everyday life

Presence, Unconditionality, Acceptance and Connection

Think like a dog.
Lock a dog in a closet for three days and, when you let him out, he's overjoyed to see you. He's overjoyed not because you let him out, but just because you're there. A dog has no sense of time. He can't get trapped in the past or lost in the future. He is right here, right now, fully, completely and without quarter -- always. Were that it were so easy for us to be the same.

A dog is present. He lives for this moment, and this moment alone. He responds to what is around him, yet understand consequences. Without the burden of memory or prescience, he does not - cannot -- become imprisoned by his history or his future. We struggle with this, because we think.

I am sitting in front of my laptop right now typing this article, yet my mind is in a thousand other places. I am thinking about this, that and the other thing. I am roiling in regret about things not said and deeds both done and undone. I am planning. I am rehearsing. I am suffering. I am rejoicing. I am here, but I am not here. A dog is mindful. We tend to be full of mind.

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A dog's allegiance is unconditional. We won't go so far as to anthropomorphize him, and say his love is unconditional - but it is clear his allegiance is indeed that. He comes when he's called. He walks next to you off-leash. He looks over his shoulder to see that you're coming as you follow him down a wooded path, and sometimes even waits for you to catch up. He has no agenda other than maintaining his connection to you.

Our attention is often divided. We are here, but not here and, so, our allegiance is also divided. We are married, yet we cheat. We are invested, yet we tell half-truths. We are committed, but the grass is always greener. We speak, but we do not listen. We know, but we do not feel. We are just not there.

A dog's acceptance never wavers. He takes you as you are, with all of your flaws and imperfections, your idiosyncrasies and your nonsense. He recognizes your basic goodness and revels in you for you, giving himself over to you 100% and never questioning that choice.

All too often we judge. We are more apt to think and re-think than to hold space. We do not trust. We are suspicious. We assume an agenda on the part of others because we ourselves are operating with an agenda. The failure of relationship that we have with ourselves causes a failure of relationship to those around us. We create our own disconnection.

Presence, unconditionality and acceptance in concert lead us to connection. Setting aside the filters of attachment to past and future, the divided mind and our tendency to judge provide us with a stage for establishing true community and true connection that is based in our own authentic relationship to ourselves.

Love yourself like your dog loves you, and settle into the pure unfettered joy of the sense of community that creates, then take it outside yourself and into the world. Think like a dog.

 

© 2008 Michael J. Formica, All Rights Reserved

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Michael J. Formica, M.S., M.A., Ed.M., is a psychotherapist, teacher and writer. He is an Initiate in the Shankya Yoga lineage of H.H. Sri Swami Rama and the Himalayan Masters.

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