Expressions of Gratitude taught by Prince, the Labrador Retriever

I have been pondering gratitude and it’s expression on my long walks that Prince,  my dog, invites me on.   When we are in the woods and he is running with other dogs and chasing balls I can feel the gratitude radiating off him with his big smile on his face and his responsiveness.  As well as in the evening after he and I have had a session of tug of war or wrestling he settles down with a happy sigh.  Then as the evening progresses he will check in on what I am doing throughout the evening  with more of a  “Hey, now what’s going on?” attitude compared to an exasperated “When are we going to play?” sighing  attitude.

His attitude of gratitude invokes more engagement with me.  Curiously I wanted to explore the feeling of gratitude which lead me to a blog post about “What is Gratitude?”   which explained

Gratitude is both a feeling and an attitude, thankfulness is the demonstrative expression of it, whether extended to ourselves or others.   We can express thanks in words—spoken or written—or in deeds, by extending time, resources, or gifts to support people in unexpected ways or to help those in need. Appreciation is the recognition of that which makes us feel grateful, and can also be expressed internally or externally. Gratitude often ignites acts of generosity; we are moved to offer ourselves to others without expecting anything in return. Buddhists refer to generous acts that are freely given as “royal generosity.”  These are just a few of the qualities related to gratitude.  The expression of gratitude creates an opening that invites many other positive states and experiences into our lives.

Prince’s clear expression of gratitude does create an opening that is inviting more bonding moments even if it is just a ear rub and a kiss.  His embodiment of gratitude is teaching me be present in the moment of the expression of energy I am radiating out.  Am I clearly communicating energetically and verbally my gratitude in the moment?  And what does that feel like?  Each situation may be different and I am starting to track the moments I feel most alive and full of gratitude.  The times that are the easiest for me track this feeling is  during conversation with the animals,  healings, teaching or leading ceremonies and I am grateful in those moments because I am so present.   Now can I cross train myself to feel the gratitude and the aliveness when chopping vegetables for dinner?  Or when I am in conversation with a person who has opposing views?  Can I be present and not get lost in distraction and thoughts?

According to ANGELES ARRIEN  From her book Living in Gratitude: A Journey That Will Change Your Life

When people in great numbers choose to practice, integrate, and embody gratitude, the cumulative force that is generated can help create the kind of world we all hope for and desire, for ourselves and for future generations.

I am thankful that I share my life with Prince, who can teach me about being present and embodying gratitude and exuding it with great clarity in the moment.  I can then help create the world based on gratitude, kindness, compassion and equality.

So this brings me to my gratitude for my clients, students and teachers and their animal companions and for the opportunity to be part of such deep and heartfelt conversations, healings, teachings and ceremonies.  Each conversation heightens my awareness of the depth of compassion and love that our animals have for us.  Since the animals live in the present and are so attuned with the flow of energy  they are skilled guides of balance and guiding us to the road back home to the heart, self, being here now and expressing ourselves in the moment.  I often think of their role in the family as the family system therapist knowing when to demand attention to get their people off the computer, knowing who needs a snuggle or  a long, long walk to help their person reconnect with nature and themselves.

To echo the animals in the advice I have heard repeatedly throughout the year

“Tend to yourself as well as you tend to your animals!”   

Take yourself out on a walk, lay down and snuggle when you are tired, close the computer and look at the beauty that surrounds you may it be a ball at your feet with a eager dog to catch it or a demanding cat on your desk.  Be present with the moments of life.

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