Animal Speak - November 2016 - Santa Fe
So Many Gifts, So Much Appreciation
By Lynne McMahan
As we move into the month of November and honor the gifts from this past year, there is much to appreciate. To share this deep "heart centered" gratitude, I want to share with you an exercise I have picked up as a daily closing to my morning meditation. This 5 part gratitude exercise was gifted to a conference audience by keynote speaker, Katie Asmus from Namastè Healing Arts in Boulder, CO. "Apprenticing to Gratitude: A Personal Response to Cultivating Global Sustainability, Interconnection and World Peace" was the theme of her talk and one this exercise puts into practice.
As humans, we have the unique capacity to experience and express awareness, curiosity, engagement, awe, and gratitude for our own existence as well as the other living beings that surround us...Brain scientists are now confirming the social, emotional, and neurophysiological benefits of consciously cultivating mindfulness and gratitude...Gratitude shifts our brain states, creates resiliency and lays and reinforces the neuropathways for joy and peace. In our modern world of ever expanding capacity for communication and interconnection with other beings as well as systems, the simple practice of slowing down and coming into relationship with the resources that surround us, has the capacity to create greater sustainability, interconnection and ultimately a greater sense of inner and outer peace. (Asmus, 2016, Prescott College Colloquium)
The following steps are my interpretation of the gratitude exercise Katie shared with her audience:
Step One: Be grateful for your self system, your body-mind-spirit--your ability to live and breathe and be of service everyday through all of the many gifts you have.
Step Two: Be grateful for your personal support team--your circle of support and love, including your family (your human and animal family), friends, colleagues, students, and for me--clients (animal and human).
Step Three: Be grateful for the many systems of support--the farmers who grow your food, the carpenters who build your homes, the health workers who ensure quality water; and the shelters who house and give love to the animals who need human support.
Step Four: Be grateful to Mother Earth and the many gifts and sacrifices she makes for us each and everyday, providing beauty and life force and a grounding to what is important for our survival as a human and animal species.
Step Five: Be grateful for what you call your "higher power," whether it be Universal Energy, God, Allah, Great Spirit."
To exemplify this process, I will share the story of Briggs, as well as sharing the 5 step gratitude meditation through his story. In early August when our "monsoon" weather finally arrived, I went to the shelter for my weekly Reiki volunteer time, including time spent with the strays who are housed in a separate area of the shelter until they are either found by their owners or readied for adoption. That particular day was quite stormy and noisy due to thunder and lightning, and Briggs was surrendered to the shelter by his owner. Briggs was very upset when I saw him and he communicated that he wasn't ready to go, repeating this statement over and over through our non-verbal process, asking me to help because his owner wanted him euthanized. I promised him I would find out what was going on and would share his message to the appropriate staff members. Meeting with Dylan, the Director of Adoptions I found out that yes, the owner had asked for Briggs to be euthanized, but no that would not be occurring. Through the good hearts and dedication of the shelter's humans, Briggs (age 12) was given the opportunity to be received by Ulla at Kindred Spirits where he will live out his days in a beautiful, loving place.
Following the appreciation checklist, this is my prayer of gratitude: I am so grateful for the gift of Reiki and Animal Communication and that I was able to hear Brigg's message; thank you to my friend Briggs for trusting I would do the right thing and work with my friends and colleagues at the shelter--thank you all for your big hearts and your dedication to the animals; thank you to the two shelter systems (SFAS and Kindred Spirits) for working in harmony to make this happen; thank you to Mother Earth for allowing Briggs to express himself during your storm so that he could find a wonderful new home with Kindred Spirits--Universal Energy knew this is where he needed to go; and I am so grateful for the heart strings--the love, blessings, and energy of Reiki, the Universal healing connecting energy of "all that is."
"Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world" (John Milton).
Update: Prior to this column's publication, Brigg's passed peacefully and with love at Kindred Spirits, and I would like to dedicate this month's issue to him. I am so happy he found happiness and peace and though he died of congestive heart failure, his heart was whole and happy for his final days.
Lynne McMahan, Ed.D., En-Light-En Reiki, is a Usui/Holy Fire Karuna Reiki® Master and Mind-Body-Spirit Mentor, supporting the healing of each person or animal on their journey of transformation. For more information: enlightenreiki.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, or 505.400.3168.