Animal Speak - February 2017 - Santa Fe
The Power of Love: Transformational Healing from our Wise Ones
By Lynne McMahan
"Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened."
My late father, born on Valentine's Day, was the epitome of love, sharing his love of animals and children, my spiritual guide, though he has been gone for many years. His lesson of love, along with the lessons of love from my animal family members, is this: the more we give and receive love, the more love we have and the more love there is to share.
Love is infinite wisdom, sharing its essence through compassion, energy, light and healing. The theme of healing through love will be shared through stories prompted by the guiding question, "What have your animals taught you about love?" Contributors each share a unique healing story and I want to thank him or her for their willingness to share their stories in this month's column.
Steve, Rosie & Maggie
Steve, my partner, helped me understand how this simple question and the expression in the answer can be a healing in and of itself. When I asked him about the gifts from his Newfie, Rosie and his lab, Maggie, he shared their ability to give true love in the present moment, without judgment; expressing a state of fearless being, a fearless love. That mode of being in the world was genuine and it was impossible for them to be incongruous with themselves and others. Receiving this love until the end was an unbelievable gift. They came in trusting and they left the same way.
"They taught me that passing really is another example of this seamlessness of being, demonstrated by the way they were during their transition--still there, present to our relationship,” Steve said. “Their ultimate teaching is the true nature of being is seamless, timeless, unshakeable, authentic ‘is-ness’. We humans get lost and confused with conflicting messages and all of our distractions, Rosie and Maggie were demonstrations and reminders of who we really are--gifts and messages from all that is."
Jennifer, Andrew & Chupa
"When we first met, Andrew told me that he had never had a pet, not even as a kid. Compared to my childhood surrounded by creatures great and small, with daily pony rides and dogs that followed me everywhere, and an adult life that always included at least one cat companion,” Jennifer begins.
“As we melded our lives and eventually married, he grew to love our pets and over our 19 years together. I brought home various strays and rescues that joined our family, until 2 years ago, when our 16 year old dog died and we were ready to adopt another. Andrew insisted that he should finally be able to choose one of our pets. We went to the shelter and slowly walked through, checking out each and every available dog. After we were done, he said with confidence, 'I like the little black one.' We brought this small, terrified dog home and could not touch her for months,” she continues.
“Less than a year later, Andrew was killed in a traffic accident on his way home from work. In the dark days, weeks, and months that followed, this shy, scared dog was the one thing that made me get out of bed every morning. She barely trusted me, but I was all she had,” remembers Jennifer. “She was most relaxed when we were running, so we ran miles and miles--every morning we would just go, no matter how rough life seemed and we would pound out our fears together. Over time, she stopped shaking when I touched her and I was able to get through a run without breaking down.”
“We went from being 2 lost souls stumbling around to just being a woman and her dog out for a run. Now, as I lace up my running shoes to head out for our daily miles, I watch a shiny black dog wagging her tail in anticipation, her bright eyes looking at me, telling me to hurry up, and I see her for what she is: Andrew’s last gift to me, one he somehow knew I would need, Chupa,” Jennifer concludes.
"No one can know how they will react when given the diagnosis of a life threatening illness. I chose to keep it to myself until I had all the information about treatment and outcomes and then told family and close friends. Since I strongly felt that this was my journey, it really was up to me what path I was going to take. During a month long battery of tests and 6 months of chemotherapy, I found out how important my horse family was,” Debbie recalls.
“I became quite depressed not knowing what the future held. My horses were an integral part of my healing of mind and body. I would go to the barn 2 times a day to feed and clean and care for my 3 horses. Every time I went there I would sit on my bench in the breezeway of the barn and just be with my horses. I found when I was with them, the depression wasn't there and I felt tranquil. Advised not to ride during treatment because an injury of any kind could delay healing, I complied for 2 months. I then made the decision that it was important for me to ride and I rode at least once a week, sometimes alone or with a friend,” she continues. “It took me away from reality during that time. I always felt that my mare would keep me safe and she did.”
“I am in remission now and I attended a retreat with my horse after that good news. We did yoga every morning and rode our horses after. It was fabulous. I received a business card from the center where the retreat was held. There were a few statements on the back of that card..." Debbie shared this affirmation, "Horses change lives. They give our young people confidence and self-esteem. They provide peace and tranquility to troubled souls--they give us hope!"
Tina & Ollie
Tina shared the story of her recovery and her horse, Ollie's healing from their riding accident 15 months ago. Tina was very open about this process, stating that the first 3 months after their accident both she and Ollie were simply surviving the physical and emotional shock. Then they both started in on their journey of recovery, experiencing what she expressed as "life goes on-ness," moving on to a new awareness.
She came to realize that part of the therapeutic value of horses is that you can "physically see in their body, what they're feeling; whether it's trembling from fear, rippling tight muscles, their way of leaning back with every muscle on edge, head up, eyes showing the whites or, for that matter, signs of relaxation as well. In a horse you can physically see what we humans might feel (all bottled up inside) without necessarily fully acknowledging those feelings. They also don't use stupid words to try to cover up or 'explain away' their emotions! With the horse it's so physically obvious that you can't help but realize how real those feelings are. Seeing it makes you realize how real your own unseen feelings are," Tina said.
She has learned to understand that Ollie doesn't want to be made to do something or be something that he's not, just as she herself doesn't want that feeling.
Though she hasn't ridden him since the accident, she has provided many healing experiences for each of them, from Reiki to Liberty Work--a framework for deeper bonding, which in and of itself is a vehicle for healing horse and human (http://susansmithsantafe.com). Tina is also adding to her own experience of healing through riding a neighbor's horse. "The world looks different on the back of the horse--you become part of the horse," Tina said.
A perfect quote borrowed from Tina's refrigerator, affirming the power of love and healing through our animals closes this month's column:
“We are not meant to stay wounded. We are supposed to move through our tragedies and changes and to help each other move through the many painful episodes of our lives. By remaining stuck in the power of our wounds, we block our own transformation. We overlook the greater gifts inherent in our wounds--the strength to overcome them and the lessons that we are meant to receive through them. Wounds are the means through which we enter the hearts of others...They are meant to teach us to become compassionate and wise.”
Note: The picture this month is my Dad as a teenager, a cousin, his cat and his pet skunk, Jimmy (de-skunked, of course), circa 1930s.
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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.