Does meditation make you a better pet owner? Well, it certainly has a whole host of benefits for both you and your pets. Meditation also helps us cultivate mindfulness and gratitude, allowing us to let go of the concept of ownership altogether and embrace being a pet parent. Or even better, it helps us look at our pets as animal companions.
Animals are sentient beings, and as such, they are affected by our moods and energy. Ever felt stressed while you were getting ready to go out and noticed that your pets were acting excited, too? Or have you ever been sick or sad and somehow your pet just knows to give you extra snuggles that day? They know when you are sad, mad, or glad and behave accordingly.
The Benefits of Meditation for You and Your Pet
The well-being of your animal companion rests entirely on you. And how are you supposed to take care of a living creature if you are not taking care of yourself? Any anxiety in your life will spill over into theirs. This is where meditation can be a big (and easy) help.
You also want to ensure that you will be around to take care of your pet. Stress has been linked to numerous health issues, ranging from mild to life threatening. Simply taking ten minutes to meditate each day will help reduce your stress and improve your health. Benefits of meditation include lower blood pressure, feeling calmer and grounded, less muscle tension, a decrease in inflammation, and a stronger immune system.
The benefits of meditation will spill over into your pet parenting. For instance, studies show that meditation increases a person’s empathy, which will allow you to make an even deeper emotional connection with your animal companion. Meditation will keep you more calm and relaxed, which means your animal companions will also feel more calm and relaxed.
Three Ways to Meditate with Your Pet
An easy way to get started is to take a minimum of ten minutes a day to sit in silence. Once you are in a comfortable position and have been sitting in silence for a moment, begin to focus on your breathing. You’ll want to take long, full belly breaths from deep within you abdomen.
While you are focusing on your breathing, think about positive qualities your animal companions bring into your life. This will help cultivate an increase of gratitude and appreciation for your pets. As well, taking a moment each day to calmly think about your pets and nothing else can alert you to any changes in their behavior. We are not always aware of things unless we make a point to focus on them. Mindful meditation will give you a renewed perspective of your animal companions and what’s going on in their lives.
Petting and Snuggling
You most likely pet and snuggle with your animal companions throughout the day. This is a form of meditation in itself. The rhythmic motion of petting your animal companion’s fur often puts people into a slight meditative state. There is a reason you find snuggling with your pets relaxing!
To take this one step further, integrate the mindfulness meditation techniques. Focus on channeling your calm energy to your pet. If you have a cat, try to match your breathing with your cat’s purr. Studies even suggest that a cat’s purr has healing powers! To get the most out of this meditation, make sure you and your pet are in a quiet place with no distractions. This is a great way to calm an anxious pet and especially helps when dogs are barking. Creating this relaxation for your pet will also help decrease pain in pets that have tense muscles or inflammation caused by disorders such as arthritis.
Chanting and Mantras
Animals respond strongly to the tone of a person’s voice. It’s one of the reasons dog trainers advise owners to not yell at their dogs during training sessions (or ever). Even looking at an animal a certain way can cause them to tremble with feelings of guilt (you’re especially aware of this one if you have a dog).
Chanting sounds such as “om” are very calming and rhythmic and are an easy technique to use as a way to calm anxious pets. For example, if you have a pet that suffers from anxiety while traveling in cars, chant a simple mantra while you’re driving. This is also a technique that can be used to help pets who have trouble sleeping. Feel free to use healthy treats to your pets when you are using the chant or mantra so they will further associate it with something positive.
The chanting can be as simple as a hum or using the word “om”, or it can be more complex, such as a lullaby or a mantra. The mantra and chanting will have positive effects on you as well; they say a daily mantra can stave off depression and foster feelings of positivity and gratitude.
If you think about it, animals meditate on a regular basis anyway. Meditation is simply finding the joy and gratitude of being in the moment. Animals do that everyday. In fact, everything mentioned in this article are benefits your animal companions provide for you. It only makes sense to return the favor.
If you happen to be in the California area on July 18th, 2015, join me for my “Writing as a Path to Awakening” workshop at Spirit Rock for a day of mindfulness meditation and writing. More details: www.spiritrock.com