Anyone who has loved a dog knows the immense value they bring. Canines can provide us a sense of ease and comfort, along with feelings of joy and unconditional love. As we witness the ‘being-ness’ of our pups, it’s clear that they have much to share. They readily demonstrate timeless spiritual truths such as presence, acceptance, selfless service, and togetherness. This is who they are at their core, and it’s who we are too. No matter how many legs we have, we are all spiritual beings. When we are able to recognize this in our dogs and in others, it’s an important step on our spiritual path.
Dogs of every shape, size, and age can be a source of inspiration and support along our journey. Here are four valuable lessons dogs teach us that lead to more vibrant, meaningful, spiritual lives.
1. Being Present
The present is where peace resides. When we are in the moment, we stop ping-ponging between what was, and what might be, and keep the emotions from both places at bay. Few people have mastered this profound spiritual lesson the way dogs seem to.
Sure, canines live in the modern world of stress and triggers too. Something can generate a memory and produce a reaction from a pup in the same way it can a human, but most dogs move on quickly and return to the present moment. This is the wisdom from which we can learn.
It is natural to be reactive from time to time, but our quality of life is influenced by how quickly we return to our natural state of being. Life can be a roller coaster, but if we follow the canine lead and continually come back to being present, we’re likely to experience more peace overall.
When listening to talks by Dr. David Simon, the late co-founder of the Chopra Center, he would often advise how life could be made easier if we simply learned to embrace whatever comes our way. It’s easy to see this motto expressed in the way dogs approach their own lives.
Newly adopted dogs are a perfect example. Transitioning into a new home can be difficult, but most canines have the right attitude for making the transition easy. They tend to embrace whatever is offered. With their willingness to explore a new person, environment, food, or bed, they make the best of an uncomfortable situation.
The lesson for humans is to surrender to what is. Acceptance is a recognition of our current reality without the desire to change it. When we acknowledge and truly accept people and circumstances as they are, we lay the groundwork for an inner stillness, making it easier for us to lose the incessant desire to control people, places, and things.
3. Joyful Service to Others
Dogs act selflessly. Living in the moment means they don’t waste time considering their agenda or thinking of themselves. We can see the joy many dogs get from helping others, too. It could even be called their dharma. Think of service and therapy dogs. They are intent on carrying out their mission and doing it well, but their caregivers also need to be aware of the stress they face with such challenging and important jobs.
Even at home, canines seem determined to make others happy. Our pups aim to please, and our joy serves as a catalyst to continue their engaging behavior.
By observing a dog’s selfless service to others, we’re reminded to give, not out of obligation or guilt, but unconditionally from our heart.
Studies show that canine companions enjoy spending time with their humans. Often, even a shy dog who may not want to get too close will still prefer to be in the same room with you. And just try to close the door on a dog who is looking for a good hang out session with you!
Since canines are naturally drawn to life as a pack, they are well positioned to live in harmony with nature and with others. This is demonstrated in those cute viral videos we see online of canines befriending different species, even cats. They tend to see beyond their differences.
It can benefit humans to be a bit more dog-like in this respect too. Focusing on our differences only creates more separation. If we can approach togetherness with a more canine-like perspective, then we are likely to experience deeper connections and more meaningful relationships.
These four spiritual lessons are just a taste of a dog’s innate wisdom. When we glean inspiration from the special way a dog lives, they can become our teachers. For instance, meditation is the foundation of a spiritual life for many people. But did you know a dog can make the perfect meditation partner? Consider their natural tendency to be present, not worried about the past or future, free from grievances or resentment. All clear signs of mindful living.
They are showing us, by example, how best to live. Meditation is proven to reduce stress levels, lower blood pressure, boost the immune system, and even improve your sleep quality. So why not enjoy that experience with your dog too?
Mediate anytime, anywhere with the Chopra App. Access guided meditations on the go from the well-being pioneers.
*Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health programs.