Dogs live in the present – they just are! Dogs make the best of each moment uncluttered by the sorts of complex fears and feelings that we humans have. They don’t judge, they simply take the world around them at face value. Yet they have been part of man’s world for an unimaginable time, at least 30,000 years. That makes the domesticated dog the longest animal companion to man, by far!
As man’s companion, protector and helper, history suggests that dogs were critically important in man achieving success as a hunter-gatherer. Dogs ‘teaching’ man to be so successful a hunter enabled evolution, some 20,000 years later, to farming, thence the long journey to modern man. But in the last, say 100 years, that farming spirit has become corrupted to the point where we see the planet’s plant and mineral resources as infinite. Mankind is close to the edge of extinction, literally and spiritually.
Dogs know better, much better! Time again for man to learn from dogs!
Welcome to Learning from Dogs
Something a little different for this week.
Mother Nature Network put out an email earlier in January that opened, thus:
Dear friend of Mother Nature,
We all see the beauty in a sunset or in a gorgeous painting, but can you appreciate the art in bacteria, climate images or preserved animal remains? These beautiful examples show how for centuries, art and science have danced a well-choreographed routine. The result has been some breathtaking creativity.
The pictures were so wonderful that I have offered the first six for today and the balance in a week’s time.
The final set to be published in a week’s time.
Humorous, but oh so true!
One of the blog sites that I subscribe to is Exposing the Big Game. The blog does a fabulous job in exposing the terrible ‘game’ of people hunting animals for sport! Many of the topics that author Jim Robertson exposes are incredibly painful to read but, please, do drop across there and support his efforts.
All of which is a preamble to a short item that was posted last Sunday and is republished here today.
Nothing more to add to those rules than offer this photograph taken at home early one day last December, 2013.
You all have a peaceful weekend.
Dearest Suzann, who invited me out to San Carlos, Mexico, for the Christmas of 2007, leading to Jean and me meeting, is heavily involved in rescuing the many feral dogs found in that part of the world.
She recently sent me the following:
Shepherd Boy will be euthanized in a few days at the CA state kennel he is at and Jeannie Wade is trying to help save his life….do you guys know of anyone? Let me know asap.
He is located in the Central Coast area of California and goes by the name ‘Shepherd Boy’ and is one year old.
He is in a high kill shelter and has days to live.
Shepherd Boy is shy and sweet tempered and the volunteers at the shelter feel he will make a very good companion/pet for a nice family or couple.
Paul, If I were up there, I would take him in a heartbeat!
Please, please share this as far and wide as possible – urgently.
Shepherd Boy may be found at the Central Coast SPCA, Orcutt, California 93457
Suzann has given me the name of Jeannine Wade and she may be emailed at: firstname.lastname@example.org
A reposting of a blog from Dog Leader Mysteries about a dog food recall.
Quickly stepping over the observation that today’s post is about as far removed, topic wise, from yesterday’s post as one could possibly imagine, nonetheless this is important and needs to be widely shared.
Raw food recall: J J Fuds Frozen Pet Food
J. J. Fuds Raw dog food recall expands
Dear Fellow Dog Lover,
Because you signed up on my website and asked to be notified, I’m sending you this special recall alert.
On January 27, 2015, J. J. Fuds of Valparaiso, Indiana, announced it is expanding its recall of select lots of J. J. Fuds Raw Frozen Pet Food to include 2 other products due to unspecified contamination.
To learn more, please visit the following link: J J Fuds Raw Frozen Pet Food Recall Expands
Please be sure to share the news of this important safety alert with other pet owners.
Mike Sagman, Editor
The Dog Food Advisor
P.S. Not already on our dog food recall notification list? Sign up to get critical dog food recall alerts sent to you by email. There’s no cost for this service.
I copied this email notice from The Dog Food Advisor. I highly recommend you sign up for this list.
Please share to save dogs’ lives
We don’t feed Sydney raw meat. We do feed organic raw vegetables in limited quantities. We care about pets and want our readers to share this important news. Also we want you to know that we receive the Dog Food Advisor’s updates. Mike Sagman never stuffs our email box, but sends out notices as fast as he receives them. We asked our local pet stores if they receive notices before opening each day. You can do that. Ask when and how pet foods get pulled from their shelves, your pet’s life depends on this.
For the love of dogs and the people who love them
This blog continues to evolve yet our purpose never changes…to save dogs’ lives and dog lovers’ sanity.
Thanks for reading and sharing, Deborah Taylor-French
Please get the message circulated to as many dog lovers as possible.
The history of power, control, those who wield it, and where it has taken us all.
There is a real pain in me as I start into today’s post. A pain that comes from agonising over whether or not to write in this vein. A pain that has its roots in me being forced to accept that global politics, money and power-plays are much worse than I ever wanted to believe.
What, you must be asking, has got me plunging so far into this dark place? When just twenty-four hours ago I was writing of peace, calm and deep meditation?
Simply a film!
A film that was uploaded by the BBC a few days ago exclusively on to their BBC iPlayer platform.
The film is called Bitter Lake and here’s the trailer.
The full film is 2 hours, 20 minutes long. (But note that the film is age-restricted for obvious reasons.)
I can’t encourage you to watch it. For if you do, the world may never seem the same to you.
But Jeannie and I did watch it and think it should be shared widely. And, yes, it has changed the world for us.
Here’s how it is described by Adam Curtis and the BBC.
Published on Jan 26, 2015
Shown exclusively on the BBC iPlayer service in the UK
This upload is for those outside of the UK
Politicians used to have the confidence to tell us stories that made sense of the chaos of world events.
But now there are no big stories and politicians react randomly to every new crisis – leaving us bewildered and disorientated.
And journalism – that used to tell a grand, unfurling narrative – now also just relays disjointed and often wildly contradictory fragments of information.
Events come and go like waves of a fever. We – and the journalists – live in a state of continual delirium, constantly waiting for the next news event to loom out of the fog – and then disappear again, unexplained.
And the formats – in news and documentaries – have become so rigid and repetitive that the audiences never really look at them.
In the face of this people retreat from journalism and politics. They turn away into their own worlds, and the stories they and their friends tell each other.
I think this is wrong, sad, and bad for democracy – because it means the politicians become more and more unaccountable.
I have made a film that tries to respond to this in two ways.
It tells a big story about why the stories we are told today have stopped making sense.
But it is also an experiment in a new way of reporting the world. To do this I’ve used techniques that you wouldn’t normally associate with TV journalism. My aim is to make something more emotional and involving – so it reconnects and feels more real.
BBC iPlayer has given me the opportunity to do this – because it isn’t restrained by the rigid formats and schedules of network television. It’s a place you can go to experiment and try out new ideas.
It is also liberating – both because things can be any length, and also because it allows the audience to watch the films in different ways.
The film is called Bitter Lake. It is a bit of an epic – it’s two hours twenty minutes long.
It tells a big historical narrative that interweaves America, Britain, Russia and Saudi Arabia. It shows how politicians in the west lost confidence – and began to simplify the stories they told. It explains why this happened – because they increasingly gave their power away to other forces, above all global finance.
But there is one other country at the center of the film.
This is because Afghanistan is the place that has repeatedly confronted politicians, as their power declines, with the terrible truth – that they cannot understand what is going on any longer. Let alone control it.
The film shows in detail how all the foreigners who went to Afghanistan created an almost totally fictional version of the country in their minds.
They couldn’t see the complex reality that was in front of them – because the stories they had been told about the world had become so simplified that they lacked the perceptual apparatus to see reality any longer.
And this blindness led to a terrible disaster – support for a blatantly undemocratic government, wholesale financial corruption and thousands of needless deaths.
A horrific scandal that we, in our disconnected bubble here in Britain, seem hardly aware of. And even if we are – it is dismissed as being just too complex to understand.
But it is important to try and understand what happened. And the way to do that is to try and tell a new kind of story. One that doesn’t deny the complexity and reduce it to a meaningless fable of good battling evil – but instead really tries to makes sense of it.
I have got hold of the unedited rushes of almost everything the BBC has ever shot in Afghanistan. It is thousands of hours – some of it is very dull, but large parts of it are extraordinary. Shots that record amazing moments, but also others that are touching, funny and sometimes very odd.
These complicated, fragmentary and emotional images evoke the chaos of real experience. And out of them I have tried to build a different and more emotional way of depicting what really happened in Afghanistan.
A counterpoint to the thin, narrow and increasingly destructive stories told by those in power today.
And I must include this comment from the relevant page on BBC Blogs:
Quite simply one of the best films I’ve ever watched. The theme and content made so many connections linking events of the last 40 years. It’s perhaps time to reflect on power ,control and those who wield it . The official narrative is not our narrative , we have a choice to decide what we believe . Time to reflect and make that choice.
Thanks for such an informing film.
Here is the film.
Of space and meditation.
In yesterday’s post, I wrote about using a biofeedback device promising to explain more today.
Also yesterday, I touched on the benefits of meditation and how the video from quantum physicist John Hagelin PhD seemed so interesting.
So let’s start with that sixteen-minute talk from John Hagelin.
In this intro video, quantum physicist and certified TM teacher John Hagelin, PhD explains the Transcendental Meditation technique and its benefits from a scientific perspective.
Now while I had been aware of transcendental meditation, seemingly for years, I had never really taken steps properly to understand exactly what it is all about. Clearly, John Hagelin does an excellent job in that video in giving one a good basic understanding of TM.
OK, moving on to the biofeedback unit.
The picture is taken from the company’s website where, as one might expect, there are many glowing reports about its effectiveness. But the key benefit to my mind is that it is a, “FDA-cleared, non-drug, non-invasive hypertension treatment device”.
I purchased it, for $99 plus S&H, because I was aware of having an elevated blood pressure and it came recommended by long-term friend, Dan Gomez. I have been using it now for about 8 weeks.
Essentially, one clips an elasticated strap incorporating a strain gauge around one’s midriff, inserts the ear-pieces into the ears and settles back somewhere comfortable in a quiet room.
While my blood pressure is still too high, the unit most definitely has an incredible calming effect and in approximately twenty minutes my breathing rate drops from about ten breaths per minute (BPM) to five or even just below five BPM. The calming effect stays around for quite some time afterwards.
Deep breathing exercise also insists on holding the deeply inhaled breath, and releasing it in gradual phases, with a pause between each release, till entire air is exhaled; followed by three to four cycles of same process… One of the purposes of this structured format is to keep the mind in the now and thereby relax the practitioner… Best wishes… Raj.
Not sure what else to add other than be very happy to answer any questions – assuming I know the answer!
In these modern times, when we are bombarded by so much from so many directions, the benefits of deep meditation, of slowing down so naturally, as our dogs demonstrate every single day, could be of tremendous value.
Just watch this short video of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, speaking at Lake Louise, Canada in 1968.
Uploaded on Apr 3, 2009
The Transcendental Meditation technique uses the natural tendency of the mind to go toward greater happiness, so the mind effortlessly transcends to its most silent state.
Serendipity strikes again!
I’ve written before about how our breath is connected with our wellbeing and emotional state. Noticing how we are breathing is a tool that we can use to monitor how we are doing.
There is another pause that comes with our breath which is also revealing. The pause at the end of the exhale before we take in more air. When we are distracted, stressed or in an anxious state, there is no pause. We don’t trust we have enough air and we don’t allow ourself to relax and let go.
Just take a moment to tune into how you are breathing right now. Just notice without judgment.
Pausing at the end of an exhale can only happen when we are relaxed and in tune with our mind and body. When our body and mind are aligned in the present moment.
I then left a reply in the comments section:
Excellent advice. For the last few weeks I have been using a biofeedback unit that through guiding one to breathe in harmony with a musical phrase allows one to slow the whole body down. Down to about 4.8 breaths per minute. It really underlines how slow one’s breathing rate can be and, supporting your post, the glorious pauses after each inhale and exhale.
And offered to write a post about the unit and my experiences. (Coming out tomorrow.)
However, what I wanted to do as a ‘lead-in’ to that post was to discover if there was any research into the benefits, as in scientific benefits, of slowing one’s body down in this fashion. What is surely nothing more than a form of meditation. Where to start looking? Needn’t have worried; there were many items on YouTube that covered the benefits of meditation.
There was a video from the AsapSCIENCE guys Mitchell Moffit and Gregory Brown, but I found it too jazzy and irritating, rather ironically! Then there was one from physicist John Hagelin that seemed much more appropriate to my tastes (and that is featured tomorrow as well).
By now it was coming up to 4:30pm and I had a dozen other things to do, plus try and fit in a biofeedback session – I could feel the stress rising within me.
Then I dipped into Terry Hershey’s latest Sabbath Moment and, guess what! Here’s what I read:
Learning to let go
January 26, 2015
Some of us think holding on makes us strong, but sometimes it is letting go. Herman Hesse
Uncertainty is the only certainty there is, and knowing how to live with insecurity is the only security. John Allen Paulos
When you let go of trying to get more of what you don’t really need, it frees up oceans of energy to make a difference with what you have. Lynne Twist
Today I am sitting in a café (and bar) in Vaison-la-Romaine, in the Provence region of France, nursing my espresso.
No, wait… that was last week.
It just sounds sexier than saying, “Today I’m looking out my window at a gloomy winter sky, here in the Pacific Northwest, with a Thesaurus in hand hoping for a gushing synonym for gray.”
Welcome home. Home for me is always awaited and valued, but still elicits a bout of scotoma (selective vision), where we end up comparing the life we have, for the “life we deserve” (the actual wording for a recent advertised e-course).
My favorite part of my recent France trip was visiting family run wineries, spending time with the owner / wine-maker, with the permission to linger, sensing a comfort grounded in story and connection. Said one (when we asked him about being a small winery–in a world where big is everything), “I am glad. I am not alone. I work with family.” (Referring to his son and three daughters.)
And it makes me wonder about this mental sleight of hand we use, thinking about the life we are destined for, as somehow different (or better) from the life we now we live.
There is a Tibetan story about an earnest young man seeking enlightenment. (Earnest people must think this quite unfair–since they play a central role in most parables and stories about enlightenment.)
A famous sage passes through the man’s village. The man asks the sage to teach him the art of meditation. The sage agrees. He tells the man, “Withdraw from the world. Mediate every day in the specific way I will teach you. Do not waver and you will attain enlightenment.”
The earnest man follows the sage’s instructions to the letter. Time passes — and no enlightenment. Two years, five, ten, twenty pass.
It happens that the sage once again passes through the man’s village. The man seeks him out, grumbling that despite his best intentions and devotion and diligent efforts, he does not achieve enlightenment. “Why?”
The sage asks, “What type of meditation did I teach you?”
The man tells him.
The sage says, “Oh, what a terrible mistake I made! That is not the right meditation for you. You should have done another kind altogether. Too bad, for now it is too late.”
Disconsolate, the man returns to his cave. Staking his life on the sage’s instructions, and now believing he is without hope, the man abandons all his wishes and efforts and need to control his road to enlightenment. He does not know what to do. So, he does what he knows best: he begins meditating. And in a short while, much to his astonishment, his confusion begins to dissolve, and his inner world comes to life. A weight falls away and he feels lighter, and regenerated. When he walks out of the cave, the sky is bluer, the snow capped mountains whiter, and the world around him more vivid.
There is no doubt that all too often, our efforts–to succeed or achieve or attain–get in the way of our living. It brings to mind my favorite Robert Capon quote, “We live life like ill-taught piano students. So inculcated with the flub that will get us in dutch, we don’t hear the music, we only play the right notes.”
I understand. I was weaned on a spirituality that predicated itself on artifice. In other words, the importance is placed upon appearance, rather that just being. (It was vital to “look spiritual.” Which begs the question, “What do spiritual people look like?” As a boy, I always thought the “spiritual people” looked as if some part of their clothing was a size too small.)
What is it we are holding on to–so rigid, so firm, white-knuckled in our determination?
At some point, we’ve got to breathe.
Without realizing it (and after the sage’s disheartening news), the man in the story “let go.”
He let go of the need to see life as a problem to be solved.
He let go of the need to have the correct answers (or experiences) for his “enlightenment.”
He let go of the need to see his spiritual life in terms of a formula.
He let go of the restraints that come from public opinion.
Abandon your masterpiece, sink into the real masterpiece. Leonard Cohen
Without realizing it, he took Leonard Cohen’s advice. He abandoned his “masterpiece”–the perception of what he needed to accomplish, or how he needed to appear, or what he needed to feel–in order to allow himself to sink down into this life, this moment, even with all of its uncertainty and insecurity.
For the first many years, meditation or prayer was a requirement or compulsion. In his emptiness, meditation and prayer was an offering of thanks, freely given, and without constraint. True spiritual enlightenment, it seems, happens when you are not trying to impress anyone, or score any points with heavenly bookkeepers.
It sounds easy doesn’t it?
But here’s the deal: My best intentions to play the right notes can fabricate an armor that keeps me from the vividness of life–whether it be to pray or meditate or notice or give or mourn or dance or play or grieve or laugh or celebrate or love… or just to walk.
I never did find a good enough synonym for the gray (although I’ll keep looking). Gladly, the sun has broken through. And there is enough warmth to persuade us that spring may arrive tomorrow. Daffodil shoots everywhere–up through the leaves and debris–help the ruse. So it’s garden time this afternoon, turning manure into the vegetable garden beds, beginning to cut back and clean some of the perennial beds. Enough work for the back to call a time out and request reprieve. I’m headed to the swing under the maple, when I look up to see the sun illuminating the red-twig dogwood shrubs, 10 foot canes glowing, a bright cranberry red. It catches my breath. And I am glad to be alive.
People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive… of the rapture of being alive. Joseph Campbell
Such power in those words. Then how moments later what I had read from Terry made so much sense to me. So perfectly connected with yesterday’s post Animals make us human. So relevant that quotation yesterday about animal happiness. This one:
Neuroscience key to animal happiness
“…research in neuroscience has been showing that emotions drive behavior, and my thirty-five years of experience working with animals have shown me that this is true. Emotions come first. You have to go back to the brain to understand animal welfare.”
Animals Make Us Human : Creating the best life for Animals
by Temple Grandin & Catherine Johnson
Such a close parallel with that well-known saying about us humans: ‘we are what we think‘. How our own happiness, just as it is with our animals, has its roots in our emotions.
How letting go, how staying in the present, is so good for us. How dogs do that so perfectly.
How we humans have so much to learn from our dogs.