As we move through 2020, or rather as 2020 steamrolls over us, I have made it a personal practice to SLOW DOWN and practice mindful awareness. We live in a culture and society that has become increasingly frenetic. Various forms of stimuli are constantly vying for our attention, distracting us from the present moment and the natural world around us, ultimately creating more and more STRESS.
To be honest, I was praying for someone to hit the PAUSE button, if nothing else to just catch my breath. Ahhh, the breath… we seem to be hearing a lot about that lately.
Getting Back to Nature
If we’re mindfully present, we’re able to consciously prioritize where we place our attention and, thereby reduce the stress in our lives. Grounding and centering are two basic practices that can bring us back to the present. They reconnect us to the natural world and make life more manageable. And who are some of the best teachers of these practices? Our dogs and cats, of course, if we follow their lead.
I visit and treat all of my patients within their home environment. I develop close personal relationships with my clients. This gives me an intimate glimpse into the human-animal bond and the special role pets play in many people’s lives. For the majority of people living in an urban setting, their pets are one of the last links they have to the natural ecosystem we reside in, the one some call Mother Nature or Gaia.
As more and more of our time is spent in a virtual reality, in isolation from others, our pets are always right beside us. They’re reminding us of our inter-connectivity between the planet we walk on, the air we breathe and the other sentient beings we share it with: the plants, animals, insects, birds, etc.
My first suggestion is to take time every day to turn off your screens. Take off the headphones and head outdoors with your dog to the closest wild area you can find. Allow your dog to take you for a walk through the vacant overgrown lot, the beach, a river bank, or a patch of woods.
Take a deep breath and feel the air fill your lungs. What do you smell? What kinds of plants are growing there? Which ones interest your dog most? Feel the breeze on your skin. Listen to the sounds of birds and insects. Watch the clouds in the sky. Who knows what treasures may reveal themselves to you?
My Journey with the Flowers (Flower Essences)
Over the past few years, several long-term relationships in my life have come to an end. As a way to manage these changes, my dog Mollie and I began taking walks in the woods nearly every day. She began literally introducing me to FLOWERS, or maybe the flowers were the ones jumping onto our path?
My awareness was open enough to begin paying attention to them and the messages they have for those willing to listen. And what messages they have to tell! Once they knew I was listening, it was as if the word got out and I could not go anywhere without a flower showing up. They have profound messages to share with us and they strongly desire to be of assistance to us during these transformative times.
Flower Essence Therapy
Flower essence therapy formally began with Dr Edward Bach in the 1930s. He developed the Bach flower essences, including the familiar “Rescue Remedy.” Humans have always been using flowers to shift their moods, as an offering to the Divine, a gift symbolizing love and compassion during major life transitions such as births, funerals, weddings, and to beautify their spaces. The essence, aroma, and sight of flowers impacts our emotional bodies and is healing. Just recall the phrase: “stop and smell the roses.”
As a form of healing, flower essences fall into the category of vibrational medicine, as does homeopathy and Reiki. By shifting our vibration, we can energetically tune our systems, like a radio dial tunes into a radio signal, to resonate with our immediate environment and move stuck emotional patterns. Vibrational essences can actually be made from more than just flowers. Many people are making them from sacred sites, trees, and stones, among other things.
We all know intuitively how emotions can impact our physical health. Grief can bring on depression and lowered immunity. Anger raises blood pressure and puts pressure on the heart. Fright and trauma can lead to PTSD and all sorts of physical issues. In Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine, they do not separate the emotions from the physical. They actually assign a specific emotion to each organ system.
Flower essences are extremely forgiving. The flowers want to be of assistance. If the individual receiving the essence does not need its help, no harm is done and there are no deleterious side effects. Unlike herbs or essential oils, you do not have to worry about them being too strong or using the wrong one. A bonus with flower essences is that both you and your animals can take them.
How to Use Flower Essences for Yourself and Your Animal
You can use flower essences in a variety of ways. They can be used as a spray to adjust the energy in an entire room, dog crate or kennel or as an aura spray over and around the body. They can be taken orally, either directly in the mouth, 3-5 drops 2-4 times a day, or a few drops in a cup of tea or water bowl to be sipped on throughout the day. Most essences are preserved in a small amount of alcohol to extend the shelf life so it is best to dilute them in spring water before giving by mouth to your pet. Diluting them is a good thing as it positively effects their potency, similar to homeopathy.
I recommend working with an essence for anywhere from 1-4 weeks; shorter time periods for acute issues and longer periods for deeper emotional patterns. Working on the subtle emotional body, it can take some time before you notice the gentle shifts in behavior or perspective created by the essence.
A Healing Touch Ritual
My favorite way of administering them is to create a healing touch ritual. Dogs love rituals, just look at how they know when it is feeding time, time for a walk, time for bed. Rituals can help us to ground in the present moment and create time markers when our regular routines have been severely disrupted.
We all give and receive energy through our hands. Imagine the love for your pet flowing through your fingertips, with the flower essence just amplifying it, as you rub it into acupuncture points, chakras and areas of their body that you know need a little extra loving attention.
Sit in a comfortable, calm space with your pet, and yes, cats enjoy this as well, usually curled up beside you in bed. Place 3-4 drops of the flower essence on your fingers. Rub it gently onto your pet.
Sit behind them and start with the top of the head, along the bony ridge on the top of the skull. There are several calming acupuncture points in this area. It is also known as the crown chakra, where Divine cosmic energy enters the body. Then move behind the ears. Rub a drop or two of the essence into the inside of the ear flap as well. Most dogs and cats love to have their ears gently rubbed.
Move on down between the shoulder blades and slowly all the way down the spine to between the hip bones. Every organ system of the body is represented by an acupuncture point on the channels that run on either side of the spine.
Next, move to the heart center at the center of the chest, either on the top or sides of the chest. If the animal is trusting they will allow you to rub it in on the underside. If they allow, follow all the way down and give them a gentle belly rub.
A Simple Exercise to do with Your Dog Out in the Wild
Sit down on the Earth next to your dog. Feel the Earth underneath you, supporting you. Put your back up against a tree trunk if one is available. Close your eyes, and breathe. Feel the breath filling your lungs. Breathe deep enough so that it fills your belly. Hold it a second and slowly breathe it out.
After you have done this a few times, feel roots growing down your spine into the Earth like the roots of a tree. Feel them rooting you into the ground. As you breathe in, imagine energy flowing upward from the Earth, through these roots, all the way up your spine, through your heart center, to the top of your head. As you breathe out, allow the breathe, along with any stress, worry, or anxiety from anywhere in your body to flow back into the Earth to be transformed into good healthy soil.
To give you some motivation, you can go on a virtual walk with Mollie and me at Mollie and Me: Flowers + Stones + Herbs and discover some of the treasures we have found in our local forest. We add new flower essences and stone elixirs regularly to the shop. There is even a group of flowers that have stepped forward with specific messages to help us through these challenging times of the Pandemic.
Most of all, remember to BREATHE!