Active Meditation and Animal Care
Meditation is typically practiced by sitting perfectly still, in a quiet place (good luck with that), and clearing your mind of any and all thoughts.
I've never had much luck with that.
Then I read about a concept called Active Meditation, where you clear your mind doing something physically active. As someone with the learning style of "doing" (vs. reading) that seemed a better fit for me.
I practice it twice a day during animal chores. It is my most peaceful time of day and evening, where my head clears and my outlook becomes positive gratitude. My stress disappears, and I feel like everything is going to be OK. Sometimes I even have an epiphany as to how it will be OK despite previously grinding on the problem and finding only frustration.
Scooping litter, washing and refilling water bowls, giving foods and medicines, putting out food for the wildlife and wild birds, rinsing and refilling their water basins and baths. The meditative trance of performing those tasks is when I find freedom from hateful people, sorrow, and frustration. I come up with my best ideas, and solutions previously not thought of come to the forefront even though I am no longer focused on the problem.
I think it's a combination of the fact that taking care of animals brings me serenity, merged with the love I get from the animals in return while I'm doing the tasks. My mind is in a calm, happy and open place. I talk to the animals while I
do it. Sometimes they "talk" back. Even the hummingbird flew right up to my head to try to communicate as I refilled his feeder and I could see his bright little eyes! (It sounded like a small helicopter had landed on my head!) Silver licks my hand while I put out his food. Paddy purrs at me and makes chatting sounds. Milo gives me dog kisses (licks my face). My mind becomes filled with gratitude, happiness and optimism. There is no longer space to be upset about whatever has happened or gone wrong that day. I think the change of space is why I suddenly have ideas and solutions I hadn't thought of before. My mind is free to be creative.
All I know is it works for me in a way "traditional" meditation never did. It's yet another mental health benefit of caring for pets (and animals). So the next time you're trying to sit still in the Lotus position and can only think about how much your shoulder itches, try active meditation while you brush your dog or cat!
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