False Evidence Appearing Real

Last Thursday was haircut day… we have a wonderful, patient lady who, every four weeks, comes to the house for the morning and creates order out of chaos; leaving behind three tidy dogs and an enormous bag of fluff.  (The fluff is much appreciated by the local bird population in the spring, for nest-lining purposes… I would imagine that Lhasa fluff in particular must be very cosy – it certainly all disappears very rapidly.)

For Luna, who adores being brushed and loves meeting people, the arrival of Tracy is one of unrestrained joy and excitement.  Lily is slightly more circumspect, but happy to hang around as she knows there will be biscuits in the offing…  Theo, however, is horrified.  After joining Lily in a traditional (and noisy) Schnauzer greeting, he scurries off at high speed in order to find a hiding place where, he hopes, we will be unable to find him until after Tracy has left… under my office desk is his sanctuary of choice.  If he can’t see us, he reasons, there’s no way we’ll be able to see him.

Unfortunately for Theo, cowering behind the office chair, we somehow always manage to locate him and lift him, by now shivering piteously, onto the grooming table.  Half an hour or so later, when nothing very terrible has happened to him apart from the loss of some fluff amidst lots of cuddles, he’s ecstatic to receive his obligatory biscuit from Tracy and run off joyously into the garden, to forget his fears until the next time.

Our worries and stresses are subjective – it depends what we have going on inside our heads as to how we perceive, and therefore how we experience, any given situation.  When we are anticipating an event, we will have an internal representation of how we think the event will be.  If we are focusing on a positive outcome, then we might feel pleasure, or excitement.  But if we are focusing on what might go wrong, we are effectively playing out a scary movie inside our heads, which will result in us feeling stress and anxiety, even though our anticipated scenario may be far from real, or even likely.

Theo’s Teachings:

  • What we are focusing on has a direct effect on our state of mind.  If you are paying attention to negative things, try opening your mind to the possibility of the positive.  If you look for it, you will find it.
  • Our fears are often just False Evidence Appearing Real.  When you are worried or anxious, ask yourself what other possible outcomes might there be?
  • If you are facing something disagreeable, give yourself something to look forward to after the event, then imagine yourself out there in the future, looking back at the event.  From this perspective, there is no anxiety.
  • If you don’t want to be found, choosing the same place to hide each time is probably not the best strategy.

 

2016-07-08 18.08.01.1

 

The Magic of Discovery

Joy and Happiness - Luna Small

It’s just over three weeks since little Luna joined us, and we can’t believe how easily she has just taken everything in her stride…  Nothing seems to faze her, and she is abundantly curious about each new experience.  “What excitement can I discover here?” seems to be her motto.

She’s deeply fascinated by the numerous bumblebees that frequent the clover flowers in the lawn; having briefly experimented with eating one, she’s now decided that’s possibly a bit too exciting and is contenting herself with sniffing them, and then chasing after them when they fly busily off to the next flower…  The fat woodpigeons who sit, apparently in deep contemplation, on the lawn are also good fun to chase – flapping heavily away at the last minute, only to perch on the wall and look down at her in high dudgeon at being so rudely awakened from their meditative trance.

An early exploration of the pond has fortunately not been repeated – no doubt to the collective relief of the newt population – but everything within the garden and without has been subject to her close sensory scrutiny.  The paths and lanes we walk must smell astonishing to her; from her previous life in the suburbs of a city she is now surrounded by the sights and smells of horse and sheep, pheasant and partridge, hare, rabbit and deer…

And yet… every new experience is treated as a joyful discovery, enthusiastically widening her previous comfort zone of familiarity.

Luna’s Teachings:

  • Try everything once, and take feedback on board; it’s not a good idea to eat bees, and water lilies do not bear the weight of a Lhasa Apso.
  • Enthusiasm is contagious.
  • If outside the comfort zone is where the magic happens, then stepping outside your comfort zone on a frequent and ongoing basis is a recipe for adventure.
  • Miracles are all around you, if you only pay sufficient attention.

 

 

Teachings of Dog: No 29 – The Journey is the Destination

I am fascinated by the different approaches that the dogs have to their walks. Theo is excited by everything – and if something excited him on the previous walk, then he will remember and get even more excited as we approach the same place in the walk, obviously hoping that the same pheasant, hare or whatever will leap out again at the same spot (and if it did, he would probably explode with joy). He has a constant air of anticipation – “what excitement will happen next?” seems to be his motto.

Lily is mainly concerned with keeping her eye on us; if we stop for any reason, she will hurry across, jumping up and putting a paw on our leg, gazing up in mute, gentle enquiry with her beautiful black eyes.

Daisy, on the other hand, is a keen student of nature and takes her research seriously. When she finds something worthy of study, it will occupy her entire attention so that she becomes completely deaf to our calls, or to the fact that we are now a considerable distance ahead. Eventually, one of us will be forced to hurry back and encourage her on her way – at which point she will look up at us in amazement that we are not sharing her fascination. She will then dance along the path until, a few yards further along, she comes across the next object worthy of study… To Daisy, the journey truly is the destination.

Daisy’s Teachings:

  • The present moment is all we have – our lives are just a series of present moments. Taking time to be in the moment is a true antidote to stress – we are not worrying about the past, or being anxious about the future, but just being with what is. Enjoy the journey.

The Teachings of Dog – No 28: Hearing the signals

Somewhere between 5.01pm and 5.05pm every day, Daisy will start to bark.  It’s an occasional “woof”, sometimes interspersed with the odd “grrr”, designed to attract attention, and it means simply – “It’s now officially supper o’clock.  Feed me.”  I’ve always been fascinated by how accurately her little body clock can tell the time; even the hour change doesn’t seem to confuse her.

In our modern world, it seems that people often forget to pay attention to their bodies; many even lose the ability.  How often have you found yourself tired, irritable and grumpy because you didn’t have time for lunch – then as soon as you eat something you realise you are not tired and grumpy at all; you were just hungry!

Our bodies have a natural rhythm and we can re-train ourselves to listen and pay attention to the signals we are sending ourselves from our unconscious mind.  The Hawaiians have a saying that if we don’t pay attention, then we will pay with pain – and this is certainly true for our bodies.

Daisy’s Teachings:

  • Take care of yourself and pay attention to your body – eat when you start to feel hungry, don’t wait until you are famished; drink when you are thirsty; take a rest when you feel tired – even a five minute break can make all the difference.