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A Spiritually Enlightening Online Magazine. March's Theme: "Reflection"
Volume 5 Issue 3 ISSN# 1708-3265
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by Jean Hofve, DVM

There are a couple of ways we can view the term "reflection." One is in the sense of an image being returned by a mirror or mirror-like surface, such as a calm lake. The other is the act or result of meditating; for instance, we might "reflect" upon an idea or situation. Our pets can help us with both.

When diagnosing an animal with a particular condition, such as diabetes, a veterinarian might hear the human companion say, "No kidding! I'm diabetic, too!" This is such a common phenomenon that most vets are not even surprised by it any more. Animals often "mirror" our issues and illnesses—sometimes in an uncomfortably accurate way.

For instance, my client Rebecca was going through an extremely bitter and nasty divorce. She brought her cats in because they were fighting. Specifically, the female cat had started viciously and relentlessly attacking the male, her brother. We tried many behavioural modification techniques as well as flower essences and homeopathy, with little effect. Finally, after a long discussion with my client, it became clear the female cat was acting out Rebecca's angry and aggressive feelings toward her ex-husband. I had to advise Rebecca to get some counselling for herself, since the feline situation didn't appear to be solvable as long as she was holding onto such strong negative feelings.

A fearful dog may be reflecting its human companion's shy, introverted nature; but an aggressive, protective dog may be doing the same thing, in a kind of "inverse image." Don't read too much into your pet's behaviour, but it's wise to examine the situation to see if there's something in you that is being played out by your pet.

Animals can also teach us about reflecting in meditation. A considerable part of a pet's day is spent curled up comfortably, but they aren't necessarily sleeping. This state of relaxed awareness is very much like our state of meditation. If you watch closely, you may see their ears move or their noses twitch as they monitor the outside world; and they are instantly up and alert if something catches their attention. We can't really know what's going on inside their heads, but they do seem to be natural masters at clearing the chatter and going within.

Since we're the ones working to buy the food and the kitty litter and the tennis balls, much of our attention is necessarily directed outward. But we can learn from our pets' ability to relax quickly, even if it's just for short periods. Those many short meditative breaks during our day will add up to a lot less anxiety and more inner peace. Spending some of those quiet, reflective times with your dog or cat close by will deepen the bond between you, as well as give you deeper respect for the animal's ability to just be. And that may be the greatest lesson we can learn.

Dr. Jean Hofve recently retired from holistic veterinary practice. She founded SpiritEssence in 1995, which remains the only line of essence formulas for animals created by a veterinarian. For more information on pet health, nutrition, and behaviour, please visit the free article library at www.littlebigcat.com.

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Any advice given is for informational purposes only.

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