When I look at Koda my brain tells me what I see... I see two eyes, a nose, two ears... I am looking with my brain.
But when Koda looks at me, with his two big dog eyes piercing into my eyes, it feels he doesn’t just see my face, my arms, my legs, it feels he sees ME. Koda sees the unseen, by looking into the heart.
Sometimes I feel people just don’t understand me, they don't 'see' me. Sometimes I feel I don’t understand them, I don't 'see' them. But I never feel this with Koda.
According to Thich Nhat Hanh “understanding is love’s other name”.
I have been trying to be more understanding by 'seeing' more and using two puppy eyes that don't look at the body I see that is in front of me but that look at the heart that is unseen...
Koda does it all the time, I am still learning.
Wouldn't there be more understanding in the world if we all tried to 'see' a bit more?
We all worry at times. It’s a trigger to solve problems or take action. But worrying can become its own problem when it becomes irrational, turns into doom thinking, focusses on questions without answers, or things we can’t control. This is when worry turns doubts, fears and concerns into paralyses.
Look at Linc. He is watching his human out there whilst he is inside. That may seem like a worry, because he so wants to be with her.
At the same time he is very much at peace. He accepts, he surrenders, he does not judge, he does not worry. He is simplistic in his needs, he gives and receives love and he is content. He is happy with what is, this present moment.
What can we do to prevent worrying robbing us from any peace we have?
hen I take Koda to the beach I enjoy watching him frolicking around, chasing seagulls, sniffing logs, running in circles, jumping through the waves. It’s pure pleasure to watch his world of play.
What strikes me most is that he doesn’t need a toy to play and his play is without any expectations of outcomes or advancements. He does what he likes and he seems to have a lot of fun.
Children too play without having expectations of achievements, advancements and outcomes. They play for the sheer joy of playing and the fun it brings. Just like Koda they don’t worry whether their imagination or their creation is going to get them somewhere in the near future. They totally play in the present moment. They are alive, here and now.
Most of us adults have forgotten how to do that. When we play we want an outcome. We want to win the game, hike to the top, finish that bike ride, knit a beanie. We have become foreigners in the world of imaginative play where spontaneity and exploration are the rules of the game, not chasing goals and reaching outcomes.
We can learn from Koda and let go of our expectations when we enter the world of play. If we play for the sheer joy of it we may get back the pleasure we had as a child and actually have fun!
To get ahead in all areas of life we require decisive action. Our human mind tends to analyse and at times over analyse, making it hard to make decisions as we get paralysed by all our thoughts. At times our minds bring the danger to complicate things rather than simplify them.
Have you ever observed a playing dog in the park or at the beach? They don't tend to suffer from over analysing or paralyses. They look at what is in front of them, let it be a stick or a ball. They see what they look at and they understand what they see. They don't need to analyse that there is a stick in the water or a ball on the grass. They are going for it. Carrying is what the stick is for, retrieving is what the ball is for. That is what they understand and that is what they act upon.
At the end of the day, that is what really matters. If you want the stick to come home stop over analysing.
Expectations, we all have them. Expectations about ourselves, about others. Having expectations is a human tendency, and with it comes disappointment. The trouble is that expectations and the resulting disappointments can occupy our human mind and take away our peace of mind and freedom of mind. When that happens there is no room for love.
Linc doesn't seem to have that problem. He stays in the present moment anytime. He isn't thinking of 'hopes', or 'how good things can be if'. All those thoughts don't matter to Linc. He's not desperately longing for anything, he's not fixated on a goal, he doesn't have expectations. He has plenty of room for love. He is one big loving machine.
What if we had the same attitude as Linc, if we accepted who and where we are? Life is full of thoughts, emotions, actions. What if we let them exist, instead of engage with, what if for once we have no expectations, let it go and relax? Would we be, like Linc, a loving machine?
We all want to help. We all care. We want it so much that at times we just jump in. We leap in because we take it personally, or we want to ‘solve the problem’. We listen and we judge, we use our mind and then... we find ourselves tending to our own thoughts ‘fixing’ things. Have you ever noticed that?
And because we are so busy with our own thoughts, we have less space to pay attention to letting the things simply be and run its own course.
We can’t stop the thoughts, but we can stop the awareness. We can do what Koda does. He takes his time, he doesn’t react, he responds! Koda watches, Koda waits, he knows that if he reacts, it will be gone, but if he responds, he has a chance.
That means observing our thoughts, but remain focussed on that what is in front of us, be it the child or another adult!
Maybe it's hard to believe for our Hawkes Bay friends, but here at the Kapiti Coast it doesn’t seem summer has arrived, yet! It's been unusual cold for the time of year, with less sunshine and more overcast than expected in summer. Koda loves his walks and to him there is no such thing as good or bad weather, warm or cold summer, clear sky or overcast. For him there is only one weather, one day, one moment! He’ll give me a nudge “come on, it’s walkies time”. And I will look outside, at the droopy weather. It reminds me of a quote from Elisabeth Kubler-Ross: - “People are like stained glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is light from within.” In Koda I see hope and I see a spark, I see beauty! I take an extra layer of clothing, I pack a beanie in my bag and I find that spark inside of me...!
How many of us wake up every day with the same habits and the same routines? We think the same thoughts and we do the same actions. Kinda like being on auto pilot. And then we are surprised we are not really doing, or receiving what we want. Life kinda happens and we sleepwalk through it. Even though every day brings new opportunities and new moments to make a change. Koda lives fully in the moment, he does not think about the past, he does not think about the future. Every day he wakes up full of excitement. For him there is no ‘same old, same old’. Even if there is, he doesn't think like that. Every morning he goes outside and stands on top of our water tanks. From the top of our dune he overlooks the paddocks where the earth is waking up and lifting its blanket. Koda takes a brief moment, and then runs of, with no intention to go ‘back to sleep’, because to him every moment, every dawn is a new opportunity and 'life doesn’t just happen', he makes it happen!
At times we all have the human tendency to stay inside our comfort zone. It give us a feeling of security. Our comfort zone is the known, and it has its merits and its place. Learning takes place when we step out of our comfort zone, into the unknown. There are times we are confident and step into the unknown without hesitation. At other times we are anxious and we are reluctant to step outside our comfort zone. We do not know what is ahead of us, we do not know whatever it is we feel we need to know. We hold on, to the known, to the comfort. We feel challenged stepping out into the unknown, and we don't like it. But if we look at Koda, who steps into the unknown on a daily basis without attachments and without expectations, we can see that challenges can become opportunities of learning. Koda naturally has a deep inner sense of feeling safe in the unknown, because he surrenders, he is spontaneous and in the moment. At first the unknown may create confusion, but it's confusion that creates learning.
Let go of all the structures that help you keep safe once they don't serve you anymore. Don't let these structures become a constraint. Unleash them, and like Koda without a leash, step into the unknown. It's where learning takes place!
We tend to see a lot. But that doesn’t mean we observe enough. Observation is not an idle process, but something active and involved. It’s when we observe we can meet the needs from a heart place. Instead of just using our eyes to see, we can engage our heart to observe. It’s then that we respond more, and react less. A response from the heart fills up our emotional fuel tank. Reacting from the head puts up barriers to connection. Like Koda does when he is out on his walkies, let’s slow down, be present and tune in. If we un-busy ourselves, we don’t just see, we observe. When we observe, we connect.
Ever feel disheartened? Feel like you are giving it your best shot and not achieving what you were hoping to achieve? Feel like others seem to be these superheros who whatever they put their hands on seem to turn everything into gold? Don't believe it. No one is a superhero on their own. We all add our own sugar and salt to the big cake. As Mother Teresa put it. "I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot; together we can do great things". Koda and Linc realise that very well!
We both have returned from an invigorating holiday, a much needed break. Holidays allow us to take time to stop and focus on our life, outside work and/or the usual business of raising a family. We feel more alive during holidays. We are more relaxed and at the same time more energetic. Thinking about it, if we look at Koda, or Linc, they don’t need a holiday to be alive. Maybe we can learn from them!
When Koda and Linc met for the first time there was a bit of ruffling going on. The relationship had to be established. It didn't take long though and the two of them headed of to the beach as if they were long lost friends. Dog or human, we all need friends in our lives. Friends who are kind to us, friends who make a difference in our lives through big little things. Kindness is a quality of the heart. Dogs understand this, they live in the moment, they live in the heart. If we honour the spirit of ourselves and of those around us, we act with kindness. Always!
Have you ever made a list of times in your life when you have felt extremely happy, feeling fully alive? Try it! Big chance that for many of you most items on your list would have involved the outdoors or doing something physical. Just like Koda, we love running, skipping, dancing, walking, traveling, we love being active. We tend to forgot how simple it actually is to bring joy in our lives. How do we live, from day to day? We have a responsibility to not only look after others, we also have the responsibility to look after our own soul. For Koda everyday is a good day to do what brings him joy? What about your day?
What is more natural for dogs than to play? All mammals play when they grow up, it is coded into their genes. Children need to play in order to learn. Just as we can’t separate learning from living, we cannot separate playing from learning. Play is a process that is freely chosen, personally directed and intrinsically motivated. Blue and Linc have got this sorted. They find pleasure in sticks just as children do. The stick is passive until the dogs pick it up and make it ‘active’. Just like children do with passive toys. They make action happen with their whole selves. Their minds, hands, bodies work together to transform an object from something passive to something active and creative. Do you have active toys or active children at your programme? You can’t have both!
They say it's a dogs life. Here is what Linc did for his Easter. Dogs know how to be in the moment, one hundred percent! They have no agenda, just pure pleasure! They give full attention and are unconditional love on legs. We can learn a lot from Linc. If we pause, observe and allow for the discovery of beautiful moments in our day, be it taking a nap, daydreaming under the clouds or having a laugh with friends, we will be able to appreciate the everyday magic in our day. Teaching is a heartfelt calling. Do what Linc does from time to time, it will nurture your body, heart and soul!
Koda loves being at the beach house. It means more walkies as usual, it also means more space and more freedom. The evenings are a real treat as we often go for an extra walk on the beach watching and listening to mother Earth as she prepares for the night. Sunsets at the beach are spectacular and as a family we stop every night to enjoy those couple of minutes when nature puts on the most phenomenal show, totally unplugged! Those couple of minutes, no matter how short, give us a turbo recharge. After all, we human beings are not like mobile phones! We don't need an external source to plug in to, we can recharge ourselves by plugging in to our heart. So keep your heart filled with happiness, never miss a sunset because you are looking down!
The weather over the Summer break has been incredible. We have been enjoying daily walks to the beach where Koda loves to run and jump through the puddles and the waves, sometimes up to three times a day! We don't stop him from getting wet and dirty. Instead, we see it as only natural. After all, he is a dog and all dogs play! Koda shows us the joy and pleasure it brings when he can do what he is wired to do, without us bursting his bubble. He reminds us that children too are wired to play. Imagine the joy and pleasure the children receive when they too can play, without their bubble getting burst! And what about your bubble of play?
Koda knows when to chill out and enjoy the moment. Warm summer nights are such moments, with the light of the setting sun glowing up the Earth before it settles down for the night. Koda reminds us to slow down, to not only look, but see!
Does it amaze you how busy, frantic and stressed people get at this time of the year in this corner of the world? It may have something to do with the combination of Christmas and the start of Summer, with businesses closing down for summer break. Watching Koda going through his normal daily routines, Christmas looming or not, gives a complete different perspective. He is chilled, playful and always present with full attention. We can take a page out of his book. Slow down, unplug more and give presence to our families and children. It may be the best gift we can give our children and ourselves!
Sometimes when we wake up, the sky is grey and cloudy, it is cold and raining, and the wind blows and rattles. You think of all the work that is waiting for you: deadlines to meet, meetings to prepare, reports to write, emails to answer, phone calls to make. It all seems like a battle. And then, as you start working your way through a few of the tasks it stops raining, the sun comes out, the sky turns blue and the earth warms up. That is the moment to pick yourself up and go outside. Run through the dunes, watch the view, listen to the waves, walk through the forest, smell the flowers, enjoy the song of the birds and jump in the puddles left behind by the morning rain. Remember, play is the way every day!
At times we have a spanner thrown in the works. We have plans for the day, then things pop up and what we had planned or anticipated is not going to happen. We may have feelings of frustration and disappointment. What if we surrender, and let go of our expectations, of what “I ought to be doing”? If we let go of the structure that no longer would serve us, a structure that instead would become a constraint, we may actually have the most peaceful day, in great companionship. Sometimes its best to surrender and let go, and open up to what is in front of you. A lesson Koda, and our cat Pippin mastered a long time ago!
It's Spring time! And Koda knows it. The rain at 'his patch' created huge puddles and floods, but this doesn’t stop him from going outside. Rather than avoiding the wet, he jumps straight into it. And he is so right. We are born to be outside, and to connect with nature. We need to be in, on, and with the earth, and that means touching, smelling, tasting, listening, seeing the earth. After the rain is such a perfect time to experience all this, when the earth is soaking up the water that brings life to everything. If you have spend more time inside this Winter, than seize the moment, now is the time to go outside and reconnect with the earth. Do it today, feel the magic of new life springing forth everywhere ... after all, it's Spring!
Nothing lasts forever, nothing is perfect and nothing is ever finished! Changes happen all around us. They can make us uncertain, but also exciting and curious about a new journey that is ahead of us. Enjoy it, wherever it will take you!
There are times I miss my home country, where I was born and grew up, where my roots are and where I have friends and all my family! Having lived in New Zealand for nearly half my life now, I love this beautiful country, where my children were born, where I have a place and where I have lots of friends. They say home is where the heart is. Can it be in both countries?
Do you suffer from the Monday blues, after a great weekend? Why is it that we struggle with Mondays? Could it be that we enjoy the weekends because they are calmer and we seem to live more intentional? Is it because during the week we hurry from one thing to another, chasing whatever we are chasing, missing out on the things we really enjoy?
Maybe we need to rethink what we commit too? Koda doesn't seem to have any problem at all with rushing. He takes his time and enjoys the moment.