I awake at my usual zero dark thirty. The routine is simple: brush teeth, make coffee, and use the restroom. Then I do my formal breathing meditation practice, kiss the wifey, and prepare to start the day. There is a strange and eerie feeling about this morning. As I sip on my hot coffee, my eye catches the NY Times headline news that is startling: “Humans Have 24 Hours Left To Live: Life On Earth Will Be Annihilated By A Massive Asteroid!” Utterly shocked, I reread the headline five times as my hands start trembling. I thought there must be a typo, or a bad joke. It was not. Scientists identified a massive asteroid, the size of Africa, traveling at mach 131, an astounding 100,000 MPH! This massive asteroid would hit the earth in 24 hours and life as we know it, in the goldilocks of our universe, would vanish! The top scientist and military powers from around the world, are utterly hopeless, and have no answer to this impending catastrophic event.
My mind is restless and running everywhere. Moe is calmly staring intently at my facial expression. I immediately feel more relaxed by his deep gaze through the mystery of mirror neurons. Moe is a 3 year old silent working dog, 55 pound, handsome blue heeler. His ears are at attention, and he is in the sphinx pose, all four paws flat on the floor, and focused exclusively on me. Nothing in his world matters more than looking at my face. Over tens of thousands of years dogs have evolved an exquisite ability to read their owner's face. He is calm, relaxed, silent and fully present. Then he immediately expresses empathy, and tilts his head to the side, as he reads my concerned facial expression. He is utterly oblivious to the massive asteroid and our impending doom. His only concern is my face, at this moment.
I ask myself, would Moe change anything in his last 24 hours of life? The answer was a resounding “no!” He would live this last 24 hours like his previous ones. He would offer unconditional love and be fully immersed in the present moment. He would offer unconditional devotion, and make me feel like the most special person on earth. He would guard, protect, and love me today, our last day, just as he has done every single day for the past 2 years. Today is no different.
Then I woke up from my dream... And there was Moe, watching me silently and lovingly, as I lifted my head from the pillow.
Ironically, this dream was not a terrifying nightmare. This dream offered tremendous insight: a gift from man’s best friend. Dogs live every day to the fullest without regret. They offer unconditional love, companionship, and loyalty from dawn til dusk. With each wet kiss they are saying “I love you.” If you step out of the house for 2 minutes when they see you again they are overjoyed. The next day they get up and repeat the same.
Humans could learn a great lesson from our companion animals. They live in the here and now. They do not stress out about the past or the future. Because of this present moment awareness, they have an inner calm and peace that is healing.
Dogs offer us a portal for healing by tapping into the relaxation response for stress reduction. They are a perfect living example of mindfulness based stress reduction. Humans try to imitate this calm and relaxed nature that dogs exude. Across America countless humans can be found doing the downward and upward dog, which are yoga postures to help engender relaxation. Our companion animals know how to experience peace and calm in an effortless way. More importantly, they live fully every day. They are the living embodiment of the famous quote, ““Live every day as if it were your last, because one of these days, it will be.”