Up Dog. Down Dog. Bad Dog?

Saoirse on the matLife took something of a turn in the days since I walked my parents’ dog Saoirse under that Epiphany sky on Sunday. The most notable causes of difficulty this week were the left ankle I sprained later that very night while on one last stroll with the the beloved hound as well as the fact that said canine was such a nervous wreck in the face of two territorial cats that she has alternately panted or whined through the night since she has arrived. Any semblance of routine my husband and I might be trying to establish in this new year was dashed as I hobbled around with this old injury I thought I had left behind me and we learned what it is like to add a loving omega puppy to the pack.

Tonight I was going to accomplish everything on my list including an ankle-safe walk, whipping up dinner, and finally doing some yoga to unkink these confused muscles and sinews that were shocked by the indignity of lurching around on crutches over the last few days. When I finally had a chance to get to my mat, Banshee, the savasana kitty who loves Saoirse UP CLOSEto curl up on my belly the moment I lie down, started her bid for affection. Saoirse was not about to let that sort of love pass her by, so she quickly took her spot in my lap – all 100 pounds of her. I pushed, I yelled, I growled, I pleaded, I tried to extricate myself but she just kept twisting us both in knots of limbs and tail and seeking doggy tongue.

I have just started reading Eknath Easwaran‘s translation and interpretation of the Bhagavad Gita. I am sure I will be writing a great deal about it, but my first impression was just how true and practical and applicable it all can be, especially through this wonderful teacher’s perspective. He talks about an Eightfold Path that lead to Self-realization, and ultimately to the realization of the Divine. In one of those rare moment when I actually have the ability to practice what I read, I recalled two elements of his Path: slowing down and putting others first. Though I was seeing a sweet, disobedient dog as a distraction to what I was meant to be doing – practicing what yoga I could on one foot – what if I stopped for a moment and looked at what she might need? What if I recognized this situation not as a lack of training but as the Universe suggesting I try something else? Here is a six-year-old only “child” who had been stolen from her life that features daily walks on the beach who is now being left alone all day with strange little creatures who look like little dogs, but most assuredly are a very foreign other. She has had to walk thought mountain slush and ice in woods full of deer and coyotes and other creatures that are so foreign to the sand dunes she is accustomed to roaming. The person sitting on the floor in the middle of prime puppy play space is her only link to that regular life she knows and loves, and now this person is rejecting her.

Surely Easwaran’s wisdom can be lavished on much more complex and serious issues than the classic struggle of yogini versus black lab, but this is a decent place to start, I should think. How is it that we think we can fill our house with adorable, furry fonts of unconditional love without occasionally stopping to realize what their experience of life must be like? The moments I spent holding on to her were the closest to meditation I had experienced in days, but I had fought them as ferociously as she fought for my attention. For once I feel a little closer to understanding what it means to listen to nature and silence that demanding ego-driven self who needs to believe she is in control.Angelic Saoirse

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6 thoughts on “Up Dog. Down Dog. Bad Dog?

  1. Mish January 12, 2008 / 2:28 pm

    For once I feel a little closer to understanding what it means to listen to nature and silence that demanding ego-driven self who needs to believe she is in control.

    A theme that flows through Taoism and Tao Te Ching is action through inaction. By not doing we can do. One’s more likely to cross a river by going with the tide than trying to swim directly across, and thus against the tide.

    How’s your ankle?

  2. girlwhocriedepiphany January 12, 2008 / 3:58 pm

    That is such difficult wisdom – and I think the difficulty I have in understanding how to practice such principles when I find myself frustrated or stuck proves all the more that such a perspective is true and necessary.

    My ankle is much better – thanks for asking! When I am out walking the beloved beast I find myself engaged in constant prayer “please Mother Earth support me.” This injury teaches me a lot about mindfulness when I allow it to!

  3. Mish January 12, 2008 / 9:21 pm

    At times it’s the true and necessary that are the most difficult lessons.

    Good on the ankle. Sometimes I think injuries happen just for that reason.

  4. gartenfische January 13, 2008 / 12:26 pm

    This last picture is so beautiful! Wow.

    Funny, I was trying to get in a yoga practice yesterday with our puppy in the room. She kept crawling on me and biting at me. Dogs definitely demand what they need, yoga or no yoga!

  5. Ruaidhri January 15, 2008 / 4:49 pm

    6 years?Is it that long since we sat with your parents thinking of appropriate Irishy names for a puppy?

    That last picture is great by the way….exasperated puppy!

  6. painterofblue January 18, 2008 / 2:04 pm

    What a beautiful post! I am catching up my reading. You have said a lot in the last weeks and given me a lot to ponder! I am going to look at my dogs differently today.

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