It’s a scary and disturbing world we live in, and in the past several years our world has grown scarier and more disturbing. We are surrounded by a reality that, if dwelt on, could send any caring human being over the edge. Many people are tuning out, trying to avoid the truth, or sinking into their own form of reality (even though, sometimes … and, sadly, that “sometimes” is growing more frequent … their reality hurts others).
Nearly six million people have died world-wide* of a killer virus that is still spreading, relatively unchecked, despite efforts to curtail it. Those efforts are now dwindling as communities, states, and entire countries essentially throw in the towel.
Wars, budding wars, terrorism, massacres, and destruction weave their way like nightmare images through the headlines.
Everywhere you turn, you find atrocities, as some people’s manufactured realities are set loose to cause harm to innocent others. The news every day carries stories of gun violence, racial hatred, and people who are willing to harm and even kill over the least little thing. Road rage instances are increasing all over the country, and it wasn’t that long ago that a man opened fire through a drive-through window because the person packaging his meal forgot to include a fork and napkin.
How is any normal person to cope in such a reality? If that person is already sensitive to energies and cares about the world around them, it can be overwhelming.
We all need to find ways to stay sane. Thankfully, we have partners in that effort. These partners, though they may be aware of the unrest around them, are excellent at remaining in the moment and finding comfort and serenity in the warm corners of their world.
Those partners are our pets.
It has long been known (with numerous studies backing up the fact) that pet ownership improves our health and our mental well-being. Oh, it’s not that pet ownership isn’t without its own share of stress. Our pets experience anxiety, have behavioral issues, and suffer illness just like we do. However, just the blessing of sharing our lives with these wonderful beings can bring us a sense of security even when the world around us is going to he…ck in a handbasket.
Pets give us the comfort of companionship and social connection, even when we may feel so very alone. When we feel like no one really understands the inner struggle we are experiencing, our animal friends can ease the struggle, at least in the moment, just by being there. Some of our pets love to cuddle and be held close, which is a wonderful way for us to get grounded, centered, and let some of the negative energy soak away. Even when our animals aren’t into the whole lap-cat thing, though, they are there. Sharing space with them gives us the opportunity to open up our senses, to absorb the way they are basking quietly in the moment (or entertaining us by chasing imaginary prey around the room). As we watch them, we learn, whether consciously or not, to be in that moment as well.
That moment. Right there. Right then. In that moment, in that breath, in that heartbeat, thanks to the gentle presence of our companion, we are okay.
The connection to our special animal friends can ease our physical pain. They often know just where to press their “heating pad” bodies. Even pets who aren’t into being physically close can help us to relax as we focus our attention on them, which eases the tension that adds to pain.
Our pets also bring us a sense of motivation, a reason to get up in the morning. When I was going through a long stretch of severe pain and the depression that rose from it, there were days that the only reason I got out of bed at all was because my animals needed me. I may have cursed them for that in that moment, but in hindsight I realize that I honestly do owe them my life. By forcing me to move, they led me forward, and out the other side of that pain.
Some days are still overwhelming—not just for me, but for so many people who, like me, just care so very much. On those days when we feel like we can’t face another bit of bad news, the most productive thing we can do is just curl up in a fetal position, invite our kitty or dog to join us, and cuddle.
Cuddle time is healing, it’s energizing, it’s grounding, and it’s a way to celebrate the very life-force that makes all of us One.
You may enjoy an interesting article which talks about how our pets help us psychologically, including the discussion of a number of studies on the subject.
Psychological Benefits of Pet Ownership – New York Behavioral Health
*As of the time of this writing.