In my many years of working with clients and their animals, I have heard numerous times from animal companions an encouragement, if you will, for their humans to tend to themselves (or treat themselves) like a beloved pet.
I have been exploring this idea: what does it mean to treat ourselves as well as we treat our animals? The animals hold compassionate, unconditional love for us and it is reciprocated by dedicated human companions spending countless hours a week exercising, feeding, playing with and loving up their animals. We take the time to really get to know and understand our beloved animals and what makes them happy.
Can we accept the invitation they have given us and learn to have compassionate, unconditional love for ourselves? Can we meet ourselves and patiently explore what makes us happy? Can we accept ourselves, as we do our pets, when they are doing something we don’t like? How easily we shake our heads and think, “Ah, he is so Charlie.”
In the past, when I was doing something I didn’t like, such as eating just one more piece of chocolate, fully knowing it will start the sugar crash and loss of focus, the inner critic would come out in full force and I would lambast myself about my chocolate consumption. A typical inner critic tirade would be “What is wrong with me? Don’t I have any willpower? Certainly,, I do not want to succeed?” Usually, I would end up feeling worse and agree with that inner critic and turn towards more chocolate – commiserating it is hopeless anyway – and might as well enjoy something like chocolate when amongst all this misery. In this scenario, there is no shaking my head and thinking, “Ah, I am so Neave.”
To replay that scenario from a compassionate unconditional love place for myself. In those moments of the chocolate oblivion, there is the opportunity to curiously ask , “Can I tenderly question myself about what am I feeling, truly feeling in those moments of mindlessly reaching for one more handful of chocolate that is the tipping point? Do I have the willingness to explore why the chocolate holds such allure for me? Can I admit in those moments I am struggling and that it hard and I just want to zone out and chocolate is the fast trapdoor out?” With each answer, can I still stay present with myself and accept the answers…Not analyzing, criticizing, ridiculing but actually be present with self and my experience and love myself through it. My dog helps me practice this every day, especially when he watches me struggling with self-doubt/guilt. He provides support, non-judgment, and ease – shaking off whatever negativity surrounds me.
Getting to this compassionate space was highlighted for me during a conversation I had with a dachshund and his person. I heard his voice quite clearly and he had a thick accent. The love he had for his person was incredible – it was different than other love I have witnessed between animals and their humans. This was a romantic, adoring love. As we finished up the conversation I asked him if he could teach me on how to allow such deep love to flow from my heart. He agreed and asked me to show him the love I had for my husband. I let it flow and then he said “Your poor husband.” After much laughter – he asked me to show him the love I had for my children which I did – “Ah, lucky kids.” Then he asked me to show him the love I had for myself. Upon witnessing my self-love he replied like a wise, old elder, “This is the place of your personal inner work. Can you learn to love yourself and be compassionate with yourself? For then the love will flow easily to others.”
Since that conversation, I have been on a journey of learning to love myself. It has been a journey of getting to know myself and letting go of many old beliefs, limitations and thought forms that defined me a certain way. Shattering the old patterns that suppressed my creative self-expression. The inner judge and inner critic do not have the reins to my life anymore as I turn towards myself and lovingly accept who I am. It is meeting myself as witness and observer asking tender questions for greater understand. It has been a journey on a road filled with potholes and detours to old ways of being that tries to keep me sidetracked and the only way back to myself is through loving self-compassion.
Holding a space for myself, like the animals hold from me, full of goodwill as I turn towards myself searching for a greater understanding and willingness to listen and take care of what is needed to bring me peace…And sometimes that means taking a nap in the sunshine.
One thing I like about having conversations with animals is witnessing the way animals so lovingly present their human’s with observations about particular habits. The observations are full of compassion and love. They are delivered without judgment and often are full of curiosity. Inviting their people into a safe space for exploration and awareness.
I once asked a horse, Dante, “Can you give me a reflection of what I am doing with my inner authority?” It was a beautiful spring day and he was out in the paddock grazing on all the fresh new green grass that had just been pushing its way through. I leaned back against a tree just 5 feet from him watching him graze when another horse came over and took a dump basically right in front of Dante. The other horse wandered off and Dante stopped grazing and walked over to the steaming manure and starting sniffing each manure ball. He was so focused on sniffing and going over each manure ball with each nostril for what seemed like five minutes when I finally I asked Dante, “What is going on?” He lifted his head and looked me in the eye and I heard “You spend a lot of looking at the shit instead of looking at the beauty around you.” He then went back to grazing. I was doubled over laughing – another reason I love talking with the animals they make me laugh. What he said was true. As I quieted, I allowed the truth of his words to ripple into my consciousness into my being into my knowing.
Then I instantly asked him “Can I offer you some Reiki?” He went straight over to the manure again and started sniffing. I heard him say “More shit. Why do you think you have that to do something in return? Just allow yourself to receive.” This time it was not laughter but tears that had me doubled over. Again, I quieted and allowed the truth of his words ripple into my consciousness, into my being, into my knowing. I spent time with him in the paddock listening to his steady breathing, the chomping of his grazing, the switching of his tail. Just being by his steady presence, my inner authority went through a big transformation that day, all thanks to Dante and a manure pile. Sometimes when I am in the middle of something or feeling stuck I hear his words or see him, or smell manure and I self-correct and start looking at the beauty around me and start receiving.
Posted on June 16, 2017by neaveanimalsMany of you have known me and my practice as Neave Animals. My practice is now called HeartSong Communication. This name change came about in April 2016 when things had shifted greatly in my life. My marriage of 23 years was dissolving. I felt as if I was free falling and yet at the same time there was a quiet strength…for I had listened and honored my heart and it was leading with solid confidence.
Just a few days after we announced our separation to our kids and my husband had moved out of the house, I was walking with a wise friend who was holding space for me and my processing. I was talking about my hopes and dreams for my animal communication practice and how the name Neave Animals did not resonate anymore since it was not just me and animals, instead it is a whole host of spiritual beings and guides as well as the natural world that collaborates with me during each session between a client and their animal companions. I was lamenting about how Neave Animals was not the right name and wanting something more expansive, more descriptive, and yet I had been drawing a blank on what the new name was going to be. My friend casually asked me, “Well have you asked your practice what its name is?” That stopped me. Why hadn’t I thought of that? I talk to everything animals, trees, flowers. I understand everything has its own resonant energy and this knowledge is strengthened every time I locate a lost item within my house by just calling out to the item and listening for its response–maybe I am a part bat and using echolocation ;). So, of course, my practice would know what its name is.
Dropping into my center and putting my attention on being receptive and listening, I telepathically connected with my practice. I gave great thanks for all the assistance and collaboration over the years we had together under the name NeaveAnimals – I felt a flow of reciprocation in gratitude. I then simply asked, “What is the new name of my practice? If we are not NeaveAnimals anymore who or what are we?”
I heard “HeartSong Communication” true and clear. I was honored. There was no questioning, no hesitation, no doubting — just pure acceptance of this name. It defines the beautiful language of the heart where the animals communicate from and hold the space for us to meet them.
Since that walk, I have been questioning and gaining clarity about HeartSong Communication and how it can be of service to the world. I am excited to share with you what HeartSong is all about.
HeartSong’s vision is to support embodiment and listening to the song of the heart the intuition. Celebrating the web of life and the interconnectedness of all by bringing awareness to the human body is a telepathic transmitting and receiving station communicating with all of life and beings including our beloved animal companions, plants, nature, spiritual and divine guidance.
HeartSong’s mission is to deepen the animal and human relationship through interspecies dialogue, healing, classes, and ceremony.
HeartSong’s purpose is open sacred space for interspecies dialogue wit the intention of clarity, alignment, healing, balance, and harmony.
HeartSong’s purpose is to be a voice for the animals by listening deeply and communicating their truth, observations, suggestions, desires, questions, concerns and……
HeartSong’s purpose is to be the human representative and voice for the spiritual resources and support available for each being in the conversation and bring awareness to all that is available for each person.
HeartSong’s purpose is support people in strengthening their innate intuitive abilities so they can communicate with their beloved animal companions.
I am full of gratitude for each and every opportunity I have to open sacred space and be part of the conversation with people and their animals. Each animal is as different as each person and the wisdom and teachings they have to share with their humans blow my mind. The common factor in each conversation is the strong foundation of love and deep heart connection that flows freely and strong between animal and human. I am honored to be able to listen to the shared songs of the heart.
The past few weeks I have witnessed and marveled at a pair of Juncos, a ground nesting bird, who built a nest a foot away from my house in an overgrown strawberry bed. I was impressed at the bravery of these birds to build in such a busy yard with kids, dogs and the constant coming and goings so close to them. I only became aware of the nest when I was determined to weed out the bed and when I began two birds flew out and sat above me berating me and twittering with great irritation. I ceased what I was doing and sat back to observe. Reluctantly after an age of waiting, they darted in among the strawberries to nestle down. The next morning when they were off feeding I was able to get a look at the nest a beautifully woven nest of grass. In an effort to protect them I put up a wire fence to keep the dog from foraging for strawberries, for it is truly his strawberry bed. The spigot was directly over the nest and when I had to turn on the water I would approach slowly, announcing myself gently and sharing my intentions. The bird would fly up and observe me – chirping away at me. Watering became a chance to see the development of the three little chicks that hatched. These three never peeped – often their mouths would be open bright red chicks with a bright yellow rim around the beak it looked like a target of where to deposit the food.
For me when juncos appear in my garden it is a marker of late Autumn for that is when they return to the urban yards from their summers in the woods and forests. So I was curious why they had decided to nest in my yard? Leaning back into being open and receptive to the teaching of these birds I understood that they were given me a beautiful template of how to tend to sacred space for myself amid chaos. This was valuable for me since I am navigating many milestones in my life right now as my parenting role is shifting with my son graduating from high school and my daughter is entering her teen years as well as my recent divorce and I am converting my basement to an Air BnB space.
The nest was the sacred space they had created within a busy yard right outside of a ground level window where all the construction was taking place. Yet, they tended that sacred space and those three chicks diligently. Delivering food, snuggling down on them when it was cool and hiding in the strawberries when it was too hot to be on the nest. I understood that through all this upheaval I could tend to self and my needs as beautifully as these juncos were tending to their chicks. That when I felt overwhelmed by so much at once I could take a few moments to regroup, seek refuge and give myself a little distance like the juncos did in by being near the nest but not on the nest. Even though their ground nest was vulnerable this pair had chosen a great yard to create a nest since my dog makes sure cats dare not enter. Another lesson of choosing when I and where I wanted to share my vulnerabilities and making sure I am that I am tending and protecting my heart. Also, when the crows were sitting on the wires watching the yard the juncos did not go to their nest and their chicks did not make a peep all to protect the whereabouts of the nest. Another lesson for me about honoring the sacred space – holding it with reverence and care for the place for me where I can feel safe, loved and free to be myself.
In my ongoing quest to understand animals as teachers, I turned to the internet to see what others have learned about Junco as a totem animal. According to Shamanic Journey Juncos as totems:
The Junco will bring with it increased activity and opportunity, creating movement and change in one or more aspects of your life. You will be pushed into new avenues, with your strengths enhanced, as well as your shortcomings – it will be revealed how to blend everything together in a balanced harmonious style.
This was a good reminder for me that when I create that sacred space for myself and tenderly and compassionately nurture what is vulnerable at some point it will grow and take on a life of its own and blend harmoniously into my life.
Photo credit: BriarCraft via VisualHunt / CC BY-NC
Finally some relief from the stars, planets and solar system. Today’s full moon according to The Power Path invites us to:
Pay attention to what is unfolding with ease, support and inspiration. If it is not unfolding easily, put it aside for now. Your reality check at this time needs to include what inspires you. If you are not inspired in your life you are probably playing out someone else’s reality.
Today marks a closing of a chapter in my personal life with my divorce being final. There is now an opening of a new chapter, creating a whole new personal reality. To honor this momentous occasion in my life I performed a ceremony for myself, honoring my inner feminine and my inner masculine, and inviting them into a union of balance and harmony. After the ceremony, I walked on the beach – a beach that I have walked for years and where I get all sorts of gifts and signs left by my guides and often meet new teachers in animal form. As I walked I was in a quiet reflective space drinking in the beauty around me with the tide washing in and out – reminding me of the cycles of life. The spring rain was gently washing away old ways of being and the wind cleared out old thought forms making way for new possibilities.
My quiet reflection was interrupted my screeching from above with two birds swooping down at me. I watched two arctic terns make big circles flying out over the water as they would look down searching for fish. I asked silently, “Hello, new teachers and allies, what am I to learn from you on this day of new possibility and a new reality?” What I observed about these two is that they were a pair and they would be in constant contact calling to one another as they would widen their searching. When they fly they look down and they look straight ahead, which made me giggle as I thought “What are they going to run into, a flying bus?” When I thought that I heard clearly, “It’s all about navigation … minding the details and looking for nourishment while knowing where you are going.” I felt as if a wise elder at a wedding reception offered me the wisdom of life as they passed me on the dance floor.
I continued my walking, observing these two as they’d dive for fish and fly back up circling, even at times they’d dive between seagulls resting on the water. Really getting the message of, “When you find what you are looking for, don’t hesitate to go for it even if others may not be as aware of it.” Beautiful teachings for me in creating my new reality.
Upon further researching about arctic terns, more wise teachings became apparent to me. Arctic Terns make an incredible journey from the Arctic to the Antarctic twice each year. Over their lifetime they cover a distance equivalent to three trips to the moon traveling further than any other creature in the world! That is is 2.4 million miles during its lifetime which is an average of 30 years. Why is this fact so significant to me on this day of the full moon and creating a new reality? It is because I have the chance now to create new patterns. Like the terns I share its stamina and endurance. In the past, this endurance was the unhealthy flavor of, “I will endure no matter how painful” and through courage and awaken to the longings and needs of my own heart, I have freed myself of that pattern.
In this new reality, I will enjoy learning about enduring through pleasure and knowledge instead of pain and suffering. I will navigate to co-empowering relationships with self and others and when I find the spaces, places, people, animals, friends that will nourish this new reality I will go for it by speaking my truth and showing up fully. I will fly the distance to the moon and back, again and again, to be true to myself and my heart.
Further your reading on arctic terns:
I am just stepping into a role of teacher and I am experiencing a mixture of excitement and nervousness. One of my offerings is a bi-monthly practice group for students to strengthen their intuitive muscles. Since I am a one-woman show working with a host of spiritual beings, I create energetic containers for each of my projects knowing that there are plenty of resources available for me and my projects and all I have to do is ask for their help. Part of the energetic container is calling forth the spiritual council who are willing to hold and collaborate on each project.
For my practice group council, I curiously asked: “What animal guides are part of the council?” I leaned back, being open and receptive to welcome the guide. I had a felt sense of small energetic animal running to and fro exclaiming “Oh this is fun! Very fun!” and, at the same time, I heard very loudly in my mind, “Chipmunk.” I tried to feel what chipmunk as a guide brought to the council. I could sense joyful adventure and exploration. I then looked up chipmunk as a totem and it was confirmed what I was sensing in addition, chipmunk teaches animal magic of intuition and wishes to get granted. It feels good to have the guidance of such a wise being who is willing to join in the adventure of exploring animal communication as well as reminding me to ask for help for wishes to get granted.
It felt as if there was another animal totem so I asked if there was one and I heard chipmunk encourage me to pick an animal totem card. Before I chose the card I held my intention for my practice group and then selected a card which was Armadillo. I instantly thought that he wears his protection on his back. Turns out from the description of Armadillo they are teachers of boundaries. The armadillo medicine is part of its body since it wears its armor on its back and its boundaries of safety are a part of its total being. Armadillo encourages defining my space by discerning what I am willing to experience by drawing a circle/shield and writing down within the circle what I want to experience. I am grateful for Armadillo’s presence on the council for I am learning how to navigate holding space while teaching with appropriate boundaries so I am not drained at the end of a day. This led me into a brainstorming session of how I want my Practice Sessions to feel, defining what I am willing to do at each practice group and areas I will need support.
Totem animals and guides are powerful teachers. You can strengthen your connection to them by learning all you can about their gifts as well as their habits as beings in physical forms. The joyful, exuberant curiosity paired with ground presence and clear boundaries this dynamic duo bring to my teaching adventures are very comforting. I look forward eagerly to the next Animal Communication Practice Group.