We are all animals. Sometimes we forget that. And we pay a price for this forgetfulness because we sacrifice our connection to our intuition, our sensory intelligence, our sense of place in the world, and our true purpose.
How do you feel about your animal nature? It isn’t all rainbows, roses, and unicorns. Nature has the full range of experience – our loving, nurturing, wise nature – and our territorial, predatory, ferocious nature. We don’t want to be ruled by these animal instincts when the situation doesn’t warrant it, but there are plenty of times when we need to stand our ground, speak up for ourselves, and define a personal boundary. In short, there are times when we need to call upon our Ferocious Self.
When we embrace our full selves, our animality, we can still make good choices, we are not at the mercy of instinctual responses. As humans, we can choose how we want to react and who we want to be in the world. But if we separate from or try to suppress our innate nature, we lose our power to effectively navigate our lives. We lose our connection to our personal sense of truth, what I call our True North.
Animals know instantly whether or not to trust a person. They sense whether they want closer contact or more distance. Can you imagine if you felt this instant knowingness – and paid attention to this “horse sense” or “dog sense” or “cat sense”?
And connecting to your Animality – your animal nature -- can help you feel your innate goodness. We, humans, seem to be the only creatures who continually question our value, our worth, and our right to take up space in life. Animals accept themselves for who they are, and we can learn a lot from that peace of mind.
In one of The Human-Animal Connection workshops called On Donkey Time, we learn how to be peaceful in the presence of a donkey who is free to choose to engage with us or not. We sit in chairs, in a wide circle and Donkey Hotay, a miniature white donkey, can choose whether to approach, to interact and sniff us.
Participants learn how to settle into a very peaceful state, which is very attractive to donkeys and other animals. When we tune into his realm, we move out of the human mindset and into the “donkey zone.” The donkey will ignore us if we are busy thinking, but the second we get peaceful, we are irresistible, and he approaches for some delightful interaction.
When you embrace your animal nature, it is easy to communicate with all animals – in a way that makes sense to them – because you are connected to your senses. In this way, we can meet in the silent realms of peaceful connection.
Gretel Ehrlich said, "Everything in nature invites us to be constantly who we are."
Genie Joseph, Ph.D. is the Executive Director of the nonprofit organization, The Human-Animal Connection, and is the author of the book by the same name. She is a dog trainer and was formerly on the Board of the Human-Animal Bond Program at Tripler Army Medical Center. She helps people and animals communicate better to have healthier, happier, and more profound connections.