In today’s post, I would like to share the first of three guiding principles I find helpful for working with The Animal Heart. Each of these principles is meant to help us on our way as we connect more fully to both our own heart, and the hearts of the animals we share our lives with.
Honoring the Gift of Sensitivity
Our first guiding principle for working with The Animal Heart is Honor The Gift Of Sensitivity.
This essential first principle encourages us to recognize first and foremost that sensitivity is a gift. It is an enhanced ability to feel, sense, detect or be aware of the more subtle aspects of life such as having an enhanced awareness of others' thoughts, feelings or needs, or being keenly aware of your own.
In the case of the human-animal connection, sensitivity is not 'our' gift or 'their' gift but a gift in and of itself. It is an inherent part of us both which acts as an inner bridge, allowing us to access and connect with one another in deep ways. Ways that are sometimes beyond words.
In order to start crossing this special bridge of the heart, the first step is to honor and recognize sensitivity as the true gift that it is. This isn’t always easy as unfortunately, many of us in the human world have been taught that sensitivity is a weakness, a character flaw or something to hide, fix or reject. If our human experience has given us unhelpful or negative messages about sensitivity, or if we’ve had some painful experiences because of it, we may have come to judge, suppress or even fear it. Instead of recognizing and building on its specialness, we may have learned to resist it or push it away. Sensitivity is also a tender gift and this is not always a tender world. It’s specialness can get twisted or negated in our own minds as we move along through life. As a result, we ourselves may have built barriers against our own gift as a means of self-protection. What a loss this would be, though, because if we move away from our own sensitivity, we are moving in the opposite direction of the animal kingdom. We need our innate sensitivity to connect with theirs. It is a gift in us both, and one that is meant to be shared between us.
Animals have a different relationship to their sensitivity. Though they are capable of shutting down or shutting off their sensitivity as a coping skill when needed, what they don't do is judge it (or themselves), avoid connecting to it due to discomfort or fear, or reject in any way something so inherent to their own vital being. Their sensitivity is for them a guiding force, a means of connection (with other animals, people, the natural world) a way to tune into the environment around them and an essential part of their wholeness. It is simply an inherent part of who and what they are.
Seen in this way, animal sensitivity offers us a guiding light toward how to honor, value and accept the gift of sensitivity in ourselves; as a vital part of our own wholeness. It is a means to connect with the world around us - human, natural, animal and energetic -in an enhanced, vital way. The gift of sensitivity is the vehicle for all of this, and so much more.
So today, I invite you to think about the gift of sensitivity in a way that honors it. What is the best thing about your own sensitivity? What gifts has it brought you in life? Who or what have you been able to connect with or help because of it? What other gifts might it tie into in your life, for example an artistic gift, your gifts as a parent, friend, or animal friend? How about with animals? How can their relationship to their own sensitivity strengthen your own? How might you honor their sensitivity even more in your relationships with them?
As you begin to think about these questions more fully, you begin to consciously honor the the gift of sensitivity; the first principle that will take us ever closer to the inner worlds and hearts of our animal friends.
I invite you to share in the comments below. By sharing our thoughts and experiences, we can really help each other see and honor both human and animals sensitivity, as well as strengthen this special gift in one another.