SOUL FUEL: Kim Forrester discusses the positive experience animals have had on her life.

Soul Fuel Pets

Despite the fact that we ourselves are natural creatures, the animal-human relationship is a complicated one. For the last few millennia, many people have regarded themselves as, shall we say, the highest form of life on Earth. Some have touted the idea that nature is ours for the taking; that animals are simply another resource in a human-centric quest for dominance. Others see humanity as the guardians of a helpless, hapless natural world.

Meanwhile, many indigenous cultures around the world hold the belief that animals are, in fact, our brothers and sisters. Interestingly, it is this worldview that best fits our most recent scientific discoveries; the understanding that everything on the Earth (and in the universe) is deeply and inextricably interconnected at a quantum level. What may be considered even more profound is the well-held indigenous belief that animals can be our guides and teachers.

It is my experience that if you take the time to connect with the animals in your life – if you respect them and observe them – you can learn a lot about your own natural needs and instincts and, vitally, how to live in a healthier, happier world.

Here are a few things I’ve learned from the animals in my life:

LOVE AND ACCEPTANCE: It takes one look in a dog’s eyes to see that they understand the concept of unconditional love. As humans, we have learned to label and judge everything and everyone – we live in a constant state of comparison and conditional acceptance. But animals (even my cats!) constantly show me a place beyond judgment, where everything simply “is what it is” and where there is always a reason to be happy.

INTUITIVE LIVING: All creatures, from ants to wolves, are unquestionably intuitive. A dog doesn’t rationalise why it needs to bark at a particular passer-by, or question why it feels it must give comfort to its human. It does these things if and when it feels instinctively right to do so. I believe we could all learn from this example of authentic, spontaneous behaviour.

SELF-FULLNESS: Both my feline and feathered friends are perfect examples of self-love and self-empowerment. From them, I learn that it’s ok to recognise and value one’s own needs and that connection and compassion can be given in my own time, and on my own terms.

OUR FORGOTTEN, FUNDAMENTAL NEEDS: It’s easy to be disturbed by the treatment of many domesticated animals – the unpleasant side of modern life such as caged hens, penned pigs, and puppy farms. But I believe that if we look closely, we can see how the plight of these creatures reflects a poignant lesson for us all. We, too, are often locked away in synthetic cages (homes, classrooms or offices) and live in crowded environments. We often lack natural light, fresh air and the pleasure of walking on natural ground. We sometimes live to work, and many of us have little or no opportunity to simply be the beings we are born to be.

Kim Forrester is a holistic wellbeing author, consultant and educator.