By Jamie Lee
In a time of 24-hour news, tweets and private messages, we are constantly tuned in and yet our social networks are decreasing. We can send a text to another country instantly with our phones but we are living in a time of great separateness. A recent survey of therapists discovered that the number one reason that people are seeking therapy today is loneliness. There is an epidemic of loneliness in our culture that has powerful consequences, including early mortality.
There’s an easy way to escape the consequences of loneliness – turn to the animals. Pets are our lifelines and they often heal the wounds of our society. Pets fulfill our need for company and our need to be loved, but more importantly, they fulfill our need to love.
You don’t have to be alone to benefit for the healing power of animals. Many people with families and friends share a special bond with a pet. The love between a person and an animal is real and appropriate. Research shows that looking into the eyes of your pet can lower your heart rate. Their presence alone is enough to calm you down and allow you to feel loved.
How animals assist people is demonstrated time after time. Just look at the therapy dogs that are trained to recognize panic attacks and seizures, or the benefits of equine-facilitated therapy. Animals help people with special needs but people without anxiety are also benefiting from the emotional support animals provide.
Despite the power of animals to help humans heal, we continue to view animals as less than us. In reality, nothing could be farther from the truth. No other animal destroys its environment as we do. In their natural state, each creature contributes to the overall ecosystem, helping maintain balance on the planet. The only time you see a species destroy the environment is if it has been introduced and becomes invasive.
We often think of animals as dangerous. But if you look at the most dangerous animals on the planet, those that take human lives – the ones we fear most, the sharks, wolves and bears – they are no where near the top of the list. At the very top is the human being.
So why is it that we don’t think of other animals as equal to us? Why is it that we consider it animals’ duty to feed or serve us in some way? Why is that we find sport in killing them? If you really look at the psychology of animals, you see that they don’t crave more than they need, they don’t take more than they require, and they don’t destroy anything unnecessarily out of greed. In fact, they don’t reflect our survival instincts so much as our finest qualities.
All pet lovers know that each animal has its very own distinct personality, and an immense capacity for love and gentleness. Protective, caring, playful and sad are all emotions displayed by animals.
We can learn a lot for animals about the finest part of ourselves but it takes boldness to go there. It takes heart to live with compassion, to see nature and the animals in it as deserving of life, not just as commodities her to serve us. Animals have an incredible ability to empathize with one another, to help one another, to feed one another. All of our most beautiful characteristics – compassion, kindness and love – exist in animals too.
To learn more about the healing power of animals, contact Jamie Lee at www.Animal-Bonds.com