Natural Care and Healing For Your Dogs & Cats

Forgiveness and the Immune System

Reprinted with permission from the September 2000 issue of Dr. Bob and Susan Goldsteins' Love of Animals newsletter, 606 Post Rd. East, Westport, CT 06880; for subscription information, call 800/211-6365.

Whenever time permits, Sharon Callahan and I dedicate a portion of our Tuesdays to discussing our patients, their human companions and the many spiritual and emotional issues we mutually face on a daily basis. By sharing some of these conversations with you, and the ideas and solutions which surface, it is our hope that you and your animal will benefit. This month, at the suggestion of Sheila Teed, Director of Customer Service for Love of Animals, we have selected the topic of forgiveness. As Sharon points out, "There's so much to it we could write a book about it." Maybe we will someday, but one thing is certain: No matter what your religion, belief system or spiritual path, you must recognize the importance of being able to release and forgive yourself or a fellow being. It is not always easy, however. Often, our reactions to the acts of another cause pain which may vary in intensity, provoking negative emotions. Left unchecked, these emotions can take root at the cellular level. Eventually, unresolved anger, frustration and rejection find their way to bitterness, which is the antithesis of who we really are. If we allow ourselves to remain bitter, sooner or later this deadly emotion will meet up with remorse and grief. It's a vicious cycle. Over time, holding on to resentments will affect your immune system and may even affect the health of the animals in your care. It's been medically proven that our thoughts have a powerful, quantifiable effect on our entire system.

So if you are harboring toxic emotions with regards to another being or your own transgressions, consider the toll it is taking on you. If that's not a call to action, we urge you to consider how these dark thoughts impact your animal. As Sharon points out, animals are our greatest "forgiveness teachers", as they live and breathe in a constant state of abounding forgiveness. Our failure to forgive forces our animals to live in an unnatural state, which may compromise their immunity or ability to combat disease.

As we begin, we invite you to consider that when forgiveness is lacking, it anchors us in the past, depriving one's ability to live in the moment. The more one practices living in the moment which is truly the only reality the richer the quality of life will be for all involved.

Susan: As a young woman, I watched a close relative live a life of bitterness resulting from an unresolved 30-year hurt involving her husband's brothers. This woman was riddled with arthritis and it was so clear to me that her crippling was tied up to her hatred.

Sharon: That's right, Susan. I often see people aging prematurely and falling into chronic illnesses when they fail to forgive.

Susan: In your practice, what do you see is the most common situation evoking the need for forgiveness involving an animal?

Sharon: Oh, by a mile it's the issue of leaving the animal alone all day while they are at the office.

Susan: "Latch key" animals! It's recognized as a big problem in society with children, but I didn't realize the degree to which it exists with animals. So what goes on for the poor human soul who has to deal with this situation 40+ hours a week? How do the animals feel about it? And what can be done do you recommend an animal "nanny", doggie day care or a professional sitter?

Sharon: There is always a solution if one takes the time to seek it out. But of equal importance is the issue of dealing with all of the guilt which prevails. You know, Susan, most of the time, when I tune into these animals, they seem to be more worried about their person and the difficulty he or she is having than of the issue of being alone. It is clear to me that they are eager to have their person(s) lighten up. If we really observe our animals, we will see that animals offer us forgiveness over and over again. It's their biggest gift, in tandem with unconditional love. Animals recognize that our inability to forgive ourselves is an impediment to moving forward with our life. Lack of forgiveness of self or another binds us to the past.

Susan: It sounds as if people provoke problems, such as separation anxiety, in their animals by their own emotional insecurity...

Sharon: Yes! It can be provoked, or an existing condition made worse, by the emotional insecurity of the person. Animals are often just mirroring our inner states or the state of human consciousness as a whole.

Susan: So how do emotionally healthy animals respond to the situation?

Sharon: Cats definitely have an easier time of it than dogs. They are more solitary by nature and have active imaginations which carry over into other dimensions. In other words, they entertain themselves well by activating their inherent creativity. Dogs have a harder time, as they are pack animals and need company. They also take on our emotional characteristics, so if we have a concern about long absences, they will surely pick up on it.

Susan: So what can be done? Are you saying that the human simply needs to let go of the guilt about leaving the animal home alone?

Sharon: Well, that's certainly part of it. I also recommend to my clients who work long hours that they clearly express their feelings to their dog, cat, bird, etc. Sometimes this means telling him or her that "I am so sorry I had to leave you for so long, now let's have some fun." The air is cleared and forgiveness is in motion. I also tell folks to bring a photo of the animal(s) to the office and to "tune in" several times a day.

Susan: Can you give our readers some tips on how to accomplish this?

Sharon: Close your eyes gently for just a few moments. Visualize a beam of golden light entering your body at the top of your head and filling your entire body cavity. Think of this golden light as the grace of the great creator, which is love. Now visualize your animal friend in front of you with the golden light of grace entering her body at the top of her head and filling her body cavity. Now visualize the golden light shining out from your heart like a flashlight beam and entering the heart of your beloved friend and that this beam of light contains all of your love and attention. Animals are very telepathic. Your animal friend will feel your love, and this feeling of love will continue to flow even after you complete the visualization process. Keeping the animal's photo on your desk acts as a visual reminder to "activate" the visualization process each time you look at it even when your eyes are open. This one small exercise will make a world of difference to both you and your animal, keeping the flow of love circulating between you during your physical absence from one another.

Susan: The topic of animal abuse can be unpleasant and often painful. But there are many levels of "abuse", such as our inability to show affection in a moment of need to an out-of-control response to a destructive act. In our Earth Animal practice, we are often presented with the frustration of antisocial acts in the household, such as inappropriate urination or destruction of furniture or the flower garden. In certain cases, we see people stretched like rubber bands. From time to time, when I come home from the office exhausted and drained after working with so many critically ill patients, I fail to give my own animals the love and attention they need and deserve. This gives me great sadness.

Sharon: There is a fallacy here, because acts of any form of abuse no matter how seemingly trivial bring up guilt and remorse at all levels. No matter what the issue, whether it is loss of temper over a destroyed piece of furniture or the 50th time your cat peed on your favorite chair, the "treatment" is the same: You need to forgive yourself and the act and, at the same time, ask for your animal's forgiveness. If you are in this situation, I recommend getting centered: place yourself on the floor, let your animal come to you and tell the animal that you are truly sorry.

Susan: Such acts associated with forgiveness bring about a positive change of events and perhaps greater clarity. We certainly need all the clarity we can get, don't we?

Sharon: Yes, forgiveness, clarity and understanding are all essential for resolution. Aggression in all forms from the tiniest nip to the actual mauling or killing of another calls for compassion. What people need to realize is that animals have their own societal rules or codes of ethics which, if understood, make for peaceful resolution and healing. By understanding the reasons why an apparently innocent victim is attacked, you can set the stage for forgiveness. This is where animal communicators really take on a role. If one of your readers brings in a new cat and the new cat is picked on or vice versa, it is helpful to understand that animals generally target the weaker ones. By tuning in, it may also become apparent that the innocent "victim" was actually the antagonist. You would be amazed by how many poison arrows get shot before an animal retaliates.

Susan: What, then, do you recommend for our readers?

Sharon: By understanding what is really going on from the perspective of the animal, we then have the tools to implement helpful solutions, such as flower essence therapy, which will ease the introduction of a new animal, and relieve jealousy and the shock of the sudden arrival of a new animal. Anaflora's Harmony formula is a wonderful choice in such a situation, as are essential oils. In many cases, however, simply knowing what is taking place from the animal's perspective changes the situation, because the animal then feels understood and "heard" and we can adjust our behavior and reactions accordingly.

Susan: We receive many calls from readers who are grieving the loss of a companion animal who died due to a chronic illness. These folks began reading our letters and learned that they could have been feeding living foods, using nutraceuticals, supplementing and more. Some are still carrying around grief as a result of this extremely difficult but very loving act of kindness.

Sharon: Again, self-forgiveness is the key when dealing with the leftover emotions and issues of the decision to put a loved one to sleep. In almost every case of euthanasia where I have been called in as a communicator, the animal has told me that the person did the right thing and that it really was understood as an act of love. Particularly if euthanasia was performed to end suffering or to make an animal's passing or the letting go process easier.

Susan: We owe a huge debt to the animals whose acts of perpetual love and forgiveness are unconditional. One way to give back is to check in on our own need to forgive...and then just do it.

Editor's note: If you have an ongoing condition with your animal requiring forgiveness, we recommend consulting an animal communicator; often, two-way communication will unlock unresolved emotions, facilitating healing and stimulation of the immune system. Flower essences such as Anaflora Return to Joy and Expanded States formulas will help facilitate forgiveness and release restoring harmony and balance. See also this issues article on Aromatherapy for information on another helpful modality.