EMPATHY WITH ANIMALS
Version 1.0 March 2020
ABSTRACT AND SUMMARY
Animals have two ways of using their senses, focused and panoramic. Non-selective or panoramic sensing evolved for the purpose of being receptive to and aware of sudden movements and changes in the immediate environment. Panoramic sensing can only be done now. Animals need it to survive.
Non-selective is not a good word to describe it because this fails to describe the actual activity of being ready and on the watch, or ready to be watchful.
Panoramic sensing evolved as a balance for focused activity, and while passively dozing. This is a vital part of the oldest, original, most natural form of being awake and staying alive.
Humans balance their active focusing mode with sleeping, and sometimes seeking inner peace; but modern man hardly ever uses this third mode of being, our panorama mode.
Could we be missing out on something?
Panoramic seeing, listening, and smelling, is something all animals need to do, in order to survive. This is the oldest, original, most natural, tried and tested form of being awake and staying alive. This is not a new form of meditation or yoga. This subject deserves a place in our culture's psychological literature on therapeutic possibilities and the full human potential.
Animals need to use panoramic sensing, sometimes every minute of every day, to balance both their focused-active, and passive modes.
Its active use, as a balance during focused work, can be easily witnessed every time a bird, foraging for food, raises their head to check for danger. Its passive use when dozing, is less easy to prove, but birds sleep with one eye open, hares fold back their ears open. Even in their passive state, animals maintain the balance, with a panoramic awareness of the shadows, sounds and scents around them.
Humans balance their active focusing mode with sleeping and sometimes seeking inner peace. Humans occasionally experience a short spontaneous moment of panoramic seeing, when looking into the distance with a landscape or seascape, but we hardly ever actively use this third mode of being, our panorama mode..
BEING NOW and INTEGRATEDPanoramic sensing evolved for the purpose of being receptive, wide awake and aware of any sudden movements and changes outside our body; sights, sounds and smells happening now in the immediate environment. It can only be done now.
With the panoramic way of seeing and hearing, animals feel more involved and integrated, more a part of everything they sense. There isn't the same clear distinction and solid defining relationship of a subject sensing an object, it was built that way; unlike focusing which evolved to do things, and therefore involves a doer and a done to, a subject and object.
Various spiritual and meditation disciplines have developed the idea of mindfulness and focusing on the present moment. Panoramic sensing is not the same thing as focusing on the present moment because when we focus, we use our senses selectively. In order to be now, it's not focusing or what we focus on which is important, it's how we use the senses, by being mindful in a panoramic way we are automatically now because there's no other time we can actually sense what's happening.
In religious and spiritual circles, there is a basic misconception about the senses leading to worldly desire, with it's passion for distractions. It's not the senses which lead to desire, it's when we focus (either with our senses or with our thoughts) that it separates us from our environment in a way which can lead to desire.
Panoramic sensing evolved to allow a spontaneous, instinctive response, without stopping for a moment's thought. Animals need to be alert with their senses for their survival. Humans in the developed world, have overcome this basic need. But, the side-effects of panoramic sensing, which are being now and feeling integrated, are still of great value.
THE BALANCEOur culture has developed some ingenious and valuable balances for our focused work mode. Entertainment, where we focus on someone else who is focused on entertaining us. Religions, where we have a higher focal point or image. Creative art, music and dance, where we focus with our imagination.
Some human cultures have developed our passive mode: waiting for God, letting go, and contemplation. But, in almost all of these, we close the windows and the senses, and look for inner peace in the silence.
We have forgotten evolution's original balance. Animals don't close their eyes or focus on fun or abstract ideas as a balance. Panoramic sensing is the most natural balance for both the active focusing mode and the passive dozing mode. Our culture's understanding of life and evolution omits this fact.
We believe to feel content and be awake in the present moment is a mental shift of perspective or state of mind which we're looking for. This shift of perspective is only rarely directly applied to our senses and how we use them.
It's nothing mystical or metaphysical, it's not even philosophical, it's just at first rather strange: I'm suggesting a practical physiological method of using the senses, to find a moment's peace and harmony with the world.
As individuals we can't expect to develop any real sense of balance, without going panoramic for a minute or so every few hours. No modern culture can afford to ignore such a valuable human resource, and the possibilities it opens up for securing our survival.
Extra Extracts from Introduction
EMPATHYIt seems necessary to clarify what empathy means. Empathy is similar to sympathy but deeper, it's not just feeling for someone, it's putting yourself in their shoes. Empathy always stimulates intuition, openness and awareness.
I find empathy has one special use : Empathy with how animals sense their bodies and the world around them. This has no direct connection with the shamanic practice of discovering your animal and becoming it; or the chinese martial arts where they learn to imitate certain animals.
I am suggesting re-discovering forgotten and ignored possibilities, ways of seeing, hearing, smelling, touching and BEING which i believe we were familiar with as babies. We can relearn these by empathising with animals.
IN COMBINATION WITH MEDITATIONMost forms of meditation, prayer and therapy can bring our lives in balance, and help us to connect with forgotten, unrealised parts of ourselves and to be fully human. Please use them as well.
Panoramic sensing IS a forgotten urealised part of ourselves, AND evolution's basic balance in life. Naturally it can be combined with any other therapy, meditation method or religious practice... or just anything which you focus on and are doing.
I'm sure i don't know all the potential of this perspective on life. Maybe i have only scraped the surface, but already – i'm convinced this is PART of 'the solution' to the problems which humans have on planet earth, and i'm hoping others, with different perspectives, will help complete the picture.