The Spiritual Lives of Animals
by Nancy Windheart
I believe that being on a path of spiritual growth is essential to being a good animal communicator. My own journey has been profoundly guided by the animals, in particular the many animals I have loved who have come into my life through rescue situations. In learning to listen to animals telepathically, we learn to still the mind, to listen with deep presence, and to become open to the realms of magic and the unseen. This can become the foundation of a spiritual practice that can change our perceptions and our lives.
Animals vary in their spiritual awareness, understanding, experience, and evolution, as do humans. It is just as inaccurate to perceive all animals as spiritual masters as it is to perceive them as spiritually inferior, without souls, or spiritually insignificant. Animals will vary in their understanding of past lives, life after death, their soul purpose and tasks for this lifetime, or any other spiritual matter. Sometimes, animals’ spiritual awareness will match that of the people they are with, and animals can also be great master teachers for humans on the spiritual path.
Like people, animals have their own spiritual lives, and can evolve and grow spiritually over time. Especially when working with rescued animals who may have experienced neglect or abuse, it can be very helpful to recognize that animals’ perspectives about their lives can go far beyond their experiences in their physical bodies. Dialogue with animals about their spiritual understanding can help people to more deeply understand them. I have found that many animals do have a conscious awareness of why they are in particular situations, and what their purpose is in even the most difficult experiences. After communicating with many animals and spiritually aware humans, I have learned that we may not have an understanding of the meaning or reason for our own or animals’ suffering until many years or lifetimes down the road.
Many years ago, I loved a beautiful dog, Trixie, who taught me profound lessons about the “bigger picture” with regard to suffering. I share her story here as an example of the miracles of awareness that can happen when we really begin to understand the depth of each animal’s spiritual journey, and our own.
Trixie was a Boxer who had spent at least seven years in a research laboratory. When she came to me, she had lived her entire life on concrete, and was frightened of grass, trees, and most everything else in the outside world. She was physically broken and mentally and emotionally impaired, and I loved her with every cell of my being. I hoped that my love would transform her, heal her past, and give her a sweet, joy-filled “retirement” in the last years of her life. Instead, Trixie quickly developed a brain tumor, possibly caused by the experiments she had been exposed to in the lab, and she died within a few months of her adoption into my home.
I was heartbroken and angry, and I could not understand what possible purpose Trixie’s suffering could have had. I responded to my feelings by becoming an activist for a time, fighting for the rights of animals in laboratories, zoos, and factory farms. I channeled my own unhandled pain, which I later realized was mirrored to me by the animals, into frantic and desperate attempts to prevent the suffering of others.
Many years later, as I was re-discovering my telepathic abilities, Trixie, who had been in Spirit for a long time, came to me unexpectedly during an exercise in a course. She shared many things with me about our life together. She showed me that although she could not express love like a “normal” dog during her time with me, she had felt my love for her, and that it had deeply touched and healed her. She also showed me that her time in the lab was a necessary part of her soul’s journey, and that it was what had allowed us to come together for a few short months at the end of her life for both of us to grow and expand into deeper love. The communication was tremendously healing for me, and helped me to release the anger, pain, and sadness I had felt after her passing.
It was several more years before Trixie got in touch with me again. When she did, she showed me that she had reincarnated as a young, healthy dog, and was living with a family who had a disabled child. She was the primary companion for this child, and wanted me to know what a wonderful life she was having. She shared with me that her experiences in her last lifetime, both in the laboratory and with me, were what allowed her to deeply understand this boy and his experience of life, and that she was so proud of the friendship and service that she was able to give him as he made his way through a very confusing world. She thanked me for loving her, and wanted me to know that she was now able to express love and be of service in a whole new way because of her experiences in her previous lifetime.
It was then that I realized that often we may not be able to understand the reasons for an animal’s suffering in a particular situation or lifetime, and that it can take a lot of time for these reasons to be revealed, if at all. My experience with Trixie taught me to not make assumptions about any animal or situation, but simply to remain present to what is, to help the animal in whatever way seems appropriate at the time, and to allow the meaning or understanding to unfold over time.
I have since communicated with many, many animals who have experienced pain and trauma in their lives. While most animals (and people) who survive trauma can be greatly helped through communication, counseling, and healing, I have learned that each individual varies greatly in their ability to heal, integrate, and grow from their experiences. I have also learned that many animals are able to move through the healing process relatively quickly, with a profound awareness of the meaning and purpose in their experiences.
As people working with sheltered and rescued animals, we can support their spiritual journeys in a variety of ways. I believe that the most important thing that we can do is to recognize each animal as an individual, with his or her own spiritual life and path, which may or may not be understandable by us. Secondly, it is important to develop an ability to be deeply present with animals, to take them as they are in each moment, and to not make any assumptions about them or their experiences until we have fully understood them. Third, we can support animals by recognizing that they evolve and grow over time, and by not holding them hostage to a role of “victim” or keeping them frozen in their past experiences. We can support them by giving them the freedom to grow, develop, and teach us according to their purpose.
Listening to and learning from the animals has propelled me forward on my spiritual journey in ways I could not have imagined. Practicing telepathy with an open heart and mindful presence, and being willing to release my judgments, fears, and old beliefs, has made me a better human. I’m kinder, more tolerant, less judgmental, and more forgiving of myself and others than I was before I started this journey. I continue to seek the guidance of spiritual masters, many of whom are in animal form, to help me to deepen my understanding and my spiritual practice.