Zen Master Gus

My recent trip to Montana was a blessing in so many ways. Being in that beautiful part of the country brought back many fond memories of attending the annual Big Sky Retreat since 2014. I also had the opportunity to reconnect with longtime friends from that retreat and make some new ones. One of those new friends was a Zen Master named Gus. You might be surprised to learn that Gus has four legs, floppy ears, and is very good at tail wagging. 

The cute little guy in the photo above lives in the house with two of the friends I was visiting. Gus seemed to really enjoy the puppy massages I gave him. While watching the Tony Awards, he jumped on the couch next to me and let me work on him for most of the show. He would reposition himself occasionally to allow better access to his back or hips and groaned to let me know when I found the right spot. It was quite adorable. 

Although that behavior is pretty typical, I can honestly say Gus is unlike any dog I have ever met. Most dogs on walks are either constantly pulling the leash to keep going or they stop for long periods of time to sniff something on the ground. 

Not Gus. When I joined him and his Uncle Charles on their walks, he seemed to be in no hurry at all. He sniffed the ground occasionally, but mostly he just walked at a very casual pace. Then, for no apparent reason, Gus would stand motionless and gaze off into the distance. Was he smelling something in the air or seeing something we couldn’t? In any case, he stopped for minutes at a time just taking in all that was occurring around him.

He did this several times during every walk no matter the time of day or how cold it was outside. Yes, it was cold in June. The temperature dipped into the 30s at night and there was a Winter Weather Advisory while I was there. Not funny, Mother Nature!

Anyway, during these pensive moments, Gus made it very clear that he was not interested in moving. He actively resisted the gentle tug of the leash when we tried to prompt him to keep going. It was both comical and fascinating to witness. 

I discussed this behavior with Charles, who takes Gus for about 3 walks daily.  We both agree that this little guy is a great teacher. He was reminding us how important it is to stop, be present, and take it all in. Inspiration and Peace are made welcome in the stillness. Gus has mastered this. That’s how he earned the name Zen Master Gus! 

Before I flew home, the 3 of us took one last walk together. That morning, Gus was very clear that he wanted to turn left and go up the road instead of our usual right turn down the hill. Not long into our walk, Gus suddenly stopped for one of his “reflective moments.” In the distance, we spotted a large elk walking up the hill into a small cluster of trees.

Moments later, we spotted a deer moving cautiously in that direction before she disappeared into the same cluster of trees. What a gift to see these two magnificent creatures on our last Zen walk together. According to the Native American teachings I study, elk brings the energy of “stamina” and deer brings the energy of “gentleness.” Thank you, Gus, for leading us in that direction to receive those blessings!

Now that I’m home, I found a way to incorporate what I learned from Gus into my morning walk along Sarasota Bay. Since my intention is to do cardio and get my heart pumping while being in nature, it’s not practical to stop during my walk. But afterward, I take extra time to sit by the water’s edge and be still, just taking in my beautiful surroundings.

The other day, while sitting motionless, a snowy egret landed on a rock just a few feet from me. I loved his company and his message to pay attention to what’s going on beneath the surface. In addition to his love, this time of stillness is another gift from Zen Master Gus.

Are you having a difficult time finding moments of stillness? I would be honored to assist you with a series of Spiritual Coaching Sessions where I will share tools and practices that have helped me find peace in challenging situations. Often challenges come from ancestral patterns of which we are not aware. Family Constellations are a miraculous way to release these unconscious loyalties so you can be free. Please look around my website for more information about these healing opportunities and to book a session.  

Until next time, may you follow Gus’s lead and take a moment of stillness whenever you can. 

The stillness and the peace of now enfold you in perfect gentleness.

A Course in Miracles ~ T-16.VII.6:5

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