One night about two years ago my sister called to tell me she had found a dog on the side of the road up in L.A. – no collar, no I.D. chip, and no tag. She had brought it to a local animal shelter where if no one claimed it within a week – it would most likely be euthanized. I was leaving the next day for three weeks in England but when she described the dog as a 5-pound, white poodle, I couldn’t resist. “I’ll take her!” I yelled excitedly into the phone, “Can you let the shelter know that I will take her – but not for three weeks.”
My sister brought the dog home to her house after that first week and as I traveled through Surrey and Oxford teaching meditation, yoga, and mind-body healing, I had a vision of what my life would be like integrating a dog’s daily needs, dreams, and present moment awareness into my world.
When I got home from England, my sister phoned and said, “Pick her up today or I am keeping her.” That was a good sign. My sister had fallen in love with the dog in just three weeks. My assistant, Tiffany, and I hopped in the car and raced two hours north up to L.A. Nothing could have prepared us for the heart-melting moment when we first made eye contact with this sweet 5-pound Morkie – a combination of a white Maltese and a caramel Yorkshire Terrier.
My sister named her Snoodles (short for Snickerdoodles) and so we went with that name for a few weeks. But in just a few days, I became more connected to the sweet peach-like color that wove its way through her ears, back, and tail . . . and I became aware that this was no ordinary dog. I formally and officially named her Peaches – the Buddha Princess.
Non-duality at the Pet Lookalike Contest
We quickly established a morning ritual. Each day, upon waking, we would both sit on matching zafu pillows and meditate, then headed out to the beach just as the sun was coming up. One morning while we sat on the shoreline watching a pod of dolphins arcing themselves through the air, an early-morning runner stopped suddenly in his tracks, looked at us, yanked out his ear buds, started laughing, and giggled, “You guys need to enter the contest!! You’ve got to do it!”
He then revealed that the town of Cardiff-by-the-Sea, a few miles south of the sweet spot, was holding its Annual Dog Daze of Summer Pet Lookalike Contest. From far and wide, pets and their owners flock once a year to establish their non-duality with their companion animal, win the prize, and bring home the vast riches of a Frisbee, a tennis ball, some kibble, and the coveted blue ribbon.
So we entered, and our life has never been the same. First of all, we won, beating out twenty other dogs (and owners) of every shape and size. We had been together for less than a week, and we had already established our union . . . our yoga . . . our one-ness in front of hundreds of screaming dog lovers.
But more important, we have continued that ritual of spending an hour each morning watching the sunrise and then running, chasing, swimming, digging, and celebrating.
Touching My Heart, Transforming My Life
For almost a decade, I have been devotional with my meditation practice. Early this decade, I developed a morning meditation routine known as RPM (Rise, Pee, Meditate), and it has helped me to never miss a morning meditation. But for the six years before Peaches entered my life, after chanting om at the end of my meditation, I would log on, turn on the TV, make a pot of coffee, and spend my precious mornings checking and writing emails and blogging on Facebook while The Today Show hosts, Matt and Meredith, talked in the background.
Now upon hearing the last reverberations of om, Peaches jumps up and runs to the door. Even though the sun has not yet come up, she knows we are going to the beach to welcome the new day. Adding an hour on the beach every morning – rain or shine – has powerfully influenced my body (I’ve lost 53 pounds in that year), my mind (the sweet ocean prana and misty Kapha air have soothed my Pitta and brought an extra wave of relaxation into my being) and my soul (connecting with nature so consistently has re-awakened the more universal aspects of my being).
"Resist Nothing and You will Receive Unconditional Love."
Peaches comes to the Chopra Center every morning with me. She mostly lies curled up on one of the many pillows, tuffets, and doggie beds that adorn Chopra Center University. Using the Law of Least Effort, she has also become a sweet therapy dog for each week’s Perfect Health Panchakarma attendees. Guests approach her all the time missing their own animals and connect back home to them by holding Peaches and letting her sweetness ripple through them. Their pulse begins to slow; their breathing starts to ease; and sometimes tears just flow from their eyes. Peaches – the Buddha Princess is a living meditation.
It’s difficult to describe the angelic, loving, relaxed, and heart-felt demeanor of this now 7-pound, three-year-old Morkie. You have to meet her in person to feel the true depth of her sweetness. But just gazing into her eyes can gently slow your heartbeat and relax your breathing.
She teaches me in each moment: “Resist nothing and you will receive unconditional love.” And so that is a lesson I relearn each day.
I believe that you always receive the companion you need – human or animal. I also believe that everything is timing. Peaches came into my life at a time when I was in need of unconditional love. I needed more nurturing and I needed to give unconditionally. I was also in need of something in addition to my meditation to help keep my New Yorker-Pitta-Taurus essence grounded. Peaches brought me the sweetness of the universe without requesting anything in return. Each day, she wakes up, meditates, runs, and radiates additional light and love into the world . . . and she does it with grace and ease.
You always get the dog you need. And each day, I feel like I look more and more like her!