Posted on May 03, 2018
By Ellie Laks, Founder of The Gentle Barn
Many people believe animal are healing, inspiring, and wonderful. Most say that they are so important and soothing because they offer unconditional love and a non-judgmental attitude to all. When we are around them, we can be ourselves, and they always mirror back to us that we are loveable. I agree with all of that! But I think that there is a much deeper reason why animals are so important to us, and it is something that I’ve just started noticing: animals are vital to our lives because when we are with them, we connect to the love inside of ourselves!
In this high paced, high stress, technical world, it is so easy to feel mad or sad, to react to those around us, and to feel discord at work or with others. It is easy to forget who we are. We often feel spent and depleted at the end of the day. Meditation is important every day to quiet the mind and get centered. But there is nothing that can get us remembering who we are, our worthiness, like an animal. The reason they help us so much is not that of the love they give us, but of the love, they help us feel from inside of us. When we hold a purring cat, or are greeted at the door by a smiling, tail wagging, happy to see us dog, or burrow our faces on a cow’s shoulder, or breath in the scent of a horse’s nose as we breath each other in, we feel love blossoming inside ourselves, and we connect with who we really are. We are reminded of the divinity of each us, we feel worthy, important, valued, and full of life because we are connected to the love inside ourselves.
I grew up loving animals. I could hear them, and they witnessed me back. I was mercilessly teased because of my love of animals, and the more I was laughed at, the more I turned to animals until I felt outcast and alone most of the time. My best dog friend, Simon who I grew up with, my parakeet Puff, and all the wild bunnies, frogs, turtles, and creatures who surrounded me in the woods and lakes were my friends. They listened to me when I cried, they played with me when I was bored, and they kept me company when I was lonely. But the greatest gift they ever gave me, when I was feeling inadequate, unworthy, invaluable, unwanted, is they helped me remember who I am, connected me to the love inside me, and helped me feel worthy again, the way that I was. The animals at The Gentle Barn do that for me every single day, still.
And that is why animals have helped us so much in our Peace Enhancement Program over the last nineteen years. We host groups of children who are broken, traumatized, ill, or struggling emotionally. Many of them do not feel accepted by society. Most of them have been in trouble with the law, addicted to drugs, or affiliated with gangs. They are in pain, and because of life experiences, they have completely forgotten who they are. Our animal ambassadors make them feel loved, accept them fully just the way they are, and give them a chance to practice gentleness and confidence. But the biggest reason the kids we host leave with heads held high, eyes shining, and faces beaming, open, vulnerable, and soft, is because when the kids are around the animals, they connect back to the spirit inside them, to who they are, and feel perfect.
Our animals do that for our guests during weekday private tours, and on open Sundays too. When someone has a stressful week or is going through a challenging relationship, financial trouble, or an illness, our animal ambassadors are here to help. Hugging cows makes everything good again. Giving pigs tummy rubs brings joy to the soul. Holding chickens in our arms is delightful. Cuddling turkeys while they fall asleep in our laps clears the mind and makes us feel peaceful. And being with the animals at The Gentle Barn reconnects us all to the love, gentleness, peace, joy, and holiness that lives inside each and every one of us; and is always available when we are in front of angels to remind us. Come see us; you’ll find yourself in the barnyard!