Practice "Soft Eyes"
by Gina Palmer & Sherry Jones
Soft eyes is a method animals
use to communicate. When an animal offers you their soft eyes,
they are talking to you. You can talk back to them using your
own soft eyes. Offering an animal your soft eyes, is a way of
communicating your intention to honor them with mutual respect.
Mutual respect builds trust, and establishing trust is one of
the first steps in creating common ground with your animal. For
instance; Imagine your dog laying out in the grass in your back
yard. Before approaching your dog to communicate, spend some
time first observing her/him just laying there gazing around,
relaxing, enjoying herself just being in the outdoors. Soft eyes
in this case generally means; I am here and I am at peace. One
of the best ways to be respectful of someone else's peace and
serenity, is to not interrupt it; instead, set the intention
prior to approaching your animal of merging with their peace/serenity.
Then, approach the animal.
you are a professional dog or horse trainer, dog groomer, vet
or other animal professional, using soft eyes before touching
or approaching an animal can literally transform the animal's
experience of being in your care. It minimizes or eliminates
any fears or anxieties the animal may be experiencing. If you
are visiting a friend who has animals in their house, practicing
soft eyes before petting the animal is a way of communicating
your acknowledgment of them, prior to petting them. When working
with birds or wild animals, practicing soft eyes is one of the
most reverent gestures you can offer to the animal, vs.. plowing
ahead into an interaction immediately with the animal.
you choose to use soft eyes, you are choosing a technique that
does not involve direct eye contact; but rather an indirect gazing
in the direction of the being with whom you wish to communicate.
In many human cultures, as well as animal cultures, looking directly
into the eyes of another is sometimes perceived by the other
as disrespectful, or in the case with certain animals, a threatening
gesture. I use soft eyes when I work with human students during
Totem Power Animal sessions. I do this because I can sometimes
sense that the person is experiencing some anxiety about going
on a Shamanic journey. Soft eyes is also used as a technique
in practicing Shamanism, because it creates a way to cancel left
brain activity, in favor of allowing for support of right brain
activation of the Beta brain waves.
observed soft eye practiced by such an abundance of species,
both domestic and wild, that I have concluded the practice to
be an inborn, inherent behavior that humans must have forgotten;
that perhaps our ancient ancestors might have used in communication
with each other and all of life. Why are humans the only animals
that have forgotten this? Could it be that humans may be the
only species on the planet that may have forgotten our inherent
connection to the web of life? Is our bug-eyed and hurried approach
to communication a manifestation of our fear based perceptions,
dominance and superiority attitudes, and modern day tendencies
to intimidate one another vs.. communicate with one another?
Each of us must go inside of ourselves to answer these questions.
matters of restoring beneficial health and behavior is when this
technique is most appreciated, as well as when communicating.
You can observe animals self-healing using soft eyes. Recall
in your experience when you have witnessed an animal in ill health.
Usually they are setting very still, eyes nearly closed, and
using calibrated breathing. Animals have an instinct to draw
upon the inner resources of stillness, breath, and focus of soft
gazing. They appear almost as if in a trance (which in a sense,
they are). They "soften" themselves, their environment,
and their intention toward gentleness. They do this when self-healing
and when working with others (human & non-human).
To illustrate this action of healing I offer you a story sent
to me of a cat working with a dying dog.
story is titled "Chardo's Angel":
It was a beautiful spring day.
Purple Martins swooped wildly over the jumping fish in the backyard
pond, plucking the early mosquitoes out of the humid air. Branches
of full apple blossoms swayed rhythmically back and forth in
the breeze. The scent of lilac wafted through the open windows,
and the old boxer lay dying. It had begun early in the pre-dawn
hours. Hurried last minutes instructions had been written down
for me, along with emergency numbers in case there were any problems.
Chardo's owners were well aware that their dog was dying of heart
failure, but legal matters in the city compelled them to go.
It was only for a day, but it hurt them greatly to leave. They
just couldn't stand the thought of something happening to Chardo
and him being alone.
agreed to close up my photographic studio for the day and dog
sit. Chardo had immigrated to Canada from Germany along with
his owners and four cats seven years ago. They must have been
quite the sight in the arrival area. I have witnessed many a
cat on a luggage carousel mewing pitifully while waiting for
their owners to claim them. Two of the cats had met with various
ends that seem to befall farm felines. Now only Chardo and two
had been a lovely dog, dark chocolate brown with just the right
amount of white to contrast. Over the years his cropped ears
had grown deaf, and arthritis had crippled and twisted his once
powerful legs. Old age seems to come too soon to boxers, and
he was no exception.
him vigilantly. He slept in the sun, eyes softened, struggling
for every breath. When he awoke, he checked out of the window
to see if his family had returned. Finding that they had not,
he would flop down with a heavy sigh, soften his eyes again and
return to the comfort of sleep. He ate with gusto the chicken
they had left for his lunch, and even ventured outside for a
while. Every few steps he was forced to pause to catch his ever
decreasing breath. It was bitter sweet watching him turn his
face up to the sun filled air, eyes softened, to sniff those
far off smells that he was incapable of pursuing. The afternoon
passed in that slow dreamlike fashion that accompanies spring.
It was during that time that I witnessed something that moved
me beyond words.
the day, I had been listening to Chardo's labored breathing.
I was apprehensive when I realized that I could no longer hear
it. I ventured out into the sun room and peeked around the corner,
afraid that he had passed while his owners weren't home to say
I saw him laying in the warm rays that spilled through the window.
Laying next to him was Daisy the cat. Each of them lay facing
one another, eyes softened and focused upon the moment and each
other. She had her paws wrapped gently but firmly around his
neck and was licking him intently. Starting with his ears, she
cleaned thoroughly inside and out. Once finished on one side,
she would move patiently to the other and patiently begin again.
effect on Chardo was positively medicinal. His breathing was
more even and less raspy. The look on his face seemed one of
pure gratitude. His eyes were blissfully softened, as he was
being attended to by his furry nursemaid. I honestly don't know
where Daisy found the stamina, as she washed the big dog from
his head to his hind quarters. When she had finished, she collapsed
between the two enormous paws and together they lay face next
to face, eyes softened, sharing each others breath. I fancied
that she had somehow sensed that he lacked his own and was trying
to provide even that. They rested contented until Chardo's family
was home once again.
owner called me that night at supper time to tell me that Chardo
had passed away, and to thank me for taking care of him on his
last day. I told her it had been my pleasure, but that the real
hero was a small black and white angel named Daisy. She had comforted
him in a way none of us ever could by giving him everything that
was possible for her to give. I will never forget her brave efforts
on behalf of her friend, or the competent manner in which she
went about nurse-maiding Chardo. I only hope that, I too, will
always be willing to comfort until I am exhausted merging softly
with another, and then be willing to share my tired breath.
it is the simple things, such as offering a softened manner,
that impact another's experience most potently. As healers, teachers,
trainers and professionals we sometimes forget that the animals
are also healers, teachers and professionals, and have much wisdom
to offer us. They can teach us about the profound powers laying
dormant within intention, about the potency of soft gazing, and
offering our respect for one another as medicine, and having
a willingness to release our attachments, in favor of merging
with the beloved.
Read the story of Sara, the white dove: The
Miracle Medicine of Love