Mindfulness Meditation Tips Our Dogs Teach Us
“Living the Dream” = Mindfulness!
We so often hear this expression and it conjures up visions of sun-kissed beaches, beautiful homes or super shiny trinkets, such as sleek cars. How would it be, however, to live the dream every day, every time you go out into the garden or the wider world around you?
Mindfulness has become a familiar word in modern language but, as a concept, how do we apply and use it in our everyday lives?
The key is to keep it simple and not to over-complicate. In essence, it is “living in the moment” and its roots stem back to Buddhist practices, whereby you use breathing techniques to enable you to focus the mind on the present.
Mindful breathing, together with the ability to be non-judgemental, allows you to practice something very simple but vitally important.
Try breathing in slowly through the nostrils and exhaling through the mouth; it not only re-balances the levels of oxygen in the body, so important in alleviating stress but it also focuses the mind on the moment you are in.
You let go of past experiences and any worries for the future, as you are literally breathing and living the moment, not comparing it with something else, hence becoming non-judgemental.
As humans, we may take time to learn this technique and our dogs can be the teachers we look to for guidance!
Not only do dogs accept us for who we are; not caring whether we are well-dressed, successful at work or with a new car but they also need us to relate to them in the same physical space.
Therefore, they are both non-judgemental and need us to be in the moment with them; spending quality time together,
Seeing your dog so excited to greet you back home and stroking them for physical closeness both release an increase in the stress-busting (and bonding) hormone, Oxytocin.
If you really study your dog, you will realize that they are content with the status quo; the same walks, where they will enjoy exploring new smells and seeking information around them, the same comfy chair or old blanket on the floor and the reliable bowl of food which suits their appetite,
They have totally tuned in to their senses and use them to appreciate everything around them in the moment.
Next time you walk your dog, try to “switch off” from other considerations you might have; that mobile phone message or your “to do” list and simply use your senses to fully explore and enjoy the environment and moment you are in.
Listen to the birdsong, feel the cool breeze, raindrops or warmth of the sun on your skin, notice the changing colors of the leaves and the landscape beyond.
Remember to focus on and value the moment; it won’t be here again.
Dogs will, of course, use their past experiences to equip them with dealing with the world, yet they do not judge themselves for the behavior they display or the emotions they feel.
They feel and react instinctively, as their experience has guided them to. We can help our dogs and ourselves if we too don’t pass judgment.
This means to learn acceptance, to stop comparing and to just “do”.
Not only can our dogs help us to live mindfully, thus enhancing our enjoyment of the simple things in life but they can also guide us in our relationships.
Dogs accept us for who we are, do not hold a grudge and are willing to accept help when needed.
They don’t care about failure and are not too proud to accept help (how often has my perfect fit and capable dog wanted us to lift him into the car?!)
Most dogs will be excited to welcome someone into the home, sniffing the newcomer’s bag or pockets in the hope of finding a treat!
Although we cannot avoid all the stresses of life, we can minimize their impact on us and recover quicker from them if we adopt a more canine way of being.
This, together with having a dog in our lives, can offer us many benefits; longer life, lowered blood pressure, reduced stress.