I believe in meditation. Now, when I say “believe”, I don’t mean I actually do it. I have tried, but end up getting stressed because it’s too much pressure to ‘relax’. I think “I should be relaxing. I should smile. Relax your shoulders, relax your toes”. Then the whole thing becomes too much, and I sulk and go eat peanut-butter cookies. I can’t relax. My mother once said, “When you were little, I thought you had ants in your body, because you kept squiggling.” I’m 33 and I’m still ‘squiggling’. When will I stop squiggling?
I know meditation is much deeper than relaxation. But something that works better for me is ‘mindful walking’. Buddhists practice meditation-in-motion. The goal is remaining mindful in each step you take – feeling the earth under your feet, hearing the birds, smelling the air, etc. For our purposes, this means feeling that leash in your hand, watching your dog sniff the ground, looking at the leaves, and so on. Mindfulness means staying in the moment. Literally, step-by-step.
I make it sound easy,right? Now the hard part. Do the above, whilst your pooch is tugging at the leash or growling at a cat. Stay mindful whilst picking up the dog poo. Stay present whilst a possibly aggressive off-leash dog runs up to your dog to ‘say hi’. Like I said, piece of cake 🙂
The thing is, life is like that. I have been doing yoga over the last few months. I am present, attentive and mindful during yoga. And for a few hours into the next day, I stay mindful. But then I get a $1000 bill (don’t ask, just don’t ask, still a raw wound) or a stressful phone call, and the mindfulness goes out the window. To be really mindful, we need to teach ourselves to do it even when life gets hectic. Especially when life is hectic.
Mindfulness has been shown to have countless benefits to our psychological well-being (I won’t bore you with the research, but it’s there). Let’s start learning it together. Step-by-step.
Try it out on your next walk with your dog and let me know how it went.