A Dog’s Guide to Mindfulness
Despite its inherent beauty, life has elements of pure anarchy that can sneak up and derail your serenity and peace of mind. That’s why people are compelled to practice meditation, to find a way to connect to the calm amidst the chaos.
As we do our best to carpe diem without losing our minds, we can’t help but turn our heads to the happiest creatures on Earth, our doggy friends. What’s their secret?
If we had to nail down why dogs are so unabashedly happy (not counting spoonfuls of peanut butter, scraps of rotisserie chicken, or long walks with lots of things to pee on), we’re betting it’s all about being in the moment. These hairy beasts are mindful souls by nature and dammit, we want some of that zen.
According to Harvard Health Publishing, “mindfulness — the ability to live each moment as it unfolds and accept it without judgment — can help reduce stress and enhance health. Perhaps one of the greatest psychological benefits of interacting with a dog is the opportunity it provides to be more mindful — to purposely focus your attention on the present moment.” We couldn’t agree more! After years of careful canine observation, we’ve created a guide to help humans take a joyful cue from our four-legged counterparts.
Our Top 3 Tips for Being Mindful Like Dogs
Radical Self-Acceptance and Positive Self Talk
You won’t find a dog cursing the gods because he has uncontrollable gas and drools when he smells food, nor will he feel remorse for things he can’t control. Take Odie, our founder Kyla’s dog: before she saved him, this poor fellah was at death’s door in a shelter, super sick with a head wound and when the vet performed surgery, he almost died. He did lose an eye, but pulled through it all to go live at his forever home. With his past in the past and the one-and-only eye he needed, this small, scrappy dog lived his best life, ready to explore the world with Kyla by his side.
Odie knew: you don’t have to be perfect to be happy. Why ruminate and obsess about the past or appearances - accept life on life’s terms. Next time you find yourself making that “reasons I suck” list in your head, back it up and channel your inner dog. You just might find that your list gets a little shorter.
Dogs have long hours with nothing to do, spending most of their time laying on the couch and looking out the window. One could say, they’re the original meditators, taking time to discipline their minds for a more effective existence that’s totally in the zone. How do you think they got so good at begging for steak or obsessing about tennis balls? Hours of meditation resulting in undistracted, enduring attention. Harness the power of meditation to gain control over your thoughts and enjoy benefits like reduced stress and anxiety, enhanced self-awareness, and better sleep. Start small with five to 15 minutes at a time, and see how these small changes can have a big impact.
Dogs are masters when it comes to throwing themselves wholeheartedly into one activity at a time. Ever seen a dog hellbent on playing fetch (for 3 hours straight)? When you do too many things at one time you’re splitting your attention and the potency of your productivity is diluted. It may seem like it takes longer, but when you focus, you’ll have less distraction, less information overload, and less overwhelm. BE THE DOG and commit yourself fully to one thing at a time.
Try practicing your newfound mindfulness skills with your best sidekick as you sit quietly in the morning to meditate, take a break to play with them (while you put down your phone), or pause to admire their beauty while extending yourself the same courtesy. Be the dog you want to see in the world and make 2020 the best year ever!