Updated: Jul 15, 2020
I know when I started meditating in the mornings I would sometimes feel conflicted, because I would need to focus on my personal meditation and then also take my dog out. Some days I simply just didn't have enough time to do both, and my dog would always take priority
(of course... it's that cute face you know?)!
However, I also realized that the same practices I was incorporating into my personal meditations were available to me out on the trail with my dog.
So I started incorporating more of these techniques into walks with my dog and found that not only did I enjoy meditating this way more, but that I was left with an even greater sense of completeness after.
I really enjoyed taking my practice outside, and keeping things moving, and also just being with my dog. I think we all have our own way of connecting with ourselves and the world around us and
that there is no right or wrong way to do that.
For me, walking meditations in the morning with my dog have really helped set the tone for my days- creating more of whatever I set my intention and focus on for that day.
So if this is something you are interested in trying
here is one of the ways that I incorporate meditation into my walks with my dog.
Creating awareness through training your dog's walk
You may have a dog you can't imagine walking peacefully with, because they are constantly pulling on you. I invite you to use this experience as a spiritual practice. As you are getting your dog ready for your walk focus on how your dog is reacting to you. Are you encouraging high energy from your dog without realizing it? Are you frustrated with your dog?Are you heavily focused on how things should be and unhappy with how they are?
Before you have even left the door you are already creating awareness on the frame of mind you are in- content, patient, frazzled, frustrated, tired, in your head, unable to focus, etc-
Now ask yourself, "Ok this is where I am right now, I accept this moment for what it is, and how do I want to feel today?
If your answer is you would like to feel content then try to become more aware of what that feels like, and become aware of when you stray away from this feeling throughout your walk.
Now you are walking out the door, and if you have a nice quiet path to walk on it will make your practice easier (finding this "contentedness"), but that's not to say that even if you live in a big city that there is not space for you to feel content. In fact, the more going on around you, the more chance you have to become aware of what pulls you away from feeling peaceful and why indeed do these external things have control over how you feel internally?
How can you manage your internal state in spite of everything going on around you?
Keep practicing on focusing your attention on what you want and you will get closer every day!
If you have a dog who walks easily on leash with you this will also make your practice easier, but if you have a dog who pulls ask yourself how this affects you.
If it bothers you, you may want to become aware of why your dog is pulling and also how you are encouraging this pattern of behavior in your dog. If they pull you and you follow, that's just how your dog thinks a walk happens. If you want to teach your dog not to pull, do not let them pull you. Stop every time they pull and wait until they yield and acknowledge you, then take a step, and another step, and another step.
See how much patience and empathy you are cultivating?!
Or maybe you are realizing how impatient you are being with your dog, and how unsympathetic you are being to an animal that does not speak your language and only needs some consistent direction from you- which requires your full attention.
If you want full attention from your dog, you need to give them your full attention.
It can be really frustrating at first, but that is a completely normal way to feel when you are first starting!
That's part of the lesson meditation teaches us- how to let go of stress, frustration and negativity and transmute those feelings into something more powerful and self-serving.
As humans we tend to live in our heads a bit more than most other animals, and I think it is a really beautiful practice to cultivate mindfulness through something as simple as your morning walk with your dog. As you become more aware of your own behavior, you will become more aware of your dogs and you will both start to feel more connected and understanding of one another.
As you get better at this, and your dog walks more peacefully with you I enjoy layering more things into this practice including:
Focusing on scents throughout my walk
Focusing on the feel of the ground beneath my shoes as I walk
Focusing on things I am grateful for and listing them and feeling truly grateful for each of those things
Focusing on where is my dog's focus- And becoming very aware of what interests your dog
Your practice is yours! Have fun and be creative, there is no right or wrong answer! I would love to know if you tried this, or have tried something similar to this before. Please share below you walking meditation experience!
As always our mindful guardians are keeping us more mindful, aware, and connected. I hope this gives you something positive to focus on during these trying times, and that it helps you find true appreciation for the connection you are able to share with your animals.
Val & Lewen