The link between pets and mindfulness has been observed through the years by many. Pet owners see that their pets live in the moment and it draws us in to do the same. The simple joy they feel in having an ear scratched or their bliss from lying in a patch of sunlight is a way that our pets remind us to enjoy every moment and not to give in to our normally rushed hectic lives.
By now we have all heard that pets are good for your health. They can lower high blood pressure, whether you are petting your dog or watching fish in an aquarium. The regular schedules, daily walks, family time spent with their pack, and regular adequate sleep that dogs need, are also good healthy factors that can improve our own health. At a time when many of us are spending more and more time engaging electronically, our pets provide not only connection to nature, but important face to face social interaction.
But have you thought of having a pet as being a component of your mindfulness practice, much the same way yoga or meditation can be an important part of it? Animals notice small details. They savour every moment, and watching them reminds us to enjoy little things in life that we may too easily otherwise overlook in the rushed pace of our daily lives. Just watch your dog sniffing the air, or lifting its head up towards the sun, eyes closed, soaking up the rays.
Some people even use the sound of their dog’s bark as a mindfulness bell. A mindfulness bell is the idea that when you hear a certain sound, you stop for a moment and take a couple of breaths to bring yourself into the moment, and to be mindful. It can be a helpful reminder to do this.
When a dog is outside sniffing the air and following scents, it is working hard, living in the moment. But when the dog is lying down resting at home, lolling about in a state of absolute relaxation, it doesn’t feel guilty or chide itself that it ought to be doing something. They live completely in the moment. If you have a pet, think about this and enjoy your time together living in the moment. If you don’t have a pet, offer to take a friend or neighbour’s dog for a walk. You will be learning from a master of mindfulness!