5 Mindful Lessons we can Learn From Our Dogs
By Luke @lucyinvestigates
I’m Luke and this is our rescue Greyhound Lucy.
We adopted Lucy in September 2017 – we fell in love with her as soon as we met her. She has three white paws and one that isn’t white with only has three toes. She’s a super friendly and smiley dog and loves meeting new doggies, new humans and investigating any and all DogFuriendly places in and around Manchester.
Today we’re launching Mindful May with Dog Furiendly and sharing 5 mindful lessons we can learn from our pooches!
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness means knowing directly what is going on inside and outside ourselves, moment by moment. It’s about allowing ourselves to see the present moment clearly. When we do that, it can positively change the way we see ourselves and our lives. Smartphone apps such as Headspace, Calm and Aura are very popular amongst users as they encourage people to be present within the moment and can help to reset your thoughts. They help to focus the mind on breathing and therefore help to centre thoughts on the here and now.
We can learn a lot regarding mindfulness and being in the moment from the dogs that we choose to spend our lives with. Dogs are the symbol of living in the here and now.
What we can learn from Dogs
Mindfulness is a component of many relaxation techniques, including yoga, deep breathing, tai chi, massage, reflexology, journaling, and prayer. You can also easily use the technique while walking with a dog. In fact, let your dog show you how. Notice how joyously present she is when out in the world: her head is up, her tail is wagging, and she’s alert and taking it all in. She is open to new sights, smells, sounds, people, and animals. Each walk is an adventure.
I’ve listed 5 mindfulness tips that I have learnt from my dog Lucy. She is a rescue Greyhound, and although we often joke about how lazy she is, she has a very calming influence on us and out home. Feel free to use any of these tips within your own lives – regardless of which type of dog or pet you have at home.
#1 Live in the here and now
Dogs are very much focused on what is going on right now. They don’t focus on the past while they are sitting around. They also don’t stay up all night thinking about the what ifs of the day. Instead, dogs tend to think about what is happening at this exact moment in time. They might focus on the treat in your hand or the toy in the corner of the room that needs chewing. Being able to take 5-10 minutes in the day to reset your thoughts and focus on smaller tasks really helps me more productive.
#2 Rest and self-care
If your dog is anything Lucy, they will curl up next to you and take naps? Have you ever spotted your fur baby laying on his back, occasionally wiggling around with a silly smile on his face? Dogs like to live in a place of happiness and joy.
Lucy and I definitely feel much more positive when we are both well rested. This is why they get cranky when they feel they are not getting enough sleep. I need to remember this daily and encourage myself to limit my social media time, luckily Instagram has a handy feature where you can monitor and limit the amount of time you spend scrolling. I was shocked at how much mindless scrolling I was doing daily.
Dogs do not hold grudges. They don’t keep hold of any feelings of resentment, anger and sadness. It should be noted however that dogs do know how to make you feel guilty if they feel neglected! Lucy has perfected the “feel sorry for me and give me attention” look and we both know when she needs a little belly rub or an ear scratch.
#4 Make the most of every moment
The bad news is that will be outlife our dogs as they live for an average of 10-12 years (give or take). Dogs are aware of their limited time on earth too and therefore make the most of every moment they are here.
Lucy would much rather spend time sitting by you, giving you love and of course getting attention than any other activity. Does your dog seem to have a need to put a paw on you, even when sleeping close by? They do this because they are truly making the most of the moment. Lucy and her infamous pawing of us and guests for attention is a sure way for her to get what she wants there and then.
Dogs don’t put on airs or pretend to be something they are not. Sure, your little fur-child may think they are a prince or princess but that’s because you have lovingly spoiled them (and there’s nothing wrong with that – despite my mums thoughts on Lucy’s ever-growing accessory and coat collection). A great lesson that we can take immediately from our four-legged furfriends is that dogs know what and who they are and live their life accepting this reality.
My daily mindfulness tricks to try from today and everyday day are:
- As you start your walk, take a moment to bring your attention to the sensations in your body. Is the sun shining? Do you feel warm? And comfortable in your clothing?
- Breathe in through your nose. Let your abdomen expand fully. Then breathe out through your mouth. Notice the sensations of each inhalation and exhalation. Take a second to notice your environment – are there other dog walkers around you? Do you recognise owners and dogs if you are on your regular walk?
- As you continue to walk, engage your senses fully. Notice each sight, touch, and sound. Savor every sensation. Touch tree branches, move towards flower areas to help ground yourself in their scent.
- When your mind wanders — and it undoubtedly will — gently bring your attention back to the moment, including your dog’s delight at being with you and outdoors. Stopping while walking to breathe deeply through your nose can help centre and reset your mind to the here and now.
You may use headphones during your walk, if so, try and find a relaxing playlist that plays natural sounds, such as birds chirping or waves crashing. I often use these sounds while resting in bed before falling asleep.
If you are from the UK, the NHS website has a section dedicated to Mindfulness which can be a great resource for you in the future. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/mindfulness/
What mindful tips have you learnt from your pooch?