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Pets are a gift from the universe. It’s easy to see that statement as fact for me. An amazing new world opened in my life because of the animals in my home.
I’ve been a live-in for an executive of a major corporation on and off for years now. His fur babies consist of four cats and 3 dogs. In the beginning, it was a challenge to look after a home with so many animals. They’re all getting older and medications for each of them are very specific.
As time goes by I realize just how much they all positively impact me. I wake up each day and am responsible for 7 tiny souls that depend on me for their literal survival.
How working with fur babies can bring you closer to mindfulness:
Pets live in the moment, and if you’re in-tune, they’re a constant reminder to take a break and relax throughout the day. Even if they’re focused on a spot on the floor, their attention stays on it until something takes their mind off it.
If you watch yourself intently for just one day you’ll notice a big difference between those with fur and you. We, as humans, can certainly focus on something intently for long periods of time. But, eventually, our thoughts will begin to wander. We will tend to think about the past or the future where a dog or cat will turn its attention to a loud distraction or something that moves across their field of vision.
We must remember that animals rely on their instincts. This leaves them more receptive to the opportunity to be playful. We, on the other hand will tend to feel guilty when we shut down our thinking and problem-solving mechanism.
I’ve learned so much from the animals about mindfulness and now work with them for an hour or so a day and allow these special teachers to guide me.
You can do the same with your pet. I’m using a dog and cat as examples in the exercise because they’re more interactive than say, a fish or a bird.
Your Mindful Exercise with a Pet:
Here, I’ll share some actionable steps that are taken from my developed habit. There is no right or wrong way to go about it. The concept is what’s important and you can add your own style according to your schedule and your personality and that of your pet.
- Location: This practice is meant to be done in and out of doors.
- Timing: Also make certain you have scheduled at least thirty minutes with your fur baby.
- Cuddling: Face it, fur babies are crazy over the cuddle. Typically, we’ll have this loving ball of fur right there and our mind will fall right back on the bills. Another habit is to watch TV with the animal right near you. As much as you may like the companionship, the mindfulness is absent. Try to spend some time with your companion without electronic devices, texting or anything that can take your attention away. Now, the way to stay absolutely present with the animal is to find something about the experience that enchants you. If you enjoy talking to the animal, make certain you aren’t discussing the daily grind or you’ll miss the point of the activity. Petting your fur-baby is a great mindful activity. It’s a pleasant act that releases endorphins in the brain and relaxes the nervous system for you and your pet.
- Bath Time: Bath time for a dog especially, can be used for mindfulness but not when you’re really trying to remove grime from fido. That can be more of a chore than a joy. Place your pet in a bath of warm to hotter water if they have a thick coat. Sit with them at the side of the tub, or if they’re a much smaller dog you can place it in a baby tub while you sit or stand over it. Gently shower and wet them. Then, take a small amount of nice smelling shampoo and massage their fur slow and “mindfully”. Only pay attention to their reaction. Most dogs that are used to bathing, especially older ones will really mellow out. Your only task is to think of nothing and I mean nothing but the joyful task at hand.
- Walkies! Typically, walk time is a rushed, twice daily task that is just that, a task. In fact, you may get annoyed when the fur baby finds something they like to sniff or play with. So, on the mindful walk it’s best to take them for an additional walk apart from the scheduled one. They may still do their business at that time too, but the point is to not have them or you rushed.Your only task here is to smell the roses when they do. Stop and notice all the nature around you. Don’t do this in a dog park I tried that and there were too many animals and people to not become distracted with a conversation. It’s just you and the dog.
- Good Morning! The dog or cat is probably on your early schedule. Once you find them on your chest, head or lap at the crack of dawn, you can take ten to fifteen minutes to just meditate with your pet. Petting them with eyes closed and monitoring your breathing will do it. This is in an attempt to get the pet to mimic your breathing. Just remember, don’t undermine the action with thoughts of what you need to do for the day. Shut the phone down and let that be your habit with the fur baby each morning.
A Closing Note:
The main objective is to stay in whatever is going on in the moment. But, if you’re the type of person who experiences racing thoughts or depression, please don’t feel discouraged. This is an exercise that can take weeks or months to habituate. Once you do, you will experience improved brain health and well-being.