Practicing mindfulness has been one strategy that has become increasingly popular for improving mental wellbeing and self-awareness.
Mindfulness means to experience the moments of life as they naturally occur without judgement. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? In fact, it can be hard to achieve.
Meanwhile, having pets has been a sure-fire way for people and families to find light in the waves of Lockdown. Studies have shared how dogs and cats can help low mood. Dogs can be perfect role models in trying to hit our mindfulness goals – their non-judgemental and explorative natures enabling us to learn to enjoy life as it unfolds.
Dogs, Mindfulness, and Awareness in Relationships
Mindfulness is useful in detecting our own needs and desires, as well as those of the people around us. By caring for our dogs and assessing when they might need feeding, walking, or cuddling, we can apply this awareness to our other relationships as well. Dogs are thought to ‘sense’ when their human counterparts are unhappy or unwell. Perhaps intuition can encourage us to be aware of the feelings and emotions of the people around us.
Grooming and Self-Care
Whether it be applying a face mask or oiling your hair, these short-term stratagems can contribute to the mindful practice of enjoying the moment. Dogs also greatly benefit from a bit of grooming and TLC. This could be giving them a thorough shampooing after a particularly muddy walk, or a leisurely brush of their coats in the evenings. Tending to our them helps to slow down the moment, and builds on our relationship skills. For example, we can become more aware of textures and/or product smells and effects that best suit our pets.
Imperfection and Self-Acceptance
Self-consciousness is often discussed as a side-effect of lockdown, but something the dogs don’t seem to have as they galavant throughout the house – or roll through the mud! Dogs are happy to wade through rivers and bounce through the grass, enjoying the feel of being out in the open air without a care. By observing their joy, curiosity, and adventurous spirit, we can learn not only to enjoy the journey with our dogs, but become more self-accepting of our own clumsiness and imperfections.
Mindfulness, Nature and our Senses
Our dogs are also ideal excuses to spend long hours in nature, these strolls not only being perfect for exercise, but to teach us to appreciate each moment by observing what the wide world has to offer. Dogs lap up smells, sounds, touch, and taste as if each day might be their last. Their enthusiasm for each and every walk being is a great example of how we too should embrace every outing we venture on. What’s more, you don’t have to have the heightened senses of a dog to be able to appreciate all that nature has to offer. The green outdoors is an effortless bounty of experiences, this being more than ample persuasion to cherish the quieter moments.
Pause and Intention
Mindfulness, like dogs, encourages a detraction away between ruminating over the past or worrying about the future. When you’re next taking some time out with your dog, maybe this can be an opportunity to also ask yourself mindful questions – a chance to declutter your to-dos and ensure each action is for yours, your dogs’, and your loved ones’ best intentions.
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