Until you’ve been greeted by a slobbery, smooching, cold nosed, tail wagging dog, you haven’t experienced the purity of unconditional love. Talk about being mindful – these furry creatures are the epitome of living in the here and now!
Think about it for a moment.
When your dog jumps all over you after being away for an extended period of time, it’s a major event! And if you search your feelings, you soon recognize that your dog usually knows when you are about to walk through the front door.
Some pooches have been observed getting up from a long slumber and instinctively waiting by a window well before their owner pulls into the driveway. Perhaps yours does?
Are dogs empathic? Maybe. Are they mindful? Absolutely!
What follows are 7 mindfulness tips that you can learn from your dog and apply to your own life to help you reach life goals.
1. Live in the here and now
Dogs are very much here and now focused. They don’t sit around and ruminate about the past. They also don’t lay awake at night, consumed with massive worry and anxiety. Instead, dogs tend to think about what is happening at this exact moment in time. Living in the here and now sometimes means begging for food and working you to toss them a treat.
2. Focus on self-care
Did you ever notice your pet dog likes to 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. They have a chip that empowers them to be joyful. Happiness, however, cannot occur unless they are well rested. This is why they get cranky when they feel they are not getting enough sleep.
Dogs do not hold grudges. OK, maybe they can get momentarily wounded when you forget to give them a treat or take them for their walk. They do not however hold onto 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! You know what I am talking about – that look they give you that says, “Hey – you forgot me.”
4. Use Caution
Dogs have an uncanny ability to sense danger or “threats” before they present themselves. There have been documented cases of dogs becoming activated before a natural disaster strikes, such as an earthquake or bad storm. Through a kind of canine awareness, they can sense trouble before it happens.
5. Make the most of every moment
A sad reality for many dog owners is that their pet pooch only lives 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. They do not intimacy issues. Your dog would much rather spend time sitting by you, giving you love and of course getting attention. 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. And hey – you have to admit that is super cute.
Most dogs accept who they are. They do not 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. In truth, dogs know what and who they are and live their life accepting this reality, including their strengths and limitations.
7. Awareness of others
Dogs, cute little monsters that they can be at times, share a universal ability to sense the emotions of their owners. If you own a dog then you know exactly what I am talking about. When you are happy, they amplify your state of joy. When you are sad, they come around more frequently to help cheer you up. When you are irritable or angry, they know how to keep a healthy distance. Their awareness of your emotional state is not a function of some supernatural force. Instead, dogs have “tuned into” you through observation and mindfulness.
Many people believe they hold a special bond with their dog. I’ve even had some folks share with me that they have a kind of spiritual connection with their dog, believing their pooch is a kind of animal guide. I have no earthly idea if any of that is true – it’s not for me to say.
What is clear however is that dogs truly are the ultimate mindful creatures. We can learn a great deal about living in the here and now by just watching what they do and how they live their lives. If one of your life goals is to live more mindfully, I suggest you hang out with your dog.
Please feel free to share how your dog has taught you lessons in mindfulness. I would love to read your experiences and I bet others checking out this blog post would too. I’ve expanded a bit more on this topic at the 2nd Story Counseling website under the topic of Mindfulness and Your Dog. Feel free to stop by!