With the busy pace of life, I often encounter people who are rushing from one place to another. They’re rushing to get to work, rushing to pick up the kids, rushing home to relax… and they still need to take the dog out!
So how can you lighten the stress of a hectic day?
I often recommend a simple practice that can be done while taking our dog for a walk. In this practice we’re following our dog’s example by bringing the present moment awareness to the act of walking. First we’ll start out practicing privately as we walk to collect the leash in the next room, and then we’ll bring it out into the world.
Here are the instructions:
1. Stand straight up with your knees a bit loose, eyes facing forward, while bringing attention to your breath. To help with attention you can say to yourself “in” as you’re breathing in and “out” as you’re breathing out. This helps anchor us to the present moment.
2. Now shift your attention to the soles of the feet, feeling the weight on the feet. Notice if there is more weight on certain areas more than others.
3. Begin to shift your weight on one leg, noticing the change in sensations of the leg and foot. Then shift your weight to the other leg, noticing the sensations again, then shift back to center.
4. Begin to gently lift the left leg (or you can also start with the right if you like), noticing the pressure moving to the right leg as the left heel and then toes come off the ground.
5. Continue to do this with one foot in front of the other. Sometimes it helps to say “heel, ball, toe, lift” to yourself to sustain attention on what is happening in the present moment.
As you’re doing this during your walk, try to bring attention to your senses. You might focus on sounds while mindfully walking or maybe the sights. When your dog stops to sniff something, feel free to stop and smell the roses, yourself! Notice how joyful your fur baby looks. Let him/her be your inspiration to relax your mind walk with ease.